Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pajama Party

Two years ago, Santa stopped by our house on the 23rd of December, leaving a note and a new pair of pajamas for each of our girls.  We parents may have forgotten this happened, but our girls have not. And they reminded us that if they got in the bathtub, Santa would probably stop by, as a special treat just for them.  

I was skeptical, but not too long after they got into the bathtub, we all heard the jingling of bells.  John jumped up and raced for the door, but he was too late to see anything but a flash of red.

"Man, he sure moves fast for a fat man."  That's John's traditional line, and it gets repeated over and over as the girls retell the story.
Santa may have worked smoothly, but getting a picture of all of the ladies in their new jammies was anything but.  I am resigning myself to at least 25% of the participants in our family photos being uncooperative.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


You know, anytime I think I'm going to get all fancy with Christmas cards, I am struck by the humility stick in the form of uncooperative children.  My vision this year was a sort of modified photobooth layout with each person in our family holding a word from the phrase "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  Six words.  Six people.  Great idea.  
And then I tried to implement my vision.  

Here's where I gave up.  And if you think I gave up too soon (since I had gotten the obvious hard portion of the task out of the way with my three youngest members of the family), you'd be someone who has never tried to get a natural expression out of my oldest daughter or my husband.  Maybe I'll try again next year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Silent Night

Or maybe not-so-silent night, depending on your perspective.  For Christmas Eve, we had two families of friends over to join us in a delicious meal (thank you, Bonnie and Angela) and delightful program.  We had purple shepherds, carefully guarding their sheep.
We had emphatic angels (Mimi had Chloe practicing her stance and wording for weeks.  I hope Chloe wasn't overwhelmed by the bossiness.)
We had an obviously attentive Joseph.
And we had a very sincere Mary.  For weeks leading up to the program, we practiced tying and retying her headscarf--everything had to be just right.
There was a little nose picking. . . (love it!)
. . . and loads of happy smiles.
After our friends left, we sang some nativity songs, dealt with a code brown (really Maddie?  Poop on the floor on Christmas Eve?  That seems to be in poor taste.), and as John and I were cleaning up, Olivia organized a Santa letter-writing campaign.  (These are pre-gift thank you notes-- she's gracious and non-traditional that way.)
We love him because he is nice.

Mimi was a little disappointed that we left out our gingerbread houses along with the cookies we decorated thanks to Bonnie.
We also love Santa for being good (which is obviously distinct from being nice.)  Blogger thinks this picture should be oriented this way.
And Mimi's enthusiasm knows no bounds.  Man, I love that girl.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lucky Number Seven!

We started Naomi's birthday with an idea I found somewhere on the blogosphere, running through the crepe paper barrier.

She loved it.  (Please ignore the honest pictures of the messy room.)

My sister Annie joined us for polka-dotted presents and hamburgers, Naomi's favorite.
We followed up with a teeny-tiny party.  This is quite possibly the easiest birthday party theme on the planet.  Make teeny tiny food, turn traditional party games (bingo, pin the tail on the donkey, don't eat pete, treasure hunt, bowling, etc.) into their teeny-tiny counterparts, and send out teeny tiny invitations.  Perfect. 

 I used the three ounce cups from Wal-Mart and cut regular straws into teeny-tiny straws.  Buying mini vanilla wafers and mini Chips Ahoy cookies saved me tons of time, and the kids loved it.
 I wish I had taken video of ten kids (including five boys) in my teeny-tiny house for the two hours of the party.  I laughed nearly constantly over the chaos.  I always thought I'd be a boy mom, but it turns out I have forgotten how crazy boy parties can be.  Whew!

So, Happy Birthday, my favorite second child.  I can't believe you've grown from this. . .
. . .to this. . .

. . . to this. . .

. . . to this . . .
. . . to this.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reclaimed Solution

With one small coat closet to house all our winter gear, the vacuum, our board games, and our first aid kit, I decided I needed a new remedy for the stuff we use everyday.  I've been loving all the recycled wood projects I've seen on Pinterest, and a big pile of abandoned pallets and lumber was beckoning across the street.  After "liberating" one of the boards from the pile, I still had to deal with my two concerns. 
a) Old wood is splintery, and I don't think anyone wants splinters lodged in their coat hood.
b) Old wood might be home to any one of a number of gross crawly critters.
Both problems were addressed with my quick four-step process:
1) Brush loose dirt off with a whisk broom and follow with a quick scrub with a sanding sponge (medium grit).  Examine everything closely for movement.
2) Use Kilz primer to thoroughly (but thinly) coat every surface, even the cracks.
3) Paint the front and the sides that will show with your favorite color.  (I chose a sample pot of "Deepest Aqua" by Glidden from Wal-Mart.  For your information, a sample pot will cover a four-foot length of a 2x6, if you don't paint the back.)
4) When the paint is dry, brush on some antiquing glaze and wipe it off immediately with a paper towel.  I love how the black stays down in all the cracks and shows off the reclaimed texture without the splinters and  the feeling of bugs coming out to land in my coat.  (One small bottle of glaze can do a gazillion projects.)
With the addition of some ebay-ed hooks, and with John's cooperation to screw it straight into the studs, it works perfectly for my purposes.  Adds color, gives the girls a place for their backpacks, lunchboxes, and coats, and keeps John's jacket off the chairs.  Done.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crazy Baby

This baby won't eat cheese in any form, other than pizza.  She hates macaroni and cheese and despises chicken nuggets.  She barely tolerates hot dogs and grilled chicken.  Rice, pasta, and un-peanut-buttered bread get dropped off the edge of her tray.
However, she consumes black beans like a person possessed. . .
 . . . smashing them all over her face in an effort to get MORE of them into her mouth FASTER.
The same thing happens whenever she is offered a banana.  I stopped slicing her bananas months ago because she'd prefer me to just hand her an entire unpeeled banana to devour in under 30 seconds.
Seriously.  Maybe she was meant to be born in Brazil.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Thankful for Fall Decorations

Isn't it fun to pull out fall decorations?  I love the warmth and color they add to my house.  My mother-in-law bought me some fall bargains three years ago when all the decorations went on clearance, and I especially love this big wreath.  In my old house, it lived just inside my front door, but I like the look of it hung over a mirror here.  (And those sheaves of wheat?  $2.50 each at the same sale.  And I'm not even kidding.)
 Inspired by this display, I saved the root beer bottles we had for Halloween dinner (except on Halloween, it was called The Draught of Living Death, from Harry Potter, of course).  However, I then a) picked the wrong (unreadable) font, b) picked a color I don't really like with this, and c) sized it all wrong.  And then, I ran out of energy to fix my mistake and determined to just live with it until next year.
 I do, however, like the overall effect of the grass cut from our flower beds with the mirror and the berry wreath.  So it still makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Favorite Traditions

Don't you feel sometimes like it's just incredibly hard to feel grateful?  I mean, I KNOW that I live a charmed life.  My husband is kind and works hard at a good job.  My kids are healthy and I love them dearly.  I have a body that works well, a house that helps us stay warm, fantastic friends, and only first-world problems.  However, sometimes it seems like it's what I'm dissatisfied with that stares me in the face until I want to soak in a hot tub (see what I mean about first-world problems?) and shut my face to the world for an hour or two.  

This is my particular solution to that particular problem.  And yes, we just keep it up through the month of November.  But at least I'm counting my blessings every day during the month of November, so that's something, right?   For several years, we had a Thankful Jar on our dining table, which we each put a blessing into every night.  
However, last year, the girls and I stained this leftover piece of 2x6 with some poly-stain mix (which was also leftover from restaining the kitchen table).  We cut out the "give thanks" on my Cricut (but you could easily paint or stencil or even Sharpie the words you wanted), and put one nail up for each  member of the family.  The board is hung with two screw-eyes and a length of ribbon.  Then we cut out a bunch of tags and strung them with fall-colored embroidery floss.  (You can see the blank ones in the bowl sitting there on the piano.)
 Every night at dinner, we each get a tag and write one blessing we are thankful for.  Then we hang it on the board.  And we can't repeat any blessing of our own throughout the month.  Last night, Bella was thankful for her pet dinosaur.  You can see that she "writes" first and then I put the translation on top afterward, and I'm not entirely sure which dinosaur she's talking about.  In this house of girls, I don't think we even have a toy dinosaur.
At the end of the month, we write down all of our blessings in our "Thankful Notebook", which we keep with the Thanksgiving decorations.  (We did this with the Thankful Jar as well, so we've got a few years on record.)  It's so fun to review the blessings from years past when we add the new ones.
I really do have so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here's the final look at the birdies.  (Aren't you sick of them yet?)

First we have the swan, the epitome of grace and beauty.
And goofiness.

Next, we have a rare shot of a peacock in a tree.

Plus a good shot of that magnificent tail (sturdified with heavyweight interfacing and boning, and it still wouldn't stay up, so it had to be a relaxed peacock tail.  Plus can you see that one goofy feather?  Who knew that boning had a right way and a wrong way?  I do now).
Now we see the notorious canary-turned-chick.  This is one stubborn little bird, determined to sport pink legs rather than yellow, like the rest of her kind.

And the smallest, yet loudest, of all.  The screech owl.
 Most owls, of course, prefer to eat mice.  This particular owl, however, has discovered the joy of the Dum-Dum sucker.  Sticky plumage, here we come.
Trick-or-treating was a lot of fun, though unseasonably warm.  (Isn't that how it goes?  When I make an effort to get everybody a cozy costume, that effort turns out to be unnecessary.)  I desperately missed our Indiana neighborhood as I was walking with my girls.  Halloween was always one of my favorite times.  Darn it.  Here's to hoping I feel that way about Roosevelt in three years.  :)