Painted Piano

This week I decided to pull the plug on my on again off again fantasy that we'll raise musically inclined kids. I offered our piano to whoever would pay the cost of moving it and had quite a few people respond. Several people said they wanted it because it's pretty. I got the impression there are a lot of ugly pianos out there that people might like to change. So I decided to write this post as an encouragement that almost anything can be painted. If you don't like something, what do you have to lose?

The back story: We were given this piano for free by a neighbor that was moving. I wasn't blogging at the time, so it never crossed my mind to take any pictures. But if you can imagine a very large, dark wood, slightly beat up (and dare I say homely?) upright piano, you've got a pretty clear mental image.

The only problem was that I couldn't live with its wooden color. I felt like it sucked the light right out of the room and I knew I'd never change my mind. So I started painting it that very afternoon. Here's what I used...

Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer. This primer doesn't require sanding and it's water based so you can work with it right in your home.

Benjamin Moore's Winterwood paint. To avoid impacting the way it played, I didn't paint the wood around the keys.

Valspar's Mocha Translucent Glaze. I applied this with a brush and then rubbed it off with an old tshirt.

I think this treatment really freshened this piece up, giving it a lot of character and charm. Obviously, not every piano is a candidate for a makeover. Some are too gorgeous to touch with paint. But if yours is an eyesore, know that you can give it a new look!

Do you have a piano needing some help in the looks department? What's the most surprising thing you've ever painted?

The White Stuff

It snowed in Nashville this weekend. It was only about an inch, but that's enough to make us gather our mismatched snow gear and head out for sledding!

We met the cousins and the kids made run after run down the hill behind our house. We knew all the snow would be gone by noon.

My nephew had a small snowboard so everyone got to take a turn on that.

The texture wasn't quite right for snowballs or snowmen, but it was good for flying!

I even got on long enough for a couple trips down the hill!

I don't think we went sledding at all the past couple years, so we made the most of this opportunity. Cold hands, thrilled kids, screams of delight and all!

A Christmas Tradition

Christmas traditions are things people do every year that make it feel like Christmas to them!

One of the things our family does is decorate a whole lot of cookies. We don't go for fancy, but we do have fun! 

This year we made about 150 sugar cookies. Even with that many, I still have to bring them out slowly, so they'll last until Christmas Day.

I asked my photography-loving daughter to take pictures of the festivities.

We had someone new join us this year. Of course, she was more than happy to photograph him, too! 

We try not to eat too many cookies while we decorate. One year, we discovered the twins were licking the knives and dipping them back in the frosting. We didn't give those cookies to guests!

They're much more serious about their decorating now.

Some of the frosting and sprinkles can get pretty wild.

This guy usually comes up with a few combinations that surprise us!

It all works out in the end though and no cookie is left uneaten!

A delicious, special tradition that we look forward to every year!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! May all your traditions bring you closer to the ones you love!

A Mother's Secret Dread

Remember that show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? If I were a contestant, I would definitely leave without any cash and prizes!

My two youngest children are in fifth grade. They are the only ones who still ask me for help on homework. I dread it. The questions. Did I ever know the answers to these questions?

What is 16 divided by one half? If you're thinking 8, you're wrong. It's actually 32. What?!? I had to get my high school son to refresh my memory on just why that's true. Needless to say he was delighted to make me feel good about myself.

Does anyone else cringe and die a little inside when they hear their child say they need help with homework? Oh no, please let it be something like history or English. Oh please, don't let it be science or math. And why, do they always have hard homework when dad is traveling?

I have a master's degree, but I would not be able to pass fifth grade science. 

Is steam a gas? I think so, but don't ask me to explain why. Does air have mass? Yes? Maybe? Is the amount of matter something has called mass? Sounds plausible, but I really have no idea.

Of course, this turn of events has my children dripping with condescension as they spout off the answers to these questions and more. They threaten to tell their teacher mom got the answer wrong. They announce it with great fanfare to whoever will listen.

Remember that math problem I asked you earlier? When I asked my college age daughter, her first thought was 8, too. After hearing the explanation though, she said, I'm sooo glad I'm all done with math. I didn't tell her that she'll be forced to relive all her math lessons as a mom!

How about you? Do you fear the homework grind? Please tell me I'm not the only one who can't remember the difference between matter and mass!

January...Why Can't We Be Friends?

In my mind, January is always full of grand plans and accomplishments. I'm going to hit the ground running and make the first month of the new year awesome! In reality, the powers that be of sick and snow days show me who's boss every time.

My view all week.

Just when I finally readjust to alarm clocks and packing lunches, just when I start to think I can maybe get back in a routine after the holidays, someone gets sick. For days and days with nothing specific, only the dreaded low grade fever that occurs every evening as you start to envision all of your children attending school the next day. Should such a fantasy pop up, you will immediately be plunged into the depths of despair by someone declaring, I don't feel good. Aaaaaah!!!!!!

If no one gets sick in January, a minuscule amount of snow will fall and school will be canceled, also for days on end. Mothers here will be seen driving all over town in search of something to occupy bored, cooped up children, yet it will be too dangerous for them to ride the bus in the morning. 

And always, always, my husband will be traveling. In our house, sick and snow days don't happen on the weekends. No, those are strictly a Monday through Friday thing. 

This week I dealt with sickness, next week might be snow. But today, everyone is healthy and the weather is nice. I'm going for the gusto while I can!

What's your experience with this month that holds the most potential in a year? Does January taunt you, too?

Fathers and Sons

When our children are babies and little people, we can't imagine them ever growing taller, faster, or stronger than us. We can't imagine that there will come a time when they'll best us in a game on their own merit and not because we've stacked the deck in their favor. But all too quickly it seems, they grow and change. 

I'm so excited to be guest posting on the Coach Daddy blog today. Because Eli's blog is a lot about fatherhood and sports, I thought it would be a good place to sort out my feelings on a phenomenon I've observed in our family this year. Please click here to read When Dad Loses to Son. 

Sports have always been a huge part of the relationship between my husband and our two sons. Some dads teach their kids to hunt and fish, some teach them about cars, Steve has taught our boys about sports. It's been fun for me to watch this evolve over the years, especially since I'm not a sporty person and still don't know the rules for many of them. I always enjoy cheering them on though!

For years, I remember Steve taking the kids out to play after dinner. Our oldest son used to grab his mitt and beg him to throw baseballs as high as he could to practice his catching. The two of them have practiced baseball, basketball, and lacrosse in our yard over and over. They've ran races, biked, and swam together.

Through the years, one constant remained. Dad could win! He might not always choose to win, but there was never a doubt that it was possible. He was faster, stronger, and more experienced. Not so anymore. Over the past few years, my seventeen year old has closed the gap and now surpasses his dad in speed, strength, agility, and stamina.

This feels weird. It's weird for both my husband and my son. My son still says Dad is bigger and stronger, even though it's obviously not true. I think it's just as hard for him to accept this strange turn of events as it is for his father.

I've asked my husband how he feels about this a few times and he says he still hasn't really admitted it to himself. I think watching our kids grow up and move past us reminds us of our own mortality and makes us face the fact that we're aging out of the world of youth we've been a part of so long. I think he wonders what happens now that the roles are reversed. Of course, they can still watch sports together, but the playing has changed. Does my son now have to hold back on his dad? Does he have to throw a few games to make his dad feel good?

My husband jokes that he might take up sports our son isn't good at like golf to keep it even a little longer. And at least he'll still be ahead of our younger son for a few more years!

Mommy Reality #27: The Gritty Reboot

 I'm so excited to be cohosting the Mommy Reality Challenge with Jen and Celeste today. Welcome to week #27 of the Mommy Reality Challenge!

If this is your first time hearing about the Mommy Reality Challenge we are so glad you are joining this great community of Moms who participate in our bi-weekly challenges that showcase all the fun, crazy, and sometimes overwhelming moments that are in every Mom’s life! Please don’t just read. This is an INTERACTIVE post! Come join in all the fun!

The Rules are Simple!

        1. We will announce the theme.
        2. You will take a pic, post it to the social media account of your choice with the hashtag #mommyreality or write a post and then link it up to this blog post!
        3. Then in two weeks, we will announce our favorites and award a meme to the winner. The winner can then co-host the next challenge with us!
So, just a little background on how our challenges are selected- Jen and Celeste take turns writing the post and creating the winning meme from the last challenge. This time it’s Jen’s turn to write the post. We would now like to interrupt this Mommy Reality post with a brief message from Jen..... Is it just me or are all of you Moms as exhausted from the holidays as I am? I feel a lot like this.


  Last night at 8 p.m. it was wrong how excited I was to put my pj's on and go to bed!

Ok, now back to the Mommy Reality post.
For our last challenge Celeste had us share what bad habits we were going to try to break this New Year.

The winner of Mommy Reality #26 Breaking Bad is ......

Patty from A Mother's Random Thoughts!

Patty wrote a post about how it was high time she "closed" the book on her addiction to collecting books. It's a wonderful example of Mommy Reality that really deserved a meme. So here's your meme Patty and we hope you join us in 2 weeks time as our Co-host for the next challenge!

You can see all of our previous memes on the Mommy Reality tumblr page.
We also would like to give honorable mention to Janine from Encourage Play for sharing a picture on Facebook of her kid's room and her resolution to work on teaching them to clean it up! Bravo Janine! Can you please come visit our houses and teach the same lesson?

Special thanks to our Breaking Bad challenge co-host Katy from Experienced Bad Mom!

Now It's time for a NEW Mommy Reality Challenge and Co-host!

Meet the Mommy Reality Team!
Jen from JENerally Informed: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest
Leapfrog and  Lipgloss
Celeste from Leapfrog and Lipgloss: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest

Welcome to our Co-Host!

Marie From Normal Everyday Life

Marie was the Mommy Reality Challenge #25 Glimpse of Your Holidays meme winner for her post on the most annoying sound you can hear over the Christmas break. Namely her children yelling STOOOOP every 30 seconds!

Now it's time for a NEW Challenge!

The Gritty Reboot

Hi it's Jen again. I believe I mentioned that I was tired right? Well this new challenge is the gritty reboot of Mommy Reality. We (um, hopefully not just Jen) want to see the really, real, real in your lives. Or, if you can't be REAL, be interesting. Because you are. Like this oldie, but goodie: We opened this challenge showing the non-Pinterest worthy moments that are still important in our lives. Indeed, they make up a large part of our memories and the fun of being a Mom. It's time to bring that back:

With Attitude!

We want a REAL moment that is unique to you and your life. We want to see pictures of those decapitated Barbies that your children leave strewn on the floor, or the furry companions that live in your house taking over your bed. Perhaps it's that chore that has been needing to be done, but you just can't "work" yourself up to it. We want real like this:

  Not this.

  And most definitely not like this.....  

           To kick off this really, real fest here's a collage that shares a few moments from Jen's REAL life:

  1. During the winter months the nebulizer is her best friend. 2. Take a look at the very special Jury Summons she received set for the week of Christmas. 3. She never knows what she will find when opening drawers and cabinets. 4. Her oldest daughter is growing up way too fast! How could she be 13 in what seems like the blink of an eye? 5. Disastrous scenes such as this are very common place in her home. 6. Her husband tends to frequently turn into playground equipment for the toddler when he tries to fix appliances. It also seems her appliances break down more than they should.
[Tweet "Come share your #reallife #real #mommyreality @queenmomjen @frogandgloss"]

Now It's your turn to share!

You have 2 weeks to complete this challenge!

You can share in a post or on your favorite social media outlet.
Don't forget to grab our super-nifty button!
✔ *By submitting your pic, you are giving the Mommy Reality Team permission to use your photo to create a special silly meme for you if you win! :). If you win and you’re a blogger, you also have the to opportunity to be our co-host!
✔ **The Mommy Reality team and our special co-host are VERY diligent in pinning, posting, and sharing the link-up participation every week, so make sure to follow us on our social media channels so you won’t miss out!
We encourage you to visit a couple other Mommy Reality participants in the link-up and leave meaningful comments! The best part of this link-up is that we’re a community of real moms with a sense of humor about ourselves!

Inspiration for Your Home

Looking for a great read in the new year? I got The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith for Christmas and I love it! 

With her relaxed approach to decorating, it was just the book to lift me out of the after-Christmas malaise and inspire me to do some projects. Here's a before and after of one I finished last night!

I had bought this little end table for $15 a couple weeks ago. After reading, I couldn't wait to get my paintbrush out and play around. I just set up the supplies in my living room and started having fun!

Best reminders from the book...

Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Doing something, even if it doesn't end up working, is better than living with something you don't like. 

Decorating doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, getting creative with what you have, or working with a small budget can be very satisfying!

Do what you like. You don't have to follow someone else's rules. 

And of course, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. This is the tag line of the title and it's a message woven throughout the book. I think it fits in perfectly with my New Year's resolution!

Have any of you read The Nesting Place? Let me know if you end up checking it out. I'd love to hear what you think!

To Be Better About Accepting the Imperfect

Every year, our family makes New Year's resolutions. It's neat to hear the goals my kids have and it's fun to see how successful they are in keeping them. This year we were away for New Year's Eve, so we did our resolutions around this restaurant table.

It's not easy to take a family selfie in a mirror!

Unfortunately, my mind was completely blank. I couldn't set one. I don't have any vices I'm willing to give up, and everything else I considered seemed too small and inconsequential. 

Then last night, I returned absolutely exhausted by vacation. Worn out emotionally from the pulls of the season and with a raging headache. Family vacation...not known for its restful effect on parents anyway, really wiped me out after all the hoopla of the holidays.

Oh, I'm glad we went. I'm glad we made memories and laughed and had fun together. I truly am! I'm also glad to be home again. And that's exactly the way family vacation goes. One minute it's great and the next minute it mocks you.

One day your husband is smiling and saying...

Let's get away for New Year's Eve this year. Let's go to New York City!

And the next he's proclaiming...

If I ever say let's do New York City the week of New Year's Eve, shoot me. Because I've clearly lost my mind and I'm crazy. 

In family vacation fantasies, everyone is smiling and family togetherness could not be any sweeter. In family vacation reality, at least one person is sulking at all times and you hear things like...

Stop touching me. Don't lean on me. Don't walk in front of me. Why is this taking so long?!? Eeewww, you're gross! 

And can I be really honest? Family vacation can have you feeling like the best mom one minute and the worst the next. It can make you feel like an awesome family one hour and a complete mess the next. 

Which leads me to my New Year's resolution to be better about accepting the imperfect. Perfect is not going to happen. It's an illusion. For every enjoyable moment, there will be frustrating moments you wish would go away. There will be laughter and tears, close talks and fervent arguments, smiles and glares. 

Our family vacations are never going to look like a Disney commercial no matter how many Instagram filters we slap on them. And I bet yours won't either. And that's okay. Because imperfect is not a fail. It's just real life lived out with real people that make it all really worth it!

What's your New Year's resolution this year?