Friday, May 30, 2014


Three words, Summer.  Bring. It. On.

Joining Mamabyrd in her weekly Impressions post.  Feel free to add your own either here, or there.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Playing Hookey

The district calendar had Thursday, May 29th listed officially as the last day of school.  In Dothan, however, the unofficial last day of school is whatever day your child has their awards assembly.  I found this out through word of mouth.  Apparently they can't advertise that your child isn't expected to come for the last two days, but the teachers TOTALLY expect no children to be there.  They use the last few days to clean uninterrupted and the few unlucky children who do attend school after the awards assemblies are put to work.  I can't decide if I like this attitude towards education, or not.  I almost sent mine just to prove a point, but really, what would it prove?  Plus, if they're going to clean, it's going to be at our house...We played hookey on the last day of school and went to the beach instead.

There'd been a 30% chance of thunderstorms all week and it hadn't really rained yet, so we decided our chances were good, even though the skies were ominous,  as we set off for the Florida line.  The sky just kept getting darker and then they opened up and dumped.  There were flood warnings in effect and roads closing all around us.  Dean promised to "find us a beach with no rain" and Ben said we were "on the road to sunshine" as we pointed our car East on Beach Front Road and hit the gas.  I felt like Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility when she declares, "there's a piece of blue sky, let's chase it."  With a quick search of Doplar Weather on his phone, Dean found the one beach on the Florida Panhandle that wasn't getting rained on.  Despite the weather the water was already warm.

Hope your Summer Vacation is off to a great start!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pomp & Circumstance

Have I mentioned they do things differently in the South?  One of those things is Kindergarten graduation.  A month ago I got an email asking me to come to a meeting about the end of the year.  I went, and I couldn't believe my ears.  They were forming a committee for Kindergarten Graduation.  They needed people to head up decorations, caps and gowns, gifts, autograph signing, and a slide show presentation... I was overwhelmed.  It's a far cry from what we experienced when Ben left Kindergarten...a presentation in his classroom of a few hastily learned songs and a hug from his teacher.

I signed up to help with decorations.  They were going for an "Oh the Places You'll Go," theme and all I kept thinking was, "first grade, they're going to the first grade".  I didn't realize that by volunteering I'd be giving up three entire mornings of last week.  We were handed a schematic drawing of what the teachers wanted it to look like and given free reign of the large rolls of paper in the teacher's lounge.  They wanted truffula trees and balloon arches, in short, a whole magical Seuss village made out of paper.  I'm not sure if they were satisfied with the end result, but this is the first year they turned it over to the parents instead of doing it themselves...You get what you pay for.

We nixed the balloon arch as soon as we found out the decorations would have to stay intact over Memorial Day weekend.  I suggested a pennant banner and so my contribution was 1/2 hour of sewing triangles together.  Shh, they all thought it took so much longer..I didn't have the heart to tell anyone I didn't spend very much time. (One sweet, sweet mom asked me how I got all the little holes in the paper)  They added the words "class of 2014", but shouldn't it really be "class of 2026"?  I'm still not wrapping my head around the need for so much fluff just for kindergarten.

 There were 5th grade ushers and printed programs.

 Alan was the only one wearing a tie.  Some really dedicated parents ironed all the gowns.  They wouldn't let us take them home for fear someone would forget to wear theirs. (Did I mention they cost everyone $25?  They use different colors every year so there is no way to rent one from last year's kids. But I couldn't be the one parent who refuses to buy one on principle.  Everyone kept telling me, "it's a beautiful keepsake." Nope, not buying it.  I think the rental fee for my college graduation was cheaper.  All I can say is that for $25 I will make sure Sadie's year wears white too.)

Singing Seuss songs...

Alan, ready to receive his diploma.

They read his name, Alan Garcia...I tried to get them to change it to Marturello, but the birth certificates haven't come yet and they were being picky.  Mrs. Davis presented the "diplomas".  She holds the paper in her elbow because she's missing her left hand.

 Success!!  On to the first grade. There were cow bells and hollering.  Flowers, balloons, leis, etc.  I guess Kindergarten is a big deal down here. I had no idea.  For poor Alan it was business as usual.  I'm curious to know what High School graduation looks like.

Lucky Alan got TWO teachers. Mr. Godwin and Mrs. Kidd.   Mr. Godwin happens to be LDS.  He pulled me aside as soon as Alan mentioned he'd moved from Utah and asked if we were members of the LDS church.  A little tender mercy to have him looking after A-man.

A favorite reading teacher.

Alan's autograph bear.  I actually really liked this idea!

Some funny things I pulled from Alan's desk on his last day.  A volunteer luncheon invitation addressed to me that happened a few weeks ago.  An award from said luncheon that I apparently earned, his end of year journal that says, "people would describe me as 'friend'", an Alabama Standard Go Math Work Book that literally HAS NOT BEEN WRITTEN IN AT ALL, and two behavior reports, ironically one from October and one from last week. October's says, "Very active, doing cartwheels on carpet", and May's says, "lot's of playing, not listening".

He's nothing if not consistent.  At least he can read, right?!!  Oh how we love him.  His teacher shed a few tears.  I didn't, I didn't with Ben either.  It's on to the real stuff now.  I LOVE first grade and I hope it proves to be just as good for Alan as it was for Ben.

When I asked Alan if he'd had a good morning he said, "yes, mom, can I take my tie off now?"  Before I could answer he'd flung it over his shoulder and was careening down the hallway.  The same hallway he's been told not to run in every day for the last 9 months.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oyster Shells

Last October we took a trip to the beach for Dean's birthday. While we were there we ate at an oyster shack.  Those that know me know I don't do slimy shellfish, but I remember noticing lovely white gravel in their parking lot and thinking it would look nice in a garden. Upon closer inspection I realized it was crushed shells, oyster shells.  How lovely and beachy, right? I mean they're free and the sun bleaches them nice and white while leaving a hint of the mother of pearl inside, plus, they give a nice "crunch" when you walk on them and they're substantial enough not to wash away, or erode into the soil.  

I just knew there had to be a way for me to get shells in my garden.  Fortunately, there are lots of places that sell crushed oyster shells.  Unfortunately, they are all in Florida, and though we live only 13 miles from the border, there is a minimum $100 fee for all out of state delivery.  I thought of taking a day trip myself to fill my own truck with a load, but with a toddler, a 5 hr road trip just didn't seem doable.  I needed a local solution.

That's when I remembered Dothan boasts its own oyster shack... Hunt's.

I called and the manager seemed really confused when I asked if they ever gave away their oyster shells.  It took him a minute to realize I wanted the ones that had been shucked and eaten.  I still don't think he really knew what I was asking because he told me to come down any time before 11 a.m. and pick some up.  I showed up and there was still more confusion, "You want the shells?!" "What are y'all gonna do with 'em?"  It was at this point I was informed that if I wanted shells I would need to come back around closing, when the oysters had all been eaten.

It felt a little like a drug deal.  Per my instructions I knocked on the wooden gate in the back. A HUGE black man opened it about an inch and asked what I needed.  "I've come for shells", I said.  He asked me to wait and he shut the gate.  I heard him lock it from the inside.  I waited about three minutes and then a few more guys came to the gate.  "Yeah, that's her,"  I heard one of them say.  Like I said, I  totally felt like I was there to buy an illegal substance.

They thought I was so funny taking their picture.  I told them it was the least they could do for me seeing as how I was taking four of their disgusting barrels off their hands.

Did I mention they dump everything in with the shells when they clean the tables? Dean still cannot believe I was willing to take on this project.  He washed his hands of it the minute he caught a whiff of the barrels.

I think I still need one or two more barrels to fill it in just right, but I think I'll let the "beachy aroma" die down a bit first. (I prefer to use beachy when I describe their scent, a word Dean totally disagrees with.  He just rolled his eyes at me and shut the door tightly when I hollered at him to come look.)

 Don't they look great, though?  I really am so pleased.  The sun should bleach them more and more as they get stepped on.  As an added bonus, I was reading up on gardening in the Southeast and it was mentioned that adding shells or other sharp surfaces to your garden will repel slugs, snails, and other pesky garden critters.

No green stuff yet, but our space has come a long way.  What new ideas are you using in your garden?

Friday, May 23, 2014


I love that his "school drawing" bears no resemblance to his actual school, yet I knew exactly what it was supposed to be.

It's going to be a GREAT summer!

Joining Mamabyrd in her weekly impressions post.  Feel free to link your own either here, or there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Family Photos

A few weeks ago I linked with one of my besties, Mamybyrd, to show off some of her recent photos of our family.  I still can't believe there are FIVE of us and I can't get over how lovely her photos are.  Here are a few more that I just had to post.  (Yes mom, your prints are coming soon.)

It was a beautiful day at the train yard.  Just blocks from our old neighborhood.  Thank you Sarah, for such a fitting tribute to our fiveness.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Place for Everything

 It looked innocent enough when we first moved in.  Maybe a small storage closet, I thought.  There was a note on it asking potential buyers not to let the cat get caught in there.  Turns out, the space runs the entire length of the house and incorporates the middle dormer window space above the stairwell.  The insulation was falling out from between the framing and the floor was plywood, but oh, how the boys LOVED to be in there.  The problem was, they kept coming out all itchy from brushing up against all that exposed fiberglass.  Dean set out to fix it up a few weeks ago and I'm happy to say, it's officially a playroom now!

The "before" picture.  The wood paneling is still the same wood from the broken fence we picked up on the side of the road.  As we were getting closer to finishing this project Dean said, "wouldn't it be cool if everything we needed to finish came from the side of the road?' "Sure," I said, "but it's not like we're going to find brand new flooring on the side of the road."  We happened to all be on a walk and low and behold, our neighbors just happened to have the extra pieces of their brand new carpeting sitting out on the side of the road for garbage pick up the next day.  Dean says to me, "hurry, wish for $1,000,000 next."

The finished product.  You can see the lovely carpet.  It's still a pretty tight space and I wasn't able to get very many good photos, but it's the perfect space for toys and dress-ups.

Dollar store bins go above and beyond for toy storage.

A bit of whimsy...

Ben calls this "The Lego Room".  My Grandma's cedar chest holds all their bricks and does double duty as a window seat.  I've even caught him in here reading.

Finally, a place for everything and everything in it's place.  They can see where everything goes which means no more excuses at clean-up time.  And the dress-ups Dean kept insisting they never played with?  Guess what? When they're all on display they get worn and used.  I tucked a pirate and a ninja into bed last night for the first time in months.  Project success!