Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ciao Italia!

Oh my! Italy is everything I thought it would be, times 10. Our trip here was ridiculously easy, and our friend Molly was waiting for us at the airport. It was an amazingly beautiful drive from the airport to their house. We got to Italy mid-morning and it's currently 6 PM on Saturday evening, so we've had two full days here. The town we're in, Asolo, is just like every small Italian town you see in the movies. Old men working in their vineyards, lots of people on bicycles, wild drivers, winding cobble streets. It really is such a magical place. Today we went to a factory where they make tons of pottery and dishes--they make all of Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma's stuff. They also make Tiffany's stuff, and I got a Tiffany's platter and bowl that retailed at Tiffany's for $90 and $95 respectively. I paid $37 for both pieces. Happy vacation to me!

My mom is finally used to the fact that we are in Italy and not, as she thought we were going to be, in a cabin in Branson. fWe're having a ball. The only downside is that Ethan got a stomach bug the day we left, and Abby got a BLACK EYE at school when she fell on the playground! My poor babies. Luckily, they happen to have the best father in the world, so they probably don't even notice that I'm gone.

I have so much more to say, but I'm hogging the computer so I'll stop for now. There will be much more when I get back, though--I'll have lots more to tell, and some great photos, too. However, that will have to wait for another day--I have some pasta to eat!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I haven't been able to post about this until now, but I AM GOING TO ITALY TODAY! We have surprised my mom with a trip to see our friends Molly and Jimmy, who live right outside of Venice. Until about 7:30 this morning, my mom thought we were going to Branson. Instead, she, our friend Kristen and I are getting on a plane at 2:00 this afternoon! We told mom this morning, and she was SHOCKED. In fact, she's still a little dazed. She sat at her table for an hour, asking questions, before she could even think about packing. She just can't believe it--how fun! We will be back next Tuesday night, but I think I will have blogging abilities while I'm there, so check back. Arrivaderci!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm all about denial

Well, the real American Idol started last night. Of course, the show started several weeks ago, but for a while it's just a bunch of nonsense until they get it whittled down to the top 24. The top 12 men sang last night, and though no one blew me away I was impressed with a few of them. We shall see how the girls fare this evening. If you don't watch the show, I really do recommend it--it's fun to root for your favorite and watch these people go from being ordinary citizens to superstars. Plus, you gotta love Simon.

Last night at Abby's gymnastics class, I saw her run and do a somersault in the air without putting her hands on the ground. Since when can she do that?! It's amusing, though, because for all my daughter's gifts in the somersault department, she is definitely remedial with cartwheels. It's painful to watch. But hey, she's only three. For two more weeks, anyway. Wait. Two weeks until I have a FOUR year old? Can't..breathe....mustn'

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thelma and Louise don't hold a candle to these two!

Photos of the girls as promised...

No clever title comes to mind...

Here I am! I haven't gone missing, I've just been a tad busy. Ethan had a fever on Friday, so I had to go pick him up from school and stay home with him. Saturday we had group family pictures with my in-laws. It went surprisingly well, and the pictures should be nice. Then Saturday night Audrey spent the night at our house for the first time, and she and Abby had a grand time. They played dress up most of the time, and at one point Abby sported her Snow White dress, a straw hat, purple gloved and flip flops, while Audrey wore a pink princess dress and literally every piece of play jewelry Abby owns--which, thanks to my Mom, is a LOT. If Audrey's mom approves, I may post pictures later--they are priceless.

Sunday morning, Audrey's parents Chad and Marla had a conference to go to, so they dropped their other daughter Avery, who is Ethan's age, at our house around 8. Matt and I had to get all 4 kids dressed and to church, then home, fed lunch and down for naps. Piece of cake! I could totally be the mother of 4--for 2 days, anyway. Then my head would probably explode from all the gray hairs coming out of it so fast. The kids were great, though, so it ended up really being fun. Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent mostly in recovery.

Today Ethan is covered in spots, but the doctor's office tells us it's a common reaction to the shots he received last week. Abby was grumpy this morning because she wanted to stay home and be Snow White and eat Valentine's candy all day, but a mother can only tolerate so much.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Beautiful Irony

The following is a headline from the U of A's website:

Hurricane Katrina: Unnatural Disaster? (Lecture Postponed due to Weather)

I am not making this up.

Well, they don't sing their way out!

It was a lovely Valentine's Day in the AMEN house. My dear husband got me a necklace that I have been wanting, AND sent me flowers to work. The flowers were a total surprise. Good job, Luv!

The kids both had Valentine's parties at their respective schools. I thought a party for Ethan's class was a bit much, considering they are 12 months old and are barely on solid foods, but whatever. So we had two exhausted but sugared up children last night. Interesting combination. Abby brought home enough candy to keep her hyper for months.

As we do every Wednesday night, Matt and I spent yesterday evening leading the Kindergarten and first grade choir at our church. Let me tell you, that has been an interesting experience. The kids are great, but this is the age where they get really smart and start saying things that make your jaw drop. Case in point:

Last night we brought cookies for the kids. They were sitting around eating them before choir started when Kaitlin announced that her mom was pregnant. Everyone was all excited. I asked if Kaitlin hopes for a boy or a girl, and she promptly answered "twins!" Then Makennah informed Kaitlin that Kaitlin's mom's stomach was too small to hold two babies. Kaitlin retorted that no, she had met another woman whose stomach was just as small as her mom's who had had twins. "But, Miss Nancy," she said, "how do the babies get out of a mommy's tummy and into the bed?"

Um. Yeah, this falls outside of the realm of teaching kids how to sing "Jesus Loves Me".

"Anyone want another cookie?"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Water drinkers of the world, unite!

Last night I went to my book club meeting. A bunch of folks from my office have been doing a book club for about two years now. I am proud to say that I have read every book and attended every meeting since we began. At any rate, last night we were having a (slightly off topic) discussion about discrimination, and I told everyone about the discrimination of which I myself have been a victim, one that upsets me to this day. My boss, Karen, suggested that I blog about it. I thought it an excellent idea, so much so that I promised to give her credit for suggesting it. So, Karen, kudos to you!

What kind of discrimination might befall a middle class white woman, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It's drink discrimination. No, not THAT drink, people. Water. That's right, I'm a water drinker. Not because I'm cheap, but because I really do like water.

Now, I also happen to like fast food. Please, no comments about how disgusting McDonalds is. It's good and you know it. At any rate, I love a good Dr. Pepper as much as anyone, but when I was pregnant with Abby, I made a concerted effort to eliminate caffeine from my diet (though judging by that child's activity level, you'd think I was hooked up to an espresso IV the entire 9 months). So when I would go to fast food restaurants and order a value meal, which is practically inevitable these days, I was told--and not too kindly--that the following were my choices:

1. Pay the full price for the meal even though I was getting a cup full of water and not expensive soda.

1. Get a discounted price and use a water cup the size of a Dixie cup.

How is this fair? I tried several times to point out to the person behind the counter that I was pregnant, and this by definition meant that I would need about a gallon of water to drink with my meal. I spoke in vain--they didn't care. Not that I can blame them; I wouldn't care if I was getting paid minimum wage to wear that goofy visor either. Some of them were really mean about it though. Usually out of principle I would take the water cup. Woe be to the person who worked in a place that didn't have self serve drinks. I would drink the entire cup as soon as they handed it to me and then hand it right back for my first refill. That REALLY irritated them, but they couldn't do anything about it. Once, I got so angry with the person working the Arby's drive through that I wrote the company a nasty email, but I never got a response.

The more I think about this, the more I think I have the makings of a very successful class action lawsuit on my hands. Why should I, a water drinker, not be allowed to purchase water, at its fair price, in the same quantity that I can buy other drinks? Am I right? You want in?

An addendum to yesterday's post: After a long and spirited conversation with my mother, I retract my use of the word "catty" to describe her remark regarding Abby's bangs incident. Love you, mom!

Monday, February 12, 2007

All this, and she can cut hair too!

We finally got around to putting the scissors to Ethan's hair Saturday afternoon. Despite my mom's catty warning that we might have a scenario reminiscent of Abby's "bangs incident", (don't ask) I did a fantastic job and E looks like a little man now. It seems also to have had the effect of making him more aerodynamic, as he now flies through the house even faster than before.

We got to spend some time this weekend with our friends Mandy and David, who I mentioned came into town to investigate a move to NWA. It looks very much like they will be neighbors soon, and we couldn't be happier. We squeezed in a trip to Gymboree, where Mandy helped me select a bundle of clothes for the kids for next to nothing. Once their move becomes definite, we'll have to call Gymboree's headquarters to alert them to increase their stock allotment for the NWA stores.

I generally view email forwards with complete disgust--just seeing the words "you MUST read this!" is enough to get my blood boiling. However, I got forwarded this video clip today and laughed until I had tears rolling down my face. You MUST watch it.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I'm Mary, nice to meet you

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of Persona #3, so Mary O'Terry it was! The students loved it and should very much enjoy working out Mary's financial planning. You should have seen them when I told them about the 6 kids! Thanks to everyone who voted. Now you know how easy it is to comment, so no more excuses!

Ethan's 1 year checkup was yesterday afternoon, and I'm pleased to report that he's a healthy young man. He even took the shots well, only screaming for about 30 seconds. Our premier concern for him right now is that we HAVE to get his hair cut. Most of it's fine, but the parts over his ears and at the back of his neck are just a little too long. I think it's absurd to pay someone to cut what will seriously be about 30 hairs off of his tiny little head, so I've decided there's no reason I can't take care of this myself. Really, how hard can it be? I'll report on the results soon. We're on the countdown to Abby's fourth birthday (less than 2 months away) and she goes into a frenzy any time it's mentioned.

Our friends Mandy and David are in town this weekend on an exploratory mission in consideration of relocating here. We'll be seeing them tonight and tomorrow, during which time we will of course go to Gymboree so Mandy the expert can advise me on what to purchase. Every time I go there, I get about $200 worth of clothes for my kids for, like, $30. I am not making this up. The woman has an eerie talent.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Who am I?

It's rare as grown ups that we get to play pretend, but I have been given the perfect opportunity. There is a Tax class in the Accounting department here that teaches students how to manage taxes and portfolios for wealthy individuals. I have signed up to help with the students' group projects. This means that 3 students are going to meet with me, posing as my accountants. I am to invent a persona for myself. I need to be wealthy--at least $40 million net worth--and create a career, a back story, and various sources of income. It needs to have a few complicated aspects to challenge the students. I'm even encouraged to use a fake name. How fun is this?!

So here's what we're going to do. Below, I'm going to list a couple of my ideas. I want EVERYONE who reads the blog, even if I don't know you, even if you have never posted before, to vote on who I should be. Feel free to make suggestions for changes or additions, or even come up with a better idea altogether. Whoever gets the most votes by noon tomorrow is who I shall be.


Barbara Smythe-Laurence. I am the owner and founder of a highly successful wedding planning company. The company has branches in 12 states, with over 200 employees. In addition to our wedding and event planning services, we have an online wedding store that does worldwide business. The company has an annual revenue of $14 million. I own a house in Northwest Arkansas, an apartment in Manhattan, a cabin in the Canadian Rockies, and a small chalet in France for my personal use. I have 12 rent houses throughout Arkansas. I have a husband but no children.

Bunny Van Hoose. I am the daughter of a very wealthy and successful oil magnate. My father passed away 5 years ago, at which point I inherited $80 million, as did each of my 3 brothers. However, my father's second wife Teensy, who is only 5 years older than me, contested the will. My brothers and I won the first round, but Teensy has appealed. For now, I am forced to live on the $10 million or so that my father gave me before he died and the return on my investment in a chain of karaoke bars in Texas. I own a house in Dallas and am single.

Mary O'Terry. Together, my husband and I built an upscale children's clothing store chain into a $90 million/year business with over 250 stores in the US and Canada. Due to our success, we have been able to retire early. We own a home in Northwest Arkansas and a vacation home on St. Thomas. We also own a yacht. Most of our money has gone into separate trust funds for each of our 6 children.. We also donate over $1 million per year to various charities.

So? Who am I? You decide!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

What's a pair of jeans like you doing in a place like this?

Thanks to a recent growth spurt, Ethan has outgrown the shoes he wears every day. I'm sorry to say that both he and his sister inherited my unfortunate feet, and so shoes are not always so easy to find for my children. When Abby was a toddler, I discovered a brand of children's shoe called Robeez. Robeez are soft soled, which is best for kids learning to walk, and come in all kinds of cute designs. Best of all, they fit wide, chunky feet. They recently started making boots, and these boots are what Ethan wears every day. Children CANNOT get Robeez off their feet--in fact, it's sometimes hard for the parents. They are cute and comfy, and worth the price (around $35 per pair). Ethan has worn his pair for 4 months, so I consider it a worthy investment. You can take a look at the shoes here:

At any rate, you can't get these shoes at Wal Mart or Target. They are usually sold in specialty children's shops. Yesterday, I called around and finally found the pair in the color and size I needed at a shop in Fayetteville called Bella Jack's. I had never been there before, but I always relish a new shopping experience, so after lunch I headed there with Autumn to pick up the shoes and browse a bit.

The store is kind of sparse, with clothes lining the walls and a few random things in the middle. Their clothes are of the typical boutique variety, which means lots of ruffles and loud fabrics. Oh, and of course the clever sayings. It is beyond me why people want to put phrases on infants' shirts that imply the infant has an attitude, but it's all the rage. In the baby boy's section, I found a tiny onesie that said, "What's a girl like you doing on a playground like this?" Ugh. It's almost as distasteful to me as bibs with ridiculous things printed on them, my least favorite being "Spit Happens."

But I digress. Shocking, I know. So I'm headed towards the counter to buy the boots when I see a stack of girls' jeans. I am always on the lookout for good jeans for Abby. She is incredibly hard to fit for jeans, but she loves wearing them. I picked up a pair, and was excited to see that they were just plain jeans--no sequins, no fur cuffs, no rips, no paint, no appliques. Just plain jeans. Imagine, then, my shock when I turned the price tag over to see that this pair of unadorned, plain jeans cost $96. NINETY SIX AMERICAN DOLLARS. FOR CHILDREN'S JEANS. There is no excuse for such absurdity. I dropped the jeans as fast as I could, paid for my little brown boots, and hightailed it out of there. The only way I'm paying that much for a pair of jeans is if the jeans can babysit and cook dinner.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The wild life

I have to say, it's rather depressing to get all prepared to make the next post on my blog and realize that nothing blogworthy has happened to me lately. The weekend was uneventful, save the fact that Abby had her first official sleepover at Audrey's house. I was all worried that she would get weepy for her mommy at some point, but she apparently slept like a baby and was reluctant for us to go get her. Figures.

The tubes in E's ears seem to have made a world of difference already. He is babbling a lot more, and in a much better mood, and--most startlingly--has started walking for real. He takes it very seriously, this walking business.

For those fellow television addicts out there, you know that life is about to get very exciting. Not only is American Idol going strong, but both Lost and Survivor pick back up this week, and Amazing Race is back next week. It's a beautiful time to be a couch potato. If you watch any of these shows, comment here so you will be identified as cool!

Thursday, February 1, 2007


Let me begin by saying that I LOVE my children. I think everyone already knows that, but I just feel the need to say it as I start this post.

Now, with that said. I am VERY ready to be separated from my children. Yesterday I was off work because Ethan had tubes put into his ears--finally--to hopefully end the constant ear infections he has. He did not enjoy the anesthesia wearing off, and screamed for half an hour. We brought him home and laid him down, and he thankfully slept off the anger. We were surprised to open the front door an hour later and find the ground covered in snow. It snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more. Matt went to get Abby around 3:00. By the time we went to bed, we could not see the grass in our yard for the snow (which is saying a lot, because our grass is hiiiighhh) (not that that's anyone's fault) (though Matt is the designated lawn mower at our house). So today, the U of A was closed, as well as the kids' schools, so we stayed home. Matt went to work for a few hours, and the grocery store. I, however, have not been out of my house--or, come to think of it, my pajamas, since yesterday morning.

On the surface, this sounds like a rare luxury. However. The procedure put Ethan in a less than thrilled mood, so he has been whiny and grumpy most of the time, with the exception of when we have to put his eardrops in, at which point he goes totally postal on us. Abby has been understandably antsy and demanding. I may be a wee bit on the whiny side myself.

I am actually not writing all this to complain, believe it or not. My actual goal is to profess a renewed sense of awe and respect for my stay at home mom friends. For example, my friend Marla has two daughters exactly the age of my kids, and she is with them every day. Yet as far as I know, she has never thrown one of them through a window. How can this be? And my best friend Mandy--she has THREE kids, and many days has all three at home with her. And I know for a fact that she gets dressed and puts on makeup most days. She even runs errands! And checks email regularly! People always tell me they don't know how I handle two kids, a house, a job, and a small business. Pshshshsh! I get to go out to lunch with my friends, and go whole hours on end without wiping anyone's nose but my own. I live the life of luxury. It's the stay at home moms (SAHMs on the nerdy parenting websites) that live a truly selfless, exhausting life. I know there are people out there who think SAHMs lay around all day watching soap operas and taking naps. Those people should be smacked upside the head, or better yet, they should come spend a day in my house with my kids. That'll teach em.