Maddie Rae Gotcha Day

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the second day of Christmas... true love gave to me...a dishwasher without a leak.

So the tiling has been sidetracked for the moment because remember that little frozen pipe I mentioned? Well, it seems that it caused a little leak in our dishwasher line. So rather than baking up a storm, preparing my Christmas Eve feast, and making sure Santa has sustenance, I am gazing at the above scene. And again, perfect fodder for my favorite Christmas movie quote: "What can I say, Audrey? It's Christmas, and we're all in misery."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the Season...

...for home improvement. Actually, we've been in a pretty steady season of home improvement since moving home, but this week we're ramping it up a bit. We still have finishing details in the kitchen to attend to, so Jon is tiling the backsplash as my Christmas present. Only problem? I am having Christmas Eve dinner at my house and I have loads of stuff to make for my mom's house, and this is what my kitchen currently looks like:

Simultaneously, Jon has also decided to tackle the basement. We're going to finish it into a big rec room/sleeping area with a full bathroom. Here is the before:
And here is the hired help. Notice the coats? That is because it was 3 degrees last night! Brrrrrrr. We had our first frozen pipe. So I guess you can add that to the home improvement list too. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lunch, anyone?

So I posted my dog theory question on my facebook status, and it seems that food can indeed be linked to shedding, smell, and waste (according to my fb friends, at least). My friend Carol didn't really have any advice for me on the dog food front, but she did send me this little tidbit on the whole dog FOR food debate that still rages on in China. Jon actually saw this little delight for sale up in Tangxia, and I saw the photographic proof. Let's just say that even for a nondog lover like me, it was disturbing!

GUANGZHOU, China - While animal lovers in Beijing protested the killing of cats for food on Thursday, a butcher in Guangdong province — where felines are the main ingredient in a famous soup — just shrugged her shoulders and wielded her cleaver. "Cats have a strong flavor. Dogs taste much better, but if you really want cat meat, I can have it delivered by tomorrow," said the butcher, who gave only her surname, Huang.

Oh yeah, folks. That's right. It's not just an urban legend. EEEwwwwww.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dog theory

We have a dog. A bassett hound to be exact. She is a good dog. Kind, patient, loving, but unfortunately a total pain in my behind. I'm sorry to all the dog lovers out there, I'm just not one of them. I try, but usually the kids and Jon end up saying, "WHY do you HATE Chloe so much?" Let me count the ways: she steals any and all food she can reach (1), she barks at everything (2), she begs me for treats (3), she sheds (4), she stinks (5), did I mention she sheds (6, 7, 8, and 9), and she sheds (10). No, I really don't hate her. I just hate her hair. And her barking. And her smell.

Moving on...I have a theory. You see, when we moved home and got her back (She spent the first 2 years at my sister's house, and she hates dogs more than me. She spent her last year at my mom and dad's, and my dad is the genetic link to all of our hate for dogs.), I was determined to do something about the shedding. You may remember this post, where I gushed over the Furminator. I was faithfully brushing her every day, and the dog hair was minimal. Once fall hit and the temp cooled down, I stopped brushing her entirely, and still LITTLE DOG HAIR. Hallelujah. But then it all went wrong.

I went to the store a few weeks ago to get her new food, and they were out of the food I had been giving her. So I nonchalantly picked up a different brand. The last two weeks have been filled with dog hair, dog smell, dog hair, and more dog smell. I have been brushing her every day. I had her groomed and bathed. And still, dog hair, dog smell. What GIVES?! Then it dawned on me. I switched her food! Could this be the missing link? The cure all to shedding? I ran to the store this morning to buy the old food (which, consequently is the food we gave her as a puppy. She didn't shed as much then either, but I just thought it was a puppy thing). Fingers crossed that she starts smelling better and stops shedding so much asap. I'll let ya know.

Any dog owners out there who can confirm my theory?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tubby Trouble

The potty training is going really well. So well in fact, that I had total confidence 2 days ago. We had gone through the entire day with no accidents. I dropped her off in the church nursery (armed with two change of clothes), and she was in the same clothes when I picked her up. She even kept her diaper dry during her nap. What a star! I was gushing. Then came bathtime.

I was watching her ever so diligently as she played in the bath. OK. So really I was on the computer 5 feet away, asking her if she was okay every minute. But please don't tell the social worker. I started hearing a change in the venue. Rather than playing with her bath toys, I heard, "MAMA! MAMA! AH!"

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A nice little brown "deposit" in the bathtub. Oh! Ew! Screams and squeals from me. The boys run in. What, mom? AH! Screams, squeals, and laughter from them. My first thought: get her out of the tub. My second thought: grab my camera. This is blog fodder, after all.

But after careful consideration, I decided that you, my beloved readers (all 5 of you), probably would rather not see that delightful picture. However, this does prove my sister's point over on her blog today. Every mother should have a blog because rather than stress, you just laugh and grab your camera. After all, it's bloggable!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going Big Girl Cold Turkey

I decided that since we were onto the big girl habits, we might as well go all out. So yesterday we said goodbye to diapers AND the pack n play. My packing list for our Christmas trip to Ohio has diminished greatly, and my cash flow has increased slightly. Yay for Big Girls!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I spoke too soon...

Wouldn't ya know, right after I hit "publish post" on my previous gush of good news, the accidents started flowin'. This is the scene now. She is lying on her bedroom floor screaming and writhing around because she can't have a diaper. And I am reminded why I put this off for so long. I hate potty training.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Look what we're doing today...

I thought I would finally make good on my constant utterings of "I need to potty train her..." and go for it today. So far so good. It's 10:45 am and we've had LOTS of Starbursts and no accidents. A near miss, but I caught her just in time. And she looks so cute in her little undies, I just had to share.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rate My Space Drama continues...

It seems my dining room photo is sparking the most controversy over at Rate my Space. Here is a sample of one of the comments:

That rug and drapes and mirror are terrific together. I love the farmer's trestle table, but I'm not sure it works here, but maybe it does. Monitors and photos are often very inaccurate in portraying colors, but to mine the wall color just isn't working with the rug and drapes, which look blue rather than gray. I'd like to see you try something more adventurous. If the rug and drapes really are gray, then the sage walls would have been lovely, as would a sky blue, a sapphire blue, a silvery violet or rose. But, like I say, photos can be very misleading. I left no rating at all.


And my living room seems to need some help too:

Very pretty room. Love the built-ins. Nee to take some of the stuff off the mantle. Put that odd vase on the top shelf. Love the coffee table but you have too much on the tray. Turn the tray lengthwise and remove the magazines. The bowl can also go on the shelf. A candle would look nice. Some plants would liven up the place a bit. But now that you have it decorated for Christmas guess they can wait. Good Luc. Merry Christmas. :) BJ

Merry Christmas to you too, BJ.

I'm going back to Flickr.

More Ways to Waste Time...

It seems that there is no shortage of ways in which to waste, ahem...spend, my time online lately. I have already mentioned in a previous post my love for Flickr. I belong to several design/home groups on Flickr and everyone is ultra nice and encouraging. "I love the built-ins!", "Great job on the wall art!", and "Beautiful paint choice" fill up comment sections. Those Flickr faithfuls make your head swell and your heart beat with joy. Well today I happened upon another internet realm in which to house hunt and share your own photos: HGTV's "Rate My Space."

I quickly uploaded some photos of our house and put them out there. And then "WHAM." Suddenly I had hundreds of hits on my photos with comments like, "You need to paint that sidetable to match your bed" and "Get rid of your dining room chandelier. It's too dated and it makes the room look too heavy" and "A warm color on the walls would look better" and "I love your room, BUT I don't like the brown thing on the table." Wow! Rate my Space is not for the faint of heart. These people pack a punch. And now that I'm on blogger wasting time, I better get to the laundry while there's still daylight...(and maybe remove the ugly brown thing from my table. Sniff. Sniff.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bah Humbug

For all of my Christmas inspiration talks over the last few weeks, you would think I would have it all together and be surrounded by a sea of twinkling lights. But you would be wrong. There are two items on everyone's Christmas list that must be done, and they are the same two items that are still very UNdone in our house.

1. Get a Christmas tree. We still haven't done it, and the debate is still raging on. I think we will end up cutting down our tree at Walmart this year.

2. Get a Christmas card picture. We haven't done this one in 4 years because I was too cheap to pay for international postage. But we're back, and if I want to get back in people's good graces and receive cards from them, I better send them out. Right? So what's the problem? Getting motivated to take a bad picture of the fam. That's the problem.

Exhibit A: Christmas Card 2002. Cute picture, bad finger placement. And at least 10 ornaments were destroyed in the making of this photo by my ball throwing one year old.
Exhibit B: Christmas card attempts from 2003. Again. Finger placement. We actually sent this one out.
Exhibit C: Christmas Card attempts from 2007. With Maddie Rae being new and all, I thought I should shell out the dough for the postage and send everyone a little cheer from Hong Kong. However, I gave up after several of these:
So if you don't receive a card from us, you know why. It's not because we forgot you, or we don't love you, or we don't wish you a Merry Christmas. It's just because we're not very photogenic, and I'm too busy putting up my fake tree.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Made in China

China may have melamine in their milk and lead in their toys, but they have one thing they have made exactly right: the loose fitting slipcover. This is genius, I tell ya. I was a bit skeptical myself when I first went to the upholsterers shop in Hong Kong. I told them I wanted to reupholster my couch, and they suggested the loose fitting cover. It sounded like something straight out of that slipcover magazine that looks ill fitting and requires constant tucking in, but then they showed me the loose cover. I was sold. It's basically a cover that looks exactly like the upholstery, but it velcros under the couch so you can take it on and off and wash it. Genius! I don't really get how they do it, but they do. And all you upholsterers and sewers out there should do it too. Here's a little show of how easy and genius it is.

Step 1: Turn couch on its back and take the cover off. Little helpers make this a bit more difficult.
Step 2: Throw in washing machine.
Step 3: Hang to dry.

Step 4: Put it back on the couch.

Step 5: Enjoy your brand new looking upholstery sans stains (that is until the little buggers and dog mess it up again in the following 5 minutes!).

Now, if you are one of those families getting ready to go to China for your baby, or if someone in your family is going to China for business, it's time to reupholster your furniture! Have a tailor or upholsterer make a mock up of half the couch with some cheap muslin or cotton fabric. Take that with you to China, and then find a tailor to make you a loose fitting cover by copying the mock up. I have two covers for my couch. The fabric and labor only set me back about $80. Jon's going to China in January and you better believe I've already got my list ready for the tailor. They can also copy any clothing or picture that you take them. I had all my curtains made based on pictures from catalogs and magazines. You can buy the fabric here or there, but you will save bundles by buying it there. (Expect to pay about $3/yard max in China). The tailor can tell you where to get the fabric, and they usually have a bunch themselves. And of course, let me know how it goes and what you get!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm having a visitor this weekend, and I can't wait. I met her when we were both teaching. I was teaching 9th and 10th graders English and math, and she was teaching them flute after school. We were both a few weeks pregnant with our first babies, and we had all sorts of things to discuss. Names, bottles, diapers, gender, pregnancy woes: these were all topics of our new friendship. We clicked from the beginning. There was only one small problem. We were stupid.

Not only were we stupid, we were CLUELESS. I mean dumb as rocks, everyone-says-it but-that-won't-be-me, naive. We said things like, "I'm looking forward to the challenge of balancing everything after the baby arrives." And, "I can't wait 'till this kid comes out so I can get some SLEEP!" You see? Stupid.
We ended up, providentially I would say, having our babies on the same day. At this point we were still stupid, calling each other from our hospital beds saying, "Call me when you get home and I'll come over with the baby! We can have our first playdate next week!" And then we got home. That call didn't happen for three weeks. When my phone finally did ring, I heard no hello, no "want to come over for a playdate?" All I heard was, "PLEASE tell me this has been the hardest three weeks of your life too."

We forged through that first year of nursing woes, cholic, and sleepless nights and educated ourselves out of our stupidity with afternoon naps and big bowls of M&Ms. We commisserated. We cried. We laughed. And we grew up.

There was the next fateful phone call that came just 12 months later. I was frantic, crying, pacing, heart pounding. I picked up the phone and dialed. No greeting. No "How are you?" Just "I'M PREGNANT" screamed into the phone. How would I handle another baby when I was just getting on my feet from the first one?

She ended up pregnant within a few months (without me having to sneak into her house and sabotage her birth control), and we delivered our second children 10 weeks apart. When she called to tell me she was pregnant with her third child, we were waiting on a referral for our daughter from China. When I told Jon the news, he asked, "When is she due?"

"December," I replied.

"I guess that means we'll be getting our daughter around December then."

And he was right. We first held Maddie Rae in our arms on October 30, and 6 weeks later Henry arrived in her arms.

We don't take ourselves too seriously, and we can laugh at all our past stupidity. We can get a shopping high like you wouldn't believe, and we can talk for hours. I know I can call her at any time in any situation, and she will know the right thing to say. The years have taken us to different states and even countries, but one thing has remained constant. We will always be kindred spirits, BFFs, LYLASs, and we will probably look back on our naive present selves and laugh too. Remember before our kids were teenagers and we thought we were in the hard part? Ha! We were so Stupid! But the secret is, she's not stupid. She's brilliant, and I can't wait to spend the whole weekend with her!
Us having a cold one in the Russian Vodka Bar in Hong Kong. This was the only picture she took the entire 10 days she was visiting me in Hong Kong. Hmmm. Not sure what that says about us...
It all began with these two...Jack and Danielle. We're still holding out hope that they'll fall in love and get married. However, when they get together they fight constantly. We swear something was in the water on September 17, 2001 to make these two so fiesty!

And her brood now. Aren't they adorable? :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are they Real or Fake?

"Raise your hand for REAL. Now raise your hand for FAKE." We've had a lot of plastic surgery in our house, but that's not the subject of our votes this week. This week it's all about the Kelley Family Real or Fake Christmas Tree Debate.

I come from a long line of Christmas family traditions. One of my favorite Christmas memories (as evidenced here) was the annual cutting down of the Christmas tree. It was an ushering in of the season, a family togetherness bonding moment, and a true warm fuzzy feeling. Plus, my dad has been known to say that if he ever catches wind of one of us having a fake Christmas tree, he won't even grace the front door. We took the tree seriously in our house.

On the other side of the ring, you have Jon. His memories of Christmas trees involve assembling the tree, dusting off the branches, and plugging 'er in.

Falling in the middle are our lovely offspring. They don't really care whether they get that fresh pine scent when they open the front door. They just want to put the tree UP. The quickest path to that end? The fake Christmas tree sitting in a box in the basement.

This isn't just any fake Christmas tree. This tree was purchased in Hong Kong during our first Christmas there. It was billed as a 6 foot tree, but it's really more like 4 feet. It has about 5 branches for every foot and resembles the Charlie Brown Christmas tree more than anything real. It's ugly. It's barren. And it's time to replace it with a nice real one. The problem? We haven't had time to go get the real tree and the fake one is RIGHT THERE tempting Jack at every turn. "MOM! WHY can't we just put up the FAKE one?"

Last night after the vote (in which I lost 4 to 1), Jack reasoned with me. "MOM. Who bought this house? Dad. Who works every day and makes all the money to pay for the house? Dad. Who wants a FAKE tree? Dad. He bought the house. He makes the money. He does all the work. He should win." And this is the part where my dear husband jumps to my defense and rattles off all of the ways in which I work and am indispensible to the family and reminds his son of who made the dinner sitting right in front of him. Right? Wrong. This is the part where he just smiles and shrugs as if to say, "You lose."

But I'm the boss of the house, and we're getting a real tree.

Top Notch Swill

Today the lovely, talented, and absolutely hilarious Lisa has been a dear and posted my very humbling account of my most embarrassing moment EVER over at her new blog project, Top Notch Swill. So if you would like to see how every shred of dignity I ever had was stripped from me, you can jump over there and read all about it. If you want some more good laughs, go visit her very hilarious blog, Motherlode. I promise you will not be disappointed.