Friday, December 29, 2006

Eight






Today is Carter's eighth birthday. Eight whole years. I'm not going to lie. Carter has been a handful most of his eight years. But I love him.
Carter has been an instigator. He has made messes (i.e., smearing feces all over himself, numerous times -- the old tiff file won't upload). He has gotten into a lot of trouble. I have wanted to send him back many, many times. But ... he's mine and I truly adore him.
He is sweet and sensitive. He is smart. He is funny. He is silly. He has his own style of clothing and decorating. He loves all boy things. He is helpful. He is observant.
I love you, Carter, and I'm so happy that you're here. I wish you many, many more happy birthdays.
(Carter requested the red and blue crown -- his two favorite colors. It is reversible, too. Blue with red sides.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Solutions

Thank you to those who sent emails and offered suggestions for my MIL's Christmas present. I ended up calling Joe at work on Friday and gave him a few of the suggestions. This is what we gave her:




A basket of goodies, wrapped in cellophane with a red organdy ribbon. We filled it with German cookies, candies, preserves, cake (or whatever that stuff is), tissue pouch, my handmade soap, and Bath & Body Works air freshener (Black Raspberry Vanilla). Joe stopped at the PX and picked up all the German stuff. Joe's father is retired Army and they spent many years in Germany. So the German treats were a nostalgic treat for his mother.

And the new bag for my mother (after something went awry with the other bag):



I finally braved it and cut into my Amy Butler fabric stash. I was afraid to do it at first, but I figured "she's my mother ... if I can't cut it for her, who can I cut it for?" I'm so happy that I did. It is lined with chocolate-brown corduroy. (I tried to make the handles in the corduroy but my sewing machine flat-out refused to sew through four layers of corduroy. Even with a heavy-duty needle. I did it for another bag without incident. Hmm.)

And for the cemetery:


forever my sister

forever in my mind

forever in my heart


These past few days we've been busy building Lego things. Avatar fortresses (still in progress), Spongebob's Krusty Krab (still in progress, especially since it "fell" apart), and some Star Wars "things." We've also been busy playing Connect Four. So busy doing these things, in fact, that I have brush-burns on my elbows. It's all good.

Please note: I have upgraded blogger and I may be editing old posts with labels/categories. If you see older, updated posts on bloglines, please just ignore. Sorry if it is annoying. (Also, sorry about the erratic line spacing in my posts -- it is the new blogger, not me. Well, it could be me, too!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Speed

From this
to this

in minutes.

Hope everyone is still enjoying the spirit of the season. May your days be merry and bright.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last-Minute Christmas Woes




Do you get to a point in your holiday preparations when you finally declare "I am finished!" (and feel good about it?)


Last year I vividly remember that it happened on Friday, December 23rd, early afternoon. I remember it so well because we came home, unloaded the final presents and groceries from our car after returning from Jack's preschool Christmas program. I put my jacket and camera on my kitchen island and put a few things in the refrigerator. A few minutes later, when I went to hang up my jacket, our camera came crashing to the floor. It's final and fatal fall.


Yes. Two days before Christmas and our camera was broken. So much for being finished shopping. Joe had to immediately turn around and head back into town to buy a new one.


Yesterday I had the feeling that I was finished my shopping. It's such a nice feeling. Too bad it didn't last longer than it did.


Yesterday morning I had picked up an order of 8x10 photos I had of the children. I should have looked at them at the store. Half of Carter's face (lower right) has been cropped out of the photo. Not by me. By the photo lab. I can't really give them away as they are. So, I uploaded my photos to Target's one-hour photo lab. When I stopped in last night to pick them up (several hours later, I might add), I was told that they are out of 8x10 photo paper and that someone should have called me. Well that would have been nice!


Then, while I was changing a messy diaper, I realized that I had forgotten to buy (or make) something to take to the cemetery for my beloved sister. How could I forget her? She's been on my mind so much lately. It's not acceptable to not visit the cemetery without something ... especially at Christmas. (And I didn't make it at Easter because I was on bedrest. I remember my mother trying to convince me that I should still go to the cemetery, as I would be sitting in the car most of the trip. I didn't.)

Anyway, later yesterday I remembered that I had left the gift buying up to Joe for his parents. When he came home from work yesterday, he had a gift card for his father. Nothing for his mother. Uh, excuse me Joe, I've officially declared that shopping is over until the 26th.



Uhhh! So now I'm stuck at what to do for my mother-in-law.

Oh, and I forgot a stocking stuffer for little Sawyer. Oh, and a stocking!


And the boys forgot to take the Christmas gift for their bus driver.


So that "finished" feeling was just a farce.


And while I have a little bit of wrapping left, at least I know that I can finagle some gifts for my boys, in case I realize they aren't "even." And that's a nice feeling.
And, again, Sawyer is oblivious and, obviously, enjoying the holiday season more than his mother at this moment.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Take Time to Smell ...




Spenser all covered in my hand lotion.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Karate and Cookbooks


Last night Taylor (center, red belt) and Carter (yellow belt) had their karate exams. Taylor was promoted to green belt and Carter to red. Taylor was happy with his promotion until they announced that the girl to his left was promoted to purple. Taylor felt that was unfair. We tried to explain to Taylor that this girl had been a red belt longer than he had been (and maybe more prepared) and that her moves were a little stronger. He felt he did not do his best. (I think this girl likes Taylor and maybe vice versa.) And do you see the man sitting at the table (at the right) with the long hair? That's our mayor.



Above are the cookbooks I completed yesterday. Linda so thoughtfully gave me more suggestions for the covers. I had planned to use her quilted cards tutorial, but she suggested just using paper instead (quilted like Kayrn's cards or not quilted). In order to save time, I opted to just do a single paper on each over. Nothing fancy. I used permanent double-sided tape.
Last night I made a quick batch of soap after the kids went to bed. So I think I'm finished making soap for Christmas presents.
I'm hoping to start making Christmas candies today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sewing and Sickness

We have some sick children in the house. I had to pick up Carter from school early because was running a fever of 102. He is coughing and has a sore throat. In the middle of the night, Spenser started with a croopy cough. Oy! Right before the holidays. Please don't let it spread!

Joe came home a little early last night. I sewed 10 more tissue pouches (that I cut out while the little ones were napping).
I made a tote for my mother. I love the fabric, but the quality of sewing is not the best. I may have to make another one. I wanted to use fabric for the handles, but did not have enough. The fabric's design was running in the wrong direction. I may have enough fabric to make an identical one. I'll have to see. (You probably can't detect the wonkiness in the photo.)

No soap or candies were made yesterday. I did not have the energy. Maybe tonight ...

We took the children around to see Christmas lights last night as part of our Advent. They had already bathed and were in their pajamas. We listened to Christmas music as we rode around. It was fun.

I think Sawyer is getting tired of all this holiday fuss. He just wants to rest.

And contemplate what to do next.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend Happenings

I survived sleepover #1 for birthday #2. Barely. But I survived.

It started at a feverish pace. As soon as all of the boys (4) arrived, we made individual pizzas. We used pita bread for the crust and I had an assortment of toppings for them to choose. While they were baking, they started working on decorating their stockings. Some finished. Some decided to finish later (and then didn't) and some (my youngest children) didn't even start.


They played a board game (Zathura). Ran full speed through my house. Watched a movie (Ice Age II: The Meltdown). Ate popcorn. One of my nephews took the giant bowl of popcorn upstairs to the bedrooms and started throwing popcorn through the hole. Remember that hole? It was literally raining popcorn in my family room. A big mess. One that required a visit from Dyson. The boys finally settled down enough and watched a few Christmas shows. Joe and I took the baby upstairs.

Very early the next morning (before 7 a.m.) the boys were running madly through the house again. Even upstairs where we were still sleeping (including Spenser and Sawyer). I sent Joe downstairs to feed them breakfast and to send them outside to play. It was only 36 degrees, but it was good for them. And me.


10:00 a.m. could not come sooner for me. That was the end of the party. I was exhausted. Not too exhausted to make a batch of soap.
And not too exhausted to attend my niece's 1st birthday party. And not too exhausted to pick up a Christmas order from Office Depot.
For part of my "sisters" gift this year, I am giving a family Christmas cookbook. It includes all the recipes from our traditional Christmas dinner, Christmas Eve, Christmas cookies and desserts, and New Year's Day. Joe informed me that the ink cartridge was running low on our printer, so I uploaded my cookbook to Office Depot and picked up the ten copies on my way home from the birthday party. (I don't have 10 sisters, only three now. One is for me, my mother, grandmother, my sister-in-law, and my SIL's sister -- another long story.)
We borrowed the binding machine from Joe's work:

Now, I'm planning to use Linda's quilted cards tutorial and make a cover.

I addressed most of my Christmas cards last night after the children were in bed. I have several birth announcements to make to send with some of them. I'm also hoping to start some more tissue pouches, start making my Christmas candies, and make a batch of soap tonight after the kids are in bed. We'll see how that all goes, considering I'm not feeling so hot today. I've been nauseated since last night. And, no, Capello, I'm not pregnant!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Too Much to Do

I've returned from 3 excruciating hours of grocery shopping with my three little ones and have now updated with photos. Thank you, Blogger, for cooperating now... (and sorry for the dim photos, they were taken late, late last night).

Yesterday I hit panic mode. Christmas is getting very close and my to-do list isn't shrinking as quickly as I would like. Having another new baby has been a challenge this time around. Don't get me wrong. He's a great baby. He sleeps well (all night, in fact). He eats well. He's growing. He's happy. He's perfect in every way. It's really just me. I have been so much busier since he's been here. It has been a big change from 5 children.

I was almost in tears yesterday while driving home from preschool as I mentally reivewed my to-do list. Too much to do. Definitely not enough time or energy. And lots of WIP's. Maybe too many.

When I arrived home, I found a little package hanging on my front door. It was this way-cool apron from my friend, Christy. Christy (who also gave me my baby shower a few months ago) has a degree in fashion design. She has taught me a lot about sewing these past few months and she has the nerve to want to move across the country! (She and I also have matching zebra coats!)



So, anyway, while Spenser napped, I popped Sawyer in his swing next to my sewing machine and I got to work on the 28 mystery WIP's from a few weeks ago. I finished all 28 of them. But I still need six more ... at least.

(Brinda and Kim -- look away now!)



Tissue pouches! They are four layers thick.

Last night I was determined to make another batch of soap for Christmas. I was trying to run around the house doing last-minute things so I could make the soap, well into the night if need be. So, as I was rushing around the house, I remembered we needed milk for this morning's breakfast. I was running out the door before the store closed and slammed my right index finger in the door. It is terribly sore and black & blue and swollen. I don't think it's broken. I wanted to cry, but I was in too much pain to cry. Needless to say, no soap was made last night. I couldn't not imagine pulling my rubber gloves off and on a gazillion times over my sore finger.

So on to Plan B: Taylor's sleepover is tonight. I still hadn't made the stockings I had planned to make. So, I pulled out my white fabric and candy-cane striped ribbon and made 10 "blank" stockings. These are for children to decorate with rickrack, buttons, and green felt (Christmas trees?).



We'll see if I survive this sleepover long enough to make my soap on Saturday afternoon. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It Must Be Christmas!


It must be Christmas! On Tuesday I was quite surprised with this lovely set of handmade cards from Karyn. They are truly beautiful. And so well made. Almost too pretty to use! Thank you, Karyn! I love them!



On Monday I set up Christmas tree #2 in our formal living room. I only had enough time to put up the lights and the wooden "cranberry" garland. On Tuesday Mason and I decorated it while Spenser and Sawyer napped. I usually decorate this tree by myself because I use sentimental and fragile ornaments on it, but Mason was so sweet that day and really wanted to help. I could not refuse.

Our house is 130+ years old and I try to decorate it how trees were decorated in years past. I have a lot of glass and wooden candies on my tree, although back then they would have used real candy. And I use the wooden cranberry garland, instead of the real, messy cranberries. (Have you ever tried to string your own popcorn/cranberry garland? I remember doing that as a child and poking my fingers way too many times with the sharp needle! I do not wish to repeat the torture! Wooden works well for me here.)


Glass "hard" candy.


Wooden lollipops.


Wooden peppermint candies.

Little mittens.

I also have a few glass icicles and a bunch of mini-candle holders (above). In the olden days, trees were decorated with real, burning candles. I use white birthday-style candles, although larger candles would work, too. I don't light our candles (obviously), but I still decorate the tree with them. (My mother has several antique icicles and candle holders and mini red candles from my grandmother.)

* * * THANK YOU * * *

Thank you everyone for your very kind birthday wishes to Taylor. I let him read the comments and he was very happy. A few more came in after he went to bed, but I will make sure he reads them before school. I'm sorry I was not able to respond to everyone. It's been a little hectic here lately. (Joe and I put up beadboard in our upstairs bathroom today. And it took all. day. long!)

* * * ADVENT * * *

And, I've been slacking on my Advent activities. I've been a little forgetful lately, too.

Monday -- we were singing Christmas carols when the fire-engine-riding Santa rode down the street. Then the children ate oranges and candy canes, courtesy of Santa.

Tuesday -- the children received their homemade Christmas ornaments. And, Capello, just so you know, I did not have time to redo Jack's ornament, so he got the funky one.

Wednesday -- this is awful, but we didn't do anything. Taylor wanted to go to dinner for his birthday (Chinese) and go to Target to buy his birthday present. By the time we came home, gave baths, sang "Happy Birthday" to him, ate cake, read scriptures, and said our family prayer, it was 9:45 p.m. -- way past their bedtime. I had planned to give them some Little Debbie Christmas-tree shaped brownies, but we really ate too much at dinner and had cake at 9:30 at night!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Decade



Ten years ago today I became a mother.

At 12:42 p.m. on Friday the 13th (after 40+ hours of labor and 2 hours & 42 minutes of pushing), an 8 lbs.-13 oz. boy was born. Taylor has been a blessing ever since.

Taylor is kind. He is smart. He is funny. He is a born leader. He is loving to his younger siblings. And very helpful.

He just received a gold ribbon from school for having straight A's on his 1st quarter report card. (In fact, he also received almost all O's, too, with the exception of one S in Art for creativity.) He was the only one in his homeroom class to get straight A's.

Taylor is working hard at his karate. Next week is his advancement exam for green belt. We know he will do well (as long as he takes his time -- he's always tries to do it too fast).

It has been a great decade. And an interesting one. Who would have known ten years ago that I would have six children? Certainly not me.

I have had a decade's worth of blessings. Or rather, a lifetime of blessings all within a decade's time.

Happy birthday, Taylor. And many, many more!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas is Coming!



Yesterday was so unseasonably warm. I think it reached the mid- to high-50's. I hadn't changed over from autumn decorations, so yesterday was the perfect day. It felt really weird to be outside, decorating for Christmas, in pj bottoms, a t-shirt and bare feet! It so did not feel like Christmastime!




I know it's hard to see, but last night Santa rode through our town on the top of a fire engine. (I know I've said it before, but I love our small town!) Other fire engines and the ambulance followed behind delivering oranges and candy canes to the children. We live on a dead end, but Santa's helpers found our children anyway. (Although the children were disappointed that Santa didn't "wave" to them. They claimed that he's been here before, so he knows where we live. I explained that things look different when flying in a sleigh than driving on roads ...)



And another half-naked shot of Spenser (just for you, Linda!) eating her orange and candy cane.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Recap



Saturday afternoon was Jack's birthday party. His cousins (some of them) and grandparents came. We ate warm brownies with ice cream. (We're not real big fans of cake.)



Then on Saturday evening we decorated tree #1 in the family room. Or, I should say that the children decorated the tree. Each child has his/her own container of Christmas ornaments and are allowed to put their own ornaments on the tree. After they were finished, the tree was pretty much covered.

I did put one ornament on the tree that I found in the family box. My mother-in-law gave it to us for Christmas in 2004, after Spenser was born. It has everyone's name on it:


And one empty space for Sawyer:


This ornament brought tears to my eyes when I saw the empty heart. We weren't even planning for Sawyer. I'm so happy he's here. He is definitely supposed to be here! The ornament says so. Our family is complete!



On Sunday afternoon we went to a family Christmas party in the basement of my grandmother's church. Santa came to visit with a toy for every child ... and a few adults.

And an Advent update (boy, I've gotten bad at this):

Thursday -- we watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town and ate popcorn.

Friday -- there was candy in the stocking (I think Reese's PB cups).

Saturday -- we decorated the tree (We actually put a slip of paper in the stocking to let them know.).

Sunday -- we drank hot chocolate with candy canes (thanks, Lori, for the idea!).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Magic of Four

Karyn of Trail Mix Designs tagged me, so here it is!


Four Jobs I've Had:

Pizza Deliverer (during college)
Telephone Operator (for Answering Service, during college)
Assistant to President (for a large, local company)
Mom of 6


Four Movies I Could Watch Over & Over:

Overboard
Ever After
Just Like Heaven
Legally Blonde I & II


Four Places I've Lived:

Maryland*
Maryland*
Columbus, Ohio
Maryland*
*for the safety of my family, I don't want to be specific


Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:

Desperate Housewives
Grey's Anatomy
?
?


Four Places I've Been on Vacation:

Quebec, Canada
Niagra Falls, NY
Topsail Island, NC
Cancun, Mexico


Four Websites I Visit Daily:

blogs
Google
blogs
blogs


Four Favorite Foods: Only four?!?

cheesecake
chicken Caesar salad
peanut butter
cookies (all kinds)


Four Places I'd Rather Be:

the beach (a warm one)
?
?
?


Four People I'd Like to Tag:

Hmmm... who should I pick? Or pick on?

Capello
Beki
Lori
Linda

My answers from earlier this year are here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fun Stuff



I finished sewing (and filled) the Christmas stocking party favors for Jack's party tomorrow. I did this while Spenser and Sawyer napped simultanueously and Mason busied himself around the house.

I used the leftover flannel from the Advent Stocking Garland. Each stocking has a candy cane, some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Candy Cane Hershey Kisses, and a breadstick/cheese dipping thing (my boys call them "dipping things"). I have a nephew that hates candy, so he has a "dipping thing," a bag of Fritos, and a little single serving of applesauce! I also put together 2 "baby" ones for my younger niece and nephew (applesauce, PB cups, and "dipping things"). There are 12 in all, but 5 are for my children.






The children have been loving Jack's birthday easel. They are playing school. One side has a chalkboard, the other side has a dry erase board. And there is a roll of paper at the top to draw on. Last night after dinner I spied the above drawing. It reminds me of Mr. Heat Miser. It made me laugh. (Does Jack even know who Mr. Heat Miser is???)


And I just took this blurry picture a few minutes ago. (It did not look blurry on the camera's display!) I think I have another Superman in the making! Mason is so very proud! My two Supermen. (Or maybe "just two of my Supermen.")

Now it's off to today's WIP -- cleaning! Wish me luck! I need it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Evening Festivities



Thank you for all of your birthday wishes for my little man. He had a great day. We gave him an art easel for his birthday and he loved it.

Joe didn't come home until late, so the children and I decided to go ahead with our Advent Stocking. Last night was chocolate fondue. Or, as Jack kept calling it "chocolate fundue."

The boys loved it, as did Spenser. She made quite a mess of herself and had to get right in the bath.

After Joe came home from work (8 p.m.), we sang Happy Birthday and ate gingerbread. Then I started on the party favors. My plan is Christmas stockings for the children, filled with some goodies.

I'm just at the cutting stage. Hopefully I will get some time today after preschool and be at the "sewing stage" before dinner. Or, better yet, the "finished stage." The party is Saturday and I have to still clean my house and put away my sewing stuff.

And, apparently I can't do more than one thing at a time. I was being quite distracted with little ones while writing yesterday's post and I'm not sure if I made sense! I was saying that my water broke at 9 p.m. (the night before) and my doctor reluctantly told me to go to the hospital. He still didn't believe that my water broke since I wasn't contracting. Well, I was right! My water had broken and I had not peed myself (three times in 20 minutes!). They had to induce me and Jack was born early the next morning, before the sun rose. It was my first really quick one. I was 5 cm at 4:25 a.m., and Jack was here at 5:22 a.m.

And, I forgot to mention yesterday that on 12/4 our Advent activity was reading a Christmas book.

Yes, see I am easily distracted!