It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame

The sun is shining, it's a comfortable 70 degrees...let's go to a ballgame!

No matter the Pittsburgh Pirates' win/loss record, it is a beautiful stadium for a Sunday afternoon ballgame. Pack up your kids and let's hit the city...

We're going to take you to Family Day at the ball park. Sign the waiver, get your hand stamped and lets get some balloon swords and race on an inflatable obstacle coarse. If you have time you can jump in the bounce house, get an autograph or get your face painted for the big game. Oh, by the way...it's all free. They shut down an whole street for us. Yep, that's how we roll in Pittsburgh. (Oh, and the guy in the dark gray t-shirt behind the kids and his wife are drinking giant "pounders" of Iron City beer holding their kid on a leash. They tried to make the sister lead him through the obstacle course while on the leash, but the operators made them remove it. No kidding.)

Now, let's go in and get our replica batting helmets as a souvenir. Family day is a great day for a giveaway at the door, and really, who couldn't use an extra replica batting helmet (or three)?
Pose for a picture on the ramp up to your seats or mom will make the rest of your afternoon miserable:

Let's sit down and begin eating everything in sight. For the kids it's nachos, hot dogs, hot pretzels, and cotton candy. For the adults, it's Primanti Brothers sandwiches filled with french fries and coleslaw. Listen for the vendors who work every game, "Coors Light!", "Ice cold Bud Lite here!" and "I'm a lady!" (he's really saying "lemonade here" but it really does sound like "I'm a lady!" You will laugh, trust me.)

Watch a little ball, then all of a sudden...what is that? It looks like giant pierogies, and they're running...as if they're racing...

Yes, only in Pittsburgh can you see potato filled pasta race each other. Lean over as they pass to slap them high five for a race well run. Oliver Onion, Jalapeno Hanna, Cheese Chester, and Sauerkraut Sol are celebrities around here:

If you have a loud mom, have her yell "I love you, Hanna!" and she will turn around and wave to you.

Watch a little more ball then look for the pirate to begin shooting hot dogs into the stands. Wave your arms and scream! Here comes one!

Alright, we're full and tired and ready to head home. Follow dad on out the gate:

Pose for a final picture with Pittsburgh legend, Roberto Clemente

And head on over the Roberto Clemente bridge back over to the city. They closed it just for you to walk on, you know. Only the best for you.

Man, it was a great day for a ballgame. What is happening in your hometown? Join Centsational Girl to see other hometown stories



Feedback Friday - Texting While Driving

I can remember way back to the dark ages when I was in high school, when we were called to the auditorium several times a year to watch Public Service Announcement type movies alerting us to the dangers of smoking (shriveled up gray lungs, patients hooked up to an iron lung), chewing tobacco (pictures of guys with no lips, no teeth, no tongues), or reckless driving (interviews of victims in wheelchairs and with missing limbs).

I have to say, all of this shock value worked on me. To this day, I've only smoked one cigarette in my life and I was so paranoid as I did it I vowed to never do it again. For years, I counted the number of seconds I was behind the vehicle in front of me, and always stop at stop signs. Maybe seeing these horrors on a 6 foot tall screen really sunk into my teenage brain.

It seems one of the more dangerous things tempting today's teens is talking and texting on cell phones while driving (btw, my spell check has obviously not been brought into this decade as the word "texting" keeps getting flagged). I came across the following PSA this week and I began to wonder if this type of video, seemingly similar to those I watched as a teen, would be effective with today's teens. It seems there is a debate as to the graphic nature of the 4 minute video that some parents and professionals feel is too graphic. My boys aren't driving yet, but time sure flies. So, I need your feedback today. Take a look, what do you think?


DIY Thursday - Patchwork Wall Art (Ballard Designs Inspired)

I love the look of several things coming together to form one piece of art, mosaics and collages are among my favorites. These Ballard Design Patchwork Prints is a perfect example of this. Though they are now on sale for $169 (marked down from $199) they are still out of my price range ('cause I'm cheap thrifty).

I was able to work it out for just under $20. Want to know how? Come on, girl, let's make some Patchwork Wall Art!


8x8 inch wooden tiles (If you or someone you know is handy with tools, these can be cut from a pine board found at any building supply store)
Black acrylic paint
Mod Podge
Sponge brushes
Coordinating scrapbook papers
Thin plywood or MDF board
Wood Glue

The beautiful array of scrapbook papers available today really make this an easy project. If you don't trust yourself to coordinate papers, buy the paper sets that come pre-coordinated.

I started by cutting and sanding my 8x8 tiles (which actually measure 7 1/4; for some reason an 8 inch board isn't really a full 8 inches).

Paint the sides and edges of the front of the blocks with the black acrylic paint.

While this is drying, use your handy dandy paper cutter to cut squares of paper to fit the tiles.

Once dry, begin to decoupage the papers to the tiles.

Can we take a little break at this point for some decoupage tips? I've read that some of you have decoupage fears - bubbles, lumps, and creases, OH MY! Listen, this isn't rocket science, just follow the steps in the right order:

Apply decoupage medium to the wooden tile AND to the back of the paper (applying to both is important). Now, stick it and press all the bubbles out. Once you're happy with the placement LEAVE IT ALONE.

Just let it dry, go paint your nails, do a load of laundry, eat some lunch while reading People magazine, I don't care, just don't touch it now. DON'T paint more Mod Podge on top yet, this will wreck everything!

Is it dry? Are you sure? Okay, now go ahead and apply one or two coats of Mod Podge on top to seal it.

Let it dry again then dirty it up! Why dirty it up? Because I hate new looking things! I want it old, I want it grungy, I want it to look like I rescued it from the corner of an old barn! How do we do this? Take an old rag or your finger and apply some Burnt Umber acrylic paint to the edges. Now, wet the corner of the rag and smoosh it around. Play with it adding and taking away layers of paint, leaving the center lighter and edges darker, until you get a look you like. (like it clean looking? Just skip this part, ain't no big thang).

Now, this next part came about because I just couldn't resolve in my brain pounding 9 nails into my freshly painted walls. It just seemed so harsh! So, I cut out a thin piece of plywood or mdf a few inches smaller than the finished project (so, I used a board 18x18 inches) and used wood glue to attach all the tiles onto one base.

See? Now I can hang it with one nail, or lean it against the wall like I did here.

Accessorize it a bit, and voila! You have yourself a Ballard inspired piece of patchwork wall art to match YOUR decor! Yes! Oh, and enough change in your pocket for 4 pedicures! 3 lunches out! 140 beers for dollar beer happy hour! MMMMMWWWWAAAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

I'm participating in Kimba's party, but you knew that, right? You know the drill, click the button to be whisked off to the land of inspiration. Leave some comments for those ladies, they're workin' their little buns off over there!


He's Gone...

Those were the words I kept repeating to myself this morning as I watched my Helper Munchkin walk away from me with the rest of his Kindergarten class this morning. I was left with a sense of loss, relief, emptiness, pride, and a blurry picture of my guy following in a line to his first classroom. My vision of him was blurry to me because my eyes were filled with tears, how appropriate that the photo I took came out the same way.

I go through this transition each fall as my full time kids become my part time kids, and teachers get more quality time that I. I struggle with embracing my new identity as "Jen" again, as motherhood is placed on the back burner for 8 hours per day. I feel lost for the first few weeks trying to remember what I like to do, eat, read... Wondering if my boys are missing me as much as I miss them and guilty that we didn't do everything we planned during the long summer.

I worry that the pressure will get to them, that they're not eating a good lunch, that they are getting bullied (or bully-ing). Who will tell them to put on a sweatshirt, notice if they're sick, give them a hug? How can I stop being a mother when that's what I DO? I even write "Mom" in the space that asks my occupation on forms I have to fill out!

I have shed a lot of tears this week in preparation, watching a tv show, listening to a song, just watching my kids play...I know I'm not alone and take comfort from the fact that they are strong individuals who are able to make their own way without me. In one respect, it's a job well done that is breaking my heart. I feel like this song (yes, it's ABBA, just deal!) says it all:

Slipping Through My Fingers

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she’s gone there’s that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can’t deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
(slipping through my fingers all the time)
Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t
And why I just don’t know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers...

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile...

**This post is from my archives and originally posted August 27th 2008. As I try to express how I feel today, I realize it's exactly as it was then, watching my boys board the school bus. I feel the time with my children slipping through my fingers as they grow older, more independent. I want to bottle them at this age, keep them for myself, but I know that isn't my job. My job is to help them grow up to be smart independent adults. If they end up leaving home and not needing me anymore, I've done my job. If they end up all those things yet still wanting me around, I'll say I was as successful as I could hope to be.

But, for now, I'm grasping at the moments as they slip past and storing memories for another time. I'm memorizing patterns of freckles, crooked smiles, raspy voices, and tight squeezes and stringing them like pearls to wear on a day in the future when their childhood is a thing of the past. (isn't that "pearls" idea beautiful? I stole it from Jodi Picoult)

Oh I love these boys and will miss our lazy summer days...only 186 days until I get my boys back!!! Na Na Teachers!

Link up with BJ Mama for Say it with a song Sundays!


Tutorial Tuesday - How to Make 10 School Lunches in 5 Minutes

Originally posted August 2009...enjoy!

I saw this someplace on a blog last year and stored it in my brain like a squirrel stores a nut. It scratched it's way to the surface this week as I geared up to send my babies back to big bad school.

I don't know about you, but my kids never give me enough warning that they'd like to pack their lunches on any given day. And when they do, it's right when I'm making three different breakfasts, yelling about brushing their teeth, asking why they pulled their favorite shirt out of the laundry, or reading spelling words while they tie their shoes.

I have three kids to get ready in the mornings and packing lunch at the last minute is one of those things that just sets me off at 8 o'clock in the morning.

I saw this last school year and I swear I saw a beam of light shine on it from the heavens and heard angels sing. This could change my life, for real.

Once a week, take a loaf of bread;

Lay out 10 pairs (today is PB & J, but it's just as easy to do ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, bologna...whatever) and put it together assembly line style. Go right down the line, baby, it's no big thang!

Stick those bad boys back in the bag:

Double bag 'em to avoid freezer burn:

Stick 'em in the freezer to wait their turn for last minute lunch duty. Oh yeah:

See? 10 sammies lickety split, no stress, no me going all mommy dearest on the boys for springing it on me at the last minute. Nice.

Hey, guess what? I'm off visiting today. I'm spreading the Tutorial Tuesday love and posting for Fave Crafts today! This is an oldie-but-goodie and my favorite type of craft. It doesn't involve running to the store, just using up all of the junk we have lying around the house! Even if you've seen it before, it's worth a trip over to Fave Crafts to check out my Reversible Fabric Scrap Apron Tutorial...come on you know you want to...click it!


I Have a Secret...

I do, it's a big secret. One I've been holding inside for about a year. It's exciting and a little scary. I've fretted over it and dreamed about it. Okay, ready?

I'm going to Paris!!! In September!!!

Yes, you read that right. The Big Guy is taking me along on his conference this year to the land of Ooh La La!

Why have I kept this a secret? Well, I had no passport and I had no babysitter. These two things are really important when you're planning a trip to Paris. The Big Guy bought my plane ticket about 4 months ago and said "You better get on it, girl!" So, I got my passport last month and it really began to seem real. I thought, "hmmm, I might really be going to Paris!" Then I thought, "oh yeah, I have 3 kids..."

I've been calling and begging and bribing and begging and now I have most of my vacation covered as far as child care goes. I have to cover 2 1/2 more days and I'm of to Gay Paris!(and unbelievably, a very nice lady - who is a retired school teacher I met last- week expressed some interest...OH YEAH!) I haven't been able to plan a THING until I worked out the kids. To tell you the truth, I really didn't believe I would really go. But now, I'm ready to pull on my vacation-nazi boots and start planning!

I want to kiss here:

I want to see this while holding my sweetie's hand:

I want to eat this:

I want to wear this:

I want to...Okay, I need your help! What do I want to do??? Much of my days are scheduled in the "spouse program", but we do have some free nights and some whole days to fill here and there. I know Aimee will have some fantastic ideas for me (what was the address to your favorite street again?) but what about the rest of you? Tell me what you always dreamed about as a little girl, tell me where you've actually been, tell me where your aunt's best friend visited while in college...I want to hear it all!!! I'm going to Paris, people!


Sunday Funny


Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa - half-discovered, half-
wild, fertile and naturally beautiful!

Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe -
well-developed and open to trade, especially
for something of real value.

Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain - very hot, relaxed, and
convinced of her own beauty.

Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece - gently aging, but
still a warm and desirable place to visit.

Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain, with a glorious
and all-conquering past.

Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel - has been through war,
doesn't make the same mistakes twice, and takes care of business.

Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada -
cool, self-preserving, but open to meeting new people.

After 70, she becomes Tibet - wildly beautiful, with a mysterious
past and the wisdom of the ages.... an adventurous spirit and a thirst for
spiritual knowledge.


Between 1 and 80, a man is like Iran - ruled by nuts.


Feedback Friday

I was reading a blog the other day that listed two simple questions for readers to respond to....

1. How old are you?

2. Where do you live?

The response was overwhelming, bringing many lurkers out of hiding. After all, we all know the answer to these two questions.

Do you think you're up for the challenge to blow her 300 responses out of the water? There's only one way to find out...Give me some Feedback, baby!

**My kids were messing around on the computer while I was writing this and it got published a day early when they hit a button. So, it's up a half a day early**


I Love This!

Check out this new "animoto" I discovered! If you want to make one for yourself, just click the "a" in the lower right hand corner. Link it up so I can see, I'd love to see what you all can do with this!

Okay, here is what you can get for FREE:

And this is what 3 bucks gets you:


Tutorial Tuesday - Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

The Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook is dangerous in my hands. I'm predicting a 5 pound weight gain as I begin baking my way through it.

This recipe is perfect for back to school - a clear winner at any bake sale. The cheesecake is rich and creamy and the Oreo makes for a crisp chocolate crust. Best of all, it goes together quickly and easily and presents with a "wow". Imagine being a kid and coming home after a long day of school to THIS:

Mini Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

42 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-filled cups, filling each almost to the top.

Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate, in tins, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

A little dollop of whipped frosting and a chunk of Oreo are all the embellishment it needs.


14 Days

I'm in the homestretch of summer vacation. All around me I hear mothers talking about how much they are looking forward to school starting in two weeks. They're tired, stressed, overwhelmed. I'm all those things, but still clinging to the next 14 days with my boys. I'm frantically trying to fit in all the last minute memories and fun times before they are off to spend 8 hours away from me. Off to spend all their good hours of the day with another woman who will step in where I left off.

I'm jealous of her, will they miss me? Will they remember all the good times we shared this summer or just the times I cracked under the pressure and sent everyone to their rooms for fighting? Will they wish for a fun crazy lunch or look forward to the cafeteria food? Will the accidentally call their teacher "mom", will they accidentally call me "Mrs. Dehart"? Will they talk about their fun summer with their friends, or complain about how boring it was?

I've reached the point in vacation where tears flow easily if I really stop to think. I type this frantically, trying to fit all my ideas onto the page, with one small tear escaping from the corner of my eye.

Oh, how I love those boys. I get tired and overwhelmed like everyone else, but they are my light. Their little faces, their giggles, smiles, hugs, the 20 times a day I hear "love you, mom". I'm going to miss them. I'm really going to miss them.

This will be my first year with all three boys in school all day. Yes, my Helper Munchkin is moving on, growing up. I'm clinging to the next 14 days in hopes that they will fuel me during the school year ahead. Oh, I'll see them when I volunteer in the class and pass them in the halls and after the long bus ride. But, it isn't the same. After school will be filled with sports, homework, CCD, not crafts, adventures, chats. Life will take on the harried school year vibe and I will miss them.

I'll be a displaced worker, a mom without kids...what do you do when your skills are no longer needed?

I've done this before. I know there will come a point in the school year when we will all be happy school is in session, but this is a page out of my book in this moment. In this moment I'm kissing, hugging, clinging to my last 14 days...




Feedback Friday - Pet Children

I had something else planned for today until The Constant Complainer set this in my lap. I felt compelled to address an issue that has bothered me from the moment I became aware of it.

Let's go back to 2006...(cue the flashback harp music)...

The Big Guy had a conference scheduled in Anaheim, California and asked if we'd like to tag along. He would be busy all day in classes and seminars, but if I was up for the challenge, he would buy us all tickets to Disneyland. I thought about it for about 2.4 seconds, then responded "What time is our flight?!?"

My boys were 7, 5, and 4 years old at the time. I spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this trip (full blown vacation nazi). I purchased 3 matching baseball hats in a bright color for the kids, matching shirts, matching shorts, matching sweatshirts...you get the picture. I wanted to make this as easy as possible since I was doing this alone.

I prepared the kids ahead of time, I explained how important it was to stick together and stay with me at all times. I threatened lovingly explained to them that if there is any funny business or wandering off we would leave. The boys listened because in the past if I warned them about leaving, I WOULD ACTUALLY LEAVE (consequences people).

I wrote down my cell phone number and placed it in their pockets, pointed out Disney security and explained what they should do if they found themselves lost, and we headed out.

As we stood in line to enter the park (3 small children + 1 mom), I noticed a group of adults standing near us (6 adults) they all were talking and laughing. I noticed one of the women absentmindedly held onto a leash restraining a child about 3 years old. They all chatted and were having a fun time as they moved through the line, not really paying attention to the child.

As the line began to move, the child tripped and fell. The mother holding the leash never looked back, but must have assumed the child was resisting walking along, because she continued walking and pulling the leash behind her. The child was dragged along, scraping his forehead on the (concrete) ground, struggling to get back up, for about 5 feet when a very loud woman (who sounded a lot like me) screamed "STOP! For God's sake woman, look at your baby!" (blush).

She then stopped and made a big fuss over the child. I couldn't even look at her as I gathered my children together and hugged them, shaking with anger. This incident verified everything I've ever felt about "Pet Children".

My friend passed along the following video last night and I knew it was something I needed to address. Behold:

Thoughts, comments, questions, feelings?



DIY Thursday - Layered Window Treatments

My friends will tell you, I love to mix it up. "The Queen of Random" a friend calls me and I decorate my home the same way. When I first decorated our kitchen, I had french country in mind with lots of rich colors, patterns, and textures.

I saw an article in Better Homes and Gardens with a small photo of a cozy room with this style of layered window treatment (that was waaay overpriced, I'm sure).

So a quick trip to Joann's and Lowe's got me started.

Using a large piece of brown kraft paper, I made a pattern using the width of the door for the width measurement. I, then, determined how far down I wanted the scallops to hang on the door and measured twice as long for the length of the fabric. I folded the paper in half to draw the shape, so it was symmetrical. (as I look at this sketch, I think I must have made the center scallop a bit longer than the sides) This is just one large piece of fabric with scallops cut into the bottom.

I sewed together the fabric and the lining then pressed and stitched the trim to the bottom (this trim could easily be hot glued onto the bottom)

Where you see dotted lines, I sewed from top to bottom with a basting stitch using a thick upholstery thread and leaving a long free end at the bottom.

I pulled the thread to gather the material up to the length I wanted and tied it off.

The big guy then attached a simple 1x2 inch board with "L" brackets to the surface of the door/window. Along the bottom, we screwed in simple cup hooks to hang the bamboo matchstick blinds (from Lowe's)

After the board was mounted, I hung the matchstick blinds on the cup hooks, then stapled the curtain to the board. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

***What would I do differently next time (you know that's how it always goes)? I would allow for the width of the board when I measured the width of the curtain. So, I would have made the fabric 4 inches longer so it was long enough to reach all the way around the corner of the board I stapled it to.

I've submitted this to Kimba's ASPTL DIY Linky Party. Want to party on down with her? Click the button below and par-tay!




Tutorial Tuesday - Sea Shell Dish

Hi all, it's Jennifer Juniper from Hope Studios guest posting for Amanda this week!. Let's make something cute with all those sea shells your kids carried home from the beach!

We all do it, come home from the beach with a big bucket of sea shells that smell to high heaven after the long car ride. If you vacation on the east coast then they are mostly clam shells and oyster shells, they're so ugly they're pretty.

I've always loved the delicate iridescent interior of shells but never found anything to do with them and after a bit they get tossed into the garbage or out into the sand box.

This year I was determined to make something beautiful and useful. I decided to make a dish, inspired by this lovely clam shell bowl by OKA.

Soak those shells in some bleach water, scrub 'em up, and gather your supplies:

Hot glue gun
Spray paint (I used Rustoleum hammered metal)
Paste wax

I chose a large clam shell with a beautiful interior and applied the paste wax then wiped it off and buffed to bring out the colors and shine of the interior of the shell. Apply just as you would shoe polish or marble polish.

See how it brings out the beautiful colors and shine?

Hot glue the large shell to a smaller shell turned upside-down as a "base". After it sets, turn the whole thing "pretty side" down to protect the interior and spray paint the entire outside. It gives the illusion that it is a metal footed bowl, molded into the shape of a shell.

What could you use such a dish for, you ask? Look and see...

I've decided to create a mini beach in mine and leave it on the windowsill over the sink to remind me of our great trip.

And check out the sweet little oyster shell dish next to the sink to hold my rings or earrings.

For some other great tutorials, check out some of my favorites from last week's Linky Party:

Cute Tank:

Photo Wall:

Foot Jewelry, perfect for the beach.

A Summer Scarf, to wrap up on a chilly night on the beach.

Okay, enough already! Go do something with all those sea shells! If you have time to show me something cool, I'd love to take a look.


Your Skin Fix, December Edition