Dec 31, 2011

Vintage Alphabet Name Banner

So I told you that I made something all vintage-y goodness cute for Molly and Zoe.  I know.  I made you wait a whole day so that lazy girl here could process pictures.  Actually, lazy girl decided on a whim to redo the colors of her kitchen and all the knick knacks and artwork.  So I did.
When I say "on a whim" I meant it.  I decided about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and had it stripped bare and was sewing curtains and mogde podging up a storm and had a new kitchen by 10pm.  I just need a couple new things to pick up tomorrow to finish it.  Namely, some spray paint and I'm good to go.  Oh, I digress.  This post was supposed to be out that gift I made for the twins.

Let me preface this by saying that I love all things vintage with bright colors.   Let me also say that I may just be the only one in my family that does which creates some unique decorating challenges.  Tone likes new, white, and natural wood.  That's kinda tough for the vintage in me.  I like chippy, old, bright paint and things with some patina on them.  Having lost that battle from day one of marriage I thought maybe in my kids....
Ainsley and Hunter like those cheap bright character type of Disney decor that you see everywhere.  My heart cringes every time they ask to redo their room in that stuff.  So far, they have been allowed a few touches in their room of that stuff and it's kept them happy.  I do realize at some point I will lose the battle.  I still have some hope in Tessa....oh who am I kidding?  So far it's three against one.
So what am I do to?  Force this insane desire for vintage on my sister's new kids. Duuuh! I mean they are only a week old but with my current batting average, I had better get a head start and quick!
I decided they needed name banners in cute vintage alphabet characters.  I found these cute book pages for free download on the intranet, people, and the love of all things bright and old jumped out of me and I made a snap decision to make these IMMEDIATELY.   
Yeah, did you feel it too?
I mean look at them!!!  Be still my beating heart.
I'll share the vintage love.  You can find them at this link HERE.  There is one for each letter and some extra animal pages too.
You are getting the picture by now that creative juices flow in a big jolt all at once and I make impulse decisions to do something about them, right?

Anyhow, I downloaded the pictures and picked the ones I wanted.  Then I printed them on a 5x7 size though they are square shaped so they ended up being 5x5.  I cut them out and that meant that they would fit perfectly four to a page on a standard square sized piece of scrapbooking paper.  I cut three kinds of printed paper into four equal squares and then mixed and matched until I found the design I liked. I made the edges of the scrapbooking paper kinda fancy with scalloped scissors and a small pennant shaped triangle cut out of the bottom.
See the hedgehog?  I know.  Slay me now.  So adorable in all his prickles.  Zoe had the best pictures.  She had a turtle, a zebra, an owl, and elephant in a hammock and the hedgehog.  Luckily I had some polka dot and striped 12x12 scrapbook paper that worked perfect.  How did I attach the book pages to the paper.   This is the best part:
I sewed it.
Glue makes the paper curl, but sewing it makes it sturdier and keeps it perfectly flat.  Plus it adds another cute dimension.  Just make sure to turn the tension down to a slightly lower number on your machine.  The thread tended to make loops on the back when I didn't.

What did I use to string them up?  A bit of eyelet lace.  I sewed the cards right down onto the lace.  You can sew fabric and paper together.  I do it all the time. I also couldn't resist making a bright flower out of the leftover bright paper and sewing on a big orange button.  Since these were boyish or neutral colors I was using, I wanted to make them look feminine with the lace and flower, though there is no pink in the girl's room so these will match just fine.

Anyhow, I love how they turned out.  They make my heart happy.  You know what else turned out well and makes my heart happy?  These two girls.  Oh yes, I thought I would sneak in another proud Aunt picture of them in Christmas stockings at five days old.
They turned out well.  Very well indeed.

Linking up here:
Life Made Lovely Blog, Gingerbread, Today's Creative Blog

Dec 30, 2011

Grey Dotty Shoes

What is an Auntie to DO when TWIN nieces are born?
Pish. That's an easy one. Sew some shoes of course. They are G-I-R-L-S!
A girl's got to have some darling shoes in her wardrobe.
I'm starting these girls on the wayward fashion Three days old and they had these bad boys in their closet. Everyone else can buy them the cute, cuddly and far more practical soft sleepers. This Auntie doesn't roll that way.
I wrapped them up with a darling little thing-a-ma-jig of vintagey goodness that I will show you in a tutorial this week. Guess you'll have to wait for that. I actually have to write the post.
I hate me because of the suspense. I'm still not writing that post yet. Today I feel like "Miss Laziness". Deal.
I have no idea what to call these shoes. I can't call them the Zoe or the Molly because that would be favoritism. And if I have a favorite, you'll never know. So for now...the Grey Dotty Shoes.
However, I am going to write "grey" in the far more trendy way. No boring "gray" for me. I'm a cool, trendy Aunt like that.
Unashamed plug: If you want to be cool trendy too, you can buy them HERE in my shop. (plug over)
Here are the babes just after their bath. I gave Molly her bath and changed her poo diaper and for that I was definitely NOT on her fave Auntie list for the afternoon. She'll get over it. I gave her cool grey shoes. I love how babies look like little old men the first couple weeks. Full of wrinkly, smooshy goodness. They smelled good too after that bath and their hair went all poofy on us.
However, after that rousing bath, they were conked out. We nestled them together and I attempted to get some pictures in a pretty dark house and the light was not so great. However, I did manage to capture this one. I know you think I totally posed it.
Did not. I swear it.
Picture time was over, I was putting my camera away and we noticed Molly had reached over and grabbed Zoe's hand.
Oh Golly!
Be still my trendy, beating Auntie's heart.

Dec 25, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

Is a little bit of this....I may just be in Auntie heaven.

Dec 23, 2011

Hoping your holidays are Merry and Bright and filled with the goodness of God's Love.

PS. Since we didn't do any Christmas cards, maybe we'll shoot for just sending out a very select few New Year's Cards.  Maybe....

Dec 21, 2011

Zoe and Molly are Born!

Katie went in Monday evening to be induced.  The twins were finally born this morning at 4:39 and 4:59am.  It was a long labor, but she had them naturally, with the help of some drugs and an epidural.   She rocks, right?!
Here is a picture of Zoe Marcia right afterwards.  I think she looks so much like Brad.
Here are the girls a little bit later.  Molly Rose and Zoe.  Aren't they the cutest holding hands?  Zoe wants to eat them.  They are blond haired, blue-eyed babies, but they don't look exactly alike.  Zoe is a bit thinner and their mouths are different.  However, they definitely look like sisters.

  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be there because I didn't know what to do with my own kids.  Tone is working and doesn't get home until Christmas Eve.  We are driving on Christmas Day to go see them and I can't wait!  I am sure you will get an overload of pictures here after I am able to take some pictures in person.

Dec 17, 2011

On a Roll

We are on a roll...literally.  As you can see, the annual Christmas sugar cookie chaos has begun.  They are prepped and ready to go.  It's not a very original tradition, but it's a big deal to the kids.  And I'm not gunna lie, I like a tasty sugar cookie myself.
The day we got the tree, they were asking to do sugar cookies.  That was the first week of December.  Clearly, this is a fave tradition. I like to do them closer to Christmas and since it's a whole afternoon event, I really have to gear up for it.  Thus, I usually do it the week OF Christmas.  They got the cookies a couple days earlier than most years.  They should count their blessings.

This year I thought that I would let them try rolling out their own dough.  It actually didn't go too badly.  I know.  It blew me away too.  I was gearing up for a dis-as-ter.

Ainsley was thrilled to get her own dough pile to decide which cutters to use and Hunter couldn't be a bossy dough hog.  Win win.

They were covered head to toe in flour.  I'm really not sure that aprons helped a whole lot, but they thought that they were completely necessary.

We seriously need to cute his fingernails.  Eww.  Sorry about that.

What was Tessa doing?  Causing havoc.  Asking for raw cookie dough to eat.  Basically being a pain.  She considers herself one of the big guys.  She doused herself in flour and had to lose the shirt.

She was being the typical 18 month old.   She was thrilled to be on the counter.  After she swiped too many cookies though off the cookie sheet, we put her down.  She was thinking it was a free-for-all.  It wasn't.

I have about 150 cookie cutters.  Lets just say there was plenty of extras for Tessa to play with on the floor.

Doesn't Hunter just look thrilled with himself?  He was.

Usually Ainsley has a brief attention span.  She stuck with it.  All afternoon.  I thought that was quite amazing.

We then decorated them with confectioner's sugar icing and sprinkles.  That was a mess, but oh, so fun!

Here is the finished product.  They are definitely kid-made.  These won't be going to the neighbors, but I do love myself a tasty sugar cookie.

This last picture isn't the best, but it was under harsh kitchen light.  I don't know if you noticed, but these pictures started out with nice afternoon natural light and ended up at after dark under harsh inside lighting.  I told you this takes all day.  Technically, it took four hours from making the dough to finished.  That counts as all day in my book.  I mean as a mother, who has just a free four hours most of the time?   Bwahahaha!  I just made a joke.  Four hours.  Bwahaha!

Whew!  One tradition down for this year.

Dec 15, 2011

Miracle Babies

As Christmas approaches, I have been thinking a lot on God's miracles and blessings to us. Here is my miracle baby. Tessa will always be a symbol of a miracle in my mind. I am still connected with the online worldwide group of people who have children born with the same type of tumor Tessa had. For every child who does well, there seem to be just as many or more who don't. Just this last week, I had news that two of the children I had been following passed away right after birth from complications of their tumor.

When we first heard of Tessa's tumor following a 19 week ultrasound, I was told the goal was to get her to 32 weeks without her heart failing. The tumor usually grows at a rate that is similar to the baby's growth. But God stepped in. Tessa's tumor basically didn't grow from the day they found it until the day she was born. It just stopped growing. It must have been growing at an incredible rate before that since it wasn't picked up on the 12 week ultrasound (I have a clear picture with no sign of it), but 6 weeks later, the tumor was large and obvious. But when the prayers for her started, with floods of people praying for us, the tumor didn't grow anymore. I know what happened, God did it.

Two years before Tessa was born, I suffered a miscarriage that I grieved for a while. I wanted a third child but didn't believe that was in the cards for us. I know in God's way, He was caring for that child too. That was another child that God loved just as much. I wrote this poem for her.

Little one,
I ache that it won't be my finger you will grasp,
As you take those tottering first steps.
But awed that you will be grasping the gentle finger of God.
You were here in secret mystery,
And left taking with you a mother's hope.
But not her love which is connected by an unbreakable cord.
Instead of being born in innocence and into pain,
You are carried gently to a place,
Where the dirt of the world will never marr your soul.
But rather your soul and self,
Will become all that it's meant to be without contamination.
God takes joy over you,
And all the intricasies of who you are.
You are His delight.
He spent as much time creating you,
As someone who spends years going gray here.
With an eternal purpose.
And you will bloom and grow in a place of perfect love,
Becoming all you were designed to be.
And one day, I will meet you, my wonderful child.
God's perfection in you.
I will run to my child,
And hold you as I have been waiting to do.
I am always your Mommy.
And I so love you.

I believe God cares for our children infinitely more than I ever could. His blessings are wrapped up in giving and taking. I can't understand, but I do believe and know this.

I have been reflecting on what God's blessing must have looked like for Mary, the mother of His miracle baby. Besides the obvious that she clearly was pregnant and not married in an extremely conservative community, God certainly didn't make the delivery very easy on her either.
It took about a week to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. A week! On a donkey.
Okay, I've spent some road trips largely pregnant and it was only four hours in a cushy car and I was miserable. I've also ridden a horse for only an hour and my legs were sore and jelly for quite a while afterwards. I can't imagine the misery of being very pregnant hunched over the back of a donkey for a week. In all the Nativity books you see the two of them on a lonely road together. However, I bet they had to travel with all of Joseph's family since they were all from Bethlehem and the line of David. Did they help her? Did the ostracize her as getting what she deserved for getting pregnant out of wed-lock? And when they arrived in Bethlehem, did they ditch them for rooms for themselves? Were there a whole bunch of people who couldn't get a room? If so, did they graciously give the pregnant girl the only place left with a roof, or was it just mass chaos with every man shoved into corners with every man for himself? At any rate, however, it panned out, Mary must have been uncomfortable, longing for a place to rest and a place for animals was hardly ideal.
Lets just say I grew up with farm animals. Shoved in the corner of one of my animal's dirty stalls with the huge stench would hardly be the place I would want to go through the agony of labor. I had 12 hours of hard labor and no drugs with Hunter. I was at the end of my rope and miserable. Compound that with an aweful place to give birth with crowds probably around everywhere and stinky animals and I can't think of a worse situation. Did someone in Joseph's family assist? Was there women around to help? Or was the "sinfulness" of an unwed mother giving birth enough for others to leave her alone to birth Jesus on her own? When he was finally born, there was still no better place for Him than a feed box close by. God certainly has a strange way of doing miracles. Then God chose to only announce it to a bunch of poor shepherds just outside the city. That was good enough and the Savior of the world has now come, been celebrated, and now is still lying in a feed box. We could say God wasn't choosy when He chose to announce His Son's birth, but I would say that He WAS. We just place too much importance on status to understand the choice.

However, we all agree that Jesus's birth is a miracle. There was a star, some kings and expensive presents, a divine intervention so that he wasn't killed by Herod, and a mom who was a virgin.

It makes me reflect that often when God gives a blessing, it's often not in the way we have planned on our "happiness meter". Anyone who preaches the "health and wealth" gospel surely needs to read the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The way up, is down.

God had in her complete dependence and humility and Mary submitted. And out of that came the biggest blessing the world had ever known.
In giving me my four miracle babies, God is taking me on the biggest journey of humility I have ever been on. I am finding that in following God, submitting can be painful. But it is also hopeful. It is joyful. It is wonderful. Because God is there. He is rooting me on. He is celebrating with me. Sometimes I have to pay attention that He is throwing a celebration because who would have known it was a party when only a few "shepherds" show up? Sometimes I don't tell people about my Tessa's miracle. But who will know about God's blessing if I don't? The shepherds told everyone they saw, and I am saying it too. Tessa's name means, "harvester". It reminds me of the verse that says the harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few. I am just a humble Mommy who has seen God's miracles first hand. Apparently; small, insignificant and humble Mommies can change the world. God thinks so.

The adventures of Lizzle

We have an elf who has been up to many adventures this month. The kids named him Lizzle. I've only taken a few cell phone pictures of his shenanigans. Here are a few to enjoy.
They are loving the new "Elf on the Shelf" and it's killing them that they can't touch him or he loses his magic and won't return the next day.

I'll have you know that when Daddy is home, Lizzle does more daring things like fly an airplane from the ceiling fan.
He also rode a zipline from this fan to the light over the dining room table. However, this made me notice that the fan was extremely dusty and so I took the vacuum hose and attempted to vacuum the blades. This made Lizzle take a nose dive to the floor as it dislodged his zipline. Thankfully, he returned to hide again the next night. It was in front of the kids too. They were horrified. However, the only rule is that you can't touch him and since I didn't technically TOUCH him per say, he returned. Whew!

Hunter has been unsure whether Lizzle was really magic or not.
He informed me that he snuck into the kitchen and touched Lizzle when I wasn't watching. Then he waited to see if he returned. When Lizzle was in a new spot the next day, Hunter was triumphant in announcing that he had out-tricked me and that Lizzle was a fake since I didn't know he had touched him and he still returned. Hunter has a way of being a super realist that takes some fun out things.....Thanks bud. Ainsley, however, is pretty convinced he is truly magic.
This one took forever. Nobody saw him for a long time before we saw him peeking out of the wreathe over the fireplace mantle.
He even turned an artwork piece of Daddy's into a reindeer.
Lizzle has also made a star and was sitting on top of the Christmas tree holding it. He was seen clobbering stuffed animals in a marshmellow snowball fight. Tessa found him first that day and it took the other two a while to figure out that the marshmellows were supposed to be snowballs. Mostly, because Tessa ate a lot of them and it wasn't so obvious what was going on by the time we discovered what she had done. It's hard to imagine a snowball fight when there are only a couple marshmellows left. Haha! He has also just been hanging around in random places. Today he emptied Ainsley's jewelry box and was wearing all her jewelry and a hair clip. I may discuss having a tea party with her barbies tonight with Lizzle. He might go for it. Even though he is a boy. He seems like a pretty good sport so far.

Dec 9, 2011

Simplifying Christmas - Somewhat

So Tone and I read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan and "Radical" by David Platt and we were challenged to do more each advent day focusing on the meaning of Christmas and less on presents and such. We were also challenged to spend a lot less money on ourselves and more on others. Anyhow, I found these darling little ornaments you can make for a "Jesse Tree" from this link from printcandee and we are hanging them on the tree each night and reading the corresponding scripture. The kids find them in their countdown boxes.
Here is a picture from the link. Cute aren't they?
I also have this really awesome advent calendar which has a little book for each day that tells the advent story in beautiful pictures.
On the side of it are scriptures which we are memorizing. You should hear them belt out, "And He shall be called, Wonderfuuuuul, Counseloooor, Almighty GOD, the Everlasting Father, the Pwince of Peace!" They sing it Handel style since I showed them how it should be sung on Youtube. They love it.

We also read every night from my Christmas book collection. Some of the books are not uber spiritual but just for fun. You just have to have some fun and magic as well, right!?
Just because we decided to refocus a bit this year doesn't mean I simplified my decorating because that is a huge family night that is special each year. One addition I added this year was this photo wall. I found plated silver plates at the Dollar Tree and spray painted them cream and added black chalkboard paint in the middle. Then I printed the kids in their Santa hats that I have taken every year and attached the pictures with magnets. All three kids have worn the same Santa outfit as babies. It's hard to tell who is who.
This one below is actually Hunter. He was pretty cute....and looked just like Tessa. It's uncanny. My bookends are so much alike in looks and personality.
Here is our tree this year. No presents yet. And it's on a the table. Can you guess why? I'll give you a clue. Unbreakable ornaments are on the bottom 2 feet. (And no, my floor is usually not this clean at all).
This picture was taken on the second day the tree was up. She had filched Baby Jesus out of his basket stripped him naked and was grabbing an ornament on the tree. It took about three days to train her to not touch the tree. We lost four ornaments which were saved with super glue. 18 month olds and trees aren't a good mix but thankfully she knows now to leave it alone. The only Nativity set low enough this year to touch is the kid's Veggie Tales one. Keeping it classy!
My older two have decided that the best thing to do is turn on the fireplace (yeah, we are city slickers who turn ours on with a switch) and lay by the tree with lights on. Tonight they were watching "Mickey's Christmas Carol" before bed - a favorite of mine.
I thought we would decorate the mantle with some fun graphic words that celebrated the meaning of the season. I found a few prints off of pinterest, put my favorite two in frames, and I wrote the kid's favorite verse with dry erase marker on the picture frame glass which has been backed with burlap type fabric.
The main way we have decided to refocus on Christmas is to tell the kids that they only will be receiving two gifts from us this year and one family gift to share. The rest of the money that we could have spent on them will be donated to World Vision's Gift Catalog where each child got to pick out something to give. One would think that the kids would have been super disappointed but they were not at all. We had spent all of November focusing on what we were thankful for and writing it down every night and discussing how they were much more blessed than others. They were really eager to pick something out when it came time for Christmas. Hunter picked a goat, Ainsley a sheep and we gave two chickens for Tessa. We printed the pictures of what they gave and hung them up.

Tone and I spread out all the presents the other night along with the presents sent to us from Grandparents and other family and we realized they were still making a haul. There was absolutely no need to buy them more and it was far more fun to be able to spend a lot on someone else.

We also counted up the amount for stamps and realized $60 for our Christmas card list could be better spent elsewhere. Guess what? For the first time in nine years, we are not sending out cards. I kinda feel a little like the Grinch but's it's kind of a relief and everyone we know is already connected through this blog or Facebook. But we did take our kids to pick out a present for our church's Mission Christmas toy drive. Anyhow, a Christmas letter always feels to me a little like bragging.

Christmas has not lost any joy or magic by toning down the presents and materialism this year. We feel that we still have much joy and magic but by refocusing we have actually added to the meaning and joy of the message of God's gift. We are always a bit stretched during the month of December, but this year it's not because we spent such an excess on ourselves, but because we have spent the same amount but a lot more of it on others.

And just in case this post sounds like we are bragging, ummm, no. I am actually super humbled this year by refocusing and looking at the amount we have spent on ourselves each year, and even so, how much we still are. This little bit of giving stretched us a little and in some ways, that is a bit sad. We decided to try it and experience the joy of giving when we are stretched even just a little. By giving a little more, I feel more materialistic than I did last year when we didn't give near as much. I think God is teaching us this holiday season.

But we haven't gone super spiritual and taken the fun out of Christmas too. For one thing, I don't think Christianity and fun belong in separate sentences. The kids are having so much fun experiencing the season. Today we did a big Christmas craft and we are baking, watching Christmas parades, putting Baby Jesus under the tree, playing with the Nativity set, caroling, and experiencing all the usual fun bits of the season. And we TOTALLY are doing Elf on the Shelf with our elf up to all kinds of tricks. Call us heathens now.

However, a highlight for me was that last night, Ainsley walked into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and initiated a conversation with me about God's reason for being born on earth. She had mostly figured out the Gospel message from our various conversations, but during the course of our conversation last night, it clicked. She could explain it herself in cute little four year old vernacular and it was absolutely precious. I know that later she will need to believe for herself outside of what I have told her, but right now, she has the faith of a child and completely believes that God loves her, was punished for her, and is her friend forever and she will be with Him forever. God, and how He loves us and who He is, is a part of our daily conversations all the time in our household. I truly believe that He should be first and foremost in conversations and decisions in our house, but in a nonlegalistic and natural way.

This is going to be a very fun Christmas season and so far has proven to be a meaningful one.
"God Bless Us Everyone!" in the words of Tiny Tim.
(Since we watched that tonight, I guess it's on the brain.)

Dec 4, 2011

Holiday pictures

We always do a family picture of the five of us in my Aunt's yard on Thanksgiving day. We have done it for the last six years but this year we spend Thanksgiving in Missouri with Tone's family. So we missed our family portrait shot. However, I did have the presence of mind to at least get a picture of the kids in the leaves before we left and then another picture in Christmas outfits today. So Tone and I aren't in it this year...there is always next year.
Tessa was in rare form today and cheesing it up for the camera. I think Ainsley is cold and Hunter lost a front tooth this week making him extra cute.So I thought I would get a couple pictures of just her alone. I promise she really does have two hands. I just didn't want to ruin the moment and fix her sweater. Moments like this with 18 month olds are very fleeting. Very, very, fleeting.
I got six shots off of her grinning and chuckling her head off before she was done. So here is one more for ya. I know. I think she's kind of adorable too. But then you don't have to live with her mood swings.
She likes to shout, "DONE!" as loud as she can when she is over something. And when she shouts it she means business and has certainly decided in her little mind that it's OVER.
Yeeup. She's done and all business.