Friday, December 30, 2011 {Christmas edition}

The big themes for this week's edition of InstaFriday are Christmas
(of course!) and fresh starts (I love looking ahead to the new year!)

1. Christmas Eve morn' jam session on Daddy's guitar.

2. An awesome (& thoughtful) gift from my mom-in-law.

3. Getting acquainted with George.

4. Sorry little sis, this is what happens when you fall asleep
in the middle of a family gathering.

5. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

6. Best. Hand cream. Ever.

7. My new plastic {revolving} photo cube.
Thank you, Secret Santa's shop.

8. Christmas-ing with Uncle Chad.

9. New {free} kitchen art.

10. Success! My first "homemade" loaf of bread.

11. Furniture rearranging: good for the soul.

12. He practically jumped in my cart and begged me to take him home.

Happy New Year! Bring it on, 2012!

Linked to: InstaFriday @ Life Rearranged.

life rearranged

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011: Looking Back

As far as blog posts go, my 2010 year-in-review was one of my favs. 
I love a good tradition, so here comes a look back at 2011.
{And a chance for you to link up your 2011 highlights}

We hit the 'Hamas.
I write the first of my many lists for the year {11 for 2011}
We get serious about getting organized.

My car-loving boys do the auto show.
A love/hate relationship with morning swimming is born.
Mady has a new seat at the table.

I run my first ever 5K!
We enjoy family time in our favorite big city.

There's a new {used} van in the garage.
Job change: Matt's back at Grand.
We Walk for Water (again).
I discover the connection between my heart and my hands
and the relationship between the spiritual and the physical.
{it was a big month}

Mady is 18 months old!
We celebrate our first decade together.
My four year blog-versary.
Ella graduates from preschool.

Dylan finishes up Kindergarten
and plays his first season of t-ball.
We relax {kid-free} in Punta Cana.
I run my first 10K.

We try to stay cool during our Wolf Lake cottage week.
We scoot, bike and swim our way through the summer.
Dylan's teeth are dropping like flies.

Ella learns to swim.
Our picture blog turns one year old.
Hello, Year 32.
We're still organizing...this time it's our toys.

We send a Pre-K-er and a 1st grader off to their first day of school.
Ella's back at 'nastics.
It's soccer season...again.
I discover Pinterest and my inner craftiness.
Ella cheers at her first football game.

Couples Retreat: wine country.
Craft night is born.
It's applesauce canning season!
We almost have a run-in with a hurricane.

I run my first 15K.
Mady moves up to a big girl bed.
Birthdays five, seven and two.
Eek! Mice!
An unforgettable weekend away in Chicago.

We did it! 52 weeks of working out complete!
Wrapped and done by December 1.
Now that's Pinterest-ing, kid edition.
We stage our annual Christmas close-up.

And now it's your turn to take a look back...

Friday, December 23, 2011 {Christmas Eve EVE}

It's Christmas Eve Eve and we're bracing ourselves for a couple of days of full-time Christmas-ing. We savored the small moments this past week as we put the finishing touches on our holiday plans.

1. Our little angel.

2. Homemade Christmas gifts, five-year-old style.

3. Video messages from Santa.
{Free parenting tip: put your kid on the "naughty" list and watch his behavior change overnight}

4. Homemade bird feeders.

5. Letting her be little {in Mommy & Daddy's bed}

6. Last pair of footy pj'ed feet for this mama.

7. Mady found her favorite corner of the bookstore.

8. Our Christmas journal, est. December 2000.

9. Ethel's sugar cookies, just like mama used to make.

10. One bite and I'm eight years old again.


life rearranged

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas close-up {2011}

Remember how your mom insisted on a Christmas picture each year?
It used to drive you nuts, right?

I get it now. I am that mom.

In spite of my better judgement, every year I insist on a sibling shot in front of the tree. The results include various levels of success:

{2010}     {2009}     {2008}     {2007}

I've learned a few important lessons: 
corral the kids immediately after church while they're still (somewhat) put together, release the notion of a perfect shot, remember that 2 year olds are wild cards, and let everyone have a turn behind the camera.

The results of our 2011 Christmas mini-shoot:

Not too bad, but I bet we can do better.

Big brother temporarily disappears, leaving a pair of sweet sisters.

He's back! And these two are old pros. 

All together again...
I didn't know it at the time, but I think this one is our winner!
(Mady wasn't letting go of that notepad...someday it will remind us of her "tenacity" at two)

Cutting my losses. Time to move on.

Daddy always makes us laugh, but Mady wants OUT. Now.

Dylan's turn as photographer.

Mady's turn.

And Ella catches a sweet moment.

Until next year!

Friday, December 16, 2011 {art & crafts}

The holiday season is in full swing.
It was a week filled with parties, ornaments, crafts and early bedtimes, along with some first-half-of-first-grade artwork thrown into the mix.

1. D's Reflections.

2. D's Peacock.

3. Can't wait to put this in her stocking.

4. Kids are in bed. Coast is clear.

5. A chocolate-y advent tradition.

6. Make your own reindeer cookie.

7. Ella's reindeer food.

8. Paula Deen's monster cookies.

9. DIY bird nest necklace. {tutorial here}

10. D's red birds.

11. Aunt Katie gets out the glue gun for her favorite Spartan super fan.

12. Small group ornament gifts. {inspiration here}

life rearranged

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Break To Do's

I'm a little rusty at being a full-time mom to three kids now that Dylan is in school full-time and Ella is in school part-time.

It is with a mixture of excitement (lazy mornings! cuddly kids in fuzzy PJ's! no schedule!) and trepidation (bickering! cabin fever! no schedule!!) that I approach this year's Christmas vacation.

I'm not really a "project mom" but I'm willing to make an extra effort in the name of surviving - and enjoying! - our extended time together.

Thank you, Pinterest, for sponsoring Christmas Break 2011/12.

On the docket:

And no worries, we'll be lucky if we accomplish one thing off this list but there's no harm in aiming high.

How will you be spending your extra kid-filled hours?

Monday, December 12, 2011


When I look back at Ella's baby-hood, the thing that sticks out to me is that she wasn't really a baby for very long.

To start at the beginning: we got off on the wrong foot. She crossed her legs and refused to move during her 20-week ultrasound. This fact, plus an unfriendly ultrasound tech, reduced her very hormonal mama to tears.

For two days.

I eventually recovered just in time for a semi-traumatic delivery. My doctor's direct quote the next day: "I was so glad to see a pink baby." The trauma was enough to scare all of us: my doctor soon after stopped delivering babies.

So I was left sitting in a hospital bed holding my baby girl (shocker! I was sure she was going to be a he) with blue eyes (who knew?) and we were both lucky to be alive.

We went home. Life was good for the first two weeks. I was actually a little worried because she slept so much.

And then she woke up.

And she cried. And cried. And cried.

And I cried.

We swaddled, shushed, swung and soothed. {thank you, Dr. Karp}

And she still cried.

My mom told me one day (over Ella's cries): just wait, you'll see, she'll be the sunniest toddler after this.

I didn't believe her.

They tell you it will stop around 12 weeks - which is a small consolation when you are on week four - and like clockwork, at four months old, she stopped crying.

She refocused the energy she had previously put into screaming and put it into smiling, finding trouble, winning our hearts, and climbing on tables.

She crawled at 7 months, stood up and walked at 11.

She chased her brother and wanted to do everything he was doing. They are two years apart in age, but in so many aspects I've always said that they seem more like one year apart.

She's my baby that really wasn't a baby. There wasn't a lot of cuddling or coddling. She never slept between us in our bed because she wouldn't stay still long enough to fall asleep. She's either been mad or on the go, and she's a hard one to keep up with.

Her birth order and sunny personality (yes, my mom was right) mean she goes with the flow and doesn't demand a lot from us.

It was just finalized in our school district that Kindergartners will switch to an all-day, every day schedule next year. I understand the reasoning and I knew it was inevitable. Ella will be fine - she's old for her grade and smart as a whip.

It's me I worry about.

Our little blonde-haired girl is suddenly growing up way too fast. Sometimes it seems like she's five going on 13.

And I just want to keep her little.

Can you blame me?

Saturday, December 10, 2011 {slim pickin's}

It's been two weeks and although the Instagram pickin's are slim,
we've been keeping busy.

1. Things are about to get Pinteresting.

2. We like to spell phonetically around here.

3. What could be better than decorating the tree in Christmas PJ's?

4. Our halls are officially decked.

5. Craft night success.

6. A great bottle of wine for a great friend.

7. Mady is sporting a new hat.

8. Food drive helpers.

life rearranged

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Craft Night {yarn wrapped ornaments}

Another Craft Night went off without a hitch. Word travels fast and Theresa was gracious enough to host our largest craft night yet complete with some amazing details.

Below is a sampling of the crafts that were completed - the theme was ornaments, but it is always an option to bring something outside the theme:

I decided on monograms and stars and worked with two of my favorite crafting mediums: Mod Podge and yarn (not at the same time, of course). The yarn-wrapped ornaments {tutorial here} took the prize as my favorites, both because they were easy-peasy and because I love their warm and fuzzy feel.

The way women's eyes light up when you talk about craft night makes me realize that most of us are craft night deprived. I'm not sure if it's the actual crafting we are after, or the community, laughter and the sense of actually, physically accomplishing something in this virtual, high-tech world.

If you'd like to try your hand at starting up a craft night, here are our tips:

  • Pick a craft or a theme. Either way works - you can pick an actual craft complete with a supply list if you have a lot of first-time crafters who would appreciate the extra guidance -or- you can pick a theme (yarn, ornaments, Mod Podge, etc.) if you want to give people a little more freedom.
  • Pick a date. Choose a day that easy to remember - the first Monday of the month, for example. We start at 8pm which allows most of us to help our husbands get the kids to bed before we leave...happy husbands don't seem to mind craft night :)
  • Invite your guests. You can start small and see who shows up if it's overwhelming to think about a big group in your house. Or take the invite-everyone-you-know approach and sit back and watch your worlds collide. Either way, find an easy-to-use on-line invite system - we use Facebook and set the Event settings to Invite-Only to keep the Wall more private.
  • Start a group Pinterest board. Create a new board on Pinterest (select Me + Contributors to allow others to post to it) and add your guests' names. This is a fun way to collaborate leading up to the event.
  • Make a snackage plan. The hostess usually takes care of the drinks, everyone else brings a snack to share. Keep it simple. 
  • Rotate hostess duties. After each craft night, follow-up with your friends and see who would like to host the next craft night. It's important to keep the ball rolling and it's nice to have a variety of hostesses - it keeps things fresh and spreads out the responsibilities.

Consider yourself warned: women will show up in droves. Craft on!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

fitness goals {year two}

In the spirit of keeping things fresh, it's time to make some Year Two fitness goals. $20 in a jar got me through Year One, but I'm going to need some extra motivation to make it through another 52 weeks.

Year One brought us these new adventures: yoga, lap swimming, cross country skiing, a pair of 5K's, a 10K, track workouts, water aerobics, road biking, paddle boarding, hill runs, an outside-the-box mud run, and a 15K.

Year Two promises to be about continuing the adventure: pushing, strengthening, growing and refining what we learned in Year 1, as well as looking for new (crazy?) ways to stay fit and have fun.

Year Two Fitness Goals:
  • Try five new forms of exercise (including a spin class, a suspension class, indoor rock two others).
  • Swim 24 consecutive laps in Lake HHS (I'm up to about 12 right now but there is a lot of pausing and gasping for air between laps).
  • Master that darn flip turn. Not because I need to know how to do it, but because I want to say I can do it. And to prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
  • Run with our church's running group.
  • Attend a running clinic.
  • Improve my 5K and 10K times.
  • Run a race longer than a 15K. I know, right?? This is crazy talk, but I really believe this is within my reach - I'm going to start looking for a nice half marathon for 2012 (and girls, you know this means you're committed too!)
  • Complete a sprint tri.
  • Share the love - encourage other moms to get (and keep) moving.
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