Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New goals redux, cutting out the fat!

So how are those new goals working out for ya, TwynMawrMom?

Last week I tried to get my act together since completely dissolving into a pile of unmotivated mush after my 70.3

Here's how I did:
  • Finish all sewing orders thinking Tuesday & Wednesday.
Got them all done by this Wednesday morning, and got two more orders since...sigh...last Wednesday I ended up 'playing hookey' from my sewing work and visited a friend's baby and had a surprise lunch date with hubby. WORTH IT. I also forgot about my quilting bee, so I'm slowly getting caught up there as well, and feeling inspired for the holidays! So I definitely got my 'sew' going...
  • Work out ONCE. At the very least. It has been since my half-ironman, and I just want to run on the treadmill just one mile just ONE, PLEASE? Lord you frustrate me, woman!! Thinking Thursday morning
Yes...I did stick to this plan. When I visited my friend with newborn, she wanted to go for a walk. So if she wanted to get up and get going two weeks after giving birth to her third child, then yes, I could run for 2 miles on the TM the next morning. And....then I haven't gotten up since. But at least I 'broke the seal.' 
  • Organize/purge master closet [this may be ambitious, but I have actually gone around the house purging and cleaning and this is the last vestige of serious mess Thinking Friday morning
Hahaha that master closet. It has only gotten worse with my other endeavors...I'm not even going to LOOK at it until the Spring, I swear...I'll find a million sweaters I could have worn all Winter but it's worth it not to have to clean that shizz. Santa better buy me some sweaters or something. Or I'll just wear the same one I've been wearing the last two years for at least 2-3 days per week. Everyone seems to be used to that and it's just safer to not differentiate between days. The sewing projects and Christmas projects that are starting to crop are only going to make matters worse. But what am I supposed to do? Stop and clean in the middle of a project and fold fabric up and put it away in neat little color-coded piles? That's insane. So no.
  • Get Flu shot. Last year I missed it and was sick for A MONTH Jan/Feb. It was awful. I got an actual ear infection. In adults, it is incredibly rare and way worse than kids apparently. And I did it to myself by not taking enough antihistamines, because I didn't want to dry out my voice for audition season. So there went audition season, there went my hearing for a month, and I was seriously off-track workout wise and high as a kite at Disney World with all the drugs I needed to make myself function. GET FLU SHOT YOU IDIOT. Thinking Thursday morning
Because I played hookey on Wednesday morning from my sewing, I tried to make up for it on Thursday morning after my as-promised-on-blog-treadmill-run, then ran to get the kids straight off the bus from their first-ever field trip [to the Planetarium! Mommy, did you know Saturn's rings are made of rocks?], drive straight to doc's for their flu mist on Thursday afternoon, and the boy got his stitches out at the same time, which turned into a total cluster eff because they had to call a third doctor down in what was increasingly becoming all the staff's lunch hour, to the room to hold my little guy down from all the fussing, so after that we had to basically run straight home, get some food in us, and head straight to gymnastics and try to focus for an hour to justify the cost of that class, and then try not to drive mommy insane before she got a drink in her while she so lovingly prepared three dinners for the three separate people in the family that she so faithfully serves. 
So no. I did not get a flu shot on Thursday. 

But I did make kids wait with me to get one after pick up on Friday morning from school. So yes. Friday morning.
  • Start to organize holidays: book kids' 5th bday party, look at Thanksgiving menu items, draw up a 'gift list', etc. Thinking in evenings during TV watching 
By this point I was making headway on my list, so I was feeling a little more inspired by my new mini-goals mini-achievement.
So yes! Did book kids 5th, did some Christmas shopping online, did some Thanksgiving menu thinking while TV watching.
  • Get a hold of holiday weight gain before it happens. Last year after tri season I lost weight just being out of training mode, but that hasn't seemed to happen this year! Whoops! So I gotta cut out the sweets, at least, to start. Just sugar in my morning coffee, and less wheat, please. Starting now
Ummm...did you see my last #funforFriday post? As the boss in Office Space would say: "Yeah... I'm gonna need you to work on that."

Ok so that looks like I'm like 50/50.

And here's where I think I'm going, according to some pumped up tirade I got into with the hubby this past weekend:

Fast-ness. [TRI}

Focus. [PERFORM]

True to self. [MOMMY]

I did start to think about next Tri season, and some of the mommies who said they'd like to do one with me. I'm going to focus on being faster for once in my life, not building endurance, as I have been the last 6 years. This will start with trying new things...like a class my friend wants me to try. I haven't done any Cross-Fit, and certainly not any new Fitness classes in awhile other than the Body Pump with my bestie this summer. So I'm going to do less swimming, biking, and running in the coming months and try to focus on core to see where that may lead me. Starting in January

After seeing my first production at the Arden Theatre, I'm re-inspired to prepare for auditions in the Spring (which sometimes start in January) by looking at roles that would be a dream to play. Roles that I would be right for. I'm still in that mindset I was when I first started out, and every synopsis I read I'd think, "Oh, I could kinda play that role...I could kinda be the maid in that one...I could sing that song...." What I really should be focusing on, is what I should play. What role have I seen/do I know that I'm like, "that is MADE for ME!" THOSE are the roles I should study, grab monologues/songs for, and practice over and over so that they are in my back pocket when audition season rolls around. I don't want the casting directors to tell me what I'm right for, I want to tell them what I'm right for. And even if they are not casting that play right now, or anything similar, at least they will know that I know what is right for me, and perhaps I'll make such an impression that they will think of me if a similar position crops up. You'd think I'd have already done this exercise, and actually I have, but in my 20's I had no perspective on my type, and in my early 30's either...and well...as I approach my 40's I'm a little lost again. This is why I like to write my own pieces. But it doesn't mean there aren't some gems out there that I just haven't stumbled upon yet...[actually seeing shows in performance does help!] Overall it does make me happy that I'm writing again...I realize I like being a part of theatre, from all sides. I think that one's legacy in theatre is more substantial when you create it...either by creating a role or writing a role. I do, at the end of the day, prefer new work, and new work prefers me. Can't get around it. I'll never be Sandy, or Maria, or Maria, or ... I digress!

This goes in line with me being truer to myself and understanding what I actually am looking for. I've been running around my house trying to get it organized and realized that it is a full-time job taking care of the kids and household and I'm not good at it IF I don't focus on it. I like my diversions, but this is my job. I've signed up for a couple of kiddie-class-trials in the next few weeks to revamp our search for the perfect dance class for her, and karate class for him. I've talked to the hubby about the plans for the next year and after that...nothing solid yet, just understanding his wants/needs and mine. And if I'm going to have that real conversation with him, I have to have it with myself as well. Starting now


So all of this from a little avoidance of the failed 'cut out the sugar' rule?? Wow. I must really not want to do that. ;)

Cutting out the sugar? Cutting out the fat's more like it! 

So, for next week and a half (as this week is already halfway through and Halloween-filled):
  1. Sewing orders, quilting bee work & begin Christmas projects (like my own personal stocking?) 
  2. 1 workout (figure once every other week ought to stave off the heart attacks)
  3. More Thanksgiving menu items (get Hubby involved)
  4. Find one dream role and print up its monologue and/or song(s) Oh, that reminds me to put together choreography for friend's dance class next Monday, whoops!
Does something have to go in your life? 
What are you focusing on?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Parade at the Arden Theatre


I'm SO late to this production because it ends its run this Sunday, but you still have time to go see it!

So go.

Because one of my friends is an understudy and had the advanced notice that she would be going on for a Tuesday morning performance at 10 o'clock, typically slated for high school students, I had the opportunity to go and see this wonderful production at an otherwise very odd time.

Although I can easily say Jason Robert Brown is one of my favorite composers, I have to be honest: I had no idea this production existed. When not thoroughly engaged in musical theater in New York City I do not pay attention to what is on Broadway; I'm usually too stuck in my own head. This Tony award-winning show should not be missed. And although Jason Robert Brown shows are not often performed I have seen more and more productions popping up as his name gets around and this is a fantastically good good thing. [Remember that big audition I was prepping for in back in April? It was another Jason Robert Brown play.]

I think one of his best features is his intimate way of portraying relationships and the delicate details therein. You know: the good and the bad and the sarcastic and light and the heavy and dark that you feel in a relationship all at the same time. And, well, neurotic New Yorkers. He's got those down...

This play centers on a true story: a trial in the America South in the early 1900s. The trial of a Jewish male factory supervisor who is accused of killing one of his young female factory workers. It's a story of how twisted southern morays were at that time and how a Jew on trial represents the rampant racism and prejudice pervading the south. Indeed, having grown up in the South and as we have all just witnessed in the Trayvon Martin case, racism, segregation, and violence still pervade our country. There are some eerily similar parallels in these cases made all the more eery that this all takes place a century before.

All seriousness aside it was a fantastic and entertaining production. The singing and music is just as detailed and intricate as the plot. And it also has wonderful notes of Sondheim, Bernstein, Joplin, and other musical styles of the era. Also I generally do not enjoy serious, heavy plots. I got mom stuff to do. I need a comedy. But because of the music, and small comedic moments, the show moves very well and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I think it's a very well-balanced script and score.

On a sidenote, although I have been acquainted with her for a few years now, this gave me my first chance to finally see one of the stars of Philadelphia theater perform: Jennie Eisenhower. She was remarkable. Amazing. A well trained and studied performance as the wife of the man on trial. Clearly, she is a star of her own making. I now see why she is one of the darlings of the Philadelphia theater scene. I can see how much of a chameleon she really is.

Another side note, is that because I had never previously been acquainted with this show I now have a few more audition snippets to look into. The role my friend Tabitha J. Allen was under-studying was the girl factory worker's mother, and as she gave testimony at the trial, a very small but highly emotional scene takes place and lends itself to a nice short audition piece. And you know I'm always looking for those mom-types! This friend is actually also my musical coach, and she has been known to yell at me to choose an audition piece less than 10 years old. So I think I will steal this one from her right off the bat. [Even though she will say it is actually 15 years old...sigh...]

And that starring female lead, played by Ms Eisenhower, is also rich in emotion and intelligent material that's ripe for the picking.

But the stand out in the show is by far played by Ben Dibble, who portrays Leo Frank, the man on trial. His nuanced performance with moments comedic, sexy, angry, and altogether highly emotional, is simply magnificent.  I read in the program that he is actually a theater professor. And I want him to be mine! So fitting that he mentioned this was a dream role for him. There is nothing like a Jason Robert Brown character. Never black-and-white: gray, just like our modern lives. It inspires me to find my dream-roles and focus on those productions that may pop up in the area. Also, to study those roles for possible audition material....which is something that all of my coaches/friends-in-the-biz have been telling me for a long time... as always, a dreamer. [I'll go into this further in my "New Goals Redux" later this week...]

Dream big, TwynMawrMom! You never know.

All of the actors are Philadelphia mainstays. On a personal note, it's very good for me to see the best-known actors in the region and the communities within the larger Philadelphia Theatre Community that make this town tick. What a lucky surprise that I was able to see a daytime production of this show. Methinks I have to get on some kind of list in the future so that I can attend all of these performances geared towards high school field trips... Or maybe I should just become a high school theater teacher.

And you? Dreaming big these days? 
Ah yes, what about? Do tell!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

PA Rennaissance Faire

Yes we did realize we had a little too much Disney Cruise garb going on, showing our true colors...
The medieval tool belt with the cup, the weapon, and the change purse...Ah yes, the Renn Faire.

Having given in to my husband's whimsy and finally taken our children to the PA Faire, I have a couple of thoughts.

First of all, it was fun. The kids loved the turkey legs ["BIGGEST CHICKEN LEG EVER" says my son],




the Joust competition ["CHEAT.TO.WIN my daughter learns to shout],


the treats & shopping, of course. It was a great little family day out!

We lasted from about 11:30 to 4 pm, catching a glass-blowing demo, the Joust Competition, a Comedy Improv show, and the "Kamikaze Fireflies" act, which incoporated some circus stunts, juggling fire, and a pretty gymnast...you know, the whole nine yards.



But I started to notice...this is really kind of an adult-centric activity. I used to be creeped out by the intimate knowledge I share of the performer-types who gravitate towards these festivals and their psyches...it becomes a way of life...they often travel year-round, festival to festival, living a gypsy life that resembles the original gypsy life, complete with fleeting relationships and odd coping skills to the "modern" way of life. It can get very incestuous and, if you are tuned into it,  you can see the underlying relationships and intentions in the performers' improvisations. I know of what I speak, and don't ask me why. Creepy for me. I try to block it out.

But on this occasion, I also found myself checking out the spectators' odd intentions. I wonder what causes you to dress up your baby, his stroller, your wife and yourself in the whole garb? Like, the authentic, expensive garb, and the proud look on your face when you greet your fellow spectators "Good morrow to you my good man", whom you know from previous visits, and your kin in tow? I just don't....I just don't know.

There are some interesting sub-groups in these spectators, and I wonder how they came to choose said subgroups. I'm just working this out here a little...

Steampunk - does this somehow relate to the Industrial Revolution? Hubby seems to think it has a relation to Jules Verne somehow. Isn't that... turn of the century? Like 1900's, people? Cuz the Rennaissance was, like, 600 years earlier...just saying...I'm not bitter or anything that my husband just lost his work Jack-o-Lantern competition to a group who just stuck a bunch of steampunk accessories on a bunch of pumpkins without any carving whatsoever- no, not bitter. Not I! Back to the faire...

Literary buffs - the original birthpeople of the Faire. Can relate everything to Shakespeare (late 1500's by the way), and will quote at least three times before you leave his/her presence. Enjoys a good witty quip and enjoys ripping into you or their counterpart even more. You gotta respect these types. They are in it for the history. They wanna go back to the way things used to be. They're in it to win it.

Beastlies - incorporating some type of animal wear into the concoction. Because....you became one with the animal after you killed it in the forests of Nottingham?? And the masks...I mean, would you prefer to wear this out in real life, and you just had to take the opportunity here to live out your fantasies? I wonder...

So what you're saying is, you enjoy being creepy in your leisure time.
 Soliders/Knights - who inevitably have a cell phone attached to their ear along with the thousands of dollars of leather armor on their shoulders. AND REAL SWORDS. Hubby was in the sword shop with the kids and he started to realize that any of these guys could get a little fired up on ye ol' Ale and start swinging REAL BLADES at his children's neck-level. We left the shop promptly. I mean, they check the weapons at security, but only to make sure you don't have a real gun or something. Swords - no problem! I must admit I felt completely safe. It is all fun and games. Until someone insults your maiden! You just never know.

And I was just like, taking pictures of my son and an axe...like it's no big deal...
The half-commits- everything from the waist up is medieval but then you have your weapon tied with a zip tie to the belt loop on your acid-washed jeans. And how do you have a polartec-draped-hoodie that resembles a cape? Do you wear this all the time? Who made that sh** for you? Still living with mama? Good for you. She takes care of you. You know it.
Annnd...the top hat.
The Pirates. WTF people. I mean, granted Pirates of the Carribbean is a great ride and has turned into a great movie series, but pirates started with the shipping business, which peaked about...1700's.... So this would have started a good 400 years after the Rennaissance. Why are the originals so ok with this? Growing the business, people; growing the business...I mean, when we witnessed the Joust, one of the factions' ruler was a "Pirate Queen" of Ireland? How does this work? Just because a very talented actress can do an Irish accent and be bitchy, and all the other royals are busy on other stages at high noon, doesn't mean we can change all the rules...

Those in modern costume. It is Halloween after all...but like, the full, pink furry fox costume?? Where are we going with this? The costumes did include a tiny Merida with her three brothers in bear costumes. Could not. have been. cuter!! And...kinda appropriate, I must say. Go mom.

Those with one simple add-on: cloaks and corsets as far as thee eye can see, as if they wear this shit all the time. They may! This is a lifestyle, folks. You get the sense they goth it up once the sun goes down. There are at least one of these ladies who does not own a real bra, I guarantee. And she's in the double letters. I mean, I was one of the smaller ladies around, so....you get the idea.

I mean, it's a level of creepy. That's all I have to say.

And fun, too! Right? 

I mean, what about LOTR stuff. You gotta love it. That's for realz, not even a sub-group. It's more of a literary sub-category. And I will allow it. And if you don't know what LOTR stands for, I'm sorry for you.

Don't overthink it, TwynMawrMom...I mean, they did have pierogies. There's something very right about pierogies at an outdoor festival. You gotta be happy with that. This is PA after all...

And I did almost buy a corset. I got sized, found one I liked, then found out they started at $125...whoah...pumping the brakes on this one.

[For now.]
[Gonna comparison shop on ETSY of course... ;) ]
I serendipitiously tapped the right fairy for this pic...and fairy isn't a euphamism.

Any Fall Outdoor festivals working for you these days? 
What's your favorite outdoor family day like?
Am I missing a subgroup you can name?



Friday, October 25, 2013

What I eat #funforFriday

1 beautiful, delicious chobani coconut yogurt whilst watching Top Chef

after the first beautiful, delicious chobani coconut yogurt whilst watching Modern Family

after the cookie that was supposed to be my only dessert

after the cherry tomatoes I got out to make a salad for my husband's dinner

after the hot dog with bun and ketchup I ate leftover from my son's dinner

after the pork and rice that was supposed to be my only dinner

after licking the bowl I used to heat up my daughter's portion of black bean soup for her dinner

after the cookie to hold me over

after the bit of brownie to hold me over

after the third coffee

after the everything pretzel thins to hold me over

after the cookie

after the lunch out with hubby: stir fry and birch beer

after the second coffee

after the first coffee

after the bit of bacon and raisin bread left over from the kids' breakfast

after the cookie

after waking up

after making a late night batch of...you guessed it...cookies!

Must be baking season! 
Or maybe it's baby season...
What do you eat?? 
Do seeing cute little newborn toes and fingers make you hungry?

Soooooo delicious.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New goals

Oh man...I've been WAITING for this! 

Some little hint of some kind of motivation SOMEWHERE within this body and/or brain of mine.

You know how you start literally curling down within yourself, and your neck and head start to hang and head towards your stomach and your lower back starts to strain and you start to fold yourself in half so much so that you start to get that osteoporosis stance, forbidding anything and everything to get in between your heart and stomach, least of all the light of the world and any opportunity for anything to open you up?

I was just driving around yesterday when I realized how much tension I was holding in my body for no good reason. I just kind of 'checked myself', pulled my shoulders back, and took a big, deep, breath.

Suddenly, I was no longer coughing this dreaded cough that has infested my family. While opening up my air passageways, I also managed to get some air to my brain and start to see a pathway towards what I needed to get done on my plate.

Either all of that, or I just finally learned how my coffee bean grinder works and got the real stuff going again.

[long story.]

[ok I'll tell you: the blessed coffee company this guy has hooked me onto kept sending beans instead of grinds by mistake, so I finally just emailed them to get their act together so they sent me a free 'demo' grinder from their store and it has taken me three months to figure out how it works, since I didn't get an instruction manual with it. Yesterday was the first day I had coffee-colored coffee again. But thanks for the learning opportunity, SpecialtyJava.com!]

Anyways, I'm taking this moment to steal an idea from my friendly blogger here and getting my act together.

New goals this week! 

  1. Finish all sewing orders [that's 1 t-shirt quilt, 3 panties orders, 1 fish extender, 2 friends' custom requests] thinking Tuesday & Wednesday
  2. Work out ONCE. At the very least. It has been since my half-ironman, and I just want to run on the treadmill just one mile just ONE, PLEASE? Lord you frustrate me, woman!! Thinking Thursday morning
  3. Organize/purge master closet [this may be ambitious, but I have actually gone around the house purging and cleaning and this is the last vestige of serious mess Thinking Friday morning
  4. Get Flu shot. Last year I missed it and was sick for A MONTH Jan/Feb. It was awful. I got an actual ear infection. In adults, it is incredibly rare and way worse than kids apparently. And I did it to myself by not taking enough antihistamines, because I didn't want to dry out my voice for audition season. So there went audition season, there went my hearing for a month, and I was seriously off-track workout wise and high as a kite at Disney World with all the drugs I needed to make myself function. GET FLU SHOT YOU IDIOT. Thinking Thursday morning
  5. Start to organize holidays: book kids' 5th bday party, look at Thanksgiving menu items, draw up a 'gift list', etc. Thinking in evenings during TV watching
  6. Get a hold of holiday weight gain before it happens. Last year after tri season I lost weight just being out of training mode, but that hasn't seemed to happen this year! Whoops! So I gotta cut out the sweets, at least, to start. Just sugar in my morning coffee, and less wheat, please. Starting now
Alright kids let's get this party started. 

What's your new goal this week? 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The search for the #familycar


Duh, you guessed it. I've mentioned before, we are scouting out a new family car. It's coming. The minivan.is.coming. My cliche.life.will.be.complete!

No, honestly, I don't have a thing against the minivan, and between our Costco habit and my hubby's penchance for carpentry, we need some serious cargo space.

But, and not to get off topic, I'd just like to say, that when I was understudy-ing the role in Motherhood: the Musical that sings the "Minivan"song, and I had to go on unexpectedly for the first time, I accidentally left on my prop sunglasses for the entire number, to the great entertainment of my colleagues on stage as well as the audience.

I think this was not an accident. I think I will be buying some Jackie O's and permanently affixing them to my noggin as soon as the papers are signed on this thing. Anyhoo...

I'm so dying to get to some magical place where I can put all the front runners next to each other and climb through the backs so I can see where I won't be cursing my children to strap themselves into the back and won't be hitting my head on the entry way and/or inside DVD player.

And by the way, I am short. 

But that magical place [*cough* carmax *cough*] is at least an hour away, so before we go back I obviously need to list out the pros & cons & features & measurements here for you guys. 

You know, cuz that's why you are here. To make decisions for me.
[thanks]

RECRUITING FOR:
MUST HAVE
  • a roomier family car (we currently have a CR-V)
  • 3rd row seat for carpool/playdates & visiting grandparents
PREFER ALSO
  • some luxe feel for the driver
  • DVD & rear view camera
  • easy access to third row
  • roof rack?
IN THE CROSSOVER SUV TEAM:
Buick Enclave
PROS
  • I drove it; it feels hot (might have been 6 cylinder, 4WD)
  • LOTS of storage space for a crossover with a 3rd row, prob the most
  • I like the captains, easier access to the third row
  • LOTS of luxe features incl. AC adapter in back with cable inputs for a game system, heating & cooling seats
CONS 
  • mpg are prob going to be the lowest of anything we are looking at
  • it's basically a Chevy Traverse, just with luxe details, and the diff in price is quite a bit
There were three different types of cable inputs for the Buick; which means gaming system for hubby/son
The interior of the Buick was really enticing for a family of four
There was definitely more room in the back of the Buick than our CR-V, even with the third row up

Nissan Pathfinder
PROS
  • for some reason this is hubby's latest crush looks-wise
  • we would be buying new to get the newest design
  • "tri-zone" DVD system in seat-backs allows for individual entertainment
  • second row seats "kneel" so as to allow easy access to 3rd row while still maintaining all 3 seats (and potential car seats) in tact in 2nd row
  • may be able to get the 2014 hybrid edition
CONS 
  • we'd be buying new to get the newest design so we'd be paying a premium for that
  • still feels very big for a crossover
  • not much cargo space with 3rd row up; not much with it down either 
Mazda CX-9
PROS
  • least expensive of the crossover SUV options we are looking at
  • this manual-option transmission I found very exhilarating as a former manual driver
  • great, fun drive; hot design all around
CONS
  • the third row is truly an afterthought; very tight
  • visibility is a little poor
Some free-agent luxury SUV we didn't know we could get so cheap
PROS
  • we will finally 'belong' on the Main Line
  • we will enter our 40's in luxe
CONS
  • we will cringe every time our children enter it 
SOME OUTSIDE NOTES ON THESE SUV'S:
 
79.8 cubic feet storage space in Nissan Pathfinder.


The Enclave offers 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 68.9 cubic feet with the third row folded and 115.2 cubic feet with the second and third rows of seats folded. These dimensions are among the largest in the class, and the Enclave offers more overall cargo space than some large SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe. The Enclave also comes standard with a power liftgate. Reviewers are very pleased with the Enclave’s available cargo space, as well as its small-item storage in the cabin.  
Another test driver appreciates that the second-row seats fold and slide easily to allow access to the third row. 

  IN THE MINIVAN TEAM:
Honda Odyssey
PROS
  • does not drive any differently than my CR-V
  • I've been in the back of one with 5 two-year-olds and still had shoulder space
  • seems to be the biggest, baddest minivan around
  • that minivan push-button door opening thing (as opposed to SUV's)
CONS 
  • does not drive any differently than my CR-V
  • it's priciest than any other minivan
Chrysler Town & Country
PROS
  • a LOT cheaper than the Honda, even with luxe details
  • all the seats completely recess to the floor; no lifting them out
  • push-button recess for third row (no wrestling for mama)
  • that minivan push-button door opening thing
CONS 
  • the least sexy of any of above
  • don't know what our maintenance will be like, since we are used to reliable Honda's   
  • There were two screens on the Town & Country; this intrigued me.
    I really liked that all the seats disappeared without having to be taken out
SOME OUTSIDE NOTES ON MINIVANS:
(the Caravan is the same frame as the Town & Country) 
The 2014 Honda Odyssey has good cargo space for its class. It has 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 93.1 cubic feet behind the second row and 148.5 cubic feet behind the front seats. Reviewers love how easy it is to fold the third-row seats flat into the floor. One test driver says the Odyssey’s manual-folding third row folds down faster than the power-folding systems found in rival minivans. Another writes that when the third-row seats are in use, there is still enough space behind them for a week’s worth of groceries. Unlike the Dodge Grand Caravan’s second row, the Odyssey’s second-row seats do not fold flat into the floor. The bevy of small-item storage features inside the Odyssey draw praise from the automotive press. They include an available drink-chilling compartment, an available trash bag holder and a number of other bins, pockets and trays.

The Chrysler Town & Country has 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 83.3 cubic feet behind the second row and 143.8 cubic feet behind the first. The second and third rows feature Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go technology, folding flat into the floor, and reviewers say this is a very helpful feature. In competing minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, you have to remove the second-row seats from the vehicle to get a flat load floor. Both rear rows fold manually, but a power-folding third row is optional. One automotive journalist appreciates the variety of individual storage areas throughout the cabin, including the under-floor bins in front of the Stow ‘n Go seats.

Some test drivers think that the driver’s seat in the Town & Country lacks legroom, and is uncomfortable on long trips. The second-row seats are large and offer good support, according to other reviewers, though some also say that they are mounted a bit low. As with most minivans, some reviewers think that three adults will struggle to fit in the Town & Country’s third row, though one test driver says that two people will fit comfortably. 

As you can probably tell, I'm crush-ing on the Buick. And the front-runner for the minivan is prob the Town & Country.

I think, for this purchase, we might as well get the minivan. It will make more sense in these next few years. 

And I don't really understand, although I've always been loyal to Honda, why I would spend an extra 50% on what is still a minivan that I'm expecting the kids to crap up in 20 seconds flat? 

Mama may have to convince Hubby to get a Nissan Z for the second car in a few years. For now we are probably not trading in the CR-V so when he wants to upgrade, let's hope for that sports car mama can drive on the weekends...I've never even told you about my Audi TT bet with him...

I'll let you know what we end up getting! My MIL will be visiting around Halloween so that's probably when we'll have the next chance to make a move...

But, if I had to guess...

I'm going to be blasting the "minivan" song as I roll through the preschool line in no time...

"LOOK AT ME, IN MY MINIVA-A-AN"

Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY Halloween decorations, bats, ghosts, Jack-O-Lanterns, pumpkin muffins and more! #funforFriday

Since school began we have not had a normal week yet! Meaning, someone has missed a day of school at least once a week. It's crazy. This week so far we've had 1 sour stomach, 2 stuffed up noses and 5 stitches alone! [my excuse for not blogging as much ;)] So we've had a lot of indoor decoration opportunity time, and I'm happy to share some of the latest Halloween fun with you here. We are not fancy, we just take stuff in the house and make it fit the season.

Last year I posted a DIY ghost, and I continued that tradition here. Last year I just used plastic bags, but this year I had very little, and I wanted them to be a little stiffer, so I found a white linen remnant leftover from another order and just kept it to 8 stiff ghosts.

I cut 12 x 12 linen squares with pinking shears, balled up some tissue paper or newspaper and put it inside for the head, then tied it off with a ribbon.

Last year I used plastic bags so that they would be more weather-proof, but they still got a little tired by Halloween anyways, so I'd rather them start out stiffer in linen this year.

My daughter used a marker to make some faces.
The key to hanging them is that you want the head above the tree branch so that they don't look like hanging men, just floating ghosts.

The new project that hit me this year was to use these old plastic orange planters that I had no use for, and make them into Jack - O - Lanterns.

This was real complicated: my kids painted them. Well actually I painted the faces, and then let them have their way with the rest of it.

I would like to fill them with some dried sunflowers or fake flowers and put them out on Halloween night. Or maybe some mums!

So then we got a little carried away and made bats out of black plastic planters, some silver paint, and some pieces of cardboard we painted black.

 
I hot-glued the wings on and used the holes in the bottom of the planter to thread the ribbon so you can hang them up!  Don't forget to paint the faces upside-down if you are planning on hanging them. I actually painted two faces  - one right side up and one upside down so that I could either hang them, or put them on the patio next to the Jack-O-Lanterns.


Then it was time to make pumpkin muffins.

 

 We got this super easy recipe from their preschool:

PUMPKIN MUFFINS
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 lb can pumpkin
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Measure all ingredients in a big mixing bowl. Beat together well for 5 minutes. Pour into cupcake pans (fill more than 1/2 full). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Over the weekend we had fun with Daddy at Linvilla Orchards. They had an Apple Sling, which I would think would be super easy to make at home, too.



 

"So the ghostes are the pigs, and the apples are the angry birds, Daddy?"



 

I have to say I never really got 'into' Halloween until I had kids. It is definitely something to do and get ready for, since they LOVE candy, dressing up, and harassing the neighbors.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN-ING! 

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Friday, October 11, 2013

BFFs #funforFriday


One day this week the little girl was feeling a little under the weather so we had a pajama party at home while the little boy ran off the school.

This also afforded the opportunity for him to get picked up from school with his BFF, which turned into a play date rather quickly. 
Happy Boy in the back with his 'bro'
These dudes often get this idea cooked up at school: "He's coming over to our house"; "I'm going to his house"; "we are going to McDonald's"; "we are going to get ice cream"; "we are going to the zoo" ; "we are going to the playground"; "we are going to play video games with steering wheels."

It's all very convenient.

And, like suckers, we mommies usually try to accommodate the plan.

They have a unique friendship, I think, because they are both one half of a boy-girl twin duo, so it's as if they are discovering on a daily basis that they could actually be stuck with a playful boy all day instead of a bossy twin sister. 

But this day, a day which happened to be an extended school day, PLUS a play date with Mr. BFF, well it quickly went from something like this:
A cupcake moment from earlier this summer
To this:
Upon the realization that he is no longer at BFF's house for the remainder of the day
To this: 
Fast asleep
In under an hour. 

He proceeded to sleep from 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM. 

And then he woke up and said he wanted to go back to BFF's house. 

Ah...may these days never end!

Happy Friday!!!
Any plans with your BFF this weekend?! 






Thursday, October 10, 2013

I've always enjoyed driving fast

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.
~ Fulton Oursler
I'm not in a good place tonight. I'm playing the "what if" game and that's never a good thing. I guess it is a testament to how happy I am in my life right now because that is always the precise moment in which I would like to muck it up. And I don't mean muck.

I wonder how I could have made my musical theatre career happen earlier, or bigger, or badder. I imagine how I could have built up my songwriting skills with my music buddies in college more. Could have gone off with the band after graduation. How I could have stayed in NYC instead of following my now-husband out of town. I would have continued with my writing partner and how many more musicals could have had a chance. How I could have chosen to continue with the BMI composer/lyricists workshop instead of getting my masters in a "legit" degree (read: pointless but somehow more respectable) in French & Romance Philology, of which I had to look up the meaning upon being accepted. What if I had decided to study with Ann Reinking, as I was invited to, the summer before leaving for college instead of hanging with my precious high school boyfriend. What if I hadn't wasted all of college *not* finding out what a fantastic guy my now-husband is.

Sigh.

But then again, I have made some opportunities happen.

This completely narcissistic and unnecessary self-examination is being brought to you by a 1970's "Soft Rock" infomercial I got sucked into last night. And I got to thinking what if I had been born 10 years earlier...oh the music I could have made...but I probably would have died of a cocaine overdose. I think that would have been a drug I would have liked.

Having grown up in the "this is your brain on drugs" generation, I have had a lot of great [non-drug-related] experiences.

I did actually marry my husband and lock him down.

I still have a pipeline to my goals, just am a little slower to them.

But slow and steady wins the race, right?

Better to achieve your lifelong goals over a lifetime, rather than wasting your 20's bathed in immense success and worry if you will ever experience it again?!

Right. I'm sure that's what Britney and Miley and Sutton Foster say...

I just - feel like - sometimes -

If I had known the destination, 
I would have driven there a lot sooner.



Does Christopher Cross have this effect on you as well? 

ps speaking of the 70's, stop over to bobturba.com and wish him a happy birthday ;)



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's not how you start...

I know I've been a little quiet on the blog lately. I enjoyed that big push to the half-iron, and now lately I've just been enjoying family life. 

Well there was that little trip to Duke University to work on music for four straight days, which was like a dream...

But other than that, just working on gaining weight.

Well, you know, not necessarily me, although it has been exactly one month since I've been to the gym [woops.] [I did not expect to enjoy not working out so much.]

I'm seriously thinking about putting my gym membership account on hold/freeze. That, plus the cable bill, should help with the new family car payment we're about to encounter. At least, that's the hubby's grand scheme. [Remember September spending fast last year? He always cooks this stuff up at our 'fiscal year end'. Cuz he is a straight up coco-nut.] He seems to think Hulu Plus and Netflix can get us through. I seem to think this will cause me to leave the family for Joshua Jackson circa 2008 from Fringe. 
Come on ladies: Collective swoon....Ahhhhh.....
Funny, always seem to be hunk image searching during quarter-end. Int-er-est-ing...

Well back to that car thing, if you've paid attention to my Facebook posts, it's likely I'm about to be a minivan mommy. I have no trouble with the idea of this whatsoever. I just... just....really want to drive a sports car. Like, a German one. [No offense, Jaguar...]

As sports cars do not typically fit two car seats in it, and certainly can't fit in an extra grandparent or two without some serious flexibility on their parts, or help out with future possible carpools, unless we don't mind getting arrested a few times in the next couple of years, we are going to need a third-row car. So there are those SUV's...and we are looking at those, too.

Because, like I said, the weight is gaining on us....

In this corner, from a whopping 3 lbs 3 oz at birth, I present to you the heavy-weight champion of the household: 

That's a 40 pounder!!
And in this corner, from a measly 2 lbs 10 oz at birth, I present to you the Teeny Meany of Twyn Mawr:
Keeping it real preemie-style at 33 pounds.
God loves a preemie, I tell ya. 

Mama loves 'em too. I'll always be trying to feed those babies.

Once a preemie mama, always a preemie mama.

Eh, I promised myself I wasn't gonna cry! Ugh!

Any significant weight gain on your part post-season? 
Are we looking forward to the holidays?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My first year as an ETSY shop owner: what I've learned

I always like to write 'my story' as opposed to 'tips' lists, because I can never paint myself as an expert with 'tips.' Every story is different, and here's mine [so far.]


Quick & Dirty
  • the most important aspect is that it fuels my creative spirit, not that it will grow
  • watching business ebb and flow is par for the course in any business
  • details are not my strong point
  • attention to detail is imperative
  • networking is key
  • low overhead is soo small-business-truth
  • offering custom is tricky
  • feedback is a two-way street
  • sticking to what I'm good at offers the best balance
  • what you generate wholly yourself is all you have
The Long & Short of it

It is my ETSY-versary and I can't believe it has been a year! This was something very unexpected to add to my little world and ultimately I have found it fuels my creativity even though I'm barely breaking even. It's a format by which I can work out ideas.

That said, I've found it's important for me to step back from it, even to put it on vacay mode for one day or one week occasionally, so that I can create something not related to the shop. Or because it's summertime and I don't typically sew in the summertime. I have to be true to my lifestyle, otherwise it is not going to be a business that I want to continue with and grow.

Plenty of outside business has come my way just because it has informed my friends and friends-of-friends that I sew. That has proved both even more time-consuming, but also more rewarding [i.e., t-shirt quilts, custom baby quilts, some costumes.]

As in most things online, networking is key. There are "waves" of orders and favorites that come in because of one blog post, one treasury, or somebody finding me in some way and then spreading the love.

For that reason, you can't be shy. You must share your items yourself- synergy with facebook and the blog has been helpful. Becoming a part of an ETSY team or two has been somewhat useful as well. Although I share many other things on my fb page and blog, and that might be weird and ultimately inconsistent, you'd be surprised what a simple photo of an Oscar the Grouch custom-panty-order-fulfillment can spark.

For that reason, I try not to charge friends. Marketing is worth more than one small sale.

All the American Express commercials are right: small businesses need small costs. Every little penny I save on fabric, supplies, packaging materials, and, indeed, time, saves ten-fold. It probably took me my first 20 sales to get my whole system more stream-lined (not having to go to the post office was a huge bonus.)

Everyone wants custom. Be wary of 'clicking' that button, that you are willing to offer custom. And it took me a few months to say 'no' to some custom requests. Mama likes to solve your problems, but I just can't put an image of Blake Shelton on a pair of girls' panties. I just can't.

That said, I think I've made a lot of little girls (and mommies) happy. I get great feedback, both through private messages and via the 'feedback' area on ETSY. Somehow I have 100 admirers! I don't do anything to solicit this feedback, other than try to be quick and nice, but I know a lot of sellers who rely on it. It is, ultimately, gratifying. As to whether or not it affects my sales, I don't know. I don't typically look at the feedback of a seller on ETSY to help to make the choice to purchase an item I'm after; but I do certainly look at ratings on Amazon. So I guess the question you need to ask yourself when soliciting feedback, is, "Do I use this? Do I value this?", because then it's likely your customers will be the same way. For me the answer is, yea, but I don't rely on it. So I don't spend a lot of time on it.

I'm not into having a million items on the shelf. I am very happy being focused on the few offerings I do have, and making sure people understand there are variations within each item. For instance, you can order 5 pairs of panties, or 3 pairs of panties. That's two items. Some people need it spelled out for them - is 5 pair of wonder woman panties the same as 5 pair of star wars panties? It is. But I'll make two different listings for you in that case. I understand that I need to do the work for the consumer - the visualization[including great photos], the pricing, the designing - that's the work of putting together the shop. The ideas/items are somewhat secondary.

I can't neglect the details. People really do read the fine print, the 'about' sections, the origin stories. I have to be thorough, even though it's just this little side business. I have to be detail-oriented in my creations, as well, for the same reasons. Every seam should be perfect, as if I'm making something for my best friend.

Plus, you never know when it is going to grow. 

Ultimately this is no 'get rich quick' scheme. You are not going to 'make it big' on an item you create yourself and sell on ETSY, unless it is something wholly your own that grows in popularity. I still don't feel there is something that I could sew and sell that would be entirely unique and wholly generated from my own creative being; I see a lot of creative artists on ETSY that are capable of that and I wish them well. For now, I will just let it be one of my creative outlets and hope that these selling and ETSY skills are in place should such an inspiration strike.

So now that you've heard my story, what do you think? If you were about to open an ETSY shop anyway, you and I would each get 40 free listings (at $.20 a listing, that's a whopping $8.00 value) if you use this link/code. Happy ETSY-ing.

And if you've just decided to check out the shopping on ETSY, go have fun. Happy ETSY-ing in that way, too. For my ETSY-versary, as it occurs just around Halloween, I'm opening up a Villains line, and am happy to offer you first peek and discount! 15% off with the coupon code VILLAINS. Click on the pic for the link for the 3-pair or 6-pair order.



HAPPY ETSY-ing and
 HAPPY MONTH-O-HALL-O-WEEN!!!!

P.S. Which photo do you think is best??

Friday, October 4, 2013

To what is JT referring to as a 'fattie' & other questions. #funforFriday

First let me say, I'm not one of those bloggers who will just blog just to blog when they have nothing to blog about but want to keep up with some kind of blog pattern and blog blog blah blah blah.

So I'm sorry I left you hangin' this week, but I did post some fun stuff on the Facebook page this week, so come and join the fun!

And I don't think I've missed a "fun for Friday" yet! So even if I don't have something fun to share, I will always share something fun with you.

Have I made enough sense yet? Thank you.

Now that JT's new album (part 2 of 2) is out, I can discuss with you a question that has been bugging me with the song "Suit & Tie":
Stop let me get a good look at it
Ooh so thick now I know why they call it a fattie
Shit so sick got a hit and picked up a habit 
That's all right
You're all mine
I'm just saying, he seems to be talking about his lady, who's "all mine", but maybe he's talking about a joint that's "all mine." Joints that are sometimes referred to as a fattie. And he got a "hit" of it, but why would he be so literal? I know I'm totally out of this culture, so what the f?

If he IS talking about his lady-friend, then I'm going to assume he likes us phat, [did you know there is a porn category for fat-ass-white-girls called PAWG], [and I'm NOT going to tell you how I know that], then I'm just going to assume that if that stupid ho Jennifer Biel [I know it's Jessica, just rufflin' feathers], hadn't snatched him up with her witch claws I would have had a chance.

Just sayin'.

Cuz of the 'thick' part.

And the 'fattie' mention.

And then he says he now has a 'habit' with it.

That's HAWT.

And now you've Google-d PAWG.

Good for you.

HAPPY FRIDAY!!  

And if you need more fun stuff to read, I suggest you read Tenor Dad's most recent post about his drive home from an audition. Because I basically wish I had wrote it; it is basically me. Except swap out twizzlers for sour patch kids, and end with me burning the roof of my mouth as well. Enjoy it here!

Anything fun you've read or thought lately?





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