Decorating on a budget — THE SPRING FLIP



The wrought-iron, faded bench had been sitting on my front porch since the spring of 2007.

No one ever really sat on it for the fear of getting a splinter in their butt-cheek.

On occasion, I would toss a basket of flowers on the poor, sad, discolored bench, but it didn’t bring it to life.

And then came Pinterest.

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. Some ideas are right up my crafty-alley. Others are just flops.

But as of lately, Pinterest and I are just simply getting along.

First came the wall of faces on my newly painted gray walls. It’s really a photo wall using a combination of white, black and darker gray frames that I refurbished from Good Will. For $10 I was able to buy eight different frames.

Next came the painted wine bottles with various words of encouragement. My favorite is the wine bottle that was at first going to end up in the trash after the white paint dried a bit too rough for my liking. But then I added a splash of gray paint over it and it resembles a newspaper with words “HOPE” and “INSPIRE” painted alongside the bottle. Those were wonderful Christmas presents.

And that leads us to spring, and my sad bench.

Well, the bench isn’t sad anymore.

Using old purple paint (from another project) stored in the basement, I painted the seats and then using my new favorite product – SPRAY PAINT – I painted the backside of the bench teal.

It is gorgeous and provides just enough color. It will soon be placed in my new flower garden where it will be surrounded by Shasta daisies and lavender plants.

Once I find a cute table to repaint, the flower garden will become my favorite spot in the yard to relax, read a book and sip a glass of vino.

It’s amazing how something old and tarnished can be refurbished to look like new.

All you need sometimes, is Pinterest … and old paint.



Spring – the time of non-stop sports and crappy meals

I love, love spring.

But it isn’t for the reasons you think.

Plus, that first phrase is laced with sarcasm.

I hate the spring because it’s the one season of the year when I not only don’t really see my husband, but I rarely see my kids either.

Actually, no, that’s not true either.

I do see my kids – from afar as they kick around a soccer ball, catch baseballs or run the 400-meter relay in track meets.

Spring is the one season where my three kids have a sporting event EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. OF. THE. WEEK.

And we only have three kids in sports. My daughter isn’t even in dance or gymnastics. It’s a good thing too because I have no idea what day we’d cram that into our schedule.

Spring is also the time of the year when the dinners I prepare are far worse than the already subpar meals I cook on a daily basis. It’s pretty much grab-and-go. We won’t have a family meal until mid-June.

The other night we had chicken patty sandwiches, with a few side dishes that I don’t recall. Maybe pickle slices?

Last night, it was chicken in a crockpot. (I feel that when I make a crockpot meal that that is putting forth a lot of effort to feed my kiddos. But, in reality, it was just chicken that cooked all day rather than it cooking in a pan, waiting to be burnt. Plus, microwavable rice! SCORE!)

Tonight, it was more chicken – baked, not fried – with fries and a random southwest salad premade from Wally World. Earlier before THAT meal, my daughter ate four turkey/bacon pinwheels — also premade at Wally World.

My teenager eats two dinners. One after track and then another after soccer. I am going to need a third job to feed him when he enters high school.

Is there a day after Friday that I am not aware of? Is there an extra 24-hours in a week that is hidden away from moms like me as other parents watch and laugh at our poor ability to juggle careers, school, homework, dinner, practices, games and meets?

Think about it. It would make for excellent TV.

But then who would watch it because no one watches TV since no one is ever home anyways.

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The World’s Petri-Dish: AKA McDonald’s Playland

I don’t know why I do it. It’s as if I am asking for punishment. Yet every so often, I make the impulse decision to take the twins to the McDonald’s Playland.

In theory, I sit there, eating my Southwest Grilled Chicken salad, sipping a Diet Coke and reading the newspaper in peace as the twins sit together and eat their lunch of plain cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and French Fries. When they finish eating, they politely ask me, in their sweet-as-pie voices, “Mommy, we are finished, may we go play now?”

Remember … that is my theory.

What really happens is this:

I sit down, underneath the twirling ceiling fans, freezing my ass off, devouring my Southwest Grilled Chicken salad, guzzling the Diet Coke at warp speed and try to read the newspaper. The twins do sit together, but instead of quietly eating their meals, they declare, “WE ARE NOT HUNGRY! CAN I GO PLAY?” And because, all I want to do is eat my damn salad before the chicken freezes from the cold air, I tell them “Sure, but come back to get a few bites before it gets too cold!”

Meanwhile, they are playing, I am nibbling at my salad and a lady sits down at the table next to me with her daughter.

It’s fine, really.

Until … she hacks and I can actually see the nasty-germs floating onto Derek’s plain cheeseburger that he left sitting there, half-eaten.

I decide at that point, he is done with his meal and toss it in the trash.

As I continue to eat my now frozen salad, the twins continue to play in the petri-dish. It’s a petri-dish really because the only knowledge I took away from my high school biology class was that “shit grows inside a petri dish.” And I am pretty sure shit was somewhere on the playland.

Alas, I continue in my quest to eat until I hear the voice behind me scream, “I AM DONE! DADDDDDDYYYY … I AM DONEEEEE!” forcing me to turn around where I see a young toddler standing in the bathroom doorway with his pants down, looking for his father, who of course is conducting some “important conversation” on his cell phone.

He didn’t even know his kid needed to pee.

Yet being the Good Samaritan I am, I locate the father, who I spotted earlier and tell him in my “mom tone,” “Your son NEEDS you in the bathroom!”

He gives me a curt, “thanks” after he leaves the bathroom and sends his toddler on his merry way back up to the petri-dish. The next time I spot the dad, he is actually outside the playland, still on his fucking phone, yacking away while his kid is now telling me “I PLAY WITH SNOW!”

As I sat there, I finally finished my salad and dug out the newspaper I bought for a mere quarter and prayed to God no one would recognize me as I sat there reading stories by my co-workers. No one noticed me and that allowed me to then begin the crossword puzzle.

Mind you, I know I am there, reading the paper, but I can actually HEAR my children – most parents know the sound of their own children. Except, maybe that mom who was hooked up to her iPhone, listening to music, or whatever, and burying her face in her mini-laptop computer – at the same time. Actually, I don’t even know if she had children there, but two little girls walked by her once in a blue moon to grab a fry, so I am thinking those must have been her off-spring? But one can never really tell whose kid belongs with which parent since the parents never really pay attention to their kids in the first place – case in point, toddler taking a pee by himself.

So, it’s now March 14 and the only reason I actually took the twins to the petri-dish was because they had been cooped up in the house all damn week since Mother Nature hasn’t taken her Prozac and insists on making everyone as miserable as she is lately.

So, please … Mother Nature … go find your pills or have a martini … and let spring come in all its ragweed glory. I can no longer handle taking the twins to the petri-dish EVER again.

Mom of Three is getting’ down and dirty – in the garden


Some mom’s love getting bracelets, necklaces, rings, spa treatments or even breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day.

That’s not me.

Of course, I love a nice massage once in a while and I already have an “anniversary” ring – as for the other pieces of jewelry, I never wear necklaces and bracelets only are worn for special occasions – like the holidays. And as for breakfast in bed – I’d settle for the opportunity to drink my coffee in one sitting without having to reheat it five times in the microwave before I finish it off in the morning.

So, no, instead over this past weekend, my loving husband, along with his dad and our kids tossed mulch into what will become my new “flower garden.” I already have a veggie garden, but it’s too early to plant anything.

Today, as the twins were learning their ABCs and 123s; and the oldest was taking his Ohio Achievement Test (we just call it OAT – as in oatmeal because it’s a crappy test that makes everyone grumpy – much like we view oatmeal in this house – a crappy knockoff to cereal) – I ventured into the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH – THOME FARMS GREENHOUSE.

Walking inside the massive greenhouse that is sprawling with fresh flowers and shrubs is my version of walking into Heaven. No one walks into Thome Farms Greenhouse in a bad mood – quite the opposite of when I pull into the parking lot of Wally World. No, at Thome Farms Greenhouse people are smiling. They wander around the rows and rows of garden items, with a smile on their face, wanting to help others create a magical place in their own yard.

As I walked around their magic kingdom, employees asked me if I needed help – and they actually wanted to help!

In my backyard, my magical garden is a place where butterflies and hummingbirds flutter from flower to flower, along with bees. A place where stone fairies sit alongside frogs and stepping stones. I live for the day when I can look out from my deck and see a rainbow of color.

I spent over $100 today at Thome Farms Greenhouse. I am well on my way to beautifying my backyard. Next on the list – veggies.

But first, I need to get down and dirty – and plant the 15 plants I bought today.