May 30, 2011

Neighborhood Summer

Happy Memorial Day. To me each year this weekend is the tipping point of summer. Flip flop weather is upon us. A couple days ago, I doled out seven popsicles to seven of our neighborhood kids while they congregated on my lawn, and that's not all the kids that my kids play with around here. Shoes were kicked off, bikes were brought out, and so were the lawn chairs and a blanket.Somehow, even Tessa is in the middle of this tangle of kids. She was loving it.This was some weird game that kept them entertained for a long time. All of them falling backwards in the small kiddie lawn chairs. I just kept seeing a line of feet pointed at the sky. Aww, summer.

May 28, 2011

Brett's Senior Pic

My cousin, Brett gave me the privilege of getting to take his senior pictures.
Sorry ladies, but I've heard he's not available. Yeah, the privilege was all mine. He is such a good kid too. He has a full ride scholarship to Fresno State and is majoring in engineering. Good luck Brett!

May 26, 2011

Joint Birthday Bash

So Tone, Ainsley's and Tessa's birthdays fall one after another and we had little time to celebrate them this year. I totally did their cake the lazy man's way and made one chocolate cake for everyone coming over and then three little ones for them in differing sizes. I used this cake recipe and it was the best! I seriously recommend it and it was just as good the second and third day later. We celebrated with our Bible study group on our Monday night meeting time.Tone had to light his own candles since I was standing by with the camera.Ainsley is wearing a dress-up dress since we called her from playing with her best friend to come blow out candles and Tess Tess just looks like a floating head she's so little.
She sure loved her first bites of cake though. It was demolished!Happy Birthday to 3/5ths of my family!

May 17, 2011

My Ooooold Baby Pack

I know I just wrote about marriage and the importance of making it work. Well, very loosely along those lines, here are Arnold and Maria in a dated photo of them from 1990. I realize they are making the news because they are calling it quits after 25 years of marriage, and that's why this photo was online, but that's not why I'm posting this picture.....I have a much funnier reason.See that baby pack she's wearing? Well, I have that exact same one. I mean EXACTLY. The same color and everything. The picture jumped out at me for that reason and made me laugh. I bought it at the thrift store for $5 a couple years ago and it was in perfect shape. I knew it was old, I just didn't have any idea how old since it didn't come with tags. Tessa pretty much lives in the thing. When I go out, I rarely use a stroller. Tessa will last for hours in it as happy as a clam. It was the best $5 I've ever spent. I broke a buckle on it in Hawaii, and I just need to go to Joann's and get a new one. It's an easy replacement. It must have been a good one back in the day since the Schwarzeneggers got it. I have no clue. In fact, all of the new ones I've seen I don't like near as much and for the $100 and over price tag on them, I definitely wouldn't be buying. I love this one because the back bar kicks out and is a stand too that Tessa can just sit in when she's off my back (which she often does). But HOW FUNNY IS THIS? The pack is holding up great for over 10 years old, haha!

Marriage Made Stonger with Friendships

Our church's sermon this Sunday was on marriage, the vows we took and what that means to us now. So last night our Bible study group met and discussed. We all brought our wedding albums to look at and discussed who had changed the most, where we got married, the weddings themselves, etc. We shared a lot of fun laughs before discussing more serious matters like the vows we took and what we are doing to make sure we are strengthening our marriage now. Here is a picture of Tone and I. I think I have changed more than he has. I definitely look baby-faced compared to now. But that was nine years ago...
Let me just say that friendships like the ones we have fostered together in this group are vital to a growing marriage. Tone and I are stronger in all ways (spiritually, emotionally, mentally) because we get challenged and loved by our friends every Monday night. Our marriage and personal lives have gone through a monumental change because of regularly doing life with these other families.
There are five families and 11 kids. Only one (Hunter) is in school and we all eat dinner together first so that should describe the madness that occurs on Monday nights, week in and week out. It is in this madness, this doing of life together, that strengthens our bond. I know it's crazy and chaotic. I know my house gets upended on Mondays....and I know it's the best fun and the best way to grow friendships. We could just meet, but sharing a meal together really brings us closer. None of us can afford or have a regular sitter, so all the kids come too and play while we discuss the sermon from the day before. So yeah, there can be a lot of noise and interruptions. We roll with it and amazingly, we are able to have some pretty good discussions that can run fairly deep. It's been two and a half years and countless meals, holidays, vacations, births of children, impromptu BBQ's, birthday parties, day trips, play dates, craft days, serving the community days, babysitting for each other nights, family emergencies, prayers for each other during hard times, and countless meaningful conversations shared that have forged a very strong bond between all of us. In fact, one family went with us to Hawaii last month and we had the best fun. We have also gone camping together and had many other fun adventures with the other families in our group. We can't wait for our whole group camping trip in June. We missed church while we were gone in Hawaii and one morning we sat on the front porch, drank coffee, and had some deep theological and life discussions. I was challenged in my thinking and honestly, sometimes "church" can be just as meaningful in a casual setting, say having a good discussion with friends on the front porch on a tropical island, than spacing out in a pew on Sunday (though my church is awesome and generally does a great job of challenging and keeping my attention).
We all like to chat after church. We are the families that are the last to leave as they are locking up the building. Our kids will be so annoyed with this as they grow older, haha!

We often do holidays together. With one couple, we have done Christmas Eve and Easter and joined their family at their house. Here we are on Easter with the three families who didn't have any other family Easter plans. We did an egg hunt and a yummy ham dinner.
I understand that this is not everyone's experience with a Bible study group and often it's just the opposite. We have been incredibly blessed by these other families and their friendship in our lives. It's wonderful to have friends you can call at a moments notice and to do life with. They know us (even the ugly parts) and continue to do life with us. Nothing is better. So if you have a bad experience with a group in the past or the current group you are meeting with is just not "working" for you, may I challenge you to not give up and to try again? I've heard from a large church survey done that it takes a average of FIVE tries before you find a group that works. Many get too discouraged and give up after the first. Maybe that would have been me, so I am SO glad our group gelled from the start. I would like to say that our group is full of grace and truth. We are hardly perfect, nor are our members all similar to each other (we come from some very differing backgrounds), and thus the need for both.

Anyhow, I have to close this up because I have to get a couple things done before we go hang out with one of them for pizza tonight. Yeah, I know we just met last night but we just like to hang out together. You know, just for fun.

May 15, 2011

Flower Hair Clip Birthday Bouquet Idea

Ainsley actually gave me this idea. It was hers that I expanded on. One morning, bleary eyed I woke up to Ainsley delivering to me bedside one of her "crafts" - flowers in a vase, she said. She had dumped out her bucket of hair clippies, gotten out straws, and clipped the clips to each end. Then she had cut out green leaves out of their paper stash that I let them have free reign with, glued them on the straws with her glue stick and put them in a cup of hers. Her creation sat on the counter for a very long time because I thought it was so precious and quite creative since she had thought this up on her own. Well, tomorrow Ainsley is going to a birthday party for one of her very bestest friends. So we expanded on her idea and came up with this:
It's the same thing pretty much. I made some hair clips this afternoon, clipped them to green bendy straws, and put them in a recycled salsa jar with a cup of rice in the bottom for stability. Some scrap paper, a little ribbon and twine, a tag, and there you go.
Happy Birthday Miss Maddie! Here is a flower clippy bouquet just for you to put on your dresser and hold your hair clips.
It's awefully cute and more straws could be added for additional clip storage (or pipe cleaners, or wooden skewers). The jar would look cute totally full.
By the way, I recycle all glass jars for quick impromptu vases. I clean them and remove the labels and then save them in the cupboard. You have no idea how many homemade flower bouquets I have given away to different people using these. I love going out to my garden, snipping a bouquet of fresh flowers, sticking them in a clean glass jar with a ribbon around it, and giving it away. We just welcomed new neighbors this week with a quick bouquet like this and a plate of brownies. Fast, easy and fun to present.

Here's another pretty flower. Ok, yeah, these pictures have nothing to do with the above craft. She just happened to be in a pretty dress for church today and I had to take a few pictures. It's a mom thing.
She's on this new kick where she carries around as many pacifiers as she can find and uses them as her main toy. She really doesn't use them to actually pacify herself. They are just her new fascinating toy.
Two clutched in each fist and one behind her. And the only way I could get her in this chair was to let her hold one and play with it. Then she went wild and the pictures were turning out blurry. Photo op over.
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May 14, 2011

Park Daze

Since Ainsley was back to her normal self and we had a couple of lovely days back to back, we went to the park. Tessa sits/rolls/wrestles on this blanket while the other two do their thing. Thursday saw us at the homeschool park day with 30 or so other moms and a lunch of In N Out burgers. I love me some In N Out. Yum! Sorry, it's only a California thing. If you are out of state, you are seriously missing out.
Ainsley's personality is back in full force and she had a great time running around at the park. She lost 3 pounds through this whole sick ordeal and now she and Tessa are only four pounds apart. All the weight I had worked so hard for her to gain in the last 6 months are gone in four days. Her little arms and legs are just sticks. And I was SO proud of those 3 pounds, *sniff*, since I had been told she needed to gain more by the doctor.
It probably doesn't help the whole "homeschool nerd" stereotype when all the boys bring their light sabers and run around with assorted swords and guns. Hunter was thrilled he was finally "picked" to be on a "team" in the last month (I have no idea what that means, but it is extremely important in his little life so I am now listening to much serious explanations of the Starwars game and how it works - it's so confusing). Before, he would bring his sword but was far to shy to ask to play and hang on the sidelines hoping someone would notice him. He's gettting so big and BRAVE!Let's just up the "nerd" ante and put wings on the shoes. He has been wanting me to make him shoes with wings for FOR-EV-ER and yeah, I make baby shoes (though I appreciate his unswerving faith in my skills). These felt do-dads I sewed go through the laces and made him most happy. Easy solution. (My son, if you are reading this 20 years from now and shaking your head at how I would ever allow you out of the house with these creations, I would just like you to know that you hounded me for months for these. To your credit though, all the other boys thought they were pretty cool too).
Then on Friday, we went out again. The weather was perfect, we had nothing to do, and I'm an antsy, totally spur of the moment, kind of girl. I made a snap decision and went. We took a picnic lunch, watched the ducks, hiked, played in the stream, and on the play structure. We have this fabulous huge park near our house and almost never take advantage of it. All Hunter wanted to do was chase the geese and ducks. I hereby officially apologize to Woodward Park for the terrorization of their water fowl.
It was a fabulous day and we walked and played for several hours.
I let them bring water shoes to walk in the stream. In my kids eyes, I won Mom-of-the-year for that. At least for this week until they forget I did something cool like that and accuse me of NEVER letting them play when I make them pick up toys.
We even got milkshakes on the way home. It was fabulous except for the part where I got a splitting headache from too much sun (it happens to me a lot) and was down for the count on Friday night and had to be up bright and early this morning for an 8am t-ball game. Really? T-ball at 8am?

That just wasn't cool.

May 10, 2011

Faux Enamel Flower Pins Craft

Sometimes when one is bored and has a lot of time on their hands (a child is sick and you have nowhere to go, ehem), you have time for an easy, but long project. Ainsley is back in the land of the living today so that's good. She still laid around most of the day, but didn't throw up anymore and actually ate half a sandwich.

So this project is pretty mindless and quick and it takes a lot of waiting around, so it was a perfect one for today. I made some faux enamel flower pins. My favorite is the red one. On the top and bottom one, I think the petals came out a little wonky. I'll still wear them just the same. Do you know what they are made out of?

Pine cones and nail polish. Uh huh. For reals. I had to wait for the wood glue to dry overnight, and the painting took several coats with a lot of waiting inbetween for the coats to dry. Then a little hot glue for the beads and the pin on the back, and there are some fun little pins. I suppose I could have put one on a snap clip instead, but I like them this way for lapels and scarves.

Yeah and I totally didn't make this idea up. The tutorial is here. I think theirs looks a lot better, but whatev. It was still fun.

PS. That's totally a playpen in my bathroom. Our bathroom is huge with a lot of floor space and it never gets used during the day. Because the girls share a room, Tessa naps in here so Ainsley can have access to her room during the day. Our bathroom is so big you can still use both sinks, the shower and the toilet with plenty of room to walk around the playpen. So right now it's permanently sitting there. You know, whatever works, right?

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May 9, 2011

A Day at Home

So little Miss "A" has been here all weekend on the couch. She was on the floor, but a little tyrant in miniature size was harassing her and trying to steal her cup and bowl. That was too nasty for me, so I moved her up to the couch and put blankets under her to try and protect my couch if there was a "miss" when trying to hit the bowl (if you know what I mean - kids are terrible about this). So far, she has been quarantined to her spot here and no one else has gotten it. My hands are so dry from all that hand washing! This is how I spent my Mother's Day.Here is the little said Tyrant. I bought several different cute printed leg warmers for her to wear with all her cute little dresses since she is pretty hard on her knees right now with all that crawling.

Here is one cute new outfit sent by Gramma Stover. Tessa's hair is actually getting long enough that I can stick a clippy in it. This one stayed all afternoon. I was pretty much glued to the living room since Ainsley kept whimpering for me, so I sat on the floor and played with Tess Tess all afternoon. I got out my camera since it's been a while that I just sat and snapped away for casual pictures of the kids. Unfortunately, an afternoon with Mommy on the floor meant Tess was in wild, happy, kid heaven and most of the time too excited to let me get a shot. That means a lot of blurred shots like this.

It also meant all three kids where pretty much glued to me and climbing all over me. That makes it also difficult to get in shots. This is how my Mother's Day was spent. On the floor of the living room all day romping around with the two healthy ones and nursing the sick one.

No projects, no cleaning, no errands, no outside demands. Hunter likes to get all up in her space. She thinks he's wonderful and oh so funny. I think it's very mutual. Those two entertain each other all day long.

Here is Tessa all up in my space.

Lunch time rolled around and we had the same refusal to eat real food that we have everyday. It consisted of eating a few bites of yogurt, a few bites of her sandwhich (which she mostly just pulled apart) and then refusing to eat anything else and asking to get down. She really just wants to feed herself and hates the spoon, but she has a horrible gag reflex and isn't able to eat anything that isn't already mashed and really soft. So we are at a quandary as those things usually require a spoon...Even pasta and soft fruits are tough for her and don't really work out.

Miss "A" went to the doctor today who said just keep pushing small sips of Gatorade like I have been doing. This virus going around has been taking kids out for a week or more so she's going to have a long haul back to normal. I see a long lazy week stretching out in front of me while she recuperates.

So Tess Tess and I read some books while Hunter stole the camera. He loves to do this.

She likes to pat the fuzzy pictures in the "touch and feel" book. If there is nothing to touch, she gets bored and chucks the book violently. Hunter wore jammy pants all day since we weren't going anywhere. He tries walking around in just his skivvies and tries to convince me this is cool because Daddy sleeps in just his skivvies. To which I reply, "yeah, but he doesn't walk around all day in them and only sleeps like that." Why Hunter likes to just hang out in his cartoon tighty whiteys beats me. I demand pants at least.

He made a series of funny faces for the camera that we chuckled at while viewing. He told me, "Mommy, when you put these on the computer, I bet a lot of people will laugh and write something about how funny I am. I'm hysterical." Here's his fave.
I'll let you be the judge.

At any rate, it was nice to just slow down, not clean anything (this proved to be impossible - I couldn't resist the dishes, some laundry and some sweeping), not do any projects, and just enjoy the kids.
I found myself getting antsy, but anytime I jumped up to do something, someone would need me, so I exercised some self-control and made myself sit and enjoy them all day. Once I got my brain wrapped around the fact that this was my sole responsibility today, I thoroughly enjoyed focusing on them and only them completely for a whole day. It's sad to say that this is pretty rare. The house chores were screaming my name. But so were these chubby kissable cheeks. Tessa was completely happy and content for a whole day. This is also so very rare for this child since she would like me to focus on her 24/7 and I don't/can't. Not that I neglect my kids, but I usually have a million things going and bounce from kids to other demands all day long. At any rate, I spent my Mother's Day completely focused on the three little beings that made me a Mommy. It was a good exercise and a rare one. I didn't budge from that room and those kids all day long. I discovered that taking a day to stop is a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day. Possibly the best way to spend Mother's Day.

Credit: Dress: Knitted Dove, Shoes: Coggles, Satchel: Cloth-ears, paper planes collection, Lipstick: Topshop

So I bought this dress today off of I just couldn't resist. It positively screamed my name. Literally. Since it was half off, well, you know...I told you it was screaming to me.

I thought I would show you how I would like to wear it if money allowed. That satchel is one I have been eyeballing for a long time. Actually, you should visit Cloth-ears. You will drool over everything they have pretty much.

I also just think that with straw wedges and some red lipstick, this dress is ready to go anywhere for the summer, dressed up or down. I might wear it with some white flip flops I have as well. It's just too adorable.

May 8, 2011

Master bedroom redo (Part 1)

Here is the Master bedroom redo part 1. I'll walk you around for the grand tour. Bare with me, it's a lot of pictures and explaining (basically the longest post EV-ER). It's part one because I have yet to paint and that will be a pretty involved project and I have yet to get those drums either out of there or looking better where they are at. If you want to see a kinda-sorta picture of what it looked like before, see this post. It started off with the new four poster bed frame that Tone built. I wanted a travel theme that didn't look like a little kid's room. We love to travel together and I wanted this room to be about that love of adventure we share and also be a kind of retreat.
The drums are kind of a long story, but the short one was that they were in the playroom but too many kids came over and messed with them so this was the only other place in the house we could shove them that would be out of the way of temptation. Now that I have the room done though, I'm tempted to put them back and just train all the kids who come over to deal with it. My kids can. The drums are completely ruining my sense of aesthetic.

Tone handmade that bed. The whole thing started out as rough plank cherry wood. He planed it, cut the pieces, joined it and even made the tapering poles and finials by hand. The whole thing is gorgeous and pretty special.

So I fell in love with a duvet cover from Anthropolgie. Sha right! I am the queen of cheap so I was NOT going to shell out that kind of dough. I did snoop around the blogosphere and figured out how to sew it myself from some tutorials, but then I found that Target had this knockoff king comforter for $90 and free shipping. So that was a done deal and it saved me some serious time! I just love the ruching going on and I didn't want it too feminine so the khaki color was a must (not white). Plus the only thing Tone was adamant about was that it shouldn't be white. Duh. We have three kids who like to roll around on beds. Though this is a queen sized bed, the comforter is a king because: A. Both Tone and I are major blanket stealer's, and B. We got a new mattress that is a double pillow top and a queen wouldn't stretch all the way down the massive sides (goodbye aching back). The rooms colors are from these two airline travel posters on the wall. Somehow, I had to bring those colors in and tie it all together. I fell in love with Suzani print which brings in a sense of the exotic. Lets just say for a typical Suzani print pillow, it's around $50 and up. For ONE. Yeah, no go. So I found at Cost Plus World Market they were selling napkins and a tablecloth in the perfect print and color for $5 for four napkins and $20 for a large tablecloth. The napkins became pillow covers on the old throw pillows (perfect size as luck would have it) and the tablecloth became the throw at the bottom. I am going to back it with a chenille throw on clearance. Also, I had this 80's style leather shirt that I've almost donated to the thrift store several times, but held onto because it was pure leather. I just snipped it under the armpits and sewed the top and bottom up. I unbuttoned it to get the third pillow in, rebuttoned, and there you have it. A nice leather, tailored pillow for the price of free. The striped one was my big "splurge" for $14 at Home Goods but it matched perfectly and brought in stripe against the circle medallions. Tone grumbled. I still bought it. The perfectly matching and gorgeous butterfly prints over the bed and on my bedside table were bought at the Dollar Tree. I couldn't believe it when I saw the three of them and snatched them right up. The butterflies look real and are backed on a tarnished silver background. Lovely, but you can't really tell in these photos. Oh well. We got those matching bedside nautical lamps as a gift at our wedding. We have always loved them. Curtains: Well, I have two small ones on each side of the bed and one large double window. The two small ones were easy. I cut up an old cream brocade chair cover I had and made valences with a tailored ruffle down the middle. I bought tan fish nets at the Dollar Tree and draped them over for a netting and textured look. For the long curtain, I looked and looked before inspiration struck. I wanted a curtain that went all the way up to the top window (see below).

That is about 11 feet high. Try finding cheap panels at that length. Yeah, they run about a $100 bucks and if you buy nice designer fabric, you are running at an even higher price. Yikes! So I like free and DIY. I remembered I had this high end huge table cloth in khaki given to us for our wedding that haven't used once. So I snipped it up the middle and used it for the lower half. For the upper half, I cut the top off the old curtains which were made out of muslin and had tabbed tops already. I used scrap fabric and the bottom half of the curtains for ruffles in graduating shades of brown. Actually, they were a bear to make, but I am thrilled with the result. Also, this is the only room in the house that gets direct sunlight and it bakes in the summer. The bottom half has blinds but not the top. I am thrilled to have a way to block out the sun in the top half since the ruffles covering the top are pretty heavy. Also, at certain times of the year, the full moon shines straight through that window and onto the bed making it annoyingly hard to sleep. By the way, the dresser and side tables shown in these pictures were also made by Tone when we were first married. We have our old TV on top of the dresser (it's a beast) so I tried to soften it up by adding an exotic flower arrangement up there. I think it helps. As you can see in the picture below, Tessa keeps messing with and twisting the bolt covers on the foot of the bed. She won't leave them alone.I went to my fave thrift and salvage store downtown and found these old suitcases for $12 each. That was a steal, and they are peaking comfortably out from the end of the bed disguising the other odds and ends stored behind them. Plus, I can put my magazine collection in them and pull them out for late night reading inspiration.

The next side of the room isn't so pretty, but you can't see it from the door walking in and trust me, it's WAY better than what I started with. Tone's dad made him that dresser when he was a kid and the last time it was painted was when Tone was in his teens. It had bright red drawer fronts and white wooden knobs. So I changed out the knobs for cheap burnished bronze ones. I HAD to get rid of that bright red and in a hurry (Patience? I have no patience.). I bought a roll of contact paper for $5 and covered the front of each drawer with a little wrapping around the sides. I'm keeping my eye out for a khaki printed damask type of contact paper, and may change out the fronts in the future. For $5, why not? That mirror has a cracked corner from the kids, but it works just fine I guess. The large framed artwork over the dresser is a collection of vintage luggage labels. The two smaller ones are pages of vintage airplane stamps. Our laundry basket/pile is to the right and you can just see it. Our closet is too stuffed for it to fit in there. Sad but true.On top are pictures of our wedding, honeymoon and engagement day, a tray from our travels to Thailand, another flower arrangement I made and some vintage postcards. So there you have it. Our room so far. The hard part is going to be painting since I'm not just going to straight paint the room. I have some fun plans for that headboard wall.

So far, it's coming along. I have gotten this far in about two weeks, and am eager to finish it up.
Just to my right is first the closet door and next to the dresser, the bathroom door. I have more to hang on that wall, so I'm not ready to show you it yet. It involves more vintage travel ephemera.

Tell me. How do you make your room feel like "you"? What have you done? Do you have good tips for me?

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