Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
May you experience the hope, peace and joy that only comes from knowing our great Savior.
Have a blessed holiday.
But God,
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved -
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace
in kindness toward us in
Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7
*Our family picture was taken by Dan's talented brother, Michael. Visit his website at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Handmade Christmas, Part 2B

Mom shows off her quilted wall hanging . . .
No wait! Don't look too closely, or you'll see the mistakes! And don't let my great aunt quilter extraordinaire see them, either!
Oh well, she seems pleased with the Santa I made her. Hopefully she won't look for mistakes on him, either. (Somehow I forgot to get a picture of that project.)
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Handmade Christmas, Part 2

This past July, I decided to make a quilted wall-hanging for my mom's Christmas present. The pattern is called "Tuscan Village" and I thought it would complement my mom's decor quite well. It all started with a bunch of thin strips of fabric . . .
cut and pieced to form a nice little, log cabin square . . .and then stitched together to form a row. Many, many rows later, this is what you get:This was my first ambitious project, since my other two quilts were pretty basic. I got to try my hand at free-motion quilting, mitering corners, and stitching "in the ditch" which I hate. There are plenty of mistakes, but I won't point them out to you! Overall, this was a fun project and I am very happy with the results. And this was going to be the only handmade present I would make this year. Yeah right, then I had to go crazy . . .I finished it last week by sewing on a patch so that all posterity can learn from my quilting errors, while blaming me by name.This football was inspired by my friend Sarah, who has one for her little guy. Thanks goes to Debbie, for letting me use her machine to embroider it. Truth be told, I stood by and chatted while she did all the work!

These are wristlet wallets/purses that I made for my two teen aged nieces and my lovely great aunt, who is a seamstress and quilter extraordinaire. Inside are two pockets, to hold money or your cell-phone. I love these so much that after Christmas I must make one for myself!
And since the best part of making gifts is the moment you give them away, stay tuned for the pictures of our Christmas celebration from this past weekend!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

Usually I relish snow days. Even though my kids aren't in school and it doesn't really change my schedule at all, I still feel that child-like excitement whenever we get a big snow.

However, this storm really messed with my schedule. We were supposed to be leaving tonight for my parent's house, but since they got a nasty ice-storm and are currently without electricity, we are stuck at home.

So Elijah played outside, Alli stayed in to color, and I shoveled a walkway on our deck for the dog. Poor thing, the snow is so deep she doesn't dare to walk off into the yard, fearing being buried alive. So she does her duty on the deck snow. I won't even go into the lovely icicles I found while shoveling. But moving on . . .

I decided to set out a bowl on the deck to collect snow to make snow ice cream. (Mind you, out of the reach of the dog.) I just found this recipe and decided a snow day was the perfect day to try it:

Snow Ice Cream
8 cups fresh, clean snow
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

mix and eat - quickly. It's rich, so a little goes a long way, but the kids loved it!

Now to decide whether or not I should unpack the bags . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A New Kind of Superhero

Last night the kids were playing with Dan when I heard Elijah say that he wanted to be a superhero and his name would be . . .

wait for it . . .


Yep, supervisor. The hero you call when you need a pesky question answered. Rest easy citizens, he's here to save the day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Handmade Christmas

I've been busy crafting all sorts of Christmas presents this year, and I thought you might like to see some of them. Since we have yet to celebrate Christmas with either of our families, I have to be careful of what I show you. However, since I am fairly certain that my kids don't read this blog, I will showcase the projects I completed for them.These pajama pants were relatively easy, and I find that I am becoming more comfortable with garment construction, although it is still not my calling in life. My plan was to make a pair for all of us (to take advantage of matching pj's before the kids get too old to object!) but at $10 a yard, this snowflake flannel was too expensive for adult-sized pants. Maybe next year I'll catch it on sale.
This doll quilt will go with a cradle for Alli's dolls. I used the leftover fabric from her quilt, which is back in my posession, but won't be finished until after I am done with all the Christmas projects! This small quilt took no time at all and I love that it will match hers!

Even though I had plans for multiple other handmade gifts for the kids, I over-extended myself on projects, so my ideas will have to wait for other holidays. But these were fun!

More to come in the following weeks . . .

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Painting Pottery

A few weeks ago the kids and I accompanied Dan on an overnight business trip and we visited a pottery painting store as a diversion while Dan was in meetings. I wasn't sure how much the kids would enjoy it, but my budding artists had a blast! We each chose a project and enjoyed the time we had to be creative.Alli chose a heart pendant to paint, and we all had the choice of 6 different paint colors to use. She opted for pink . . . that's all, just pink. So I suggested a little yellow, and this is what she ended up with.
Elijah chose a gift to give his dad, a mug with golf clubs on it. Dan doesn't golf, but the "I love my Dad" painted on the side made it special. Elijah really enjoyed painting it and was even more excited to show it to his daddy.
I chose to paint a plate, since I've always wanted a special celebration plate. It's rough - I'm no artist, but I'm happy with it and excited to use it! What a fun way to spend a couple of hours! I'm thinking this might be a fun project to do again.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Some Christmas songs are difficult to understand . . .

Elijah (singing) - Ho! Ho! the missing toe . . .

Me - No, it's mistletoe.

Elijah - Oh. (commence singing) Ho! Ho! the muscle toe . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You're Invited for Dinner!

Come on over for a virtual dinner with us! Inspired by Sara, I decided to snap some pictures of our suppers one week. Here are the results: Monday: Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Soup with French bread.
Tuesday: Leftovers from Monday
Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie, broccoli and slightly burnt garlic bread. Spaghetti pie is one of Dan's favorite meals, and it ranks pretty high for me, too!
Thursday: Leftovers from Wednesday

Friday: Stuffed Shells, fresh salad and carrots.
Saturday: Yep, you guessed it - leftovers from Friday. I'm blessed to have a husband who doesn't mind leftovers!

And sometimes you just gotta have a Sunday night meal like this one - cereal. For what it's worth, this is after a Sunday where we had a BIG lunch! We don't do cereal for supper very often!
I'd invite you for lunch, but this is our standard fare:

Good ol' PB&J
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! We are hosting Dan's side of the family for the weekend, which should be a blast. Take some time to share with your family what you are thankful for this year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Livin' the High Life

While the rest of the family is busy painting and cleaning, trying to get ready to host Dan's side of the family for Thanksgiving weekend, Sadie enjoys a little "me" time . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Happened

I've always been interested in politics. I enjoy reading about it, I watch the news as often as I can, I love talking to others about their opinions. And I love reading. So when you join the two, in a political memoir, I am hooked. I just finished reading "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" by Scott McClellan, former press secretary to George W. Bush. I read this book because I have become increasingly frustrated with my own inability to decipher what is true and what is spin when it comes to understanding this President's term and major decisions, including the war in Iraq.
By that, I mean, the mainstream media does a fine job of telling us what is wrong with our world today (see last post) and more conservative news outlets, like Fox or talk radio tend to agree, without question, the policies of the administration. I have always found myself in this strange in-between world, where I voted for Bush twice, yet had nagging questions about his decision-making and have begun to question his truthfulness.
Well, it seems I'm not alone. Scott McClellan, who knew and worked for Bush back in Texas and followed him to Washington has written a controversial "tell-all" about his time serving in the White House. I figured someone who served under the actual administration might have a unique view and be a bit less biased (although I fully acknowledge we all are biased in one way or another).
The book covers a variety of topics, but focuses heavily on the decision to go into Iraq, including the infamous "16 word controversy" concerning the president's use of intelligence later proved false in his state of the union address. McClellan also deals with the leak of Valerie Plame's name and status as a covert CIA agent. That topic was particularly interesting to me because I never felt like I completely understood the story, and it was often dismissed as partisan warfare by conservatives.
Much of the criticism McClellan offers is to the mindset of the "perpetual campaign" in Washington - the idea that an elected official is always considering his "base" before making a decision, so that he can get re-elected. This mindset seems to have always been a problem in D.C., but grew under Clinton's administration and was embraced even further by Bush, evidenced by his close ties with Karl Rove.
Scott McClellan was put into the unfortunate position of lying for the administration, in regards to the leak case, without realizing the information he was given was false. This severly crippled his reputation with the press he tried to work with and ultimately led to the end of his career as Press Secretary. In parts, it seems like he is writing this book just to exonerate himself, and thus seems a little shallow, but his insider's look at the administration makes it worth reading.
His conclusions on how to make Washington a better place are simplistic to say the best. Basically it boils down to an extra staff position in the White House that would be a guard dog for truthfulness (shouldn't everyone working there be in that position?) and he further encourages the common citizen toward tolerance with other points of view and forming a common bond to make America better.
What's the saying? Everything you need to know in life you learned in Kindergarten. I think the same could be said for his conclusions.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gas Prices

Has anyone else noticed as gas prices drop, the media bemoans how much money is being lost in the stock market, but when gas prices were soaring, they complained about all of the "average joes" who couldn't afford to take their summer vacations?

Are these people ever happy?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Alli's Big Day

Today was a big day for Alli. She had her first "official" haircut (other than a bang trim). I took her to my stylist at my salon and was so excited to do it! I have tried to prep her for a couple of days, telling her what a big girl she is to finally get a hair cut. This morning Dan took a few before shots:

Her hair is finally starting to grow in length, so I can put it up in pig tails (Alli calls them her "hair tails") but it was not at all even. So I asked Keri to cut it enough to even it out.
Alli did a great job, even though she had to sit in my lap to get the haircut. But she was quite content to just stare at herself in the mirror for the few minutes that it took. She was as excited afterwards for the sucker I promised her as she was to get all the compliments from the wonderful ladies that "oohed" and "ahhed" over her haircut.

So here is the after picture. You probably can't tell that much of a difference, but we can and it was a fun mother/daughter outing!

(Notice the side still sticks out!)

Monday, November 03, 2008

One Word Answers

1. Where is your cell phone? van
2. Your significant other? loving
3. Your hair? brunette
4. Your mother? forgetful
5. Your father? organized
6. Your favorite thing? chocolate
7. Your dream last night? none
8. Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your dream/goal? faithful
10. The room you're in? nook
11. Your fear? cancer
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? better
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? un-opinionated
15. Muffins? blueberry
16. One of your wish list items? Mac
17. Where you grew up? flatland
18. The last thing you did? parented
19. What are you wearing? capris
20. Your TV? ugly
21. Your pet? hairy
22. Your computer? slow
23. Your mood? cranky
24. Missing someone? Sandman
25. Your car? white
26. Something you're not wearing? rings
27. Favorite Store? Kohls
28. Your summer? busy
29. Your favorite color? red
30. When is the last time you laughed? a.m.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One of those weeks . . .

After a week full of

bumped heads,

and broken toes,
and my general weariness
(sorry, no picture of that). . .
My wonderful husband surprised me with these:

Thank you, honey. I love them and I love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bedtime Memories

I have such fond memories of bedtime with Elijah - that is, until he started to buck the system about a year ago. But when reminiscing about those days between infancy and 3-year-old tyranny, I always smile wistfully.

Although Elijah always went to bed easily, I had the luxury of time that you only enjoy with one child and only after it is gone, so we rocked and read and sang almost every night. We read the obligatory Good Night Moon until it was memorized and I sang the standard lullabies until he was old enough to put in his own requests. And we cuddled. Our son was a world-class cuddler (still is, to be honest). He would wrap his arms around my neck and nestle his head on my shoulder and I would sigh and wish it could last forever.

But it couldn't, because then we had Allison . . .

. . . and life got more complicated. Dan and I soon split bedtime duties, and since I was nursing, I always got Alli. One might argue that is when and why Elijah's bedtime woes began, but that is for another post. Life changes and you have to adapt.

Now Allison was also a good sleeper, and still is. In fact, she didn't need to be cuddled or rocked, only needed a full tummy and her crib. So I would nurse her and lay her down with a quick kiss and leave the room. And that is the routine we stayed with for over 2 years. Well, now she is old enough to enjoy a good story (Good Night Moon is back!) and requests one nightly. So while Dan and I still split bed-time duties, it is usually more evenly between the kids than those first months.

That's why I almost cried last night when it was my turn to put Alli to bed and we read Mommy's Best Kisses, a book all about how mommy animals kiss their babies while putting them to bed. Alli insisted that I kiss her in the same way each page described, and after I was done reading she said, "My turn. Read mommy" and proceeded to turn each page and kiss me likewise. Oh, how I melted and enjoyed that precious time with her. I may not have memories of night after night rehearsing the same traditions, but I will cherish every night like that one I get.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Alli's Quilt

. . . is finished! Well, not quite. I still have to take it somewhere to be quilted and then I will have to attach the binding, but the majority of my work is done! So, as promised, here are some pictures . . .
It measures 72"x82" and looks like it might be wide enough for a full-sized bed, even though Alli sleeps on a twin.These next pictures are of a small throw that I made. It was my first quilt that I made from start to finish. It was VERY easy, so good to learn on! And it was small enough that I could quilt it on my own machine, and easy to quilt, since I just sewed straight lines!

I love the fabric on the back almost as much as the front!This is how I display it - on the end of our bed, ready to be used for naps or for watching a movie in bed!

Now I need to get busy on some Christmas presents!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Homeschooling Question

I have a question for all you homeschooling moms out there:
Do you reward your kids, or give them any kind of incentive to do their work?

Here's my issue - I have a 4 1/2 year old, who LOVES doing every subject except reading lessons. We only do about 3 subjects: math, perception worksheets and reading, along with a healthy dose of reading aloud (I read aloud to the kids). Elijah thoroughly enjoys all but the reading lesson. We use "How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" and each lesson takes only about 15-20 minutes, tops. He is doing well and learning all his sounds and letters, but hates to do it. I would be inclined to put it away if it weren't for the fact that he can already read the 1st of his BOB books, and is so excited to learn, but he doesn't enjoy the lesson itself!

So how do you handle this? Do you reward your student when they perform with a decent attitude, or do you lose your patience, like I have been guilty of doing? What has worked for you? I'm really interested to know!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Progression on Alli's Quilt

This quilting thing isn't so hard -if you find a beginner pattern, that is. Alli's quilt is going together really quickly. I thought I would update you on my progress:

First of all, this is the main fabric that I chose to work off. I'm going for a scrappy, shabby-chic, cottage-y look. I've already made a matching pillow-case for Alli's mini pillow on her bed with the leftover of this fabric.

Step 1: Cut out 2 8-inch squares from each fabric.

Step 2: Cut remaining fabric into 3-inch strips. Sew sets of 3 and 4 strips horizontally together to make strip sets.

Step 3: After sewing horizontally to form the strip set, cut it vertically to get these lovely little sets.

Step 4: Do this many times to get a big pile of cut strip sets. Pile them together and marvel how easy this has been so far.
Step 5: Start to join strip sets together with the 8-inch squares to make the rows of the quilt and then join the rows together to make the quilt top.
Step 6: Stop to ponder the other responsibilities you are shirking in an attempt to make a quilt for your daughter. Namely, the dishes. But hey, there will always be dirty dishes, but a homemade quilt lasts forever, right?!?!More pictures to follow as I finish the quilt top . . .

Monday, September 29, 2008

How to be a Good Loser . . . by Alli

Heard in the hallway, while the kids raced each other:

Elijah: (exuberantly) "I win!"

Alli: (just as exuberantly) "I lose!"

Let's see how long this attitude lasts . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Quilting Project

I think I am officially a quilter. I don't know how many quilts you need to make to be labeled a "quilter"(I'm on #4), but I think I'm one, nonetheless. You see, I am already a fabric-aholic (I didn't make that word up) and I find myself dreaming about what my next project will be. So when my friend Debbie showed me this pattern in a magazine, I flipped. Not only is it labeled "easy" but it would be perfect for Alli's bed. I had been dreaming of making her a soft, floral, cottage-y (I might have made up that word), little girl quilt, but decided to wait until she was in a twin-sized bed. After all, it wasn't that long ago that we moved her into her toddler bed.

Well, through a series of events, we became the owners of a twin sized bed and because my dear husband refused to store a bed for a year or longer, we moved Alli into it right away. No worries, she is so proud to have a bigger bed and does just fine. But that meant that she needed a quilt and gave me the excuse to start one ASAP.

So this is the picture that inspired me. I will post pictures of the process as I progress. I love it and I can't wait!!!!
*sorry for the off-kilter pic. I tried to scan it into the computer and I apparently didn't crop it. Oh well, you get the drift.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's a big moment in a boy's life when he has to admit he is scared to tell his daddy that he is about to be arrested . . .

Or so Elijah thought, after a confrontation with a friend over a borrowed toy that she wanted returned. I found Elijah sobbing outside that he was going to "get 'rested" and he was too scared to come inside and tell his daddy.

I hope he always feels this way . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boring Life

I've been trying to think of a new post for a week now. I'm completely devoid of any ideas. Our life has been in it's normal routine, I haven't even taken any new pictures! I'm hoping to get some in the next few weeks from our friend's wedding that we went to on Saturday. Somehow both Dan and I forgot to bring a camera and our kids provided ample photographic moments! I'm hoping most for a good picture of Dan dancing with Allison during the father/daughter dance. It made me cry :).
So, until then, or until I can come up with something worth saying, I probably won't have a new post. Sorry to dissapoint you all . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008


Inspired by Tina, here is my list for today:

1. I'm wondering . . . if my neck will ever be back to normal. It has been sore for 4 days, and even after a chiropractor visit, is still that way. Looks like another day for Advil.

2. I'm reading . . . When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch. Someday I will act without wondering or worrying what other's think. I will remember "the audience of One." It may not happen until eternity, but it will happen.

3. I'm feeling . . . overwhelmed. A week without kids and I still didn't finish all my projects and we have a BUSY weekend ahead (again).

4. I'm happy . . . the kids are home. The house was too quiet and I actually got a little lonely during the day.

5. I'm thinking . . . about what to wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner. I suppose my capris and t-shirt that is my daily uniform is probably too casual.

6. I'm hoping . . . to find some quilting bargains at a shop's sale tomorrow.

7. I'm dreaming . . . that I drove a golf-cart into the lake. Seriously, that's what I dreamt last night.

8. I'm going . . . out to the cottage today. With a rehearsal tonight and wedding tomorrow, it just makes sense to stay out there.

9. I'm wishing . . . I could be at the quilt expo today with my friends Debbie and Elizabeth. I really wanted to make it work, but this week was too busy. Next year!!

10. I'm enjoying . . . the time I had to visit with my parents. They are coming again next week, so we'll be able to enjoy them again!

11. I'm planning . . . all the things I need to do today before we leave.

12. I'm laughing . . . at my son's mind. I love the way he thinks.

13. I'm loving . . . my life and my God. I can honestly say I am very content.

14. I'm thankful for . . . His grace and patience. He is changing me, but it is a very slow process sometimes!

15. I'm clinging . . . to Psalm 145:8,9 "The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Love Song for a Savior by Jars of Clay

It's been fun, as my walk with Christ deepens and matures, to listen to music that I've loved for a long time. I have abandoned some old favorites because I don't believe the theology they teach, while others have become more meaningful and sweet to me. One such song is "Love Song for a Savior" by Jars of Clay. I'm sure I've owned this CD for at least 12 years, since high school, and even got demerits at Maranatha for listening to it there! It is still one of my favorite Cd's and I've enjoyed the group's changing sound over the years.

So the other day, when I chose Jars of Clay to listen to on my iPod, I easily slipped into just enjoying the music and lyrics without really thinking about what they were saying. And when Love Song came on, I was caught off guard at what a beautiful picture of a childhood conversion might look like. I listened intently and thought about my own conversion, and hoped for a similar experience for my kids. I want them to grow up knowing about God, wanting to love Him until the moment He divinely opens their eyes to His worth.

So enjoy the lyrics, watch the youtube video, and buy the song on iTunes for $.99 if you think you'll like it.

In open fields of wild flowers
She breathes the air flies away
She thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses
In no simple language
Someday she'll understand the meaning of it all

He's more than the laughter
Or the stars in the heavens
As close as a heartbeat
Or a song on her lips
Someday she'll trust him
And learn how to see him
Someday he'll call her
And she will come running
Fall in his arms, the tears will fall down
And she'll pray

I want to fall in love with you

Sitting silent wearing Sunday best
The sermon echoes through the walls
A great salvation through it
Goes to the people who stare into nowhere
Can't feel the chains on their souls

He's more than the laughter
Or the stars in the heavens
As close as a heartbeat
Or a song on her lips
Someday we'll trust him
And learn how to see him
Someday he'll call us
And we will come running
Fall in his arms
The tears will fall down and we'll pray

I want to fall in love with you

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain/Palin Rally

Dan and I did an adventurous thing today. We took both the kids to try to see John McCain and Sarah Palin at their first campaign stop after the RNC. It was slated to begin at 10, but got pushed back to 11 because of the crowds. One passerby said they only expect 8,000 people, but there was more like 20,000 there. I can't be sure of his statistics, but it sure was crowded.

We stood in line and the kids were very patient. Unfortunately, our late arrival was our downfall, and we didn't get near the stage and only heard bits and pieces of the speeches, mostly we just recognized Sarah and John's voices over the speakers. About 1/2 way through the rally, we walked around to try to get a better view and actually got some photos of them shaking hands and signing autographs! (At least Dan got the photos. There are advantages to being his height.)

These pictures are a bit deceptive. We weren't close to them at all, but using a 200 zoom lens made it look like we were!
All in all, I was glad we went. Next time we will leave the kids with someone and arrive much earlier to get a seat. Since Wisconsin is supposed to be a battleground state again this year, we should have at least a few more chances to hear the candidates speak.