Wednesday, December 21, 2011

making my list, adding to it twice

This year I am making a lot of my Christmas gifts.  I keep thinking of more people to sew or bake for. And somehow, we have bought more and spent more on our own children than last year.
We decided to get the kids each something that they want.  When Aubrey finally told me the one thing she wanted, I had already gotten her gift that had been ordered online.  Rather than return it, we decided to give two gifts to each of them.  Now Brant is telling everybody that he is getting bubble bath for Christmas.  And I had all the stocking stuffers figured out!  Even steven.  Either Santa is not going to be fair this year when he fills stockings, or there will be a little gift - shaped just like a bottle of bubble bath- under our tree that is labeled for the Johnson family.  Our tub is almost big enough too. ;)
(Perhaps next year would be a good time to teach my kids that we do not always get what we want.)

I sit down and craft/sew after the kids are asleep.
Last night, I finished sewing part of a gift. I started the project seriously doubting my ability to pull it off.  You know, make it worthy of giving.  But it turned out great!  I was ecstatic and told Dean that I wanted to sew twenty more.  I also may have said that bias tape is my new friend.
For the record, I did not sew twenty more. It would have entailed a trip to Joann's - a store which, sadly, does not burn the midnight oil too.

Dear Santa,
This year I want time to sit and play.  Some fun fabrics to play with would be nice too.
Oh, and can you arrange to have the house cleaned and supper made on the days I play too?
My family would really appreciate it.
P.S. if this is too much for you, just send me reminders though out this next year that once I have an empty nest I will be sewing and crafting like crazy to avoid missing what I have today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mounting Excitement

I have a new center corner piece for my table.  Its called a sewing machine.

I think my family will be happy once I'm done sewing Christmas gifts; our table will be clear of fabric, thread, batting, and rulers once again. I do have a sewing desk in my room, but since the baby sleeps in there and I sew during her naps... a messy table it is.
One gift left to go, then its on to more baking, which means a messy kitchen.  I can't wait.

Here's last week's messy, which resulted in yummy (which also resulted in tummy).

And here are my cuties in front of Grandma's Christmas tree.

They looked so stinkin' cute all dressed up for their Sunday School program.
Then they morphed into sheep and a shepherd.
They were still pretty cute, even covered in sheets.

The program was sweet, as usual.  We enjoyed all the instrumentals and a yummy coffee lunch. Then we packed up our sugared, over-tired kids and headed home through some extremely thick fog, finally crawling into bed after 11 PM.

I hope I am ready to do it all over again this coming weekend.
I am beginning to wonder if it will still feel like Christmas to us if we skip the Sunday School program and all the gatherings.  I'm kind of ready for a quiet Christmas season at home that does not entail driving an hour and a half or more every weekend.
Kind of.  Because I am looking forward to two days spent with brothers, sisters, in-laws, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and oodles and oodles of nieces and nephews (read cousins and play mates for my kids).

Anyhow, the excitement is mounting over here, and the countdown is continuing in earnest. The gifts that are under the tree have been hefted, shaken, and smelled.  It will be a miracle if they all stay whole and wrapped for the entire next five days.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All the world's a stage

Once, I was going to travel around Europe.
Nina and I were going to spend a few weeks backpacking, travelling by Eurail (train), and staying in youth hostels, ending our trip visiting relatives in Finland. We even bought some backpacks.  They were $40 each at Costco, and definitely not suitable for backpacking.  How naive we were!

Should I say those were the good days? Dreaming up big travel plans but then giddily getting ready for HAPS to see 'the boys'.  Dreaming of a future that is today.
They were good days, but right now, these are the good days too.

I can't say that I still have any burning desire to travel. Unless of course, I could do it with my (older) children.
If they express interest in travelling some day, I will whole heartedly encourage it.

Either way, I love world maps.

Can you say awesomeness?!?!

Okay, maybe I'm the only one getting excited about a map on my wall,
but every time I walk by it,
I smile.

Every time my kids stand in front of it and says "Let's pretend..."
I smile.

I hope this map continues to spark their imagination.  I hope it makes them curious.  I hope it makes them realize how awesome and diverse our world really is.

The world is a playground, and life is pushing my swing.   -Natalie Kocsis

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snow Day!

I heard the kids get up this morning, hollering about all the snow, but I rolled over and got cozier in my flannel sheets.  That's what you're supposed to do on a snow day. How come my kids don't know that?

I was lucky enough to convince them to eat breakfast before going out to play.

I was out with my camera.
All the neighbors were out with their snow blowers.
Four were going at one time this morning in our cul-de-sac.
Connor started a snow ball fight with one of the neighbor guys.  I think the neighbor guy won.
I also think that those things are just toys for the boys.  "Hey, while you're having so much fun shooting snow, want to plow my sidewalk too?"

Back inside, I am finding legos in the funniest places.
It looks like Elaina's brothers were planning an attack. On her poor unsuspecting head.

I'm off to attack the breakfast mess
so we can make more mess when we frost our sugar cookies.
That's what snow days are for.  And my kids know it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

remodeling my kitchen. on paper

Now that you know that I am no interior designer or decorator, and that it will take me 5 weeks to make a decision, and 5 more to implement any change, let me share with you the progression of kitchen update ideas since we moved in.

Upon first sight of my kitchen, I immediately said "Oh look at all the counter space! Look at all these cabinets!"  You see, I had been rolling out my cinnamon rolls and cutting out cookies on my kitchen table for the last couple years. I had a bookshelf in my garage to store small appliances.  This kitchen looked heavenly!

Here is the kitchen plan one week after moving in (and after replacing the appliances and tearing out the pantry to fit the new refrigerator in):
Here is the kitchen plan after living here for two weeks.
Here is the kitchen plan after living here six weeks and after I have spent a hundred hours staring at it while nursing my baby in the adjoining room.

I forgot to add a few things:
-Raise up the cabinet above the micro-hood and raise the micro-hood as well.
-Install a cabinet above the refrigerator that is as deep as the refrigerator (so it is actually accessible and so the top if the fridge isn't a space to collect junk).
-Put crown molding along the tops of all cabinets.

Do you see now why I shouldn't stay home so much?  I get too many ideas.

I tooled around with the idea of painting the cabinets white to freshen and lighten the kitchen up.  But I have white appliances, so never mind that idea.  I think that with the ceiling raised up to normal height, and that one row of cabinets gone, it will feel much more open and air-y.

Now I just have to convince my hubby that more cupboard space is not always best and that we should raise up the ceiling.
Once again, I have to say it could take awhile.
That's okay though.  My kitchen is fully functional.  I can live with it for a loooong time.
Perhaps I should warn him though, I just might come up with a few more changes in the meantime!

Friday, December 9, 2011

more confuddled than ever

-My pictures are still propped against the living room wall behind the chair.
-I still have no idea what rug to put in there. Current debate between me, myself, and I (since Dean just listens and has no input) : wool vs. synthetic.
-I am even more indecisive now about paint colors than I was before using the visualizer tool.

I went to the Sherwin-Williams store for a paint sample of the blue-gray paint that I liked when using the visualizer tool.

The color was called thunderous. In my picture above, I thought it was a nice blue-gray. In reality, thunderous doesn't appear to have any blue in it at all!

I now have 20 other blue samples to hold up against my wall.  I now am even more confuddled and befused.
(I won't call the visualizer tool worthless yet.  At least it helped me decide what color family to use. Besides, our tree is up in that corner, so I can't paint yet anyway.)

This morning I decided to move on to something more in my comfort zone. Moving on? again!? 
I ordered five 8 x10 prints to fill the frames I received for my birthday.
I can't wait to get them up on the wall in our hallway.
And that will be progress, something hung on my walls!

Perhaps, just maybe, one could kinda sorta say that I need professional help???  ha!

Monday, December 5, 2011

who's busy?

It is 20 degrees outside.
If the date on the calendar doesn't get me in winter and Christmas mode, the cold will.
To help illustrate my point:
This picture was taken just one week ago!

Here is today's picture (taken of my neighbor's house from my front window because its just too cold to go traipsing outside).

Umm, yes, I'd say its December.  And I have to say that I love it!  I may be ready for spring come the beginning of January, but this AZ girl is loving the white during the Christmas season.

So yes, it is cold. We've set up our tree, hung the Advent calendar, and decorated the gingerbread house.

Now if only I could call it a month!
It is December 5th and I am actually dreading trying accomplish everything on my daily to-do list in the next 20 days.

Now is when everybody and their mother's uncle comments or complains about how busy they are.
Peace, love, and joy? Yeah right!  Busy, stressed, and busy is more like it!

I don't really want to be one of the complaining everybodys, but I guess I just did complain, so today I am.

This morning I suddenly realized that the craziness has started (with no thanks to me and my procrastination) and I couldn't help but laugh out loud.  I was sitting on hold with the Department of Revenue.  I wasn't about to explain that we bought a house, moved, and had a baby all in the same month, but that is basically why I forgot to change my business address.  It is also why I was sitting on hold for 35 minutes to find out why I couldn't log on online to file the "missing returns".
I figured I may as well knock some other things off my to-do list while I was waiting.
With my phone set on speaker and my piece of mail with my ID sitting close by, I set about running another load of laundry and filing paid bills, juggling the baby all the while. In the middle of it all, I anxiously thought about the amount of items still on my to-do list, and I stopped what I was doing and just laughed. 
Elaina thought it was the greatest thing to happen to her all day - have her mama smile and laugh at her.

Quite the conversation then ensued between Elaina and I. 

Each time she cooed or smiled at me, it was like she was pulling one my heartstrings a little harder. 
Let me tell you, that conversation was the best thing that happened to me all day.

photo taken three weeks ago.  where does the time go?

And because you know it and I know it, this is the last you will hear from me about how busy the month of December is.

May you find peace, love, and joy in your household this Holiday Season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

a December morning

peppermint tea in a Christmas-y mug
sleeping little angel beside me
muffled sounds from four energetic kids playing in the snow - they look like marshmallows in their winter gear
a world of white out my window
  which is a soothing sight compared to the chaos by the back door
       and the drops of honey on my stack of Christmas cards waiting for their stamps

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I shouldn't stay home so much.
Because I sit and stare at my bare walls and ponder what to do with them.  That's as far as I get.  Ideas.  
Yesterday I actually pulled out my box of pictures and wall hangings, and decided what should be hung in the living room.  I laid them on the floor trying to work them into an arrangement for my wall.  I realized that I have a lot of green in my portraits and frame mats. Then I went to bed.  Then I propped them against the wall behind the chair.  
Today I decided to think about wall colors instead. 
Have you ever used Sherwin-Williams Paint Visualizer?
This is way too fun.
Color ideas for my living room:

Blue/gray, red, or brown?  Help!!?

Perhaps I just need to get a rug in there first. 
I like these.
Charm Floral Rug (8'9 x 12'3)40A 40A    

The problem is that I'm too cheap to go and buy one new. I keep checking clearance racks and craigslist, meaning it might take a while to find the rug I want.

No rug, no paint, nothing hung on my walls.
See my problem?  
Actually I will blame my indecision and procrastination on the fact that I have a two month old baby which equates to very little free time for projects. 

Its okay, I'm moving on to my kitchen!  I will share my renovation ideas for that room next. Oh, I have a lot of ideas!
Will anything ever get done around here? 

Oh, and feel free to shout out your favorite color scheme for my living room, sans a rug anyway.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I just realized that I never shared this...

This little girl is growing fast.  Way too fast.  I look forward to next weeks check-up just so I can marvel with the pediatrician at how much weight she has gained in two months.  We are very thankful for a healthy, happy baby.

Today I should have been baking for Thanksgiving dinner so that I don't have to spend my entire birthday tomorrow in the kitchen.  I also should have been doing laundry. 
I should have, but I didn't.  
Instead I guess I was celebrating early - I sat in the sunniest chair in the living room and ate cinnamon rolls. Then the kids and I headed outside for a nature walk and pine cone hunt. We are going to glitter the cones and make garlands. Fun!!

Christmas cards have been on the back of my mind for two weeks now.  Having lined up all our clothes twice and never getting the chance to take pictures, I've started to wonder if I will get a picture for cards this year.
On an impulse, I sat the kids down in the middle of the trail and snapped 5 pictures on our walk today.
Let me paint a picture for you - one child is wearing a huge puffer jacket. Another has very faded knees in his jeans.  Yet another has blue paint on the side of his forehead. Elaina is barely visible, all wrapped up in a blanket. Nothing matches or is coordinated.
But lo and behold, I love the pictures!  Every imperfect, authentic, candid detail about them.
Perhaps one (or three) will make it onto my Christmas card.

Considering the typical family Christmas photo shoot and last year's in particular, all I can say is...
That was way too easy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Kitchen

A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen, right?

With the kids home from school on Friday, I decided to let them make my kitchen happy.
And they did.
Because this time I tried really hard to let them make the cookies.

In the past, I've been too much of a control/neat freak to really let them participate.  They dumped in my pre-measured ingredients, turned the mixer on and off, and watched me scoop onto the pans.
This time, once we got past the shortening and eggs, I think I did a pretty good job of stepping back and letting them do the work.

I can handle this kind of mess in my kitchen.  I can handle happy.
They kids were very pleased with themselves, and I was very amused, especially by my two year old (see above photo).

And Elaina-dorable was lulled to sleep in the busyness of it all.  Yes, I'd have to say that our messy kitchen was humming with happiness.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My heart is full

Yes, sometimes I feel like the work of a mother never ends.  
But then at other times, I can't help but be amazed. 

There is nothing quite like it.  
I can't even begin to explain the amount of wonder.  Or the amount of heartache.  Or the amount of love.

Motherhood is a fantastic journey.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

reprogram this machine!

It has been six weeks since I'm  given birth to my little girl. 
I should be completely "recovered", no?
Ummm, no.
My body is not my own.  I am a machine.  A milking machine.  
I can produce milk for my growing baby. I can produce milk on demand.  I can produce milk not on demand.  I can produce ounces and ounces of milk around the clock.  
Success!  Perhaps you could even say, Recovered!

I think I need this t-shirt
Except when do I get to feel like myself? I guess that has nothing to do with it.  My Doctor reassured me yesterday that my body was made for sustaining the life of my baby. 
Basically, I am a milk machine.

Aren't I lucky?  I have five external devices, not just one.  As a result, I have been programmed to perform multiple other algorithms.  Besides making milk, I can cook, clean, and do laundry.

I think I go into autopilot mode in the evenings.

Start preparing supper.
Feed baby.
Continue to prepare supper while holding baby.
Bounce baby.
Put supper on the table.
Feed baby.
Start school children on their homework.
Change baby.
Remind school children to work on their homework.
Bounce baby.
Corral the two littles into a pen, stuff socks in their mouths.
Feed baby, stare at pile of dishes in the sink.
Turn off the blasted CD player.  Ban anyone from banging on the piano.
Burp baby.
Push the school children in the shower.
Free the two littles and dress them in pajamas.
Feed baby, stare at pile of laundry on the floor.
Remind the children that they are supposed to be brushing their teeth.

You get the point.  
By the time all the kids are sleeping, I have no energy to face the pile in the sink.

Hey, I didn't know that machines got tired!  There must be some bad code.  I've been gypped!

Someone re-program this machine please!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fitting Right In

While I don't have every baby gadget out there (who uses a wipes warmer and gyro bowl anyway), I do have to say that this one is well worth the $40.  I LOVE my moby wrap, especially for the newborns.  It is soft and comfortable, for both of us.  I have used this at the the grocery store, cooking dinner at home, and just about anywhere that I want to be hands free and still have my baby close.  If baby wearing is hippie, I'm happy to be hippie (and so is my baby).

photo courtesy of Aubrey's teacher  (Dean and Donovan were at Connor's classroom)
At Aubrey's school program, Elaina was tired and fussy and wanted nothing to do with her carseat.  Once snuggled into the moby wrap, she slept soundly.

I just realized that it looks like I'm nursing.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have nursed a six month old baby while hiking out of Grand Falls with the aid of the moby wrap.  And I don't think anybody had a clue.

Flagstaff has a lot of hippies.
Man, I really fit in!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

freezing time to inhale. and eat.

Once you have kids, there seems to only be one speed to life: fast.
Like hello? its already November!  And every once in a while, I forget that I have three kids home during the days now, so I just might want to reconsider taking along all the littles when I run my errands. 
One trip to the store usually cures me of that.

Ummm, how is it that time goes by so quickly that I haven't gotten used to having a newborn yet? 
Maybe I haven't woken up yet and realized she's here.

Speaking of which, I woke up yesterday. Well at least for just long enough to realize that this little precious isn't going to stay little for too much longer.

somebody's got munchable cheeks
Yikes, she's five weeks old already, and I've hardly pulled out my camera.  How else am I going to remember that she really did have a newborn phase, and I wasn't just dreaming it up?

In my moment of clarity and alertness yesterday, I remembered that I had some adorable baby gifts sitting in their gift bags.  Good thing I woke up in time, she might have outgrown them.

This little knit dress is too adorable! (Thanks Maria!)

And would you believe that my friend made these cute shoes?!  
(Check out all of Sharon's baby shoes at her etsy shop.)

If I could freeze time, if I could make any stage of my children's lives last a little longer, I just might choose to hang on to the newborn phase.  (okay, maybe I take that back.  I kind of like feeling 'normal' and awake)

The quiet moments are the best.  
After feeding Elaina, I prop her up on my chest and she falls asleep.  The warmth of her tiny body nestled against mine, the downy softness of the hair on the back of her head, the sweet, sweet newborn smell... It is then that I think I could sit and rock her for forever.

Have you ever wondered why we say "you are so cute I could just eat you!"?
Here is your answer.

Or is it just me?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Believe that you are Beautiful

After placing a princess crown on the birthday girl's head this morning, we realized that the two sisters were dressed alike!  Aubrey, of course, was just thrilled.

The two pink princesses
Aubrey turns six today.  Like every other mother, I ask "Where does the time go?!"  Wasn't it just yesterday that I held her as an infant?  Wasn't it just yesterday that Dean would tell everybody that he'd give them $50 if they could make her, at 6 months old, smile? (nobody ever earned a cent!) 

Elaina 1 month, Aubrey 6 years

Ahh, my dear Aubrey... 
you have a beautiful smile.  I'm glad that we see your sunny smile and hear your infectious laughter often.  
You are a beautiful girl.  
I want you to believe that with your whole being.

No matter what the other girls around you look like, 
or what size jeans you are wearing,
or what brand the tag of your shirt reads,
or what the number on the scale says, 
or how many friends you have,
or how perfect your teeth are, 
or what you wear,
or how your hair is styled,
you are beautiful.

I want you to know that being beautiful means believing in yourself.  It means standing up for who you are and what you believe in, especially when no one else will.  It means always putting forth your best effort.  It means trying hard.  It means thinking, and asking questions, and learning.  It means thinking of and encouraging others.  It means being comfortable with who you are.  It means respecting yourself first so you can respect those around you.
Being beautiful means being you.

Happy Birthday sweet Aubrey.
There will never be another girl quite like you. Ever.
You are special.
You are loved.

Believe this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm loving life

because last night was ladies night
and it was wonderful to laugh with girlfriends
rather than remind the kids for the fiftieth time to brush their teeth
and put on their pajamas.

Today I love my cradle swing.
Actually, I love it every day.
It looks like the perfect, cozy place to be on a cold day.
And check out my new floor!  
I love it! I dare to walk barefoot once again.

Today, I love the cool fall weather.
I'm usually a sunshine kind of girl.
But today the gray skies and low temps can't get me down.
I'm getting excited for the Holidays.

Today, I love the reminders of summer in the form of side-walk chalk.
If you walk up to my front door, this is what will greet you...

and two-stick figures among the leaves.

and perhaps some wet little footprints.
because my kids think that its always barefoot weather.

They also think that its planting season.
Carrots, strawberries, and grapes.  hmmm. 

I think I'll go bake some Harvest Loaf Muffins instead.

I love fall. Don't you?