Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The best cheerleaders ever!

So the girl in charge and the rest of the Bulldawgs played their last softball game yesterday.  We traveled down to Halifax County, Virginia for the Regional tournament quarter-finals.  The Bulldawgs played hard on a hot, hot day.  Mercy -- it was hot.

But these three guys brought even more heat!  They call themselves the Hype Squad, and they are hilarious. While the guy on the right has two sisters on the team, the two on the left are football players, and seniors, and friends with several of the Lady 'Dawgs.  Their sports season is over; they will graduate in a week and a half.   So why not concentrate all (and I mean all) their school spirit and electric friendship vibes on these awesome Bulldawgs?


The girl in charge and her kick-ass bestie were a little ambivalent at the end of the game.  They hate to lose, y'all.  But they also will graduate in a week and a half, and I suspect they are looking forward, just a little bit, to chillaxing these last few days.

They've earned it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snapshot: movie night!

Well, we haven't even finished the school year around here, and the cul-de-sac capers are starting up again, as the warm weather has beckoned us all to come outside.  Last weekend we all gathered in the middle of the court to watch the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Families brought blankets and softball/soccer chairs, and sodas and a few margaritas, and the girl in charge made a big old batch of popcorn, and we all settled in.  How cool is our pal Tom -- who set up this swanky inflatable movie screen -- with speakers and everything?!

We're going to have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Glamour hair redux!

So the sunny girl has wanted to experiment with coloring her hair for quite some time, but I have been somewhat resistant.  Mostly it's because I think her hair is lovely already -- so why mess with perfection?  But also I have to admit that I have a wide streak of "I hate change" running through me.  For the sunny girl, her balky mother has been -- let's call me a frustration.

So she and I were both thrilled when we saw this description of "hair chalking."  It seemed like the perfect solution:  the sunny girl could experiment with some fun and funky hair colors, and I could breathe easier because the color is quite temporary.

tangent I know, I know.  Ultimately all hair coloring is "temporary," and I should just get over my bad self.  Baby steps, people.  I would still dress her in seersucker pinafores if she would let me.

Well, we followed the instructions (the video at the bottom of the post is excellently clear and helpful), and got some good tips from a Facebook friend (hi, Eryn!).  Here's how the experiment went.

We bought a set of artist's pastel chalks from Michael's -- very cheap:  five dollars for the whole collection.  If you decide to try this, make sure you are getting chalk pastels and not oil pastels.

The sunny girl picked four colors, and after washing her hair, sat down in front of the computer so we could watch movies while the experiment was underway.

After putting some red in her hair, I used the purple chalk, then the blue, then the green.

Here's what it looked like after I was finished coloring the hair, but before it dried.  The instructions said that we should wait for the hair to dry completely, then "set" the color with the heat of a straightening iron or a curling iron.

And here's how it looked after I curled it.  Ignore my messy desk.

So -- my analysis:

1.  I think it looked pretty good; if she wants to try it again, I think I will use smaller sections of hair, and a curling iron with a smaller barrel.  These curls look a little bit like bossy Susan's "boing-boing" curls from Ramona the Pest.

2.  Though the instructions say that you can brush your hair after the color has set, this is not true.  It was clear almost immediately that brushing the hair would remove most of the color.  So the sunny girl just left it alone.

3.  The chalk is heavy, and makes you feel like you have stuff in your hair, probably because you do have stuff in your hair.  Also, it is very drying; a good leave-in conditioner might be the way to combat this.  We later found a commercial product on-line -- Hair Flairs Color Rub -- that promises to be less damaging.  Maybe this is the answer?  It does cost more . . . .  And ultimately, a lot of the chalk ended up on the sunny girl's pillow.  If you want this look for a fun night out, it would probably be best to work your hair glamour magic on the day of the event.

So -- if you are thinking about trying this, go for it!  The sunny girl and I had a lot of fun, and I lost a lot of my hair color fear.  When all is said and done, this is an easy, inexpensive, and sassy way to jazz up your hair!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Remember: as far as anyone else knows, we're a nice, normal family!"

So back in April the tall boy came home for the Easter weekend, which was fabulous.  And he brought HER with him too, which was also fabulous.  The only concern for me was that we really like this girl -- so we have been trying very hard to keep her from finding out that we're not normal.

Good thing for us, she actually likes playing the kind of uber-nerd board game that lasts for hours, if not days.  This one involves trading things like hides and salt for grain and iron -- and then purchasing "civilizing" abilities like pottery and coin-making and philosophy.  It's not Monopoly, people. 

The Easter Bunny made an appearance, of course.  It addition to way too much chocolate, the baskets this year were filled with bubbles and squirt guns.  Of course, the sunny girl and the girl in charge immediately filled the squirt guns with bubble juice, and SHE joined right in as they all attacked the tall boy-- but the report is that the effect was less than thrilling.  Everybody got crayons too, because that's how the Easter Bunny rolls.

And here's what our pretty Easter dinner table looked like -- before it was loaded with ham and potatoes and spinach salad and asparagus and carrots and deviled eggs and French rolls and butter . . . and the husband made me move the lovely but inedible flowers.

SHE celebrated a birthday while she was with us, and we all went to the Easter Vigil Mass (and to a swell party afterward).  She met the grandparents, and Grandpa fell a little bit in love with her.

So -- all things considered, I think we still have her fooled.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Renovation progress report: the finish line . . .

So we're just about at the end of our renovation project; Juan Pablo will come by tomorrow and  shave the bottom of a closet door -- and then I'm sure he will be so glad to be done with us and move on to his next miracle-making project.  The worrisome part of this of course is that now it's up to us (us!) to do the last few things that will make the basement picture perfect.

Here are a few before and after shots -- so you can really understand how ecstatic the husband and I are about this makeover. Because, really.  Without evidentiary proof, no one would believe what a hellhole of sloth, despair and shoddy construction the place used to be.

What started out looking like this -- and you need to imagine this cabinet vomiting puzzles, games, Legos, broken crayons, Polly Pockets, random batteries and empty soda cans . . .

. . . went through an unfortunate phase of looking like this.  This explains the delicate scent of mildew that ever-so-gently used to waft through our basement.  It also may explain the ongoing breathing difficulties of both the tall boy and the sunny girl.

Juan Pablo to the rescue!  He washed the walls, then coated them liberally with a water-resistant sealer/primer.  You will notice that he also framed the walls so that they could be insulated.  Maybe this winter we will not have to resort to cowering under blankets and comforters -- and warming our hands over electric space heaters.

For real, y'all.  We were like some kind of twenty-first century Dickens novel, except what the hell, people?  The husband makes a fine living, and we pay the bills, and it should not be 55 degrees in our basement!

Here's the same corner now. 

You see why I'm giddy, right?

As I think I may have mentioned a time or two, there was no bathroom on this floor of our home, because a rustic, Daniel Boone-esque wet bar is much more practical.  But we really wanted the tall boy (and our guests, while the tall boy is away at school) to have the ability to go about their daily ablutions without having to climb two flights of stairs and climb over all of the accumulated girlie items in our other bathrooms -- by which I obviously mean laundry and blow dryers.

The dilemma here was that the best space to put a full bathroom was where a water supply was not.

But is this the kind of problem that can stop Juan Pablo?!  Pish-posh!  Just give the man a jackhammer and look out!

 Some people call this scary, but I call it progress!

All better now!

You can see here (temporarily covered with gravel) the path that the sewage drain takes from what will be the toilet and shower drain to the main drain on the other side of the house.

And here are the copper pipes for hot and cold water for the sink and shower -- running above what will be the ceiling.

Juan Pablo's tile guy is an artist.

  Here's the finished product.  I just love it, don't you?

 And now Harry Potter the tall boy has been sprung from the cupboard under the stairs, which was actually a junk-filled guest room, furnished with leftover furniture from the grandparents or college or the dump.  This picture shows the former bedroom in a pristine state that was so rare that it's really just a lie.

God, I hated this room.

The closet was a do-it-yourself affair, and some former homeowner felt it was important to have quick access -- through the closet -- from this back bedroom to the storage room.  Maybe it was a speakeasy! As an added bonus, there was one electrical outlet in the entire room.

Now that's a closet!

This will do nicely for the tall boy!

So that's our renovation -- and that's why we're so stinkin' happy about it!  We still need to bring back our bookshelves and my mom's old upright piano, and hang a few pretty things on the walls.

But we sure do love it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Small pleasures: respite

We lost power for a little while last night, which is a rare thing for us around here.  We live in a community where the power lines are mostly underground, so wind and ice storms and falling trees don't cause major power outages the way they do in some other parts of the area. 

But last night some sort of mechanical something happened (that was the technical expanation given by the power company), and our whole neck of the woods went dark.  And silent.

The girl in charge and I both stumbled around in the dark, bereft without our DVD players and Facebooks and and good reading lights.  Meanwhile the sunny girl calmly went around the house lighting candles.

The husband was in his Scout leader element, wearing a spelunking lamp on his head while he put fresh batteries in a tent lantern. 

I found the "read in bed while your husband is sleeping" book light that my sister gave me for Christmas -- and kept on reading.

It was kind of nice.