Sunday, February 27, 2011

What's in a name?

Apparently, there is another blog out there with the name "Life makes me laugh." (Notice, laugh spelled correctly.) I swear I didn't know this when I picked my blog's name. Now, it looks like I totally copied her blog. I didn't. I swear. That darn Lafferty last name is getting me in trouble again. If you don't know, it's my married name. I took it when we got married and had no problems doing so. Gloria Steinem be damned. No, really, I consider myself a feminist, but not in the stereotypical negative connotation of the term that people like to throw around as an insult. That being said, I never felt the need to keep my maiden name when I got married.

So, Amy Randolph became Amy Lafferty. At first it was weird, especially for my dad. He's a doctor and once left a prescription for me at the front desk of his office. When I came to pick it up, they couldn't find it. Why? You guessed it, he'd put it under my maiden name. That was well past two years since our wedding day. Then, when I started working, it became weird because no one knew what my maiden name was. It was as if I'd completely absorbed into this Amy Lafferty person. Weird, but I got used to it.

Eventually, we had kids, and we had to name them. Molly was easy to name because I'd had her name picked out for as far back as I can remember. I don't even remember picking it, that's how long I'd had it stashed away. It just took a while for Cory to jump on that bandwagon, but Molly Lafferty has a nice ring to it. So, along came the sonogram on our second, when the technician told us we were having another girl. Here came the trouble. I LOVE names with the "L" sound: Lola, Lily, Lila, Lucy, Ella. But, not a single one of those goes with Lafferty. Can you imagine naming our child Lola Lafferty? (Ok, confession time: I just did a Google search for Lola Lafferty, and there are at least three out there. So, my apologies to you three!)

We searched high and low for a girl's name that would go with the name Lafferty. Trust me, it is harder than you think. I know there are some of you who have harder last names, and I don't envy your position at all. There's a rumor floating around in Cory's family that the family's last name used to be O'Lafferty, and it was changed when the family came over from Ireland. How I wanted to revert to the O! It would've made it so much easier. Lila O'Lafferty. So cute. But, for obvious reasons, that wasn't an option.

We finally settled on Charlotte Elizabeth Lafferty - quite possibly one of the longest names out there. I am already dreading teaching her to write her name. And, to make it even more difficult, I refuse to shorten Charlotte. I do not like the name "Char." My friend, Anne, says that it reminds her of Shar Jackson (Kevin Federline's pre-Britney ex). I do not want my child associated with Kevin Federline in any way, shape or form. And, while I love the shortened "Charlie," Cory can't stand that one. So, we call her Charlotte.

It makes you wonder how much names influence who we are or turn out to be. I attended the funeral of my Great Aunt Rose this past week. It was a lovely service, fit for the wonderful woman she was. But, a common thread throughout was how much she loved gardening. In fact, the priest went so far as to suggest she might be up in heaven tending God's garden right now. And, her favorite flower? The yellow rose. Who knows if she decided to start tending flowers because of her name or just happened across the hobby? Maybe it is just pure coincidence, but maybe it's a little influenced by name selection. So, here's hoping that my girls will be able to find lots of "laffs" in their life, because no joking about it, one of my favorite sounds in the world is their laughter.

To Rose: my grandpa's baby sister, my dad's favorite aunt, and a truly beautiful lady.

And, apologies to "Pollyanna" out there with her "Life makes me laugh" blog. I'm sure since you go by the name Pollyanna, if you ever run across my blog, you would see the bright side of this and think it is hilarious!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daddy's little girl

The other night, Cory and I got an evening out when both girls spent the night at Cory's parents' house. The next morning, we went to go pick them up. Now, I'm used to Molly not wanting to come home from either of her grandparents' houses. She loves spending the night - spending the night anywhere. When we try to convince her to come home, she will cry and pout. I'm fairly certain this is the result of grandmas playing constantly with her and letting her get away with more than mommy lets her get away with. (I promise, she will not fall asleep watching a movie, no matter how long you let her!) I try to see this as a good thing; it's a good thing she loves to spend time with her grandparents and that she can see them so frequently because they live so close. Some days it is easier than others, especially when she is crying and screaming, "I don't want to go home. Home isn't fun!" (Really? All those toys you got for Christmas and all those hours of tea parties and puppet shows? Not fun?)

OK, so, I've prepared myself for this reaction from Molly. I've even prepared myself for her to completely ignore me and keep playing. Yup, I'd readied myself for all of these possibilities. Here's what I hadn't prepared myself for: Charlotte, my baby girl, decided the only one she wanted was Cory. We walk in the door, and she immediately puts up her arms for Cory. Not me. In fact, when I tried to take her out of Cory's arms, she immediately contorted her whole body and strained, practically jumping from my grasp toward Cory. Again, I try to tell myself that this a good thing. And, really, I know that it is. I know it is a good thing that Charlotte perks up and starts squealing from the time she hears the garage door open until she sees Cory walk up the stairs. I know it's a good thing that I'm not living as a housewife in the 40s or 50s when men just didn't help raise their own children. I don't think I would've made a very good 50s housewife for a myriad reasons, really. (I'm sure they'll be more posts on my shortcomings in homemaking skills later, so stay tuned.)

My head knows it is a good thing. My heart has to be convinced. Here's what my heart is saying: I carried you for 9 months. I threw up practically every day of your pregnancy. You were 9 and a half pounds, and I delivered you. LOVE ME BEST!

Because she doesn't seem to care about these things when I try to remind her of them, I have to learn to be happy with the current state of things. I smile, eyes watering, and hand her back to Cory. And, she gets a ridiculously cute grin on her face. I will learn to accept my place in the family hierarchy for now. Because, I can take heart knowing that when she's a teenager, Cory will be scaring the crap out of her boyfriends (or, knowing Cory, grilling her boyfriends about their financial stability). When this happens, she will come crying to me ... and I will finally be the favorite.
Daddy and his little girl.

Ladybug Bonanza

My little Charlotte turned one at the beginning of February. And, here's the thing: I LOVE kid's birthday parties. I love going to them, and I love having them. I started doing big birthday parties with Molly's first. They seem to keep getting bigger. I'm sure it is completely my fault. Molly was really the first child of almost all of our friends, so her first birthday was pretty much just a party for all our friends and family. Because she was born on Memorial Day, her party was planned for that weekend. Memorial day weekend meant big backyard BBQ. The next year, more of our friends had kids, so there were more children at the party. We still did a backyard party; theme: Minnie Mouse. Last year, even more of our friends had kids, and all the kids were getting bigger, so we had a birthday party outside again (theme: butterflies). Now, as any of you who have kids or have ever been around kids know, kids take up five times the space of adults. I know, this seems completely illogical - "kids are way smaller than adults," you say. But, trust me, you could easily fit 30 adults in my house; 30 children - no freaking way! This is why the outdoor party is such a good thing. We just kick all the kids out the door to play in the backyard.

An example of the craziness that is a ton of kids inside for a birthday party. This was Molly's 3rd when we came inside briefly to open presents. Mass chaos, I'm telling you.
All of this background to explain Charlotte's party. She had the unfortunate luck of being born in February. This means, unless we do an igloo-themed party, we can't have it outside. But, we've only ever had birthday parties at our house, and I wanted to have Charlotte's first in our home. So, the guest list was cut way down. Serving dinner for everyone was nixed. We had to pare everything down. Well, that was the plan. Then, I came up with a theme: Ladybugs. Then, I Googled ladybug birthday parties. Then, I started planning. The ideas just came flying at me, and I couldn't stop myself! First, it was the cute red and white polka dot dress for Charlotte. Next, it was the ladybug cake. Then, red and black Twizzlers, kids' drink bottles painted with ladybug spots, ladybug crackers ... The list goes on and on. I had a blast! A friend recently said that I was amongst some fierce competition for kids birthday party planning. I swear, I don't mean to go crazy. But, everything is so cute, and I just have the most fun going with a theme. Again, maybe it's that creative outlet that I need. Although, I do have to admit, my brilliant idea to make a banner like one that I saw on Etsy was probably a bit ambitious. All the time and effort it took me - I'm pretty sure it would've been worth it to spend the 30 bucks to buy it from Etsy.

I am putting some pictures up here because I came up with so many of my ideas by looking at what other people had on the web. So, maybe other people can steal some of my ideas, just like I stole other people's. Or, you can laugh at my going overboard and tell yourself that I am completely insane. I KNOW my husband would agree with you on that point.

The banner turned out really cute, but would've been just as good had I just forked over the $30 for the one from Etsy. 

The sweets table. Red Twizzlers. Red and black Twizzler bites. The tablecloth was actually some fabric that my mom happened across at Hobby Lobby. 
The treat bags. I borrowed my friend's "Cricut" to cut out all the letters for these and the banner. I gotta say, that Cricut is pretty freaking amazing.
The spread. I found the cute plates and napkins here.

The ladybug crackers. Super cute and tasty.

We came up with this one on our own. We took cheese Bagel Bites, cut pepperoni into the shape of wings, then added an olive for the head. They were popular, clearly, I couldn't even get a picture before some were already gone.
The birthday cake. I saw a picture similar to this online and had my mom make it. Now, I am not able to bake or decorate anything that could look remotely like this. Luckily, I have a mom who can.

The birthday girl. Yes, I bought a bib to match the theme. Online shopping can be dangerous.

Now, all of this work and planning, and did Charlotte appreciate it? Well, no, of course she didn't. Did she have a clue that any of it was really for her? No. But, it made me happy to do it for her (well, let's be honest, a lot of it was just because I was having fun). So, how did she repay me? She got up that night at 3AM and decided that she was up for the day and mommy should be, too. Ahhh .... paybacks are a bit@#.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The "duplexity" of my life

Ever since I can ever remember, my husband has always talked about owning rental property someday. I would always push it off as something for the future. Or, rather, something to talk him out of in the future. Well, somehow, that future came up much faster than I thought it would. More specifically, it came up last June. Cory's boss owns several (in the range of 20) rental properties, so Cory started picking his brain about it. Constantly. When a duplex came up for sale in a neighborhood where his boss already owned some properties, he told Cory about it. That's when the future hit the present.

Now, admit it, when you hear the term "landlord" you immediately think "slumlord." Or, at least a pot-bellied, balding, cigar-smoking, jerk of a guy who could care less about his tenants or the fact that they have no heat. Well, maybe it's just me, but that is the image that pops into my head when I hear "landlord." There's no way I wanted to be that guy, or have my husband be that guy. But, shockingly, Cory and I did not have the same ideas about the whole landlord/rental property concept. Cory, if anyone knows him, is all about the money, and only sees it as an investment. I was very nervous about this whole endeavor, but I relented, and we bought our first duplex last June.

Now, this thing was quite a mess. At least, that's what Cory told me. He didn't actually let me see the thing when we first bought it, because he didn't want me to freak out. So, he spent the better part of two months cleaning, painting, laying tile, installing new vanities and fixtures, laying new carpet ... the list goes on and on. Every night, after the girls would go to bed, he would head up to the duplex to work on some other project. And, to be honest, he didn't do all of that himself. But, he's somehow come up with a network of people he knows who can do all this stuff for him. It's rather amazing how many people he knows, really. (On a complete side note, we have been in a random Chile's in Phoenix, while on a trip for a bowl game, when someone waved over to Cory to say hi. And we were hiking in the middle of the Australian Outback when we hear someone come up behind us calling his name. No joke. This guy knows people everywhere.) Anyway, so, he's spending all this time working on the duplex, and I'm not particularly happy about being home alone every night, but the thing is: he loves it. Absolutely loves it. And, when the duplex was rented within 3 days of posting it? Yeah, he was sold. This was the thing for him.

All of that background to tell you that we have once again entered into the world of duplexes. We bought another one last month. He's been spending his time, and that of his network of workers, once again, painting, cleaning, tiling, and carpet-laying. Here's the thing about it: each side of the duplex has more square footage than our own house. And, while Cory's spending all this time and energy (and money) fixing up the duplex, our house has thread-bare carpet, broken tiles, and a toilet that only works every other month. A true example of the old "cobbler's children have no shoes" adage. Well, now, one side is finished. And, ready to be rented. He's quite figuratively the kid on Christmas morning, with eyes shining bright, talking about his newest venture. I can't say that I've been completely converted to the "landlord" mentality, but if it makes him so happy, I can't really fight it. However, if he starts smoking cigars and growing a pot-belly, no doubt about it, I will put my foot down on that landlord hubby of mine. And, now: time to start renovating side two.

The newest duplex.

The bathroom.

The kitchen.

He even put Molly to work "cutting" up carpet. (FYI - it was one of her plastic knives from her play kitchen in case anyone is concerned that we make our children do manual labor with sharp instruments.)

Molly's fabulous paint work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jumping in.

It seems as if everyone I know has a blog. And, I love them. I love to read them. I love to know what's going on in my friends' lives. I love to have things to peruse on my phone as I sit in the preschool parking lot waiting to pick up my daughter. I've even ventured into the world of reading the occasional blog of people I don't know. With all that said, somehow I never had the desire to have my own blog. Until now. I'm not sure what changed in me; it was probably a multitude of things. I saw a friend's blog about how she created a book of her blog posts about her son. I love that she will have that to look back on. Or, I saw a friend's blog about how she is just getting married and all excited about starting her new life. It made me remember what I was like way back then. Or, it could be that I finally figured out Google Reader (which my cousin showed me all about 1 year ago) and now find it so easy to find all my blogs. Anyway, whatever the reason, I decided that I was going to try it out.

I'm not sure what this blog is going to turn into. It could just be musings on my life. It could turn into an endless supply of pictures of my adorable children (my own personal bias showing there). It could turn into a journal that I can look back on and remember. Or, maybe it could turn into too much work and I quit. (Let's hope not for the last). I was a journalism major in college, and have always loved writing. My husband does not understand it, but I truly LOVED the writing part of research papers, articles, and whatever else I had to do. Nowadays, the only writing I do is once a year for our annual Christmas letter. And, it's a little ridiculous how excited I get about doing that. Again, my husband laughs at me for my giddiness. So, this can perhaps be my creative outlet. A way to use that dusty, cob-webby part of my brain. Considering my brain is used mostly for singing along with the Dora theme song or figuring out creative ways to say "no" without using the word "no," this will probably be a welcome change.

So, come on with me. I'm jumping in. CANNONBALL!