Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mondo Nightmares? And Book Ideas Needed

Less than two weeks til we leave on the Mondo Adventure!

We are now in full Mondo Prep Mode.

Most of the way we are staying with family and friends.  Brave family and friends.

I recently received this e-mail from our good friends in California.

Hi Ann!  Looking forward to your visit!  Had to share the dream Dan had last night.  He dreamed you showed up with SIXTEEN kids!  LOL!    See you soon!  D.

It doesn't take Freud to see where Dan's head is, does it?

My reply back:

Dear D.,

Tell your sweet husband we are only coming with SIX kids. 

It will just FEEL like 16! 

Are you sure you're ready for the invasion?

Best, Ann

On another note, I am looking for suggestions of kids recorded chapter books.  I am particularly thinking stories at the 3rd/4th grade level, but would love to hear any and all suggestions.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Personal Interview: Cleft Lip And Palate

Poor Kim is finally turning the corner this afternoon.  It has been rough!  Before surgery Hubby suggested buying a Kindle Fire for Kim's recovery.  I told him he was crazy!  Too expensive! 

By yesterday, Kim's eyes were nearly swollen shut (she hasn't been able to get her contacts in and she can't wear her glasses because of the nose splint!).  Poor baby was a ball of putty on the couch! 

So, last night I was at Target.  I called Hubby.  Told him he's a genius at gift ideas. 

Guess who is now the proud owner of a Kindle Fire? 

Anyhoo, all this time at home has given me a chance to interview Kim about her thoughts on being born with a cleft lip and palate.  I was quite surprised by some of her answers.

Me:  So, tell me about yourself.

Kim:  I like reading, soccer, eating and sleeping.  I dislike argumentive people and drama. 

M:  Some people consider cleft lip and/or palate a special need.  Do you?

K:  In some ways yes, because of all the surgeries and speech therapies the kid has to go through.  In other ways, it's just like another person being born.

M:  How has it affected your life--or has it?

K:  It's hard to go through so many surgeries, but the good thing is you get presents and visitors.

M:  Has it affected your life on a regular basis?

K:  I feel special because I have a cleft.

M:  Special in what way?

K:  Like I stand out. 

M:  In a negative or positive way?

K:  Positive.

M:  Do people ever notice your scar?

K:  Yes!  A lot in elementary school.  And when I first started middle school LOTS of people asked about it.  Other kids would come up and say, "I don't want to be rude, but what happened to your lip?"  I would just tell them I was born with my top lip not connected and I had to go do a lot of surgeries and the scar is just part of that.  They might say, "Oh, gross," (just because they aren't use to people explaining things), or some people will give a personal reaction asking questions about if it hurt or how many surgeries I had.  It's kind of awkward.  But the more I talked about it the more people understood it.  Now that I'm in high school people rarely ask me about it because in high school more people understand what cleft lip is, and there is another kid in high school with repaired cleft lip. 

M:  How often do you think about it?

K:  Since middle school I think about it a lot more because I have an ugly scar.

M: Hmmm.  So, do you think this surgery will be worth it to make that scar less noticeable?

K:  Right now, I'm not so sure.  I'm still the same person.  I like myself.  Most people have things they do and don't like about themselves. 

M:  What would you say to parents who are considering adopting a child born with a cleft?

K:  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it for both the child and the parents.

M:  What advice would you give to a cleft affected child in regards to questions about their scar?

K:  Don't let it mark you.  Don't let it define you as a person. 

M:  What advice would you give to a child who has to go through the surgeries?

K:  Take a lot of painkillers and try not to laugh because it hurts.  Don't have a funny mom. 

M:  Thank you for willing to be interviewed Kim.  I know you've always been open to sharing your story, and I appreciate you sharing it with all of us.  You're a remarkable kid and I love you to the moon and back!  Enjoy that Kindle, don't let your cheap mom borrow it, and keep recovering! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happiness Is . . .

The upside of having a child recovering from surgery . . .

And the best part is that it's summer, so most of these will still be here next week!

I am currently revamping the laundry/clothing situation.  It's ugly.  If you don't hear from me soon, please send out the rescue team (I am easily revived with chocolate and coffee). 

2012 Blog Squad!

Well HELLO!  How the heck are ya?

I’m thrilled to announce a little…uhh, announcement. I’m so excited to be joining the True Value Blog Squad again for 2012!:

true value blog squad

I’ve loved working with True Value and love my local TV so I’m psyched to get going again this year!

I’ve mentioned my True Value’s AWESOMESAUCE spray paint aisle:

spray paint!

Stop your drooling, I know.

And the fantastic hardware aisle:


Both rock my socks off. :)

This year I’m hoping to take advantage of the lumberyard a bit more (yes, they have a lumberyard – told you it’s awesome).

Last summer my Dad and I made my potting bench:

cedar wood potting bench

And I hope to build some more projects this year too. I’ve already got a few in mind. Did you doubt it? :)

I feel. in. love. with Kristin’s live edge table when I saw it:

DIY live edge table 

Isn’t that gorgeous? SO want to make on of my own.

Ana White posted this “X” console table a while back and I couldn’t believe my luck:

X console table

Kid you not, I had been planning on building one for months. And now I know how. ;)

I’ve also been planning on creating some in wall storage in our bathroom for awhile too, like this one:

in wall bathroom storage(source)

I think I can do it – we’ll see how it turns out.

And the biggie – I really hope I can get started on the mud room that will be a MUD ROOM and not a laundry room. Swoon:

mud room built ins

Be still my heart. This will not be how ours looks but I can dream, right?

So I hope to show you how to build more things than I have in the past, with some easier projects mixed in. AND a little somethin’ for you all thrown in here and there. :)

Can’t wait to get started -- I know the first project I’m working on! Can’t wait to show you…if it turns out. (Probably even if it doesn’t.)

Have a GREAT weekend!! Will you be celebrating the Fourth early? I LOVE the Fourth of July!


“I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Best Medicine

Today's been rough for Kim.  Rough.  Her eyes are nearly swollen shut.  The doctor said this would be the worst day and she is right.  Please keep praying for a speedy recovery.  Thank you to those who have been praying, sending get well wishes, gifts, and to my good friend Lisa who brought dinner tonight.  What a treat!

Speaking of eating, I overheard this at breakfast. 

Kim, laying on the couch eating yogurt: Ugh!  I hate this!  I can't taste anything! 

Patrick sitting nearby munching a bowl of cereal:  Why not?

Kim:  Because my nose is plugged and when your nose is plugged you can't taste anything!

Patrick?  Really?  You can't taste anything?


Patrick:  So you can't taste that yogurt?

Kim:  No!  I already told you!  I can't taste ANYTHING!!  NOTHING!!!

Long pause.  Silence.  Patrick chewing his Peanut Butter Crunch.  Pondering.  Silence.  Then finally--

Patrick:  I bet you'd be able to taste dog poop. 

Even Kim couldn't help laughing at that!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Over the fireplace

decorating a mantel

Hey hey! I mentioned yesterday that I was feeling the NEED for some DIY up in here. (Hea?) I’ve been planning a project for months now and just needed to figure out the details – mainly the exact materials I wanted to use.

Ever since we covered our corner fireplace last year, I’ve been planning a treatment over the mantel to finish it off a bit. It has looked just a bit nekked to me all this time, but I wanted to do something I knew I would like long term, so I waited:

walled off corner fireplace

I was just SO thrilled to not have that annoying corner fireplace anymore, I was fine with a little nekked. (Can you be a little nekked?)

I wanted to do something different than my normal wainscoting squares, and I finally figured out exactly what I wanted to do yesterday and got ‘er done. I started with these baseboard pieces from Lowe’s:

baseboards wall treatment

They come in eight and 12 foot lengths and are about 5.25 inches wide. The design couldn’t be simpler – just one board across the top, mitered at the corners, then two side pieces coming down:

I was lucky because the measurements allowed me to use ten boards horizontally, and they fit perfectly in the wall space above the mantel. I didn’t have to cut any of the boards down on a table saw to make it work. Which is a good thing cause I don’t have a table saw. ;)

The only hiccup I came to was how to mark where I had the screws for the mirror that hangs above the fireplace. They were already exactly where they needed to be and in studs, so I didn’t want to have to redo the whole thing.

Sooo, I grabbed some lipstick, painted the front of the screws with it, then I placed the board that was going in that spot directly on top of them to get a mark for the holes on the back:

hanging mirror hanging a mirror

It worked like a charm! I just drilled the holes where the lipstick was and then took the screws out of the wall, put the board up, then put the screws back in through the board. Does that make sense?

The design was so simple it took me less than an hour to get it up:

horizontal planks wall

(You can see the screws for the mirror up on the top.)

Since I kept the middle basic, I just cut a bunch of 42 inch boards and nailed them up – super easy!

Of course the project that I think about for months takes all of an hour to do. :)

I LOVE how it turned out!:

wall treatment over mant

Confession time though – I haven’t even painted it yet. Primed boards are worth their weight in gold, I tell you WHAT.

I want to be careful about painting it because I like that you can see the “seams” between the boards – I don’t want the paint to fill any of it in, so I’ll need to take my time with it.

And who am I kidding, you can’t even tell it’s not painted unless you get close, so it will most likely be eight months from now before semi gloss touches it’s surface. For REAL.

I had to notch out one of the boards to make the outlet work, but the accessories cover it well:

wall treatment over mantel 

And if anyone ever noticed it…well you know what that means. THEY GET A COOKIE.

I think it is the perfect finishing touch to the fireplace wall that I now LOVE:

wall treatment over mantel

Let’s look back on the transformation, shall we? I put up molding above our old corner fireplace years ago, then as I mentioned, we had the wall (and a REAL mantel) put up last fall:

 image[42] IMG_8703_thumb[12]

Now it’s what I’ve always dreamed it would be…sniff.

wall treatment over mantel

It took about $60 and an hour to do – and after all this time I have a fireplace that makes a statement instead of hiding away in a corner. ;)

I think fireplaces can be so hard – so many I see in blogland look effortless but I find something that works and stick with it…forever. I like the accessories I’ve had up there so unless major inspiration hits, they’ll be like this till fall. Do you struggle with what to do on your mantel and above your fireplace? Do you change it up often?

Upcoming Interview With The Star Of The Show

After I wrote my post yesterday I thought about my words.  I realized that my writing reflects our journey with palate repair at the end of the road, including the fact that I've experienced some amnesia myself. 

I don't want to downplay how hard it was to see my child go through surgery and pain.  It rips my heart out.  I don't want to minimize how challenging the years were of driving to speech therapy and working (fighting) with insurance (which we are blessed to have). 

I do want others to know that was all miniscule compared to the rest of our life-as-usual-days, filling life with the joy that a child brings.  I do want others to know that a child born with a cleft in many countries will live a life filled with more discrimination than we can imagine.  I do want others to know that parenting a child who has a cleft isn't that big of a deal--it should never keep a child from having a forever family (like it so often does).  I would do it again a million times over--and in fact, we are starting the road again with Mei Mei.

But what really struck me about yesterday's post is that it was written from my view point.  For me, having a cleft isn't a big deal.  But I'm not the one living with the scar on my lip. 

So, I asked Kim if she was willing to be part of an interview and of course she said yes, because she wants me to buy her lots more Sobe' today. 

So, coming up, an exclusive personal interview with the famous, amazing Kim!

Despite surgery she still has her great sense of humor.

It helps that she's had lots of phone calls, visits,

and lots and lots of texts.

For now, the doctor just came in and said we can go home.  Yeah!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Haven conference, finally!

Well, it finally arrived – after a year of planning, the Haven Conference happened last week and I really find it hard to put into words how wonderful it was. haven conference button

I know you’re probably seeing a lot of these recaps all over blogland today, and I know how hard it is to see these if you weren’t able to attend or just plain have no idea what the heck we’re talking about. So for those reasons, I’ll try to keep this short.

I do have to tell you that throughout the week I was continually overwhelmed (in a good way), humbled, overjoyed…it’s really hard to express what a special experience it was.

The Haven team is made up of some of my best friends (can I tell you how hard it is to have best friends who you see once a year??), and even though we were always going and working hard, we were ALWAYS having fun:

haven conference

(I had to borrow these pics cause I forgot my camera. And business cards. At a blogging conference. I am smart.)

We spent the first day unloading a meeellion swag bags, setting up registration and putting an obscene amount of paper lanterns together.

I spoke at a couple sessions each day, and we kicked off I Like Big Blogs with a little dance:

dancing at haven

Cause we like big blogs and we cannot lie. ;)

My dear friends Beckie and Julia spoke at the advertising session  with me and I think Beckie rocked some worlds with her info:

haven conference

I want to be her. ;)

I try to tell bloggers that when you meet other bloggers for the first time, there is an instant bond that’s hard to explain. I have so many women I consider friends and even though I met some of them for the first time last week, I’ve felt like they’ve lived down the street for years:

Haven conference

I think the blogger who wins the award for the most excited was Beth from Free Stylin:

She was a doll (as was everyone) and she almost made me cry she was so happy. She’s been reading TDC from the beginning and it was so awesome to meet her and so many other long-time readers.

I met so many incredible bloggers and non-bloggers and heard three things over and over:

1. TDC was the first blog they found. LOVE that.
2. I need to keep showing messes in my house cause people like that. ;) (I do too.)
3. I am in person what I “sound like” on the blog – and I don’t think I could’ve received a bigger compliment. (Which means that yes, I really am a HUGE dork.) It made my week every time someone said that.

It was an amazing week that brought me to (happy) tears more than once. I feel fortunate to have been able to meet so many amazing women (and a few men!) and I am so thrilled to have these six fantastic bloggers in my life:

haven team

Left to right: Kate, me, Beth, Rhoda (who with our coordinator Kristin did a TON of the work), Traci, Chris and Marian. (Kristi had to catch a train home early!)

I think this picture better represents us though:

haven team goofy

Love them. Loved every bit of it.

I missed my boys so much and was so happy to get home! It took me a couple days to recoup (I figured out that I had gotten 18 hours of sleep in five days), I was back at the DIY today. I can’t stay away for long. :)

If you were able to attend Haven this year, thank you! If not, I hope we’ll see you there next year!

**I believe Rhoda will have a Haven Conference link up on Tuesday if you went and would like to link your post!

**I borrowed these pics from Tonya, Traci, Beth and Julia. Thanks ladies. ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Home decor giveaway

**This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been contacted!

Hollaaaa! I’m closing out the week (while I’m away at the Haven Conference) with a giveaway from one of my favorite sites! You may know them as Wuslu, but they’ve changed their names to Decor Steals, which I think is totally appropriate!

I love this daily deals site – they have a fantastic selection of home decor items that are great quality, unique and are a STEAL. Har. They go up every day at 10 a.m. EST and if you love it you need to get it before it’s gone!


I’ve purchased a few finds from this site and am always pleased when I get them. Here’s a few of my favorites of late!

I love the vintage feel of some many of their items, like these wire crates:


I think those would be cute hung on the wall (by the backs), filled with fun kitchen-related decor!

I just saw a similar three-tiered stand in the Ballard Designs catalog today:


And I have no doubt this one is a fraction of the price!

Aren’t these galvanized tubs too cool?


I love them as planters, or filled with ice and drinks at a party.

Speaking of catalogs – I see similar lanterns every time the Pottery Barn comes in the mail:


I love them for inside and outside – full of fillers or candles.

This rug was a major hit and I can see why:


How cool is that?

And I love candelabras – this one is a really classic design that won’t go out of style:


I need to know when that one goes up online. ;)

Decor Steals has added the ability to catch deals again if you missed them the first time – they call them extended steals. You can check those out on the site as well. 

The kind folks at DS are giving away $100 to a lucky winner to spend as you wish! Aw. yeah.


Here’s how to enter to win:
1. Leave a comment here. Any fun plans for the weekend?

2. Visit the Decor Steals here and visit the “Pick Steals” tab – come back and let us know which item you’d like to see for sale on the site. 

3. “Like” Decor Steals on Facebook here. Come back and comment to let us know you did.

4. Subscribe to the DS email list here so you can find out what’s up for sale each day.

* You can enter one or all four times – it’s up to you! All options are not mandatory to win.

* Remember if you comment anonymously or you have a private blog, please include your email address in each entry, and spell it out with “at” and “dot” to avoid any spammy emails coming your way.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will be open for a week – till Monday June 25 at noon EST.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carpet cleaning giveaway

**This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been contacted via email.

Hello there! As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m off at the Haven Conference, so I have a few fun giveaways planned for you all. The first one was for a decor item, which is always fun, and this one is more of a cleaning/necessity giveaway. Sometimes those are my favorites!

Remember when I wrote that HUGE to do list in April? Well, I didn’t get all of it done by the end of May – but that’s another post. ;) Thanks to the folks at Stanley Steemer I did get one big project done – they emailed me offering to clean our carpets and then offered to give one of you a cleaning session!


I’ve had our carpets cleaned before and I can honestly say I have never seen more care taken when it came to our house. I was SO pleased at the little things they did to protect our furniture and us:

That thing on the front door kept it open enough for the hose but then kept the hot air from coming in the house – I thought that was brilliant. The little signs were stuck on all the handrails and hard floors near the carpets and they warned us about walking with wet feet on those spots.

They did a fantastic job – I couldn’t even believe the difference in our carpets. They were not pretty before – think three cats and one dog not pretty.

I will spare you the befores of those but I will share one – the marker stain on the carpet that I couldn’t get out:


There is absolutely no sign of it – there’s no sign of any of the stains. I can’t tell where any of them were. Let’s just say that’s saying a lot. Ahem.

Annnnd then a few days later the cat puked on the clean carpets. Not once, but twice. Fun times. I’ll be calling them again. ;)

The carpets were dry by the time we went to bed that night – so they weren’t left really wet which I love. I didn’t realize they cleaned furniture as well, so when I found out I had them clean our family room sectional and it looked great when they were done.

I tell you the truth about services and products that I try and I was honestly thrilled with the results. I’ll be using them from now on for sure.

Here’s the best part – Stanley Steemer has offered $100 toward carpet cleaning services for one of you as well. Whoo!! Who doesn’t love free cleaning??

Here’s the dealio to win $100 in free carpet cleaning:

1. Leave a comment here.

2. Uhh, that’s it. :) Nice huh?

* Remember if you comment anonymously or you have a private blog, please include your email address in each entry, and spell it out with “at” and “dot” to avoid any spammy emails coming your way.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will be open for a week – till Monday June 25 at noon EST.