Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A return policy might be good, too.

Today is it! Leave a comment at this post telling me your favorite scrapbook received OR your fav that you've made. You can do the same thing on my Facebook fanpage (Modern-Day Jane) after you've become a fan, or on Twitter after following me (@mdjane). That's 3 chances to enter the drawing! If you haven't seen how awesome this 7x7 album is, go check it out! Giveaway ends at midnight tonight.

When you take out a loan, you get a disclosure statement, with all the terms of the loan. You also get one when you buy a house, to let you know of any issues that have existed and may or may not crop up again. This site defines a disclosure statement as: a statment written in plain language which is easy to understand. The statement provides disclosures of information which may be relevant or important.

It is obvious that in a situation involving a lot of money or investment, it would be necessary to know EXACTLY what you are getting into, in order to forestall any problems in the future.

Now, can you tell me why a disclosure statement is not required for having kids?(Other than the completely irrational requirement of only having the appropriate body parts, I mean.) Can you THINK of anything more valuable or costly?!

There are obvious qualities that can easily be attributed to a parent without much fuss or issues when the babe is fairly young. Dimples, facial features, hair color, even height. Later on, special talents crop up: reading, music, sports, etc. For instance, Aaron and I are just biding our time until the kids all end up in corrective eye wear, since not only both of us got glasses around 4th-5th grade, but also because almost all of our siblings also have correction!

But what about all the little things in between? Here are a few of Ben's traits that I wish Aaron had disclosed about his own childhood a bit earlier:

1) potty training. You knew this had to be at the top of the list, right? Aaron just mentioned the other day that he was a late- potty-trainer, and YES, even had issues with #2. THIS may have been useful for me to know when I was oh so innocently expecting Ben to be ready to wear undies at age 3.

2) alphabet issues. Ben isn't the show-off that Leah is, so we haven't been sure exactly how many of the letters he could identify. But I spent about an hour with him the other day, and it's amazing how much he's willing to do when cuddling with mom! He gets them all - except "S", which he consistently called "C". Turns out, Aaron does the same thing.

3) color issues. Whenever Ben mis-identifies a color, (usually purple/blue or green/orange) Aaron says, "I used to do that too!" And to take my own blame, both of my brothers are color-blind, so I'm on the watch for that to crop up sometime.

4) wearing sweatpants in public. I have never had many clothing issues with the kids. But Ben has said a few times that he likes "pants", not jeans. I have complied by focusing my spending power on sweatpants & other similar types. I guess it's a good thing that Aaron has worn me down in this area. I just wasn't expecting it to be genetic.


What odd traits showed themselves in your children? Who's to blame? Alternately, which of YOUR traits are you afraid will show up?

What kind of legal form or requirement would be most instrumental in the revolutionizing of parenting?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Only one day left of the album giveaway! If you are a scrapbooker, you'll love this little guy. And if you are NOT a would make a great gift! Go check it out - there are 3 ways to enter!

I love dyeing eggs. And I rather enjoy the magazine Martha Stewart Living. This time of year, the two come together to give me a handful of new techniques for making beautiful reminders of new life.

I also love to host parties, so of course I usually try to have some family over for the occasion. This year, I added some friends and dessert. Just realized that I didn't take a photo of my beautiful green gingham platter filled with luscious red strawberries, to top the angel food cake and homemade whipped cream. You'll just have to imagine.

We tried Martha's stenciled eggs this year. The directions required adhesive vinyl, which you then punch into shapes. Well, I have MANY shape punches, purchased from Creative Memories for scrapbooking, and thought that they would be perfect. They probably would have been, too, if my substitution of contact paper (shelf liner) instead of the vinyl hadn't failed so miserably. The only adhesive vinyl I could find was in large rolls, to put through a Cricut die cut machine. And of course I'm way too cheap to order the correct stuff online. Oh well -live and learn!

But what DID work? Electrical tape, cut into strips and then wrapped around the eggs, or cut into squares. The trick is to pat the eggs dry between colors. The steps I followed for a few of the eggs below:

1. Cut tape & place on egg.
2. Put egg in dye.
3. Pull egg out and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Remove tape, and place new tape, slightly overlapping the still-white areas.
5. Put in another color.
6. Remove, pat dry, remove tape.
7. Ooh and ahh.

What's so awesome about this process is that there's pretty much no way to mess it up. Which makes it PERFECT for doing with kids. Leah and her pal C loved it, and Leah even dreamt about egg dyeing last night, reportedly. The girls are the artists behind the dramatic egg second from the right in the photo below.

For the blue "cracked" egg on the far right, I cut the electrical tape into a jagged line, wrapped it around the egg, and put more tape around the straight edge. Aaron had the fabulous idea to make a looped "handle" and stick a spoon through it to suspend the egg in the dye cup, so that it would stay straight. Smart, huh?

Of course I didn't go out and buy real vinyl letters - I used what we had, which was letter stickers for your mailbox & such. We had to cut the letters out of the white background, and as you can see, they didn't stick too well, but it's kind of a cool effect anyway. We like to make an egg for each member of the family.

Aaron made those striped eggs in the photo above, and Ben did some wax doodling on the other blue egg in front. I like the abstract look.

If you are curious what else Martha has come up with for the simple, amazing egg, here's a link for you. These are all so fun, I'm tempted to try blowing out some eggs next year, so we can actually display them and add to our collection year after year. Wouldn't that be cool?

As it is, we now have 18 hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. Frankly, I think that's awesome. Leah and I both love them, and Ben will eat the whites quite happily. Maybe I'll even try egg-salad sandwiches one of these days?


Any favorite egg-dyeing memories or techniques? What do you do with them after they are all pretty?

Friday, March 26, 2010

In the WIN column:

Don't forget about my mini-scrapbook giveaway! Three ways to enter!

- Last night, had uninterrupted sleep. No baby crying. No pre-schooler whining. No kindergartner with bad dreams.

- Woke up feeling...what is this strange experience....refreshed.

- Did my hair a little differently, put some extra time into getting dressed, and was rewarded by a friend saying I looked cute.

- Listened to memory verses for Leah's class. Knew the verse myself, and got to hear Leah rattle it off, then tell another mom that she "knew it like the back of her hand!"

- Picked up breakfast for myself at McD's - egg mcmuffin, yogurt parfait, mocha. Thank YOU, couponing, for the lack of guilt!

- At playgroup, got to meet one great new mom, and talk to another one more.

- Adam took a little nap!

- NO FIGHTS at playgroup. Not even between the kids. (haha!)

- Leah went home with a friend for a playdate, so I didn't have to rush to pick her up.

- Mom pulled into the driveway just as I was unloading the kids, and stayed to have lunch & entertain Ben.

- Aaron came home for lunch, and appreciated that I remembered to borrow the last 2 Twilight books for him. (Oops - did I just out him? He read the books before I did!)

- Adam took an almost 2 hr nap. His afternoon naps have become reliably longer, which is a blessing since a couple months ago they were more like 1 hr tops.

- Adam has also belched - loudly- several times today. This just cracks me up! He's belched since the day after he was born. Good thing I am as mature as a seventh grader.

- Got 2 bathrooms cleaned & the downstairs vacuumed. Also, made homemade pizza dough for a dinner of pizza rollups.

- Ben pooped on the potty! Not a ton, but he gets an A for effort, and also a new car. (Every time I say that, I think it should sound like Bob Barker: "And behind this door....A NEW CAR!") Of course, it took him 2 pairs of undies, but we're being positive here.

- Adam munched his way through dinner, so we were spared the incessant whining and demanding to be on our laps wreaking havoc with everything in arm's reach.

- Leah & Ben are currently playing happily with a combination of 4 different Little People sets. I KNEW those were a good idea.

- Got in the mail a gift from Etsy for a friend's birthday...and it's so awesome I'm putting it on my own wishlist. If I can wait that long. (I'd link to the store or something, but that would kindasorta give away the surprise...)

- Now it's time to start getting the baby to bed, and then those big kids...and then Aaron will be home!


Hope you all are also having a lovely Friday! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Also, Adam is eating pork. KABAM!

Go enter my mini-scrapbook giveaway!

Ben seems to have no clue when he has to poop, and this has lead to multiple pairs of undies in a day - like, five. This rapidly depletes the supply, as I currently do laundry one day a week. We had to go to training undies last week out of desperation.

Leah drew on the kids' art table with marker. AGAIN. This has become an issue, and the last time it happened, it (along with numerous caps left marker-free) pushed me over the edge and I said that the next time, the markers would be put away for awhile. So they were, and Leah tried to clean up the mess. Washable markers, but not ALL the dye comes off.

Adam managed not to destroy anything.
Has anyone ever rented a motorhome? Aaron has a dream of our family taking one on a cross-country trek someday, since a family of five is rather hard on a host. Unfortunately, we live in the middle of nowhere, and the only websites are for rentals out of Minneapolis.

Trying to get swimming lessons set up for the kids, against Ben's will. Not that he has ANYTHING to base his refusal on - he likes the water and has never had lessons. Too bad, said Mom. This isn't something he gets a choice in- it's a matter of safety. Besides he will enjoy it. But he was born to say NO.

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to try to get them in the spring session - once a week for 9 weeks. Lucky for me, their classes meet at the same time, and it is after Adam's nap time. Should work out perfectly?

Swimming lessons are one thing that Aaron and I are in agreement about. I took them for years, as did all my siblings. Aaron, however, since he has so MANY more sibs than I do, missed out. I think he still regrets not learning, and we really feel that it is a life skill that's pretty much necessary for kids to learn.

I have been getting up early to do a "quiet time" with God. I am always convicted about my lack of prayer life, and now am finally doing something about it. I am telling you this not to brag, but so that you can hold me accountable. It's not easy to get up when the house is quiet and dark, but it's also not easy to concentrate with random nap schedules and reliable whining in the background. In order to actually be consistent, an entirely new time of day was required.

Of course, the biggest problem with getting up early is that means I have to also go to sleep earlier, and that is just not how I am hardwired. Nighttime has always been a great time of day for me to hang out, but now with three little people running/being carried around, it's also the time of day that I don't have to worry about other people's bodily functions. It will be hard to give that up, and I just may end up being more tired for a while until I get it figured out.

That's what's going on around here! What's new for you guys?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remember the fall?

Remember that perfect time of year? When the sun starts setting earlier, and air turns crisp, and leaves are falling?

Whaaat? You mean it's almost spring? Oh well. I love fall.

This little album is perfect for those lovely days, whether you are remembering them or planning a trip for this year. It is 7x7, and includes 12 pages.
If you'd like to add this little guy to your collection, you can enter my giveaway this week! Just leave a comment and tell me about the favorite scrapbook that you've made or received.
Also, if you want to increase your odds of winning, become a Facebook fan (search for Modern-Day Jane) and leave a comment on the page. AND, you can get another entry by following me on Twitter and sending me a tweet @mdjane. My kids will randomly choose a winner next Thursday morning - the contest ends Wednesday at midnight.
Even if you are not a scrapbooker, this would make a lovely gift for someone, since it isn't available anymore. If you'd like a Creative Memories consultant to help you track down the page protectors to go with it, you can contact my lovely consultant Jen B.
Okay. Enough of that "business" stuff. I have to tell you about my son Ben and how he has some mad negotiation skillz. Today we went grocery shopping and I had promised that we would buy "gourmet" muffins at the bakery for snack. There were about 8 types to choose from. I'd say, "You can have THIS cranberry one, or THIS blueberry one, or THIS lemon poppyseed one. Which would you like?" And he'd silently point to the turtle muffin - chocolate with carmel topping.
Repeat the scene, but this time pointing to another type piled high with frosting.
Repeat again. And again. FINALLY I caught on and threatened to just pick one for him myself, and he finally went with the cranberry.
Good choice, my son. Good choice.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is why I don't crochet.

For me, scrapbooking is not so much a hobby as a compulsion. I need to scrapbook, but not as an artistic outlet, like an artist MUST paint. No, it's more because I am trying to prevent the past from slipping away.

When I first realized that this was my motivation to scrapbook (or make memory albums, or photo albums, whatever you want to call them) I first rationalized that it was because of my rather rotten middle & high school experience. Whenever I went to a camp or retreat where I had a blast, I'd keep a notebook with people's addresses, notes from them, and then make a list of all the fun things we did and things we laughed over. I used this as a reminder later on that not everything sucked.

Cheery, huh? A lot of those friends I kept in touch with the old-fashioned way: by writing letters. And mailing them, not emailing. Like my sister pointed out, I missed the digital age by thismuch, but I was a kid who would have been glued to Facebook. Oh wait.

Anyway, back to scrapbooking. Instead of the drive coming from misery, I realized later on that it instead came from genetics. Both of my living grandparents, Grandpa Henry (maternal grandpa) and Grandme GiGi (paternal grandmother) have oodles of photo albums with photos neatly organized, labeled and dated. I knew none of this.

But I did get a big hint from Grandma GiGi. She gave me a scrapbook after our trip to Chicago when I was in middle school, and it. was. awesome. She kept all kinds of stuff - brochures, ticket stubs, little maps with our route highlighted, and of course photos - and then said that I should keep going with it. And I did.

One fateful summer, a few years after Aaron and I got married, we went to visit his sister Stephanie in Montana. At the time, she was a Creative Memories consultant, and be the end of our visit I had sold myself on their products by reading her magazines and catalogs. I signed up to be a consultant, and started just as we moved to a new town. That summer, since I was unemployed and didn't have any friends, and Aaron was busy working, I completed two scrapbooks, redoing some of high school and early college books, and then "caught up" with our family life.

NOW, however, is another matter all together. Funny how having three kids will get you behind on your scrapbooking. I maintain a family album, one for each year (so far), in addition to a baby album for each kid. I just recently finished Leah's 1-2yr album, and THIS WEEKEND started Ben's 1-2 yr album - and did 22 pages in it! Sounds great, right? Yeah, until I tell you that was four months worth. I have a ways to go.

In addition to those 22 pages, I also worked some on our family album, which has been languishing back in August. Now September is done, but that took another 10 pages. I'm very happy with my progress, but I'd love to get caught up to at least January. When? Hopefully before August, when I'm supposed to start the NEXT family album.

The great thing about my albums is that they STAY DONE. Unlike laundry, dishes, meals, toy mess, and just about everything else in life, once I complete a page, it is something I never have to worry about again. And actually, I don't even have to remember it anymore! Because it's right there, waiting to remind me of how chubby my babies were, or how young Aaron and I looked when we first got married.

I know that those pages are going to contribute to my kids' childhood memories, also. (I mean, how many of us "remember" events purely from seeing the photos so many times?) This just adds to the pressure to stay up to date - I woudn't want them to miss out on any precious moments. This is a tish obsessive, I think. But nonetheless, I am compelled to preserve time and experiences. Someday when my kids are big stinky teenagers, I can look back and remember how sweet they were - are- right now.

Do you have the same kind of compulsion? Does it present itself in the same form, or do you have a different method to your madness?

ps - Giving away a mini-scrapbook starting tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let's talk about...sports. NOT the weather.

So, there is some craziness going on around here the last couple of days. And for us, none of that has to do with this big flood people are talking about AGAIN. As last year, we have remained selfishly uninvolved with the flood fight. Last year I had the convenient excuse of being 7 months pregnant. Now my excuse is that I have three little kids. Also, I just don't feel like sandbagging. Is that terrible or what?

Thankfully, there are lots and LOTS of other folks who are generously willing to help out, so things are under control. Helping the general atmosphere quite a bit is the lack of double blizzards at the same time as the flood crest. That was really terrible.

Anyway. One of my biggest (and most selfish, inconsiderate) complaints about the whole flood business is how it preoccupies everyone's lives. You can't go anywhere without people talking about it, and every conversation is obligated to talk it over at least once. Events are rescheduled or cancelled, and in general, anything fun is considered an indulgence. (Disclaimer: Of COURSE saving your house takes precidence over pretty much everything. I imagine that if my house was at risk, I'd be much more involved and preoccupied with the whole thing myself. Like I said, I'm being completely selfish here.)

In that spirit, here's what we've been doing, with NO MENTION of the flood:

- Leah has had school off Thursday & Friday, and Aaron took those days as vacation
- So of course the house has had toys and mess all over, since there has been way more playing going on
- Even with Leah being at a playdate yesterday morning
- And especially because of a playdate here this morning (although those boys & their mom did a great job of picking up!)

And you know that if Aaron has more than 2 days off he starts a project...
- Which this time is removing all the old ceiling tiles in the basement
- And discovering that the previous owners had a cat that spent large quantities of time inside the basement ceiling, according to the piles of cat hair, and oh, some cat poop also, in addition to lots & lots of dust. (Aaron IS wearing a face mask. Now.)

Me? I've just been relaxing, putting my feet up, drinking tea...yeah right.
- I finished 3 pairs of baby booties for our Etsy store
- then cut out and sewed together 6 more pairs, 4 in a smaller size for Lizzy Maye, and 2 for Adam
- Also, I am hosting some friends tonight for scrapbooking into the wee hours
- so in anticipation, have been choosing about 100 photos to have printed for our family album
- in addition to the 20 or so pages I have ready to work on for Ben's toddler (1-2yr) album.
- also, earlier in the week, I finished the other valance for the kitchen and we got it up.
- then I bought 7 yards of curtain lining fabric, so I'm ready to start the next set of curtains. Sometime when I'm ready to look at that sewing machine again.

Of course, hosting tonight requires some picking up and cleaning, much needed, thanks to my twin tornadoes and their hurricane father. I, of course, am the picture of neatness and cleanliness. Just ignore those piles...I know EXACTLY what's in them! They don't count!

Fargoans, what are you doing to keep your mind off the impending disaster of the Red River? Or, are you totally ticked off that I'm blogging at all and not out there hoisting sandbags?

If you are NOT in Fargo...well, what are YOU doing this weekend? March Madness? Spring cleaning? What?

Something else random...are you an avid couponer? I'm considering adding this to my arsenal of things to preoccupy my mind instead of the weather.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mischief Managed

A naughty leprechaun visited our house today while we were picking up Leah from school. Here is evidence of the destruction:

That silly guy threw the contents of a grocery bag AND a Target bag all over the floor, and also tipped over several chairs. He made a trail of clovers where he went - a quick trip, since he was obviously late - from the front door to the garage door. In all his business, he also forgot a few of his things, which I told the kids it was okay if they kept - a couple hats, and a couple shamrock necklaces.
Since I've never had a run-in with a leprechaun before, I had to think quickly to answer Leah's questions:
"Is there anything up on the counter?"
- "No - I think leprechauns are kid-sized."
"How did he get in?"
- "Oh, they are kind of like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and fairies - magical." (This was also my clue to her that the green guys aren't real, but she chooses to believe in fairies BIG TIME.)
"No leprechauns came last year..."
- "I think they only visit if ALL the kids in the house are wearing green." (I'm especially proud of this one!)
"The leprechauns made all this mess, and now we have to pick it up?"
- "That's probably why they left the gold chocolate coins, to pay you for helping them."
"Why chocolate coins? Don't they have any real gold?"
- "They probably figured that kids would like chocolate better."
Leah ate all this up, and took the mess as proof that leprechauns are real. Thankfully, I added the caveat that they ONLY visit - from Ireland- on St. Patrick's Day.

Now the kids and I are immersed in a recipe for white & green striped gelatin treat. I know, I know - we skip Santa, the Easter Bunny, Halloween, and haven't figured out what to do with the Tooth Fairy yet...why leprechauns, of all things?!

Well, I feel like my kids are missing out of some of the magic and surprise of those holidays, not to mention the opportunity of a family tradition. St. Patrick's Day, although there are some religious aspects to it (like the "Saint" part) isn't a religious holiday. Therefore, this secular celebration isn't taking our attention away from our faith.

Also, it's kind of fun to trick your kids, and I have always liked a good no-injury prank. I'm already thinking up variations for future years - maybe the leprechaun will visit different rooms each year? Visit at different times of the day? I like the idea of the unexpected. (This year, I decided that our mornings have ENOUGH distractions.)


Any Irish celebrations at your house today? Any leprechaun lore that I should be aware of? (I did NO research, obviously.) Particular pranks that I can include next year?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Toy Story

We have this wooden peg puzzle by Melissa & Doug. When you put the piece in the correct spot, it makes the animal's sound (or a kind of approximation of it). A few days after this puzzle entered our house, we were sitting at the table eating lunch. The puzzle was in the middle of the living room floor, and all of a sudden an animal sound went off. Twice. Did I mention that we were ALL at the table?!

We decided that the sensor on the puzzle must be heat or light activated, and the sun coming in the window and shining on the puzzle had set it off. It happened every time the sun went behind a cloud. This has happened since then also, and it startles me every time. Probably because the animals all sound like they are being devoured.

As surprising as those noises are, they are nothing compared to what I experienced one night when Adam was sick. We were in the living room around 4am, trying to catch some sleep between Adam's bouts of crying. He had just dozed off, and I was swiftly following, until I was startled by an spastic electronic alarm.

You know that jolt when you wake up with a shot of adrenaline? Adrenaline that comes from trying to quiet a noise so as to prevent a sick child from being woken up?

I quickly tracked the noise to a toy box in another room, where somehow a button on a firetruck had been pressed. This particular firetruck has a learning system, so the voice was stuttering, "Wh-wh-wh-wh-which shape is it?" That truck may have made it's last squawk in my house.

Also, a few times I've heard a crash, gone into the EMPTY room, and found a tub of toys dumped over - like it had been hanging from it's rack by just a hair, when gravity took over.


Any possessed stuff at your house? Or creepy toys? Or stuff you are or have thrown out just 'cause it's more annoying than it's worth?

Also, any plans for St. Patrick's Day? I'm anticipating a leprechaun visit while we are picking up Leah from school - will have photographic evidence for you doubters.:)

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Doesn't Your Spouse Look Good Now?" Or, "Ethan Frome".

The Salem Book Club met Saturday evening to discuss the pint-sized classic, Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. The length was a major factor in the choosing, since our last classic choices have been Middlemarch (George Eliot) and David Copperfield (Charles Dickens), and both are what I call doorstoppers, at over 700 pages. Let's just say that the discussion of those two were somewhat limited by the number of members who actually finished them.

Five of us were present, thanks to weather and school activities taking away the others. Following are the major points of our discussion concerning the novel:

- Are there any sympathetic characters in this novel? Most of us thought that Mattie & Ethan were, but they also had their own responsibilities...
- And just who is to blame for the whole mess? Zeena suffered as well, so she can't be ENTIRELY at fault, as tempting as it is to load her with guilt.
- Ethan is just too passive. Instead of turning his back on his marriage to Zeena, why didn't they just get into a rousing argument?
- Some of Wharton's personal thoughts seem to be: "duty is suffering" and "marriage is bleak"
- G is quoted as saying, "dreams are worthless". To clarify: This was in regards to my summary of Wharton's OTHER novel, Age of Innocence. She meant, "Stop dreaming and take some action! Be a man!"
- infidelity can be emotional, and is probably more painful than a purely physical relationship (if there IS such a thing)
- Also, do NOT lose a locket around C. You've been warned.

Other points of discussion:
- HOW on earth to keep busy middle schoolers busy for the summer? Answer: drama camp!
- Quote from one disgruntled former drama camper: "All they do all day is SING and DANCE!"
- Extra cash for bus service is sooo worth it.
- Sew curtains NOW instead of four years later.
- Don't dare to look back at your younger days and be critical.
- People moving really stinks. For them, and for the rest of us who are still unresigned & crabby.

Future selections:
April - JV selection, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - book exchange at this meeting!
May - Christian selection, The Great Divorce by CS Lewis

We will need to choose books for the following genres: contemporary, historical fiction, and non-fiction. Bring your ideas to the next meeting!

Now go give your spouse a kiss.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The snowflakes will be retired soon, also.

I mentioned in a few previous posts that I was busy torturing my mother by having her help me make a set of valances for the kitchen. Or, you know, do everything but actually sew it together. We'll go with help.

The old valance was pretty evil, but not so much that I felt compelled to rip them down immediately. There were more pressing matters to deal with - like, the vomit colored paint covering 75% of the house. Also, there are some pretty-ish tiles in the backsplash of the buffet, and it is obvious that the valance fabric was chosen to match. So I left the watercolor-floral ruffly things, until I had a chance to pick out fabric I liked better and figure out what to do with it.

Of course, I forgot to take a true "before" photo, so this one from Ben's 3rd birthday will have to do. Please note my lovely pregnant belly - 7 months, suckas!

Here is where I would have all the step-by-step photos of the process of making the new valance. However, I have NO CLUE how we made it, so there are no photos. You'd have to ask my mom, and I doubt even SHE could explain it.
Anyway, here is Aaron disassembling the old valance. I don't know how many yards of fabric was used here, but they crammed as much of it on there as they could.

I got to use my staple gun! Or rather, Aaron did, while I made sure that the fabric was lined up properly on the mounting board.

And here it is! Hmm...maybe this isn't the best photo...

...but this one isn't, either, is it? The lighting is a bit off. But we decided that the yellow peeking through the pleats is a better look.

This style is called an "box-pleat valance" and the directions are from a Better Homes & Garden magazine publication called "Window Treatments". There are lots of ideas and instructions in the mag, and I've used it previously for other windows.

So, I'm not completely sold on this new look yet, but I think it's because it's so different from the old one. That one was all flowery feminine ruffles, and this one is is masculine boxy stripes. I DO like that it brings more green into my kitchen, since that seems to be the direction I'm leaning towards. I also like that it doesn't remind me of the 80's.

What do you think? Is it an improvement? Or just another variety of evil? Any adventures with window treatments? In general, do you prefer stripes or flowers?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just another project!

My mom is an amazing seamstress - I believe I have already established this fact. In fact, quilting, sewing dresses for Leah, and helping me with my projects just weren't enough for her - she had to go start her own enterprise.

About a year ago she came across this adorable baby jacket pattern, sewed up a small pile, and had my pal Crystal sell them at the Downtown Street Fair. Thanks to the incredibly cool temps, she sold almost all of them in the three days. This was all the encouragement Mom needed. She delved into the world of designer flannel and pretty chenilles & corduroys with joy.

After putting together another dozen or so, I finally convinced her to let me open an Etsy store for her. Another 6 months or so of nagging later, I finally got it all put together. Friend Tara is helping us out with some photography and programming (banner, business cards to match) and thankfully is happy to be paid in chenille & flannel, in form of a jacket for the youngest of her sons.

So the store is open! After MUCH deliberation over the name, we decided on Lizzy Maye. This seems completely self-serving, but hey. If Mom wants to name the store after her daughter, who am I to argue? I was pushing for Lizzy KAY, which is Mom's middle name, but that was already taken, and Mom kept calling it Lizzy Maye anyway. Apparently she and her girlfriends in grade school would tack "May" onto their names as a pet name.

Want to see how cute these jackets are? Check THIS out:

The buttons are firetrucks and a Dalmatian. I love them!

Now, if you are familiar with Etsy, you know all about "favorites". Right now, LizzyMaye is the favorite of 2 people - my SIL artist Kate, and Kate's mom. I am so, so grateful for their support - won't more of you join them? I think this would really help the credibility of our little endeavor. If you've never heard of Etsy, let me tell you - if you appreciate handmade items of ANY kind, you are going to love it. It is super easy to create a login for Etsy, and I'm sure you'll find lots of pretty, fun, or interesting items to attract your attention. It's a wonderful place to find a special gift, too.

We have sold our first jacket! And I'm hoping that as the weather gets warmer, more moms will be looking for the perfect level of warmth for their little ones. If you know someone looking, or need a baby gift, check us out! I am listing new ones every day, both for girls and boys, from infants to 2t. I'm even thinking about adding some smaller items of my own - baby booties, trimmed burp cloths, and some baby rattles. You know, in all of my spare time.


Any entrepreneurs out there? Any fans of Etsy? If so, link your favorite store - I'd love to check it out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Appreciating my husband: Part 2

Yesterday's Part 1 post was so filled with details, I figured today I'd try to keep the whining to the bare bones. So I'll cover just the days that Aaron was gone, backtracking to Tuesday:

Day 1 (Tues): Bible study all morning. Working with mom on valance for kitchen window and with Adam to get him to nurse & ordering groceries online (this took over an hour, with all the other things interrupting). Extra 3 kids here for 1 1/2 hrs, then dinner, baths, and a late bedtime. Then I realized that Tuesdays are usually when I do all the laundry. Fail.

Day 2: Leah to school (this normal, of course, but usually there's an extra set of hands around to get breakfast on the table and hustle kids), gymnastics for Ben (he went with a friend, thank goodness!), to Target with Adam (which included an awesome few moments of breathing, along with a coffee & yogurt parfait), to JoAnn Fabrics to meet & pick up Ben, home to grab his boots, then to school to pick up Leah. THEN Mom came over and we actually got some sewing done on the valance, and I started laundry. Packed up the kids and headed to church for dinner (which was tater-tot hot dish. I didn't even argue, just fixed them pb&j's.) Was really, super tempted to dump Adam in the nursery, but kept him with me anyway. Then Mother Nature showed up. Ack. Got home, shoved the kids into bed, and then sewed the hems on the valance. Crashed into bed too late.

Day 3: (Thursday, Aaron's usual day off) After getting Leah to school and the garbage out (and BOY, was I proud of myself for that!) the boys and I headed to the grocery store tour. Then we went home for 20 minutes before leaving to get Leah. That afternoon I finally got a handle on the house - vacuumed the kitchen, finished laundry, washed dishes, etc. Dad came over to take Leah to gymnastics, the boys and I piled into the van to pick her up, and then Dad came back for supper and to help wrangle kids for baths again. That night I actually got a chance to breathe, and also to enjoy the sushi I had splurged on at the grocery store that morning. Oh yeah,and I cut out 9 baby toy giraffes (photos coming later?) and embroidered some little eyes on them while watching trash reality shows.

Day 4: The boys and I went to Target first thing and then over to Dinoland for playgroup. You wouldn't think that a place that actually encourages preschoolers to scream and run around would be relaxing, but it was. At least until the other 200 kids showed up. Then we headed out, and picked up pizza to eat with the other "morning friends" at school. Did some more housecleaning in the afternoon and wrote a couple of get-to-know-you quizzes for the party I hosted that evening - just for the moms from Leah's class. MY mom came to put the big kids to bed, and the other moms and I partied until 11:30pm. What a good time!

Day 5: SATURDAY! DADDY-COMES-HOME-DAY! Started off by sleeping in. Then fulfilled kids' request to head to the library. Lunch, scrub the bathrooms & tidy up for the potluck we hosted that night. Then it was off to the airport! There is nothing better than seeing your little ones waiting for you as you get off the plane, so I made sure we were there in time. Success! Adam was so happy to see Aaron, it was adorable. He just wanted to be held by Daddy for the rest of the day. I did not mind.

Friends showed up for the potluck about an hour and a half later, but it was a fun, relaxed group. Food was good, conversation was welcome. Best of all, the kids started breaking down around 7:30, so everyone headed home and OUR kids got to bed before 8pm! Then I got to sit and watch some tv with my husband. And breathe.

Honey, I hope that you don't take off again for AT LEAST a few months. Or until the kids are in college. You know, whatever.

Any single parent survival tips? How do you manage to read the newspaper? Or eat anything?

I kept thinking that maybe I should have cleared my schedule while Aaron was gone, instead of filling it. But then I would have probably been lonely and depressed. Which do you lean towards? Planning distractions? Or leaving time for the extra duties?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Appreciating my husband: Part 1

Aaron was gone for several days last week for training for work. The fact that the training occur ed at Keystone, Colorado and that his brother met him there and then they spent a few afternoons snowboarding should in NO WAY make you think that this wasn't totally job-oriented. Very serious. Much learning.

And he came home with an interesting sunburn, somehow exactly the outline of snow goggles?

Seriously, I was glad he got to go, since the opportunities for snowboarding are few and far between, living as we do in one of the flattest areas of the country, and having, as we do, three young children.

Speaking of those three young children.

I was home with them, but not really alone, since my parents live in town and made it known that they were at my disposal while Aaron was out of town. And BOY did that help. Especially on bath night, when Dad was here to hold Adam while I bathed Ben, drag a pruney Ben out of the tub while I put Adam to bed, and then give Ben a snack while I bathed Leah.

But gosh, a lot happened. Maybe I had better start at the beginning, which really started on Thursday of the week before. Adam started his yucky cough/wheezy breathing that signals ANOTHER bout of bronchioloitis (this would be his 5th, I think?). But this time his breathing was REALLY wheezy, to the point that he slept in our bed part of Friday night. Saturday we took him to the walk-in clinic. His oxygen levels were low, but still within normal, so the doc had us try a nebulizer treatment. Yeah. I've never had to do one of those before, but Adam was NOT liking it. Aaron held the mask on his face and I tried to keep his hands from whacking it off. He screamed the ENTIRE time, and it's something like 15 minutes long.

After all that, his oxygen levels were up slightly, but we mostly attributed that to the yelling. And since I had no desire to go through that whole experience again, we decided to just go home and see if he improved on his own.

Fast forward through 2 more nights of either Aaron or me or both of us being up with him for large amounts of time, and now our big concern was dehydration, since he had reduced his nursing to about twice a day, and then coughed until a few of those feedings came right back up. Monday we made an appointment at the clinic, where we found out that he had lost a pound between Saturday and Monday. Good thing he's got some weight to spare! I spent Monday forcing teaspoons of Pedialyte down his throat, along with alternating doses of Tylenol & Motrin. By then his breathing was pretty much normal, but we weren't really sure why he was refusing to nurse.

And then we put 1 and 1 together - and it equaled the 3 teeth he was cutting. One of his top front teeth, and at least 2 more looked like they were on their way . So I continued the pain meds, and he increased his eating every day. On Tuesday Aaron left for his trip (after deliberating whether or not he should cancel...but since he can't breastfeed, he would be just watching the other 2 kids...) and Adam looked like the picture of health. Except for that whole not eating thing.

And on to other facets of life: Tuesday afternoon my mom came over to "help" me put together a valance for my kitchen window. Then she spent the next 3 hours measuring, doing math, measuring, laying out fabric, cursing (in her head, I'm sure) my choice of wide-striped fabric, and doing more measuring.

At 4:15, Leah's classmates C & T, along with little C, the baby sister, came over while C & C's parents were at conferences. For an hour and half, I had SIX kids, and thank the good Lord that mom had planned to stay until bedtime, because I think I would have lost it otherwise. They were just having SO. MUCH. FUN. And Adam was being so clingy.

Anyway, eventually the extra kids went home, and we had Banana Oatmeal pancakes for supper. The kids got to bed, although is was a bit later than normal.

Normally, after the kids are in bed I get to do my own thing - reading,sewing, scrapbooking, usually playing on the Internet... But not this night. After the kids were in bed, I did the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, realized I hadn't touched the laundry (Tuesdays are usually laundry day). Also realized that I hadn't read the newspaper for two days or retrieved the mail for two days, either. The floor desperately needed vacuuming, but I literally didn't have time. Apparently when Aaron is gone, the house falls to pieces.

To be continued!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The cookies were worth it.

The other day the boys and I joined some MOMS Club friends at a tour of a local grocery store. This particular branch of the local company is rather new and still "fancy", so I was looking forward to maybe finding out more of what they have to offer.

Joining us were 4 other moms, 2 with 2 kids, 1 with 1, and 1 with 3. Our tour guide was a very nice lady, J, and she started by saying that this was the youngest group she'd ever given a tour to - the oldest was 4 years old. But she spoke to their level, and the kids had a good time even if most of the information went over their heads. We got to see a little cake decorating demonstration, go into the back storage area, the freezer, and the cooler. There are 500 varieties of cheese at this particular store! That is just insane to me. They even have their own cheese-specialist. How do you get THAT job?

The kids also got quite a bit of loot: a donut hole, sucker & sticker from the bank, helium-filled balloon (with a weight, thank goodness!) from the floral department, and a cookie at the end.

But Miss J, the tour guide? Either she was a few nuts short of a trail mix or she seriously thought that we were a daycare. And as one mom pointed out, that would be one upscale daycare, since the ratio of adults to kids was 1:2!

Here are some of the pro-daycare comments:

"Now you can tell your mommies that you were back there!" (the cooler for dairy products)
"Do you want a carnation to take to your mommies?" And then she brought out the flowers - wrapped in one package, which she handed to one of the moms.

I think there were a couple other things, but these especially stuck out. Afterwards, us moms were visiting about this, and we couldn't see how she'd think these weren't each our own kids, since we had referred to ourselves as "mommy" when dealing with our offspring...and I know MY kids don't look like me (I COULD be a babysitter for all that), but at least 2 of the moms have kids that look related. WHAT was Miss J thinking?

Is there another rationale for those comments?

Random question: What's your favorite department at the grocery store? As in, which one are you actually excited about getting to on your trip?

Dino Food

Ben is a bit obsessed with dinosaurs lately, thanks to the PBS show Dinosaur Train. Today we were having strawberries for snack (and yes, I even "snuck" a few myself!) and I overheard this conversation:

Leah: What kind of a dinosaur are you, Ben?

Ben: Me a tywannasaurous.

Leah: Then why are you eating strawberries?


Ben: Me pwetending them is carrion.

Leah: Oh. Okay.


Well then. As long as you're pretending that they are the right food for a ancient meat eating monster, just carry on as usual. (Get it? Carry on?!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beets (Bears, Battlestar Galactica)

That title may seem perfectly random, but as soon as Aaron found out that we were having beets (3 days before we did) he started this mantra from The Office. I think Jim actually says it, but can you guess who he's referring to?

So. I am not the world's biggest beet fan, but they aren't at the bottom of my veggie list, either. My friend Christina from back in Rochester made this dish and then passed on the recipe. Which I made a few times, but since it required one and a half hours in the oven, rarely remembered to put together in time. Then I had the brilliant idea - why not microwave it? Tried it, and it worked perfectly.

Also, I pretty much threw out the recipe, because I just throw it together from memory now. Here it is (approximately). After all, this isn't rocket science. It's beets.

Beet Dish (or Pasta Rosa) Note: best served to at least 2 people who already like beets.

Peel 4-6 beets and cut into 1/2 inch wide slices. Throw them into a large-ish microwave safe bowl. Scatter over the top about 2 T butter, cubed. Then sprinkle about 1/2 a small onion, sliced or diced as preferred (we like ours minced). Pour over everything about 1 1/2 cups (or so!) chicken broth. Cover and microwave 10 minutes or until very tender.

Using a slotted spoon, strain out the beets and add to 1 lb cooked pasta. Add as much of the liquid as desired.

Now, the original recipe said to wilt some chopped beet greens in a bit of the pasta water, then add to the pasta/beet combo. But I didn't find that too tasty, and used spinach instead. So far with the kids, I'm leaving it out entirely. Eventually I'll work it back in.

Aaron complemented this recipe, and Leah proclaims that she LOVES beets! (She is soo weird. During "teeth week" at school, she also wrote that going to the dentist is great. On her OWN.) Ben of course put up a struggle, but ate them without gagging.

One warning: The next morning, PLEASE remember that you had beets for dinner. Little girls may love that their pee is pink, but it could terrify the unsuspecting adult. And heaven forbid you are pregnant - when I was, even while I was sitting there doing my business, I'd be telling myself, "You had beets last night. You had beets last night. You are NOT miscarrying." Not to make light, but seriously. That is some impressive natural dye.

Also, I'm thinking about making some beets into baby food for Adam. Doesn't THAT sound like some fun diapers? And laundry? We'll see...

Any fans of beets (bears, Battlestar Galactica) out there?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Restraining Order

Last weekend I took the kids to the mall. And I got a good parking spot, right in front of the food court entrance. On a Saturday morning! I was so relieved, since that little jaunt involved a stroller, baby, & two mobile kids.

The trip went well and after lunch at McDonald's we were headed back to the van. Just as we crossed the road to the parking spaces, another van pulled in the row behind us. Did I mention that I had a good parking spot? WELL, it was sooo good that that van stalked our parking space before I had even reached the vehicle.

I had to put Adam, with his infant seat into the van (did I mention that he weighs 21 lbs? So that would be at least 25 with the seat), herd the big kids to their side, throw the shopping bags in the van, collapse the stroller and shove it in the back of the van, then go around and buckle Ben into his seat, and finally get in and get the keys in the ignition.

This happened one other time, when I only had 2 kids - but some minivan coveted my parking spot enough to sit and wait for it. That time I got all panicky, trying to hurry up and get everything done fast. Nearly gave myself a heart attack, and left all rattled.

Now? Not so much. If they have enough time on their hands to wait for a mom of three to get her poop in a group, they can just sit there as long as I need them to. I took a deep breath, and took my time.

Take THAT, parking lot stalker.