Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dad By Any Other Name

I had only known my husband for about a month when he took me on a ski trip to Bryce, VA. I was all excited about getting to go on a romantic vacation with my new boyfriend... until I found out it was a yearly Simpson-family event and I would be meeting his ENTIRE family over the course of the weekend. Needless to say, I was a little nervous.

It lasted all of about 5 minutes. I met his Dad first. Clyde Raymond Simpson. That's him.

Some people call him Clyde, most of his family calls him Raymond and many others know him as C.R. Any combination suits him fine.

C.R. greeted me with a big smile as Ken introduced us. I remember him making some quick-witted comment, probably teasing Ken about the age difference between us. He immediately made me feel comfortable though, like I had known him for years.

Over the last four plus years, that feeling has never changed.

I lost my Dad in 2004. Ken and I were on vacation in FL at C.R.'s and Bernice's (his wife) house when I found out the news. They immediately got a flight for me to get home and then C.R. drove with Ken back to VA in time for the funeral. He was so wonderful and gracious to my family in such a difficult time, and he barely even knew us.

That was the first of many times he has touched me. C.R. has become the Dad that I so dearly miss. He has also become the grandfather that my daughter lost. He is an amazing "Gramps". He takes all the girls to Florida every summer for a week or more and they go from one amusement park to another in a whirlwind of fun! He accepted Gena as his own grand-daughter from the very beginning and she adores him. He was so excited to find out he was having another grandson and has done nothing but adore Ryker ever since he came.

Today my husband and I attended a funeral for his uncle, Ira. C.R. is one of 14 children in his family, and now only six remain. I have unfortunately attended three funerals in four years for his siblings.

C.R. had made a "brother's promise" to Ira to deliver his eulogy at his service.

He started by saying that he wasn't a speaker by any means, and he was "nervous and scared", but he would do the best he could.

And that he did.

I had only met Ira a handful of times, and unfortunately after he had a stroke, so he was not the man he once was. I had little connection to the service or the man they were honoring. But the man delivering the eulogy brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

I have always said that I fell in love with my husband because he is the most genuine person I have ever met. He certainly gets it honest.

The love of a brother was so thick in the air as C.R. delivered his speech I had a hard time catching my breath. He fondly remembered times before Ira had his stroke and told stories of their childhood. He played some of Ira's favorite songs and quietly lip-sang them in remembrance.

He was calm and collected, but you knew inside he was shaking like a leaf. I was brought back to my Dad's funeral when I was physically shaking and how impossible the task of speaking was to me.

I was so proud of C.R. I was so proud to be a part of this Simpson family. I was so moved by his love and his dedication to his family.

There are times when I want to go to C.R. and hug him so tightly that I steal his breath away and tell him how much I love him and how dear he is to me. I always hold back though because I know he is not use to that kind of affection. So instead I will just write about it, because he probably will never see this.

So C.R., I have always been too scared to call you Dad... but that is exactly what you are to me. You are a pillar of strength to a family that loves you so deeply. You are my father, not by marriage, but by love.

I am so thankful to be a Simpson.


In Loving Memory of Ira Maynard Simpson

11/21/1924 - 08/22/2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tis the Season for Consignment...

Today was the day. I had it marked on my calendar for over two months. No, it wasn't the release of the newest movie. No, it wasn't some amazing concert coming to town.

It was the WEE-CYCLED WARDROBE CONSIGNMENT SALE - consignor's shopping day!

What?!!? You haven't heard? You didn't know it was the biggest shopping day of the year? Pish-posh on Black Friday! Today was Shopper's Sunday!!

Well only if you are a consign-freak like my sister and I. That is why we are all smiles!

Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of consignment...

Ever since I was younger, I loved to shop. My mom's manic moments allowed for numerous get-out-of-school free shopping days, which were absolutely fantastic as a teenager! The fury and fever to shop has never left my core and it was only magnified when I started popping out kids.

Before Genavieve was born, she had a closet full of little pink and purple dresses and hats. And we aren't talking your typical after-baby-shower stash. We are talking about filling up an ENTIRE closet of miniature little outfits, most of which she probably never even wore.

As she grew older, I reveled in her fashion sense and it fed my addiction even more. One of my proudest Mommy Moments was when my two year old daughter refused to leave the house because she couldn't find a hair bow to match her outfit. I had to fight back the tears of pride! My little fashion diva.

I was a single Mommy in those days. And I certainly was in no position to go out and shop willy-nilly (and yes, that is a very technical term) at department stores to dress my little fashionista. I had to get creative.

That is when I discovered thrift stores... I would case them out on my lunch hour. Thumbing through racks of clothes to find just the perfect thing that some other Mommy was crazy enough to get rid of.

You wouldn't believe some of the treasures I found. But it was a lot of work! That is when I discovered the consignments sales.

Did you know there is a place where you can buy Children's Place, Gymboree, Carter's and all the other fabulous name-brand clothes for less than half price? A consignment sale usually runs anywhere from a couple of days to three weeks. Mommies take their children's outgrown clothing and "consigns" it at the sale. It is like a giant yard sale, but instead of having to weed through all the junk most people sell, it is strictly clothing and other children-related items.

Before my son was born, he had two seasons worth of clothes ready and waiting for him. I kid you not, 80% of my kids wardrobe comes from consignment sales.

The first time I walked into the Wee-cycled Wardrobe consignment sale in Fredericksburg, it was like an oasis. I think I heard angels singing as I walked through the doors and was faced with rack upon rack of kids clothes.

I have not turned back since. I hit every local consignment sale in the area and I am on every consignor's mailing list there is. This is the season for consignment. Most sales only run twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Fall and back-to-school season is upon us.

For the last two years, not only do I shop, but I am a consignor. I go through all of my kids clothes and sell them (mostly to pay my tab for shopping). So being a consignor gives you special rights and privileges. You get to shop an entire day before the public is invited.

Laugh now, but you can't begin to imagine how important it is to get into the sale early. You might just miss the perfect outfit if you don't get there first. So that is where my sister and I find ourselves. Waiting in line, with our laundry baskets in hand, ready to be filled.

The line this year curved around the building. Anxious mommies awaited the seasons best find. My sister and I were prepared this year. We had plans to tag-team and had our route all mapped out. We even somehow managed to be kid-less this year... a first for both of us! You just can't concentrate while a kid is screaming in the stroller.
** Bonus points to the hubby for staying home with the terradactyl and girls all day!

Promptly at 3:00 they opened the doors for shoppers, with strict instructions to shop calmly. Yes, these people have to be warned, because things can get out of hand!

Again, cue the angels. Here is the sale this year.

The sale is held at the Field House in Fredericksburg, so it literally was a football field of stuff - a consign-a-holics dream. Over 33,000 items, ranging from clothes, to shoes, to toys, to every baby amenity you could imagine.

Quick thinking allowed me to snatch a cart from the Field House concession stand before anyone noticed. This apparatus proved to be critical in the game plan and many-a fellow consignor oohed and ahhed at our towering cart as the day went on.

They were jealous.

Back up Barbie, my cart!

So we hit the big item section first, as my sister Kim was after a bike for her daughter.


No such luck, a lady before us snatched the said bike up before we got to it. My sister debated following her around for a bit to see if she left it unattended, but quickly decided against the unconsignor-like conduct.

To the shoes... there is a whole method to the madness. Shoes go quickly, especially the ones that don't look like they've gone through a mud puddle and back.

SUCCESS! I snagged at least five pairs of shoes for various kids, some brand new. Kim got quite a few as well. After looking at shoes, Kim begins to wander over to the toy section.... not the next step in our game-plan, but I allow it.

The cart is already getting full, and we haven't even gotten to clothes yet. We have to constantly reposition stuff as to not lose any of our valuable loot.

Lots of ladies are walking around with some of Kim's custom wipe cases... aren't they cute?!?! Check out for other adorable creations! (shameless plug!)

Finally it is to the clothes. We start out in 3T Girls, and tag team the search. I take top racks and she takes bottom racks, looking for only the cutest things for her daughter Brylee. After about 20 outfits are piled onto the cart, we move onto 18 Months boys and use the same method.

Tag Team Shopping At Its Best!

In the midst of our frenzied search, a little girl snatches a Dora doll off our cart while her mother wasn't paying attention. Damn Moms bringing their kids - amateurs! Taking another shoppers item is something you just don't do in this shopping world! Four year old or not - give back my Dora Brat! (ok, so I didn't really say that, but the little girl did cry when her Mom returned it to our cart!)

Then there is another woman that is causing quite a ruckus on the toddler aisle. We will call her Hoarder Whore for her privacy... she had pile upon pile of clothes laid out all over the floor making it difficult for anyone to get around her. She was one of "those"... that pulled stuff off the rack, with no intention of buying it all, just piling it up to go through later. These types aren't looked upon too kindly, you take what you want and leave the rest on the rack.

My sister stalked Hoarder Whore for a long time, waiting for her to return her 3T leftovers to the rack. She was like a Mama tiger stalking prey for her young... but instead of antelope it was an orange and brown Gymboree outfit.

As we moved through the various sizes, our cart reached a ridiculous height. We were, after all shopping for the SEVEN children we had between us.

Here is the result of our frenzied shopping...

We arrived at the sale at 2:30... we left at 6:40. We were one of the last five shoppers out of the door. I won the grand prize for the day because I didn't spend as much... but the check I got from sales barely covered my tab. At least I broke even.

After an exhausting day, I brought my stash home to a bunch of ungrateful kids, that had no idea of the drama I had to go through to get those cute Abercrombie jeans!

The next sale is in a couple weeks... and then I have to wait until next season. I bide the time by still occasionally searching local thrift stores. My kid's closets are constantly growing and my addiction takes on a life of its own.
I think every kid needs at least 15 pairs of jeans and every toddler needs at least 6 pairs of tennis shoes.

Doesn't everyone?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One Down, Thirteen To Go...

This weekend I decided that I would paint. Now lets keep in mind the last time I attempted to paint a room (bathroom exactly) in my old house, I gave up about 15 minutes into it and my husband got the pleasure of finishing the chore.

When I mentioned to him yesterday that I wanted to paint yet again... another bathroom, he was less than enthused. He moaned and groaned and asked why did I want to paint all of a sudden.

Well it certainly wasn't a "sudden decision". Ever since we moved into this stark white walled, white carpeted, picture-less house three months ago I have been dying to paint. Well dying to pay someone to paint, actually. Not so keen on the process myself.

But with our situation as it is now, we just can't throw out a couple grand to have the whole thing painted all at once... so I thought it would be a good idea to start it myself.

And since I lack the ability or patience for this task, I decided to start small.... very small. I picked the smallest little nook in our house. The 5x5 guest bathroom may not seem like much of a challenge to your average Suzy Homeowner... but to me it might have well been Texas.

So this morning I drug the crew out to Lowes to pick paint colors and get supplies. I had wisely prepped with miles of blue tape the night before, so I was all ready to go. We decided on a color, to which I think my husband agreed upon just to get out of the damn store, and went about our merry way.

At home, I insisted that my husband had to take the tank off the toilet so I could paint behind it. He thought I could just throw a few splashes where you could see and it would be fine. I won and the tank came off.

*side note - There are great domestic benefits to having a blog, as I have found out today. Because when we were discussing the tank removal, he finally conceded stating that he better or else I'll write something nasty on my blog. I am overcome with POWER right now!!!

So my wonderful Hubby and I proceed to paint our little bathroom (Ryker blessed us with an unorthodoxed two hour nap so we can complete our task).

I am so pleased and so proud of my accomplishment. Not once did I curse or throw a paintbrush or give up and make my husband finish the job!

After the painting was all done, it was time to put the joint back in order. I replaced all the receptacles, towel bars, and mirror and my husband had the joy of putting the tank back onto its rightful home.

Can I just say that the only talent my husband has as a plumber is the infamous crack??!??

Bless his little non-plumbing heart (and ass), after several attempts and a couple rolls of paper towels, he got the tank back on, leak free. It was quite a "calamity" as he put it... hitting his head on the commode a time or two and getting a massive leg cramp in the process.

I even managed to convince the poor man to hang up some pictures for me... this is a task he GREATLY despises because I am never satisfied. Not to mention it was almost 11 o'clock when I finally convinced him!

Much to both of our surprise, I was 100% happy with how the whole project turned out!

Here are some pictures of our finished result.

It is very difficult to get a picture seeing as the bathroom is so small!

So today the guest bathroom...... TOMORROW THE WORLD! Or maybe another bathroom... who knows, only 13 more rooms to go!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Clean Up on Aisle 4 - Who's Department Is That?

The other day my husband and I were debating back and forth who should make calls to verify references on a rental house we have. The word "department" got thrown around a couple of times... mostly by me of course.

I thought that this task was Ken's "department" because he had shown the house and met the potential rentals. He thought it was my "department" because I have more freedom to make phone calls throughout the day.

Evidently he has some obnoxious responsibilities throughout the day called work that prohibit him from making personal (although it is a personal business matter) phone calls.

I say hogwash... isn't that what his lunch hour is for? Much to my dismay, he didn't agree and I ended up making the phone calls. Although I firmly believe that these phone calls were certainly not in my "department".

Ken seems to think that we don't have "departments" and we share the load equally....

... excuse me a moment while I regain my control after my uncontrollable fit of laughter...

Now, I am not saying I do everything... (because I know he reads this blog and that would get me in big trouble)... but I am not sure that our work load is equal.

He does earn the living, provides a roof over our head and food in our bellies. He definitely pays all the bills and is much more of a stern disciplinarian than I will ever be. He does play his role there. And these obvious necessities carry much more weight and importance than laundry duty and loading the dishwasher.

But lets face it ladies... I am the domestic goddess (DG). My "departments" are too numerous to list individually. I run this joint that Mr. Bring Home the Bacon pays for.

Kids... my DEPARTMENT- to insure that they are fed, clean, not killing each other.. as well as all their activities and school dealings... that Department encompasses most of my day.

Household Chores... Got it covered... I don't think my husband has done a load of laundry (not that I would let him for fear he might wash my white bras with his denim jeans), vacuumed a square inch, cooked a meal or fed the dog in months. He lives with the luxury that this DG has it all handled.

Finances... yup, handle this too... although I am quite thankful for this responsibility because if he saw the number of Target, Kohl's or Walmart debits on our account I might have to find another household to rule.

So obviously I accepted the role that I played by making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. But I am certainly not eating bon-bons and watching soaps all day... it takes work and energy and creativity to keep a big house and big family running smoothly...

Now added to my to do list is interviewing references... have I mentioned I don't like calling to order pizza? Ever since I was little I hated talking on the phone! And he knows this and is equally uncomfortable with the task. This is why he puts it on me... he knows I'll cave. I don't have a leg to stand on. What excuse can I use to not make some calls? I'm too busy vacuuming? Baking cookies? Watching Tori and Dean, Home Sweet Hollywood? (this one is the most likely!)

Am I wrong to think he should handle this? Am I wrong to claim that we do have "departments" and they work does not seem to be shared equally?

Well, in the end I did make the phone calls. And in the last few days have thrown in the snide remark, "I guess I'll do it... it is my department after all."

.... have to run, diaper duty is calling now... and that is DEFINITELY my department!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Trolley Takes a Toll

So this weekend I had the brilliant idea to let the kids experience a piece of Culpeper culture. I had to get them out of the house, since as punishment for leaving lights on, my husband took away all electricity for a day. (Who was he punishing, I ask you?!?)

Since there is not a whole lot to offer here besides the new Kohl's or Target (more my speed), I figured it would be fun to take a trolley ride. We see these big London-esque green and red trolleys all over town and the girls thought it would be a great idea. Notice I just said the girls.

I should have taken the hint when we got to the visitors center and the only trolley schedule I could find was in Spanish. The lady at the desk was not much help, stating sometimes they were on time, sometimes not... she didn't pay attention. We had just missed one as we pulled up so I figured we had a few minutes to spare until the next.

We walked up the street to my favorite local bakery, Knackels, because I knew I would need some chocolate to survive this fantastic idea. I let the girls pick out some brownies and got myself a chocolaty-gooey and oh-so-unnecessary 1/2 lb eclair. This would definitely make the trip worthwhile.

So we walk back to the station and sit down to enjoy our snack... and the trolley pulls up. So I throw everything into the diaper bag and load up the kids. We sit down and Ryker immediately starts squealing (not in delight mind you). The driver makes some kind of comment about screaming kids and I asked her if we should get off now (because obviously she hasn't been introduced to the terradactyl we all know and love as Ryker).

His screaming doesn't stop, no matter how many birdies or cars or anything I point out... no goldfish or juice or yogurt covered raisin will do... so I break out the big guns.

"Wanna bite of Mommy's chocolate?"

And so was the end of my eclair.... it smelled good at least. And it kept him quiet for the twenty minutes it took to get to Walmart.

Yep... that was our big ride. We got off at the stop in front of Walmart and walked over to Burger King for lunch. I sat on pins and needles the whole time in fear I would miss the trolley ride back... its an odd feeling being stranded and depending on public transportation. I realize how spoiled I am when we got back to the bus stop and a lady and her three kids were waiting with their dozen or so bags of groceries for the trolley. I couldn't imagine making this a daily occurrence.

So far so good, right? The girls are having a blast, got to eat junk for lunch and are now playing the guessing game of when the trolley will come. Twenty minutes after its scheduled arrival, the trolley finally shows up and I load my gang onto the bus and we are forced to head to the back because it is much fuller than when we got on before.

I go to pay the 50 cents a person I paid when I got on before and the lady tells me kids are free... would have been nice if the previous driver shared that tidbit.
*the driver would later regret turning down my extra money and consider charging me double!

Kayla and I share a seat with Ryker... and as we pull off, whatever switch he has in his little head that turns him from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde was activated.

The boy simply loses it, screaming and throwing himself around... hitting me and crying to get down. I use every tactic I know of to calm him down... again with the juice, goldfish, and raisins... nothing! I offer him my phone, which he promptly tosses to the ground with a crash. I sing to him, I point things out to him as we drive around. And he screams and wails and screams.

Everyone on the bus at this point is looking at me and my demon child (with the exception of Gena and Skylar who are in a happy little la-la land where Ryker's don't exist). Poor Kayla is doing what she can to calm the beast.

Ok, I've been the nice mommy long enough... lets break from the story a minute.

As a mom, do you ever get that flash go through your head when you say, "I could seriously abuse this child. If he doesn't stop or someone doesn't intervene, I just might beat him?"

Ok, if I am the only terrible mother, don't tell me. Let me think other moms have abusive thoughts in desperate moments like these.

Back to the screaming... so I sternly whisper in his ear that he needs to calm down, he needs to stop. His response... he throws himself back and bangs his head on the window. Luckily there is karma, and I am spared from having to abuse him myself!

So now we are no longer screaming, we are crying because our little head hurts. He lays his head down on my shoulder for a few brief but glorious moments of silence. People are still staring... I glare back, "Do you have any suggestions?" I am sure they'd like to tell me to get off the bus, but they do instead.

I am counting the stops in my head, trying to remember how many more we have to go from the Spanish brochure. At one point I consider getting off and walking a mile or so back home or to the depot... it has to better if he screams out in the open rather than in the confines of this tiny little bus.

But alas... we arrive at the visitors center. I am almost sure there was a roar of applause that erupted as we exited the trolley. But I can't be certain.

I'm suppose to go to the grocery store after this little trip. Needless to say, we don't make it. We head straight home, Ryker straight to bed and Mommy straight to nap time. I apologize to my girls for my attitude and mood and explain that it is certainly not their fault. And in the next breath I warn them that if they are loud and wake up the baby or more importantly, ME... abusive thoughts will again re-enter my mind.

So I nap... for what seemed like days, but more closely, 30 minutes. I get up to the familiar prehistoric screams of my son... Its ok, I'm rested and ready for more.

When I go downstairs, I am greeted by three wonderful little girls who have swept and cleaned up the kitchen for me. They have also left me little notes telling me they love me...
At least they are old enough to recognize when Mommy is on the edge.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Meet the Simpson Six

Welcome to anyone who should read this blog.

I like to think I have a pretty interesting life... and I enjoy writing. So I thought it would be therapeutic to write about my "interesting life". And just possibly somebody else would enjoy reading it.

So here goes the back story.... so all the little tales to come make sense. Let me introduce the cast of characters first.

First there is me... 27 year old mother of four (explanation to follow). My family just moved to Culpeper a few months ago from Northern Fauquier County into our dream house (well my dream, but they are enjoying it too). I have been a stay-at-home mom since my son was born last year and very much loving every minute of the chaos. Quite frankly I don't know how I managed to do anything when I worked full time as an insurance agent before.

So now I fill my days with laundry and kids and more laundry and dishes and cleaning and entertaining and catering to my children's every whim (with the exception of a sacred hour of the day when I watch the previous nights TiVoed reality show).

Ken... the Dad, the hubby and the ring leader. Ken and I met almost five years ago, ONLINE and both trying to get over less-than-wonderful past relationships. To make a long love story short, we met, fell in love almost immediately and married two years later. And that's where the kids come in...

Kayla and Skylar... are Ken's girls from his previous marriage and my daughters. Step daughters seems so cold and I only ever use it to explain to a few people who give me the oogly-eye because I have an eleven year old. Kayla is 11 and is my sidekick, she will do anything to help. She can be a bit distant at times, but its those moments when she swings those lanky legs up on my lap and cuddles me that melts my heart. Skylar is 8 and she lives in a perfect world... she has such an innocence about her that she always keeps us smiling. I always tell people she is the smartest dumb blonde I have ever met!

Both of the girls are remarkable and we are extremely lucky that our family blended as wonderfully as it did right from the beginning. Kayla and Skylar are with us full time, spending three weekends out of the month with their mom. They are just as much my kids as the other two!

Genavieve... was two years old when I met Ken. She has known Ken as her Daddy for as long as she can remember and Ken adopted Gena last year so she is now officially a Simpson. This little girl has so much fire and spunk it knocks us over sometimes.... I keep telling myself all her independence and stubbornness will be useful to her one day! She use to tell us when she was younger that she was going to be an "Arguer"... a lawyer by any other name would smell as sweet!

Ryker... is the best of both Ken and I. He never stops, as I suspect most boys his age are guilty of. He has so much personality he doesn't know what to do with himself. He is such the little prince of the family. All the girls cater to his ever need... We like to call him the Mayor of Simpsonville.... he is always looking for someone new to charm.

So that's the cast....

The plot is the pursuit of happiness amongst the mayhem of everyday.

The conclusion yet to be determined...

I hope you enjoy my ramblings...