Thursday, December 22, 2011

merry christmas to you!

Yesterday I mentioned Nicky thinking his little mug was for coffee. Here he was not an hour later trying desperately to get some of that good stuff:
naughty Nicky.

Yesterday started out good, got very bad for a while, but thankfully ended on a positive note.  I said something that really made someone mad and it made me feel awful for most of the morning.  It took a lot of praying and some time with my kids and my friends to help me feel better. 

The cookies didn't hurt, either.

I made egg free cut out cookies, trying a new recipe from a friend, and was so happy they ended up being so good.  They are not exactly light and flaky but have really good flavor (real butter!) and rolled out nicely.  I love all my vintage cutters and some new ones from Ikea were so fun to use as well.

I surprised the kids with them and some frosting after school.  I used this frosting recipe but used half margarine/half shortening.  The flavor is good and the frosting firmed up nicely but was fluffy and easy to spread.  (a half batch frosted 2.5 dozen cookies, fyi.)

(no pics of the frosting process because a 8 yr old + a 5 year old + a 20 mo. old with a raging sweet tooth + frosting + sprinkles = a hot mess!)


I'm so excited to see a lot of my family this week and so sad that I won't be seeing the rest.  My mom arrives first tomorrow followed by my Dad on Tuesday and my brother and Erin on Wednesday.  Annie and Ronan can't come but we will all be together in February for Thomas and Erin's big wedding!!  Can't wait for all of that.  eeeeeek!  Tomorrow Patrick and I will have the whole day together with no kids.  Can you imagine?  7 hours alone.  Sounds pretty nice.  I am not counting on it 100%, though, as you know how kids are.  There's a very good chance they will all start puking tonight.  :)

I found this quote that I loved and am trying to keep on my mind and in my heart:

God's gifts
put man's best dreams
to shame.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What a gift we are about to celebrate and remember!

Well, Merry Christmas to you and yours.  I open myself up pretty bare here sometimes and I really appreciate all the love and warmth I get in return.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

christmas in the hizz-ouse

I bought this large tinsel star last year on clearance at Target and didn't realize it would totally remind me of Christmas at my Gramma's every time I looked at it. She would put silver garland and lights around her living room door and the glow of these lights in particular takes me right back to that living room. ♥ (remember the little ornaments she would hang on every door pane, family?)
This paper nativity is one of my favorite things I've ever found, the tea cup has a candle in it:
My dad made me this.  Crafty begets crafty.
I did this as a joke (but really liked it!) and thought Patrick would be ticked.  He hasn't said a word about it...just shook his head and sighed the first time he saw it:
My treat stands from last year, ready and waiting to be loaded up:
The stockings were hung by the front door with care:  (it's all we got)
just this morning, a quiet 15 minutes before the kids got up:
and then, the advent calendar routine:

sitting next to me:
nursing:  (the milk is back??  but I feel like I need to wean so I can get a mammogram!  I am 40.5 now, you know.  Anyone go through this?  My doc said I don't have to but it's on my mind...)
asking for the camera:
cut out dough for later:
loving the Christmas art:
and my latest mug acquisitions:  (the striped one my mom gave me last year and Nicky loves it for his cocoa.  Except he thinks we gave him coffee since it's in a coffee mug and then he shrieks and points at the coffee maker for more.  sigh.)

This post is so long and laden with photos that I feel it would be rude of me to write any more.  Maybe later?  xoxo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

emory's gift (to me and to you)

Before I forget, I want to tell you a little bit about this book, Emory's Gift.  It was the best book I have read in a long time and I read a lot.  It was delightful.  And it made me cry.  And it surprised me...flat out, jaw-dropped surprised.  How often does that happen?

I hate to go into too much detail because I think the surprise is part of the magic of this book.  Please go rent it or buy it or download it.  You won't regret it, promise.


Monday, December 19, 2011


I wanted to let you know I didn't give up or walk away or anything like that.  :)

Friday was Ruby's concert and James got out of school early to come with us.  Afterwards, the four of us came home and had a very nice afternoon.  (cue angels singing)  We so needed that.  That was a rough couple of days, last Wednesday and Thursday.  Glad they are over.  I'm thankful for your kind words here and am also thankful to anyone who read that post and just shook their head and thought, "I have so been there."

We had a very nice weekend that consisted of doing a lot of nothing, which I welcomed.  We actually did do a lot of housecleaning (big stuff like dusting light fixtures and vacuuming vents) but Patrick helped and it was actually fun.  We also bought a carpet shampooer...should have done it years ago. 

Today Nicky and I took a long walk, I watched part of Bridesmaids while he napped (funny but not as funny as I thought.), shampooed Nicky's carpet, made some more pretzel bark and then spent the rest of the day trying not to eat said pretzel bark, and went to the post office.  A very nice day. 

James and Ruby should be home in about 4 minutes.  Kathy wanted me to post something crafty but this is all I got.  :)

Happy Monday, dear ones.


Friday, December 16, 2011

worth it

We had 3+ inches cut off of Ruby's little red head the other night and she looks like such a big girl.  She hates tights but loves her new Lands' End dresses so I got her some knee socks and she loves them.  She picked the ones that don't match to wear for her Christmas program today but I didn't mind.  She is such a sensitive little girl.  Something (seemingly) tiny will happen at school and that evening she will burst into tears over how sad it made her.  Her whining is out of control right now.  I am trying so hard to discipline her without hurting her feelings.  Good Lord.  How does that work?  I'm not sure that it does but I know I wake up every day wanting to try again.  She is also very clever and super aware of things around her that are unsaid.  She can be manipulative and likes to pretend she doesn't know what's going on.  She screeches a lot.  She loves potty talk and showing off her booty.  I sometimes wonder if she's normal but am pretty sure she is.  She is a girl and right now I mainly wish that she would willingly wear more than the 3 pairs of pants that she finds acceptable.  (they are not always clean, even though I do laundry nearly every day...not sure how that works, and this causes much drama first thing in the morning.)

James was a total puke about getting his hair cut.  I told him he couldn't be totally in charge of his hair until he's 13 (??  just pulled that number out of my butt) but can grow it longer after Christmas if he wants.  He has to have it cut above the ears, though.  I hate when he looks like one of the Beatles.  (I see my future here.  Clearly.)  I thought he was kind of rude to the hair stylist but she was also egging him on which wasn't necessary.  It was awkward.  He didn't get a sucker.  There is so much hollering and teasing and general boy-ness with him that can drive me nuts...especially when I am A) making lunches in the morning or B) getting dinner finished at night.  Right now I am giving them tick marks every time they are naughty and each mark means 5 minutes earlier to bed.  I feel like for how complicated and swirly and deep Ruby's behaviors and emotions are, James' are equally as simple.  He is rammy, he doesn't like to listen and he has lots of energy.  End of story.  He has feelings, obviously, but they are not all mixed up and soupy like Ruby's are.  I feel like I know how to parent James for the most part and I feel like he responds for the most part...the hard part is consistently doing it.  What I love most about him right now is how we connect over funny stuff that he just gets.  He has a great sense of humor and I so love when he is laughing.  I can be so furious at him but give me some time (like a night of sleep and some quiet) and I am right back to just wanting to show that kid so much love and be a fair and good mother to him. 

Nicky just called me from his crib...MAMA!  He never calls me mama so believe me, I sprinted up there.  He nods his head yes and no now for everything and I love communicating with him that way.  He is still nursing but I had no milk for him last night.  I was so sad.  He was signing more and shook his head that no, he didn't want a sippy cup...just pointed at me.  :(  I think I was stressed (I'll get to that in a minute) because today I had milk for him again.  (he doesn't give up, you have to give him that.)  I am so torn...should I be googling how to help my child wean or how to increase my milk supply?  He says bubble and clock and so many other things.  He loves sweets and books and being outside.  He is always up for a walk.  He is a good sleeper but still gets up at around 4am to nurse sometimes.  He is really screamy and icky if he doesn't get enough sleep so we try to make sure he does.  :)  He still hasn't touched the Christmas presents under the tree and I cannot believe it.  Maybe his babysitter taught him that??  (I fully expected to be packing them all back up until Christmas Eve.)  He can unzip his jammies (uh oh) and put on his shoes (mostly.)  He is still pretty easy and I am grateful for that.

This is a quick synopsis of my parenting head this week.  My kids drive me absolutely nuts most evenings.  I honestly feel like I am running a 3 ring circus only all the rings intersect and fight with each other.  If I let myself, I can feel pretty sorry for myself that THIS is my life...breaking up fights and sending kids to their rooms, all while making dinner that maybe 2 out of 3 of them will eat and one of them will surely throw on the floor.  I feel like I hate it sometimes and would just love to walk out the front door and come back when they're all in bed.  They make me sick sometimes.  It is so hard sometimes. 

But then they do go to bed and I get some rest and I wake up and am ready to do it all over again.  I want to give them big hugs and am actually happy to see them.  How does that work? 

I love being their mom.  I don't always love the work it involves but does anyone love their job all the time?  Of course not.  And it's a job I feel so incredibly blessed to have.  I need to pray more, that's for sure.  I need a thankful heart and not feel sorry for myself.  But I also need to just say sometimes, "THIS IS SO HARD."  Because it is.

But I know it's worth it.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


I feel sluggish, these mid-December days.  There is plenty going on, Christmas programs (2 this week), baking (some good, some not so good), haircuts, the normal kid battles...lots of stuff keeping me busy but yet, not too busy.  Every time I have a minute (or 30 or 60) I find myself on the couch, on our bed, relaxing.  I've been reading a lot, by myself and with the kids, Patrick and I have been watching TV/movies's been so nice.  I feel lazy, the mood matches the gloomy weather, and I'm just going with it.  (I think a big snowfall would make it feel perfect but I don't see that happening.) 

I am writing myself a letter to open next November 1st.  It's going to remind myself to get going.  December goes by so fast and this year is a clear example that I never know what it's going to bring.  This wet and grey weather is anything but jolly and it definitely has an effect on my mood.  I know I'd be a tad bit bitchy if my to-do list were much longer so I am very thankful for the hours I already put in making this holiday special for my family and loved ones.  (and also for myself, let's be honest.  :)  )

(Also, all is not totally zen here.  Every time my sister and I are talking about something that makes us crazy we break out into a sarcastic, "Fa LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA."  It helps.  :) )
 I hope you are enjoying this time as well.  If you're not, please consider crossing something off of your list instead of stressing out about it.  After an imperfect batch of both muffins and cookies this morning I turned off the oven and called it a day.  Christmas is for quitters!  :) 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

chilly fingers, warm heart

I got the tree lights working (by yanking off the un-working ones and throwing them away) and we think our tree looks so pretty. The ornaments are going on today after school.
The packages underneath are from loved ones far (too far) away and so far Nicky has left them alone.  Even more amazing is that I have left them alone.  I want to open them!!!!!!!

Here is a picture of the new thrifted winter artwork I got a couple weeks ago.  I love a good thrifted art winter scene and I can't find my other ones.  Where are they???

Nicky and I got so many errands done this morning, it was awesome.  Now he is sleeping and I am going to start some dinner in a minute.

Here are some pictures from James' party.  The little knee boards with wheels (for Toddler Time!) became the hit of the day...thank goodness they were in the supply closet with the balls and jump ropes.  Also, thank goodness for Patrick.  Those kids followed him around like he was the Pied Piper.  :)

 A few minutes of quiet where they worked on a word search:
 Finding it pretty hard, they started working together:
 A few minutes after that, it was back to this:
 and some of this:
 and then back to this:
 and Nicky got busted eating cake.  It was the funniest thing ever, the look on his face before he crammed it into his mouth, I'm so glad I witnessed it.  This was just after:

Monday, December 12, 2011


Earlier I wrote this:

The day is gloomy and my sunny morning disposition has somewhat faded but I am enjoying the soft glow from our tree.  There is that.  :)

 I hit publish, turned around and saw that half of the lights on the tree had gone out.  HA!  I put Nicky to bed, took a shower, crawled into bed and slept for an hour.  I feel so much better now and can tackle that darn tree.  ;)  Less than 6 hours of sleep is hard on me...but that book was worth it.


bird hat

Hello, happy Monday!  I'm sorry to say this but I usually love Mondays.  Why?  Because (nearly) everyone goes away and leaves me alone!  :)  hahahha.  It's true though.  After a jam-packed weekend of family time, I love a quiet Monday morning.  I feel like I have a lot to catch up on and am in kind of a chatty mood so you might be in trouble...

Let's start with last Thursday.  After I was here, Nicky and I met Zoe and Ada at Target.  We had coffee and walked around for just over 2 hours.  It was so nice and Zoe and I ended up with matching hats.  (different colors, same style)  I loved my new hat (and still do, I suppose) but there are three things:
1.  It is not a true red.  I wanted to make a matching scarf and that will be very hard to do if I want red in it and want to make it with what I have on hand.
2.  Patrick asked me if I made it myself, and not in a kind way.
and 3. (most painful of all) Ruby said it was my bird hat.  That those buttons on either side are eyes and that the brim looks like the beak.  She is so right! 

bawk! bawk!

But Target was fun.  I don't remember the rest of the day.  I think it involved the couch and the tv and a book.  oh, and kids.

Friday was super fun!  I sent Nicky to Sarah's and came home to have a solo candy making day.  I made four kinds of candies to give as gifts to neighbors, friends and other people in my community that make my life more fun.  I made pretzel turtles (of course, I always make these), the saltine toffee I've made before but with PRETZELS (delish), peppermint bark and oreo truffles.  (The Oreo truffles are my least favorite but still pretty darn good when they're very cold.)  I also baked James' birthday cake, had lunch and went to the dig for a little while.  It is simply amazing how much I can get done with no kids around.  It was so nice.  God bless babysitters.

I don't remember Friday night either.  I'm pretty sure it was a repeat of Thursday night.

Saturday was all about getting ready for James' party at 3:00.  Busy, busy, busy even though it didn't seem like there was that much to do.  ??  The party went great, Patrick and I were exhausted afterwards, and James had a friend over to spend the night so he was thrilled. 

On Sunday we just hung out all morning until I brought his friend home and Ruby and I went to get a Christmas tree.  It was a nice day but I missed church.  We hustled to get the kids to bed early so we could cuddle up and watch Survivor.  Afterwards I finished my favorite book of the year (more on that later) and Patrick watched part of Forks Over Knives.  So glad he watched that!  He is pretty much anti-vegetables and has never really embraced my moves to get more of them into our diet.  This movie showed him some stone cold facts that got him (both of us) thinking...never a bad thing.  The surprising thing was how bad they were saying dairy was.  ugh.  I don't think I eat too much dairy but all those little laughing cow cheeses must add up.  :)  That cow maybe shouldn't be laughing....

I started this hours ago.  Since then I have put up our Christmas tree (quite sturdily, I might add), read a pile of books with Nicky, listened to Christmas music (and wiggled to it.  Nicky kind of wiggles as his dancing right is so cute.), and made a kind of yucky lunch.  (tuna fish on crackers...good, frozen veggie medley...yucky.)  I also talked to my sister and thought about how sensitive I am lately.  I wonder why??

Now I'm going to put baby to bed, take a shower, package up a couple of etsy sales and listen to some more good music.  The day is gloomy and my sunny morning disposition has somewhat faded but I am enjoying the soft glow from our tree.  There is that.  :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

all is calm

So James had an awesome birthday.  He said he didn't want it to end which was very sweet.  We came home after early release and the kids basically did this all afternoon:

played together!  So nice.  Nicky took a nap eventually and the rest of us hung out in the living room all day.  This stack of library books helped make it extra nice for me:
It is so quiet here right now.  The big kids are gone and Nicky is still fast asleep.  I am amazed he is still asleep as this was going on a little while ago:
Punch balloons in the advent calendar this morning.  Not the quietest thing.  Well, maybe quiet just for a minute...

And sometimes a minute (or thirty) is all you need.   :)


(p.s.  thank you for the birthday wishes for James!!  xoxo)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

8 years

Today we have had James for 8 years.  Amazing!  I am crazy about him and have to say that this one little laugh he has is one of my favorite sounds in the world.

That being said, things might have to change.  Okay, probably not, but last night nearly killed me.  We have this long standing tradition for the birthday kid to wake up to a bunch of balloons and their gifts on their birthday morning.  They love to see it first thing and it's always lots of fun.  (yawn)  Last night James could not fall asleep because he was so excited.  Now, I understand this as I used to puke on Christmas Eve due to the anticipation of what was lying ahead.  Patrick said I was a softie but we gave him a gift to open at 9:30pm and then tucked him in.  He was in our room about 3 more times before he finally fell asleep around 11:00.  Then he came in at 2:19 and wanted to sleep with us.  He crawled in and I promptly fell back to sleep....until 3:00am when he informed me that it was 3:00am and that he couldn't sleep.  I rubbed his back for a fraction of a second and fell back to sleep.  When he rubbed my arm and told me the great news that it was now 3:40am I LOST IT.  He scrambled out of our bed so fast and I didn't hear from him again until 6:18am.  I was already up, just stretching in bed, when he came in.  "I'm sorry for my actions last night, Mom." he said.  Oh, baby.  You are so lucky it's your birthday.  :)  Patrick and I got up and came downstairs with him so he could open his gifts.  He LOVED them.  Yay!

On Monday, less than 24 hours after I told my sister I was so sick of shopping, I found this Lego collection at the thrift store for $9.00.  (the tote that it was in costs more than that!)  I couldn't believe my eyes when I peeked inside and right away did that thing where you look around to make sure no one is going to snatch it away from you.  (you've done that, right?)  There is easily $200 worth of Legos here and James was THRILLED.  He kept looking over at us and saying, "I LOVE YOU!  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!"  hehehehehehe.  (and now I can return the $40 remote control car I had gotten him that he and patrick would just have broken within the first 24 hours.)  :)  (he also got a wii game and a lego sticker book from us.)  He asked where they all had come from and I told him I bought another little boy's collection who had grown up and didn't want them anymore.  He said he is NEVER going to get rid of his Lego collection, even when he is as old as me and Dad.  haha.

Here is his birthday table, last night:

I know this cake is a hot mess.  It was my trial run.  :)  (good thing, right??)

He noticed and loved the picture frame I made for him:

(idea found on pinterest, natch.)
Nicky joined us after a while:
And then Ruby rolled out of bed a while after that for a cinnamon roll breakfast:

Nicky was in awe.  Oh, and James was super happy with his Robot bank too, Mom!!  And we are putting the baking soda rocket that his Grandpa Tom gave him together after school and his other Grandpa gave him a WII game, too.  He made out like a bandit this year.  :)

Here are some of James' other birthdays:  three, four, six and seven.  Oh, and here is the original birthday story.

I didn't have a blog when James was born but I did upload pictures to Yahoo Photo nearly every day.  (With captions, of course.  :)  )  They merged with Flickr and now I have to pay $25 to access all those photos.  I wish I had them today to just spam the heck out of you with James memories.  I told him today that we loved our first baby so much that we decided to have very true.  Love you, first baby.  xoxoxo


I am going to sit down and enjoy some well-deserved coffee.  :) 

xoxoxo to you, too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


today I am sitting on my couch.  I am intermittently drinking coffee, stamping cards, watching Millionaire Matchmaker and folding laundry.  I volunteered this morning and then balloon and grocery shopped here in town afterwards.

yesterday I mailed packages, took Nicky out to lunch and scored BIG at the thrift store.  (making a Lego boy VERY happy tomorrow for nine bucks.  BOO!)

tomorrow I will celebrate our oldest child turning 8.  We will have cake and talk about his tiny baby self and kiss him all we can.

I hope your week is off to a good start.  xoxo

Thursday, December 01, 2011

pour some creamer on me

James' friend usually comes over a couple of afternoons a week to play Legos. I love that his Legos are in the living room now because I get to eavesdrop on their (adorable) conversations and hear how they work things out. Yesterday his friend called him "J-man." cute.
Here is his ship that he has been working on and adding to for weeks.  Whenever he gets a new Lego set he puts it together right away and then takes it apart almost right away to use the pieces in his own way:
And, well, the inevitable. Nicky waits until James leaves for school and then I usually find him here a little while later.  This is when I move the chair...
I try to stay away from flavored creamers now because they cause me to over-indulge...their calories add up so fast!  Because today was decorating day, though, I treated myself to a bottle of Peppermint Mocha...yummy.  (and my cute mug from Zoe!)
I picked up this dried bunch of flowers (hydrangeas?) while I was walking one day.  It was brown and very pretty.  But then yesterday I had the idea to spray paint it.  Love it!  Want more!

I am not quite sure why I picked up these vintage angel candles.  they kind of scare me with their peeling faces.  Creepy Christmas to you!  :)
And because I had the steam-a-seam out for another project yesterday (that I LOVE but cannot show you yet...sigh), I decided to add their initials to the pillows.  I can't wait for them to see them later.  :)

I also wrapped a big match box in that Ikea paper that I like so much. I ended the tape just on either side of the striking strip so I can still use it.
And this is when I called my sister for help.  Right after I wrapped up my lotion bottle.  hahahhahahhaa!
Here is my sink full of Christmas dishes and a pile of wet laundry. Nicky pulled a cup of coffee off the counter today right onto his face and whole little self. He was balancing on his dump truck to reach it so he fell off of that at the same time.  It was quite the dramatic event.  Luckily I put a lot of cream in my coffee (see above) so he didn't get burnt or anything horrible like that.
And finally, here is Nicky showing off a trick he learned at Grandma's house. He is so proud of himself when he gets marbles between all of his fat little fingers.

My house is a disaster.  It is at that worst half-way point of decorating.  You know when your every day messes collide with your piles of decorations and piles of things to go back downstairs?  ugh.  I took a break to write this and now it's back to work.  Hi ho, Hi ho!



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