Thursday, May 22, 2014

Out With The Old

You guys, Little Nesting Doll is growing up!

I know it's been six weeks since I've posted, but I've been migrating data, learning to edit CSS, editing CSS incorrectly, and then having someone who actually knows what he's doing (Matt's cousin) edit the CSS and make the new blog pretty. 

If you've followed me here, please follow me over at the new space--

There will be new posts there all this week.  Please, if you stop by there, leave me a comment.  Say hello.  Don't leave me hanging.  Eventually I'll be closing this blogspot, so if you're following here via email or RSS feed, adjust accordingly for the new URL.

I also have a new, fancy email address where you can get in touch with me and tell me how glad you are that Little Nesting Doll is back in business!

Email me at

And you guys, please, if you like what you've read here at Little Nesting Doll, link to my new site.  Share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.  Pin my lovely posts to Pinterest so other lovely people can read them, too.  Tell other people to read the site and comment!  The more, the merrier.  I hate to feel like I'm talking to myself.

Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Great Garage Clean-Out

As I mentioned before, one of my major tasks on my To-Do list (to get ready for the hectic Spring sports season) was CLEAN OUT THE GARAGE.  This was not a task I could complete on my own, so Matt had to help.  A lot.  He loves cleaning out the garage, so, so much.  (No.  No, he doesn't.)  But even he agreed it had to be done.  The kids helped too, because most of what we needed to organize was their stuff.

The garage tends to be a dumping ground, especially over the winter when we basically move through it to get inside the warm house as quickly as possible.  It took a whole afternoon of dirty, hard work, but we cleaned it all out, donated stuff we don't need (double strollers, which we haven't used in years), and threw out literally a truckload of crap. 

The beginning of the emptying process...this pile more than doubled before we had everything out of the garage.

We took just about everything in the garage OUT, and it nearly covered the front yard.  TOO.  MUCH. STUFF.

Having it all laid out on the lawn was great though, because we could easily sort through what we had, make piles to throw out or donate what we didn't need, and reorganize what we wanted to keep.

The kids needed a place to store their sports equipment that they could get to easily.  I also really wanted to make it organized so they could put things away properly in order to prevent the garage from reverting to a dumping ground. 

We used the lower shelves on this unit and plastic storage bins to create a place for each type of equipment--one (large) bin for baseball stuff, one for hockey stuff, one for soccer stuff, one for football stuff.  And we labeled the bins, so now there is NO EXCUSE for things not to get put back where they belong.  NO EXCUSE.  Right?  RIGHT?!?!?!

All of these shelves got cleared, swept, and reorganized.

We rearranged also--moved Matt's tool bench to create more room for 6+ bikes, wagons, scooters, etc.  Took boxes of old paperwork out of the garage and into the office so we're forced to finally (FINALLY!) sort through them and shred the unneeded paperwork and properly file the necessary stuff. (We haven't gotten to that step yet, but it's coming.  It's coming.)  And we made a pile to bring to Goodwill--all of which is currently loaded in the back of my van and will be dropped off today!

We rearranged so we didn't have tools stacked on piles of cardboard next to extra furniture.
In the end, the garage seemed to double in size.  We finished the clean out a week ago and so far (aside from a large pile of cardboard that is waiting for recycling pick-up later this week), the floor has remained clear.  The last thing we have to do is reorganize all the tools on the tool bench and find some better vertical storage system for the wall so we can hang up more of the tools and get them off the work surface.  All in good time, though.  All in good time.

Eventually I'd also like to build a set of lockers with doors along the right-hand wall so the kids each have their own space that can be closed up and look MUCH neater, but for now, I'm happy with a clean and organized garage.

It feels so nice to pull the car into the garage and not have to climb over piles of bats, roller blades, helmets, and bikes to get into the house.  It feels lighter to know we aren't storing piles of stuff we simply don't need.  And it feels amazing to know the kids can get their things and put them away without a hassle.  I feel like a huge weight was lifted, and every time I come home I'm reminded of how happy the clean garage makes me!

Who knew that simply cleaning out the garage could be so therapeutic?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Putting Me In My Place

I am going to a bridal shower in NYC this month.  I was thinking about it the other day because I had imagined I would wear a pretty, Spring-y dress since it would be so warm and lovely by this time of year.  But the forecast is really neither warm nor lovely and the shower isn't THAT far off, so I'm thinking I may not want to wear a Spring dress after all.

I mentioned it to B, who usually loves helping me decide what to wear to what.

"Can you help me?" I asked. "I need to decide on an outfit for the bridal shower.  I think I better plan on it being cold out."

And then I said, partially joking, "But I still need to look hot."

The look of abject horror that passed over my dear daughter's face was comical.  In fact, it was not just her face, but her entire body that cringed, literally trying to reject the words she'd just heard.  Her toes curled, her nose crinkled, she folded in to herself against the pain of it all. 

"No.  Mom, NO."  It was literally all she could manage to say through the absolute distaste and disgust that enveloped her.

And just like that, I was put in my place.  I could be pretty, beautiful, stylish, she told me.  But I am not to refer to myself in connection with the word "HOT" in her presence ever again.  Unless I'm talking about the actual temperature, that is not a word I should use to describe myself.



Last weekend we were all in the car and somehow involved in a discussion of the Revolutionary War and George Washington. 

My five year old asks, "Mom, when you were in the Army, was George Washington still the General?"

"He was the General more than 200 years ago!" I exclaimed.

"Right," said O.  "So were you in the Army then?"

No.  No, I was not.  But thanks.


Yesterday B stayed home from school with a bit of a cold.  Since strep is going around, we made a doctor appointment for the afternoon, but we spent the morning running errands.  Lots of errands.

As we arrived home after hours of driving from store to store, she complained that she wished she hadn't had to spend the whole morning on the first really nice day of Spring inside buildings.  I replied that it wasn't my first choice of activities either, but it had to be done.

"But it's different for you, Mom," she answered.  "Your childhood is OVER."



The way our children see us is so not the way we see ourselves, is it? 

In my own head, it's hard to even reconcile my actual age with how old I imagine myself to be.  I am 34 and will turn 35 next month.  I know it's not even old at all, but I can barely comprehend it.  To my 9-year old daughter, though, 35 is OLD.  And for her, Moms can't be hot (most especially her own Mom cannot be hot).  It creates a strange divide--to not really feel old, to not feel as though I can't at least strive for "hotness", but to be perceived as very definitely old and UN-hot by four of the five people with whom I spend most of my time.

I wonder if there will come a time when I'll say my actual age and not feel strangely disconnected from the number.  I kind of hope not--I like feeling young enough that my age does not define me, and I do believe that once you accept that you're old, you age much faster.  I like myself much better at 34 than I did at 24, so that's a nice bonus.

I know, too, that B's perception of my age will change as she herself gets older.  I don't think of my mother now as old at all, but I know that when I was 9 and my Mom was 33, that seemed pretty ancient.  Middle-aged even.  Sorry, Mom.

And so I live in a weird limbo, where I don't feel old but I am perceived as such.  I basically like how I look, but I am clearly not allowed to share that sentiment with my children.  For now, I'll just have to live with it, and hope that eventually they'll see that I am not THAT old after all.

Until then, though, I plan to ask B every morning if I look "hot" in whatever it is I have on.  If I can't have humor in my old age, what can I have?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'm taking a deep breath and moving on.  I'm finding my Spring.

Today is my Dad's birthday. He would hate it if I waxed all poetic about him, so I'll just say this: he is one of the smartest people I know and one of the hardest workers.  He retired a few years ago and he and my Mom bought a cottage on a lake last summer and are completely renovating it, and I love seeing them so happy--if anyone deserves a fun and relaxing retirement, it's my Dad.  My Mom has a few years left before she retires, but since she works in a school, she at least has summers off, and I'm quite certain this will be how they spend their summers from now on:

I know my Dad is probably spending today working on plumbing in the cottage or something like that, but I also know my Mom and sisters (and nephews and niece and brothers-in-law) will make sure he has an amazing and delicious birthday dinner and a fun night.

From 500 miles away, the rest of your family is sending wishes for a happiest happy birthday, too!  Happy Birthday Daddy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Winter of Our Discontent

It's snowing.  Again.  This winter is a metaphor for my life right now.

Until this year I never really understood when people said that an entire year had sucked.  "2013 was the worst year ever"--it didn't compute, because every year has good and bad and an entire year can't be constantly terrible.  But this winter, we've had more bad than good to the point where I can't even really remember the good parts.  Some of the bad stuff was major, some was minor, but overall 2014 has just beaten me down.  I can't recall ever feeling quite this defeated. 

It's not just the weather either--although this has been the coldest winter we've had since we lived in D.C.  It's just that I feel like in all aspects of life right now, I can't catch a break.  All winter long, just when I think we're over the hump and nothing else bad can happen, something does. 

This winter we've had more sickness than in the last three years combined.  We've had 11 snow days in the schools, pushing our last day of school back pretty much to the end of June.  And we've had I-don't-even-know-how-many delayed openings on top of the cancellations.  We've had surgery.  We've had major issues with both Matt's and my car, costing us more money than I care to think about.  We've had some fairly serious issues with the kids' school.  Taken alone, none of these things would be all that bad, but back-to-back-to-back all winter long, they combine to just make me feel tired and kind of hopeless. It's simply not been a good stretch for us.

But Spring is coming, I know it.  It has to happen eventually, and as long as I just hold on and take this winter one day at a time, the thaw will come.  Shaking my fists at the sky hasn't made anything better, so I just have to duck my head and keep trudging forward, until finally I'll look up and see the sun shining.  It will happen.

Each day, as I struggle to get the motivation to be positive, I remind myself that we've weathered each storm and come out the end, and that in itself is a victory.  There have been happy moments and good days and even whole weeks where nothing major went wrong.  People certainly have it worse than we do.  When I feel defeated, I remind myself to keep calm, look around at what I DO have, and remember how lucky I am.  Some days that works.  Other days, it's a bigger struggle. 

But Spring IS coming. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

In The Garden

My back yard last year, the first week of May.
It's a kind of grey and dreary day here, and although it's going to be in the 60s this weekend, the forecast for next week includes snow on Tuesday.  I love snow.  But not in March in D.C.--we're supposed to be in full-Spring-mode here by now!

The picture above is my back yard in May last year--about six weeks from this time, in fact.  Looking at the messy swampland that is my current back yard, I'm having trouble imagining we'll get to this point by May. 

Last year at this point, I was already getting mulch and had started raking out the garden. 

Last year at this point, I was thinking about what new flowers to plant and deciding on veggies for our little raised bed.

Last year at this point, it didn't still feel like winter.

To combat the winter blues going on in my yard today, I'm ignoring the forecast for snow and thinking about Spring instead.  I have big plans for the yard this year. 

I always have big plans for the yard in March and April...then in May and June I love my yard and it looks like all my hard work will pay off...then in July and August it's too damn hot to go outside and everything in the yard just fries under the relentless sun and lack of rain.  But every March and April I dream big anyway.

What does your dream yard look like?  Mine has mature trees and lovely shade, but sunny patches for playing too. 

It has pretty gardens full of flowers and great swaths of thick grass perfect for the kids to run and play.

It has interesting corners with benches or seats for reading.  

It has a fire pit and a picnic table and pretty lights hanging in trees. 

It has a little veggie garden too, full of yummy food and herbs.

Every year we work on getting the yard a little closer to the dream yard, and this year will be no different.  What's in your dream yard?

All images via my Outdoor board on Pinterest.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Sports: How We Survive

This week is the beginning of the one of the craziest times of year for us--Spring Sports season.  This season we have kids on three baseball teams and a soccer team, plus B is taking drama classes.  Matt is coaching one baseball team and assistant coaching two others.  Plus Matt is also PLAYING softball in a men's league.  It's basically insane how many practices and games we have every week.  And this isn't even as bad as it's going to get--Q and O are playing on the same team, so at least they have practice and games together.  Next year it will be even worse.  (I'm focusing on now though, I can't think about things getting any busier than they already are!)

Last Fall, because we had so many sports and activities going on, we ended up with at least one practice five nights a week and three games every Saturday.  And I had a breakdown, to be honest.

In the Fall, there was not a single weeknight we were all home for dinner together.  There was not a single day after school when the kids could just go play outside without me having to micro-manage who needed to eat right away so they wouldn't be starving through practice, who had the right gear for that night's sport, who had to get homework done right away, who had showered when (usually no one and not in days).  It was way, way too much.

This Spring, Matt and I knew we couldn't have that same thing happen again.  My mental health is directly related to having a few quiet nights when we all eat dinner together and the kids can play in the yard and not have to go anywhere.

Thankfully, B's soccer team has always practiced the same nights of the week, every season for the past three years.  So we knew when her practices would be.  And since Matt is involved in coaching all three baseball teams for the boys, he had a say in when practices would be scheduled.  We managed to get it so that two nights a week, NO ONE has practice.  On each of the other three weeknights AT LEAST two kids have practice, but having those two nights completely off is huge for me--I'm so relieved and really looking forward to the season now instead of dreading it.

Knowing we are going to have a few very busy nights each week, I've been planning how best to organize everything.  This kind of advanced preparation goes a long way to making the whole season more enjoyable and less hectic.

Here's how I get prepared for a crazy sports season:

During these busy seasons, I definitely plan my meals for the whole week in advance so I don't have to make any extra grocery store trips--I just don't have time for that.  I plan simple dinners--lots of salads, sandwiches, and quick stuff on the grill.  Because we don't eat fast food, I know I have to plan meals I can realistically make in 20 minutes or less, or else the temptation to just get crappy takeout will be too strong to resist.

Since I know I'll probably be using the slow cooker at least once or twice a week, I've been going through my crock-pot recipes for the nights when I can't actually cook dinner at dinner time.  I am hoping to find time this weekend to prep a few nights' worth of crock-pot meals in advance and freeze them so I really can just take the bagged ingredients out of the freezer in the morning and dinner will be "done" before the kids even leave for school.

On nights when there are two or more practices, both Matt and I will need to be out driving kids around.  That means that even the kids who aren't practicing will end up with picnic-style bagged dinners at a field.  I plan for this so I can have ingredients on hand to make healthy sandwiches, roll-ups, or thermos meals that are easy to take along.  I also pack a picnic blanket and camp chairs in the back of the car and basically leave them there until the season is over. 

And finally, we will clean out and organize the garage this weekend.  It's a complete disaster after a winter of just chucking things in the general direction of where they belong so we can get inside where it's warm when we're done playing.  Purging and organizing all the sports gear helps us do three things:
  1. It lets us know if there's any gear that needs to be thrown out and replaced so we can make a list of what to purchase at the sporting goods store
  2. It allows us to organize the gear so the kids can easily find their stuff AND put their stuff away
  3. It means we can safely and confidently give the kids the responsibility for getting their gear for practices and games

Although this season can be really hectic, I also really love watching my kids do something they love--and that is the point of all this hard work.  My boys are happiest running around outside and would gladly play baseball until their arms fell off.  B loves soccer and it's one of the few times her more aggressive, competitive traits really come out--it's fun to watch her be a little less physically reserved.  So even though it's busy and crazy, it's worth it in the end and I wouldn't give it up.

Opening Day is coming!  This is from April 2012--they look so little!
O sliding into home plate.
B (in red) lets loose on the soccer field.
G loves baseball almost more than's so much fun to watch him play.

Q is finally--FINALLY--old enough to play this year!

With a few seasons of this under my belt, it's nice to finally feel like I'm getting a handle on how to get organized so I can actually have fun instead of feeling like a chicken with my head cut off.  Knowing my limits is important--I've realized I cannot handle five-nights-a-week practices, but I can manage three.  I know I can't make complicated, gourmet meals every night in the Spring, but I can plan to make simple, healthy meals and be satisfied with that.  Having Matt's support and help in planning out the practices really made a difference too.

I know I'll look back on these full and crazy days as some of the best times we had, but I want to be able to enjoy them in the moment instead of just in hindsight.  A little advanced planning and preparation make that possible.

Is anyone else looking ahead to a crazy Spring? 
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