Kindergarten Newbie

We have officially made it through our first full week of half day kindergarten! JB is doing really well, making new friends, and learning classroom procedures. It’s been such a blessing to have him in such a loving environment!

All that said, there have been a few things that have caught me off guard.

1. Pencils

I don’t know why I didn’t think about this, but pencils are now very valuable at our house for handwriting practice. Thankfully, I’ve been saving them for years in preparation for school one day so we have plenty. Unfortunately, we don’t own a single damn sharpener. None. So, we do our handwriting practice with colored pencils because those come pre sharpened. 🤷🏼‍♀️

2. All the stuff.

JB is at school for 15 hours a week. How the heck did he manage to make 21 pieces of “art” in his first week?!? All those “treasures” are now piled in the mudroom eagerly anticipating their judgement day to determine if they make it into the air conditioned house or will retire/die in the blue carport bin. When asked about this mass creation of art, he explained that art center is his favorite and he goes there first every day.

So far, creations include “cook books” (ie, homemade books with yummy desserts glued on the pages cut from a magazine), “origami” (ie, construction paper with a million folds rolled up together with tape to keep it closed), a large painted cactus with toothpicks glued on it (my fav so far), goldfish glued on a giant sheet of paper to spell out his name, and a sheriff badge/name tag with a star decorated in sequins.

3. Homework.

Silly me, for some reason I thought 15 hours of weekly instruction was enough for a 6 year old. But, they want us to teach him at home too. Technically, this is homework but so far, I don’t have a problem with any of the content!

laugh, brooke

How to Buy a Used Car in 20 Easy Steps

We just got to experience the joy and happiness of car shopping, so I thought I’d share what we learned in 20 easy steps:

  1. Figure out a general idea of what kind of vehicle you want (suv, minivan, sedan, truck, etc).
  2. Go to Carmax and look at every single one of those types of vehicles.  It’s the only place you can see so many year models and options in one place.  Note: salespeople just love this.
  3. While you are there, get a quote from them to buy your current car.  Try not to cry in the dealership when you find out your car’s value.
  4. Narrow down the make/models that you are interested in between 3-5 cars.  For me it was a Toyota Highlander, Lexus GX 460, Toyota 4Runner, and Toyota Land Cruiser.  
  5. Research the different options, trim levels, body styles and price points.  
  6. Go look at your short list of vehicles at the respective dealerships to see what they look like/drive like/cost if you were to buy brand new.  Try not to throw up when you see the price tags.
  7. Determine if you like the newest models or an older version.  For me, I did not like the new Highlanders and instead preferred the older body styles.
  8. Narrow down what you can buy in your price range- mainly the year, mileage and trim level.  
  9. Start searching for cars that check those boxes daily- and heck, twice a day if you want.  Search Carmax, carvana, auto trader, Craigslist*, and individual dealerships.
  10. If you see a car you like, check the Carfax (provided for free by most dealerships on their website).  This is when the fun starts. See if the car has been wrecked, where it’s been registered, and if the title is clean.  This is the most time consuming part of your searching. “Oh, that’s a good price… let me check the Carfax. Oh, it’s been wrecked three time and lived in New Jersey for 4 years.  Pass.” This step will help you weed out 85% of the cars in your search results.
  11. Send your partner/family/friends links to any car that passes step #10.  
  12. Call/text to see if the car is still available.  If so, haul your kid and husband to see it ASAP. If car shopping in June in Georgia, bring copious amounts of cold water and a well charged iPad.
  13. Climb through the car to see how many people you can fit in it, set up every possible seating arrangement you could possibly use, check all the buttons/gears, screens, windows, trunks, jacks, floor mats, DVD players, and look under the hood. If this passes, take it for a test drive.  If not, don’t waste your time.
  14. Ask the dealer what they did to the car after they bought it off trade, they should give you a list.  Double check the carfax report to be sure the VIN matches the VIN on the car.
  15. Try to negotiate on the price. Know that dealerships don’t have as much negotiation room as they used to.  Also, know that Carmax and Carvana do not negotiate so dealerships have gotten their advertised prices as low as possible to bring in buyers.  Keep in mind that many used cars only come with one key, if you need/want two, negotiate that in with the purchase.
  16. If you come up with an agreed price, take the car to your mechanic for review- along with a copy of carfax to be sure things are accurate- before buying.  
  17. If the car checks out, know that you can put up to $3,000 on a credit card at most dealerships.  If paying “cash”, they want the rest in a personal or certified check. They offer financing options but you can usually get a better rate at a credit union or bank.
  18. The dealership will do the paperwork to get the car registered before you leave but be sure to call your insurance company to have coverage on the new car before you drive it off the lot.
  19. If you car comes with any warranties, be sure to fully understand them before you leave the lot.  
  20. Drive off in your new-to-you car and try to keep your son from dumping pretzels all in it within the first hour of ownership!

*We had a scammy experience with potentially buying a car off Craigslist.  Don’t buy a car from anyone who has a POA to sign the title to you.  There is no way to be sure it’s legal.  Also, if the mileage seems to be too low- it probably is.

learn & laugh, brooke

May is a Marathon

For many, May is the slammed together book ends of school ending and summer starting.  It’s full of overlapping sports seasons, teacher appreciation gifts, dance recitals, swim team practices, graduations, Mother’s Day gifts/gatherings, Memorial Day travel prep, and end of school parties.  It’s exhausting just writing it all.

So today, I salute you parents who make it all happen…

…Those that make sure that their daughter’s bangs are glued to her head with a series of butterfly clips and level 6 hair spray.

…Those that stay up late making egg free cupcakes for the last day of school party even though the egg free kid won’t be there.

…Those that hold their two year old while also nursing their six month old so everyone is quiet and happy during the dance recital.

…Those that set an early morning alarm on a Saturday for a kid’s swim team practice meet.

…Those that drive around to 5 different stores to purchase gifts for each child’s teacher.

…Those that make grocery lists and shop so that you can pack it all up and take it with you to the beach to prevent going to a store once you arrive.

…Those who construct a homemade bamboo structure for VBS decorations.

…Those who show up for swim team practice every day with twin ten month girls in tow.

…Those who plan an end of the year party craft that the kids don’t want to make.

…Those who decide to paint their entire basement the last week of school because childcare will be limited in the coming months.

What are you doing this month that’s totally insane and deserves mad props?!

laugh,

brooke

 

Nashville Newbie on Broadway

Somehow, I made it 33 years without a visit to Nashville. (*I did attend a high school conference at the Opryland Hotel but this does not count.)

I knew there was a lot of live music in Nashville but I didn’t know there was a LOT of live music. At 10:45am, I was walking down Broadway and heard an extremely loud band playing in Nudie’s. No other bars had live music playing and it was especially exciting to hear as the weekend was quickly approaching. I was dressed in running shorts/shoes and I hesitated to enter, but I’m so glad I did. A five piece band was blaring tunes while folks cracked cold ones at the bar, kids danced and I swayed to the rock n roll.

Wait, it’s not even 11am, and I paid zero dollars to enter a bar with great live music. This is some kind of heaven. My first thought is, “we need to move here.” Followed by, “we need to retire here.” Then, “where can I go in Atlanta for live music before lunch time with my son?!” I was hooked and couldn’t wait to come back later that day after a lunch commitment.

Here is how it works (from what I can tell):

1. Bands play for tips at most of the bars on Broadway. They split the tips evenly among themselves.

2. They play their asses off to entertain and make as much in tips as possible. They don’t take breaks and often loop songs together to prevent lulls (aka giving people an opportunity to leave).

3. Twenty bucks buys you a song of your choice. Most bands have a huge playlist and many have phones/iPads strapped to their mics for lyrics when needed.

4. If you don’t like a song or band, then move along. We managed to hit ten bars in a 3 hour period.

5. If you like a band, tip them. I was in amazement of performers musical talent AND ability to also entertain.

6. Most bars play today’s country, but a few- especially Layla’s and Robert’s- play “authentic country”- think Merle Haggard. These are the best places to see a steel guitar at work.

7. Go early. The talent was great at 11am and got better throughout the day. The bars started getting crazy crowded around 10pm- think drunks and lots of body heat.

8. Wear whatever the heck you want. Everyone else does. Cut offs, flip flops, cowboy boots, jeans and dresses are everywhere. Don’t dress to impress. Dress for dancing your butt off and being sweaty.

9. It seemed that most bands played 4 hour sets. When they are done, they try to get the next band set up as quickly as possible so the bar doesn’t empty in search of other good music.

10. We only paid cover ($5) at one place- a dueling piano bar. There, your song choice and cash tip get lined up in order of amount paid. Want to hear something quickly? Ante up $20 or more and your request usually jumps to the top of the queue.

11. Bachelorette parties are everywhere. And they all have matching t-shirts or tank tops. Keep your distance.

12. The people watching is amazing. I’ll leave it at that.

That’s what I learned as a Nashville Newbie on Broadway. Can’t wait to go back!

Successful Self Care

I recently watched Ann Lamott’s Ted Talk: 12 truths I learned from life and writing.  She had many good lessons to share but one that stuck out was the importance of self care.  Yes, we know we should care for ourselves for lots of reasons- physical, emotional and mental reasons- but her point was that it helps others.  In fact, she calls self care “a huge gift to the world”.

Many times we may feel selfish about our self care.  That sentence makes me laugh a bit… that’s kind of the point, right?  But, when we stop and think about how our lack of self care can be a drain on those around us, it makes me realize that it’s more than just caring for ourselves but also caring for others.  I am reminded of what I hear everytime I am on a plane… secure your oxygen mask first before helping others. I have wanted to scream, but what about my baby boy? He needs oxygen just as badly and fast as I do!?  But then I remember, I can’t do any good for him if I’m suffocating.

Like most things, I had some preconceived notions about what self car looks like.  So, I did some research among my friends to find out what they find successful in feeling rejuvenated throughout life.  It’s important to remember that self care doesn’t have to be financially expensive.

1. Exercise.  This was a very popular response for many of my friends.  One said that “its a huge stress reliever to physically exhaust myself while building strength.”  Others preferred a more low key workout like yoga which also involves meditation too. Ideas:

  • Tennis
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Fitness Classes

2. Solitude.  This is a big one for many moms.  We often share most of our life with others- even if we don’t want to (ie: a toddler busting in the bathroom while showering).  So, taking a break from those we love to be able to focus on ourselves and doing things that we love is a great thing to recharge.  Some examples from others:

  • Solo walk
  • A nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Driving in silence
  • Being still

3.  Personal appearance.  This was one I had never really considered before as I am super low maintenance in my appearance.  But, I can definitely understand how it can help with your confidence and mood. If you feel blah about your appearance, than spending some time and energy on it can improve your outlook and interactions with others.  

  • Facial
  • Manicure
  • Botox
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Make Up

4.  Protecting your commitments.  One of my friends said she has to say no to opportunities as a form of self care.  At first hearing, it didn’t make sense to me, but as she went on I realized that protecting her calendar/schedule was a major form of self care as it prevents over-scheduling and extra stress.  For every yes we say, it’s a no to something else.  Feeling guilty?  I’ll be your No Cheerleader 🙂

5.  Do something fun.  This may look different for many t people because we all find fun in a variety of ways.  A girl’s night out, going on a guy’s camping trip, or exploring a new part of your city could all be fun. The key is to do something fun with other people is make sure they are fun and that you enjoy being with them. Doing something out of the norm gives us something to look forward and gets us out of the normal daily rut.

  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Visit a brewery with  neighbors
  • Picnic at a new park

I’d love to hear how you practice self care!

xoxo, brooke

Back to School Jitters

I’m going back to school starting tonight and I’m slightly terrified. I’m enrolled for the “Essentials of Creative Writing” course at Emory University. I mean Emory… that place seems so serious and legit. What am I doing? I haven’t been in college in over ten years and I barely remember taking a freshman English class. I guess that’s why I need this CE class… to brush up on writing fundamentals and use the correct tenses and an overall refresher on how to write. Yes, I know it will be good for me. Try something new, get out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, yada yada yada… BUT I’m still nervous.

Some questions:

1.  What should I wear?!?  When I was in college I wore free t-shirts and skirts from Sam’s club. Is this still good attire for a college classroom?! Most of what I have worn recently is a free t-shirt with running shorts covered in paint from DIY projects. Is that ok?! If I wear a dress, will it look like I’m trying too hard?? What do I own that screams “writer” to make me look legit.

2. How many people will be in the class?!  Will it be like me and three other more serious people who spend their days doing nothing but writing? Or will there be 100 of us in a theatre style lecture? Will I be the youngest or way too old?

3. Will I have to share my writing with others?!  Let’s be honest, this is truly the most terrifying question. I’m no where near ready to share my writing with people I’m not already friends with on Facebook! Will they make fun of me?  

4. What should I bring!?  I’m bringing a notebook and pen but should I bring my laptop?! Spoiler- my laptop battery sucks and has to be plugged in to even work. What if the classroom is out of the dark ages and doesn’t have outlets near the chairs? Ok, I’m not taking the computer. And on another note, how do I have such a crappy computer when I’m married to a man who owns five of his own?! I digress…

5. Will we have homework?! If so, what will it be? Will we have to share it with the teacher?! Can you FAIL a continuing ed course?!

6.  What am I forgetting to be worried about?!  

Well, I am all out of ?!? Fingers crossed I can pull this off. TBD.

Update:  I went with the Kmart skirt and PRR t-shirt.  I decided to stick with what I know.  And yes, this is my back to school pic.  😜

laugh, brooke

DIY Emotions

Anxiety 😬

Which contractor should we hire? What unforeseen issues are going to come up? What’s wrong with this house since no one else bought it? Is my budget going to be busted? Will our timeline work out? Will my painter bail on us? Which color should I choose? Will those fixtures get shipped here in time? It rained so much last night, will the basement be dry?

Relief 🤗

Thank goodness that paint color matches the brick. I’m so glad the handyman showed up today since he was a no show yesterday. Whew, I only needed one gallon of $50 paint after all. That repair cost less than what was expected, So glad that wall we demo’d didn’t have an unexpected pipe running through it. Yay for the rain holding off today so we could work in the yard. Woohoo for the electrician working with us on the budget. Thank goodness the county yard waste workers picked up all our yard trimmings. Yay the basement is dry!

Excitement 🙌🏼

I can’t wait to make this house a home. All of our planned projects are going to turn out well. This yard is perfect for our son to play in the sprinkler with friends. I can’t wait to have our housewarming party and have all of the work behind us. I wonder what memories we will make in our new home. We got so much accomplished this weekend!

Annoyance 😫

I’ve done four coats of paint on the inside of these cabinets and they still need another one. We measured twice and cut once but it still need lots of caulk. The one spot I missed on the shutters is right next to the front door and I look at it each time I walk in the house. I’ve bought the wrong light bulbs twice for this fixture and have to return them again. This house is 60 years old and I feel like I’m putting lots of lipstick on a pig.

Pride 💪🏼

After three hours of sweat, the yard looks so nice! We really can DIY a shiplap accent wall! The shutters turned out so well. The cabinets I painted look so much nicer. Our neighbors are so happy we are cleaning up our curb appeal. This house is looking so much cleaner and updated.  

Exhaustion 😴

If I never go to that house again, I’ll be ok. I didn’t know I had muscles in that part of my back. Is it ok if I go to bed at 8 pm? I didn’t know my feet could hurt this much without doing a half marathon.  

Endurance 👊🏼

I just slept nine hours… I’ll jump up and be at Home Depot when it opens to beat the crowd!! Oh, painting without climbing a ladder?!… I can do that all day! I only have three more yard waste bags… let’s go ahead and fill them! Even though I’ve been pressuring washing for an hour, I really want to finish the driveway today, so what’s another hour?! My arms are about to give out but I want these painted shutters up NOW. So what it’s dark outside?!… I can still finish painting the mailbox with the flashlight on my phone.

Hangry 😡

It’s 4pm… why am I starving?! Oh, because I didn’t eat lunch. Who ate the last granola bar?! WTF!! How long will it take Papa John’s to get here?? I should probably wash my hands before eating… but I need pizza in my belly NOW. Why did I just eat half of a pizza?!


laugh, brooke

$h*t Happens

The reality is our brains are often in a million places not including where they really should be- here, in the moment.  Because of this, groceries get left in the car overnight, pumped milk gets left on the counter, and keys get locked in the car.  In the grand scheme of life, these issues are pretty minor but nonetheless very frustrating.

One of my friends couldn’t find her keys this morning- so she had to Uber to work.  After I heard about her rough morning, I started thinking about all the other things that have happened to me, family members and friends.  Most of these memories are unfortunate when they happened, but now in hindsight, are pretty dang funny.

  1. whoopsOne year for Christmas, we got a lot of fun sporting equipment- roller skates, a ping pong table, and a basketball goal.  My dad set up the basketball goal on the edge of our driveway.  The next day, he backed into it with his truck and the pole was bent pretty badly.
  2. A family member once left one of his two children at a McDonald’s.  Big whoops.  Thankfully, the child was fine… and the dad too, eventually.
  3. At some point in my childhood, I thought there was a mouse in my room because I kept hearing strange noises that were unpredictable.  Four days later, I realized my mom’s pager was in my dresser.  She had only been missing it for a week.
  4. Several years ago, my dad decided to move the mailbox from one side of the driveway to the other.  The next day, he promptly ran over his new mailbox and then put another one back on the original side. (Notice any trends?)
  5. When I was in high school, I was pretty good about losing my keys.  My dad got tired of rescuing me, so he had a spare key made and managed to rig it up underneath my car for emergency situations.  His only caveat was that as soon as I got my original key back, the spare had to be re-rigged underneath the car.  It worked well… more times than I care to count.
  6. In a three year span, I managed to drop two cell phones into toilets.  That’s enough of that expensive memory.
  7. Post college, I had gone to a bar with a friend for a few drinks in Athens, GA.  When we got back to her car, she decided she wanted to wait a while longer before driving and drink some more water.  We sat in her car listening to music and talking.  All of the sudden her car turned off and we couldn’t get it to turn back on.  It was 1AM and her car battery was dead.  Whoops.  Wish I could say I learned my lesson this first time, but this happened to me again in November while there for a football game.  The third time is the charm, right?!
  8. A year ago, I lost my purse and couldn’t find it anywhere.  I had convinced myself I left it on the roof on my car while loading JB into his carseat, then drove off with it on the roof.  I visited the businesses in the shopping center, combed through my house/car many times, and called the on duty security company for the shopping center.  Two days later, I walked into the bathroom in our basement and found it sitting on the kitchen counter.  Ever since that, we are the proud owner of dozens of tiles. (https://www.thetileapp.com/)
  9. Last week, I tried to crack some (older) eggs to cook breakfast.  They weren’t cracking, so I decided they were frozen from being in the back of our fridge for so long.  A few hours later, my husband called and wanted to know why I threw his hard boiled eggs in the trash.  Whoops.
  10. On Monday, I left our front door wide open for 4 hours while we went to the zoo.  When I got home, our dog came walking out on the front porch.  And no, he wasn’t wearing his collar that day.  Thankfully, he didn’t realize the door was open til I got home.

I don’t really have lots of advice to give on this topic- just try to realize when you are in the thick of it, realize you will probably look back on this time and laugh.  It’s much more fun than crying.

laugh, brooke

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