Monday, November 21, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

I scored a roasting pan for $5 at Cost Plus World Market the other day.  It came in such a nice box that I really didn't want to throw it away... So I brushed the box with a few coats of white paint and cut out some holes to turn it into a little play house for Caiden.  I feel like Made by Joel would be proud... He is the king of simple play things.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm realizing that I'm as bad as my kids.  They steal any box leftover over from a trip to Costco and fill it with all sorts of random things.  I usually find a few milk boxes with lots of holes and scribbles all over them kicking around the house with random objects rattling around inside... I finally work up the courage to try to throw them away and I get very heated objections!  Well... Waste not, want not, right??

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Love Note From Elliott

Let's be honest: There are lots of reasons to not want to have kids be a parent.  You see your friend's kids being monsters, you notice the lack of order in their house, you see how tired the parents are and how annoying it might be to have to be consistent all the time.  These things are true.  Being a parent is hard, dedicated work.  Being a parent magnifies all your faults and forces you to look within and change, it forces you to practice selflessness (and nobody enjoys that!).

But you know what?  For all its hardships, being a parent is worth it.

Especially when you get little love notes like this:

("I love you Momma, I love you as much as a lion loves his cubs"--Elliott, age 6)

I happened upon this love note left for me and my heart felt like it might burst.  It feels like that now as I look it over again.  I love my little munchkins and I am so thankful for them!  I learn so much about our Creator through my relationship with my kids and I know I've grown a lot as a person as well. But sometimes its just a simple, selfish enjoyment.  I love these little notes!  I love having these two little people around me who love me so unquestioning.  And plus, they're just so darn cute!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5

More of my thoughts on this topic here... 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Santa's Busy, Are You?

Have you gotten the Christmas planning itch, yet?  Word around the web seems to be that its almost time to break out the Christmas music, which is exactly how I've been feeling.
I haven't quite pulled out decorations or Christmas CDs, but I've started planning.  I have my notebook scribbled in and gift ideas floating around in my head and on paper.

Giverslog has put out a clever week by week holiday organizer printout where you can schedule in from now until Christmas what needs to be planned and done in time for Christmas.  Find the printout here.

Another holiday-esque thing I'm contemplating is this Maple Walnut Custard Pie.  It sounds amazing.  

I always enjoy hand making at least some of my gifts, but hesitate sharing them here in case of spoiling the surprise for the recipients.  But I've resolved to share at least a few of my favorite DIY present ideas.

What about you?  Any Christmas aspirations up your sleeve?  How do you prepare for the holidays?  Any favorite "go-to" Christmas gifts you'd like to share?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 Minute Pillows

In one of my feeble attempts at decorating a few years back, I bought three couch cushions; two of them didn't have covers.  I always meant to find some covers or make some covers, but I suffer from a few diseases that prevented me from doing that.  I have indecisiveness disease, fear of picking design elements disease, fear of the unknown process disease, procrastination disease, and lastly, inability to act unless certain of procedure disease.  All of these things prevented me from using my pillows, so there they sat, stored, for a few years until last night.  I happened upon this 5 Minute Simple Pillow Tutorial that suddenly pushed me over the hump (many humps) and into the sewing room (dining room table).  I think you find the tutorial great for people suffering from the "inability to act unless certain of procedure" disease (ITAUCOPD).  Kinda gives you that little "umph" to try it, huh?

I used a (vintage?) table cloth for the rectangular pillow and an old sham fabric plus miscellaneous scraps for the two square pillows.  This was a fun project and additionally, allows me to report to my friend, Toni, that I have indeed done some sewing lately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DIY Treasure Hunt Party Game

Caiden was very specific about the details of her 4th birthday party.  She specifically requested to have her presents hidden so she could have a treasure hunt with a treasure map to find the gifts.  I thought I could make that happen.  It turned out to be a big hit with all the kids and made present time a lot more fun, too.  Once they found the gifts, all the kids helped lug the loot to a central area where they made a pile and all circled around to open them up.  Nobody even seemed sad that Caiden was the only one to get to keep the treasure!  They all seemed to have a sense of pride in finding those gifts and were just too happy to be a part of making it all happen.

To do this yourself, simply: Hide something, leave clues, and make a treasure map.

All you really need is:


You might also want, but don't necessarily need:


I put 4 clues into white envelopes and taped them in the locations pointed out on the map (this was for a 4 yr. old, so we kept it really simple).  Once it was time to hunt, I told everybody to put on their eye patch (for effect) and handed them the map, instructing them to find the clues and read them to find out where the treasure was hidden.

I made sure to make it clear that the treasure they needed to find was the birthday girl's presents and she needed everybody's help to find them!

Our map led from the 'START' words to a corner in the fence where they found the first clue; it said, "Look in another corner for your next clue." Then, "Look under something blue that you can walk up." Then, "Go to a girl's room to find another clue." Finally, "Look inside a box that is old and is outside to find the treasure."

I hope you try this and make sure to take lots of pictures and let us know how it goes!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Polaroid Posting"

From a summer outing in Berkeley where we visited the Berkeley Art Museum for a food festival.

Above: Elliott and Caiden in front of Four Barrel's history of coffee blackboard set up for the festival.
Below: Me, Caiden, and Elliott on the corner near the museum ready for an adventure!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Future Tattoo Artist?

What do you think?  Will Elliott make it as a tattoo artist someday?  I'm impressed with his "Ed Hardy-esque" skull contrasted next to a heart with an arrow through it...  Elliott's got skillz--watch out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DIY Piñata

What is more fun than hitting something as hard as you can and then being showered with loads of candy you then get to eat??  Not too much, I'll tell you that.  Having a pinata at your party is pretty cool.  Having a pinata you made yourself is even better! 

Here's what you'll need:

1) A large balloon
2) Newspaper or grocery store ads cut into roughly 1 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches long
3) Liquid Starch (or a mixture of flour and water works, too)
4) Paint and/or tissue paper to decorate it

What to do:

1) Blow up your balloon to your desired size.
2) Pour the liquid starch into a wide and shallow container such as a pie tin.
3) Submerge paper strips into starch and begin to place on top of the balloon overlapping the pieces as you go until you cover the entire balloon, leaving an opening around the top of the balloon where the knot is. (This is where you will insert the candy.)
4) Let the first layer dry. (Be careful not to leave it to dry in the sun if it is very hot or the balloon will expand and crack your paper mache.)
5) Do 2 more layers going in opposite directs, drying in between layers.
6) Once dry, hold the top of the balloon while making a slit in the rubber and the balloon will pull away from the paper mache as it deflates.
7) Paint the piñata and/or glue strips of tissue paper in a pattern around your balloon to decorate.
8) Fill with candy.
9) Make a small hole on both side of the balloon near the top where you can put a rope through. (I leave the candy filling hole open since it is at the top and doesn't really matter)
10) String up your pinata and let it be smashed to smithereens!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Mom Moment

Today my job pretty much resembled that of a bridesmaid.  There I was, sitting on the couch, trying to recover from a Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout (which is excellent, by the way) when out tromps Caiden dressed like this:

I was compelled to take her picture to record this amazing presentation and immortalize it in history before I let her go back to playing her imaginary game.  She then took apart a very carefully built lego ship her brother had built.  I scolded her and explained how I didn't think brother would appreciate her wrecking his creation, so she somehow managed to put it all back together again.

Then the pirate princess had to use the bathroom.  "This dress is really fluffy!" she cried from the bathroom as I hurried in to help.  "I got it!" she yelled just before I got there.  And there she stood with all of her layers of skirts and capes held up in her little arms just like a wedding gown.  "...Ummm... Can you help me get on the toilet?" she asked.  So, I lifted her up and there she sat, clinching her toes to try to keep her plastic heels from falling off.  I left.  Pretty soon I heard the sound of the plastic heels clopping around on the bathroom tile and hurried in to make sure she could wipe.  There she stood in front of the toilet with all the layers of her gowns still in her arms.

"I'll do it." I said.  And I did.  The end.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Caiden Keats

Something crazy happened when we all weren't looking.  Caiden turned four!  I never gave her my permission to do that!  But time keeps on flying by whether we want it to or not, right?

I enjoy watching my kids grow, though, and it is a pleasure to see what kind of lady she is turning out to be.  One thing I know for sure is that my girl is decisive!  She gave me lots of very specific details whenever we would talk about her birthday and I would judiciously and furiously be typing them into my notepad on my phone so that I wouldn't forget.  This is not the kind of girl that tells you details lightly.  She means what she says!

She told me that first of all, she wanted a party hat--a rainbow colored, cone shaped birthday hat.  Also, a pink cake, please, with white frosting and sprinkles!  The next thing she hit me with was the fact that she wanted her presents hidden and wanted to have a treasure map and do a treasure hunt to find them!  When asked by her Aunt what colors she would want for her party, her reply was, "Orange, yellow, red, blue, black, gray, and white."  There is no room for error here, people!  She was even specific about what she wanted to wear on the day of her party.  In the morning, she wanted to go get donuts with Dad and wear regular clothes, "And then later right before the party starts I'll wear my princess dress."  She ran around her party clickety-clackety in her plastic high heels and told me she would wear her crown until it was time to have cake and sing and then she would put on her party hat.

Well, we did the best we could and started inviting people and as I was talking to Caiden about the people, she says, "MOM. I don't want a lot of people at my party!  I get nervous when there are too many people!"  So we didn't have too many people and the party turned out super fun!

We barbecued hamburgers and hotdogs, had lots of macaroni and cheese, destroyed a homemade pinata, went on a treasure hunt for Caiden's present, played dress up, ran around, and had cake and icecream.

At the end of the day, Caiden declared, "That was a FUN, FUN, FUN, party!!!"  I asked her what her favorite part of the party was and she said, "The part where you were singing happy birthday to me and I was coughing and trying not to cry!"  Earlier she had confided in me that she kept coughing during the song to keep herself from crying.  I think it makes her nervous having everyone looking at her!

My baby girl is FOUR!  What a happy, intense, and laughter filled four years you have given us, Caiden...  You make our family kind of magical and fill our home with glitter and joy.  Happy Birthday, Caiden Keats!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Watch Out, World: Elliott's in 1st Grade!

Problems uploading have delayed this post...
From August 30, 2011. 

My Elliott is a worrier if ever there was one.  He worries about anything and everything you could possibly imagine.  So, of course, I was a little hesitant to talk to him about starting public school for
the first time ever (we homeschooled him for Kindergarten).  But, what do you know, he wasn't worried at all!  Only excited--full of hope and anticipation.  This is Elliott on his first day of school: anxious to see what its all about.  (What a blessing, thank you to those of you who were praying for him for this transition!)
Elliott's first day of first grade was today.  All things considered, he did great! He only cried once...  The only problem is that although his first day began with hope and excitement, now that he knows what's what, the anxiousness and worry has set in for him. We're talking it out and praying with him, encouraging him.  He could use your prayers, too!

There also happens to be a very large hole in our kitchen ceiling (and water falling out of it...) so we decided to have dinner out tonight, partially in honor of our crippled kitchen and partly in celebration of
Elliott making it through his first day of school!  Just like the day he was born, Elliott had a lot of people rooting for him today and we couldn't be more proud of him!
Good job, Elbow! We love you! Keep on punching your fears in the face and we'll be right here for you to help you through it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Time vs. TIME

As a stay at home mom, I spend a lot of time with my kids, but sometimes when you spend all day every day with someone its easy to take that time for granted and be so busy with cleaning, calculating, organizing, and running a household that you don't spend a lot of quality time with them. I find that to be true for me.  Recently, I've been noticing opportunities to pour into my children by spending real time with them.  If I'm REALLY honest with you, I would have to admit that a lot of times it does not sound very appealing at all to sit and play pretend or do the things that they would like to do.  In fact, its often the last thing I want to do.  I love accomplishing things like organizing and cleaning and I would much rather be doing that.  So I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit has been ways and reminding me to do things with my kids--and those things have ended up not being painful at all, but have actually been extremely enjoyable.  As I've been being obedient to those promptings I've ended up feeling great knowing that I am not just spending lots of time around my kids, but I am actually spending quality time with my kids.  I love that!

Sometimes, giving them of my time comes when I see them playing in the living room after dinner and I decide to engage with them instead of flopping down in exhaustion because, "Hey! They're already occupied!"  The other night it was as simple and spontaneous as grabbing a bag of pipe cleaners and making them each a crazy hat which then morphed into messing around with some balls outside, which then morphed into them getting creative with pipe cleaners on their own... All before dessert.  I loved it! And they did too.

{Elliott received "antlers" and Caiden received "bug antennae"}

Other times, giving my time to them has consisted of something I like to do, like organizing!  We organized Elliott's legos so we could rebuild some of his old models whose pieces had become jumbled together--so fun!  Then we built a police van, a police car, and a helicopter.  I loved it!  And they did too!

The more time I spend doing things like that with those munchkins, the easier it becomes and the more I realize that I love hanging out with them and spending time with them.  Just sitting quietly--not multi-tasking--just loving them.

That's what we've been up to (so I just wanted to share) learning to love each other more purposefully.  That's what my life here is looking like right now.  And I'm loving it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Road Trip // July 2011

Dave and I were blessed to have a weekend away this past week!  One of our good friends got married on Saturday.  Dave's cousin offered to fly up to Berkeley to hang with the kids while we drove to San Luis Obispo for the rehearsal and wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding and a beautiful weekend.  Dave and I have had very few of these alone times since the kids came 'round, so it was pretty special.

The wedding took place on the bride's family ranch, the reception was in an old barn on the property.  It was beautiful and fun.  We were so blessed to be a part of this special day for our friends Brandon and Emily.  We can't wait to see how God uses them and their marriage.

This was the rehearsal at the bride's parent's beautiful home.

This is Dave's new buddy, Oakley. (Dave made him an honorary groomsman)

Brandon gave each of the groomsmen a sweet pocket knife, so I guess they were trying to show off their tough side here.

It was great to see so many old friends.

Emily was an absolutely stunning, radiant, and gorgeous bride!!

And in between wedding stuff, there was lots of coffee, of course, and good fellowship.

And lots of driving...

It was a great trip!  Now back to real life!