Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh how I love this month.  I've made a promise to myself this year, though.  I am calling it my season of simplicity.  This year I will relax and enjoy, take time to look, smell, and see all around me.  Make opportunities to be joyful of all this time of year means to me.  I will only pick the things I want to do and if it's too much...I'm not doing it.  In years past, I have a tendency to take something I enjoy and then stress myself out about it.  What fun is that?  I have decided to scale down yet some more on my kids gifts.  Why oh why do they need more stuff?  Yes, they love it but they don't need it. I am more than half the problem.  I see everything they would love.  But again, do they need it?  I have to stop myself, and I'm sure I could give them even less.
I made my gift list short this year.  Not because I'm stingy or don't love to give (I'm actually the opposite), but because we just put too much importance on gifts this time of year and since everyone gets to choose what gifts mean to them and how to give them, I choose to not just give stuff.  I've made some little things here and there I'll give away but this time of year just isn't about gifts.  Its about traditions, time with family, love and sharing.  Enjoying all we have to enjoy.

I have much to be joyful about this year. For the first time in 10 years, all of my siblings and family will be together.  It's hard when everyone is scattered everywhere to come together for Christmas but it's happening this year, and I don't even have to go anywhere!!  We are looking forward to much food eating, game playing, talking, and catching up on all the things we are busy with our lives.  I can't wait.  Let the season begin!!

And now a catch-up on photos:

Isn't that hat adorable? My mom made it.

Taylor in Taekwondo stance

Goofing off during the week off for Thanksgiving

No biting nails=pretty shellac french hands look so strange in this photo though.

Taylor and hannah made our thanksgiving table centerpiece-a tree branch with leaves pressed between clear contact paper and hung with threads (family fun magazine idea)

Oh the food was so yummy!

Flowers made for headbands and barrettes

making me have a heart attack: Mike and Taylor putting up lights

Alley cat's favorite napping place

Taylor's excited to have the tree done! Silly kid.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We have a farm-fresh, preservative-saline-additive-frozen-free turkey coming to us tomorrow compliments of Mike's boss who raises turkey (chicken and goats) on his hobby farm.  I'm wondering if it will taste different, as in better?
I love Thanksgiving and all the food, but I think the leftovers are my favorite.  When you are standing in a kitchen cooking for several hours, the excitement of eating that food kindle dwindles, so the leftovers seem to taste better.
Mike and I might brave the crowds Thanksgiving night to go to Target, I just can't do it by myself.  There are some crazies out there.

Looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend and spending time with my family.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!

PS-I am on day 21 of not biting my nails.  I've heard it takes 30 days to make or break habit so I'm almost there and my nails are looking good.  I'm rewarding myself with more shellac manicures. Yay!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mike and I have held off for many years buying new furniture or the latest TV.  Actually in our whole marriage we have only bought one set of living room furniture and have never had any kind of home theatre anything.  We have kept it pretty low tech around here.  So about a month ago, we re-did the whole family room. We didn't mess around.  We love it and we have dispersed the existing furniture to my office and the master bedroom which now actually looks like a bedroom!!
Here are the results (master isn't ready for photos yet, the walls are still pretty bare):

Now when we all watch TV there is enough space for everyone.

I love having the love seat in my office.  The kids sit on it and chat with me, or I can sit down and be comfortable while working on client sketches.  Yay!

Hannah helping me with the apple strainer I borrowed from my sister.  A wonderful invention when you are making buckets of applesauce.
We have been enjoying fall activities around here, as well as loading up the pantry and eating/canning all things apple.  How I love fall apple season!  Since I have read the Little House book series approx. 5 times in my childhood, I think I would have faired well back in those days.  Except for not having running water and riding in a bumpy wagon, and having excess amounts of children, and dying of diseases we don't have now...besides all that I would have appreciated the season of harvesting.  I have 14 quarts of apple sauce, 14 half pints of apple butter and we have enjoyed apple pies and caramel apples.

We added a new and exciting tool to our pumpkin carving activity-the drummel.  That thing can really carve a pumpkin well.  When I was in art college, my roommate who was a very gifted artist, always entered the pumpkin carving contest at school.  Now you can imagine the works of art from all those art students,  and she won two years, compliments of that drummel tool.  She sculpted and carved the pumpkins until they no longer looked like one.  Being the clean one in the house, I was the one that spent months after cleaning tiny dried-up pieces of pumpkin off the walls, table, floor.  So it brought back memories as I cleaned up dried-up pumpkin off my counters, floors, cabinets and hair.

Hannah and I enjoyed an afternoon at the pumpkin farm while the boys stayed at home.  Taylor has grown up and matured since last fall, where now going to the pumpkin patch is not a cool or age appropriate activity anymore. Blah.

I am trying to put an end to a very bad habit I've had since I was a child...nail biting.  My nails aren't very nice even when I grow them out but I figured since I was 35 it might be time to stop that habit.  I had my nails (really short nails) manicured and she applied the shellac polish.  It's supposed to help your natural nail and the polish doesn't wear out for 14 days.  I am at day 11 and only one nail has chipped.  The polish is very shiny and durable and I have NOT bitten my nails!  The pay off is nice looking nails, so I am setting aside money in my budget to get regular manicures and shellac.  That is my reward for not biting the darn things. 

On another bad habit front, Hannah is still sucking her thumb regardless of the expander appliance she had installed about a month ago.  We have to turn this one every day with a little key that fits in it.  By the time she gets actual braces it will be a walk in the park with all these appliances she has.  The ortho said we could have them weld a bar across the top of it, but most kids stop sucking their thumb after the regular appliance since it's at the roof of her mouth.  Well, Hannah isn't most kids and she relies on that thumb to put herself asleep.  Oy.

 The pets in our house are beyond pampered.  Alley cat got a "window seat" to discourage using the new couch as his pillow.
Isa likes to burrow in my covers because she is cold all the time.  Good thing we keep her clean.

And lastly, this past weekend my Mom and sister and I finally went on a fun weekend we have been trying to plan for awhile.  We left hubbies, kids and pets, and went to IKEA in salt lake!  We love that place and both of us used to live near one so we went there and to the outlets in park city and other stores.  We had a grand time and got in some holiday shopping. We shopped, got to eat whatever we wanted (lots of asian and sushi twice!), we had nowhere to be except where we wanted to go.   I think we need to start a tradition and make it 2 nights instead of just one.  We had a couple hiccups.  It snowed and the fan on my car decided to stop working so it was a little chilly inside.  There was heat, just no fan.  Of all the times to do that.  My car never does that.  And then we took a different way home and the worst accident of that area including a 49 vehicle accident happened and the road was closed all day.  So we waited about 3 hours for it to open.  But you know, when you don't have a schedule it's all okay.  I got to hang with my favorite ladies and I hope we do it next year!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's start with some good facts.  Neither of my kids have been to the emergency room, which is pretty good considering I have an 11 year old, in fact he hasn't even had to go to the doctor in probably two years.  No stitches, no broken bones.  I always knew that Hannah, my energetic, crazy climbing, gymnastics girl would be the first one to go.
Last Thursday, unfortunately that came true.
It was the afternoon, the kids were home from school.  Earlier in the day I had picked up the candy pictured above.  I rarely buy candy. I have no willpower and it makes Hannah WAY too hyper.  But I had a crazy work day and I needed sugar.  So I gave her a couple pieces.  Minutes later I hear a choking noise.  Followed by more choking.  Then feet running into my office.  Her face was red, she was grabbing her throat.  I wasn't too worried.  I asked her if it was stuck, she only nodded.  I looked in her mouth.  I turned her around and did the heimlich about two times.  It didn't do anything.  Her face was really red.  I was worried at this point that she wasn't getting air.  The size of these candies are perfect for getting stuck in her airway.  Without hesitation I tell Taylor to call 911, now.  Hannah is now on her hands and knees drooling and I can hear that damn candy rattling in her throat.  Now I'm freaking out, but she is so panicked I can't be.  I tell her it's okay, people are coming to help.  I'm giving the dispatcher our address and she is telling me to look at Hannah's face.  Then I hear a wonderful sound, a little voice that says, "I don't want an operation."  That sound told me she COULD breathe, if she was talking, she was getting air.  She was really scared and the paramedics came and said she had to go to the hospital, as the candy was now lodged right in her trachea.  She was upset because it was hurting and she couldn't swallow, so she was drooling.  Her vitals were fine, she wanted paper to draw on, because she  said, "It relaxes me."  We get to the ER and she starts looking really pale.  The nurses get us a bed and check her and leave, saying the doctor will come in.  Now, the ER was really busy. I understand we are about a 1 on the important list here, she is breathing, etc., but everyone's attitude was killing me!! This is like a #10 emergency to me!

She is looking really uncomfortable trying not to move because her throat really hurts.  Then she starts gagging and I'm worried that stupid candy is moving-well it did move.  Up and out! I've never been happier to see bright blue puke!  She leans back on the pillow and starts watching TV, like nothing at all had happened. 

Good grief.  I've stayed calm and re-assuring but at that moment I lost it.  What could have happened was racing through my mind and I was so incredibly grateful she was okay.  Mike picked us up and in an hour she was running around the house antagonizing her brother, like usual.

It's crazy how a couple minutes or seconds can change your life.  I'm so thankful my girl is okay.  She said she wasn't eating candy anymore, but that didn't really stick for 24 hours. However, we will not be eating any Tootsie drop pops soon, or at all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I read an article the other day about rising food costs and it had some families in there that were talking about how they shop and how much they spend, and how higher food prices have affected their family budgets.
Now before I go on, I'm really not a professional shopper, or couponer...just a regular mom that shops for a family of four BUT I use some strategies that has really saved me money.

Anyway, the Mom, who has three kids and a husband complains that she used to spend $100 a week and now because of food costs she has to spend $150 a week.  She said that her kids ate 8 boxes of cereal a week and it was hard to keep up because of how much they eat.
I'm thinking to myself, cereal is one of the most expensive things to buy right now.  Only if I can get it for a little over a dollar a box do we buy it.  So we eat pancakes, oatmeal, toast, fruit, yogurt, smoothies.....etc. instead for breakfast.  There's your extra $50 a week lady!! You're spending it on cereal!!! Make some muffins the night before and serve them with fruit and milk.  I admit I live in an area where food costs aren't as high as national prices but if you are trying to reduce grocery costs, you can't just do into the grocery store and shop to buy whatever you want.  
I'll stop now.
I'm just sick of hearing people complain about all they don't have, what they lack, rising costs, down economy.
Go look at your healthy kids, stand in your home, look in your cupboard and feel thankful for all you do have!  And if you don't have any of those, call a friend-they can help you see the goodness around you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

something I made for today.  It was fun to think of all the things that make up our life together

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Confession: I don't have any videos of my kids when they were really young.  Well that isn't completely true, I have some from my digital camera, but they are really short.  When Taylor was a baby, we were so young and broke, just paying bills was an accomplishment.  I was going to be prepared for Hannah though! Two months before she was set to arrive, we bought a camcorder with a work bonus I got.  I was so excited to fulfill my parental duty of getting videos.  So we taped our way through Thanksgiving, and Christmas before she was born (Taylor was almost 3) and Mike videotaped her birth.  I specifically remember getting my epidural, gripping my Mom's hand, and he is filming behind me saying, "Wow honey, that needle is REALLY long".  Um, thanks babe for sharing.  Well right after Hannah was born our house was broken into by some naughty teenagers and they took the camera.  I was so upset (hormones still running strong and all) and heart broken.  For weeks I put fliers up around our neighborhood pleading to just give us back the tape-leave it on our front porch, anything! Keep the damn camcorder, just give me my tape.  No such thing, it was long gone. 

Since I'm a visual person, I make "pictures" of things to remember them and ever since my kids were born, I have been making these memory snapshots in my head when I really want to remember a specific moment.  When I held each baby for the first time, I will never forget that.  Details of their birth gets fuzzier as they get older but I remember that moment of holding them for the first time, looking into their beautiful face.  Another one I have is of Hannah as a baby.  We lived in this old home built in 1920 and her room had a great built-in dresser, high moldings and we painted it a lovely lavender color...can you tell I loved her room?  I had a rocking chair by her window and I spent hours rocking, singing, nursing and holding her.   I remember telling myself to remember this time with her, those moments of holding my sweet baby, getting her ready for a nap or feeding her through the night and the feeling of complete happiness I had.

This morning since Mike was up before me as always on a Sunday morning, he brought in the Sunday paper. Taylor was already up too, but like me he likes to glide into the day.  Meaning a slow start, so he came in, nestled into his Dad's spot with pillows and read the paper with me.  That was a snapshot of him so comfortable, hanging out with me, reading the paper and the comics, giggling every so often, or sharing a story he was reading.  I love that kid and the ease of the morning and just relaxing.  I love that he enjoys the paper, it shows me how curious he is about everything in the world. That was today's snapshot.

There are so many memories with these kids, and as I keep this digital keepsake of memories and write in their journals that I have kept since I was pregnant with them, I guess it will have to be enough and in place of videos. I'll keep making those snapshots of memories....and there is always the thousands of photos I have taken, too.

Now here is a really dark video of Hannah taking her first steps (while sucking her thumb):

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It is officially fall!  I am really ready for the weather to be cold.  We thought picking apples would be a good thing so off we went to get some fresh fuji's off the tree of a local farm.  We picked a couple bushels.  The apples had many holes in them but they will be perfect for applesauce and apple butter that is in the schedule tonight.

Anniversary gift
Mike and I are celebrating our 12th anniversary next week and we've been wanting to waste less money at Starbucks so we got an espresso maker for our annivesary gift.  Turns out there is a lot to know about espresso makers: the difference in how they extract the coffee flavor, the power of the steam and etc.  That means I bought the wrong one, returned it and ordered the right one off Amazon.  Next week we will be happily sipping our own homemade espresso's.  I even ordered Starbuck's syrup and espresso pods.  I'll let you know how we like it!

Dinner games
The other night while Mike was gone at dinner time, the kids and I came up with a fun game called "Charades behind the curtain".  We have these curtains in our dining area and as the sun sets, if you go behind the curtain, it makes a perfect silouhette.  So we took turns acting out things behind the curtains.  I'm telling you it was dinnertime fun!

Shopping and the closet
I went through my closet and am 3 bags lighter of clothes to be donated and I actually threw away about 6 pairs of shoes.  You know, flip flops that are getting retired from summer, boots that were chewed on by long ago puppies.  My closet looks much more organized.  I also did some shopping lately (the real reason I need to weed through my closet) and found a really cute fall dress that needed the perfect pair of brown boots (I found some later), some great jeans, and a cute shirt.

october school break
The kids get a three day weekend next week (teacher inservice + budget reduction days) and we are looking forward to some museum adventures, maybe seeing a movie and making these with some pretty autumn leaves.

Colorful Fall printables
And last but NOT least, I came across a post from a favorite blog that has a link to some great fall printables to liven up your home. I think I might have to do a fall baking post soon with all the great recipes I want to try.

Aren't they so cute?
Oh, by the way, you really should try Pinterest.  It's a virtual pinning board-a place to keep things you like on the internet.  Here is my board:

We really love sweet potatoes.  Really.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ok, I'm now ready for fall as September almost comes to close.  Life seems to be settling back into a more fall kind of rhythm.  The air is a bit chillier in the mornings, but afternoons are still warm.  I haven't been very motivated the past couple weeks but I have gotten back into an exercise routine.  I am happy to report I didn't completely lose it all summer and just lie around, which is a big step for me.  Usually I get into exercise, then leave it for months, and so on.  Dancing with the Stars is coming back on and I usually like to do the elliptical while I watch it-good motivation.

Our last couple weeks have been filled with a fun game on the PlayStation called Sing Star.  Karaoke!!  We each get a microphone and then while it plays the video, you sing along and try to hit all the notes to get as many points as you can.  I picked this game out because I LOVE to sing.  Surprisingly, Hannah wants to be only the audience and Taylor loves to sing with me.  The first night we sang our hearts out for 2 hours.  Taylor has now decided he likes Cold Play, U2 and Maroon 5.  The music selection doesn't have a lot of newer songs but lots of older ones, so we have been singing to the 80's and 90's stuff.  He rolls his eyes when he hears me say, "I listened to this when I was in HIGH School", and then we sing R.E.M.  Fun stuff.  He will not join me for any Whitney Houston songs, though.

I have also been helping my Mom re-do her guest room.  She wants a cottage look, so we have had fun picking the wall color and accent colors.  She hates blue but I showed her how pretty the walls in a yellow would be with some ice blue and chocolate brown together.  I'll have to put pictures up when we finish.  We found the perfect bedding and some art for the walls. 

Hannah started gymnastics last week.  We have been going back and forth about whether to enroll her in a "serious" class (costing "serious" money).  She has taken gymnastics in other classes, but they are a little more casual.  She really loves being active and gymnastics is fast moving, and has lots of variety.  After getting her in the right level, she is right at home.  She can eventually be in a competetive team but right now she is learning more basics, but they have parallel bars, beams, trampolines, she is in heaven. Her class in 90 minutes and she wants the 2 hour one.  That girl has endless energy!  She is very motivated and seems to be enjoying herself, so we'll see how it goes.  

Well I better go as I am supposed to be hard and work and not on here!!

Spencer and Rendi rockin out with Sing Star.

Hannah LOVES wearing my shoes and boots.

My basil survived long enough for me to hack it down and make fresh pesto-sooo delicous.  Didn't get a pic of our finished dish because we ate it up. It's Hannah's favorite new pasta dish. 

Homemade pop tarts without the icing.  These were a hit, I made some with Nutella and some with strawberry jam.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'm a posting fool!

Well I decided to switch up my do again and CUT all my hair off. I love change and I love how it turned out.  My kids say I look weird.
Those are some nice kitchen cupboards as the back drop to my photo!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hannah LOVES spending time with friends.  She loves to be busy and social.  She enjoys spending as much time with friends, family and cousins as possible.  I am a middle-of-the-road social person. I enjoy time with friends, but I love my home and my down time and need lots of it to stay centered in life.  So when Hannah is constantly asking to play and have friends over, we've had a learning process on how to find the right mix, as well as working through friendships.

Last year she started a friendship with a girl that lived across the street and was a year older.  She wanted to be with her every minute and they even went to the same gymanstics place.  I thought it was fine, but I started noticing some things about her friend, that for privacy reasons we'll call Megan, that I didn't like.  She never asked me for things, she would get Hannah to, she would do things I told them not to do behind my back and be  secretive.  Then her and Hannah started fighting and together they got into big trouble at school.  So I would say they needed a break, and then the drama would start again.  They would yell at each other and constantly say, 'I'm not your friend".  Megan even punched her and called her a bitch!!! WHOA!  Then her Mom would come over asking what was wrong. It was too much for me. I like a peaceful household and I don't tolerate drama. At all.  Then Hannah started saying Megan was mean if Hannah didn't do what she asked.  Then when new neighbors moved in with two girls Hannah's age, and Megan told Hannah they were her new friends, she was never playing with her and Hannah couldn't play with them.  Oy.  That was my breaking point.  There is a lot more to this story, but I'm trying to keep it short!

So I told Hannah not to walk to school with her anymore and Megan started calling her names.  I won't tell you about the major drama from her Mom acting like a high schooler but basically in May I had enough.  Megan came over and I told her that Hannah was no longer ever, going to play with her.  She was a bully, and I, as her Mom had to look after what was best for her and their friendship was not good.  Hannah didn't have a problem with it, she was sick of her too.

  I noticed Hannah much happier and she played with another girl in the neighborhood.  Just yesterday the girl comes over with her Mom asking why she couldn't play with Hannah-AGAIN.  I patiently and kindly told her she had done things Hannah didn't like, and I thought it best they didn't play together.  Although I feel bad for this child, as kids don't normally act this way, I had to hold my ground.  I told her I wasn't trying to be mean but the friendship wasn't good. 

I felt sooooo bad!! But I knew I had to do it.  Megan's mom (who was speaking to me the first time in months) said some friendships don't work out.  And off they went.  I really hope Megan learns what her actions do to others and I am so happy the drama is over and Hannah is back to playing with sweet girls in the neighborhood. The new neighborhood girls aren't friends with Megan now either and their Mom won't let Megan in their house.  My heart goes out to Megan, she obviously needs someone in her life to help her understand the consequences of her actions.

It's been a lesson for Hannah and I to learn.  Hannah learned how to stick up for herself and that accepting someone treating you so badly is not a friendship.  I had to learn to set boundaries on friends and listen to my gut, and teach Hannah what a good friend does and doesn't do.  I hate to tap into my Mama bear protective side and say enough is enough.  I'm sure as she gets older there will be much more to learn but I really hope she understands a bit about respecting herself from this. There will always be bullies, unfortunately.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My 6th grader, and third grader
 My babes started school, I finished a work project and so I had a whole week (!) to catch up on things around the house. I was very productive and got my windows washed, insect/yard guy to spray, the carpets cleaned (I actually hired somebody to do that), house cleaned, clothing organized and enjoyed the bounty of harvest this area has to enjoy during August and September.

I got 4 dozen ears of corn and blanched it for freezing, I bought 2 flats of strawberries and made jam and froze lots for soothies, I got a whole bag of peaches that I made a peach pie with and made peach jam.  Woohoo! I tried a new recipe on the strawberry jam that used something other than pectin to thicken so I didn't have to use so much white sugar to sweeten, so I tried honey.  It is good, and you can taste the fruit instead of just sugar.   I am looking forward to apple crops a little later coming in season so I can make applesauce and apple butter.  The weather is still warm though and it doesn't feel anything like fall so until I start burrowing in for the fall and winter, I'll make the most of the sunshine! Here are some orderly and random shots from my phone and camera.
The first day of school cupcakes...those are supposed to be blackboards, chalk and apples!

Love idaho sweet corn

Yummy corn for the freezer

I was losing my knack for making pies, so I had to practice.

Phew! It was delicious, my pie making skills have made a comeback. That crust would be all butter. No shortening around here. Paula Dean would be proud!

15 jars of honey strawberry jam and 5 peach ones (not pictured)

family pic taken at my Mother-in-law's house

I will enjoy these during the winter in smoothies.

 A new clock for my office-just thought you'd like to see it

A new photo for my office-I said there would be random pics...isn't that bird pretty?
Hannah wanted all her hair cut and "side bangs". She specifically wanted bangs that swept to the side.  Where does she get this??