Sunday, December 27, 2009

arrivederci(in my best Italian accent)

Christmas was lovely. Really, really lovely. I enjoyed every last moment and on Saturday morning at 7am I tore the tree down, packed the red and green totes and vacuumed up the last(well...surely not the last) pine needle. Until next year my beloved Christmas. For now this chick is moving on.
One reason it is time to get my act together. I can only take one area in my house looking like this. This mess was starting to creep out the door so I had to tame it before it took over the whole upper floor.

The second reason to end the party while every one was still alive. Big brothers are great at keep away. I'll give you a few clues as to why our tree is in the kitchen. 1. red tree skirt 2. water 3. carpet. Live and learn.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'll second that

Every year the gift I struggle with the most is always for the teachers. As Becca put it on her blog(visit here)-dreaded. I love the teachers, but let's face it....I don't know them well enough to know what they like and there is a fine line as to what is appropriate. Plus in my little head I only have a small library of ideas to choose from.

I am going with boring, but appreciated gift cards. In my previous life I worked with Sheri, a seriously creative girl, who opened my eyes to the art of wrapping. No matter how small the gift, the way she wrapped it up made you feel extra special.

Last year I made these ornaments, so I went with them again(like I said-small archives in this brain). Then, earlier this season I saw The Nester's post on her ragamuffin garland and never got around to doing it on a big scale, instead I used the idea for wrapping.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a little bit of sunshine

While driving to Target this morning Asher and I had this conversation

A: Mom, is God the sun?
M: Yes Asher, God is in everything, everywhere.
A: Does he like to look at me?
M: Oh yes, most certainly so. Why?
A: Because He keeps getting in my eyes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

curious much?

I thought I might have one Christmas in the next three that I wouldn't have to worry about this. I was wrong.
taking cues from his BFF Trucker.

Oh no.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

trying to keep focused

I am a born again Christian(cringe at that term-don't know why-it only means that at 26 years old I found God). Not something I talk about on a regular basis, my blog is not the forum I choose and this may be the only time I ever even mention it. Ask me about my relationship with God and I am more than happy to share my story, never discuss it with me and our friendship will probably not be better or worse for it.
Jesus is the focus of our Christmas, but Santa gets lots of glory. Holden and Asher are starting to ask questions about both. Their minds are busy trying to put it all together. I know they wonder, but can't form the question-How in the world are they related? The only similarity I see is in the giving.

God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. -John 3:16

A magnetic baby Jesus? I don't know-the kids like it.

Holden's first nativity scene made a couple of years ago, and still my favorite. I especially love Joseph's mouth.

A child is born

Last year Becca recommended I get this book for the kids. It has become a favorite of ours. I recommend it for your family too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

decorate for Christmas-check

I spent this last week crafting and decorating and am happy to say I am done. I gave myself a week to get what ever I could done and now my creative energies must move on to baking, wrapping and enjoying the season.

Todd was gone ALL(including Saturday) last week so I put on my big girl pants and went to get our tree(thanks Shelly for helping me carry it in). I finished my wreaths and did a few little things here and there. The boys helped(?) me decorate the tree(and fought over all good ornaments-even though they are clearly marked as to who's is who-bottom line...poor little Ash needs some more ornaments), I gave up on the perfect family Christmas card and placed my card order with pictures that ARE perfect because it is my boy's smiling faces, we started our Advent calendar and I am sorry to say that this year Holden and Asher are only interested in the candy(last year they liked the activities I planned-oh well easier for me I guess), I finished a large part of my gift shopping, scoured the mall for the perfect holiday outfit-totally sucked because it always totally sucks, I think that was it.....oh....and I hugged and kissed my little Soby So like a trillion times. This wreath was super easy, although I will admit that I was frustrated with the bottom layer. I didn't paint the edges of my book, I just inked them with a sepia color chalk pad. It seriously cost 2$-I heart the dollar store! I don't know where I will hang it after Christmas as I will eventually want to look into the mirror. It has a very romantic feel. I suggest you try it. Visit here for a full tutorial from the brilliant woman who shared it with the world. Sometimes I get stuck. I have been accused of being a creature of habit. Cardboard is a recent obsession of mine. So is twine. I call it my trade mark...others probably call it weird.

If Halloween was on a budget you can only imagine Christmas. I would love a little lighted village some day(I had no idea I was one of those people), but this will have to do for now.

Another bigger Reindeer Moss wreath. I love the green against my black door.

see previous comments about twine and cardboard.
I think I am going to join the Nester on the 14th for her Christmas tour of homes. Consider doing the same :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

you may have noticed

Taking some time this week to decorate for Christmas and can't seem to to find any time to blog. Check back with me next week and hopefully between doctors appointments, the gym, Todd out of town all week and a crazy house full of boys I will have some new and crafty things to show you. Today I am loving these vintage Santa pictures
Finished my lantern and it is stuffed full with white lights.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a favorite of mine

One of my most favorite holiday decorations are white lights. I think they rank right up there with candle light to add atmosphere and ambiance to your home. I practically use them for all holidays and find myself filling glass containers with them even after the new year for something pretty inside when it looks so awful outside. I will decorate my whole house for Christmas and inevitably it will be this simple idea that gets the most comments.
I don't have Christmas stuff out yet so this looks a little pathetic, but you get the idea. Fill with something fun like colored bulbs or silver stars, add lights and your done. This is certainly a project you can find things around the house for-even get the kids out there to collect pine cones and rocks.

I am going to try something a little different with this lantern. I bought some paper to mod podge onto the glass, add some embellishments, put in lights and hopefully have something fun for Christmas. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

who knew and DIY day

I have actually started my Christmas crafts and I hope your sitting down because I actually purchased a few gifts this weekend as well. I have previously been someone who shops better and creates better under pressure and certainly would not even consider Christmas stuff until December. BUT with three kids I realized I am always under pressure, so I better use it to my benefit and get some things done. This might be my wreath year, I seem to be running into quite a few that I want to try. This wreath from Pottery Barn came at a hefty price and IS beautiful. The Queen Bee recreated one for her kitchen a while back and I made a much smaller version for Christmas. ( photo from Pottery Barn)

Have you ever been to the Dollar Store-just kidding, of course you have. It's me that is just realizing what a wonderful place it is. The wreath form cost one dollar! It's small, but I'm thrifty so who cares. The moss is Reindeer moss(?). This project only took one bag. I picked it up at Michaels with my coupon for 2.50. The picture is not doing this moss justice. It is a very pretty green. They have several shades at Michaels so beware. Stay away from the brown and blue-so look for the one labeled light green.

I tied the ribbon and then glued a push pin onto it. The form is foam so I can just stick it in and change ribbon color easily for the season. I love the original brown from Pottery Barn. I bet that would look good in the spring.

I'm not sure where I will end up hanging it, but I love the finished product. All said it cost 4.50. Not to shabby for a new thrifty thrifter like me. If I get a chance I may make a bigger version for the front door-it is just that cute! The next wreath I am going to try is this one from Living with Lindsay. It looks a little more complicated so wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas card fiasco

I love Christmas cards. I love getting Christmas cards in the mail, love sending Christmas cards to friends and family and I love making them on years that I decide to be so adventurous. I do not like taking the photo for the Christmas card. It's a bad bad bad bad bad bad time had by all. This past weekend was going to be beautiful so I stepped into high gear and planned an outing for this beloved documentation of family. I asked my dad to follow us out to Jester Park to be the photographer, I found(literally) something for all of us to wear(ok-don't usually do the matchy thing with clothes, but Sloan had a cute sweater and I didn't want to clash-forgive me), brushed hair, cleaned faces, put on jeans that don't have holes etc, etc...

So we all drove out to our favorite spot in the park. It was windy, and the sun was intense from all angles-obstacles that we over came. Go team Van Ahn! Snip, snap we took several pictures. We were done, on to playing.

Came home to download pictures from camera. Moment ruined. We had used Todd's camera from work because to use my camera I have to use a ball point pen to zoom(don't ask) and wanted things to be simpler than bringing camera tools. Todd forgot that his camera is set at higher pixels(?) so everything is small. UNUSABLE! Good gravy it is always something. Do you remember that year Kristen P. (06 maybe)that your wonderful husband superimposed new eyes on Asher for me so I could use a picture that the majority of us looked ok. It really is always something.

My usual philosophy to photo selection is if I look great in it and everyone else looks at least better than a cyclopes-I'm using it. In these pictures I can't even tell if I look good :) uggg!

Alright-Todd does not look like a cyclopes, but next time we are taking the picture inside-why can't he open his eyeballs when the sun is out? Boys look cute. My version of matchy looks pathetic(I am really lucky not to be the mother of three girls-they would never forgive me).

Afternoon not a total loss. The boys did enjoy the park and I have some picture of Sloan in his sweater. He is sure to grow out of it by Christmas.

love them

nature boy in his element.

Monday, November 9, 2009

charity: one cause doesn't fit all

When my kids were smaller I was excited to teach them about giving. I soon found it to be a little bit of a frustrating experience. They couldn't part with even a single block for children without toys and when I wanted to shop for a needy child's Christmas I knew they couldn't come with me because it would become a shopping trip all about them. I clearly started these lessons when they were just to young to understand, but it was not a reason to stop giving. I now simply tailor giving to fit each boy's personality.

When Asher sees a homeless person on the street he wants to build them a house. He makes plans, tells me how he would use his hands to help make that persons troubles less, so we give to organizations that provide shelter. Holden doesn't seem to really notice.

When a group of orphaned African children came to sing at our church Holden could not take his eyes off them. He has talked about them for nearly a year. We decided to sponsor a little girl from Uganda and when she sends us correspondence it's Holden who sits to look at her picture and listen to her letter. Asher actually says he doesn't like her(???).

During the holiday season I always bring out a jar for spare change especially for charity. Both boys like to put pennies they find in it, no pressure- just on the counter as a reminder. Periodically we take it to the Salvation Army red kettle outside the grocery store and they think that is pretty fun. Obviously they cannot grasp what this money needs to do for people, but I hope to be forming some habits that will stick with them for life. I don't even understand the magnitude of world hunger, they cannot understand what happens when the unemployment rate is at 10.2%, but together we can make a difference with just our spare change and some compassion.

Friday, November 6, 2009

giving thanks part 1: pillow talk

I got off the phone the other day with Becca and had to laugh. How do you know when someone is your best friend? When you talk for 60 minutes straight about pillows. Yes-just pillows. Becca and I have known each other for nearly 15 years and I am so thankful to have a friend who gets me. As I get older and I find it hard at times to connect with people(just cancelled my MOMS Club membership because it had about 45 moms I just couldn't pretend to like any more), I always come back to being thankful that I have one who understands the things I am passionate about, who likes the same restaurant, and who needs me as much as I need her.

So you might wonder why/how we talked about pillows for so long. I am afraid to tell you this was about our billionth conversation about them. We covered why they are important, what we dream they would accomplish for our rooms, where to purchase and not to bother. The bottom line is pillows are harder than you might think and we agree(because we are best friends) that the matter cannot be taken lightly. It is especially agonizing(I hope it's ok to to say this) for my lovely Becca. That is why I am giving all of you a Tour de Pillows. Here they are Bec-some of the new pillows I bought when my mom was here.

Here are two things I know about decorating with pillows. I think I know a few more things but I can't think of them.

  • Don't bother buying them from Pottery Barn. You won't be happy because they cost too much money and your kids are just going to booger them up. Even if they aren't boogered up you still won't be happy spending that kind of dough on something you want to be able to change your mind about in a year or two to give your couch a new look.
  • It IS worth buying the Pottery Barn inserts and having covers made. But only if you find fabric on sale. I suggest Hobby Lobby because everything is always on sale there and they have a surprisingly good fabric department. The inserts are nice and full and perfect for fluffing. When your kids throw them around, stand and jump on them, they will bounce right back into shape and you don't have to kill your kids. A win win I would say. Also when your four year old uses one as a kleenex the cover can go right into the washer.

said four year old demonstrating how to use a pillow(the correct way-with his head not nose)

(Funny side note: Today Asher told me that the truck he was playing with on the kitchen floor "was sooo hip hop dancing". I guess that means it was spinning?? Who is this little urbanite I gave birth to?)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

playing catch up

My mom was visiting last week and we had a great time. A week full of all sorts of activities from Holden's birthday to trick or treating. I had a Silpada party and we visited one morning with friends over coffee. She helped me make my family room more "inviting" with the addition of some pillows. We cooked, we studied our favorite magazine(BH&G), we went to the fabric store, we watched House Hunters, she spoiled the kids and kissed the baby like one million times-we just had fun. I am catching up on some stuff this week and decluttering some areas in the house. Here are some highlights from the previous week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A week in review (when you only post once a week it's gonna be a big one-promise not to add too much text)

We stood in line for 3.5 hours to get H1N1 vaccinations. CRAZY...nuts...insane...protected(?)Sobe's new hat I ordered on Etsy arrived in the mail

Finished up some Fall decorating.

Had lunch with Holden at school as a special birthday treat(with the added intention of helping him learn how to have hot lunch-long story) I left his class room busting at the seams. I believe my heart actually grew. I am one seriously proud mama.
I painted my boring old console table. Click here for a before. See...really boring wasn't it. Blue has breathed new life into the family room.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

7 things

  1. Have you used Picasa? I am pretty far behind the times. This free program has probably been around forever but I finally found it. It is a great program for editing your pictures. You can add text to them and make all sorts collages and such. I made my blog header using Picasa. I have not even begun to use all that it has to offer, but I am looking forward to learning more. Over at Clover Lane she gives instructions on making THE cutest header/banner-make sure to check it out. She is also an entertaining blogger-mother of 5 and not crazy-I like her.
  2. While on the blogging subject. The Nester used a program to make a little video on Tuesday about tablescaping. She used this little nugget of a website to make it. I'll be creating something soon!
  3. One last blogging thing I promise. Did you know for a small fee(something like 35$) someone will customize your blog for you? Buzzings of a Queen Bee just had hers done and it's adorable. You can have the whole thing done, or a la cart things like just your signature. Fun!
  4. For dinner one night this past week I made this quiche from the Smitten Kitchen(boy do I read a lot of blogs or what-I really don't spend all day in front of the computer). I love making breakfast for dinner-always a big hit with the Van Ahn boys. Thought I had a pretty good recipe going until I had her version. Yummy!
  5. I can't stand having my feet covered while I sleep. For this reason I cringe every time I put footie pjs on my babies. I almost have like a claustrophobic episode when I zip them up for bed. But, I have found some fleece footies I can get behind. Children's Place has the best. Light weight and cozy. Sloan loves them.
  6. Speaking of Sloan. He can sit up! He has a very strong back and head. He's all proud of his new trick. He is the most marvelous baby.
  7. I just watched a commercial for diapers and the baby on it was so darling my silly brain just thought about having another babe. Todd is sitting next to me on the couch with frozen blueberries down his pants. Yep-he had the "procedure" done earlier today. You know the "procedure" that starts with a V and ends with no more babies. He just explained that was why he had it done-I can't be trusted-he's right. He called me Sarah Dugger.

Monday, October 12, 2009


My kids have the best dad! He was meant to have boys even more than me. One thing Todd understands is boyhood obsessions and he is more than supportive about one sons most recent passion. Saturday morning-first thing-Todd and Asher headed to the Ford dealership to get some "books" about Ford Trucks and a new Ford Hat. They all picked out their favorites(pictured here) and Asher is feeling pretty darn complete.

down on the farm with grandpa

We headed to the pumpkin patch in Winterset with Grandpa Frank this weekend. I totally do not take enough pictures of the kids with their grandparents. I have to start doing that more! It was down right COLD but we hung tough and played and then played some more.

Who can resist sticking their heads in these. Too cute!

My Ford guy spent a long time on the tractors.

Here is what love about this picture. The obvious-me with my boys, but I love the corn field in back of us. I used to be a mountains girl. If there was water as well I considered it the ultimate spot, but I have to say my Iowaness has been coming on strong for the past several years. There is no where I'd rather be than enjoying the scenery of rolling corn fields, decrepit red barns and lots and lots of cows.