Wednesday, December 31, 2008

where's waldo?

Greg came home at a very reasonable hour yesterday. My gosh, it was still light. I left the girls with him while I went to the grocery store. When I got home the grass had been mowed and the leaves raked. I found these pictures on the camera. I don't know the whole story, but I'll tell you what I do know. This would be totally different than making something up. We'll make up a story on a different day.

Our trees do not drop their leaves in the FALL like everyone else's. They fall in December or January. Stephanie and Heather love to run and jump into a pile of leaves. This usually only happens once a year.

Greg asked the kids to help him rake the leaves.

Here's a big pile of leaves from just one side of the front yard. Can you find any children?

Let's get a little closer. See them now?

Oh! There you are!

And  you, too!

I love this picture. If they stayed long enough, would they have fallen asleep in their leaf sleeping bag?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ragamuffin day

Yesterday we had a ragamuffin day. The only reason the girls got dressed was to play in the backyard. But they scarcely matched. No comb saw the likes of their hair.

They ate a gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets & specially spiced fries (oven - not McD) outside on a sheet. Barefoot.

Their faces were stained red from the huge popsicles they got from the ice cream truck an hour earlier. Before lunch. But who was noticing.

And they loved every minute of this day.

Their mother may have still been in her pajamas when she took this picture at one in the afternoon. Just maybe.

fabulous things came my way

I wasn't the only one getting crafty this holiday season! I received an adorable gift from my brother and sister-in-law. Kim spent tons of time on this. 

Do you know what's inside the box?

It folds out to show all the goodness inside. There are pockets for cards, mini cards, and gift tags. There's a place for a glittery pen, some postage stamps, and a place to record special days so you don't forget to send a card.

Check out these cute cards and the pen with bling!

When I talked to Kim the other day I started asking her all kinds of questions about how she made it. She knew I was examining it short of taking it apart. She told my brother I was close to taking it apart to see how it was made. Am not! Especially since she offered to give me the measurements if I want. I don't know how she got the idea that I would take something apart to see how it is made ~ snicker, snicker.

Stay tuned ~ tomorrow I'll show you another fabulous gift.

Monday, December 29, 2008

who needs a template

For my birthday (way back when) I received a gift card in a cute little "purse" holder. My mind started whirling about the possibilities of making one of these cuties myself. I poked around to see how it was put together. It seemed it would be easy enough to undo the glue to make my own template.

I put it in my craft area and forgot about it for a little while. Until the other day. I needed a gift card holder and my eye happened to wander over to this. Ah ha! I'll just whip one of these out. I should have been worried right there at the thought I could whip out anything.

I took it apart. Easy enough. I laid it on an old folder and started tracing for my template. This was so easy. I'd be done in no time. Then I traced my new template on some pretty red cardstock. Cut, fold, done. Right? No way. When it was folded, parts of it didn't meet up the right way. I checked and rechecked it against the original purse. I made all my folds in the right places. 

Then I got out the ruler. The measurements on the red piece were not the same as the measurements on the original. Now, since I had traced it, I didn't know how that could be. So based on the measurements, I refolded the red one, made a new cut here and there, and eventually got it to work. But it was mangled. No problem, I'll just trace another one. 

So I retraced the original to make a new template because surely my tracing skills would be better the second time around. Confident this would work, I smiled to myself while I traced and cut the template. I even hummed a little tune as I traced and cut another red one. As I scored the fold lines I imagined how I would be embellishing this little beauty. I folded with flair ~ only to find out it didn't work. It didn't line up again. Frustrated, I threw it to the side to find something else to do. No humming. No smiling. 

You're probably asking yourself why I didn't use the first mangled red one to trace again. Good question. Didn't think of that at the time. 

So I looked around my craft area and found a template for a library card pocket. That's a good plan, I thought. If I can't make my own template, I'll use someone else's. This time everything lined up ok. But something about it wasn't right. So I threw that one into the pile of misfit crafts as well.

Oh! Then I remember the little tins I bought a while ago (maybe even a looong time ago) with the intention of scrapping or painting on them for gift card holders. I grabbed one of those and proceeded with gusto again. There was joy in my crafty heart again.

Ta da! This time my project turned out beautifully. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

little gourmet chefs

Heather asked for Play Doh toys for Christmas. We caved. Now she has new Play Doh toys and gobs of fresh doh. 

This morning, the kids have been little gourmet chefs with the Play Doh kitchen and ice cream maker. They are making food and playing restaurant. They are alternately getting along and screaming at each other. Unless there is blood or other physical bodily injury, I'm staying out of it. 

At first, they followed the cute little recipe cards. Then they moved on to making their own creations.

Right now, all is right with the world. They've got Play Doh under their finger nails and smiles on their faces.

Remember these yellow tubs of smooshy goodness. Remember the way it smells? There's just something about the texture and the smell. I hope my kids remember the smell and are taken back to a simpler, yet complexly creative time when they smell it as an adult. 


The beginning of this week was spent in a furious pace to get things finished up for Christmas. I left way too much until way too close to the last minute. Greg was in a furious pace of his own at work getting all those last minute packages delivered before Christmas. It's people like me, (who mail packages to a certain brother & family on the 23rd and want them there on the 24th) that make his job even harder. My apologies to the Arizona FedEx guy. 

But on Tuesday, I did slow down enough to let the kids help me make our annual loaves of pumpkin bread. They love to cook so much. I just need to take the time to let them help and teach them more about cooking. Now that they are getting older, I even make them read the recipe. The teacher never hangs up her chalk dry erase marker, people!

The much anticipated Christmas morning came and we were awakened with excited shrieks from the girls. Oh my, after only three hours of sleep, that can stop your heart! They were excited to see that Santa did indeed come through again. The cookies were eaten, the eggnog drank nearly all gone, and the reindeer ate their carrots with the leafy stuff on the end. I tell you, that old man must have bubble gut by the time the night over from all those cookies and dairy products.

For me, one of the best parts of Christmas is seeing the kids so happy ~ seeing their hearts shine through their eyes. 

I just want to bottle up that innocent joy and save it forever.

The kids opened each present with anticipation and liked what was in each one. 

They even liked the books I picked out for them. Heather was thrilled at the number of chapter books in her stack, especially the book from the Ready, Freddy series that she has taken a liking to. Stephanie is getting a little harder to please in the book area, but she seemed to like her stack as well. 

Besides the electronic diaries with secret picture passwords they asked Santa to bring, these are the toys they wanted most. Stephanie asked for a magnetic roller coaster thing. Apparently she's played with one before at school. Heather wanted Play Doh stuff. They were thrilled that their requests were granted.

She's setting fashion trends everywhere!

Later on we headed over to Grandma & Papa's house for the family gathering. The house was packed! The kids hollered, ran around, and got along well.

Here's the two smallest cousins ~ Gianna and Gavin. Gavin slept most of the time, but his best aunt ever fed him a bottle while he was awake. Gianna could not wait to open presents. She asked over and over if it was time.

Finally, it was time! All the kids were in charge of passing out the presents. Unless it's in cursive, we have another reader in the bunch now. 

The kids get a kick out of playing Santa and passing out the presents. 

Gianna even passed out presents when someone read the tag for her. She stopped to open only one or two on the way.

It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon. Greg and I even snuck in a little nap on opposites of the reclining couch after most everyone had left but us.

In the rush, I didn't take pictures of the things I made for Christmas gifts this year. Out of all of it, my favorite were the pajamas I made for the baby nephews (Gavin and Carter - in Arizona). They even match each other! Next year, I'm starting my projects earlier - like January.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This weekend we went looking at Christmas lights. We followed a list of houses decorated for a contest. Some were duds ~ like the single string of icicle lights that weren't even turned on. Some were amazing. 

We stopped along the way at Grandma & Papa's and made them give us sodas and hot chocolate. 

We ended at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants.

These days any family activity can be quickly turned sour by sister bickering or pissy children. Not this time. Everyone was in a joyous mood. 

Monday, December 22, 2008


The other night we were all in the car, driving here and there. After one stop:

Heather: Where are we going now?

Me: Crazy. Do you want to come? (I think I'm hilarious every time I pop that comment out of my mouth. My children do not share the same opinion.)

Greg: Yeah, I've got a map.

Me: Oh, I know the way by heart.

Greg: Been there before?

Me: Yup.

Greg apparently gets me. Poor Heather is still wondering where we were going next while Greg and I amused ourselves.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

that's just twisted

Parent/teacher conferences ended this week. My last conference was with the parents of one of my favorite girls. I know, I know, we're not supposed to have favorites, but I do. There are some children who just warm your heart. Cutie Pie is so sweet and such a good kid. The family is wonderful. If the planets were aligned in just the right way, the mom and I would be friends.

To the conference, they brought me a little Christmas gift. After the conference and before the line up bell rang, I opened the present. When we were inside, I thanked Cutie Pie for it. She asked me what it was. I told her it was soap.

CP: Soap?! My mom bought you soap? Why did my mom buy you soap?

Me: It's nice soap. It's yummy Bath & Body soap. I like it.

CP: Soap?!

She was disgusted and all I could do was laugh.

Apparently Cutie Pie thinks her mom is just as twisted as my soap.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

snow day

School was cancelled today ~ you know, for everyone's safety. 

The snow in our yard is melting and the kids obliterated the snow on the grass in the back yard this morning.

Skies are blue again right now.

Poor Greg still had to work. No snow day for him. 

On to Christmas crafting. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

it doesn't snow here

except for today.

In our area of town it started sometime this afternoon. There was no school for the kids because of parent/teacher conferences. I picked the kids up as soon as I could so they could play in it.

As soon as we were home the kids scurried to get their hats & mittens so their snow play could begin. It was a jumpin' for joy kind of day for them.

Stephanie and Heather rolled snow balls and made a couple of snowmen. For their limited exposure to the snow, they were quite versed in snowman construction.

The first snowman was smallish. They tried again and made a bigger one. The middle section was a little heavy. The girls employed their teamwork skills to heft it up on top of the bottom section.

They were so thrilled to be playing in the snow ~ in our front yard.

They made the faces toward the street so daddy would see them when he came home. Totally unprepared for this kind of event, I gave them some mini carrots for the noses. They used rocks from the yard for the mouth and eyes. I didn't get any pictures of the fronts. I stayed in Greg's good graces by not taking his camera out in the snow!

When they were done with the snowmen they had a rousing snowball fight with the neighbor boys. Right about the time I thought I might lose my left pinky from frost bite, I told the kids it was time to come in.

It is supposed to snow well into the wee hours of the morning. It's still snowing right now.

I got an email from the district that there is a possibility that we may have a snow day tomorrow. That would be so great! I could use an extra day for Christmas crafting! I've never, ever had a snow day before.

Greg might even have a snow day. They called the couriers in from their routes early today. Remember, it doesn't snow here, so many people do not know how to drive in the snow. Combine that with a huge delivery truck. The results can't be good. There were a couple of couriers who were stuck because of closed roads & other reasons. Sorry, Dave.

I'm voting for the snow day tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the christmas version

Stephanie's drama club play was last week. They performed a Christmas version of The Wizard of Oz. The scarecrow was replaced by a snowman. The tin man was replaced by a tin soldier. No Oz - just Santa. You get the idea. Stephanie was Glinda the Good Witch. A red costume with snowflakes was requested. I aimed to please.

The dress was nice and all, but the girl really made it shine! And she was gracious enough to thank me and compliment me enough to make my head swell.

She knew her lines perfectly. She also knew some other characters' lines as well. She recited them daily while I dried her hair in the morning. 

Half-way through the performance her microphone ran out of batteries. Once she realized this, she lowered it a little and raised her voice in an attempt to be fully heard. As if I hadn't already been proud enough, tears came to my eyes as she did what any great performer would do and let the show go on. The next day the kids do their performances again for two assemblies. Ironically, her microphone was not working again for the morning assembly. Oh! She was mad about this! But she went on.

So here's to hoping you find what you wish for over the rainbow. Remember, you've had what you needed all along.

Monday, December 15, 2008

trim the tree

We used to have a Christmas tree that came completely apart. Every year I spent hours putting that dumb tree together and winding the lights up and down the branches. Simply lighting the tree with sweeping strands of lights, like a garland, wasn't ok for me. Lights on every branch, it had to be perfect. It was a pain. Oh, and the lights had to be white. Such shimmering goodness!

One year I begged Greg to buy a pre-lit (and taller) tree. I got vetoed out of white lights by Greg and the kids. They wanted colored. We brought home this tree so tall it nearly touched the ceiling. It is prelit with colored lights. And it rotates! After we set the tree up that year I thought it was so lovely just the way it was and never got around to putting the ornaments on it.

Every year the kids help more and more with the ornaments. But still, I have a big part in it and make sure they are evenly spaced and such. This year I was sewing frantically to get Stephanie's drama club costume done, so Greg supervised the ornament placement. By supervised, I mean he helped unbox them and make sure the tree didn't fall on anyone. Stephanie and Heather put all of the ornaments on the tree themselves. 

Since they are small people, the ornaments rise no higher than about the arms length of our shorty 4th grader. I smiled when I saw it. This year it's their tree. We are leaving it the way it is.

You almost can't tell the top third is missing ornaments when the lights are on.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


In blogland, there's something going around where you post the 4th photo in the 4th file of photos on your computer. I actually had to choose the 4th file, then the 4th file, to finally get to the 4th picture. 

This is Heather in the green room at her 2006 dance recital. Actually, I think this was dress rehearsal because I'm pretty sure I didn't let her go on stage for her recital all tatooed up on her forearm.

Isn't she just the cutest? This was her first recital on the B.I.G. stage. Her previous one had been on a rinky dink stage. 

Coincidentally? She was 4 when this picture was taken.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

slowing down

At church, we are hearing a series about experiencing vintage Christmas ~ one that is slowed down so you can focus on the meaning of Christmas. 

Emily challenged her readers to slow down to notice the small things.

Do you think someone is trying to say something to me? 

Well, Emily's link party came and went. I was too busy to stop and notice in time to be on time to the party. I know, there's a whole lot that can be said about me in that last sentence alone. Just keep it to yourself.

I have noticed stuff lately, but I feel like I want to notice with purpose. So right now, I'll tell you a few things I've noticed. Then in about a week (we'll be flexible with the deadline) I'll come back and tell you what else I've seen.
  • I noticed Gavin's sweet face.
  • I noticed the tender way Wendy looks at him.
  • I noticed that while I was still on track break Greg started turning off one of the two fans in our bedroom when he left for work. He knew I was going back to bed and would be cold without him there.
  • I noticed the way the girls' eyes lit up when I made them hot chocolate when they thought I was never going to get around to it that night.
  • I noticed that Stephanie is a true performer even when her mic goes out (more on that later).
Stay tuned for more....

our house is turning a little more green

In my old age, I'm considering the environment more. That, and money, I guess. I bought the reusable bags for Target and the grocery store. I get pissy when the clerks forget to use them.

Recently I've been trying to use my Tupperware/Rubbermaid containers in our lunches more than ziploc bags. Instead of grabbing a baggie for the cut up apple in everyone's lunch, I put it in a container. We are saving money on bags. We are saving the environment. Notice that I did say try. It doesn't happen every time. I still use baggies. But I just use them less now.

Well, I was reading on someone's blog (we all know that's where trouble starts for me) about how they use cloth napkins to help save this little world of ours, plus a little money. That little light bulb above my head started glowing.

I bought some cute fabric and made little cloth napkins for the kids to take in their lunch boxes.

I made these small. They are about 6" square. They don't need to be full size for their lunch box. I was able to get 4 napkins out of a fat quarter. So these 8 napkins cost me about $6. They can cost way less than that, but I was buying the fat quarters at my favorite, sorta pricey, quilt store. Over time, they will save some money.

While I was at the store I showed the fabric to the kids and told them my idea. They were all for it. Quite excited, in fact.

Heather takes her lunch more often than Stephanie, so she was thrilled to see that I had slipped one in her lunch without telling her that I'd finished them. She thought it was the coolest. Maybe she will start a trend among first graders!

Next up ~ Greg's lunch box. Maybe some purple and orange fabric to match his uniform?

Friday, December 5, 2008

dream a little dream ~ scream a little scream

Imagine this.

You are awakened from a deep sleep by blood curdling screams. Screams like you've never heard from the person beside you.

This was Greg last night.

Apparently, I was screaming in my sleep. He woke up to find me trying to get out of bed. He was trying to figure out what was going on. Was someone in the house? Was someone hurting me? In some split seconds he determined there was no intruder and pulled me back into the bed. I do not remember what it was in my dream that made me scream. I don't even remember it being particularly terrifying. However, the movement of him pushing me back into a lying position entered my dream and I was being pushed onto a device with poisonous needles. The needles went into my back and I screamed even louder, more persistently, and tried harder to get out of bed.

Greg was doing his best to keep me down while I was fighting him and screaming more and more. In my dream his foggy face entered as he was repeatedly telling me, "You're alright." He soothed. I fought. I screamed. I couldn't figure out why he was telling me I was okay when clearly I was in danger because I had just been injected with poison. Sheesh, didn't he realize this? Slowly, his face became more and more clear and the screaming stopped just as suddenly as it began.

There he was, holding me down, trying to calm me down and wake me up. Meanwhile, I'm wondering why he's on top of me telling me I'm alright. What's going on here? It took a few minutes for the pieces to come together with the help of his explanation. It took a few minutes for Greg to catch his breath from all the excitement. Hey, what can I say? I know how to make a man's heart race!

I am not an easy person to wake from a nightmare. I am in deep. But even still, I seem very much awake to the observer. Then when I wake up I am confused by Greg's behavior. And he's just as much confused by mine.

One time I woke up to Greg sitting up in bed rubbing cramps out of my calves. Evidently I had been adamant in my sleep that I had cramps in my legs and needed help right away. I was so confused about what was going on, and still in a pretty foggy place, that I just rolled over and went back to sleep. He was so pissed at me for not even saying thank you. He didn't realize I had been asleep during my plea for help.

The good part about last night? A couple of things. Greg was worried that I may have woken up and scared the bejeezus out of the girls. Not so. Not a peep from them. Also, although I caused quite a ruckus it's nice to feel protected when I'm in danger ~ even when the danger is imaginary.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

a cousin is born

Wendy had her baby yesterday.

Gavin James
December 2, 2008

1:02 pm

8 lbs. 10 oz.

19 1/2 inches

Mom and baby are doing wonderfully. The rest of us? We are in love already.