Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My living room and Hallelujah!

It feels kind of funny to post about this, especially since I don't pride myself on being any kind of interior designer (I'm actually far from it), but seeing as how my visualizing post was one of the most popular posts, I thought I'd give you guys an update.

When we first moved in, I could not get the brown carpet or balloon valances with heavy drapes out of my living room fast enough.  So, there is no 'before' picture.  Darn! Because I'd love for you to see the drastic change that took place. Plus my living room would look that much better in comparison. :)

I finally took out a hammer and dared to put a hole in my blue wall.  For a few weeks after painting it, I just couldn't bring myself to mar the one fresh, clean wall in the house.  And that framed picture will no doubt come down soon and be replaced with something that fills the space better.  Oh well.
(I just realized that I have matching pairs of end tables, lamps, chairs, and wall hangings. I like balance and symmetry, but goodness, can a person go overboard? Is it too much?)

To refresh your memory, here is what I was visualizing for the wall color.

I know, it looks nothing like the color I ended up putting on the wall.  I found that the computer screen and real life lighting are absolutely nothing alike. I ended up pulling my wall color from the rug, which, by the way, I absolutely love. Thanks to overstock.com, I got the rug for $100 less than Target's price.

I'm so glad the concrete floors are behind us. Our living room can actually be lived in!
We love having some place to sprawl out and get comfortable. Especially in the first half of the day when the sun streams in.

The corner chair is the favorite spot in the house on a winter morning. 
Not only am I still in love with this view,
Color! Pictures! On my walls!
It's also the ideal place for some vitamin D therapy after a bath.

Now this girl, the cutest little Dolly Lolly (or E-lai-lai. It depends on how many syllables I want to sing) is becoming a camera hog.

 I better start focusing on some other little peeps around here.  Like this adorable kid.

At two and a half, he just up and potty trained himself! I actually have only one child in diapers! 
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Halleluja, Halleluja, Ha-lle-lu-ja!
Oh, sorry, wrong season. 
But seriously, I am still dancing little jigs down the hall.  I had three kids in diapers after Elaina was born. Do you want to know how many poop diapers that equated to?  Okay maybe you don't want to know; basically it was too many. Now I am down to buying one box of size 3 diapers every month at Sam's club.  
Enter sigh of utter contentment.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Beautiful Blondes

I have a beautiful family...

five beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde children who take after their Daddy.
I like them just the way they are, and I wouldn't change a thing about them.
Even if I am the odd duck. ;)

I love, love, love how these turned out (gotta love a camera's self timer and step ladders that act like tri-pods)!

As much as I like the idea of having the Peaks in our family picture, I think the second picture is going to be enlarged and framed for our wall. And hopefully I won't wait so long to drag everyone out for a family picture next time. The location of the first shot will probably be perfect in the summer or fall with greener grass and Flagstaff's abundant brown-eyed susans. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

spreading the wealth

You know, I'm tired of being the odd duck in this family.

Every one of our five kids has inherited Dean's blonde hair and blue eyes (I'm 99% sure Elaina's hair will come in blonde).

Umm, hello, it took two of us! I am an essential part of this equation.
I'd kind of like to contribute. You know, share the love, spread the wealth and all that.

Now that's more like it.
Hey, what are you laughing at?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Super simple baby blanket

Are you tired of the sappy, emotional posts?
All right, no sap today.
Today we're all about domesticity.

Besides baking chocolate chip cookies, I was finally able to whip up a blanket for my little loves.  Months ago I found some soft and comfy minky fabric in the remnant bin at Hobby Lobby and snatched it up.  It was crying to be wrapped around a baby.

So, here's my version of an easy-peasy baby blanket.

Find some fun, bold fabric to match your super soft minky, about a yard of each. Pre-wash.
Use batting if you want a heavier weight blanket.
1) Assemble your quilt sandwich.
2) Baste the layers together with spray adhesive. (Super simple way to hold it together while you sew!)
3) Square up the quilt, cutting off excess.
Make strips of fabric and iron in half for binding. To be truly easy-peasy - use extra wide bias tape.
4) Sew edge of binding, or one edge of bias tape, to back of quilt.
5) Flip binding over and sew to the front.
Hand stitch a few stitches in the center of the quilt (I used black thread so it would be hidden) to keep all layers together.
If you used spray adhesive, wash before use.

Wasn't that super simple!  And it's super cute too.

Elaina's blanket on left.  Doll's blanket on right.

I'm in love with the bold colors. I want that fabric in a heavier weight for curtains in my dining room.
I made a second blanket for a baby gift, only the front fabric kind of shrunk in the wash so it never was gifted, except to the kids' dolls. Learn from my mistakes.

Lastly, be sure to get a picture of the baby with her new blanket.
Go ahead and say that the great big smile you earn is because of the adorable baby blanket you just made.

I completely understand; I'm still skipping around and grinning myself.

What quick and fun projects have you whipped up lately?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm still learning.

With five children, time flies, whether you're having fun or not.
I need the clock to slow down, so I can enjoy this little boy.

I knew that every child of mine would be different.  I've heard many a mother say that "what works for one child does not work for another", and that "you pick your battles".  I've heard all this, stored it in my memory bank as pearls of wisdom, and even borrowed the phrases a time or two.  

Little did I know!...until my middle child turned two. I had never known a two year old to wake up and cry for an hour every morning because I poured milk in his cereal, or I got the wrong cereal altogether. Heavens, that was a rough year.  Actually, so was this last year. How could I say something over and over in several different ways and it not make sense to him?!? I don't know how many times I said "I just don't know what to do anymore!"

My little boy is the King of stubborn, which requires me to be the Queen of patience. 
Only I had failed over and over again as his mother. 
We butted heads. I hollered, I called Dean in desperation every other day, I tried and tried to reason with him, I (gulp) spanked him, I pulled my hairs out one by one, we both screamed and cried, and finally, finally, I decided we needed help. Our pediatrician referred us to a specialist. And while my pride screams and hollers when I admit that I needed the help of a behavioral health specialist, I feel forever indebted to the Doctor that helped me restore the peace in my  home, helped me see my little boy in a different light.

I want to scoop him up, freeze time, and cherish him. I want to cherish the four-year-old delight that he is, cherish him in a way that I rarely did when he was three.

I didn't know how to discipline this child. I didn't really know how to love him either. 

I ache. Admitting that and knowing what I have missed, knowing what he has missed, makes my heart hurt.
If only I knew then what I know now. If only I could turn the clock back and do it right the first time.

But...to this day, he still tells me he loves me on a daily basis! 
That is what I call unconditional love. 
And I am on the receiving end!

My child teaches me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Every evening, the kids hole up in the bedroom.  Occasionally one darts out for an article of clothing from the other bedroom. I hear Aubrey giving orders. I hear laughter. Occasionally, I hear whispers when a head has to peek out of the door.
Then they open the door and call for me to come watch their show. The very first one was the "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" and the bunk bed ladder was the spout. The second through the eighth shows all involved dragons or knights.

When we told the kids that we were going to Montezuma's Castle, they were immediately intrigued.  You can probably imagine their anticipation.
No, no, not that kind of castle, I told them.  The kind Indians lived in. This one is built into the side of a cliff.

Brant was the first to ask, "Is that the castle, Mom?"

If they were disappointed, they did an admirable job of hiding it and enjoying themselves anyway.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

cheap and crafty...shopper?

I don't know if I'm crafty because I'm cheap, or if I'm cheap because I'm crafty.
Actually, I think they're usually two separate things, that happen to coexist nicely. I love a good bargain. I'm not afraid of goodwill, craigslist, or garage sales. I love making things with my hands.  Especially with the sewing machine or with paint and wood.

I would not, however, call myself especially creative.  All my ideas come from something I've already seen done.
While I was looking online for homemade Christmas gift ideas (remember that we had a homemade gift exchange?) I stumbled across a wonderful site: one pretty thing. Each day there are at least a dozen links of DIY tutorials.

My creations, thanks to that website:

Sadly, I do not think the three drops of essential oil I put in the heat pads kept it scented longer than two days.  Next time I will fill them with something other than rice. Something that does not smell musty when heated.
The kitchen hot pads were pure fun to make.  How come I never discovered bias tape before this project?!

Other times I am not so successful.
I have dyed red hands today and nothing to show for it.

Forget the cheap and crafty, perhaps today is my day for shopping!

On second thought, those three -thrifter, crafter, shopper - can coexist. I know all the aisles of Joann's, Ross, and Target.
Hmm, where does Target fit into this equation?
Maybe I should go find out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Feeling It

Aren't I supposed to be getting the organization itch?  Shouldn't I be wanting to clean out all my closets and cupboards?  I mean, it is January. Isn't that what happens in January?
Because I'm not feeling it.

What I'm feeling is that I'm missing something, that there's something I should be doing.  With the Holidays behind us, and no signing classes on the horizon, I kind of feel lazy. And bored.

Lazy has slowly turned into relaxed.

Bottom left = sneak peek of the progress on the walls around here

Bored has slowly turned into "let's get moving".

Winter walks are amazing, especially in the evening as the sun is setting.  The peaks are so breathtaking; I can sometimes see snow blowing off the top.

So maybe January means rediscovering how to live life in the slow lane rather than productivity and organization. I can live with that. I'm feeling it.

Except for the fact that its time to start working on tax returns. Sigh.  Does anybody look forward to that job?  I like the return, otherwise I'd be one of those who files on April 15th.  If only I was more organized, I might not dread it...

Happy January! Go find some winter and enjoy it before it's gone! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Blogging

When I write and post something to my blog, I sometimes forget that I am opening myself up to hundreds of people, some of whom I do not even know.  It is a startling thought.

I guess you could call this blog a hobby of mine. A place for me to share my writings and pictures.  Sometimes I feel like I am venting, other times I am sharing what is so near and dear to me: my children and my job as their mother.  Always it is worth it if just one of you is somehow touched or inspired by what I post.

Sometimes I have an idea, sit down to write, and never hit the publish button.  Other times I just happen to have half an hour in my day so I sit down, start typing, and my post seems to write itself.
Yesterday's post, Hear me Roar, was one such post.  I planned only to write about how writing is such an outlet for me. It turned into so much more as I was writing.  It is what I felt right then and there.  It is me. 

Sometimes after writing a post, I move on with the hundred little things that fill my day and forget about this blog.  Other times I briefly wonder how a post will be received and what people think.

Thank you to those that left a comment or messaged me. You made my day. Seriously.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hear me Roar!

Writing is sort of a sanity saver for me. As a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time using "toddler talk".  Meaning my conversations rarely extend beyond trying to convince my two year old to drink out of a different cup because the orange straw cup is currently being washed in the dishwasher. I might be a good negotiator or drill sergeant, but my opportunities for intellectual conversation are slim.

Have you ever been the wife and mother of young children that watches the clock for your husband's return, upon which time you shake him by the shoulders desperately saying "talk to me!!!"?  That was me.
I say was because I no longer know how to have intellectual conversation nor crave it.
Just kidding! Sort of.
Funny note - my two and four year old say "just kidding" all the time. They parrot what they hear. Perhaps I should start discussing quantum physics. We could impress the pediatrician and the grandparents!

It is fun to see my children mature. My oldest two are six and almost eight and I enjoy answering their questions and explaining how things work.  It won't be too long before I am answering their questions with "I really don't know. We'll have to ask your Dad that when he gets home."
Enter the feeling of complete idiocy.
Why is it that I have felt inadequate because I do not have a degree?  Why do mom's feel pressured to 'be' something when being mom is a 24 hour job.  I have nothing against mothers who work outside the home. As I just said, staying home with toddlers every day is not the most stimulating job.  But when someone asks me "so, what do you do?" I feel kind of foolish saying that I am a mom.  I usually add 'just' in there.  Just a mom.
Just?  Since when is nurturing and raising children just anything.  Becoming a mother was difficult. Amazing. Humbling. Inspiring. And is still a lot of work.
My children are a source of pride, shouldn't my title as their mom be the same?
I am a mother, hear me roar!

And I do take pride in running this ship.  Because being a mom is more than feeding my children and kissing owies.  It's more than doing the dishes and running loads of laundry. It's creating a home. It's being the hub of everything that goes on. It's ensuring that your children are clean, clothed, minding their manners, and taken care of regardless of where they may be. It's about creating family. It's about teaching important values. It's about boundless love.

Being a mom is creating and ensuring our future.
That salesman that made an impression on you? His mother taught him to look people in the eye and smile when addressing them.  That contractor that worked 10 hour days to finish your bathroom on time? His mother taught him the importance of holding to his word. That accountant that saved you from hours of headache?  His mother encouraged him to go to school and do what he loved.

My mother quietly made sacrifices to ensure my wedding day was what I wanted.
Looking through the day's photos, I realized that only a few captured me relaxed and with a true smile -
one of which is this photo, me with my mom.

Mothers and the work they do are important!
Heaven forbid anyone ask me now what it is I do all day.
I am not just a mother. I am a mother. And don't you dare undervalue what I do!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

out with a bang

i feel like the clock is ticking as i write this.
i have all my little hands sign lesson plans spread around me
(i have a workshop to teach on saturday).
elaina is sure to wake soon and need to be fed.
my hubby is on his way home from the gym.
for some reason, i cannot justify staying up late to play on the computer once he gets home.

i can hardly justify 'playing' instead of working either, as i'm not ready to teach yet
but sometimes, an hour spent on photoshop, in a quiet house, is a much needed hour of bliss.

i didn't take enough photos over Christmas.  we were crazy busy and i have been saying i will never do that again - go to prescott valley then phoenix on the two days we celebrate Christmas. 
but...i don't regret it.  we got to spend time with loved ones, loved ones that i'm not sure will be here next Christmas.  we visited, ate, visited, and ate some more. the kids loved the nonstop play with their oodles of cousins.
i think my head finally stopped spinning after the new year came in, but the memories we made were worth it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

thanks to Skype

I just have one thing to say...

to the inventors of Skype: thank you, thank you from me and my mother.

double baptism = two laptops with webcams

And to anyone interested: I love this little girl. There is nothing sweeter.

And to my mother: we miss you! (what would we do without Skype?)

Okay, maybe that was three things.

Some year, I will possibly be back with updates and pictures from the holidays and the last few weeks.
In the meantime, happy January. Good luck starting and holding to those resolutions!