Monday, October 25, 2010
Not much about reality television is real. Including home makeover shows.
*gasp* Really? Yes, really.
When my friend told me I should apply for HomeMade Simple, I did so thinking there was no way they would pick us.
Honestly because though we can be messy occasionally, I love to decorate, I'm not that bad at organizing, and in general I think we have it together.
And I realized after this whole process that that is totally true. But they loved the idea of a family with 6 kids. So we got picked.
Now, when the whole crew arrived to start filming, most of them said something to the affect of "why are we in this house?" "this girl doesn't need us, she could work for us."
And while their comments made me feel good, I began to see how t.v. is so scripted that they can make anything they want with the final edits.
But I am not jaded. It was super fun. Everyone was really nice, and they made the experience a great one for us. I would totally do it again, my eyes were just opened to how it all really works.
I now know that no matter how put together, creative, blessed with decorating talent and efficient in their parenting skills someone might be, they would still give the same intro they gave me.
"Amy, a busy mom of six, doesn't have time for decorating and struggles with preparing meals for her family."
Not really true. But that's the angle they wanted, because otherwise, why would I need Homemade Simple?
And though most of our interaction with the Mavens was genuine, our one on one camera interviews with the director were mostly lines fed to us. Not lies at all, but just carefully worded to work with the script. Things like when I said "Now instead of the Odd Couple, they're the Spotless Sisters"
Yeah right, like I would really say something that cheesy. But it worked.
And he made Kate say that she was the cleanest one in the house. She hated saying that! Kate is extremely honest anyway, but she had a hard time with that cuz she would never, ever say something like that. You can tell, if you know her well, when she says it that she is uncomfortable with it.
Julia just rolled with it all. And once we shut down their efforts to make Julia look bad, she had a great time.
Their working theme for the show was the Odd Couple. They really wanted to cast Julia and Kate as complete opposites, which they are, but not in the way they wanted to tell it.
The first attempts were to make Julia look like the lazy, messy girl, and for Kate to be the put together tidy girl. And while they have different ways of organizing, and clutter doesn't bother Julia, the four of us were very uncomfortable with the way they were portraying Julia.
So I began some subterfuge, and when the director would try to get me to say how messy Julia was, I would say instead "she just likes to be organized on the floor", or " julia is so creative and so she likes to have her belongings around her. "
We all just started refusing to play the game until finally Mike caught on, reassured us they would not make Julia look bad, and he stopped trying to get us to say negative things about her.
Because honestly, HomeMade Simple is not an expose. They are not trying to make people look bad, they just want them to look like they are in super need of the Maven's help.
Which is another interesting thing. While all the Maven's have earned their right to be there, with there career paths, their talents and their ideas, none of them could do it without their assistants.
Patrick's assistant Jesse made everything. Patrick would say he made it, but it was really Jesse. Patrick could have made it, but the stars usually are just there for the on camera stuff, and their assistants do everything else. Including the shopping and the putting together of the ideas.
The ideas themselves are a collaborative effort from the whole crew, but the assistants to the mavens do all the real work.
I was amazed by that. I had been an honest believer in what I saw on T.V. It never crossed my mind that the Maven's weren't really there sweating away while they put the ideas together.
And while all the Maven's were super great, my favorite was Candace, the cooking Maven. She really created the recipes for one (which were honestly sooo good), but she was so honoring of who I am as a wife and mother and decorator. She asked me all kinds of questions about how to find the right guy (I told her church is probably the best place to find someone with her same values) and we just really connected and had a great time spending a whole day together cooking.
We also, really did almost nothing for the actual projects. Either they would replace what we had been making with already made items (made by the assistants), or they would undo the stuff we had done and then do it for real.
And the product placement was hilarious. Proctor and Gamble has a guy that travels around with the show, and his entire job is to place P&G products throughout the house, and to make sure the sponsors products get the agreed upon air time. The rest of the time he is on his lap top or playing with his phone.
I want his job.
Probably the hardest part, for me personally, of seeing the show air was that I found it is not a myth that the camera adds ten pounds.
When I first met Wanda, the decorating maven, I was alarmed to see that she was littler in real life then on t.v.
So while I am not little, or skinny by any means, it was hard for me to see myself looking even chubbier. I'm neurotic, what can I say.
And I'm backed up by a few friends and my sister (who see me everyday)who noticed that as well.
So that part of television is real, unfortunately.
But we do love the girls' room. They did a great job and it's functioning well for us. And the Laundry Chest they made is beautiful. They really did make it out of the girls old desk.
Although I can't bring myself to put dirty laundry in it. So for now it is holding blankets.
But now that the show is over, I can post pictures.
This is the before picture of the girls room that I sent the casting director.
And here are the afters-This desk is my favorite thing. They each have their own side, with their own stuff. But on the show they said they found the table at a flea market for 30 dollars. No. They made it. And they made the cork board, even though they said they found it at a garage sale for 10 bucks. They just want you to feel like you can do this project yourself without having to make anything. Which, is probably technically true.
The chairs they really did get at a thrift store.
They said they got the mailboxes second hand, which is only true of one of them. The rest they bought brand new. But it's been a great addition to the girls room. At first I didn't like them, but it really keeps their hands off stuff away from the little kids. Henry and Nora and Anne Marie never even think to look in there.
I love the color on the walls and the bedding. Ashley, Wanda's assistant, really picked bedding that matched each girls personality and personal taste.
And I loved that they took a picture of the dot mural that my sister in law Amy had done for the girls. Everyone, including Wanda and Ashley were sad to paint over it. So they preserved it in the little hanging frames in front of the windows.
All in all, it was fun, and some of us would do it again. But not Kate. She in fact told me she just wants to forget the whole thing.
I think the worst moment was right at the end of the reveal, before the mavens left. In every past season they always give the family 500 dollars at the end. So we kind of expected/hoped for it.
Well, at the end Patrick told us that they left something special for us in the mailboxes. So we thought, ok, this is it.
We walked over to the mailboxes and inside were two pieces of paper that the Maven's had signed with their names and"enjoy your new room!"
So while it was nice, I'm sure our faces showed "um, where's the 500 dollars?"
So that didn't make the final cut. And it was a little bit of a let down, but now after watching season 7, no one got money.
They probably spent about 500 dollars on redoing our two rooms, plus super yummy catered food.
So that was 500 dollars I didn't have for a room redo, and 4 days where I didn't have to cook.
And I didn't have to do any of the real work, and our family got to be on T.V.
So all's well that ends well, I say.
So give me your feedback if you watched it. And tell me that I'm way skinnier in real life, ok?
Yes, I want you to lie to me. That's what friends do, isn't it?
Friday, October 22, 2010
And Mike Harrigan, producer/director for our episode. Both fantastic people, by the way.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
But I kept my sadness about her growing up to myself. I seriously think my family is sick of me lamenting every new milestone with her. Sheesh lady, get a grip.
And she is soooo happy in her new bed. Bedtime and naptime, for now, is a breeze.
But then something else happened this week that threw me for a bigger loop.
My oldest child, my first baby, wants to be a princess for what may be the last time she dresses up for Halloween. That in itself is difficult enough for me to think about.
But when she came down the stairs wearing my freshman prom dress? Well, get the smelling salts and brandy, I about passed out.
So this week felt like I lost two babies. And yes, I know they will always technically be my babies, but things really do change.
But on the plus side, Kate is now so funny that she says stuff all the time that makes me laugh and laugh.
And not the laughter you fake for your 5 year old when they tell you a joke they made up.
But really, honest to goodness, "that was hilarious" laughter.
And Nora tells me all her own "I ul you Mommy".
So, there are some upsides to this growing up thing.
And in a few years when Kate starts to drive, or Heaven forbid, date, I'll try and keep that in mind.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Jeff bought these flowers for me at Pike Place Market on Saturday.
We had spent the previous evening at a swell hotel in downtown Seattle. Our room had a great view and the restaurant on the 28th floor also provided a breathtaking view of downtown. Although we decided we liked the food at Red Robin better-what can I say, we're simple folk.
We have been married 14 years, which is an eternity for most people in this day and age.
But for us, it's just a drop in the bucket. We plan on much longer than that.
And we like eachother more than we did when we got married.
We try to get away at least once a year, just the two of us. We love our kids so much, but we've learned that when we pay attention to our marriage, and make sure that we are thriving as a couple, then everyone in the household benefits.
And of course, a lovely hotel room and no kids has it's benefits. *wink*
But being able to talk to eachother with no interruptions, about everything under the sun, reminds us of why we fell in love in the first place.
I'm reminded that Jeff is one of the funniest people I know. He makes me laugh all the time, even in Sunday school when I'm supposed to be paying attention, and instead I'm laughing so hard I'm shaking.
I remember that Jeff adores me and that I truly adore him. What could be better for children then to see their mom and dad love eachother?
And I am amazed that after 6 kids, countless moves, job changes, etc. we still like being together.
We still are the other's favorite person, and we still need eachother.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
From the fits they throw because they don't want to go to bed,
to the things they say when you're snuggled up together, reading a book.
One evening, Henry was EXTREMELY mad at me for not letting him wear his spiderman costume to bed.
Normally I'm not so unreasonable. But from experience I knew that if he wore it, then inevitably he would be in our room trying to get it off fast enough to go pee, which wouldn't happen in time and then I would be washing the spiderman costume at 2 in the morning.
Anyway....he was in the midst of his "I want my spiderman costume" tantrum. Screaming at the top of his lungs. Literally.
I just calmly kept saying "what book do you want to read Henry?" repeatedly.
And he just kept screaming. Loud.
Finally I said "Ok, I'll pick one out." And proceeded to look for a book to read.
When he saw that I was really going to pick out a book and not give him his spiderman costume
he did the following:
"Aaahhhhh(stop mid scream). Yeah, I want a book." Said VERY calmly. I wish I could switch my tantrums off that fast.
He picked out the Suess book, Hop on Pop.
As I read to him, he sat quietly, until we got to this page:
To which Henry commented "I know why he had a bad day. It cuz someone come up to him and go (imagine punching motion)! Right there!(pointing to dad's folded hands)"
And all I could say through my laughter was "yes, henry, that would make it a bad day for him".
I love that he didn't ask me why dad had a bad day. He just came up with his own reason.
A reason which would indeed cause dad to have a very bad day.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
So instead of posting about something funny Henry said, I decided to wax eloquent about comments.
First of all, when I write a post, I usually am not thinking at all about who will read it.
I just like to share things about our family and life, and occassionally when Jeff will tell me that a co-worker has told him about reading my blog (thank you, thank you by the way dear co-workers of Jeff) I realize,"oh, people read this. Oh yeah."
But once something is written and I have hit publish, then I am quite suddenly aware of who may read, and who may comment.
And then I check back through the day to see what people have had to say about my words.
I would love to say that I don't care, but that would be a total and complete, utter lie.
I do care. I base the worth of my blog post on how many people have commented on it. I read every comment as if it's a note from a long lost friend.
I cherish every word said. Truly I do.
In fact, I may obsess a little and wonder what made one post garner more attention than another.
It could be that most of us don't post a comment unless something really moves us, or something exciting has happened or something tragic.
And I understand.
But I know you're out there, the people that read and never comment.
And I want you to know that I appreciate all of you. Every person who comments, and every person who reads without commenting, and every person who will email me from time to time to say they loved something about my blog. (you know who you are dear friends in Utah, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.)
But I realize I have also been remiss in my responses. Sometimes someone will comment and say something so funny or kind and I may laugh or smile or feel touched, but I don't comment back.
So now I'm going to. You may count on me talking back to you through the comments section on this blog. That way you know I'm listening, that I care (alot) and that you matter to me.
Now I am off to have a fantastic day, which I hope for all of you as well.
And tomorrow Jeff will have found my do-hicky and I will have a short but awesome post about Henry.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I got it in my head that the "formal" living room was a dead space. Meaning, we never went in there, like, ever.
And wanting a great room where you could sit and talk at the kitchen table without competing with the t.v. became a priority.
So the living room became where we watch t.v., and the family room has become where we hang out and talk.
It's working out lovely. I love it, the kids love it, and Jeff was an absolute dear to arrange it all for me.
But it was not without it's costs to Jeff's peace of mind.
I didn't talk about it on this blog, but I mentioned a few months back on Facebook that we had rats.
Yes. Yuck. Yikes.
Somehow a family of them took up residence under our house. I won't go into details of how we discovered this, cuz well, it still gives me shivers. And not the good kind.
Thanks to good old fashioned rat traps, surrounded by mice traps, we got 4 of them.
We kept laying out the traps until we had no more rats show up in them.
But each time Jeff would open the trap door to under the house, I would mention how I thought it was starting to smell different=meaning:bad.
But he thinks my nose if oversensitive, and I admit it is. So he didn't worry about it, and I pushed it to the back of my mind.
Until the night he went under the house.
We were on the phone to eachother so that I could help thread the cable up through the floor.
As Jeff worked his way to the far corner of the craw space, he says "Oh my gosh."
And I say "What?!" Cuz of course I'm thinking, more rats."
And he replies"You don't want to know."
To which I say"You found a dead one didn't you? That's why it smells weird."
Jeff "yes. this is disgusting." I got to listen to a bunch of "yuck, nasty, oohhhh" and other exclamations of disgusted-ness.
Now Jeff is not of a weak stomach. The man has cleaned up some pretty nasty things being the father of 6 children and a wife who gets really sick when she is pregnant. So he can handle it.
But I'm pretty sure this put his resolve and strong stomach skills to the test.
And because he was underneath the house, way in the corner, and was not prepared to remove dead, rotting rodents, he had to improvise.
I suggested he use his shirt. He didn't like that idea.
So he tore some of the tarp stuff they lay down as a moisture barrier, somehow removed it from it's nest where it died, and wrapped the deceased creature in it.
When he emerged from under the house, I would like to say I was there welcoming my hero home.
But I was hiding.
I didn't care if the thing was wrapped up, I didn't even want to see that much.
I do not have a strong stomach. At all.
And I decided that I was right. When I had started smelling something from the crawl space, I told Jeff that I thought one parent just curled up and died when it's mate and children were snapped.
And I still think that is true.
And while I can sort of sympathize with that, I still believe that the only good rat, is a dead rat.
Or a rubber one.
Friday, October 8, 2010
we all need a good laugh.
At Jeff's expense.
Which I'm pretty sure was his whole intention when he donned this:
What? You don't have a big box of costumes that you dive into occasionally just for fun, that just happens to contain fly, poodle and abominable snowman costumes, to name a few?
Um, yeah, us neither.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
It's a mom thing.
Part of it's her fine little hair tickling my nose, and part of it's that she just smells unbelievable, to me, all the time.
Well, yesterday was different.
Many mornings I offer up to my older children the opportunity to get Nora from her crib.
And then they fight over who gets to go get her.
It's because she is all warm and toasty from sleeping, and she is so glad to see you, and she wraps her little arms around your neck and squeezes while you lift her from the crib.
Usually it's accompanied by her little squeal of "Mommy!" or "Kate!" or "Larlie" or "Amrie!" or "Jula!"
Pretty irresistable, no?
Well, yesterday morning, she slept later, so everyone was gone to school by the time I heard her calling for me.
As I made my way up the stairs, I got a whif of something. Something not good.
Upon opening the door to her room, the smell hit me, like a ton of garbage, or manure. Bricks would have been a welcome alternative.
When I saw her in her crib, covered in goo, I asked "Oh, no. Did you throw up?"
(Warning: if you are at all squeamish about body fluids, you should stop reading here.)
Don't say I didn't warn you.
With closer inspection, I discovered that it was in fact, POO. EVERYWHERE.
The Child (note the change to The Child instead of my usual gushing words when referencing Nora) had in fact removed her diaper, and THEN pooped everywhere. (She's been taking off her diaper lately, but nothing prepared me for this!)
And then if pooping in her crib without her diaper were not enough, somehow she rolled in it so that it was covering the front of her nightgown and laying thickly in her hair.
Eew. Gag. Gross.
Let me just say right here, it was a good thing I wasn't pregnant or there would have been a whole new mess to deal with on top of the poo.
So I proceeded to start a bath, gently try and get the poopy nightgown off of her without smearing it on her face, and attempt to wash poo out of my darling daughter's hair.
I washed and washed and washed. After what I thought was an adequate amount of sudsing, I wrapped her in her towel, slathered her with lavendar lotion, put baby powder on her bum, and sent her to play, somewhere else.
I tackled the sheets and crib the way anyone should. I held my breath.
I wanted to close my eyes while I delivered the contents of her quilt into the depths of the toilet. But I didn't. That would have made things worse I think.
I then proceeded to throw everything else, not away if that's what you're thinking, we're in a recession people!
No, I put it all in my brand new, never been pooped in washer, set it to super cleanse, added some bleach and hoped for the best.
When it was done washing, I washed it again, just to make sure.
So at this point, everything and everyone is clean, scrubbed and scoured.
But as I go to pick up Nora, with her cute pony tails and baby blonde hair, I whif what can only be leftover poop smell on her hair, or in my nose. I couldn't tell.
So more bathing and lavendar lotion became necessary. Dang it.
So these were the thoughts that went through my head as I began adding size 2 undies to Nora's dresser drawer. Cuz a kid who takes off her diaper is probably ready for the potty. Right?
Well as I was adding the undergarments in with her socks and jammies, I decided to weed out the items that were too small.
And then, that's when it hit me. And hit me hard.
My baby, is no longer a baby. I'm contemplating potty training, getting rid of size 18-24 month clothes, and watching as she talks and plays like the big kids.
I sat down right on her floor and started to cry. And I continued to cry as I rocked and cuddled her before bed.
Not the body wracking sobs that I experienced when she got her first tooth, but melancholy tears, bittersweet tears that come as you realize that time is marching on, and you can do nothing to stop it. Nor would you if you could.
Because as much as I love my children, as much as I cherish Nora as the baby of this family, and as much as I will always miss every phase of their precious lives, poop and all, I will also cherish getting to watch them grow, and become whoever they are going to be.
And I can guarantee, it will be worth it.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
I already knew that they existed and that they don't really have wings. (why would a heavenly being need wings to fly?)
And that they are God's messengers.
But what I rediscovered, is that they are among us. Not just the glowing, Heavenly kind, but the earthly kind-people who allow themselves to be used by our Heavenly Father to bless his children.
What I also learned is that they are not just random people, strangers that step in at the last moment. They are also people we know. People we take for granted, people we see all the time.
I have been hoping, dreamin and scheming about how to get a new washer and dryer. The set I had (see that, HAD) worked just fine. But it was the same size we've had since we had just two children. And I was sincerely grateful that it kept working, despite the HUGE work load it was required to handle. But I dreamt of only doing 5-6 loads a week instead of 12.
So I dreamt away, wanting Heavenly Father to answer the prayer I carried around in my heart for a new washer and dryer. Not knowing how it would happen, or if it would happen.
Then I got the phone call.
Mom-"Are you sitting down? I have something to tell you."
Me-"What?!" (thinking, who died, who is sick, what's wrong?"
Mom-"Your dad and I just bought you and your sister new super capacity washers and dryers."
Clunk. that was me hitting the floor. Ok, not really. But I really did have to sit down. And then I stammered my confused reply.
Me-"Are you dying?" "Wait, am I dying?"
Mom-"No, you're not dying. We just felt like we should do this for you."
My sister's dryer had died the day before. Completely, to the appliance graveyard, dead.
And mine was begging for mercy.
But still. Who does that? Who buys their children new washers and dryers for no reason?
At first, I was confused, not bothered, but not sure how to handle it.
It took me a while to realize that it was a beautiful thing that had happened. Heavenly Father used my parents to bless my sister and I. Maybe you say, "Well, that's cuz your spoiled." or "Must be nice to get what you want." And I say, yes. It is nice to be spoiled and get what I want. But it's even nicer to realize that Heavenly Father knows our needs. But that it requires faith on our part and believing that He will bless us. And it requires someone listening to that inspiration to act as an angel in our life. You don't have to believe me. You can call it coincidence, parents-who-give -their-children-too-much-itis, whatever.
But the very next day, Jeff's mom called and offered us her washer, knowing that we needed something that worked better. Do you really think it's a coincidence that they both made such offers in less than 24 hours?
I believe in miracles.
I used to believe that if my parents helped me or Jeff's parents helped us, it was just because they are our parents, they have to do that kind of thing. That it was only other people who were sent as an answer to my prayers.
How wrong I was.
Last Monday, my parents were here for piano lessons. I had created kind of a hectic day for myself, and it was showing as I stood dejectedly in front of the pantry trying to think of what to make for dinner.
My dad said to me "Amy, you seem like you've had the kind of day where you need me to buy pizza for everyone".
I almost cried. I didn't need him to financially. I could have bought my own pizza. But I needed someone to validate my weariness and fatigue from being a stay at home mom of 6 children. And by offering to buy pizza he told me that my sacrifice was noted and appreciated.
Then Jeff's dad emailed a few days after that and said they would come watch the kids overnight for us so that Jeff and I could get away.
More answers to prayer.
My dad expressed to me that no one ever helped him with anything. He had to do everything his whole life. And so he wanted to make sure that wasn't the case for us. And I know that Jeff's dad's life was very similiar. They had it rough, and they didn't want that for their kids.
And I am so thankful for that element they brought to their parenting.
And I used to think that maybe they did us a disservice by helping us so much. (sorry Moms and Dads)
But I realize now that Heavenly Father knew we would have other trials to educate us and help us grow, and that our parents had overcome certain difficulties so that their children wouldn't have the same struggles in life. They changed the future of their posterity. And I am so grateful.
So don't discount the people in your life who are on errands to bless and improve your life. Accept the gift, show gratitude for it. And then be an angel for someone else, be an answer to someone's prayer.
And if for you, being an angel means bringing a washer and dryer, may I suggest the Whirlpool Cabrio?
I am in love.
Notice anything different about my laundry room? Besides the gorgeous new washer and dryer? It could be I'm giving you a sneak peek of what HomeMade Simple made for us. Here is a comparison, just to help you figure it out.
So check back around noon for my Monday post:Angels