Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our weekend

Our weekend started with lots of family over for Thanksgiving. Lots of food and fun and thankfulness.

Jeff is drooling over the table, can you tell?

We followed it up with a little Band Hero in our jammies.

Just when we thought we couldn't stuff ourselves anymore, the next day we had a left over party with my sister's family and made gingerbread houses. I forgot my camera, so you'll just have to imagine it, okay?

But then Saturday morning, we made the kids get up super early for our BIG surprise that we have had planned for a month!

They are obviously thrilled to be in the car so early.

Our big Surprise? The Santa Train!!!!!!!
Having six children, sometimes exciting, money costing things don't happen as often as any of us would like. But we splurged on this.

The Santa train leaves from Elme, Wa. Near Mt. Rainier. It goes around a big loop for 2 hours while you drink hot chocolate, eat cookies and visit with Santa.

I didn't get a picture of the front of the train. Sometimes you're just so excited that you forget important stuff.

But we remembered all the kids, so I felt preeety darn successful.

They have a real, live conductor even.

Nora was very excited about her ticket.

And everyone loved getting their tickets punched!

I will show all the Santa pictures tomorrow, for the viewing pleasure of two grandma's I know. The rest of you can tune in too, if you want.
But this post is already long enough.

After the Santa train, we decided to go and get a tree. An honest to goodness, live Noble fur tree.

We hunted down our tree, and carefully chose based on color and symmetry.
Mostly the kids just yelled "We like this one, we like this one!"

The lovely tree farm people (yes we bought it from a tree farm. We are not currently equipped clothing wise to go traipsing through the forest, and I like to support the local economy) wrapped the tree for us, and we tied it down to the roof of the big blue van.

When we got home, we put on the Christmas music while Jeff got out the Christmas decorations and shook the tree a little for me. Which didn't do much for my peace of mind, so as I told you yesterday, I vacuumed it.

But whilst vacuuming, I found this:

It's not a random collection of twigs and hay, it is a perfectly formed little bird's nest!
That's super lucky because some sweet little mama bird thought our tree was the best place for her new babies.

So we left the nest in the tree, and gave it to a new little birdie.

The we, well me actually, decorated our mantel. I am in love with silver, white and blue this year.

And I was so happy to see the apothecary jars holding such sparkly things.

It was just a super fun weekend. Chock full of being together, starting new traditions, and just looking forward to Christmas. I love Christmas. And this year I am so excited for every bit of it.

Tomorrow I will be sharing the Santa pictures, and issuing a challenge. You're ready for a little challenge, right?

Thanks for being here, as always.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New holiday cleaning tradition

Dear Santa~
It's hard to see what I'm doing.
So I'll just tell ya.
I'm vacuuming our Christmas tree.

What? You don't do that?

Well, I didn't either until this year, because this is the first real tree we've had since 2002.

And I hate bugs and dead pine needles. So I vacuumed the tree.
And my husband and children commented on my odd-ness, and then Jeff decided to document my loony-ness for future generations.

But I felt a heck of a lot better once that tree was vacuumed, yessir-ie, I did.

But, while vacuuming our tree, I found something wonderful and lucky.
Which I will tell you all about tomorrow. Plus, I'll fill you in on our awesome Thanksgiving weekend.

But for today, I will leave you with thoughts on why we must vacuum our trees and tell you about a lovely little machine that would be a fantastic gift for neurotic holiday cleaners like myself.
It is the revolutionary machine that cleans your hard floor surfaces for you.
And Santa, the Mint Cleaner is available at Amazon!

And I super duper hope want it because cleaning my solid flooring is the bane of my existence. Seriously.

And maybe, if Santa is the thrifty, creative guy that I know he is, he will find something similar for a lot cheaper. Just saying.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

At the table of Thanksgiving

On Monday, we had a lesson on gratitude for family night.
We talked a little about being grateful, and then I gave them each a chocolate Lindt truffle.
They felt pretty grateful.
Then, as soon as the chocolate was completely eaten, I made them go stand on the front porch in their bare feet. In the snow.
They did NOT feel grateful.
After torturing them for about 30 seconds(I stood in it too), we went back inside.
In the warmth of our own living room, I asked them to describe how the snow felt on their feet.
Words like, cold, burning, freezing, awful, were used.
Then I asked them if any of them had thought of the chocolate truffle at all while they were standing in the snow.
No, they had not.
So we discussed how, when things are not going well in life, why we only think of those negative things, and why we forget all the good things in our life,all the blessings.
Then I had them look around the room and find everything red.
As soon as they were done with that, I had them close their eyes and tell me how many silver things were in the room.
They were not successful.
So we talked about how when we focus so hard on one thing, mainly bad things for my example, then we can't see anything else.
And do you know, they actually got it?
And better yet, I got it.
It's so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, ask why me, cry and dwell on the negative things, and then completely forget all of our tremendous blessings.
But that is so boring.
What is fun, is counting our blessings, and being thankful for every moment.
Yesterday, as I cleaned and readied for Thanksgiving, I found myself a little annoyed at the pile of mismatched socks. And I wondered why it was so hard for children to keep track of their socks.
But almost instantly, I saw in my mind's eye, a future me. Walking around the empty house, tidying up and preparing for all of my grown children to come home for Thanksgiving.
And that future me couldn't care one bit that those sweet children ever had mismatched socks.
So I decided that present-time me wasn't going to care either. Not about mismatched socks, not about tendencies to leave toys lying around, not about spills or loud craziness.
Because I will miss it someday.
So count your blessings today and everyday. Try and remember that you are loved by a good, kind Father in Heaven who truly just wants to pour blessings upon you.
Open your arms to receive those blessings.
And then don't forget them when your day is cruddy, or your car breaks down, or you chip a tooth. (I totally just did that, so I'm grateful that I still have all my other teeth)
And know that I am grateful for each of you, for reading my blog, for giving my thoughts/words a place to land.
Have the best Thanksgiving ever!

Monday, November 22, 2010

To Do List

I know that this time of year, it is a popular notion to have lists of what we are thankful for.
Gratitude lists, lists of all the blessings.

And while I have that list ready to go, for today I have something much more time consuming and dreaded.

A To Do list.

Why? Because I am hosting Thanksgiving this year.

Thankfully and gratefully hosting Thanksgiving because our family who lives on the other side of the mountain pass, graciously agreed to come here instead so that all of us "coasties" wouldn't have to travel over a snowy, mountain pass in our cars that are only equipped for rain.

But because I am neurotic (have we met?) I have created a huge list for myself of what I need to do to have my house ready to host such a fantastic holiday.

Are you ready for it? I'm sure many of you have similiar lists.

1. Clean all the bathrooms.
-Guests must be able to wash up for dinner without stepping on toys or UNDERWEAR and without gagging when they see the condition of the sinks and toilets.

2. Thoroughly clean kitchen floor.
-This way gravy and turkey juice spills will have a clean place to land.

3. All laundry clean and put away.
-Guests should not be witness to the mound of laundry buildup that includes UNDERWEAR. Clean, but UNDERWEAR nevertheless.

4.Last minute grocery shopping.
-Ham(for my allergic hubby-yes, he's allergic to turkey), drinks, butter, sweet potatoes.

5. Last minute shopping for table display.
-We are inheriting a 12 person table, and I am only set up currently to decorate an 8 person table. So off to Joanns I go.

6. Wiping down all appliances.
-This one came to me this morning. Who wants to cook in a kitchen with drip marks and handprints on everything?

7. Clean all windows.
-it's supposed to be sunny and 40 degrees here on Thanksgiving. We should be able to see the light streaming in unfettered by sticky hand prints and what I can only guess is a strange smudge from someone licking the window.

8. Vacuum the stairs.
-When my inlaws head upstairs to go to bed, they should not have granola bar pieces and "stuff" sticking to their socks.

9. Clean all children's rooms.
-There will be cousins here. And nothing is worse than trying to play when you have to step over garbage, toys and especially:UNDERWEAR. We have a theme going.

10. Wash sheets.
-Although the inlaws love us, I'm sure they would prefer to sleep on clean sheets, and not the ones we've been sleeping on.

11. Clean my oven
-When you have a turkey cooking for 6hours, you really shouldn't be smelling the burning smell of pizza cheese stuck to the bottom of the oven.

12.Clean The office -dun, dun, dun, dunnnnn
-Yes, the dreaded office. The dropping off point for all things without a home. The spot for piles of bills and papers that need to be shredded but haven't. The place of dead computers and toys that have lost their way.
-And if any guests need to use the computer, they should not be stepping over all of those things. But at least this is one room in the house with no UNDERWEAR! I think.

13. Clean My bedroom
-We will be lending our bedroom to Jeff's mom and dad, and for sure they will want to rest in comfort and be able to get up in the middle of the night without stepping over all the clean laundry that has found it's way into our room. Including, you guessed it, UNDERWEAR.

14. Clean the rest of the house.
-The parts of the house already not mentioned usually stay pretty tidy. But for this event, with lots of family and a NEW BABY, I want everything sparkling, sanitary, and clean.

So there you have it. I haven't even started yet and I'm tired. But excited. I love this time of year, I love the preparations (including the cleaning, so don't feel sorry for me) and I love gathering with our families and sharing what we're thankful for.

So I am off to begin my list, and if you need me, I'm sure you will be able to find me.

I'll be picking up UNDERWEAR.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Family Room

So now I can let out a big sigh of relief. For the entire 2 1/2 years that we have lived in this house, the family room as been my nemesis.

Yes, my nemesis.

No matter what I did with it, it always felt lacking, not comfortable enough, not situated right, not homey enough.

I went through 3 different sets of couches.

I only bought one of them, off of craigslist for super cheap.

The first set I already had, the third set was given to us.

The last set, a couch and chair, are this beautiful yellow. They used to be my mother in law's, who happens to have wonderful taste in everything.

So when she offered them, I jumped.

And then within a month, we had written on, spilled on, and generally destroyed what was once beautiful.

So I schemed and imagined how I could fix that.

Slipcovers are expensive, good ones.
I might be able to make some, but the material would still be 200 bucks, and who knows how it would turn out.

So then, while perusing the internet, I came upon some ikea couches that had similiar lines.
And Ikea's white slipcovers are super cheap.

So I figured I had nothing to lose.

So for 50 bucks for the sofa, and 40 dollars for the chair, I was able to slipcover the yellow couches.

And the red couch leftover from sometime in the middle of my decorating angst, I just put a white coverlet on it, leftover from a bedroom redo.

Now, I know you're saying, white? why would you buy white?!
Because I can take them off and bleach them. That's why.

And for 90 dollars total, I would have taken almost any color.

I bought this frame at Goodwill for 2 bucks. It was gold.
I spraypainted it white, and then put chalkboard paint on the cardboard backing.
Yup, that chalkboard is just cardboard.

Then I spray painted the frames on top of the red door and pulled a lamp in from another room.

The silver plate things on the wall I got at Target for 6 bucks total.
The apothecary jars were kind of a splurge at 10 bucks each, but the taller one has a bird on it. I mean really, a bird? I had to have it.

The oval silver plate was just the same white one that has always been hanging there, I just spray painted it silver.

The curtains, I made about a year ago. I loved the fabric and wanted them in the family room, but at the time they just didn't work.

But with white slipcovers and a few subtle changes, they work fabulous now.

And lastly, my one furniture purchase for this room.
We have never owned a coffee table in the 14 years we've been married.
But now that this room no longer holds a t.v., I thought it would be fantastic to have something to play board games on.

So I found this at Goodwill for 25 dollars. I primed and painted it, replaced the busted knobs, and voila!

And just so you know, I actually don't keep a bowl of baubles in reachable distance of my 2 and 4 year olds.

But a girl can dream of being able to one day, so I added that just for the picture.

So there you have it. Everything was either a Goodwill purchase and repainted, on clearance, or unbelievably cheap.

I think over the course of a year I spent 225 dollars. But that included the slipcovers and the fabric for the curtains.
It's possible to have the room you love on a budget, you just have to be patient as you look for the perfect things, and be a tad bit neurotic.

But that's me, on a budget and a tad bit neurotic. Nice to meet you!

Have a great weekend.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Maile, my sistah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And then there was one

(In case you're wondering, I refuse to cut her hair. We try to pull it out of her face most of the time, but I just can't handle it yet, so there.)

The older 4 are all at school.

Henry is at preschool.
And there is just Nora at home with me.

It's been a long time since I have had blocks of time with just one child.
And what am I doing with that time?

Sitting at the computer while she watches t.v.


I'm lame.

I love my little girl.
I just want to snuggle her and kiss her all the time.

And I would love to lay on the couch with her and do nothing but giggle and watch her favorite shows while we eat snacks.

But I have stuff to do.

Nothing as important as snuggling with Nora, but still, stuff that needs to get done.

Laundry, dishes, shower, clean my bathroom, laundry, tidying up, more laundry.

What is one to do?

What do you do when you don't want to do anything?

When the draw of your sweet 2 year old is more powerful than anything else, but everything else still has to get done at some point?


Forget about it. I'm snuggling.
Have a great day!

P.S. I was totally rejected. She didn't want to snuggle, she wouldn't share her pillow or her blankie, and she flat out told me that she doesn't like me.
I am the best mother ever!
But I still smooched, cuddled and loved on her for the whole 2 minutes she would let me.
Ah well, at least the laundry still loves me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parenting 101: Letting boys be boys

My two sweet boys are 4 1/2 years apart.

So Charlie has had to wait patiently for Henry to get old enough to wrestle with.

Of course, Charlie has to submit alot because he's laughing so hard.

Oh, if you could have heard the giggles from Charlie and the growls from Henry.
And, what's with Charlie's super dirty socks?

I'm pretty sure Charlie is just pretending to let Henry dominate him. *cough, ahem*

I don't know that brothers bond as fast any other way.

Which is why I let them do it.

Well, that and it's super funny to watch.

Charlie is a good sport, and Henry has no idea that Charlie's letting him win.

I love my boys.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Great Blackout-2010

Last night the wind howled and blew as if it would strip the trees of all their leaves.

Jeff got home from work and said "I think I should get gas for the generator."

As he filled the gas cans, the lights flickered both at the gas station and at home.

We could feel it coming. High wind here in Maple Valley means the inevitable loss of power.

Luckily I had gathered all my candles earlier in the day. Some premonition perhaps?

So when the lights finally gave their final bow and went out completely, I was ready with candles.

The children were not ready for the smothering darkness that ensued. What with the loss of the little lights from the answering machine and the time on the stove, it was black at it's pitchiest.

Some terrified screaming could be heard from an upstairs bedroom, so Jeff quickly gathered all the chicks together with us in the kitchen.

Being that it was a slightly traumatic event for the littlest ones, we broke out our car emergency kit and let them eat some snacks. Since, you know, it was an emergency of the emotional kind.

We then discussed bedtime, which was met by much wailing and gnashing of teeth when we suggested that they sleep in their own room.

Even the oldest balked at the idea of sleeping in utter darkness without us.

So we found our assortment of sleeping bags and extra blankets and bunkered down for the night in the master bedroom.

When silence finally prevailed around 11:30, we all drifted off to sleep.

When we awoke, there was still no power. So Jeff headed out to start up the generator.
It seemed that the powers that be, knew he was about to fire up the gas guzzling machine, and at that moment, the power came back on. True story.

Of course by this time, school has been cancelled, so much rejoicing occured.

So the great blackout of 2010 lasted about 12 hours.
Which means tonight, I only have to share my room with Jeff:)

(It was honestly nothing. In years past, areas have been without power for 6 or more days. But we are preparing for a more substantial loss of power later in the winter.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nora's Room

First of all, let me tell you that my four younger children have all switched bedrooms more than a few times.

We try to make things work with sleep schedules, bedtimes and boy-girl ratios.

So the room that Nora is now in, was at one time Anne Marie's room. Then Nora moved in with her. Then, when that wasn't working, Anne Marie moved out and Nora now resides in this room.

When it was still Anne Marie's room, I worked painstakingly on the wainscot look around the bottom of the wall. I didn't have money for real wainscotting, or even beadboard wallpaper. So I handpainted the little lines around the whole room.

It took days. Which for me, anything that takes days is slow torture.

But I am happy with the final product.

Now, those curtains used to be in my family room. They have traveled with me from house to house and state to state for the last 10 years. They are my favorite Ikea purchase ever. They have been in multiple master bedrooms, living rooms, and now Nora's room.

The white frame with the daisies was also in the family room, holding a picture of my children.
The picture of my children is still there, but with a different frame. (Hopefully I'll show you the family room next week, if you care. You do care, right?)

This next picture also holds some items from my family room. The star coat rack, the lamp, and the paper flowers, all used to be in my family room as well.

The birds have always been in Nora's room. My lovely friend Teresa made them for us, and they are one of my absolute favorite things.

This wall mural has an interesting back story. Well, it's interesting to me anyway. I have wanted to put owls in Nora's bedroom for about a year now. They are whimsical and sweet and easy to find at the moment. Target has a really adorable toddler bed set that has owls on the comforter. They also have a matching wall hanging, pillow and lamp.

Well I knew there was no reason to buy the bed set. Nora refuses, and I mean it literally, refuses to sleep with anything other than that white and blue flower blankie you see in the picture. She will cry and wail and not go to sleep until she has it. So why buy her anything else, no matter how cute?

But she loved the little pillow. And I loved the wall hanging. But I did not want to pay 25 dollars for an 11 x 17 wall hanging that while cute, wasn't quite big enough for the space. So I decided to be a copy cat. I am not an artist. I can't draw anything our of my own head besides stick people. But I am pretty decent at copying things. So I took of picture of the wall hanging with my phone,
praticed drawing it onto a piece of paper, and then using that as a visual guide, I painted it onto the wall.

This was an easy subject matter to do this with. The style is naturally whimsical and therefore not perfect in it's lines or color. So I was able to pull it off with a fair amount of success. Here is the link to the "real" one.

And Nora loves that I colored on the wall. She kept doing a little dance while singing, "I like it, I like it, I like it."

That little song and dance were worth all the hard work.

Finally, this chandelier. I bought this chandelier years ago at Target on clearance. It was 10 bucks. I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, but I knew I loved it-passionately. So I bought it and hung onto it. I'm a big believer in buying things that you really love. If you really love something it will fit in your home, I promise, it's true.

So finally, this dreamy little girls bedroom presented the perfect backdrop for a pink, fake crystal chandelier.

I even wired it all myself. Jeff helped me a little at the end when it required one set of hands to hold it while the other put things in place. But I will tell you, nothing is an empowering as realizing I can wire something by myself.

So there you have it folks. Reusing stuff from another room in the house, plus a little paint, and we have a fun, sweet, whimsy filled bedroom.

Now, if she'll just love it until she a tween at least.......

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sassy mouth

*Post Edit*: I am not actually worried about Nora saying butt. I don't like the word, I think it sounds kind of crass. But I don't think it's pepper in the mouth kind of language. I just found it super funny that her teasing Henry sounded more like hairy butt. Sorry if you thought I was worried about this. I'm totally not.*

I was supposed to show you pictures of other things I've been working on.

But instead I have chosen to share with you my 2 year old's new found ability to torment her brother.

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, Nora started saying "butt, butt, butt, butt".

Now, we don't use that word in our house. We really don't. Well, sometimes I do, but I'm working on it, ok?! And I try not to let anyone hear me when I say it.

Anyway, Nora continued with her recitation of this "naughty" word.

It bothered Henry to no end.

In fact he tattled on her.

"Mommmmm, Nora is saying butt."

Me. "Nora, we don't say butt."

Nora. "Butt, butt, butt, butt"

But then she took it to new heights once she figured out that it caused a reaction. She started getting Henry's attention first by saying his name, followed by saying butt. Trying super hard to irritate him.

However, she does not pronounce Henry correctly yet.(she leaves out the N)

So it came out sounding more like "hery! butt! hery! butt! hery! butt!"

I could not make this stuff up if I tried!

What do you do when it is a two year old saying this stuff?

I didn't want to bring more attention to by making a big deal out of it, and laughing certainly wasn't helping.

So I just walked away, and Hery seemed to realize that ignoring it was the best bet as well.

And then I took their picture, which will always make the center of attention baby of the family completely forget everything else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When I get bored

When I get bored, I redecorate.

And I don't mean bored as in "I have nothing to do, look at poor me sitting around all day."

No. I NEVER get that kind of bored.

But I get bored with looking at the same thing over and over. So I do things like change the mantel.

My sister can attest to my decorating neurosis.

While visiting with her family this last weekend, I made her help me rearrange the furniture in my family room, and I bored her for a good half an hour with tales of my sofa dilemma, and colors and what should go where and why I feel nuts all the time and spend hours thinking about or staring at parts of my house that aren't quite right yet.

She asked, "Is this what it's like in your head all the time?"

Um, yes.

"Well, it's exhausting."

Yes, yes it is.

As I rearranged my living room, I took old things down, or put them in new places, I added a few cheap Target and Goodwill finds, and overall I am really happy about the new direction the family room is taking.

But as I took stuff down, I kept saying "This would be cute in Nora's room."

When I was done, I had a good pile going for her room and I am now also in the middle of semi-recorating her room as well. Pictures to follow sometime this week. Hopefully of the family room too.

This redecorating frenzy started with my kitchen. I love my kitchen. I love the colors and all the stuff that would make other people crazy to look at it all the time.

But I also was needing a change in there. A change in a kitchen without painting and with no budget you say? How do you do such a thing.

I just took the doors off of some of my cupboards

What?! Are you crazy? you ask.


Let me show you.

The photos are not very good quality, but you get the idea.

It was exactly the facelift I needed. It did cost me about 20 bucks to find a few white dishes and that awesome red lamp from Goodwill to fill in the gaps, but we use every single thing in that cupboard. None of it is decorative only.

I didn't want kitchen cupboards that I couldn't use. How stupid would that be? But I arranged them in what I felt was an aesthetically pleasing way, and we use most everything on a daily basis.

I was also able to display some of my crystal that we DON"T use everyday, by mixing it with things we do use at least weekly.

So here is a before:

And after:

I also had to rearrange my drawers and placement of things on the counter a little too to accomodate where I moved the baking and lunch centers. But I am happy with the way everything is working.

It's not for everybody. Many people need clean, simple lines and this would feel like too much visual clutter. But I'm not everybody. I'm me, and I like it.

That's how I approach decorating in general. If I like it, then whatev to how other people feel about it. I mean, really, I have to live with it, no one else. family does too, but they just have to live with it too I guess.

And I'm not saying I totally discount other people's opinions. I have neighbors and my sister and sister in law who decorate completely different than I do. But when I am stuck on a color or pattern or arrangement, I like to ask them so that I can get a fresh perspective. It helps that they all know me so well, so that their advice mingles well with my style.

But ultimately, I do what I like.

And so should you.

When I first took the doors off and arranged things, I would close my eyes,jump around the corner,and then open them real quick so that I could be happily surprised everytime I walked in my kitchen.

True story.

That's how decorating should make you feel, I say.

I love getting new ideas. Taking the doors off is not my own original idea. I first saw it here.But I made it my own by adding my own flare to it.

There is so much that can be done with little to no money and a little creativity.

How do you decorate that is unique to you?

I love new ideas, so please, please share.

Now I'm off for more of what I obviously can't get enough of.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If they just listened to everything I said.......

Right after we bought our fancy schmancy camera, I threatened everyone with pain and torture if they touched it, pressed a button on it, picked it up or heaven forbid, took pictures with it!

But if they listened to everything I said, then I wouldn't get pictures like this:

Or this:

Or be still my heart, this:

On a sort of related note, Jeff's younger sister had her first baby on Saturday. A beautiful, pink, round little baby boy that I got to hold for close to an hour.

Then I spent the next half an hour after we left the hospital trying to talk Jeff into two more babies.

He wasn't convinced.

"Just two more?"


"How about one."


"How about a boy and a girl. Twins!"




This coming from the guy, who on Saturday morning cleaned out the garage, and practically did backflips as we loaded baby stuff into the car to take to Goodwill. While I moped and attempted a tear or two for sympathy.

That's right. Cuz who could stand having anymore of this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

It's called emotional blackmail. And I'm preeety sure it doesn't work on Jeff and at all.

And this is why~

Jeff has a really good memory.
But you can't blame a girl for trying, right?
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