ho-HI-ho: noun. What Addie called Ohio when she was 3.

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Today Addie declared she is going to become a professional naturalist, live in Ohio and take people on hikes and show them what plants they can eat, specifically the sourwood because that one is her favorite.

Surprisingly enough, Addie spent the morning with a very handsome young man named Joe who is a naturalist, takes people on hikes, shows them what plants they can eat and sourwood happens to be one of his favorites. In other words, we had a really good day and Addie has a new friend and role model.

Jim, the owner of Hocking Hills Adventure Treks said he’d have a spot waiting for her in about 13 years.

Addie and her new buddy Joe the naturalist

You know those fliers and pamphlets you can find in almost any small town touristy hotel? The ones that advertise the ‘world’s biggest this’ or the ‘world’s greatest that?’ Well this trip is basically doing as many of those pamphlets as possible. It was set up by some lovely ladies involved in Ohio tourism and we have done and will be doing things I never would have thought to do, and we’re having so much fun.

Today started out at a pencil sharpener museum.

Why yes , we did just go to a pencil sharpener museum. #Ohio

Want to see Addie go bananas? Take her to a pencil sharpener museum. We then took a private guided tour of a nature preserve in Hocking Hills, Ohio. It’s downright stupid how pretty it is up here and what a good idea these treks are that Jim came up with. He gathered up a bunch of passionate naturalists, works with nature preserves and parks all over the area and plans these fantastic hikes where you get your own private know-it-all who will feed you roots, leaves and twigs (and you’ll actually enjoy it.)

Joe was our know-it-all today and he answered every question Addie had. When she asked about the dirt he got down on his knees and dug in it. When she wanted to see in a cave he pulled out a flashlight and showed her, when she sneezed he handed her a tissue and when she spotted poop he dug around in it with a stick to figure out what and who it came from.

Addie and her new buddy Joe the naturalist

Addie and her new buddy Joe the naturalist

 

Addie and her new buddy Joe the naturalist

Basically he’s the world’s greatest dad waiting to happen.

As if that weren’t enough, the hike ended at a huge cave where a Shawnee Indian named Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah was sitting and playing a hand carved flute, it was spectacular. He welcomed us in Shawnee and told us stories that his grandfather had passed on to him. He told us how many words we use everyday come from Shawnee (including hi, Michigan and Mississippi) and that the Shawnee  word for elk translates to ‘white butt.’ He showed Addie his flint knife, told her about his nose ring and said that if he didn’t keep his flute warm it would sound like he was killing squirrels the next time he played it.

Hocking Hills Adventure Hike

He was amazing.

The fact that any Native American Indian tribe was ever persecuted or labeled as savages? Blows my mind.

Our next stop was the Columbus Washboard Company and museum. When I saw a ‘washboard museum’ on our itinerary I was a little…huh…okay…but you guys! We bought two washboards and Addie has taken hers everywhere with her since we left the place. Who’s going to have clean laundry when the world ends? THIS LADY.

In case your mind wasn't blown by the pencil sharpener museum, I present to you the washboard museum. #Ohio

Cody also bought a kazoo for the girls because he hates me and wants to send both of us into an early grave. We were given a tour of the factory by a charming man named James who showed us how the washboards are made on the same equipment they’ve been made on for over a hundred years and washboards are pretty much the coolest thing ever so don’t roll your eyes when you get one for Christmas this year.

We’ve eaten way too much delicious food, are trying to survive in one big hotel room breathing each others air and hearing each other sleep but it doesn’t really matter because we’re together and together with them is really my most favorite place to be no matter where we are in the world. (And we have a pool, Addie asked that I tell you all we have a pool, and little boxes of cereal in the morning, and washboards, we have washboards!)

This is what a fun day without a nap, and a full belly look like at 9 pm.

Disclosure: We have been provided with lodging, activities, and some meals while in Ohio. Huge thanks to Ohio for being pretty darn awesome.

Cody and I are pretty average people, but together? Man, do we produce some swell offspring.

vivi and the chair

We’re like ketchup and mayo, put us together and we make fry sauce. (If you don’t like fry sauce, lie to me, I can’t bear the thought of someone not liking fry sauce.)

Perhaps peanut butter and chocolate is a better comparison, put us together? One of the best combinations in the world.

Eggs and bacon? Sure!

Cats and sunshine? Yep.

We’re having a few minor struggles with the bigger one, nothing major, she’s just proving to be a little more challenging in the “listening and rule abiding” realm.

addie

It’s really easy to love the everloving daylights out of her because she has the biggest, kindest heart of any kid I’ve ever known. While there may be lots of shouting, pouting and some crying…there’s lots of hugging and adoration as well.

It’s just a phase.

I have to keep telling myself I’m doing okay. Sometimes I worry I’m so focused on not repeating the mistakes of my own parents that I’m completely borking up the things my parents did really, really well.

Kids raised in a home where good food is served, bedtimes are enforced, hugs are given freely, and where we do our absolute best to be good people, they have to turn out okay right?

Over the past few weeks I have hosted a few little get togethers around Indianapolis talking to parents about kids and cell phones. I personally don’t think it’s a horrible idea for kids to have cell phones as long as there are limits, Cody agrees with me but until I began working with AT&T I believed that the only way to manage kids and cell phones was on the honor system.

I’ve tried the honor system with Addie and guess what? It doesn’t always work so well. Addie also has a terrible, TERRIBLE habit of misplacing things. A phone? Pfft. That thing would be gone forever in a week. Still, there are times I wish I could let her ride around the neighborhood on her bike, just like I did as a kid, and not worry about her. What if she fell off? What if she got lost? A phone in her pocket would alleviate many of those fears.

AT&T has worked really hard at looking at real world problems that parents face when it comes to mobile phone safety as well as phones for their kids and they’ve come up with some really smart solutions to everyday worries.

Problem: I can’t resist answering text messages and phone calls when I’m driving!

AT&T Solution: Drive Mode. A free app available for AT&T subscribers on Android and Blackberry (coming soon for iOS) lets you input a custom message that auto replies to texts and phone calls while you’re driving. The latest update activates Drive Mode as soon as you’re traveling above 25 MPH (if the automatic activation is not enabled you simply have to activate Drive Mode with one touch from the App.) Let’s say I’m driving to Emily’s and she texts or calls me to ask “Where are you at?” she’d get an auto response that says “I’m driving right now so I can’t/won’t answer my phone. I’ll get back to you when I am able to. I like being alive and so do all these other people around me.” My text alert doesn’t go off so the temptation to respond is gone and Emily knows what I’m doing. Up to 5 phone numbers can be set to get past Drive Mode so you’re not completely cut off from important communication.

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Oh you guys! You really are the butter on my homemade bread, because after I admitted that I’m a clutter bug? You all rallied around not only me, but everyone else who commented and said there is happiness in chaos and stress in perfection! (Or something to that effect.)

Amy said “I’d love to see what those rooms look like messy. It always makes me laugh to see what others consider a mess.” Well Miss Amy, THAT is a very fair request because I totally agree with you.

A funny thing happened after looking at the photos I used in that post. I sat on the couch and looked at the picture of my kitchen, then looked into my actual kitchen. It clicked that I have a really nice kitchen and that half the stuff in it simply does not have to be there. Same with my dining room and living room.

Confession: I spent the last two days shame cleaning. Shame decluttering. Shame organizing.

AND DUDE YOU GUYS IT LOOKS SO GOOD.

I can see floor and counter surfaces I haven’t seen in YEARS. And I pinky promise I’m going to do my best to keep them clear. YOU HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE OKAY?

In my flurry of cleaning I forgot to take any before pictures, well, except for one. What I lovingly refer to as “The counter of doom: Where junk mail goes to die.”

Untitled

Yep. That’s what it has looked like for about three years.

Vivi and I spent an afternoon and $40 at The Container Store and now the counter of doom looks like this:

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A place for everything and everything in its place!!

I basically had to just give up the “Oh I might use that one day!” mentality and go bonkers on tossing, recycling and donating. Not gonna lie, it felt good.

If you were ever going to stop by for a surprise visit, NOW IS THE TIME (just don’t go upstairs.)

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In the spirit of before/after and hows…I’ve lost 19 pounds in 24 days. But I don’t suggest doing it yourself. You can get the full story over at Shutterlovely (or click the photo below.)

I fantasize about a clean house.

If someone knocked on my door tomorrow and said “Two week long vacation on Tahiti, $10,000 or a tidy, well organized house?” I would be ALL OVER THE TIDY WELL ORGANIZED HOUSE.

Sure, I could make something happen with the $10K, but I’d probably just do something responsible with the money, like pay of school loans or get Cody a new car. Perhaps a fence or a deck. Or one of those college savings plans, surely those are more important than a clean and tidy house.

This photo? It was basically taken the day we moved in, before we had the time or energy to mess ANYTHING up.

Confession: organization is NOT my strong suit. Never has been, just ask my mom. It took Addie 6 hours, three crying fits and me using my bossy mom voice at least a dozen times for her to end up with what could be considered a relatively clean room on Saturday. The thing is, the kid is JUST LIKE ME. I couldn’t keep my room clean with the promises or threats of anything. Addie is the same way. Take something away? “That’s fine, I didn’t like it all that much anyway.” Ground her? “It’s cool, I’ll just sit here and read.” Take her books away? “No worries mom, I’ll just play with my carpet.” I once asked her to clean the loft, two hours later not a single misplaced toy had been put away, but 100 DVDs had been alphabetized and arranged by genre.

*slumps over*

You would think I could get things done during the day, while Addie is at school. But there’s this other little person running around undoing everything I just did. I couldn’t find my underwear today which was really strange because who loses underwear? Turns out Vivi had snuck it out of my drawer and shoved it in the dryer. It wouldn’t have been so bad had a dryer repairman not come over this afternoon had to ask “Ma’am? Could you please, uh, remove the…uh, laundry from your dryer?” I debated for a long time which was worse, being called “ma’am” by a guy my dad’s age or a guy my dad’s age getting a face full of my underpants?

I like work, I have a nice tidy little checklist right over there and as I get things done I can cross each one out feeling very accomplished. While “laundry” is currently checked off my real-life to do list, in a week laundry will be right up at the top begging my attention. So will the toilets (DUDE, what is with moldy toilets after three days in humid weather!?) and those stupid white spots on the mirror.

I’m convinced I’m missing the gene that qualifies people to be considered “put together.

I grew up in a house where EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING) had a place, and if something dared to be out of place? So help you… My room must have caused my mother a thousand tiny deaths everyday. I have two photos of the fireplace in my old house taken nearly ten years apart, the only thing that changed? Me. Every other thing in the photo was in the EXACT same place. Every plant, every photo, every decoration. What went wrong?

Ladies and (a few) gentlemen…I am horribly disorganized. I’m a clutter-er.

There’s no squashed cats under anything, nor is there dead or rotting food anywhere in the house. Basic needs are met, clean clothes exist, beds are made half the time, bills get paid, honestly you couldn’t really point out anything absolutely disgusting. It’s just chaos, clutter, half completed projects, boxes, and the toddler doesn’t help. (Neither does the seven year old version of her mother.)

I’m tired. I need my mom. Perhaps Nate Berkus. I’m overwhelmed. I really want to eat my feelings.

But really I just wanted to put this out there lest you think I’m one of those women living a very well styled and fancy existence. I won’t apologize for my house because it is lived in and occupied by a very happy family. But I also won’t lie to you and give you the illusion that I have my $%&# completely together.

Because I totally don’t.

Thanks for listening.

Addie calls nipples ‘nibbles’ and if anyone ever corrects her I will choke you. She also calls pulp ‘plup’ please don’t correct her on this one either.

Vivi has started pushing her hair out of her face and it’s pretty much the most adorable thing she does at the moment (because it never, ever works.) She’s also picking up on more words, but only Cody and I speak her language. Our current favorite is they way she says ‘bunny’ it’s not even a word so much as a sound that a robot baby would make if it were trying to say ‘bunny.’ I keep trying to get it on video but no dice just yet.

Over at Toddler Times:

Vivi got her first salon blowout. Because that’s obviously what babies need.

She likes to sit in puddles, fully dressed, in the middle of parking lots.

Cody’s a good dad. Like, super good.

When Vivi and Addie play in the rain (which later turns to a puddle sitting obsession.)

Have you seen the Disney Toddler clothes at Target? WHOO. These are not cheesy character clothes AT ALL. (Why don’t they come in my size?)

A history of Vivi’s fairly epic baby hair.

Also, this photo:

Apparently even happy babies aren't immune to gloomy weather.

How’s your week going? It’s pretty gloomy around these parts.

Cody and I both wrote posts about our views on Addie getting her first phone, we didn’t discuss it first, we just wrote. You can find my post here.

cell phone glow.

I don’t know how many times Addie has asked me while we’re at the store if we can run back to the toy section so she can look at the Monster High texting toy.  With each request my heart hardens a bit more and more to the idea of my daughter having a cellphone.

Call me a traditionalist or extremist, but I see these 10-year-old kids walking the halls of the mall with their friends while their heads are buried in their cellphones anxiously and aggressively typing out text messages and it drives me nuts.  When I was their age I used to walk 6 miles to school uphill both ways with six feet of snow covering the walkway at all times of the year.

Okay, so not one bit of that was true other than the fact that I did walk the 6 miles home from school whenever I forgot to make my bed in the morning and my mom refused to pick me up after football practice because of it.  Anyway, the point is that kids in my day didn’t have cellphones and here I am, alive with a family and career.  Cellphones?  Shmelphones.

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Cody and I both wrote posts about our views on Addie getting her first phone, we didn’t discuss it first, we just wrote. You can find his post here.

cody's phone is her new favorite toy.

My dad had a smart phone four years before I even had a smart phone. It wasn’t until January of this year that Cody and I finally decided that I was busy enough with work and the girls to justify investing in one. Cody just got his first smart phone two weeks ago.

You could say we were a little behind the times, especially considering the average age for a child’s first phone is 12.1 and of the children who do have phones, 34% of them have smart phones.

We just never saw the need, all we ever did was call or text each other. I was either at home or out with friends and Cody was either at work or at home with me. It just wasn’t an expense we could justify until recently.

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