Friday, April 30, 2010

Lilac Love

I have a few very special "spring memories" of growing up. One would be when the rhubarb and asparagus poked through my mom's garden, another is climbing maple trees to spy on robins' nests, and the third would be the blooming of the lilacs. It is an EVENT I look forward to every year. The smell is exquisite, and no candle gets anywhere close to the smell of real lilacs in bloom. Wednesday I got a few pictures of my mother-in-law's, they've been out of town nearly three weeks and hopefully they'll still be blooming when they get back on Sunday. If not, I have pictures. ;o)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The List that is Craig's

In the free category:

Josh scored this baby for me and it's headed to the boys' room after it gets a coat of chocolate brown . . . maybe a hardware change too, but maybe not. They have a big walk-in closet, so it will be in there, and not really seen. Plus they're known for bludgeoning/stickering furniture, so I don't want to invest too much time and money in it. ;o)

~~~Next in the "2 for $20" category these nice and sturdy end tables. I admit to having a love for legs, the stouter and curvier the more I like them. ;o) Although it does not make the painting any easier. These I envision as nightstands for Josh and I. Our bedroom set originally came with one, and it has always bothered me to not have a matching pair. I'm thinking either an antique white or a pale blue. I've got this developing plan in my head of farmhouse meets shabby chic . . . We'll see. ;o)


And lastly in the "my husband thinks I'm crazy" category, a tiny glimpse of transformations happening to what was a ridiculously ugly $40 desk (those legs and curves sucked me in again). ;o) The lighting wasn't best for a picture, but it's the light blue I'm thinking of using on the end tables. Hopefully I'll finish this up in the next few weeks . . . I am currently awaiting Josh's help in cutting out a new bead board back. I am REALLY loving this desk. I'm hoping to find a spot for it in my bedroom (may have to kick out the computer). ;o)


And because it helps to have other eyes out there looking for me let me know if you come across any old locker baskets (less than $5), white ironstone pitchers/platters (less than $10), or big fancy frames for pictures or mirrors (less than $20--don't care what color as long as it's spray-paintable). I've got some ideas . . . ;o)

Monday, April 26, 2010


Technically speaking, we are at the last two weeks of school, with a unit on Antarctica left. I sound like I'm on top of things don't I? The truth is . . . I'm out of steam.
My lesson plans:
It's cold.
Penguins live there.
Let's watch "Happy Feet."
We're at a point where I feel pretty happy with what we've learned and accomplished, and these last remaining spelling tests, lessons, etc. just feel like I'm beating a dead horse. But then Jillian Michaels' words echo in my head "The end isn't where you give up, the end is where you finish strong-ong-ong-ong!!!" (how she sounds in my head with echo enhancement) Or something to that effect. (Although Jillian and I haven't spoken since the Monday after Easter, but that's a whole different topic entirely). :oP
Our days have been rather uninspiring. My brain feels like it's on a merry-go-round. Being sick this weekend has left me feeling overstimulated with sounds/lights/movement. Ever since my surgery I have had phases on and off like this. I'm not quite sure why, but I think there's some fluid in the ear that can hear, making it harder to hear, making me try harder . . . fatigued senses?? I'm not sure if that's a real concept, but sums up how I feel quite nicely.
Anyway. All that to say, I'm ready for a break. Josh is done with finals next Tuesday, and we'll limp along pretending we are doing school each day until I can without guilt declare, "SCHOOL'S OUT!" We're almost there. I think I can, I think I can . . . ad infinitum. (that's my fancy way of channeling Buzz Lightyear and his "To infinity and beyond!") (cue echoes) ;o)

Friday, April 23, 2010


My favorite "pick-me-up" as of late . . . a hot cup of Bigelow Vanilla Caramel tea (with sugar and milk of course!) and a turtle pecan biscotti. A blissful experience indeed. The biscotti I found at Wal.mart, unfortunately they don't carry this tea, so that I usually get at Sa.ver (and the French Vanilla is also very good). I always think of biscotti as more a "coffee thing" but it goes quite well with tea too. And hey, there's only 110 calories, which is about what a piece of fruit has . . . Apple--bicotti--apple--biscotti . . . So sorry apple, you lose. (See, decision-making made that much easier). ;o)

And also, I got the ingredients to make my most favorite spinach artichoke dip--it starts out with fresh spinach which you cook down. Yes, it's a bit more time consuming but it is AWESOME. If only one could live on chip and dip alone. And tea. Head here if you're in need of a good dip recipe.

We're enjoying a dark and rainy day here. Just perfect for tea . . . biscotti . . . hot dip . . . hmmmm. ;o)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four Months Old

A year ago this week we were learning a new little one would be joining us . . . How a year flies!!! My poor little guy is sharing some sort of cold or maybe allergies with his sisters and brothers, making him not quite his happy-go-lucky little self. However, four months finds him--
Nearly accomplishing the back to tummy roll
Sucking fingers, thumbs, fists, or whatever is closest
Starting to grab toys/direct them to his mouth
A little paper monster (puts that in his mouth too . . .)
LOVING getting those poopy diapers changed

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The bane of my existence

Notice anything? Worn. Out. Knees. And sadly, this isn't all . . . there are more, these were just in arm reach when I was arranging for a shot. ;o) These are all Osh.Kosh jeans, which averaged me about 4 months of hole-free wear. That's actually pretty good around these parts. The only better pair of jeans I have found would be a pair of Wrang.lers that Jackson once had. Those went a whole year before getting a hole. (And believe me, I've tried nearly every brand out there!) The Osh.Kosh ones were $12 a pop. I know Se.ars (and maybe Shop.ko too) has a program where they'll replace them free if they get worn out. I might look into that more . . .
Does anybody else have this extensive of a problem? What to do with all that denim . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Josh!!!

Marissa wrote Josh a song in honor of his birthday today. She's a bit shy to have me record her and consequently you can't quite understand all the words, but I typed them out below (I'm not going to lie, it was hard to keep a straight face through this one). ;o)

Title: Happy Birthday Daddy

Written and Sung by: Marissa, age 8 1/2 yrs

Daddy, Daddy you are 31, you are 31

Daddy, Daddy you are 31, you are 31 today.

You used to be 30 but not any more

And now you're five feet seven inches off the floor

(me here . . . um, yeah he wishes!!)

Daddy oh Daddy you are 31 today

You used to drink water but today is milk

You look more handsomer in your belt

Daddy, Daddy you are 31, you are 31

Daddy, Daddy you are 31, you are 31 today

You're a lot more stronger I have to say

Your love and happiness make me really really gay

(me again, she means "happy gay")

Daddy, oh Daddy you are 31 today

All days were normal but not this one

'Cause we are celebrating Grandma and Grandpa's youngest son

Daddy Daddy you are 31, you are 31

Daddy, Daddy you are 31 you are 31 today

Oh you are 31 today

Yes you are 31 today

(In the event you didn't catch that, he's 31. Today.) ;o)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Family Fun Day

We had a great day in the Omaha area on Saturday making use of our "memberships"--one to the Om.aha Chil.dren's Mu.seum and the other to Font.enel.le Personally, I do believe Lincoln's museum is better, however, it's always fun to have a change of pace. Josh mainly got this membership because it gets us in free to so many wonderful science museums too. We've never been to Font.enel.le For.est before, but really enjoyed it. They have an "outdoor classroom" that is similar to the one in Nebraska City . . . these are sooooo cool. If I had a big backyard I would want my own outdoor classroom. ;o) There are miles and miles and miles of trails . . . we are looking forward to exploring more on future visits.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Vacation Planning Primer

As our school year winds down for both the kids and for Josh my mind has turned to vacation planning. This year we have a little nursing baby with us, so driving across the country doesn't seem the best idea. Instead we are hoping to do two shorter distance trips, a quick jaunt to Chicago the end of May, and then Mt. Rushmore some time in July. I thought I would pass on some of my best tips for having a GREAT time on a little budget.

1. A no-brainer for our family . . . DRIVE don't fly. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to fly a family of seven? We could buy another vehicle for that amount! Besides that, we really like driving. We get to see so much more of the country that way . . . what's that saying, something about "life is the journey, not the destination." The same is true of vacation. ;o)

2. Pack picnics. On the way to Connecticut last year we had three days of driving. We ate out once. Some of our favorite memories are of picnic-ing at rest stops. We packed "extra-special" picnic fare, like egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad (yep, I bought the biggest jar of mayo and went to town!). . . going beyond your plain ol' sandwich. And when we did eat out, we planned this meal. I researched a restaurant that was unique to the Niagara Falls area, "The Silo" and we have a great memory of dining out overlooking the Niagara River--rather than if we had just picked a Micky D's somewhere. ;o)

3. Priceline your hotels. We had never tried this before, but it is AWESOME. You enter the town you want to stay in, pick how many stars you want your hotel to have (I think we chose 3 1/2). That way you are guaranteed to get a pretty nice place. Then you enter what you are willing to pay. First we tried $30 . . . but none of the hotels bit on that one. ;o) I think we ended up paying right around $40 for a $130 hotel room! The bad thing, once a hotel accepts you offer, you HAVE to go there or lose your money. But if you are choosy on the amount of stars your hotel has, it shouldn't be an issue. We stayed at some nice places, full-out breakfasts, pools . . . One place in South Bend, Indiana had THE BEST bed I have ever slept in.

4. Take advantage of your free stuff. FACT: EVERYTHING costs money. A zoo membership you have here gets you in free or reduced somewhere else. We discovered our children's museum membership gets us in free to lots of science museums across the country. This year we also have a membership to SAC/Fontanelle Forest and this gets us in free to other nature centers across the country. Do some research! We'll be hitting the science museum in Chicago this year.

5. Have a father-in-law who has a baseball ticket source. Thanks Bears for getting Josh tickets to the Cubs/Cardinals game in Chicago . . . he's on cloud nine. ;o)

Overall, have a plan and stick to it. RESEARCH everything you want to do. Plan a lot of cheap/free activities and maybe one big splurge item (that was our New England Aquarium outing last year). We let the kids pick ONE souvenir type item. But they found a lot of free souvenirs too . . . a dead crab in Plymouth Rock . . . buckets of shells along the beach in Connecticut . . . ;o) It makes me happy to hear my family reminisce about last year's trip--some of the best memories are the ones that cost us nothing. What about you? Do you have any great vacationing tips to share? I'm always looking for more! ;o)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spoils of the Weekend

This picture from my mom--the kiddos and their fort--made from a tarp, branches, and pine needles. They spent the good portion of Friday down at my parents' home working on this. Saturday, Josh took the kids to Mah.oney Sta.te P.ark where they grilled burgers and then he took them on a nature scavenger hunt. They even had a sheet of paper of things to look for and cross off!! And what did they find? Well . . .
(If you're thinking that's a stick, guess again . . . it's a SNAKE!!! Marissa was bummed she couldn't bring the little guy home.) And then their fun Daddy took them to the SAC Museum!
And where was I? Hint:
It was home school convention time. I'm pretty much set for books for the next school year. I had a great two days getting refreshed and as always find myself reassessing everything we do and looking for ways to improve. I was reminded of the fact that good parenting is intentional. We all have these grand ideas, but the thing is, they don't magically happen. Sometimes, the day in and day out, year after year intensity of this thing called parenting is downright draining. It's easy to let laziness and even apathy creep in at times. I NEED days like this to get me regrouped so I can "keep on keeping on." Too bad there wasn't something like a monthly convention . . . (Then again tempting myself with bright and shiny new books on a monthly basis probably wouldn't be a good thing). ;o)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Some Parenting Advice--

1. When looking for furniture for your children's rooms, particularly boys, although it does apply to girls too, purchase sensibly. I know, I know, those Pot.tery Ba.rn beds are beautiful, as are the rooms they put together, but let's be frank. REAL children do not live in those rooms. Take that beautiful bed and imagine it bludgeoned with toy hammers, be-stickered, teeth-marks, vomit dripping off the sides . . . You get the picture. Then decide if the price is really worth it. Last fall, when we purchased the boys' bunk bed, there were a lot of beds I would have liked to get, but there were--of course--some budget constraints. I settled for cheap and sturdy. In the end I'm so glad I didn't spend the money on what I really wanted. Which leads me to--
2. If you decide to splurge on a box of Spidey band-aids much to the delight of your four year old, be prepared to face the consequences: The WHOLE box stuck to his bed, and a few on the ceiling fan too. Joy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sunday Recap

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but what these pictures don't tell you--

--It was a BEAUTIFUL DAY . . . perfect spring weather

--Jackson did not find very many eggs because he had to stop after each one and check what was inside

--Tommy Dog ate himself a good deal of hard-boiled eggs, shell and all

--Marissa gave Papa Roy the Farmer a little lecture on why he should not use Atrazine on his crops (because it makes the male frogs produce eggs). She presented a good argument, but I don't believe he was swayed. ;o)

--The kids spent nearly the whole time outside, decorating dog graves and building some sort of house/fort thing. They returned home thoroughly dirty.

--As I get older I appreciate more and more the opportunity to hang out with all my siblings again . . . we all have our own lives now, but when we're together it's still so much fun.

My Sewing Wrap-Up

As of 9:00 pm on Saturday night, my sewing was completely and totally done. And the house . . . completely and totally in disarray. We all have balls we juggle on a daily basis, I quickly discovered when I added the "mad sewing with a deadline ball" to the mix I dropped a few others in the process, like, oh, the "laundry ball," the "nourishing my family with homemade from scratch goodness ball" and the "tidying ball." Just to name a few. ;o) I spent from about 6-8 a.m. this morning getting a head start on the week--that helped, but it'll probably take me the rest of the week to sort my messes out.
Anyway, the dresses:
I ended up doing a few things "my way." First, I should have made the skirt part of Marissa's a size bigger. It was a bit too short for my liking, so I added some wide lace at the bottom, which took care of that problem nicely. I'm not sure if she'll be able to wear this dress more than one season though, so that's kind of a bummer. (Although Isabella is rubbing her hands together with delighted anticipation because she's quite fond of all that lace). I also used store-bought bias tape because that saved me a WHOLE lot of time. Lastly, my machine has always done awful button holes, the thread bumbles up all over itself and I just can't get them to turn out right. I ended up doing them by hand, cutting a slit and then whip-stitching around it. It's not perfect, but it does the job, and in the end the button covers it up. So, I can't say I tackled my button hole fear, but I found a way that works for me . . . perhaps that's cheating, but I have two functioning dresses, so I'm happy. All in all it was a fun experience, and actually the first time I have ever made their Easter dresses. Marissa told me, "Oh, it looks like a REAL dress!" Which was encouraging, but I'm not sure what it says about all the other clothing I have made for them. ;o) I LOVE getting to customize their clothes, picking just the color, just the buttons . . . it kind of makes me feel like a designer. But now, back to my real life of maid, teacher, chef, chauffeur, nurse, and whatever else it is I do. ;o) Have a great week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Thinking about this day . . . go here