Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today I'm Saying Good-bye to 2011.

Such a full year!  So much growth in our little family!  So many changes and adventures!  I'm so grateful to have this blog on which I've documented a lot of what we did with 2011. 

Do you make resolutions at the beginning of the year?  I make goals and resolutions every month, it seems.  But I still like to make a list of things to focus on for each new year.  I'm going to share 2012's goals here now (not in any order of importance).

IN 2012, I WANT TO:

1.  Be more organized.

2.  Set up more Montessori activities on the shelves.

3.  Do a Project 365 (thanks for the reminder Kimberly!!).

4.  Play with my kids more.

5.  Craft more.

6.  Read my scriptures everyday.

7.  Kiss my husband more (he'll be so happy when he reads this!).

So - mostly things I'm already doing but more, more, MORE!  :D

(stock graphic)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today I Finished Three Monster Pillows.

I usually try to send each of my siblings and their offspring a little gift for their birthdays.  I totally dropped the ball with three of my nephews' birthdays (ranging from September to December).  I never got them anything and didn't even know what to send until three weeks ago, when I saw some ugly doll pillows in a catalog.  I thought, "I can make that!"  And I did.  So, if my sister and sister-in-law happen to read this post, Bear and Baby D will each be receiving one of these belated birthday gifts in the mail soon.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today I Encouraged My Kids to Help Themselves.

My girls are 3 and almost 2.  I'm going to have another baby within a month.  I need to be encouraging as much self-sufficiency in my children as possible.  It's going to be so much more difficult when I've got my hands full of newborn.  The more Ash and Britt can do for themselves, the better.  So - I'm trying to make myself stop and invite the girls to learn to do things for themselves before I rush in and do it all for them.

I find this difficult for three reasons.  1.  I accomplish everything much faster.  2.  They often resist having to do things themselves before they learn to be proficient at each skill (once they get it, they don't want help anymore).  3.  I like being needed.  It makes me feel good to serve my kids and help them. 

Today I had a laugh because Ash put her undies and pants on by herself after using the potty.  She did a great job (though I did have to fix them later because they wouldn't stay up). 

Pants Backwards
(she had no idea why i was taking this pic, but was perfectly willing to pose anyway.   tee-hee!)

You'd think with all the Montessori training I've had (over 10 years ago), I'd be better at teaching and encouraging my children to take care of their own needs as much as possible.  What can I say?  I'm a work in progress too.  :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today I Went to Snoqualmie Falls.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  We did.  The stomach bug appears to be completely gone.  **cheer**  The girls had a blast and our house was covered with toys, wrapping paper and treats.  It's only slightly more clean today.  My brother and his family are in town and we decided to head out to Snoqualmie Falls.....just because.  We got some cute pics.  It's so much fun when Matt brings his family for their infrequent visits.  Wish we could see them more often.  And now for the pics (I threw in a couple from Christmas day).

not one more picture
(we went to church first thing in the morning, took pictures with my family right afterwards and then when we got home, I wanted to get a few photos of the girls in their christmas dresses.  britt wasn't havin' any of it.)

unwrapping gifts
(us girls, opening gifts.  i'm making a dumb face, but this is how all the pics of the girls turned out.  lovely shots of their heads because they wouldn't look up from their presents.)

At Snoqulamie Falls
(family picture at the falls.  hahaha.  i think we all look so funny and that's how all the family pics turned out.)

(ash had a blast.  she loves getting out of the house and having new adventures.)

Britt at the Falls
(even though britt is going through an anti-camera phase, tony was able to catch this cute, peeky picture of her.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today I Hope Your Weekend Will Be Merry and Bright.

I can't believe Christmas is almost here.  Guess what my kids got for an early Christmas present? 

Ash on Christmas 2010
(ash, very happy with her new plush tinker bell doll.  2010.)

A stomach bug.  **sigh**  My prayer is that it is a 24 hour type thing and everyone will be back to normal by Sunday.  If not, Santa may have to refrain from putting snacks in the girls' stockings.  Well, bananas would be fine.  :)

Little Drummer Girl
(little drummer britt.  she still loves this toy.  2010.)

Either way, we'll be together.  We may or may not make it to church, but we'll still celebrate the birth of Christ as a family and have a memorable holiday. 

Christmas Card Photo
(the pic that made it into the christmas cards this year. 2011.)
I hope that all of you, my dear bloggy friends, have a very Merry Christmas too! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today I Caroled with a VERY Grouchy Baby.

It was a super busy day.  I had an appointment with my midwife.  Just a short tangent here.  I chose midwives who deliver at the hospital so I can have an epidural and because I've had pregnancy induced hypertension with the first two pregnancies and need to be monitored.  Ok, tangent over.

So, I left my kids with a friend and it was awesome because my girls looooove going to her house and it was their first time being watched by a non-family member.  Though, this friend might as well be a family member since we've known her so long and so well.  So, maybe it doesn't really count....

Anyways, the appointment went well.  My blood pressure is good and the baby's is head down and in position.  Yay!  The midwife helped me to feel the baby's head and it felt HUGE to me.  Now I'm a bit nervous.  The midwife said it was not overly large at all, but seriously guys, it felt wide!  And big heads lead to big owies and longer recovery periods.  Not a fan.

Snack time
(snack time!)

I ran up to the maternity clothes store, after my appointment, to get a couple things and got stuck in crazy, insane holiday traffic.  At noon!!!  **growl**  So it took me several hours to get home.  I picked up the girls and we hung out, had a snack, and watched The Snowman.  Then we picked up Tony, went back home for a quick dinner and then out again for an hour of caroling with my family.  Ash looooooooved it.  Britt howled the whole time.  She was good while we were out of the car and singing (thankfully!), but screamed and protested every minute in the car.  I seriously wanted to pull my ears off.

Needless to say, we didn't stay out as long as we wanted and I'm glad it's bedtime for babies now.  Whew!

P.S.  The book advent is going sooooo well.  Ash is having a blast with it.  Britt couldn't care less, but that's ok.  She's still pretty young.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today I Piped a Lot of Frosting on a Cookie House.

Costco is the best.  They have pre-made gingerbread houses with everything you need for only $9.99.  And they weren't even stingy with the candy. 

Gingerbread House
(i admit to not even trying to apply the frosting nicely.  when you've got a 3 year old and a 20 month old doing the decorating, why bother?  but they still turned out cute, i think)

It was perfect for today, after a failed nap time and two semi-grumpy, hyper girls.  Britt did have to go to her room twice for throwing tantrums over not being able to eat the candy.  But, I considered it a minor bump in the road, since it can always be worse, right?  :)  And that's a high expectation for someone who isn't even two years old yet.

Ash Decorating Gingerbread
(this is ash's look of concentration.  she makes it all the time and cracks me up!  and yes, i need to get my girls some paint smocks or something, but for now it's just easier to take their shirts off.)

They really did enjoy decorating the house and tree and I thought they did a fabulous job with very little help from me.  I barely piped fast enough for their speedy candy application. 

Britt Kissing a Gingerbread Boy
(it looks like britt is kissing her gingerbread boy, but i suspect she was just licking the frosting off)

The kit came with a house, a tree and two gingerbread boys.  After they had finished the house and tree, I let them put candy on the boys and then eat the them.  Seemed fair after they were so good about using the candy to decorate instead of eating it all up, like they wanted to.  Hehe.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today I Finished My Angel.

I've had this tree topper in the works for a couple of weeks now.  I ordered some letters to spell out "Joy to the World" and then waited a couple days for them to arrive.  I was really bummed when I realized that the words were too big (or my angel too small). 

When I'm irritated with how a project is turning out, I either dump it or ignore it for a while.  I finished the previously ignored angel tree topper after the girls went to bed tonight.  Ash is going to be so excited when she gets up tomorrow and sees it sitting on top of our Christmas tree.  :)  All in all, I am pleased with how this endeavor turned out. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today I Need to Do a Follow-Up Post.

Remember my post on Packaging Girlhood?  I went ahead and recommended it without reading the whole book.  I still haven't finished it, but I have gotten to the section on how the media and our culture affect our middle-schoolers and teenagers.  Can I just say that I am a little intimidated about having girls that age?  And am even more disgusted by what children of those ages have to wade through everyday, especially at school?  Yikes!  I know I was a bit sheltered because I was home schooled through every grade, but now I appreciate that decision even more.  There are a lot of possibly negative experiences I was spared.  I suppose it hasn't gotten any better either. 

I'm not sure I can still recommend this book.  It is certainly NOT for the faint of heart.  They blatantly quote examples of movies, books, and lyrics that our young girls are regularly subjected to and that includes a lot of swearing, slurs, and degradation of women.  It's just plain sick.  So - there you have it.  IF you choose to read this book, be warned.  It's not just depressing.  It's also disturbing.  But very informative (though prejudiced, as I mentioned in my earlier post, as all opinions are).  I do have to commend these women for just telling it like it is.  It is the extreme and obviously if we can help our adolescents choose uplifting media and friends, we can spare them a lot of the garbage our culture has to offer.  That's all.  :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today I Made a Little Christmas Bucket List.

I feel kind of like a lame mommy. 

I've been focusing on Christmas cards, advent calendars, handmade gifts of all sorts, cleaning, laundry and my ever growing, tired body. 

The girls have kind of been put on the back burner.  Aside from the nightly Christmas book we read and the occasional festive cookies I make, we haven't done anything fun and Christmas-y together. 

So - I've decided to make a little, no-pressure Christmas bucket list.  Things I'd like to do but won't kick myself over if they don't pan out. 

- Drive around a local neighbor with hot cocoa and enjoy all the home light displays.

- Take Ash Christmas shopping for Britt.

- Go up to the snow and sled for as long as the girls want.

(found on pinterest)

- Make a gingerbread house.

- Go caroling with my family.

- Pray for snow.

- Paint with Christmas cookie cutters.

- Play a Christmas memory car game.

- Make and play with Christmas play doh.

- Make these Christmas cookies

- Print, color, and put together a nativity.


- Make marshmallow snowmen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today I Was Nearly Embarrassed.

I had to go to the post office today.  I took Ash with me and left Britt with my sisters.  It is always crazy at the USPS this time of year, and the lines are always looooong.  Our trip this afternoon was no different.  Ash entertained herself by running around and being a heathen.  At one point she found a piece of tape on the window and started playing with it.  About 3 minutes after that discovery, I looked down at her just in time to see her 6 inches away from pasting that tape to some unsuspecting stranger's butt!  I nabbed her in the nick of time and told her that was rude.  She was completely unruffled and decided to stick the tape to my thigh instead.  **shaking my head**

(my little trouble maker.  or one of them at least.  and yes, she's smiling with her mouth full of carrots.  3 year olds don't care about that sort if thing.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today I Started Reading a Book.

The title of the book is Packaging Girlhood. It reminds me of Cinderella Ate My Daughter a lot. It’s all about the subliminal (and blatant) messages behind everything businesses, companies, and the media sell to our daughters (starting as young Ash). It’s a very interesting, albeit slightly depressing read. They (the authors) also have a book titled, Packaging Boyhood.

In their book there is a lot of negativity towards the Disney Princesses. These authors look at the princesses as the beginning of feeding little girls the idea of needing to be valued by boys and not being able to make lives independent of romance. They think that most of the clothes, toys and tv shows in our culture are un-doing everything the feminist movements worked so hard to change. I don’t have any personal issues with any of the Disney Princesses (except the Little Mermaid), but that may be because I am the stereotypical mother and proud of it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with portraying that. The messages that bother me are those of absent parents, weakling fathers, and children who are rude and disrespectful to their parents and family members, over-the-top sibling enemies, sexual innuendo, anti-religious propaganda, political messages, and sexed up preteens.

There is a lot in this book that would be good for the parents of girls to read. It does make me sad though. It’s pretty messed up culture we have our kids swimming in. I do feel some confidence that we can keep our girls young longer because we’ve made the decision to home school and limit tv shows to dvds we’ve already viewed (though the authors claim that just turning off the tv won't work, I disagree). I also plan on being choosy about my childrens’ friends and will be doing everything in my power to help them put each other first. Family loyalty is more important, in my eyes. I do realize that as my children age, things will get more difficult. It will be less black and white and my kids will be making more and more decisions for themselves. My job now is to protect them the best I can and nurture our relationships so that communication is always open and flowing. The minute my kids feel like they can’t tell me something or bring up a touchy subject is the minute I lose as a parent.

In this book, they talk about the importance of boy-girl friendships. They are worried about the increasing objectifying of boys that is happening in our culture. It’s not ok for boys to do that girls, so why do we think it’s ok in the reverse? There’s also a lot of boy bashing -- also detrimental. I grew up spending most of my time playing with my next youngest sibling. A boy. We played He-man, Star Trek, Star Wars, paperdolls, My Little Pony, and Narnia together. There weren’t any lines drawn over what was ok for boys to play and what was ok for girls to play. We just played. It was good and natural and as it should be. I have bought my girls cars and dinosaurs and they are getting a train set for Christmas that I know they will love. I hope that they will have a brother someday, or boy friends (platonic, of course), so they can have healthy interactions with the opposite gender.

So – even though I’ve only read about a fourth of the book, I think I can recommend reading it.  Notice I said, "think."  I haven't finished it and it is a rather depressing book.   I haven't read anything I wasn't already aware of, but I like that it is food for thought and may even be a wake-up call for some parents.  And if you have boys, you could check out their book about boyhood and let me know what you think.  Or you could read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which is the same concept.

I don't agree with everything they've written in Packaging Girlhood.  They tend to repeat themselves a lot.  I think they could have condensed it quite a bit.  They tend to be negative about everything and bash all stereotypes (like stay-at-home mom), which to me is a little insane and unrealistic.  We humans like our labels and titles and as long as they are positive and not hurtful, I see nothing wrong with that.  I do agree that the majority of what is offered to us, the consumers, seems to be a lot more limited than when I was a kid.  And there are a lot less toys that are targeted for both girls and boys, which is too bad.  I also like how the authors constantly bring up the importance of talking to your kids and even give you some thought-provoking questions to ask. Communication is key. And as hard as it is, being non-judgmental is pretty darn important too.

I'll stop there because I could keep yammering on and typing as fast as I can to keep up with what my brain is thinking, but I'll spare you.  Plus, my poor husband has fallen asleep next to me and the bedroom lights are still on.  Would love to hear all your thoughts on this.  I, for one, want to keep the majority of popular culture out of my house.  How about you?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today I Ate Too Many Suger Cookies.

This is not my first time making sugar cookies this month.  It is my first time frosting them.  Last time I just sprinkled colored sugar on them before baking.  I also cut them into all sorts of fun and festive shapes.  I really dislike cutting cookies into shapes.  I can do about one batch (per year) and then I lose all interest. 

I think it's funny that I can sit and hand embroider 75 felt pictures and not go bonkers, but cutting shapes out of cookie dough is too much for me to handle for more than 10 minutes. 

(they kinda look like mini pop-tarts!)

Guess what I figured out?  Cutting the dough into squares tastes just as good, can still be cute and goes a lot faster!  Yay! 

The recipes I used for the cookie dough and butter cream frosting can be found the Peppermint Plum blog.  I found it on Pinterest!  :)

Today I Went to a Ladies Night Out Party.

We had snacks and treats and a white elephant gift exchange.  And I didn't leave until pushing midnight.  It was fun and I needed it.  And that's all.  I'm tired.  Good-night!  :D

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today I'm Showing Off My Handiwork.

I finished my second advent calendar on Sunday and gave it to my parents and at-home siblings.  Again, I forgot to get a picture before giving it away, but I managed to get some pics yesterday after they'd hung it up and taken some of the gifts out.  But you can still get the general idea.  I will continue working on the last one - ours.  We'll just use it starting next year. 

Here's the simplified instructions for how it was done.  I started out with 4x4 squares of felt and then cut out the shapes I wanted for each picture.  I used a teensy bit of fabric glue to hold the shapes on the squares.  That glue is a pain to get the needle through!  Then I embroidered all over the place!  That was the most enjoyable part.  When the squares were completed, I ironed fusible interfacing on the backs to make sure my stitching lasts a long time.  After that, I laid them out to see which order they looked best, measuring to see how much felt I would need to accommodate them.  Then I cut out a large piece of felt to be the back and hand stitched each square onto that.  I think that was the most difficult part.  It's so hard to make sure they're all straight!  Even with a ruler.  I ordered the felt numbers from Deb, a seller on etsy, and stitched those under each square.  I left a 3" allowance on the top so I could sew a dowel into the top to keep it all hanging nice (though the packages still add weight and bulkiness).  Then you can just hang it on a two-headed hook or screw some hooks into each end of the dowel, through which you can attach cord.  It sounds so simple typed out.  And actually, it really is.  Time-consuming, yes.  But simple.  My decision to make three of these blew simple straight out of the water though.  :D

So much work.  But so much fun!  Thank you so much to Abby, at A Feathered Nest for the inspiration!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today I Started Our Book Advent.

I couldn't start any sooner because our Christmas book collection isn't large enough yet.  But I wrapped them all up and told the girls they could open one tonight and one every night until Christmas.  I think they were a bit confused.  They were more than happy to read the book Ash unwrapped but couldn't figure out why I only let them open one.  Hahah!  I'm sure they catch on eventually. 

(these are the only "presents" under the tree.  the real ones are wrapped.  they are just waiting for me to have a moment to put ribbons and name tags on them, then i'll move them.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today I was in the Kitchen a Lot.

Nothing new there.  I just thought I quickly share the fun things I made. 

I made Frosty the Bagel for dinner and both of my picky little eaters devoured it.  Ash had several!

I also baked some Candy Cane Twist Cookies to freeze and save for the inevitable party or need for a plate of goodies to give away.

Thanks to Family Fun for both of these recipes!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today I Want to Share Something Cool, Thought-Provoking, and Meaningful

I think I saw this group's video from last year, last December and this one is even better.  Imo.  Thanks to Suzette for sharing this so I could see it, love it, and share it with you!  I really like the suggestion to make presents.  As you know, I have already been doing some of that and now will be adding more.  I'm basically done with the Christmas gift shopping.  Only a handful of people left (friends, grandparents, church teachers, etc) and they will be getting handmade.   Because it's good for me, them, and  whichever charity we decide to send the leftover money to.  Wanna know something funny?  That advent calendar I sent to my brother and his family?  I insured it for $100!  I never insure anything.  But I put so much time and effort and love into that item, I figured it was worth at least much.  And that's the thing about handmade.  You put so much more into those types of gifts (generally)!  That's why they are cool.  :)  And that's why my sister-in-laws suggested homemade for the married sibling gift exchange this year.  Thanks guys!  I vote we keep it that way from now on.  I will say this though, handmade does not necessarily mean you'll spend less time on the gift.  :)  Are you making anything?  Got any clever tutorials to share with me?  I might re-post if I end up using it.  **wink**

P.S.  I said something today that I never imagined I'd ever say.  I said, "Share the mommy."  I hope my girls take that to heart!

P.P.S.  I am, by no means, implying that anyone who isn't making something is un-cool.  I'm just sharing my thoughts and feelings, as usual.  :D

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today I Did Some Immediate Gratification Baking.

Ash helped.  It's called Hug in a Mug.  Or you could call it 2 minute cake (baking time).  The prep time takes about 5-7 minutes.  If that.  The longest part is the clean-up!  Haha!  Gotta love it.

(why yes, i do looove whip cream.  and?)

So, I found this recipe in an old American Girl magazine.  Next time I'll be adding more cocoa. 

Hug in a Mug

-1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup baking cocoa
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 4 microwavable mugs

Mix the flour, sugar, & cocoa in a bowl.   Add the eggs and stir well.  Add the milk, oil and peppermint.  Stir well again.  Divide the mixture equally among 4 microwave-safe mugs.  Microwave each mug individually for 2 minutes (should be firm).  You can eat right out of the mug or dump into a bowl.  Top with whipped cream or chocolate syrup or whatever else sounds good to you. 

They tasted great!  And, like I said, I'll be trying for a more chocolate-y taste next time.  The only part that took some getting used to was the texture.  They were kinda dense and spongy/rubbery.  I think I'll try orange extract next time too.  Yum!  The girls liked these and it was neat because instead of Ash helping me make something and then completely forgetting about it because they take so long to bake, she was there from start to finish.  Definitely a preschoolers kind of baking project!

(and here it is half eaten so you can sorta see the texture)