Monday, March 31, 2008

My take on the HOA

When searching for a new house, I was impressed when entering some neighborhoods. The entrances were beautiful and announced the name of the subdivision. The flowers were blooming and freshly mulched. You usually pass the pool, tennis courts and neighborhood playground at the entrance. All beautifully maintained. And usually empty.

Trash cans aren’t visible. There are no lawn chairs out front. No toys. No cars. The yards look perfectly manicured. Not a ‘hair’ out of place. In fact, often it doesn’t look like anyone lives there. It allows you to imagine YOUR life there. Beautiful houses. Beautiful yards. Beautiful children (if you happen to catch a glimpse of one)

So you find the ‘for sale’ sign at the house of your dreams. You check it out and think “Yes, I could live here!” Where do I sign. 1500 pages later, signatures, initials and $ all in the right place, you move in.

Then the letters start. “Per covenant regulation 6B 1.42 ‘all trash cans will be place out of view, possibly within the confines of the interior of your house, lest passersby and nosey neighbors think you actually produce trash in your abode. Failure to store trash in your house will result in a fine of not less that $25.00 a day that will accumulate until we are able to take full possession of your house.”

“per covenant regulation 7A 2.45 ‘all children’s toys shall be put away immediately after use so that it appears that no children live in said neighborhood. Preferable, no toys of any kind will be used outside, so as not to offend your neighbors with the raising of your children.’

“per covenant regulation 4C 5.23 You shall keep your lawn emerald green only during the times the HOA has agreed upon. Your lawn should be green without consideration to the weather. Don’t think you can enjoy the yard work on your own, at your leisure. You will be expected to hire a ‘lawn maintenance company’ to ensure your yard looks like everyone elses. They will be responsible for seeding, fertilizing, mowing, mulching and planting HOA approved flowers in acceptable colors. Any flowers not meeting the required coloration will be yanked out under cover of darkness by the closest HOA board member. Please be sure to coordinate your landscaper days with the days your maid come as 2 ‘work’ vehicles are not allowed in your driveway at the same time.

Now when I drive into a neighborhood and I see the tale-tell signs of an HOA, I run the other way. In the meantime, I’m stuck with the one I’ve got. I didn’t have a choice as to whether I wanted to participate or not. If I wanted a neighborhood, I had to have an HOA. I have small children and I wanted them to grow up in a neighborhood.

What amazes me is that the same people who don’t trust their neighbors to take down their Christmas lights before the 4th of July and don’t trust their neighbors to not paint their house some atrocious color and don’t trust their neighbors to not pile up trash on their property until it’s condemned, give these SAME neighbors the power to make decisions for everyone in the neighborhood. Why? How did these horrible HOA’s come into existence. More importantly, How do we get rid of them?

serial numbers

My husband just came and asked me where the twins serial numbers are. Do you think he's a little too focused on work?

Monday, March 24, 2008

So, it's 4:40am. Blair is in the shower and I'm drifting in and out of sleep. It's not unusual for him to be up so early getting ready for work. Rena has come to join Riley and me in bed. She's cold and she wants to sleep beside me, so she wedges in between Riley and me. I drift back to sleep and then awaken again. Blair is still in the shower. Now it's just irritating me. "Turn the water off" I want to yell. "I can't sleep!" Finally, the water is turned off and the strange, familiar sounds of drawers opening and closing comes from the bathroom. Riley stirs in her sleep, realizes she has come out of physical contact with me, and leapfrogs her sister to be beside me once again. I consider leapfrogging both of them to Blair's side of the bed, that is invitingly empty. Instead, I push Rena into that spot and then push Riley up against her. Ah, I stretch out and then curl back up against the cold. Blair has gone downstairs with his suitcase and computer case in tow. However, he's left the dogs. Nixie is stirring. She wants to go. It doesn't matter where. I hear the garage door open and Blair's truck roars to life. Crap. Now I'm going to have to get up and let the dogs out. But no, Blair returns, and 'quietly' calls Nixie, who willingly thumps down the stairs to the freedom of the backyard. Within minutes, she's back, as is Blair. He gathers up the rest of his stuff and stealthily kisses his girls goodbye.

The house is quiet once again. The girls breath in deep regular breaths beside me. Rachel has made no sound from her room. Sleep is good. It's 5:00ish. Am I really going back to sleep? Probably not. Oh well. At least I'll get a few moment to myself. I go in search of my computer. The girls were using it last night. It should be right beside them. It's not. Where is it! What would Blair have done with it. I'm trying desperately to search quietly for my computer, while the dogs lazily circle my legs wondering where I'll go ,and not wanting to be left behind. I finally turn on a light briefly and discover it on my dresser. Not where I would have expected it. Ok, I've got the computer. The girls are still asleep. The dogs are all moving in the same direction. The coffee pot is clean and waiting in the dishwasher for me. It's getting better. I go downstairs, make coffee and plug in the computer. Before coffee is even finished brewing I heard Rachel "Mommy, where are you?" Now, don't get me wrong. I love this child with all my heart. But are you FREAKING KIDDING ME! It's 5:40. Once she discovers my location, she slides backwards down the stairs to join me. And she's chatty. Luckily, she's also a TV head, so after a few minutes I send her off to watch Clifford with a sippy cup of milk. Peace at last. I start this post, to get my frustrations out about never getting a minute to myself, when all of a sudden, my computer screen goes black. What the f%$@! It takes me a minute to discover that our loverly Nixie has chewed throught the power cord...again. Damn dog! So, off to I go. I order 2 power cords. They should be here by Friday. Back to the post. Rachel comes to me. She's wet the bed. Hmmm? How could that happen. She has on a diaper. Her pajamas aren't wet. Maybe she just means she's wet. I change her. Off to Grandma's room (grandmom doesn't actually live here, she just has a room named in her honor) and, yes the bed is a little wet! Still not sure how that happened, and really, I don't want to know. I strip the bed. Back to my, huh, hum, peaceful few minutes at the computer. I'm exhausted already! And it's not even 7:00 yet. I'm wondering if the marines REALLY do more than me by this time!

So, how do you start YOUR day?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Pretty much everyday, I have to go into the bathroom and order someone out. It's amazing how much focus there is on this little room. I swear we have drained half of Lake Lanier right out of this tiny bathroom.

Well, they're busted. It's not the first time. They are repeat offenders.
Notice Riley in the 'the' dress.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I give my children lots of creative freedom. I used to teach elementary school and I believed in giving them creative freedom too. I though I would share what happens when creative freedom goes awry. Let me give you the rundown, since the picture may not tell the whole story.

Daughter #1 is sporting a winter snowflake shirt with ruffled hem paired with hand-me-down fruit skort. Rounding out the ensemble are the hello kitty sandles from last summer that are 1 size too small and fully coated in Georgia red clay. This outfit is finished off with a lovely pink knit cap(matching sweater not shown).

Daughter #2 is STILL in the princess dress that was daughter #1's Halloween costume 2 1/2 years ago. No matter. It looks fetching on her and has for the last 14 days. Daughter #2 chose to accessorize her look with the ladybug rainboots and Little Me rain jacket fitting for the occasion. Missing from the 'accessory queen' are the sunglass, necklaces and overdone 'lip stuff' she normally wears.

Daughter #3 self dressed in pink striped pants that, until this morning's closet clean out, also belonged to sister #1. This lovely outfit is rounded out with a fleece jacket and mismatched ladybug slippers from Target. This is quite the step up since she is usually only fetching a diaper.
Even though they look like the might be trying to replicate the well known "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" they are really just trying to protect themselves from the tornado bearing wind.
Hope you enjoyed the Saturday night fashion show. Drive safe out there!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Big Mommy

The girls have started talking about themselves being big. "I not little Rachel, I BIG Rachel" You get the point. Rachel in particular is obsessed with this. So she puts BIG in front of everyone's name. I'm BIG more ways than one.

Roasted Potato Bites from Pampered Chef

12 B size red potatoes (about 2 " in diameter), unpeeled
1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black petter
4 ounces chive and onion cream cheese spread
3 tablespoons sour cream
Optional toppings such as grated cheddar cheese, bacon bits and snipped fresh chives

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut potatoes in half crosswise. Cut a thin slice off bottom of each potato half. Carefully scoop out a small amount of pulp from each potato half. In medium bowl, combine oil, garlic salt and pepper. Add potato halves; toss to coat.

2. Place potato halves, hollowed side down, on bar pan. Bake 30-32 minutes or until deep golden brown and tender. Remove from oven; cool slightly

3. In small bowl, combine cream cheese spread and sour cream; whisk until smooth using whisk. Pipe evenly into hollowed potato halves. Sprinkle with toppings if desired.

yield: 24 appetizers

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I am Cow

I can't help it. This made me laugh and I just had to share. If you don't have a sense of humor, don't go there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Dress

This dress was Rena's 2 year old Halloween costume. Riley has discovered in and I think we are on about day 10 of her wearing it every day. If she's not wearing it, she's sleeping with it. I'm not kidding. Her fascination shows no signs of stopping and she's been searching for it all morning. I really don't know where it is. It NEEDS to be in the laundry.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Shucking Apples

A Day in the Life

Yesterday our Preschool had Donuts for dad. All the Dads were invited and so Blair went to eat doughnuts with his girls. He also took them to school, too, which was a boon for me! No, I didn't get to lounge around in bed. I got moving and tried to tackle this very messy house. He left at 8:30 and I had until 11:30 to get stuff done. Now, my usual MO is to start cleaning in one area...well, it goes something like this. I collect the sippy cups and head to the kitchen to put them in the dishwasher. When I get to the kitchen, I notice a pair of dressup shoes that belong in the playroom, so I take them to the playroom. On the way back, I pick up the socks laying in the middle of the floor and a handful of trash. I toss the socks in the clothes basket and throw the trash away. The trash is full so I take it out. While I'm outside, I realize that the sandbox is a mess, so I straighten that up. I head back inside. Oh the sippy cups! I empty them and put them in the dishwasher. I collect the trash from the counter, but realize I haven't replaced the trashbag. I put the trash down, collect the food (ie cereal boxes, peanut butter, etc.)that's still out on the counter and take it to the pantry to get a garbage bag. Rena is calling me from the bathroom, so I go help her out. On the way back, I pick up more trash off the floor and head to the trashcan. Oops, no trashbag. Back to the pantry.

Well, you get the idea. Nothing gets 'done'. So yesterday, with no distractions and plenty of coffee in my system, I used the 3 hours I had effectively. This is what I got done: all the laundry was gathered up, sorted and the washing machine was going. All clean clothes were folded and put away. I collected all of the girls shoes, matched them to their respective partner and put them in the shoe organizers in the closets. I gathered up all the trash and took it out. That's it! It took me 3 hours to accomplish that!

I did feel better about things, but my house is still far from clean. Now, if I can just maintain those things, even if it's for 24 hours.

At 11:30 I took one of my neighbors to lunch to thank her for watching the girls for me. (She came to my house at 5:00am. What a trooper!) We had a really nice time and then we picked the girls up from school. Back home by 1:30, but now my motivation had wained. The girls were asleep, so they didn't create more mess, but I had lost my drive.

The girls didn't get up until after 5:00. Unbelievable. So snack and dinner weren't that far apart. I wasn't really motivated to cook either, so the girls had a simple dinner. I had made muffins for their snack and then they all wanted an apple. Riley wanted me to do something with hers that I couldn't understand. Cut it? No. Peel it? No. SHUCK it? Yes. She wanted me to shuck her apple. Too funny.