Saturday, December 26, 2009

Letters to Santa

Gigi's cracked me up. You might look at it and think... what a sweet little girl. But I know the whole story. She was really complaining about her sis'. I asked Greta if she had been nice this year. Of course she said "YES". Then I told Gigi that her Christmas is complete and that she need not ask for anything else.

Greta's letter to Santa took some time for both Greta and I to decipher.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Night Night

When we tuck the girls into bed Gene and I both have little things we like to say with the girls.


Me: What are you going to dream of?
Girls: Rainbows and hearts.
Me: I'll see you when?
Girls: When the sun comes up.


The night was dark and the moon was blue.
Down the alley the poop wagon flew.
(girls make horse hooves noise)
It hit a bump,
(girls make bump noise)
and a scream was heard.
(someone screams)
A man was killed by a flying turd.
(girls make crazy tongue hanging out faces)

That is one of our bedtime rituals. The other is snuggling with a book.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Piano Recital

What a proud moment. Gigi had her Christmas Piano recital this month. She practiced her songs every single day... some days she practiced over and over. The practice paid off.

She did fantastic. It was a wonderful accomplishment for her, all the other students, and her piano instructor.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar

We replaced the chocolate in Gigi's Advent Calendar with natures candy (raisins)... only once. It was so FUNNY!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gene's Been Home

Remember all those weepy broken down posts about how painful and exhausting this past year has been? Deployments - I say this with disdain - GRRRRRRR!

Gene has been home for two months now... it is like he has been home forever. The little things that I thought wouldn't bother me for months are back. I had visions of being this sweet "little" women who would have all this new-found energy. I would never be crabby. You know... love is patient, love is kind...?

I had plans to look better when Gene came home from work. My hair was going to be brushed and not in a ponytail. I was going to go to the extremes of wearing jeans and not sweats. Most importantly, I planned on greeting him with a hug and kiss every day when he walked in the door so he knows that he is a valued member of our family. So far, I am usually wearing an apron when Gene gets home from work so I don't get any additional stains on my old t-shirt.

I have spent an untold amount of energy the last two days being frustrated with Gene. Here is the story... I'll try to be short. Sunday, Greta and I didn't feel well. We were two fevered whiny peas in a pod. Sunday is also the day I plan our meals for the week, make the grocery list, and buy groceries. Gene was kind enough to offer to get groceries so I wouldn't have to go out and contaminate the rest of the Quad Cities. What a nice guy.

Gene left at 2:30 in the afternoon and didn't come home until 6:00 in the evening. Strike one! There was 27 -30 items on the list (I counted). Now, my list is pretty detailed... the only thing it was missing was the UPC codes. Did he make it home with the EXACT items on the list? Some of the stuff even had rotten spots on it. Strike two! Did he call to tell me that it was taking him 7 minutes per item (yes, I did the math)? Strike three! Plus, he made a pit stop at Best Buy that was "only 15 minutes".

So, for the past two days all I could think about was the 3.5 hour grocery shopping vacation Gene took while I was home sick with the kids.

Today I feel better. I also feel ashamed, selfish, and a bit ridiculous. Three months ago, having someone to get the groceries while I was home sick sounded like a bit of heaven. Where is my perspective? Oh, here is it. It was hidden behind ME, ME, ME.

I am also much wiser. The moral of my story is... don't send Gene, who is easily distracted when he doesn't have me around to keep him focused ;), to get the groceries alone. Maybe I'll put some lip gloss on around 5pm tonight - or not.

A 3.5 hour grocery shopping experience... really? You gotta be kiddin' me!!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cards

Two Fridays ago I went to a four hour card making marathon with a friend. It was hosted by Heather Cousins who is a Stampin' Up girl. Making cards is one of my guilty pleasures... I never make them at home. If I make a card it is at an event with friends. Not a bad way to indulge in a hobby, right? So, if you can hold a pair of scissors and use glue - beware, I may drag you to a card making class.

I walked in and staked my claim at a table. Heather handed us a large package with everything we need. There was enough paper already cut to make 18 cards. Then we went and looked at all the card ideas... I bet there was 40 cards to pick from. I picked a card I liked, went back to my spot, and re-create that card. They were all simple designs and worked off of the same color scheme so everything mix and matched.

If was so much fun. By the end, I was just making up my own cards. I walked out of there with 24 completed cards and left over supplies to make more cards, if I can get myself motivated at home. They also came with envelopes - which I have already misplaced in my well organized home (not).

I like these cards because they hold a check perfectly. I usually give checks to the kids in the extended family... we all know that tweens and teens really just want the dough. I was spending $2.00 per money card each Christmas(I am thrifty so there was nothing fancy on my store bought cards). The class was $35 and I didn't have to go to the store to pick out the cards. Now these lucky "kids" will get these cards until they are too old to qualify for gifts! ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Snow of the Season

I kept wondering when the snow would come to us. It seems like it was behind... just like I am with my Christmas To-Do list. Well, Mother Nature caught up and had one of those super productive days... okay, she has had a couple of super productive days.

BTW, Gene was deployed last year and was in Florida the year before for most of the winter. I can't tell you the joy that the first picture brings to my heart. Have I mentioned that it is great having him home?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Owl Ornament for Daisy Girl Scout Troop

I was so proud of our Daisy troop... they did a great job making these owls.

I found that cutie paper and glue dots at Scrapaganza... my favorite scrapbooking store. The googly eyes and feathers came from the craft section at Wally World.

I had all the pieces cut out for them and they did the assembly. It was the first time we tried glue dots. They can sometimes be difficult to get the plastic a part... not for these girls. It was neater and no big glue blobs. I'll use them every chance we get! We did use a tiny bit of traditional glue for the feathers.

Love it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Decorations

In a previous post I mentioned my love of pine cones. Here are a few ways I have used them. They are scattered all over the house. There are some giant ones in an old green wood tool box with greenery and clear lights underneath. I have them on top of my kitchen cabinets in wooden vintage Pepsi and Coca Cola crates; I have them around my orchid on the kitchen table; they are in a vintage five gallon crock with greenery as you walk in the front door. I can't get enough.

Did you notice the vintage crocks on the porch? My Mom had dug most of them up from my Dad's farm when they first moved there and started breaking ground for the farm crops. She was a city girl who was willing to change her whole way of being to help support my Dad. It is a great reminder of her spirit and who she was.

The old door in my front yard comes from the original tiny farm house on my Dad's farm. The house is original to the farm and so old that it is falling down. You literally can't step foot into it anymore.... unless you are my husband who was on a mission about five years ago to get me an old door. What a hero!

Gene found the cutest vintage window frame at the thrift store on post. I pulled some of the dated decorations off of it, added some pine cones, and a burlap bow. I love it and I love him for noticing it and thinking of me.

Our main tree is a beauty. I don't mean the decorations, although they do add something to it, it is just a gorgeous tree. The most wonderful part about it is that it is donation from Tree For Troops. I cried a couple of mornings ago as I sat and appreciated our tree and the donation from the Kidman Tree Farm in Polk City, Iowa. This tree was money out of their pockets during the holidays. It means something special to me... a thank you to our family for the ups and downs of being a military family. Gene is home alive, healthy, and with us this Christmas.

This is the first Christmas I haven't had a Macoroni Tree in the family room. That's what I lovingly call our tree with all the handmade with love ornaments that we have collected over the years. That tree is set up downstairs in the play area. The girls decorated it all on their own. It is a bit bottom heavy but it is beautiful because the girls are proud of their handy work and they love it.
Have any other pine cone ideas for me?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fleece Argile Dress

I was fleece shopping and got a little carried away. I absentmindedly bought two different fleece patterns for Greta's cape (it's on a previous post).
In another moment in time I had purchased a pattern I didn't have a plan for... until now.
Greta is the proud owner of this fabulous pink argile dress with... wait for the drum role... a matching headband and a matching scarf.
I still have some left so she (and probably the neighbors) will soon get to have a hat and scarf.
I promised myself that I won't buy anymore craft and sewing supplies until I use what I have. We'll see how that works out.

Farm Fresh Eggs

Aren't these pretty?!? I have always loved the beauty of different colored eggs. These farm fresh eggs are from Ms. Effie's "girls."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Behind

Greta checked out this very elaborate story of Cinderella from the school library. I believe it is even written in old English... she can't read a word of it. Plus, it is one of those books that make parents cringe. You know, the ones with a million words in a font size of negative eight.

Anyhoo, I passed on the joy of reading this literary masterpiece to Gigi. Every night Gigi has been reading a page or two to us before bed. Today, I was making dinner and Greta was examining the extraordinary pictures in the book and pointed out to me that one of the stinky step-sisters has a big behind. She said:

Greta: I bet the prince won't like her. She has a big butt and princes don't like big butts.

Mom: Well, we don't know that for sure. Different people like people of different sizes. (trying to point out that everyone has value no matter their size - I'm no skinny minny so this is important to me)

Greta: Well Dad likes YOUR big butt but princes don't like big butts. (and Greta exits the scene)

I guess she gets my point... kinda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For Me

It took almost an entire year and sewing a lot of tote bags but I finally reached my goal. Meet my new friend... the Canon Rebel EOS XSI.

Okay, I have to be honest. Not all the money came from selling tote bags. I did have to toss in some extra for the additional super cool lense and other accessories. YAHOO!

Now I need to enroll in an adult education photography class so I can learn how to use this baby.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glitter + Pine Cones = Christmas Decorations

I have never met a pine cone I didn't like. If they have glitter on them... even better! In fact, I use them for decorations in my house all year long. There are vintage canning jars filled with them lining the top of my kitchen cabinets.

Somehow, I have convinced my family to let me decorate the family room for Christmas in a natural theme. That means - PINE CONES!

My wonderful husband has even been taking walks with me at the parks and on the trails to help build our collection. Today was declared: Pine Cone Glittering Day!

Here are the supplies.

We had an assembly line of plates with glue and glitter.

The whole family got involved and helped roll the pine cones in glitter.
During the walks in the park we also collected other stuff like birch bark. I attempted to cover a styrofoam ball with birch but it didn't work out. My husband compared it to a child's sucker that was dropped during a hike in the woods. For some reason, I couldn't get the birch bark to stick to the ball. Hmmmm... it seemed easy in theory.

Now we just have to wait for them to dry. I don't know what I will do with them yet but I have a few ideas...
hanging on the tree,
tied to vintage red velvet ribbon as garland,
or displayed in an apothecary jar.
The next batch will be gold.

Friday, November 20, 2009


When Greta was in preschool I made her a fleece poncho. She loved it and wore it all the time.

Maybe it was nostalgia but I NEEDED to see my girls in ponchos again. I must admit, they aren't as in love with them as when they were three or four years ago but gosh... they are cute (the ponchos and the kids).

Note: I used a pattern to make these. However, the pattern called for gobs more fleece than was needed so... there will be matching scarves and hats when I finish some of my current projects.

Art Gallery

I have been slowly working on updating the girls' room. One of the projects is an Art Gallery. Before I pain stakingly filled approximately 50 nails holes in their wall and painted, I used to frame their artwork and hang it all over the wall. After a while it got out of control. The frames were mismatched and the girls wanted to change the pictures. So, I came up with this idea for an Art Gallery.

No more holes in the wall, no more frames knocked off of the wall, and they can change the pictures as often as they like. It was simple.

Buy a piece of trim from the hardware store. They even cut it to the size you need.

Then I spray painted it black... then almond... then white... and then I finally decided on black.

Next, I cut some metal roof sheeting in half and glued it on with Liquid Nails. The metal had some sharp edges so after a quick trip to the hardware store for some 1/4 inch half round trim, a little more Liquid Nails, and the sharp edges were covered. Then I spray painted it black again. Note: the paint is already chipping off of the metal so if I were to make another one I would consider painting the metal with paint that is intended for metal or just leave it silver.

There are all kinds of cute magnets around but do you think I could have gone with the easy solution? Nope. Hobby Lobby had these adorable push pins that matched the colors of their bedspread and curtains. The sharp pointes were snipped off and magnets were glued onto the back. Did you know that magnets come in different strengths? They do. My girls often have heavy pieces of art so I used the super duper strong magnets.

Before I screwed it to the wall I put felt circles on the back so I wouldn't mess up my newly painted walls with paint transfer.

Lastly, I orded a vinyl "Art Gallery" sign and painted a sign I already had black. VIOLA! The girls have their very own art gallery to display their creative pieces that cost less than $20.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas Gifts

Let the race begin! This deployment has really messed up my OCD-ness. I know, the deployment is over but I am still recovering.
I normally have Christmas presents taken care of by now. I like to get everything purchased so when the holiday "really" comes a knockin' I can enjoy the baking, the decorating, and the events like Disney on Ice! In fact, I haven't started addressing Christmas cards. I don't have a picture of the girls picked out yet. Maybe I could send this one - it is only a few years old. No one would notice. Right?

What do I have ready so far... NOTHING.

I had the brilliant idea of sending all my family boxes of yummy Girl Scout cookies wrapped in beautiful bows. But wait... Girl Scout cookies don't go on sale until after Christmas. WHAT!?!?!

Now I have a serious problem. I am going to have to sit down and concentrate about what I can make (I like to make at least one small handmade gift for the family and family) or buy that is easily shipped and can be enjoyed by all. But maybe, if all my creative friends send me their ideas I won't have to try so hard to think. For some reason my critical thinking skills went down hill like an Olympic bobsledder after I had my kids. I need help.

So, what about dishtowels with a cute applique on them? Aprons? or is that too gender specific? Maybe I should have a crafting get together one day.

That's all I have so far. That is how my mind is working - it is either on the yellow light or the red light.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Poppy Cat

Our sweet Poppy cat.

Little Totes

A friend requested this little bag for her daughter's baptism. It was the first time I had made one this small. I think it is about 10x8.

I love it! My girls loved it too and they want one.

I just hope I saved the pattern I made so I can easily make some more.

Welcome Home

Gene has been home for about three or four weeks now. The year that Gene was in Iraq and Afghanistan was tough on us all. As with the other deployemnts, I learned to treasure the little things like phone calls, e-mail, and getting to see the girls smile and have fun knowing that Gene was missing out and missing us.
It is hard to explain the emotions when your soldier is coming home. A year is a long time. In fact, just posting this makes me tear up and my stomach hurts a little bit. There is a bumpy adustment time for us. We have to learn to live together as a family again. The girls are doing and saying things that Gene doesn't recognize. I don't store the pots and pans in the same place.
Now, life is getting back to normal. The pictures of the redeployment really show how happy the girls were to see Gene. I especially love the one of them trying to carry his backpack so they could get him home.
Oh ya' the passengers and their families at the airport were so kind. This was the first time we didn't have a huge redeployment ceremony to experience. It was just us. Gene received many thanks for his service and the nice lady who took our family picture was so sweet... she cried. Towards the end of this deployment I was a little bitter with the Army. There were too many unknowns and frustrations for my liking. It helps when people say thank you - even though it is his job.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Candy Out The Nose

What do you do with all your Halloween candy?

So many families manage Halloween candy in different ways. Do you let your kids binge and hopefully not purge on all the candy they can fit into their little tummies? Do you limit them to one or two pieces a day for the next decade? Do you let them eat all they want on trick or treating night and then toss the rest? WHAT DO YOU DO?

It is always a dilemma for me. One year I handed out a couple of pieces of candy every single day until Easter. Last year the girls picked out fifteen of their favorite pieces and I paid them for the rest. Yes, you read right. I gave my little pumpkins cold hard cash for free candy. It seems to be a controversial approach, considering the "strong" comments I have received about how I choose to parent my children during candy lalapalooza. Note a bit of sarcasm? The candy didn't go to waste... candy is like gold in my house. We mailed the entire huge box of candy to Gene in Iraq.

This year I have talked to the girls about the returning predicament. My idea is to have them pick out their favorite pieces again in trade for any book they want from the bookstore. We have many friends deployed so the candy will find good home.

Now, stop rolling your eyes. I am a democrat, normally, and I like the people to choose even if they aren't old enough to vote. But when it comes to running my household and parenting I have been compared to Hitler. I can be a bit firm. You know, kids want boundaries and need a firm leader but lots of love. In the case of Halloween, I feel like the girls have worked hard for their candy - I know I did. Hard work deserves a payment. That's how it works in the grown-up world, right? So, if you look at it that way, I am preparing them to be hard working members of society.

However, to my surprise, I am getting moans and groans about the trade being candy to deployed soldiers for a book. I thought it was perfect solution. The girls love to read and I don't like cavities or sugar induced melt downs. Should I go back to cash or make the trade for tangible goods? I like goods. I may put down my foot, which by the way will have on a sock with bits of candy stuck to the bottom, and say it is a book or nothing.

What do you do with all your Halloween candy?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On His Way

Fishing with Daddy Oct 2007

YAHOO! We rushed home from school today and had to move at light speed to get ready for a Daisy Girl Scouts Halloween party. As we were racing around in half costume status the phone started ringing. ARGHHH! Greta was jumping around with tights half way on and well, you don't want the mental image of me trying to zip my ballgown. Not the best timing for a phone call. I would normally just ignore it (I don't heart the phone).

It was Gene and guess what? He made it to Kuwait!!!!! His flight home from this deployment had already been cancelled twice. That put his return home off for another week or more. Can you say BUMMER?

Somehow he made it on a flight out of Afghanistan.

It has been a year. We are ready for him to come home to us.
He is on his way. Thank you God!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Waiting For A Flood

It's that time of the year. We are sorting through summer clothes and bringing out the fall wardrobe. Unfortunately for Greta, she has outgrown most of her jeans, including her favorite pair. This girl loves her bling.

On the flip side, Gigi is a Messy Marvin. One of the dresses in her closet looked like an ink pen has exploded on the side. It couldn't be passed down to Greta... or could it?!?

I cut the ruffled hem off of the dress and added it to the bottom of her jeans. That looked okay but it screamed out... my Mom is trying to recycle my jeans and cut the hem off my sister's dress and sewed it onto my jeans. Can you imagine the Thanksgiving dinners in the future? "Remember when Mom would make Greta wear high-water jeans that had Gigi's clothes sewn to the bottom? HA HA HA"

So, in order to not scar Greta's sense of style for the rest of her life I added some ribbon. That made all the difference!

We are really trying to use the three R's. I think this one falls under Reuse and Recycle. SUCCESS!

Jeans & Skirt

Here is the skirt made out of a pair of jeans that Greta has out grown. She's a tall girl and all of her jeans are too short now so... I cut off the legs and added a skirt.
Now that I finished it I think it could be a few inches shorter but gathering material is not my gift. I find it very frustrating. I am sure there is some really neat trick that makes it easier but until then... Greta can wear a skirt that could be a few inches shorter.

Friday, October 2, 2009

To The Market

Here are the most recent totes who are looking for a good home. I am thinking about putting some on ETSY. I have never tried to sell there before but it might be time to have a new adventure.

Right now my fav is the brown and black paisley with the tiger stripe lining. It looks so cool.
I have others that I have used for years - one is over five years old and looks great. If you can lift it, they can hold it. Plus, I just throw them in the wash when they get dirty.
My next sewing project is re-purposing a pair of jeans for Greta that have gotten too short. I am going to make a skirt with them... I hope. (fingers crossed) I'll post the skirt when I get it finished, hopefully this weekend.