Saturday, February 1, 2014

A day in the life

Or, at least a day in the life when I have a cake order.

Sometimes I step back and look at my kitchen and find it HARD to believe that it actually started out tidy!

This superhero cake is for 3 people--two brothers and their grandpa.  Baby brother happens to be 1 year old, so he gets the coordinating smash cake.

Here's how it started:

can't beat this color combo!  red, green, yellow, blue, black, white and grey. 

And now I'm off to bed! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

The post-Christmas lull

We had a big family event this December! 
Earlier in the month, my brother, Andy, married his sweetheart (who is just that and fits into our family just perfectly!); and the kids and I were in the wedding.  It was a festive, wonderful, sweet occasion.  We travelled to Illinois, and stayed in a real-actual mansion called Allerton.

The kids were over-the-moon THRILLED about this.  The setting was stunning, and just as we pulled onto the property, the snow started falling, blanketing the property and turning the already-beautiful mansion into a living Christmas card.  We lived in a winter wonderland for 3 days and 2 nights and it was a-ma-zing.

Practically speaking, having an on-site wedding with lodging an festivities all in one place is a logistical dream.  We arrived Friday evening and stayed there until Sunday mid-morning.  We didn't leave once and all of the activities were just down two flights of castle-esque, red carpeted steps.
The wedding was held right in this room (see the chairs on the right), and our room was up those stairs.
This is taken from that landing on the previous picture. 
The wedding held where the white chairs are, and our room is down the hall, right off that upper landing
 I'm going to now request that everyone I know please have an all-inclusive wedding or at the very least, let me book a room at the church and/or reception location. Maybe I can just camp out in the baptistery.  At the reception, when the kids wanted to change, when I wanted to trade my heels in for flats, when the kids had to potty...we just headed upstairs to our room.  And then when the kids were tired and ready to go to bed, Matt took them upstairs and I was able to hang out with my family a little longer.  I'm telling you.  It's the WAY to go.  I didn't have to give a bit of thought to where the kids and I had to be when (for pictures, getting ready, etc.) and what I needed to bring with me where.  Those of you with kiddos know how the logistics can really wreck your brain.  My brain stayed completely in tact. 

(All Allerton photos were taken by my dad's sister, my Aunt Kimmie)
And since that weekend, we've celebrated Christmas, attended numerous Christmas events, planned a few gatherings, spent lots of time with family and soaked in all the joys that are to be had during the holiday season.

And now, on this 27th day of December we are thoroughly enjoying the quiet, slow pace that is the week between Christmas and the New Year.  We went hiking together twice, we have been playing with our new Christmas goodies, I've been trying to catch up on my photo discs, books and folders so I'm ready to roll on 1/1/14, and I've been playing unhealthy amounts of Candy Crush saga, (my guilty pleasure during this slow week...feel free to provide lives to me at any time on FB).  We've also slept in until 9 a.m. (all of us!  As in THE CHILDREN. canyoubelieveit?) for 2 mornings in a row.  I like this, the lull.  There's no pressure to be anywhere, to do anything and I don't have to pack anybody's lunch!

By the time January 1 gets here, I think I'll be mentally refreshed and ready.  I already have plans in my head of how the year will look, including something I'm going to call The 4 O'clock Project as well as Operation 200 Walks (more about those at a later date!).  Matt and I have also been talking about goals we have for our kids.

I'm excited about what's to come.  But, I'm going to enjoy these last few days of serenity until we step foot into the new year.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & pray that 2014 is a blessing to you!

Happy Friday,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Good-bye summer

Well, this is it!

The kids start school in 4 days!

Miss E will be in third grade (what?)

Mr. E will be in first grade (say what?!), and therefore at school all day every day.  In Kindergarten he went all day Monday and Wednesday.

He'll also be sporting a brand new pair of glasses! Matt and I both wear contacts, so it was only a matter of time until one of our kiddos joined Club Poor Eyesight.  The school nurse informed me last spring that his eyesight screening indicated that he should have a vision check.  So, I planned to have them check at his well-visit the following week.  Only, at that time, I ended up having to cancel his April well-visit due to the passing of Matt's super-outgoing-bubbly-reminded-me-of-Fran-Dreshler aunt.  We travelled back to his hometown for the services and to be with family.

As is my custom, when I cancel an appointment, it takes me at least 45 years to reschedule.  Therefore, he didn't have his well-visit (and family doc visit screening recommended by the school nurse in March) until yesterday.

Yeah.  Poor kid has been walking around with some pretty fuzzy vision!  So, today we went to a real eye doctor and picked out some of thee cutest ever plastic rimmed black glasses.  They were, like, totally made for him.  Not too hipster, but not too "I should be wearing tube socks to my knees-y" either.

(side note: Matt was baffled the other day when he spotted a teen at ikea with black glasses minus the lenses.)

And as a bonus, it was just the 2 of us!  I tell you what.  Spending time with 1 kid at a time is SUCH a treat.  I love 'em all, but trying to talk to one kid while 2 others are talking to me or talking to each other or fighting with each other is really a little bit frazzling.  It's amazing how much more conversation I can process and comprehend with just 1 kid in tow.

His glasses won't be ready until tomorrow.  He's super bummed that he won't be able to wear them to church in the morning.

As for Miss C, she and I will be enjoying 3 days, just the two of us and 2 days with my little cousin, who(m?) I babysit.   I plan to do some preschool activities with Miss C on a regular basis.   The most important class she'll be taking: No Whining 101.  I'm not sure she'll get a passing grade, but we'll give it a try.  I love age 4 better than age 3, but I do remember, from the other kids, it being an age that is very rich with whining.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our summer.  I'm pretty sure we sucked as much life out of it as we could have!  The best thing, hands down, was our first year of pool membership.  All three babies can swim now.  It's a great feeling to know they're confident and comfortable in the water.  And that their time in the pool and on the swim team is something that they can use for the rest of their lives.

On that note--have you seen the cute old ladies at pools?  The ones with awesome one piece bathing suits and big round bellies and hineys? And perfectly coiffed hair?  I totally plan to be one of them when I grow up.

And, now, fall is in the air, and the school routine is coming our way.  And I'm looking forward to almost every minute of it!  The minutes I'll be spending packing lunches?  Not so much!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I'm getting old and opinionated and there's no way around it.

Every time I see a dude walking down the street with his pants half-way to his ankles, I channel my inner 80 year old, roll my eyes in disgust and ask, "WHY?"  why oh why oh WHY is that STILL in style 20 years later? You are showing your UNDERPANTS to the entire world. 

But that's not my soapbox for today.

Several years ago, this amazing old man at our church, Ray, sat down beside me after evening service.  He was so kind and sweet.  He always sat to chit-chat while I waited for my parents to finish with choir practice, and while he waited for his wife to finish with organ-playing for the choir.

With a twinkle in his eyes, he told me about how, when he was younger than 16, he lied about his age to the United States Military so that he could go serve in WWII.  He ended up DRIVING TANKS for the military before he could legally drive a car.

He was younger than 16.

Picture our 16 year olds today.

The 16 year olds of 2013 are a lot different from the 16 year olds of the late 1930s/early 1940s!
And I gotta tell ya, I want my son to grow up to be more like the ones of the 1940s!  Strong, tough, dependable, mature, responsible.  And with his pants buckled tightly around his waist, not his rear.

I'm reading a book right now called Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.  And I LOVE it.  It's right on target.  I think entitlement and self-centeredness are quickly killing our country AND causing all sorts of problems in today's kids.

Just this week on FB, I read about a 12 year old child that took her own life.

Just the day before, I had read, in my book, about suicide being one of the major problems facing today's teens.  She sites some examples, and mentions that one of the main reasons depression, etc set in is because kids are not expected to do meaningful work.  They spend their days floundering around, and no one has to depend on them for anything.  They aren't important to the daily living of their families.  If no one has to depend on them for anything, and they get to that dark place, then what's to stop them from taking their own life?  After all, they have no earthly importance, right? 

My kids have been in charge of the dishwasher for about a year now, but wouldn't you know, up until a couple months ago...I was STILL closing the car doors and house doors FOR them.  Pitiful.

I was in the habit of closing them with a button when I got into the car. Same with the front door. I've always been the last one out, making sure the little tiny people were in front of me. When I realized that, I thought, "OH MY GOODNESS! I'm not even making them close doors! They think someone always comes along and does it for them, because I do!". So, I started not closing. If they leave the front door open, I send 'em right back inside to close it. If they leave the van door open, I start driving anyway. "MOM! The DOOR is open!!!" Then, close it.

At least I figured that out before I read this book because it made me feel a little less enable-y.  But, now, inspired by this book, I'm REALLY gonna start a revolution around here. 

Watch out, kiddos!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I louver you

I'm loving life right now. I feel a deep, deep peace in my soul. It's a nice respite after a few years of feeling a little-lot of a tumultuousness in there instead.  It's not that I was in a constant state of tumultousness....God would often quiet my heart and provide peace...but there were just so many stressful, tough things going on that the wind got knocked out of my sails again and again.

However, the past several months have been very peaceful.  I'm going to enjoy it & sail along soaking it in.  I know there's never an end to trials and I'll savor it while I have it.

When we looked at our house before we bought it, the master bathroom was pretty much the deal-maker!  We were coming from a shady-ville 1970s apartment with a smallish bathroom.  It had a rotting floor and a stained sink, so when we saw a nice wide open, crisp, fresh double-sink master bath....oh man...we were sold!

However, the doors to our bathroom are double bi-fold doors.  And they're louvered.  Why anyone would put louvered doors on a bathroom is beyond me.  It's not even the lack of privacy that baffles me as much as the lack of sound barrier ifyouknowwhatimean.  I mean, really.  Who wants to roll out of bed in the morning and use the potty behind a set of louvered doors?!

We've toyed with the idea of switching them out for french doors or pocket doors, but at number 1,345 on the project list, it just hasn't been a priority.

 Our room is off limits to the kids as a place to PLAY.  However, they wander in and out throughout the day, and especially in the morning when we're all scurrying around getting ready.  People at heights between 2 feet and 4 feet have a perfect view right up the louvers when they stand by the door to say, "MAMA!!  She stole my train!"  When you're the mama directly on the other side of the door.... standing on the scale weighing yourself and "doing everything you can to make sure you're as light as possible" (i.e. nekkid) and you hear that voice on the other side of the door, you KNOW they have a perfect view.  I know that wouldn't bother some mamas.  But me?  It's just not my thing.  I'm a close-the-door-and-please-let-me-be kind of bathroom person.

So, here is my solution.  I didn't take pictures of the process.  I wasn't going to post anything about it, actually.  But my mom was all, "JESS!  You NEED to put that online.  People NEED to know this idea!"  These are all after pictures.

So, in obedience to my mother*:

I bought some fabric at $9.99 a yard (I THOUGHT I had $7.99 a yard.  I honestly probably wouldn't have bought this if I knew it was $9.99 b/c I'm very extra frugal these days in the name of paying off debt.  But, I'm glad for the mistake because I'm IN LOVE with this stuff.), with 25% off and then an additional 10% of coupon.  It was around $28 for 4 yards.  I only needed 3 yards for this project, but wanted some extra to make some pillows and/or pillowcases.
Our walls are brown and we have some turquoise and green already.  I've been wanting to add pops of red to my house because the blues/greens have been taking over.

I measured each louvered panel and added 3 inches (4 would be better) to the length to allow for the rod pockets, and 4 inches to the width to allow for some gather.

Then, I hemmed all the edges, and sewed a pocket big enough for a dowel rod. 

All you do is tuck the top edge through the top slat and secure it by slipping a dowel rod through the little pocket. (I didn't have enough dowel rods on hand, so I used pencils for the others.  Pencils work fine, they just aren't long enough so the corners might not stay secure.).  And then tuck the bottom edge through the bottom slat and secure it with a dowel rod or pencil. 

The top of the BACK of the door

Pretty simple with a big impact!


The whole project took about 2.5 hours and I'm not an experienced or accomplished seamstress by any strech of the imagination.  Most of the time was spent measuring twice so I could just cut once.

It really adds an element of elegance, yet coziness to our bedroom.  And my navy flannel sheets that don't match AT ALL....are very, very warm.   I'm over coordination in the name of WARMTH!

*my mom passed on the trick to hang things on louvered doors with pencils.  She used to slip the loops of our stockings through a closet door and secure them with a pencil. :-)  I remember the first time I noticed it.  I was amazed at such magic!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


*it FINALLY happened!  I got a BOGO chipotle coupon in the mail.  YES!  Do you know how many times my parents have gotten one over the past several years?  Dunno what I did to finally get on the list...but I'm glad I'm there!
*we had a neice today!  Matt's brother & his wife welcomed their second daughter in to the world this morning.  So excited!

*Miss E turned 8 yesterday and Miss C will be FOUR a week from yesterday.

*I started a new job today!  Twice a week, I'll get to babysit for my cousins' 2-month-old baby.  I love having a baby in the house again.

*I'm currently reading Love and Respect.  Read it.  Really, truly. It's very on target.

*Matt and I celebrated our 9th anniversary in December.  We were overwhelmed with thankfulness as we realized how completely uneventful 2012 was in comparison to the prior years.  Thank you, God!

*My SIL ordered me my very, very OWN copy of Organized Simplicity and I couldn't be happier.  I love that book.  No more taking it back to the library after day 6.

*Parenthood is still my very favorite show EVER.
Happy 2013!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll give you a quick summary and then show you the photos!

1. I came to a stand-still on my dining room decoration progress.  which is okay because life is always busy, and it wasn't really at the top of my do-to-list.
2. One day I washed some granny smith apples and dried them on top of a navy/royal blue towel.  i stood and looked at them for a few minutes because I just loved the way the green looked on the blue.
3. Meanwhile, our stoneware dishes that we have had since our wedding have been cracking left and right.  Matt wanted to get some Corelle as a replacement.  I couldn't find any patterns I liked--even a little.  Until I searched ebay.  I found all kinds of vintage patterns that I thought were very charming.  So, we have a brand spanking new/old set of Corelle that's 1 year younger than me.  Just so happens, the pattern green.  Similar to the green of a granny smith apple.


granny smith green towel?  And there you have it...I decided on a direction to go with my dining room.

I was telling that story to a friend while standing in line at T.J.Maxx.  I was trying to explain the color blue to her--not quite navy, not quite royal--when my eye fell upon these:

 And I said, "There!  Over there.  See those colors...that's the green and blue I want in my dining room."  Pause.  "Hey!  Come to think of it....Mom? {my mom was there too} Would those fit my chairs?"

At 99 cents each, I couldn't not give it a shot.
You see,  we are working our BUNS of following Mr. Dave Ramsey's plan to get out of debt. We are squeezing the life out of every single penny.  So, I'm currently in a state of I LOVE decorating and tweaking and changing and creating things in my house; but I do not want to undo our hard work by spending lotsa money on stuff.  

So, anything I do right now is a temporary fix.  There are 2 sides to each bag--so 49 cents per chair. 
I wondered if that material would be annoying to sit on or if it will hold up and not eventually rip to shreds.

And then i thought...It's 49 cents a chair!

Here's what my old brown fabric looked like.
 I bought with the intent to paint my chairs white.  brown + white.  Pretty, right? But, I just haven't had the time/energy/gumption to paint my chairs, so brown + brown is beginning to bug me PLUS anything the kids get on them looks like dried crusty snot.  It wipes off just fine because it's microfiber, but how often do I wipe the chairs?  About once a week.  Not enough to keep them from the dry snot look.  Additionally, the constant wiping has caused the pretty pressed-in pattern to completely dissappear.
see the crusty spots and lack of pattern?

blah brown. 49 cents a chair?!  How could I not give it a shot?


And of course, then, like I do---always come full circle in a terribly stereotypical blonde way--I said to myself, "WOW!  It looks like a purse.  I could use this as a bag...oh...heh, heh!  It WAS a bag."

what a lovely purse you have there!
just snip those straps off so you don't confuse yourself or so your kids don't climb under the chairs and somehow find a way to stick their head in them and hang and----you know.
and there you have it. 

Cheap, easy, pretty, wipeable chair covers.
(they've been on for 2 days and are so far holding up okay.  Eventually I might replace them with some fabulous fabric, but for a cheap, temporary fix, they are great!)
they weren't quite big enough to wrap totally around.  I don't LOVE that you can kinda see the edge of the bag there, but truly--this is a major improvement from snot crusted chairs, right?! 
Next up, I have a fun cheap fix to our water damaged table top that I plan to do in the next week or two!