Thursday, July 30, 2009

Around our Table

Around OUR table, you are quite likely to see a child with elbows {and boats} on the table

Elbows, elbows.1

another child shoveling in his food {literally- shovel compliments of our beach trip}

shovel collage

and a dog waiting patiently- for what I have discovered is a deal between said dog and youngest child {who has been caught feeding dogs several times}.


Yes, this is the norm for our table most every day.

In this post where I shared about Homemade Gourmet, you wouldn't believe who dropped by in the comment section: Tami- the FOUNDER of Homemade Gourmet. Holy Cow! How crazy is that? I forwarded the e-mail with the comment to my friend, Melanie- the HG Consultant, immediately. Then I called her because I hadn't heard back from her {do you do this??}.
Melanie's egg-zact words were, "Tami?? Tami VanHoy?? THE TAMI VAN HOY?"

It was almost as if Jon Bon Jovi had commented on my blog that he likes Melanie's guitar playing.

So fun!

Tami has a wonderful blog called Around the Table and she seems like a super nice and {obviously} smart gal. Go give her a hello over there when you can and check out her recipes.

I can assure you, her table doesn't bear a smidgen of resemblance to mine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthdays, Bikes, Bags and Booty

As you can tell from the title, this is a random bag of goodies tonight.

After my very brief stage mom stint massive failure on Friday night, I got right back on that horse and dragged my kids to a photo shoot the next day. WAIT! Before you send me to reality TV, this one was with my good friend Melissa who has shot all the kids/ family pictures and she needed some models for her fall set. And I needed a few free pictures, so I was all in!
If you want to see all the pictures, you are more than welcome to view them.
Go to
Then to “Client Pages” and then “View Proofs and Order Portraits”
Enter your
Enter your password:owen

I think she got some cute ones! Let me know if you view them because I'm having a tough time deciding on one of each.

Next, we hopped in the car and headed over to Sarah's house for her twins' birthday party. {Sarah and I graduated from high school together and just happen to live in the same town now. Any friend that has known you that long and is still a friend is wonderful!!}

It was a perfect backyard birthday party! The kids played and played for hours. Ollie didn't leave this pool for much probably not even to go to the bathroom, but we didn't ask any questions

the big bathtub.1

and Henry had a great time with their dog, Coby.
He tried to pawn off his carrots


then learned dogs don't like carrots and he would just have to eat them himself. Recognize that shirt??

Realizing that dogs don't eat carrots.1

We all came home exhausted and the kids slept for 3 hours! By all counts, that makes a perfect birthday party.

That afternoon we rode bikes on our street. Ollie is still learning the finer details of pedaling and Jason is trying to teach him.

lessons from dad.1

Henry has his own bike, thankyouverymuch. And he's pretty happy about it. He races up and down the street and tries to keep up. Then he falls off, we kiss boo-boos and he's back on the road again.

Big man.1

Sometimes I think my kids get tired of me taking their pictures.

Puh-lease quit taking pictures.1

Sometimes I think my husband gets tired of me making fun of his shoes.

July 09.5 044

Too bad. They're all stuck with me.

But they might want to stick around because on Monday, I went to my friend Melanie's house and stocked up on food for the freezer! She sells Homemade Gourmet food and seasonings {have you heard of it?} and does a program called 4 meals in 4 minutes. You bring your own meat and stock up on freezer meals.

Watch out freezer.1

Isn't this the best? Have you ever done the Super Suppers or Dinner by Design? I think they are all the same concept, but I haven't done any of the others. This is not the main thing she does, but I try to participate as often as I can.
Because throwing food in a crock pot for dinner is up there with a pedicure.


Ok, that was a stretch. But it IS good stuff.

Finally, {WHEW!} I have to let you know that I have been one lucky chick lately and have raked in some booty!
* I won a $25 Starbucks gift card from Niki at Free 2 Be Frugal.
* Then, a $25 gift certificate to from Lori at Building Our Nest.
* AND, a new Bible from Jessie at Vanderbilt Wife.
It came with a cool box.

July 09.5 113

And a stamping for Henry William Berry III.

July 09.5 116

Or the IIII {but I think that would be IV} so it looks like that was a mis-stamp! I love it! Always love a prize with a good story.

And a girl with a lot of booty.

But that shouldn't go right next to a Bible picture.
Oh, well. Work in progress.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Stint as a Stage Mom

I'm sure you are picturing me on Toddlers and Tiaras right now, but I don't think I could handle that stage dad they keep showing on the previews. The one who teaches his daughter the "routines"? Please tell me you've seen that. A little disturbing for my taste.

Back to the story: my friend Kathy at Sew Beautiful {who featured Henry and Ollie in her magazine} called me this week to ask if they could model at the Sew Beautiful Conference fashion show. Of course I said yes, like any mother in the world would have, right?

So we get to the Civic Center, pay our $5 to park and find the dressing rooms for the fashion show. There were signs everywhere directing us, the clothes were laid out with names on them, instructions were printed as to what to wear, where to go, how to return, etc. These people have their act together.

Here's the thing I learned very quickly: These People Have GIRLS.

There is a huge gender difference here and I don't know if they pull little girls aside to teach this, but my boys missed the class. They could not give a flying rip about a fashion show. I got them dressed and they were so excited to tear into the cool gifts that Kathy got them for participating.

Here is Henry in his cute Robot smock jumper and extremely loud new whistle. {For your sewing folks, this pattern will be in the November issue of Sew Beautiful. Everyone else *ahem* including ME, please resume below:}

Little H with smocked robots.1

Ollie is wearing the same pattern {rockets and robots}, but from what I can tell, it's a bowling shirt.
On another note, can anyone honestly tell me that they think this child below looks 3? I'll have you know- he is- although he looks 5. I have proof of his age; I was there when he was born.

Big man.1

Here are my guys in their matching outfits. They looked so cute together!

Matching outfits.1

Ollie's gift for participating was a box of legos. Jason felt it was necessary to put them together ASAP. So, here you have my dressing room full of 3 boys.

Daddy with the legos.1

And we were actually a little early *This. Never. Happens.* and had too much time to kill. Just enough time to get really dirty in other people's clothes.

And this is how you do the worm.1

Just a little dirtier before the show.1

Finally, the time to go on stage was here. The girls were so excited! They were running down the hallways, primping their hair in the mirrors at the last minute, adjusting their tiaras , etc.
Jason left to go take pictures/ video and I was going to walk the boys down the aisle in case of emergency.
Ollie starts to have a conniption about wanting Daddy. So, they scoot us to the front of the line since I have a screamer.
Please note this is where "Emergency" is declared and I am now walking down the runway with them. Below is the only picture we have of the big event:

On the runway... and thrilled.1

Halfway down the L-O-N-G catwalk in front of 300 old ladies people, Ollie spots Jason and jumps off the runway to a gasp in the audience.
All the while Kathy is emcee-ing in the background and describing their outfits.
Henry then sees his moment to shine and starts a full on sprint down the remainder of the walk way. He gets a roar of laughter from the geriatric sewing committee and almost makes it into someone's arms at the end until he turns around and I catch him. And have to carry him back the rest of the way.

As I'm returning with one child on hip and one screaming in the distance, I see a girl with long, curled, red hair in a beautiful pink dress made by her grandmother {I hear Kathy saying}. She knew what she was doing; she walked that runway like she owned the joint. I think she was about 18 months old.

And this is the difference between boys and girls. Is there something in their genetics that makes them pre-disposed to showing off? Or knowing that attention is FUN?
I realize I'm asking these questions like I'm not a girl {and I am, of course}, but when did we learn it?

I should have known better. I learned long ago that Ollie doesn't care about performing at all.
I guess I should be thankful that this was only a $5 lesson {+ free toys, so I'm sure we came out ahead}. And the best part is, I'll have a great blackmail story for his friends in high school.

So that is the story of my short career as a stage mom. Jason summed it up well as we were leaving with, "Aaaaannnnnd I guess they won't be asking us back next year...".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Goodwill Hunting... and Hopping

Happy Hopping! I hope you all are having fun!
If we haven't met before, I'm Hillary. You can find out all about my by clicking "About" up there {but I'm guessing you knew that} or scroll to the bottom of the About page to find out why in the world I would be "The Other Mama".

For twitter lovers, here's a 140 character bio:
Wife, Mommy, Child of a King, blogger, juggler of many errands, stain and drool advisor who volunteers too much. And I love to tell a story- with my hands usually.

OK, so twitter probably cut me off on that last one, but since I do love a good story, I have a fun one for you!

A good friend told me a while back that our local Goodwill carries some of the leftover clothes from a local Target Distribution Center: things that get returned and don't sell. Well, I've never gotten around to going there until this week!

It was amazing! Like a bargain hunter's paradise {with a little bit of a smell, but I got over it}.
The VAST majority of the clothes were from Tar-jhay WITH tags. For you eBay peeps, that's NWT. I could not believe my eyes! And the other shoppers were like me! We were all comparing our goods with jaws dropped open.

Here is what I racked up:
* 2 running shirts for me
* 3 dress/ weekday shirts for me {that's 3 total: 2 dressy, one plain t-shirt}
* 1 pair of running shorts for me
Are you noticing a pattern here? *ahem* Guess I should shop for others, too...
* 1 Tonka ambulance for the kiddos
* 1 foam sword for swashbuckling pirates
* 2 t-shirts for the big guy
* 1 Thomas swim shirt for the little guy {already worn to swim party last night}
* 2 character ice packs {already used Lightening McQueen for boo boo tonight}

I think that's all. I'm sure I forgot something, though.
Even it I didn't, that would be 13 items, ALL BRAND NEW WITH TAGS, for a grand total of.... {drum roll to yourself, you can do it}

What? I know! Super excited!! I did a happy dance on the way out to the car and I'm sure someone saw me, but I was so happy that I just chose to think they were envious.

I have already worn some of my Goodwill running clothes {and I ran just fine}. I figured I was going to get stinky in the pretty quickly so I didn't have to wash them first.

And the boys are already fighting over the ambulance {a good sign??} and O-man loves the sword. He is currently sleeping with it. Again, should I be concerned?So, if you happen to be in the Huntsville, Ala area, this is the Goodwill on Whitesburg Drive {I know that's incredibly detailed, but had to throw it out there for my yokel locals}.

Here is the "kicker" {fine... pun intended} of the day. I also went to the mall to get Henry some new church/ something other than the crocs-that-are-glued-to-his-feet sandals since he has outgrown the ones from the beginning of the summer. I found these Stride Rite gems at Dillard's for 40% off, but they were still $20 after tax {yes- same price as ALL 13 items above}.
Notice anything funny about them? They are BOTH left feet!! So the Goodwill items were fine and dandy and the irregulars are from the mall!

Thankfully, the correct shoe was returned and exchanged today and he will be back to dancing order soon- no more 2 left feet.

Enjoy your hopping! And let me know your latest bargain in the comment section. Any other cheap skates, um... I mean... bargain hunters out there? Come out of the consignment closet; you'll feel great to air your used laundry!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Pirate Looks at 4

While I'm not Martha Stewart around the kitchen, or with the laundry or dust piles in my house, I do take a little bit of pride in birthday parties.

I've thrown Jason 2 surprise birthday parties: a "Pimps and Prostitutes" themed party for his 24th birthday and a Bowling party for his 30th birthday {there were NOT bumpers in the gutters, unfortunately, and I was 30 weeks pregnant with our first little bowling ball}.

{A complete aside here about the 24th birthday party: let's just say we were both young, working at Space Camp over the summer and we had a slew of friends who all got really into their costumes. I bought Jason a costume at a local thrift store and he looked like Fred Sanford. He was completely surprised- even when a really reserved and quiet friend of ours, who had on a mini skirt, fishnets and was sporting a side ponytail, rode up on the elevator with us to the party. He swears he had no idea. And while I am staring at pictures from this event right this very moment, they will not be making their way to the world wide interweb, thankyouverymuch.}

*Ahem* Where was I?
Oh yes. I love a birthday party and I have a dilemma. Last year Ollie had a Thomas themed party. As you know, we love a train or 82 around here. But lately, the little guy has also been into astronauts. AND, even more recently, he has gotten into pirates.

Tonight, I made a pirate map Treasure map.1
and we looked for pirate treasure.

Here's a pre-(2nd) hunt interview. As with most of my videos, the interview-ee gets distracted at the end and could care less about my photojournalistic efforts.
And then they run away.
Surely, it's not for the lack of distinguished and intriguing questions.
I'm sure you can't wait:

They found the pirate treasure!
Argh! Proud of treasure find!
{Or cheap mardi gras/ dollar tree/ 4th of July beads that double as pirate treasure.}
"Treasure" is in the eye of the beholder. This theory explains many marriages, almost every item at a yard sale, and how Jason still loves these shoes.

The treasure hunt did not come without adventure. We ran into some scurvy creatures along the way.
scury pirates around these parts.1
And a scurvy dog or two. Henry decided this doggy needed some treasure.H putting treasure on Luke Luke with Pirate Booty
Thankfully we all survived the hunt- including Luke.

So, here's my dilemma: what kind of party theme would be best for this upcoming 4 year old?

He changes his mind daily about it, so I've quit asking him {why should he get a vote anyway, since I am planning and paying for it? Oh! Party IS for HIM. Forgot there. Sorry.}.
What do you think would be easiest?
Coolest among the 4 year old set?

Any help with party input or experience is greatly appreciated. Unless you suggest a Pimps and Prostitutes theme for my 4 year old. Then I might send that Scurvy Fred Sanford pictured above after you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Sit back, relax and pretend it's elementary school and you get the first few days to goof off and listen to what other people did on their summer vacation.

Today you get to see the Top 10 Things we got to experience on our vacation to St. George Island. {Yes, I know this was over the 4th of July and it's practically the end of the month now. But I promised you pictures, so I'm delivering.}

10. We got to use the largest remote control in the world.
Here is my cousin Marcus modeling the Generic Remote for the Elderly. Don't adjust your screens, folks. It really is the size of his torso. We used this remote to flip back and forth from "Dora! Dora! Dora!" to constant MJ coverage.

9. The kids {Ollie pictured here} got to have fun with new beach toys.
It gives you the warm fuzzies when you get to spend $16.99 on a $5 snorkel, doesn't it?
But he wore the heck out of that thing.
And if you think complete sets of any new toys made it home, you would be incorrect. We only have the snorkel mask and bits and pieces of the kite.

8. We mad many disastrous family picture attempts.
This is the best of the worst. The ONLY good one from the week is here. Yes. Already posted. So don't hold your breath for any more! Just hold on to your kid... as seen below.

7. I got to wear one pair of khaki shorts all week.
I love a good khaki short. So much so that I bought a new pair for the beach! Well, "bought" might be an overstatement... according to the check out gal who apparently forgot to remove the tag.
Thankfully I had a couple other options. And a washing machine.

6. Mom made a Flip Flop Cake!
Is this not the cutest cake ever? {Click right back there for the recipe for your next summer event!} And Mom wants you all to know that the sand is graham cracker crumbles- not real sand.
Unfortunately, the cake was so terribly adorable, that no one cut into it. And, according to my dad, it has re-located to their freezer at home... surely to die a slow death. So, if you reside in LA (Lower Alabama, of course), then you might be able to swing a deal with my mom for the flops. Or if my dad answers the door, they will be yours in a heartbeat!

5. We spent major portions of the day on the beach.
Our rental house was right on the beach and- sadly for the sea turtles- very close to a sea turtle nest. We never saw any turtles, but that might be because we drug the kite, Frisbee, trucks, etc out of the caution-taped area every single day.
They put that caution tape there for us.
It was worthless.
Many sand castles were made and destroyed- the latter being the most fun part for little boys. And Henry was not afraid of the "sca-wy wat-ey" after all! I ran him in on one of the first days and he loved it after that. He kept chanting, "Fun Wat-ey!".
Here is Aunt Sister- the child magnet.
This is my cousin Marcus's wife, Holly's sister, Mary. Do you need a flow chart for that one?
Since Holly calls her, "sister" and SK {that cute baby right there} is going to call her "Aunt Sister", my kids took to that like cheetos. She is henceforth and evermore "Aunt Sister".

And since she is not yet a mommy, all the children flock to her. It's like they can smell the fun, creativity and freshness and long to be near the Fun Aunt. That's her!
And here's my favorite shot from the beach! This was push up 49 *ahem* sure...4. We got to hang out with Sally Kate. How can you not love this bathing beauty? We got to spend the whole week with her and fell in love with her cute little self! So precious!
Henry tried to teach her some new tricks about cords and blinds. 'Cause that's what older boy cousins do- ruin you for good! 3. I got some fun girl time with friends and bloggers!
This was a much- anticipated luncheon at our favorite Apalachicola Eatery, The Owl.
We had a wonderful luncheon and you see who was sans children? ME! That's Lane on the top left, then Holly with Sally Kate, Aunt Sister {Mary} with Lane's adorable son, Camp and emoi.
Look at those cute kiddos in the matching strollers! How 'bout that? They're already talking about an arranged marriage, which is obviously going to work from their already similar tastes. Here is my favorite shot of my blogging buddies. Mainly it's my favorite because Mary has a pelican on her head.
2. The St. George Island 4th of July Parade
This deserves it's own post. I took so many pictures that I made a little collage for you!
What do you think of my first collage attempt?
I can't begin to tell you about this parade without mentioning that my family was among the starters of this fine festivity. Over 20 years ago, my cousins and I would fill up a cooler full of water balloons, join the other dozen pick up trucks and drive down "the Strip" of the island and throw them at people, laughing and snorting all the way.

Now, the parade has turned into a FAAAIN-SEE affair with a long line of trucks, water guns, dogs with ads spray painted on their fur, flatbed trailers full of zany characters and a lawn chair twirling drill team.
I am not making any of this up. Our family truck entry, driven by my cousin Jacob, was decorated with a table cloth and some bathtub loofahs. Just click on the picture below here of my two cute Uncle Sams for my Flickr set of pictures from the parade.

O and H ready for the parade

1. Fireworks!!
Our rental house was near the center of the action for the fireworks, so we had a great view of the festivities! We celebrated with ice cream at 9:00 pmBut we forgot the ear plugs.
Thankfully the fireworks didn't last too late into the night and everyone went to sleep despite their sugar high.

Ahhh *sigh*. I would go back in a split second if I could. Do you have that one special getaway place that is perfect for you? St. George is definitely that for me and my family and I feel like I'm part of that small little piece of themiddleofnowhere that's like heaven on earth.

They accept me for my stolen shorts, they realize that my kids will destroy their sea turtle sanctuary {or maybe they don't} and they paint a picture perfect sunset most days. I won't even fault them for their over sized gadgets and lawn chair drill team. 'Cause friends forgive little things.
I'm still taking issue with the spray painted dog, but nowhere can be perfect.

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