Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crafty Christmas

I love projects and creating things. Especially when I get to give the creations away as gifts. It seemed this year I found extra time and inspiration to whip up quite a few hand made gifts.

For example: A whole bunch of headbands for my little nieces. Using the tutorial found here.
A couple of camera straps. One for my sister and one for my friend. I also made one for myself but it was already on the camera when I took the photo. The tutorial for these is here.

The kids and I made "hockey puck crayons" for my niece and some for themselves. Credit for this idea goes to my Grandma J who use to let us make these at her house. I have said it many times before, but she was the original "greenie".

Who knew broken crayons could be so much fun??????

I saw an idea somewhere to make these yarn ball ornaments. They looked simple enough, but don't let them fool you. The picture makes them look all right, but in real life there are gaps and loose yarn. UGH! The tops would start out OK, but then it all went downhill. As I pondered what to do with all of my newly purchased foam balls and yarn while staring at a half yarned ball - it began to resemble a snowman head.

Eggnog from broken eggs people! I was going to say lemonade from lemons but that seemed a much too warm weather cliche for snowmen. Aren't they cute? And the snowy Wisconsin fan went to my brother in law a top his Christmas gift.

These are the easiest things to make and so cute! Who doesn't like a fancy little monogrammed notepad for all of their lists? Isn't everyone a list freak or is that just me? I made these for each of the kids' teachers and stuck their gift cards to the first sheet. Isn't it funny how their teachers first names begin with A, B and C?

I saw these ornaments on this blog and could not resist a last minute run into super busy stores for some ornaments. They are my kids' hand prints made into little snowmen. LOVE! I will treasure these for years. My sister and her husband were barely in the door from a seven hour drive before I was slapping white paint on her kids' hands. I think they thought I was insane. She will love hers too - she just doesn't know it yet! Ha!

I am so mad that I forgot to take a picture of this finished product. This was one of my favorite projects this year. It took a bit of coordinating with my sister for the pictures of her kids and involved me sending Cricut cut letters to her ( I should have sent extras - I hear much tape was holding together that letter R). It all came together and made a super cute GRAMA sign for my Mom. To see how it is supposed to look go here.

Updated: My mom sent me a picture of the finished project. Thanks Mom!

Those are the crafts of the Christmas of 2010. I already have some ideas brewing for 2011. Maybe if I start now I will get them all finished in time!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hailey's "docking"

It was Trent's mom's tradition to make a cross stitched Christmas stocking for all of her grandchildren. She had seven of the eight completed when she died two years ago. She was still in the process of working on Hailey's.

She had been cross stitching for years and the stockings that she made had increased in difficulty over the years. This is the one she picked out for Hailey. Gorgeous, but intense.

Last Christmas Trent's dad gave Hailey a stocking that he purchased to make up for the fact that her stocking was never finished. A very sweet gesture, but I really wanted Hailey to have the stocking that her Grandma Lyn had chosen and started for her.

So I decided that I would teach myself how to do counted cross stitch. Not that I need any more hobbies, but it turned into sort of a mission. Last year right after Christmas, I bought a little kit to make a book mark.

Not bad for a first try huh?

Feeling confident in my ability, I asked Trent's dad if I could have Lyn's cross stitching things and the partially finished stocking so that I could complete it for Hailey. He seemed happy that I wanted to do it, warned me about the number of hours it would take and told me that she never did get very far on it.

The first thing I looked at was the pattern. I could feel my confidence beginning to wane a bit.

Those are a lot of little crosses.

And he wasn't kidding around when he said she didn't have much completed.

Oh boy! What did I get myself into? (I don't know what is up with the yellowness in these shots. Obviously my white balance was totally messed up.)

So here we are a almost a year later and I have been working on the stocking a bit here and there. The kids love to see me stitching on it. All three of them are so complimentary and tell me what a good job I am doing. It is the cutest thing! Some nights while I am sitting on the couch watching TV, Hailey will walk over to the fireplace and grab the basket with the cross stitch stuff it in and set it down in front of me. Or she will ask me "Mom? Are you going to work on my "docking" tonight?" She knows that Grandma picked it out for her and is very excited about it.

I am pretty impressed with the progress that I have made in the last year. Hopefully next year she may be able to hang up her completed "docking"!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Alternate title: The year with two Christmas cards.

Christmas 2010

It hardly seems possible that an entire year has gone by since our last Christmas season. But then we notice that the kids’ homework has gotten a little harder, their pant legs have grown a little shorter and the hair on their parents’ heads has become a little grayer – so it must be true.

Hailey will be four years old in January. She started preschool two mornings a week this fall. (Time--- can you slow down a little bit please?) She loves school and looks forward to the days when she goes to class. She is very proud of her ability to print the letter“H” and is starting to work on perfecting her “a”. She participated in a gymnastics class during the spring and fall and really enjoys doing her “nastics”. Hailey informed us that she wants to play soccer in the spring, so we will see how she does there. We have a strange feeling that she may make up for what her brothers lacked in the sport. J We are looking forward (just a little bit) to the end of her threes. The terrible twos had nothing on the threes as far as our kids were concerned and Hailey is no different. She is stubborn, opinionated and sometimes bossy, but then minutes later is totally sweet and cuddly, saying something hilarious or twirling around the living room showing us her new dance - always with a smile on her face. We hope that her fourth year will bring more of the latter.

Evan is six years old and started first grade this year. He loves school and is exceeding our expectations so far. He is very motivated and determined at any and every task he takes on – he strives to be a perfectionist and he is his own harshest critic. (I wonder where he gets that???) Evan played soccer again in the spring and fall, but claims that his soccer career might be at an end. He also participated in tennis, baseball and swimming lessons. Evan is following in his big brothers footsteps and signed up for scouts this year. He is a Tiger Cub and is enjoying it very much. Evan is, as he has always been, our model child. He is so content and easy going. He loves to learn and experience life and is always eager to take on any task with his signature never-ending enthusiasm.

Spencer is in the third grade this year and is nine years old. It doesn’t seem possible that he has been in our lives for a decade. (Again – time!) He began his third year in Cub Scouts as a Bear. He enjoys the scout outings and hanging out with his scouting pals. Spencer has also continued his acting classes on Saturdays – they had a little production last spring that was very cute and he did great. He has also taken a liking to the backstage aspect of the theatre. Getting to work behind the scenes at a few of Dad’s productions has added more fuel to that fire. Spencer is a great Big Brother to his siblings. He is often a ring leader and knows how to get a laugh out of them – sometimes to a fault. Spencer always seems to have his nose in a book and amazes us on a daily basis with his curiosity and intelligence. Now if we could only get him to work on his organizational skills…

Trent is, as always, busy as he can possibly be. Most days you can find him staying after school to work on a show or any other school project that comes along, at the kids’ school for scouts with Evan or leading Spencer’s Bear den, at church working the sound board, in the woods hunting down a stubborn geocache or if he is lucky, at home entranced in his latest library book.

Jen spends her days packing backpacks, hunting down lost mittens, digging out of piles of laundry, tracking down homework, chauffeuring kids to school and activities, ridding the sink and counter of dirty dishes, dressing baby dolls and putting miniature shoes on Polly Pockets. In other words, being a mom – the best career she could ever dream of – as long as she can take a few hundred photos while doing her job!

The day to day busy-ness of life did not afford us much of a chance to travel this year. It seems like with three kids involved in various activities, there is always something that ties us to home. We spent spring break in Chicago and Madison exploring two of our favorite cities and visiting with some of our favorite people – including our new, beautiful niece Elaina. We managed to get up north to the Baldwin cottage for a couple of weekends. The kids love it so much there that we hope next summer our visits can be a bit more frequent. In August we traveled to Traverse City and spent five days touring the quaint little cities around that area. One of the highlights of Trent’s year was being able to watch his beloved Spartans from the stands at three different WINNING football games!

We hope this holiday season brings to you all the joy that your hearts can hold and then some! May God bless you in the New Year with peace, health, happiness and love!

Love – Trent, Jennifer, Spencer, Evan and Hailey

I edited those cards twice to try to get the "edges" off. I don't know what happened. The reason we had two cards was because the nice people at Shutterfly gave me fifty free cards for writing a nice post about them. Cha Ching! Having the two messed with my OCD a little, but was still totally worth it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

This is the photo from our first visit with Santa this year. (We went before Thanksgiving - I don't like to wait in lines). My kids seem to see Santa a lot this time of year, so I am glad that they like him so much. Hailey LOVES Santa this year!

Second visit with the big guy at Daddy's school for dinner with Santa.

Fourth time seeing Santa (I didn't have my camera for the third - shocker!) This was at our house at our annual friends and family Christmas party.

There is so much that I want to blog about, but the one thing I am short on these days is time. Not to mention that I have kids in the other room that are begging for attention from their Mommy. The least I can do is oblige!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There goes another five years off my life....

I opened the door yesterday to get the newspaper just in time to see Spencer in the yard walking home from the bus stop.

Me: Where is your brother? (Thinking he was lagging behind and picking up ice or filling a Meijer bag with snow - things that he does).

Spencer: I don't know. He wasn't on the bus. Did you pick him up today?

Me: He wasn't on the bus????? Are you sure?????? Did he forget to get off at the stop?????

Spencer: I didn't see him on the bus.

Me: Was he at school? Did you see him after school???????

Spencer: He went to school with me. I didn't see him after.

Me: Stay by the road and watch for the bus, see if he forgot to get off and it brings him back. I am going to call the school.

I call the school and no one answers.

I call Trent and no one answers.

I call my mom and no one answers.

I call Trent again and leave a message "Answer your &*!!!%%* PHONE! Evan didn't get off the bus and he is missing. No one is answering at the school and I don't know what to do. I am freaking out!"

I call my mom back and no one answers.

I call my mom's cell phone and she answers. I tell her to go to the school because Evan is missing and I can't leave the house in case he comes here or someone calls.

I yell outside to Spence if there is any sign of him. There isn't. My heart is beating so fast. I feel so helpless. I have no idea what to do next. I can't think straight. Why didn't anyone answer at the school? Is no one still there?

Trent pulls in the driveway. I open the door and yell to him to go to the school.

I call my Mom and tell her that Trent is on his way to the school. I tell her to go to Hailey's school where they house the buses and go to the transportation department and ask someone there what to do.

I call my neighbor who has a son in Evan's class and two daughters in Spencer's class. She talks to her kids and tells me that Evan was in class all day, but they don't remember him being on the bus. She says her kids said that the bus was not in the usual spot and that they had a substitute driver. They don't remember if they saw him in the bus lines or not.

I am starting to worry less that he was taken or left behind and start to think that he just got on the wrong bus. Though when I picture my shy little boy sitting there on the wrong bus not knowing what to do I just want to start bawling my eyes out.

I still can't think straight. I am trying to find the number for the administration building so that I can call the transportation department and see if they can call the buses. I finally find the number online. I call and get a message that says if this is an emergency press 1.

I press 1. I get a hold of a real person and I tell her I need to be transferred to the transportation office. She transfers me. No one answers. Voicemail. I can't get back to the real girl. I hang up and call back and press 1 again.

I tell her that I just called and no one answered and I am panicking because my son never got off the bus. I tell her that I am hoping he is on the wrong bus because otherwise I have no idea where he is. She is super helpful and says she will run down and look for someone to call me back or she will call back herself.

Trent beeps in. Evan is not at the school. The office is locked. He can't find his teacher. My heart sinks a little. I tell him to go to other school where my mom is in case they won't give her information. I look out the window and see my baby boy walking up the road.

I have never felt that much of a weight lifted off of me before.

I tell Trent to head home. I call my mom and tell her that he is home. The school beeps in but I can't switch over. I call the school back and get voicemail. I tell her that we have him and thank you so much for your help.

Evan walks in with tears in his eyes. He got on the wrong bus. He was so scared. I just hugged him and told him that I was so scared too.

The bus driver calls back and makes sure that he got home. I thank her so much again. She tells me he was pretty upset. My poor baby.

I was shocked when I looked at the clock and it was only 4:15. All that happened in about twenty five minutes.

It felt like hours.

I can't imagine what mother's that have missing children go though. I experienced it for twenty five minutes - I was pretty sure that he was OK, just not where he should be. But to just have to wait and wait and hope and pray that your baby is safe somewhere. Ugh.....I can't think about it anymore. It is my worst nightmare and it is not something that anyone should have to experience. I just thank God that Evan got home safe and sound.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stuff and Nonsense

I went shopping this morning while Hailey was in school. I finished up what I had intended to do and was headed home for an hour of relaxation before I had to pick her up. I thought to myself that as long as I was near, I might as well check out the Goodwill before I went home. Then I thought that I would rather just go home and relax. I went back and forth in my head for a half a minute or so before the urge to search out some bargains won out.

I am so glad it did.

The first thing I spotted was this super cute nativity scene. Two dollars. It needs a little bit of TLC in the form of a good dusting but I just love it. The rod coming out of the top makes it spin - I am guessing with the four candle holders that it was one of those things with the "blades" that spin from the heat - you know the thing Cousin Eddie broke in Christmas Vacation. I wish it had the blades because that would be so cool, but I figure I can just put a knob or a wooden star up there.

I am now on the hunt for vintage looking ball ornaments. I saw this post and am totally inspired. These packs were two dollars each - which I think was a little pricey - I should have waited until after Christmas and could have scored them for fifty cents a piece. But I liked the colors, they were not traditional Christmas colors. Heck, you could even use these for a baby shower.

I got out all the gifts for my kids the other day and noticed that Evan seemed a bit short changed. One of the reasons I was out today was to get him the "giant cupcake maker" that he longs for from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I have been wracking my brain trying to think of something else for him. He is already getting LEGOS. He doesn't need any more Nerf type weapons. We have so many games and he is getting more for Christmas already. I couldn't come up with anything. As I was leaving Goodwill with my nativity, the two packs of ornaments and a ceramic crock for my mom, I spotted this....

I may have done a little happy dance right there in the store. A dinosaur chalkboard for four dollars! It is in good shape - I think a magic eraser will get rid of the few marks on it. I wish it was magnetic and I am tempted to repaint it with magnetic chalkboard paint. I just don't know if I dare do it before Christmas or give it to him and fix it up after the holidays. I just don't know where I could work on it without him seeing it. Either way - I am so happy I found that. Evan is going to LOVE it!

It was such a good day for bargains. Not to mention that I went to Kohl's looking for a Christmas dress for Hailey. I had a thirty percent off coupon that I got in the mail. The girls dresses were marked fifty percent off already - so add in my coupon and we are talking eighty percent. I left with three different dresses because I couldn't pick my favorite. Three dresses - one that came with a coat, two pairs of girls tights - sixty dollars and ten dollars back in Kohl's cash. Nice! She can wear a different dress to each celebration - total holiday diva because her mom can't resist the girl clothes!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gettin' crafty with my girl

Hailey won this set of beads and string to make necklaces last weekend at a holiday party we went to. When she picked it out, I tried to persuade her to choose something else. I thought it was WAY to old for her.

I was wrong. She could do it all on her own. I had to tie a knot in the end for her or she would pull the beads all the way across the string, but that was all I had to do. She did a great job and loved working on it. And it kept her busy for a whole fifteen minutes or so!

I set her up with me at the dining room table so I could keep my eye on her as I tried to finish up some sewing projects.

I am eager to finish, because this is what my dining room has looked like for weeks now. Not super festive. I decided that this year I am going to set my dining room table with my Christmas dishes that I bought half price at Target...ummm....probably seven years ago - and maybe used once in that seven years. I love them and figured that they are meant to be used. What am I saving them for?

Today is supposed to be a snowy, cold day so I am planning on hunkering down inside and finishing my Christmas cards and my craft projects. I will post them when they are done - but not until after Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Buttons? Eyes?

Hailey's anatomically correct gingerbread girl.

'nuff said!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

O Christmas Tree

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed out to a local tree farm to purchase the family Christmas tree. Since we have nineteen foot ceilings in our great room, we always purchase a twelve or thirteen foot tree. They don't grow them that big at this farm so we have to buy a tree that is shipped in from somewhere else -bound up like a Christmas prisoner.

We get to live out the old fashioned tree hunting experience though because we always get my mom a tree at the same place. We drive out to a wooded spot and trek around the grounds until we find the perfect specimen. Then Trent chops it down with his cordless sawzall. So maybe not quite the old fashioned tree hunting experience.

Our tree hunting day was the coldest day of the season so far. It was a mere twenty seven degrees. Even though they were bundled, the kids were freezing and wanted to sit in the warm car more than hunt for a perfect seven footer.

Our attempted family shot - you can see part of Evan's head at the bottom.

The kids favorite part of the tree tradition is by far the candy sticks they give away at the tree farm.

After we got the tree home and let the branches thaw out for a few hours -we let the decorating begin!

The kids were so much help this year. Spencer helped Trent do all the lights. I can't tell you how glad I am to have passed that job on to my eldest son. They were all super excited to put the ornaments on - they never tired of it - and we have A LOT of ornaments!

I tried to recreate my ladder picture from last year. It was a little too dark.

Our halls are now (mostly) decked and we are ready for the festivities to begin!