Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading Log 2014

I was just looking over my list of books for this year and comparing it to the previous two years. I shouldn't be surprised that I have read more books this year, but I actually was and tells me that I'm an "overachiever," which kind of nice. This year, I had set a goal on there to read 60 books, and I completed 66! (I thought about just linking that list for a super-lazy blog post, but I'm currently thinking that I need to get back to writing more... so here goes.)

Here are some random facts that have to do with the books I read this year:

  • My only actual resolution for this year was to read more classics. I intentionally phrased the goal that way so that I couldn't fail! I went from reading zero classic literature in recent years to 5 classics this year. Also, I learned an important lesson: There's a reason I wasn't previously reading this stuff. I sort of hate it! Hence, I went back to reading what I want, largely chick lit and murder mysteries, for which I will make no apologies. Read what you like!
  • My new favorite author is Meg Cabot. I started reading Meg Cabot this year because goodreads suggested her, and it was so right on. I love her sense of humor and her voice.
  • After having read most every adult novel by Meg Cabot that I could get my hands on, I moved on to her teen books. These are fun, too, and very satisfying if you want a quick read and something a bit lighter than those dreary classics that some people claim that you must read. (Again, I suggest that you read what you like!!)
  • Fun fact: I just recently read The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (see above), and you might be interested to know that this is actually where my daughter's name came from. (Although, it was from the movie, since I hadn't read the book at the time. Also, the book is, of course, better.)
  • Most of the other books I read were chosen because I liked the titles or the art on the spine (lots of cupcakes and that sort of thing drew my attention). 
  • However, one recurring theme, which I don't know if I selected intentionally or not was relationships of women with other women, specifically sisters. While I do not have sisters, I do have sisters-in-law (one new just this year!). Anyway, the main thing that struck me is that I've been having conflicts with other women in recent months (not the sisters-in-law, thankfully!), so I can't help but wonder if my mind was trying to problem-solve for me.
  • This year, I read my first e-book, Insatiable by Meg Cabot. It was the first of several e-books I have now read (most of which were also by Meg Cabot).
  • I also listened to my first audiobook, The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand. I won this from the library, and I thought it would be cool to listen to a book while making a trip Up North with the kids, minus Brett. My thought was they were ready to listen to their DVDs with headphones, so I would be safe to listen to an adult book. And I was wrong. They weren't all that keen to keep headphones on for that long, and this was definitely not a good book for their little ears to hear snippets of. It took me at least another couple of weeks following that trip (possibly longer, I don't exactly remember the details, just that it was tedious for me) to finish listening to this book whenever they were not in the car with me (which I am sure you can guess, wasn't all that frequently). 
  • Lastly, I've also read some really powerful non-fiction works this go-round, so let me know if you'd care to chat about any of those. 

On second thought, here's that link -- just in case I've already bored you and you don't want to read the following list of books -- or you just want to view all that cover art that seems to grab my attention when I'm browsing the bookshelves at our local library.
  1. The Green Hour: A Daily Dose Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christopher
  2. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
  3. Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  5. Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier
  6. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell
  7. Killer Blonde by Laura Levine
  8. Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine
  9. Killer Cruise by Laura Levine
  10. The PMS Murder by Laura Levine
  11. New Year's Eve Murder by Leslie Meier
  12. The Hen of the Baskervilles by Donna Andrews
  13. Death by Pantyhose by Laura Levine
  14. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  15. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
  16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  17. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  18. In the Bag by Kate Klise
  19. Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine
  20. Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier
  21. Father's Day Murder by Leslie Meier
  22. Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch
  23. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  24. The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena
  25. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
  26. Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
  27. What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes
  28. Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
  29. Nutcase by Charlotte Hughes
  30. High Anxiety by Charlotte Hughes
  31. Killing Cupid by Laura Levine
  32. The Memory Garden by Laura Rickert
  33. Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
  34. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
  35. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
  36. The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
  37. Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster
  38. Insatiable by Meg Cabot 
  39. Overbite by Meg Cabot
  40. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
  41. Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot
  42. Big Boned by Meg Cabot
  43. Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself by Florence Littauer
  44. Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose
  45. The Right Thing by Amy Conner
  46. Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster
  47. Stay by Allie Larkin
  48. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand 
  49. Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison
  50. When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
  51. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
  52. Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
  53. Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership by Nancy Ortberg
  54. Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms by Caryn Rivadeneira
  55. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst
  56. Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton
  57. Avalon High by Meg Cabot
  58. Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot
  59. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  60. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
  61. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
  62. Secret Santa by Fern Michaels (and others)
  63. The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
  64. Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier
  65. A Winter Wonderland by Fern Michaels (and others)
  66. Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot
"There are two stories for every life; the one you live and the one others tell." ~ Mitch Albom, The First Phone Call from Heaven

December at Our House

You can learn so much by listening to children. Here are some great words of wisdom from mine.

M {while eating mashed potatoes}: "You know what my favorite thing about potatoes is? They're healthy! They're a vegetable and they grow in the ground... And so, potato chips are healthy!"
I think her logic, however flawed, would appeal to a lot of folks.

M: "Come take his {the elf on the shelf} picture. I can't believe he's always 'cheesing.'"
Yeah, it's almost like his smile is painted on.

Brett {said while kids were brushing teeth before bed}: "Hey, that wasn't two minutes, Bud."
L: "Yes, it was because I did it super sonic! That means really fast."
Where does he come up with this stuff?

Brett {said to Logan, who is on his back being silly}: "What are you doing to my hair?"
L: "Petting it!"

L: "I'm going to tell Mom! She licked my toe that was sticking out of this." {holds up footie pajamas, which on closer inspection, have a hole in the foot}
I don't even know where to begin here.

L: "I'm going to play Words with Friends." {goes and gets an old flip phone that he uses as a toy}
Me: "How are you going to do that?"
L: "I just push the thing that gets me there. Then I'll start on the first level and when I'm done with that, I'll go to the next level."
He must have gotten bored with his "game" because he moved on to taking "pictures" with the phone.
Next, he figured out that the pull-up antenna made a nice boing sound when he flicked it. This continued for a bit.
L: "I'm going to read a book on my phone. Well, actually, I need to make a call."
Me: "Who are you going to call?"
L: "My friend Bitch-it."
You'll be happy to know that Bridget is the name of one of the high school girls who works at his preschool. The question is why I've never heard him mention her before, you know, since she apparently tops the list of people he needs to call.

L: "My head is trying to make my eyes be closed-ed."
I hate when that happens.

L: "My bottom just sort of whistled like a tea kettle."
Classic. I busted a gut from this one.

{Santa's Little Helpers}

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Elf on the Shelf: Year 4

Admittedly, I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit this year, but I was determined to maintain one of my favorite family traditions! Thankfully, Brett helped me on more than one occasion, either reminding me to move our elf, Coconut E. Butterfly (Coco, for short), or else doing it for me. (Have I mentioned that he's awesome?)

Here's what Coco was up to in 2014. (Remember, he is not a naughty elf, so this is totally family-friendly.) Also, in case you're wondering, he usually makes his return right after Thanksgiving.

{Day 1: Sitting in the arm chair with a note.}
{Day 2: And he's already getting a bit carried away...}
{Day 3: Quick! Hide the elf. How about right here on top of the decoration boxes? }
{Day 4: Relaxing after folding all the towels}
{Day 5: I wonder what he was doing on the computer?}
{Day 6: This silverware drawer is just the right size.}
{Day 7: Toilet paper is cozier than you might think.}
{Day 8: Helping with the dishes}

{Day 9: Rock Star Elf!}

{Day 10: Coco is a Dolphins fan. Brett's idea, of course.}

{Day 11: Feeling a bit puzzled?}
{Day 12: Coco's on a roll... down the stairs!}
{Day 13: Splish splash, in the dollhouse bath}
{Day 14: Hanging out in the pantry with some elfin pals}
{Day 15: In Logan's room}
{Day 16: In the dog's stocking -- because we needed a quick hiding spot}
{Day 17: Hanging around outside Mia's room}
{Day 18: A friendly game of Uno}

{Day 19: Coco is a bit of a lightweight.}
{Day 20: Wheeee!}
{Day 21: A gentle reminder to brush those pearly whites!}
{Day 22: About to win a sack race!}
{Day 23: Buckled into Logan's car seat}
{Day 24: Coco loves a new Jamicure!}
{Day 25: Playing with Mama's jewelry -- the kids said he was hula hooping!}
{Day 26: Angry Birds has mass appeal.}

A Homemade Christmas Ornament Idea

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit this year. I have a goal to get back to writing more often, so I am sure I will be sharing more about the reasons behind that, but for now all you need to know is that Christmas was pared down from the past. We didn't do a lot of of crafts. In fact, I think this is the only one that we created, and mostly it was because we were given a plain glass ornament at church and asked to decorate it for the tree there. Sadly, this wouldn't have happened otherwise, and it would have been a shame, because this was fun to make.

The inspiration for this ornament came from the December issue of FamilyFun magazine. I have made a few changes, partially due to what materials we had on hand and partially due to personal preference for what seemed sturdy. (I really couldn't see making this with tacky glue, for example, and then having it come undone. Yes, this would have been more kid-friendly than my adhesive of choice: hot glue, BUT you have to agree that mine is going to hold up, and that was what I was going for.) Anyway, we were all pleased with the results.

{Our Family's Christmas Ornament - 2014}


  • clear glass ornament
  • small pom poms (round beads are what was suggested in FamilyFun)
  • toilet paper tube 
  • scissors
  • tacky glue
  • hot glue gun
  • card stock (whatever colors you like -- we used blue and silver)
  • pipe cleaner (optional, for trim)
  • clothespins (optional, but recommended)
  • permanent marker (optional, for personalization)

  1. Remove the top of a clear glass ornament and hold it while the kids add some colorful "gumballs." (Note: Anything that is small enough to fit inside the opening could work. We used pom poms because we didn't have beads on hand. Perhaps real gumballs would fit?)
  2. Cut a section of a toilet paper tube to make the base of the gumball machine. Wrap it in colored card stock (Logan picked blue.) and adhere with tacky glue. Add a small rectangle of another color card stock for the gumball machine opening. (We used silver.) Again, apply with glue. Now, here's a handy tip: Secure two clothespins, one on either end of the tube, and leave on until the glue has dried. This helps the curved paper stay put until the glue is set!
  3. Find a base for your gumball machine. Ours is a lid (Thankfully, in the color Mia wanted: red.) from a peanut jar. FamilyFun suggested using a large button. (I don't know about you, but I don't have huge buttons laying around my house, however, I do have a good assortment of plastic lids at any given time.)
  4. Assemble the gumball machine. I used a hot glue gun (adult use only) instead of the suggested tacky glue. I made a ring around one end of the tube section and then applied it to the bottom of the glass bulb. Then, I made another ring of hot glue around the other end of the tube and pressed the plastic lid onto it, securing the base. For a finishing touch, I used two scrap pieces of red pipe cleaner to cover up the hot glue. (I wish I had thought to do this when it was first hot, but better late than never. The tacky glue would have been less goopy looking and wouldn't have needed the "finishing touch," but I am still asserting here that my way is going to hold up for the long haul. And that is what we want since we're going to be displaying this year after year.
  5. For a little extra personal touch, I took a black Sharpie and wrote our family name plus the year on the back. This was an easy (and totally free for us!) craft that we were able to make together.

November at Our House

Yes, these are actually the quotes from last month. As you can see, I'm a bit behind.

Mommyism: "Don't talk with your mouth full of food."
L: "Mmmmkay, mmmmm."
This is what the requisite, "Okaaaaay, Mooom" sounds like when a child is still talking with food in his mouth.

M {during dinner}: "This is the best healthy food I've ever had!"
Um, thanks? Also, I guess I should make my chicken & cheese tortellini stew more often.

L: "Can I put on my shoes to hold up my socks?"
I guess so....

Brett: "Why don't you want to take a bath?"
L: "It's too wet."
Yep, that's sort of the point.

Mommyism: "No pole vaulting over the sofa!"
Hmmm, kind of wish I had noted exactly what that meant! I think it involved empty wrapping paper tubes.

L: "What smells so good?
Me: "I'm making bath salts."
L: "Smells delicious, but I'm not going to have any right now."
Me: "Okay, it's not food."
L: "No, I mean on my body."
Aside from entertaining me, it's nice to actually see that this one found one of my recipes to "smell delicious." This is high praise coming from him, regardless of whether or not it was actually edible.

L: "I'm making myself into mail."

Aww, I love when I've got this kind of mail.

L: "Mom, can some people make banana puppets?"
Me: "I don't know. What's a banana puppet?"
L: "It's a banana that's made into a puppet."
Well, I guess I should have known that. But why?

L: "Daddy, do old people -- like you guys -- sometimes have babies?"
I can't help but wonder if I would have been laughing so hard if he had directed this question toward me instead of his daddy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October at Our House

Another whirlwind month -- wrapped up with just a few cute kidisms.

L {while having dinner at church}: "Dad, do you know everybody in this room?"
Brett: "No, not everyone."
L: "Well, do you know anybody?"
Ah, yes, the all or nothing thinking of a child.

M: "Hey, Mom, I'm supposed to tell you that we're supposed to check my head for lice!"
Well, that officially tops the list of things I do not want to hear during dinner.

L: "I see both of my soccer coaches."
Me: "Yeah? They spend all morning here."
L: "I think they sleep here, too."
You never know, right?

L {at Sam's Club}: "I saw a green lemon!"
Yes, and they're called limes.

M: "Were there cars when you were kids?"
Brett: "Yes, we had what's called a station wagon."
M: "Is that like a train?"
Why does it feel like we keep having this same conversation, just in different variations?

M: "I think I know why it's called October, November, and December. It's starting to get colder and we say, 'brrrr.'"
Makes sense to me.

L: "Crabs can make sculptures."
Me: "Oh, yeah? Like what?"
L: "All sorts of stuff. Pirates, dinosaurs, skeletons, ... maybe even a dump truck."
See, this is why I prefer conversing with kids over talking with adults most any day.

L: "2 +2 = 4 and 1 + 1 = 2 and 0 + 0 = 0. Well, actually, banana + banana = banana."
As I was nearly dying from the startling realization that he had learned addition at preschool (!), he threw in an extra dose of cuteness just to make me love him that much more.

L: "Does dehydrated start with 'D'?"
I don't even know how to reply to this. 

M {said while putting a rubber band around her ankles}: "This will help me waddle like a penguin better."
You betcha.

M: "I'm fluent in dog. Woof, woof, woof."

{After bedtime at our house.}
Me: "Do you want me to tuck you back in?"
L: "Well, sometimes I just need to play."
I hear you, Little Dude.

L: "I woke up after my sister but before you. You woke up last. I guess you were the tiredest. I guess you're always the tiredest."
This makes me sad because it is so honest.

{Our Family Halloween Costume ~ 2014}

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boo to You: Year #5

Even though I am slow to get stuff posted here, I am still doing those things that have some of you fooled into believing I am a really, really awesome mom. (Okay, for clarification, I am an awesome mom, just maybe not as awesome as you think. This is really not all that complicated, I promise.) So, here goes: Year 5 of the neighborhood "Boo Bags." (Wait, have I really been blogging for that long? Very nearly! Time flies, as they say.)

{Assorted Goodies for One "Boo Bag"}

This year, I didn't worry at all if the "Boo Bags" (containers) held the same contents or even if the "Boo Bags" themselves looked identical. (See, I'm learning to let go of some of the small stuff!) One was a cute Frankenstein takeout container that I found on clearance and set aside last year, and the other was the first thing I could find on hand at home -- a Scooby Doo Happy Meal bucket from some point when the grandparents babysat last October, apparently.) And it's okay. I finally realized that nobody in the neighborhood is comparing notes, here. So don't stress over that!

Also, don't feel like you need to spend a lot of money. These were for sure under $5 each since I put stuff away after last Halloween, but even if you're going out and getting things right now after reading this, it can be super affordable. This year, I had two Halloween dog bandannas to give away, so naturally we selected houses that I knew had little doggies. That was my only criteria, really.

{One Finished "Boo Bag"}

{Another Finished "Boo Bag"}
Besides the doggie bandannas and assorted goodies (like notepads, orange or black votive candles, non-scary Halloween gel clings -- no food this year), I also enclosed the following:
  • We've Been Boo'd Sign (printed on orange construction paper -- although after the fact, I realized that white would have made more sense for the ghost design) -- 3 of these (one for the recipient of our "Boo Bag" and two more for them to pass along.
  • Poem/Directions -- again, 3 sets, including 2 to pass along.
Then, Logan and I passed these out while his big sissy was at school. (Thankfully, she didn't take major issue with this.) He was very enthusiastic with his help! This was about two weeks ago, and Mia insists that she has seen one of the neighborhood dogs sporting one of the "Boo Bag" bandannas. I honestly am not sure if this is true since I didn't see it myself, but how fun if that's the case. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

P.S. If you're interested, here is what we did for our "Boo Bags" in years past:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Creative Re-branding

The longer I work my business, the more I realize the importance of what to say -- or more precisely, how to say it. It turns out that the way that something is presented to someone can truly influence how they feel about it. Case it point: dinner with two sorta picky eaters...

We have recently discovered that they LOVE edamame. If you're saying, "eda-what?" I'm right there with you. I thought that this was just some creative re-branding for "lima beans," which is what these babies seem to resemble quite closely. Then I wondered why they taste different from the way I remembered. (And that was not fondly, in case you're wondering.) Why would my kids LOVE something that I hated as a kid?

A quick web search had me realizing that edamame is an entirely different bean: soy. The weird thing is that the kids aren't normally big bean eaters, but they really, really LOVE them some edamame -- or "eda-beans!" as they shriek excitedly when they see these on the table. (No, really, you can't make this stuff up. My kids go nuts for baby soy beans.)

{Edamame: It's What's for Dinner!}

My point? If I called these what they are -- immature soy beans -- my children would almost certainly turn up their noses and refuse to eat them. Admittedly, even I find that a bit gross-sounding. But when we call them "edamame" it sounds just exciting enough to be something that even the tiniest of food critics can get enthused about, without being over-the-top exotic and foreign (a.ka. "too weird to eat").

Translation: little people willingly devour second and third helpings of this stuff. Go, Mommy (and Daddy, because he was the one who nuked this particular bag 'o beans.) Creative re-branding = parenting win! Hats off to you, soybean marketing folks of the world.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September at Our House

To anybody who may have been waiting expectantly for more content on this blog, I do apologize for my life getting kind of crazy (even by normal standards)... Anyway, there is some great stuff here that I think you will enjoy!

L {listening to the ducks quacking at the Mill Pond}: "They're saying, 'walnuts.'"
I don't know, but it's cute.

L {on the drive home, it started to sprinkle and quickly turned to hard rain}: "I think the little rain drops told the bigger ones to come!"
Seriously cute!

L: "Mom, are beavers real?"
Okay, this is one of those times when I answer the simple question and then ponder it for a while wondering what he was really asking...

L: "Are teeth the same as bones?"
Me: "Yeah."
L: "So, some of our bones are showing?"
Well, sure, but I never really thought about it.

M: "When do we eat?"
L: "I want to eat Mama."
Me: "What do you mean?"
L: "As meat."
Me: "I'm not meat."
L: "Well, you are made of meat."
Me: "Okay, but we don't eat people."
Yeah, not gonna lie. I never expected to have to tell the children about my anti-cannibalism policy for our household, but there it is.

M: "I wish I could just snap my fingers like in Mary Poppins and my room would be clean... except I don't know how to snap... and it wouldn't work, anyway!"
You and me both, sister! 

Mommyism: "You shouldn't be riding a bike while wearing roller skates."
Another one of those things I never thought I would need to say...

M {windy outside}: "My dress is like a parachute."
Oh, see, that's just clever.

M {during dinner}: "Where do butterflies go when it rains?"
L: "Maybe a bird opens its mouth and 'atens' it and then it stays dry forever."
Kept my mouth shut here, waiting to hear what else he thought, but this seemed to be the end of that particular conversation.

L {during dinner}: "Mommy is the boringest!"
M {quite upset}: "No she's not!"
Cracked me up how vehement she was. Just depends on the day, I suppose.

L {looking at his drink package with a soccer player on it}: "I've never had a black person on this before."
Me: "What?!" {Okay, kind of concerned here!)
L: "Usually they're red or blue..." {Huh?} "But his jersey is black."
Me: "Oh!" {Relief...}

L: "I made up a song. It's called, I Made Up a Song." {proceeds to sing many, many verses, all the same: "I made up a song" -- all performed in a high-pitched sing-song voice}

This doesn't get old.... A little sarcasm for you, folks!

After discovering him pouring Elmer's glue on his monster truck track and then adhering vehicles.
Me: "What are you doing?!"
L: "I wanted them to be sticky and stuff."

Little boys and sticky situations... They just sort of go together.

L: "Ugh! You always ask me to do stuff!" {said to Brett after he asked him to use the bathroom before bed}
The injustice of it all!

L {while pulling into a parking spot at Walmart}: "Hey, there's seagulls in the road. That is not safe for them!"
Me: "Don't worry about them. They'll fly away if a car comes."
L: "I think they are looking for trash."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our House in August

Here they are -- the kids' quotes from August -- the things that made me scratch my head, laugh out loud (and occasionally into my hand), and wonder where do they come up with this stuff, anyway?

L {while riding in the van}: "Someone honk-ded their tooty horn."
Keep reading for more education on the dual definition of the word "toot."

M: "Are there cookies that haven't been invented yet?"

M {explaining to her brother why they should pick up toys}: "Mama likes it when we do this, so let's keep doing it!"
Why can't this type of conversation (and subsequent cleaning frenzy) take place more often around here?

L: "Hey!" {after she had pulled his ball cap off his head}
M {putting it back on his head}: "If you wear it backwards, you look cool."
I wonder where she heard that?

M: "If you see me stare, I'm looking at air. Got it?"
Um, okay. If you say so.

M: "I don't like it when people ask me questions out loud."
I can't say for sure but maybe I questioned why she was staring into space -- or air. Duly noted. Next time, I shall use my powers of telepathy.

L: "Look at those flat trees!"
He noticed the vines growing up the sides of a brick building at MSU, which did, in fact, look exactly like a flat tree. And I never would have noticed.

M: "Mom, the dog smells like graham crackers."
Is it bad that I looked around for evidence that a certain little girl had been feeding her graham crackers?

M {while eating mixed nuts}: "Where do almonds come from?"
L: "Cactuses!"
Honestly, this is one of those times when it's just simpler -- and funnier -- to keep my mouth shut.

M {crying}: "I want to stay little forever!"
Me: "What do you mean?"
M: "I want to stay a kid forever, but I can't!"
I so LOVE that she feels this way. Gonna have to remember it when she's about fourteen.

L: "The tub is still drooling." 
On closer inspection, he is correct. The faucet is still running.

M: "This is how you speak lion, 'ROAR, ROAR!'"
L: "Well, how do you speak jaguar?"
M {quieter}: "'Rawr, rawr.'"
Couldn't have explained it better myself.

L: "There's two kinds of toot. Toot is from a whistle and toot is from a bottom."
Oh, yes, he is such a BOY.

M: "When I'm bored, you can just tell me to do my homework."
If you say so...

L {popping into our bedroom before 7:00 AM, fully dressed -- in an interesting plaid combination}: "Hey, guys, did you know today is my birthday?!"
You don't say? I guess he figured out that we already knew that when the coveted two-wheel "big kid" scooter was waiting for him downstairs.

{Mad for Plaid and No Stopping Me Now!}

Monday, August 11, 2014

Painting with Magnets

This was a project that Logan did a few weeks ago at the library with Mrs. D., and I am so in love with the cleverness of it! If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I love kids' painting projects, and we have done many, many, many of them, but this was completely new to me. I love that it mixes art and science, too!


  • round metal cake pan/pie plate
  • white paper (card stock works well)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • magnet
  • paper clips
  • paint (tempera works well)

  1. If planning to make more than one of these, you will want to first make a round template for tracing. Place some paper inside your cake pan/pie tin and draw around the inside. Cut out this circle and use it for tracing all your other paper circles. Cut them out.
  2. Place a paper circle inside of your cake pan or pie tin.
  3. Add some paper clips (Mrs. D. had everyone use two large, plain, metal clips).
  4. Next, pour in a little bit of paint. Mrs. D. let each child select two colors. Logan chose yellow and blue.
  5. Give your child a magnet (preferably one that is not small enough to be swallowed! Ours were wand-style and were perfect for this.) and show him how to move it around on the bottom of the cake pan or pie tin. (You might need to help hold the pan, too.) This will move the paper clips around. Tell him to move the clips into the paint and then spread them all over the paper, using the magnet. (Help as needed, and make sure that magnets are nowhere near his mouth.) Talk about the process. What do you notice happens? Logan saw that the two colors mixed together to make green.
  6. Once the painting is complete, allow it to dry before displaying.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tool Box Stamping

Do you ever find yourself so far behind that you don't even know where to begin? That's how I feel about blogging. I know I want to, but... It's just so long since I have done these things that I wanted to write about. Anyway, hope they make some sort of sense, because I felt it was worth sharing, once upon a time. This project was something that I found for our Sunday school kids to do as a wind-up for our VBS, which took place ages ago, right after school got out in June! (Don't even get me started on how fast this summer has flown by. I swore that school seemed like it was NEVER going to end, and then once it did... Oh, boy!)

So, I found the inspiration for this craft here. The main difference is that she has used paint and I wanted something less messy for our Sunday school kids (for reasons I am sure you understand). My solution? Stamp pads. We have plenty in our resources at church, so I had my two kiddos test it out at home with assorted nuts, bolts, screws, and nails, and it worked splendidly.

{Finished Tool Box Prints}


  • paper (we used white card stock)
  • stamp pads in assorted colors
  • various nuts, bolts, screws, nails (careful about ages of children and whether or not you allow sharp points)
  • paper trimmer/scissors (optional, for cutting paper smaller)
  • something to clean up with: damp towel/paper towels/baby wipes 

  1. I used a paper trimmer to cut our 8 1/2" x 11" card stock into quarters, making the pieces about postcard size. This is not necessary.
  2. Set out paper, assorted tool box items, and stamp pads.
  3. Have kids press nuts, bolts, screws, or nails (flat side recommended, although Mia did discover that the threading on a screw makes an interesting design if you twist it over the paper) onto a stamp pad and then onto paper to make a print. Repeat as desired.
  4. Allow ink to dry completely before displaying your projects. These would make fun greeting cards or wrapping paper, should you choose to stamp them on say, a roll of Kraft paper (which can be found at Dollar Tree).

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July at Our House

Two whole weeks since I have last blogged?! Wow, that just tells you how busy it's been 'round here. My brother just got married last Saturday and that definitely kept me going, going, going this month with planning. Hopefully August will be a better month for me to get more writing done. In the meantime, please enjoy the goofy things the kids said this month.

July 2, 2014
L {discussing hair}: "Are your bumpies hair, too?" {points to Brett's stubble}
Makes me glad I shave my legs often enough to have never had this particular discussion.

July 12, 2014
L: "When we're all grown up will we still have the same names?"
Me: "Yes."
L: "So I'll still be Logan?"
Me {laughing}: "Yes."
L: "But I want a nickname!"
Well, good news then, junior high is coming... hopefully, not for a really, really long time, though.

July 14, 2014
L {noting my plaid shorts}: "Are you wearing Daddy's swim trunks?"
No. Just no.

July 15, 2014
M: "M-o-o-o-o-o-m, he drank water off the driveway!"
Oh, well. At least he's drinking water, which he really never seems to drink enough of, in my opinion.

July 18, 2014
M: "It smells so much better in the basement!"
I had gotten distracted and walked away from the grilled cheese sandwich I was making, so it got quite blackened and the entire first floor stunk. It happens. Not often, okay, but every once in a loooong while.

July 28, 2014
L {seeing bird poop on his side of the van as we were getting ready to leave}: "I don't want our car to have purple poop on it!"
It will all be okay. Really.

July 29, 2014
L: "Don't get white feet." {said while stepping in between the lines of the crosswalk}
Earlier in the day, he had seen the men painting the center line, so he was worried that the paint might be wet outside of Sam's Club.

July 31, 2014
L: "I wanna do my Bigfoot."
Me: "What do you mean?"
L: "I wanna ride my Bigfoot."
Me: "Oh, you mean your Big Wheel?"
L: "Yeah!"
He just bought this today with his own money at community-wide yard sales. Brings back memories.

July 31, 2014
M: {after reading Henry and Mudge books}: "Now I feel like eating crackers."
Not happening, sister. I am totally on to your bedtime delay tactics. Nice try, though!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Boy's World

Some days I think that I will never truly understand this kid. I really just do not know what goes on inside his little head. One thing is for sure. He often brings a smile to my face just by being himself. For example, today's snack time turned into a creative activity. The dinosaurs all got new shoes made from grapes and Goldfish crackers. (I am guessing this was inspired by yesterday's trip to the shoe store for new sneakers.) It's pretty ingenious, albeit impractical. But really, what's the point of always being practical? This life lesson brought to you by my four-year-old.

{Perhaps even dinosaurs need new shoes.}

Sunday, July 13, 2014

3-Ingredient Homemade Shaving Cream: Update

I posted this recipe over a year ago, and decided to do an updated post now. I am still making my own shaving cream and loving it! I have made a couple of minor changes that I thought were worth noting for the past couple of batches, though. I think my first changes came in March, and I just made another batch this week using these methods.

#1 I decided to experiment with almond oil in place of extra virgin olive oil. I wasn't sure if this would make a difference. The olive oil is probably cheaper, but I figured it was worth trying since I had it on hand anyway for my homemade face moisturizing oil. This changes the color slightly, but at first glance, it is pretty much the same. For a trial, I shaved one leg with the new batch of homemade stuff and the other with my old can of Skintimate. For me, there was a clear winner in the smoothness department, but just to be fair, I asked my hubby to do a "blind test" asking him to feel them and tell them if he noticed a difference -- without telling him why. Not surprisingly, he decided that the leg shaved with my homemade version was softer and smoother. Yeah!

#2 Shea butter. So, when I went to order more on Amazon, I actually ended up getting African shea butter for whatever reason. I must not have paid attention very closely. Is there a difference in how they work? Not that I can tell. There is a difference in color (more yellow) and smell. The African one seems a bit more chocolate-y to me, and trust me, that is not a bad thing at all. Hence, my newer batches are more yellow and smell different than my previous batches, but otherwise they have had the same skin conditioning qualities.

#3 My old hand mixer bit the dust last June, which you may have recalled if you happened to read this post about how in love I was with my new stand mixer. So, the old hand mixer worked pretty well for whipping up shaving cream, but it was messy and my hands did get tired doing it. Since it is no longer in the picture, I put my shaving cream block (more on that in directions below) in the stand mixer bowl, and whipped it up with the wire whisk attachment. Strangely, this takes about twice the amount of time than doing it by hand (6-7 minutes versus 3) BUT it's hands-free and definitely less messy. The only suggestion I have is to stop it a couple of times and stir the mixture by hand to get the solid chunks down from the sides of the bowl and back into optimal position for proper mixing. Easy.

{Here's a new batch after it "settled."}

Why homemade shaving cream? I wanted to eliminate chemicals! I like knowing what I am putting on my body. Also, my last batch lasted just over 4 months -- take that store-bought shaving cream! (There is no way a can of that stuff would have made it that long.) Here is how to make your own natural shaving cream. (Organic ingredients are always a plus, but I wouldn't say they are a must.)

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup shea butter (mine is African)
  • 1/4 cup almond oil (or extra virgin olive oil, if you don't happen to have almond oil)

  1. In a sauce pan over low heat, melt the shea butter and coconut oil. (This takes between 5 and ten minutes -- a bit longer with African shea butter than with plain shea butter, which I don't remember as being as dense.)
  2. Pour the melted contents of the pan into a container. (I use a plastic bowl.) Add your almond oil (or olive oil) and stir to combine.
  3. Allow the mixture to solidify in the refrigerator. (I still can't tell you how long this takes. More than an hour, but it will certainly be ready if you let it set over night, which is what I tend to do since I seem to always be making a new batch after the kids are in bed.)
  4. Remove the block from the bowl (or other container) and place it in your mixing bowl. (Mine have always slid out easily once I tipped the bowl over, so this shouldn't be hard for you either.)
  5. Whip the shaving cream. This used to take about 3 minutes with my hand mixer. Now, it takes a bit longer with the stand mixer (as mentioned above).
  6. Store your shaving cream in air-tight containers. Labeling them is suggested. I like to just use masking tape and permanent marker to write the contents and date made.
  7. To shave, I use my fingers to remove a dollop of shaving cream and spread it on my skin. It liquefies once you rub it in, and I love this. It never runs down my legs and gets wasted like commercial shaving creams or gels have a tendency to do. Also, the moisture gets locked into the skin. I know this because I see the water bead up where I have applied my shaving cream -- so it does two jobs in one. It works in all the usual places: underarms, legs, bikini area, and although I have not personally tried it, a man could also shave his face with this stuff. Note: Use caution if you like to shave in the shower since it may make the shower floor a teensy bit slippery at times.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Creative Monster

Just when I think that I am not being much of a writer this month -- or anything creative, really --inspiration strikes. I empty the vacuum canister into the trash can, and what do I see staring up at me but a grinning "creative monster." He has just one eye, a straggler left over from some odd craft project. (This is fairly typical at our house, to step on a sequin, bead, pipe cleaner, or googly eye. Brett is always threatening to throw them away and then the kids grab them and find temporary hiding places for them.) All except for this eye, which apparently could not escape my vacuum cleaner's appetite. I think my creative monster is encouraging me to go create something!

{You see it, too, right? Or am I losing it?}

June at Our House

Wow! This month flew by! We had Brett's birthday and our anniversary. I had hoped to post something fun in honor of my 4th blogiversary, but that came and went with no fanfare. And did I mention that I started a business? Yep, I just hit lead consultant with Jamberry, woo hoo!! A busy month, indeed.

June kept me so busy that I actually forgot to give a shout-out to all my prayer warriors on June 13, which is the date that I went into the hospital with my little man's pregnancy five years ago. So, a belated thank you to all of you who kept us going during that time. It means more to me than I can even express. Here are the funny things the kiddos said this month.

June 5, 2014
Brett {playing hide-and-seek with the kids}: "9... 27..."
M {from her hiding spot}: "Dad, that is not the right way to count!"
Brett: "I thought they were both upstairs so I didn't think it mattered."

June 8, 2014
M: "Where do Canadians come from?"
Well, when a mommy Canadian and a daddy Canadian fall in love...

June 8, 2014
L: "It's not broken. It's just in three pieces."
I have no clue what he was referring to, but at least he's got a silver lining outlook here.

June 10, 2014
Brett {the day after his birthday}: "I feel so old."
M: "Well, you shouldn't! You're not even close to 90!"
Whew! That certainly puts it in perspective.

June 14, 2014
L: "It's a vacuum cleaner!" {said while sucking ice cream off the table with a straw}
Why do I feel like this is just another variant of a familiar story...?

June 17, 2014
M: "Hey, Mom, were there tractors around when you were little?"
Why, yes, honey there were. And it was a good thing, too. You see, my dinosaur had just died so this was the only way I had to get to school. Seriously, though, how old does she think I am?!

June 19, 2014
L: "Whoa, I saw a squirrel. It was dancing!"
M: "It was probably with a girl. Squirrels do funny things when they're showing off."
I find it interesting that she has made this observation, and wondered if she noticed the same thing with people?

June 23, 2014
M: "It's your anniversary? So we've gotta be really, really nice to you?"
Brett: "Yes."
{a little bit later}
M {seeing my gift to Brett, 52 Things I Love about You}: "You've been married for 52 years?!"
Me: "No, we've been married for 13 years."
M: "That's a long time!"
A long time? It's nowhere near 90!

{This was a creative project started at a MOPS meeting ages ago,
and finally completed in time for our anniversary. It's challenging
to come up with so many meaningful and distinct reasons, but
 being a "professional" writer, I pulled it out. I assume
 the inspiration for the project involved a deck of playing cards.}

June 28, 2014
M {while in the van}: "Why do I smell waffles? Oh, never mind, I see the Wendy's sign!"
Yeah, I don't get it either. Even if Wendy's sold waffles, which they don't, she wouldn't smell them near the billboard along the freeway.

June 29, 2014
M: "Maybe we should have named Ritzy 'Licky' because she licks so much."
Well, that would make sense... I cannot even share publicly the reason she got her name. I will just tell you that Brett was responsible for naming her.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Summer Vacation Day 1:
- Extracted loose tooth from girl child’s mouth. (This was good because she had been whining for days about it hurting her.)
- Boy child peed on both sofa cushions.
- Did 3 loads of laundry (when I normally do 1 per day) because boy child is having potty training regression. (Haha. See above.)
- Figured out that 101 Dalmatians is the perfect length to get the lawn mowed. (Seriously, I couldn’t have planned it better. “The End” popped up on the TV screen as I walked inside, meaning that that children had no time to create mischief.)
- Located and used plunger to deal with boy child’s overly enthusiastic usage of toilet paper. (Reminded self that he used the toilet and cleaned himself up – progress!)
- Finally convinced kids to have some outside time, not that we lasted as long as we hoped. (What’s up with the temps in the 60’s?!)
- Did I mention it was Friday the 13th and there was a full moon? (Or does that go without saying?)

Summer Vacation Day 2:
- Our first day of VBS. We are exhausted.
- Kids are cranky and refuse to play outside, and so they are passing time by annoying one another. Fantastic.
- Zumba for stress relief. Obviously.

Summer Vacation Day 3:
- Another day when kids get overtired at VBS and then refuse to play outside.
- Had to carry boy child out of VBS, kicking and screaming. (Cannot recall exact reason, but he was MAD.)
- Boy child poops his pants. {face palm}
- Girl child asks to do homework! {tiny victory dance}
- Zumba is not an option, so Mommy resorts to having a hard cider. (Note: It was terrible and I only drank half of it. Save your money and do not get Johnny Appleseed.)
- Fortunately, a hot bath helped. (Why haven’t I had one of those in so long?)

Summer Vacation Day 4:
- Boy child decided to frontload his tantrum for the day. He had an absolute meltdown over losing a single penny that he had brought to donate to the VBS offering.
- Success! They weren’t so crabby after VBS and we were able to go to summer reading program kickoff and see some fun science experiments. (Girl child informs me that we simply must buy some Mentos and Diet Coke… despite the fact that we eat/drink neither of those things and she has seen this experiment done three times – twice this week! Kids.)
- Learned that girl child has a weird gift: She can catch flies with her bare hands and then release them outside. Second day in a row! Have a mini Mr. Miyagi comes in handy when your flyswatter is missing in action. (Where can that thing be…?)
- Stress relief option for tonight: shopping without children. It’s a wee bit sad when going to Target alone is your definition of Heaven on Earth, but there it is. (The only issue is that you have no one to bounce things off which means you spend entirely too long in a dressing room debating whether or not to purchase elastic waist pants. Yes, they fit, which is HUGE, and they were comfortable and cute, but seriously? Elastic waist pants? Do you really want to go there?! You note material: rayon and care instructions: dry flat. Ha! As if! You wisely put them back and try to pretend you were never really considering them in the first place.)

Summer Vacation Day 5:
- It’s nice to hear them singing the VBS songs. Really, I need to keep reminding myself of this.
- Mommy is the one who is cranky and tired today. Working VBS is exhausting! (No wonder all those other moms just drop their kids off and leave…) It does not help that I am a teensy bit hormonal. (Tomorrow’s the last day for VBS! Then, I can rest a bit.)
- Boy child is being ridiculously loud. And for him, that's saying a lot. He normally only has the one volume setting: loud, but today it's just insane. 
- Why won’t they play outside?! They need it desperately! (And not just for the reason listed above, but oh my goodness, is that a huge factor.)
- Taking photos at softball game for some stress relief. (Yeah, the kids are finally playing outside!)
- Was planning to work on this blog post for more relaxation but accidentally deleted entire thing somehow… and now am trying to rewrite it from memory. {feel like crying} Good news, though, I don't think my brain is quite as decayed as I fear. Most of it is coming back to me.
- In happier news, I have a fabulous new Jamicure which makes me smile.
- Also, chocolate should be its own food group. That is all.

Summer Vacation Day 6:
- Boy child wet his pants during the last few minutes of the last day of VBS. (Fortunately, I had extra clothes in the van, and I had to at least be glad that he made it through the rest of the week without that happening.)
- Then the MAJOR meltdown happened. Cannot even explain what it was all about. He was upset that I threw his potato chips away, I think, and he wanted an ice pop.
- Girl child tore her fingernail and was extremely tired, so she was nearly in tears while all this was going down. (She wasn't the only one who felt that way.)
- Hallelujah! He fell asleep on the way home and napped for 3 hours. This gave her some good down time before getting ready for dance recital.
- I am not good at putting my seven-year-old's hair in a bun. Or applying red lipstick to her tiny mouth. These things stress me out beyond belief -- not to mention that she had her first ever costume-change during recital, and she performed at the beginning and at the END of the show, which is insanely long. It was after 9:00 when I finally got her from backstage (after waiting in that torturous line... WHY? Why do they make me wait every year when I just want to get her home and in bed?!)
- Also, it rained, so I didn't get any photos with decent lighting because we couldn't take any outside. {pouts}
- On the plus side, (because I really need to find a silver lining, and possibly some chocolate...) we made it through recital, made it through VBS, and made it through the first week of no school! It can only get easier from here on out, right?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


If you ever want to know what goes on inside the mind of a child, just check out her artwork. This is the latest installation in an ongoing series of sidewalk chalk drawings by my seven-year-old daughter (who seems to think that she is the only one who has ever been cursed with an "annoying little brother.") I have entitled it, "Lions, and Tigers, and NO Screaming Boys, Oh My!" 

Friday, June 6, 2014

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

This post has been a long time coming, but I am happy to be able to finally share this recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent, courtesy of my friend Kim. The good thing about being so busy that I haven't been blogging much is that it's given me a solid two and a half weeks of using this recipe non-stop -- my dishwasher runs an average of once a day. That means you all get my honest-to-goodness opinion on how well this homemade version works (versus the over-the-moon excitement I felt the first time I used it).

Aside from the citric acid, which I purchased on Amazon, these are all ingredients that you can find in any grocery store. This is always something I appreciate in a homemade cleaning solution. Four ingredients is a manageable amount, in my opinion, which is another plus. Everything is reasonably priced, with the citric acid being the priciest component (breakdown of cost to follow).

The main reason for why I wanted to make my own dishwasher detergent wasn't to save money -- although I will do that! The real purpose was to eliminate more chemical crap from the household. This was one area that I have had a hard time finding a good natural alternative to. (I had previously tried a different recipe and it didn't work all that well. In fact, this turned my off from even trying again for a good 18 months or so!) However, my greener spring cleaning series of posts raised the question "What do you use in your dishwasher?" and this prompted me to seek out a better alternative.

Good news, folks! While this one doesn't always remove every single food particle (and let's be honest, your store-bought stuff isn't always up to the tough jobs either, right?), it works pretty darn well -- much better than the previous recipe. (To be fair, the primary reason that I occasionally find stuck-on food is what I will refer to as "operator error." I tend to overload the dishwasher, and that doesn't help it to do its thing in the most efficient way possible -- but I'm stubborn, and I refuse to run it unless it's full, so that's my catch-22.) My conclusion is that it has to be the citric acid that is making this work because that's the only difference from what I had tried before. (On a side note, I've seen some other recipes for dishwasher detergent lately, and many of them call for lemonade mix. My guess is that people have found the citric acid in it to be the magic ingredient that really cleans their dishes. My only thought here is, why use something that has artificial colors, flavors, and other added stuff when you can purchase pure citric acid and get the job done in a more natural way?) Just my two cents.

On the subject of dollars and cents, you may be asking, is homemade dishwasher detergent really a good value? Yup! Breaking this down, I found this to actually be cheaper than the Member's Mark dishwasher pacs we were buying in bulk at Sam's Club. (105 pacs at $9.98 works out to about 10 cents per use.) The Borax and Super Washing Soda are both things I have had at home for years and have been used for many different things including homemade laundry soap and all-purpose cleaner -- and I'm still working from the original boxes. (55 ounces of Super Washing Soda which cost $2.89 when I bought it and 76 ounces of Borax, which was $3.42 at the time. There is no way that you will convince me that these are not good values because even if you don't use them for the dishwasher detergent, you will use them for something.) Honestly, I don't remember how much I paid for my coarse Kosher salt, but I think it was less than $5, so for my calculations I am just going to overestimate and say it was $5 for the 48 ounce box. Again, citric acid was the most expensive at $11.99 for 36 ounces.

So, 55 ounces of Super Washing Soda divided by 8 ounces (per the recipe below) = 6 batches (plus a bit extra, but let's work in whole batches here.) This means that this ingredient costs 48 cents per batch. Borax: 76 divided by 8 = 9 batches, at a cost of 38 cents per batch. Coarse salt (again, I think I overestimated the cost): 48 ounces divided by 4 = 12 batches, at a cost of 42 cents (probably less) per batch. Citric acid: 36 ounces divided by 4 = 9 batches, at a cost of 75 cents per batch. Total cost = $2.03 for 3 cups of homemade detergent. If using the max recommended amount of two tablespoons per load (personally, I have found this to work better than one tablespoon), this works out to 24 uses per batch at a cost of 8 cents per use -- that's 2 cents cheaper than the least expensive store-bought cleaner that we were previously using. Since this only takes a couple of minutes to mix up and it keeps (meaning you don't have to mix up a new batch each time, which can be annoying with some recipes for homemade cleaning products), this is 100% worth your time to make! It's always nice to know exactly what goes into your cleaning products. Here's the recipe.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt (I used Kosher)
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  1. Mix well. (I stirred mine in a large glass bowl, but Kim puts hers in a container with a lid and shakes it up.) 
  2. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. 
  3. Optional: You can also add vinegar to the rinse cycle, which I have been doing. This is a natural way to get shiny, spot-free dishes. I just filled the rinse cycle compartment and let the dishwasher dispense it during the rinse cycle.

(Note: Kim suggests storing the detergent in the freezer to prevent clumping, but I have not really had an issue with this. Mine is being stored in an old dishwasher detergent container under my kitchen sink.)

Thanks for reading! This was my 600th blog post. Cue trumpets. Okay, not really. Maybe for my upcoming 4th blogiversary...