Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Salon Adventures

The girls have been growing out their hair for locks of love. With this summer heat and humidity the process has been brutal. There are days when no matter we style their manes, it looks like a rat's nest.

I got to my breaking point. I could not stand it any longer. Literally. I was done micromanaging their hair. It was time to take matters into the hands of the professionals. I bit the bullet and scheduled a summer field trip to the salon.

This was Charlotte's first official hair cut. Oh sure, Eli had trimmed her hair with pinking shears about a year ago, but this was her first professional, in salon experience. Here are the before shots-
notice the long ringlets, and extreme sunlight highlights. Charlotte has beautiful hair, but in the humidity of a Central Ohio Summer, her hair is high maintenance.

These are the images of her first hair cut. I should have been all weepy and sentimental about it, but she is four years old and she was totally unafraid.

Can you see how much she was LOVING the whole salon treatment thing? A diva is born.

The after photos really show just how much difference a hair cut can make.
Charlotte went from toddler girl to fashion forward little pre-K girl. She was rocking the whole hair cut, summer salon adventure.

As for Miss Natalie, the photos will tell the story. She basically got into the stylist chair, and when asked, "What are we going to do today?" answered- "Just make me look like Lillian" At which point, I explained that cousin Lillian had an asymmetrical bob with longer front than the stacked back. And away they went to the shampoo bowl.

Natalie was at least 3 inches shy of being able to donate her hair, but we were committed to changing her look, so we proceeded with the transformation anyway.

Here is the photo detail that shows how a five year old girl can morph into a 25 year old salon savvy customer in about thirty minutes.

Natalie embraced her transformation from five to 25 with one look in the mirror and one lollipop from the treat bowl.

That was easy. I know have two little fashion forward, hair cut and styled girlie girls. Lord help me when they want to get color, highlights and feathers added. I saw my future today at Kenneths Salon, and my future looks expensive.

Let the Summer Salon Adventures continue all year long, Mommie needs a new doo.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Slutsky Cousin All Star Band

My kids are constantly putting on shows. They have their own band, their own dance club, and given some down time, they come up with all kinds of productions. Having four children collaborating in creative play leads to the formation of some serious entertainment.

I have often wondered if families with just two kids get this kind of group mentality going. Do two siblings form rock bands and produce their own musicals complete with dancers? I would not know.

We had a play date with Connor and Jack at the New Albany Library. Since they had never visited this location, my kids showed their cousins around. They read books. They did some puzzles. They played and discussed various versions of Mario Brothers. They bonded over common interests and it was so cute to listen to their deep conversations.

When Aunt Diane excused herself to use the bathroom, Eli suggested they all form a band and rehearse some numbers before she returned. Keep in mind, this is a regular form of imaginative play at our house. Poor Connor and Jack were like, HUH? A band? Fake instruments? Dancing? What are you guys talking about.

As CJ, Eli and Charlotte were choreographing their moves, I took the managerial role and assigned Connor and Jack to be the band. I am not sure they fully understood how to play air guitar and fake drums, but that really did not matter. My dance posse just made due without any tunes.

I love this video because it totally validates my theory that when you have your own preschool classroom of kids, they find ways to entertain everyone. Next time, I will make sure Connor and Jack are more a part of the show. I am sure the deer in the headlights look will wear off in time.

We won't be going viral on you tube until the Slutsky Cousin All Star Band can practice more and perfect their shows. Stay tuned for future debuts. Until then, Natalie will sit on her ass and watch like an audience, and I will film the productions as the manager and director.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Zero Star Rating

We are doing the guest room shuffle. This is the game we play on a regular basis. Unlike musical beds, this allows us to accommodate a guest or sibling home from college. The kids love to make a guest room because that means we have company.

This week my friend Rich is visiting on business for a couple of days. The Slutsky welcome wagon made all kinds of signage

for the arrival of our family friend. Aren't these so much warmer than the standard: no smoking, check out time is 12 noon? You don't see the Marriott Courtyard personalizing the greetings at the front desk.
Welcome Rich! Have a good time!

Perhaps now that we offer custom banners, we can improve our star rating on expedia. Up until now, we have been a zero star property. With the vacancy in the new and improved guest room, a completely non-smoking facility, free breakfast, complimentary cocktails and wifi connectivity, we will kick it up a notch. The Slutsky Summer Guest Room, currently a zero star but hoping to be a one star by the end of the season.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Car Seat Humor Only a Parent Can Appreciate

Once in a while, I read an on line rant I love. Sometimes, I think, sheeesh, I could not have written it better if I tried. With that in mind, I give you an article about child safety seats, the absolute pain in my fat ass.

I would not think to sugar coat the truth, the following is a honest look at car seats. DISCLAIMER: It is more than R rated for language and content- as it should be.

Written by Big Daddy Drew, as posted here. But since no one really clicks links, I have cut and pasted the content to my blog.

There are many reasons to not have children. They poop. They cry. They cost unfathomable amounts of money. And sometimes, they run up to you and shriek into your ear as loudly as possible, causing your eardrum to nearly rupture, and you want to turn around and punch them right in the fucking face because Lord knows they EARNED it, but you can’t because that would make you a bad person even though you TOTALLY would have been justified. So there’s that.

But above all else, the main reason to never, ever have kids is child car seats. With the notable exceptions of the wedding industry and the Disney corporation, the child car seat industry is the single most evil business enterprise in the universe, an industry that will rob you blind and FUCK YOUR BACK TO DEATH in the process.

You “need” three different car seats for each child you have. Three. When they’re young, they need the baby carrier with the snap-in base. When they outgrow that, they need a toddler seat. And when they outgrow that, they need a booster seat. Current safety guidelines mandate that a child stay in a booster seat until eight to twelve years old. TWELVE FUCKING YEARS OLD! What the fuck? When I was a child, my parents strapped me to the fender and I LIKED IT! No wonder we’ve raised an entire generation that thinks Linkin Park constitutes acceptable music. Recent studies have shown that car seats aren’t really any safer for kids over 2 than a normal-ass seat belt. Granted, that research comes from “Superfreakonomics,” but it totally works with this rant, so fuck it. I’m using it. MY PROOF IS IRONCLAD.

This is how these car seat people screw you into paying top dollar for their cumbersome pieces of plastic dogshit. Sure, you could put your kid in a normal seat belt. IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR SAFETY. I bet you’re full of vodka when you drive them around, aren’t you? BECAUSE YOU’RE COUNTRY LIKE THAT. I guess you don’t care if another car comes and t-bones yours, causing your poor child’s ribcage to shatter and their little tiny skull to be crushed like a melon. SOME PARENT YOU ARE. PONY UP, FUCKFACE.

And no wife in the world will ever let you spring for a cheap car seat. What’s that? You want the $30 Target generic car seat? NOT FOR MY BABY. No, no. We’re gonna get the Britax Marathon Series 7 with diamond-encrusted sippy cup holder and Kevlar belt. IT CAN WITHSTAND FORCES OF UP TO 12 G’S. Fucking $300 down the toilet, right then and there. And if you lack the foresight to space out your fuck trophies enough? You’re buying two, bitch. Or three.

That’s just the expense part. That’s not even the shittiest part of the whole deal. The worst part is installation. When we had our first kid, we had a car that was a 1997. It didn’t come equipped with the now mandatory child car seat latches in all new cars. So you had to install the car seat base by threading the seat belt through the base (horrible), then jumping on top of the base and pushing down on it like a suitcase with a dead body inside. Only the seat belt ALWAYS kept giving you slack, unlike all the other times the seat belt decides to ruin your day by fucking locking in when you don’t want it to. And you have to do all this in the back of your car when it’s 99 degrees out and your body is DYING.

And the worst part is, that first time you install the piece of shit is never the last. Once you install that fancyass toddler seat a year later, you are taking that thing out and putting it back in all the time. Gotta go pick up a Christmas tree? No room for the toddler seat, which is inexplicably the size of a battleship. You gotta take that shit out to put the tree in. Going on vacation? Well, you gotta drag that whole goddamn setup with you. Ever carry a child car seat more than five feet? AGONY. Picture the world’s most cumbersome object, now picture that object with a drugged hippo resting on top. That’s a child car seat. They’re impossible to carry. They’re impossible to place into any sort of bag for checking at the airport. They NEVER stay on top of the Smarte Carte for more than five seconds if you want to try to avoid carrying them. They barely fit in the rental car. I’ve dismissed entire vacation ideas outright simply because I have no interest in dealing with the fucking car seats.

And you should see what these things do to your poor car. They destroy the upholstery. And when you take one out of your car, what you find underneath is the horrifying Santorum left behind by a toddler with repugnant manners: animal cracker bits, moldy raisins, odd patches of unexplainable, permanent moisture. It’s like looking under the couch of a heroin addict. WHAT IS THIS GREEN THING? WAS THIS A BABY CARROT? GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! The upholstery of the car seat itself also becomes intolerable over time. You have to take it off and wash it, which means undoing all the strap mechanisms and then redoing them once the cover is clean, only you have NO IDEA what slots the straps are supposed to go through, and you sit there for a fucking hour outside your car trying to sort out how to get this piece of shit to work again. Then, five days later, your wife will ask you to readjust the straps because your kid is too big for the old strap placement, and you will curse your wife to infinity because she’s just sitting there on her CANDY ASS while you do all the backbreaking labor.

These fucking car seat people. They’ve made their ungainly plastic brat thrones mandatory in the American parenting landscape, and there’s nothing I can do about it, except to say FUCK YOU. I HATE YOU, GRACO AND CHICCO AND BRITAX AND MCCLAREN AND ALL OF YOU FUCKERS. AND I HATE YOUR SEATS. ONE NIGHT I’M GONNA BREAK INTO A BUY BUY BABY AND TAKE A SHIT IN EACH SEAT. DIE DIE DIE. FUCK.

See.... I told you. Totally worth re-posting, right.

Fuck trophies. Yeah, I got four, each with their own matching Britax Marathons. I am so in love with Big Daddy Drew.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Wife of a Second Degree Black Belt

I watched Jeff as he tested for his karate promotion. I wanted to be there to support him, see him accept the challenges from his mentors, and earn his second degree black belt, or Ni-Dan ranking in his chosen sport.

Fortunately for both of us, the testing process goes in order of advancement. This meant his actual test was administered at about 10:00 at night after the other, less advanced students went first. This made the un-air conditioned dojo somewhat(?) cooler than it was earlier in the day. It was still just sticky, hot, humid and stinky in that un-air conditioned barn dojo, even that late in the night.

As gross as this sounds, there were beads of sweat rolling down my back into my La Perla, and I was just sitting there watching the action. Can you imagine how disgusting this was for the students who were fighting, doing kata and trying to impress the panel of judges without being winded and out of breath after each portion of the exam? It reminded me of hot yoga class where the room is intentionally heated to 100 degrees for the added schvitz. This studio was heated courtesy of mother nature.

This is what it looked like as Jeff earned his new title.

THANKFULLY, there was no option for smell-o-vision or climate-o-vision on my camera, but you can see the obvious signs of stress and heat related exhaustion in the images. Had the dojo had a/c or had the weather been more mild, it would have made this testing a bit less challenging.

No karate promotion can be captured in still images alone, so I shot some video at Jeff's request. He wanted to be able to go back and review his mistakes, and see what areas needed more work and take a closer look at the parts he aced.
He was so focused at the time, it will be nice for him to have these videos for reflection and posterity.

If you are anything like me, you won't know the difference between a good performance and an embarrassment. I had to rely on the reactions from the other folks around me to clue me in on the results. I felt like Paula Abdul on older episodes of American Idol. As a judge, I thought all the students did an awesome job out there, but obviously, I was partial to the father of my children. He did look exceptionally sexy out there as she sweated his ass off.

Regardless of the sweltering heat, Jeff did an amazing job. He did what was asked of him by the panel and committee, without any hesitation. He made his instructor proud. Not bad for a 55 year old, overweight guy who earlier in the daywas able to order breakfast from the senior citizen menu at Bob Evans. There are not many 55 year old guys that are as tough or have as much stamina as my husband.

As these images from the awards banquet dinner will show,
I am now the proud wife of a Ni-Dan. Not only can my husband break concrete with his bare hands, he can order off the senior menu too. How many other women can say this about their man?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The In State Stay-Cation Begins Now

I planned a little get-a-way for myself. I was getting burned out at Camp Helene and sometimes a needed break re-energizes everyone, the campers and myself included.

When Jeff told me that his International Karate event was being held in Troy, Ohio this weekend, I made arrangements to tag along. I knew good and well this was my chance to hang out in a cheap hotel room- just me, my laptop, a flat screen tv and a mini fridge. Two days of this kind of boredom was a welcome change from the non stop excitement and ever present chaos at Camp Helene this summer.

Keep in mind, I knew the accommodations would be way below average and even further below my own posh standards, but I did not care. Sadly, a two star, Fairfield Inn in Troy, Ohio was appealing in ways I can't describe. The thought of getting caught up on this blog, organizing my coupons, uploading photos to my scrapbooking files, taking a bath uninterrupted, and being alone with Jeff was more than I could pass up.

Not even the faint smell of old cigarette smoke and the overwhelming scent of febreeze could keep me from enjoying the peace in room 230. We must have gotten an upgrade because when I opened the drapes I saw we had a beautiful view of Wal-Mart and Burger King. It was heaven to me. I am sure my parents are reading this with evil grins- this is not the same ritzy Helene that refused to stay in a hotel unless they offered 24 hour room service and turn down service. I have come a long way, baby. Long way or desperation? You decide.

I was actually thankful for the over use of febreeze when Jeff got back from the dojo. Let's just say that old cigarette smoke and artificial spring rain showers are a refreshing alternative to the nasty stench of a gi top and pants drenched in sweat. I did not know the Troy, Ohio dojo was NOT AIR CONDITIONED. Omg, he was there all day sparring and doing kata in a sauna. It was 105 outside and about 100 inside the karate studio. I have never, ever smelled something so foul.

I found a plastic laundry bag, stuffed the gawd awful karate clothing into the bag, tied it off, locked it in the trunk of the car, and prayed that no one called the cops thinking there was a rotting dead body back there.

As we finished a delicious meal at Red Lobster (8 miles away) I was glad I came along for the fun. Date nights like this are hard to come by. I will take what I can get, when I can get it.

While my husband tests for his promotion, let the in state, stay-cation begin. I am ready to do absolutely nothing but enjoy the peace and quiet in room 230.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beat the Heat at the Library

Another triple digit day at Camp Helene. When it is this hot and beastly it is best to stay indoors. Unless the campers are restless, in which case, a field trip is necessary.

I got them dressed, and moved them out to the library. It is some good old fashioned air conditioned fun. Every other mommiein New Albany had the same idea today. Great minds think alike. Story time with Mr. Dave was standing room only. There was plenty of energy released with silly dancing,

audience participation, and singing. Mr. Dave read a few books and this Mommie was able to just sit on the perimeter of the rug taking photos and catching a 30 minute break from the kids and the oppressive heat.

The kids begged me to let them play computer games after story time ended. While all the other kids went home for lunch, my four plugged into a computer and brushed up on various reading and vocabulary skills.

This is a luxury for them and it makes me realize if we had a gaming system or computers for each of them at home, it would be a mistake. I let them have limited access to this kind of stimulation by taking them to the source via the library. Given a choice, I know they would be plugged into a screen 24/7 at home if it were an option. So far, it is not an option.

I scored some DVD's that I had reserved on line from home. I love that I can view the entire library system of movies and educational videos from the comfort of my laptop at home. Using my library card number and password, I can have my selections sent to the New Albany branch for pick up. It is so easy and it is absolutely, FREE.

As we got into the van at 12:30 this afternoon, this was the sighton the windshield console. Going north on Main Street it was already a humid and nasty 101 degrees.

I love the library for so many reasons, but this summer, it is the only way to beat the heat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peaches and Cream Hot Cereal

When it is a hundred degrees outside, the last thing you would think of making is hot cereal. Unless you must to prove a point to a five year old girl and have a few over ripe peaches to use up.

When Natalie went grocery shopping with me earlier this week, she asked me to buy no less than fifty different products she has seen in commercials. Of course, I am not one to purchase pre-packaged, over processed, over sugared and nasty food, no matter how delicious and healthy the advertisement says it is. Natalie tried though, she was very convincing in her pitch but she did not know who she was selling to, in fact, I took this opportunity to sell her on a few of my own ideas.

I used this shopping trip to read labels with her. Every time she asked me to buy something out of my comfort zone, I picked up the item, looked it over and explained why this would not be a good choice. Natalie got really interested in the why behind my logic, and it clicked for her. She knows we do not willingly choose items made with dyes, glutens, and preservatives. Now, she knows the why behind it. Up until recently she thought the store bought stuff was acceptable. I had a duty as a parent to educate her on my views about boxed food.

For example, she practically begged me to buy these overpriced, sugar laden, artificially flavored and colored, individual packets of peaches and cream oatmeal. First, I rarely buy individual packaging on anything- it is the least economical for a large family and it is wasteful in terms of volume. This particular product makes what most people perceive to be a healthy choice of whole grain oats, to be full of crap.

Here are the ingredients for the Quaker Peaches and Cream Oatmeal: Ingredients

If you were making peaches and cream oatmeal at home would you willingly add the bogus stuff that is in this product? No, you would not, because it is not necessary and it is in there to make it have a shelf life and a overwhelming sugary sweet and fake flavor.

The nutritional information shows this:
Serving size 1 Packet (35 g)

Amount per serving
Calories 130 Calories from Fat 20
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0.5g 2%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Potassium 95mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Soluble Fiber 1g
Sugars 12g
Protein 3g

I told Natalie right then and there that we could go home and make our own peaches and cream hot cereal together. It is so easy to do. It would be less sugar, all natural, gluten free and delicious. When a five year old girl can whip up 10 servings of a healthy recipe in about 4 minutes, why would you even consider buying the above mentioned garbage?

Here is what we did in our quest to eat a nutritious version of peaches in cream oatmeal without buying into the Quaker Oats hype.


Bob's Red Mill GF hot cereal
(I bought these at BIG LOTS, fyi)
whole milk
fresh chopped peaches

Natalie and I prepared the cereal according to the directions, but we substituted milk for water, added cinnamon and 2 TBS of sugar of the whole pot. While the milk mixture was coming to a boil, we washed and chopped the really ripe peaches from the Farmers Market. We cut them on a paper plate with a lip, so we added all the juice that escaped into the simmering liquid. Once boiling we added the hot cereal grains

and peaches and cooked until it was creamy and finished absorbing liquid. It smelled so amazing in the kitchen as the cinnamon, peaches and grains were cooking.

I drizzled a bit of maple syrup and milk over the top of each bowl and the kids could not get enough of this.

I made a video of their comments because it makes a valid commercial for Camp Helene's GF Peaches and Cream hot cereal.

I doubt if Natalie will ever ask me to buy the little packets again. Now she knows the difference, and this makes me proud.

PS- you know the ingredients in that Quaker product are full of shit when the spell checker on my computer highlighted about half of them before I completed this post. Not only do I not know what they are, they are not readily recognized by spell check either. I laughed at that too.

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