Ten on Tuesday: Crazy Livie Faces

We're nearing the end of school, my project list keeps growing (mostly fun things) and we've got lots of activities keeping us on the go right now.  But you don't want to hear about that!  Instead I give you ten photos of my crazy daughter.  And keep in mind that these are not (for the most part) her making crazy faces FOR the camera, they are me catching her everyday goofiness ON the camera!

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11. And a bonus pic of this girl who not only cracks me up every single day, but lights up my heart with her beautiful smile!  I am one lucky momma (times 3)!!!

Cousins Rock!


Nothing better than a day at the ballpark with your cousins!  Even if you do miss naptime (hence Olivia's crabby face).

Ice Cream Gift Set


EJ attended her last day of preschool yesterday.  She has learned so much there and she has amazing teachers!  We wanted to give them a little something to let them know how special we think they are...and because there are six of them, it needed to be cost-effective too!

I started with the idea of crocheting ice cream pint cozies.  Sure it's a little silly, but it's cute and semi-useful.  And it would of course be easy to build a theme around given the Neapolitan color theme and my great love for ice cream.


I added some toppings in a mason jar (stacked in the Neapolitan theme), hot fudge, and some awesome free printables (see below for links).  The index cards could be used for recipe cards or note cards (I included a set of 6) and the bookmark was hand-colored by Miss EJ with a note on the back ("Love, EJ").

We packaged up all the goodies and headed out (in the rain) to school...



To be honest, I put these together rather quickly so I had to work with what I had based on timing.  If I was making these again (and had time to order things), I would add a pack of these straws and a few ice cream spoons.  I'd package them up in these gable boxes for an ice cream shop look.  And I'd make sure to include this card too.  I hate when you come up with an idea too late to add the super cute touches, but I hope her teachers know how much we love them anyway!


Contents & Sources:
ice cream pint container - purchased from our fav local shop
pint cozy - i purchased a pattern but made a ton of changes to fit my needs
hot fudge - i purchased from the store but you could also make your own
toppings - pink sprinkles, mini teddy grahams, mini oreos
index cards - Wild Olive free download
bookmark - Wild Olive free download
tag & jar sticker - made by me

In Search of A New Grandma Necklace

{photo courtesy of The Vintage Pearl}

Last year for my MIL's birthday, I got her this necklace with the names of all her grandchildren on it.  In fact, my youngest nephew wasn't even born yet (we had to wait 3 more weeks for him to arrive), but his name was on the necklace so we'd be all set!  The gift was a great success and my MIL wears it almost every day.  But...guess who is getting another nephew soon?

I had planned to order a new small disc with the additional name, but I think it's going to be too tight of a fit.  So I'm looking for ideas for a new Grandma necklace that has enough room for the names of 5 girls and 5 boys.  The girls' names are 27 characters and the boys' names are 23 plus the new baby (including spaces & assuming I spelled correctly).

Anyone out there with a big family and a great recommendation for me? 

Ten on Tuesday: Questions

I've got questions and I know that you smartie readers have great answers for me!

Decor/DIY
1. What's under your dining room table?
We've always had an area rug under our table, but right now are going with nothing until I decide what will work best.  Right now I own two options: One that is heavy & wool and never moves but has a super traditional pattern.  The other has a modern design that I love, but slides all over the place if you don't pick up your chair when scooting it in (and I'm the only one who does that so it's basically a recipe for insanity).  The people we purchased the new table from had it on top of a thick shag carpet (I can't see that being easy to clean).  So what type of rug do you have?  Or do you have hard flooring (and how does that work out as far as keeping the food mess contained?

2. What is your favorite paint to use for painting furniture?  Do you use spray paint?  Base coat or protective coat? 
My past furniture painting has not gone well and I need any tips you have!

3. What is your opinion of painted furniture?  Are you a painter or traditionalist?
I need to paint Jack's new bed due to the condition of the wood, but I'm on the fence about the new chairs from the dining room set.  The wood is in great condition but I think the chairs would look really fun if I painted them a bright green or something (they are in need of new cushion fabric too).  But I hate to paint perfectly good wood...thoughts?

Summer Movies & Adoption
4. Has anyone seen Bridesmaids?

5. Which Summer movie are you most excited to see?
It feels like there are more new movies coming out this Summer than ever before.  Of course the kids movies are most on my/the kids' radar, especially with all the sequels to their favorites! 

6. Is anyone going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 on opening weekend?
Because my kids are dying to see Kung Fu Panda 2 and I've heard this one deals with a lot of adoption issues.  Normally that makes me nervous, but I'm more confident in the language and how the plot will be handled because of Angelina Jolie's involvement.  I'm really hoping that it is done well and can be a positive conversation starter for us.

7. Who will share their lifebook/lifebook ideas with me?
We've been having a lot of discussions lately about EJ's story.  Most of the time it's her "checking the facts" or her asking us to define the terms we use for the 5000th time, but I realize that I have put off her lifebook creation long enough.  Now I need advice...I need a format and an idea of how much information to include for a 4-year-old (should I make one for her to use now & a different one for her as she gets older?).  Help!

Clothing
8. Can you recommend a charity who needs donations of women's dress shoes?
I finally cleaned out and organized by shoes (it had been much longer than I thought) and I have a lot that need new homes.  I've packed up about 5 bags of the sturdier pairs for Soles 4 Souls, but I have some nicer shoes that would either be good for job interviews or proms/dress-up that I would love to donate.  I have a couple ideas to investigate but wanted to ask if anyone had a recommendation.

9. Where do you get your "active" tank tops?
I tend to not work out as much in the summer (I'm the opposite of most of the world) as I really like the kid time!  But I do walk to/from as many things as we can, as well as take the girls for walks in the stroller while Jack is in Summer school.  To this end, I broke down and bought some yoga capris to wear in the mornings when I'm walking (I'll change into normal clothes during naptime), but would prefer to wear a longer (semi-butt-covering) tank top with them if possible.  Oh, and I sure wouldn't mind if it was cute too.

Summer Plans
10.  What is your favorite thing to do with the kids in the Summer?  Do you have any favorite events that are underpublicized?
Last year we found out that our performing arts center runs weekly free programming for kids.  The events are all different and really interesting (last year EJ joined the breakdancers on stage during one performance), but we didn't even know it existed until August.  I'd love you forever if you shared your secrets with us!

Outside!

Is Summer really here?  The weather definitely messed with us a bit, but we are wrapping up this weekend with sunburns and thunderstorms, so I'm hopeful!





Bring on the swimming and picnics and long walks and ice cream cones...we're ready to get outside!

Weekend Preview

I finished up a lot of volunteer stuff yesterday and am spending the day with the girls & my mom today, so it's already feeling like the weekend is here!  Here's a quick preview of what we've got planned...

Sports - 2 baseball games, 2 soccer games, and our first Brewers game of the season!

Cookies for Cancer -Don't miss the chance to buy some yummy treats!

Crafting -In between games, I plan to be crocheting my little heart out! Can't wait to share this super fun gift (next week, I promise)!

Rummage - If you live near my hood, make sure to check out the neighborhood rummage this Saturday!

Filling these buckets with goodies for another fun little gift project (I guess even if it rains this weekend as predicted, I'll still have plenty to do)!

But we're most excited to hang out with Daddy this weekend as he has officially finished his semester and now has a solid month of "off" time (we're pretending he doesn't have a work calendar).  We're super proud of all he does for us, but super happy for him to have a little break too.

So what is everyone else up to this weekend?

Photo Frame Redo

It seems that every summer we're buying a new dry erase board (or eight) to help us be organized with all our running lists.  Summer reading hours, project lists, notes to each other...it just keeps growing.  But most dry erase boards are not so cute.  Luckily I had a little inspiration for a cheap, cute and changeable option...photo frames!


Put scrapbook paper behind the glass of any frame and you've got yourself a dry-erase board.  All you need to restock is the markers...now that is cost-effective!  We decided that this "thought bubble" design would be fun for messages to each other.  Obviously Jack & I will use it the most, but I hung it at a low-level so the girls can "play" too.

The big transformation of this project was this frame.  It started out many years ago looking like this (black and with the big floor easel back) and then went through another change right before EJ came home.  That change included Matt removing the easel & adding wall brackets.  Then I spray painted it white and added detail black and white photographs of EJ (eyes, hands, feet) that I took during our visit trip.  It became a permanent fixture of her room...so much so that Olivia has been hanging out with EJ's baby pics in her room for the last two years! Yikes!  So with the bedroom switch, the frame moved down to the office and we added some fun summer paper designs for a super-size dry-erase board next to Jack's desk.


I'm loving the fresh, bright colors (sorry about the horrible pic...I swear it's cute!) and the convenience of it (I'm already leaving notes and starting a countdown to summer break...21 days!).  I think we'll keep these "boards" around permanently and change out the papers whenever we feel like it (hopefully more often then we changed the photos).

A Fourth Kiddo?


Don't get too excited...this one is made of paper!  We hosted a "flat" version of my niece for the last month in order to help her out with a Flat Stanley project for school.  It actually was a lot more fun than I expected and the kids loved having her along for our "adventures."  I'm just hoping our adventures were enough to interest her class!

Scallop Bunting


Remember my crochet pennant garland?  I went a little more girlie this time around with a scallop shape and bright Spring colors.  This was a simple project, so much so that by the time I had made a few I knew the pattern by heart, and I loved the end result.  All of my work was for gifts, but maybe I'll make up another for myself (or to have handy when a friend could use a smile).

The pattern I used can be downloaded here (free pattern) and I thought it would be fun to see what a difference color choice can make.  Heather's (yep, another one) original design is much softer with the cream and pinks...love it!

{photo courtesy of Seams of Life}

Cookies for Kids' Cancer


My friend Rachel (who I know & love IRL) and the lovely Lori (who I recently met through the wonderful world of Twitter) have teamed up to create an amazing event this Saturday!

Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale & Silent Auction - Milwaukee
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
901 W. Juneau Avenue

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: www.cookiesforkidscancer.org


Great location, awesome people, and yummy treats...sounds like the place to be this Saturday!  And now I'm off to bake up some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies for the sale...

Granny Square Blanket Take Two


There is a new baby in our family (Matt's cousin had a baby girl last month) and I thought that made a great excuse for me to try another giant granny square blanket.  I made one last year for my nephew Miles and it was truly a first attempt at doing anything with my new-found crochet skills.  In other words, it was not very pretty (evidence here...although I did mask it well in the pics)!

This one came out a lot better, although (full disclosure) still a little wonky.  I'm pretty sure wrapping a cute baby up in it will help though!  I used a thicker yarn to speed up the process so it is nice and durable as well as soft.  I followed the usual giant granny square pattern and did 17 rows (I stopped so I had enough yarn for the edging but I think 20 rows would be ideal).  The edging is one round of single crochet (1 in each stitch, 3 in the corners) and then one round of double crochet, slip stitch (repeat around).  The finished blanket is 27" square(ish).

In order to dial up the pretty (and distract from the wonky), I added a set of these awesome baby onesie stickers from nellie*design.  Each month you put the sticker front and center on your baby's shirt and you've got an easy way to mark their growth without worrying about them wiggling away (and the stickers are super cute & customizable too).

And now I need to get working on baby blanket number 3, as my nephew is going to be a big brother at the end of the summer.  Perhaps I'll replace his "not-quite square" blanket with a new big boy model while I'm at it!

Bookmark Printables

{image courtesy of Wild Olive}

I've made my love of reading clear, right?  Well I also have three kids so I subscribe to the "read whenever and wherever I can" mentality.  Needless to say, I need a good bookmark (or 3) and they need to stay in my book too!

I have been loving these magnetic bookmarks from Mollie at Wild Olive.  Download the free printable, print & cut them out, fold & add a little magnetic tape inside...you're all set!  I've been partial to the bacon and pickle, but just found the second set of designs which include bright summery rainbow colors!  You can find set one here (pickle, bacon, ruler, bandage & pencil) and set two here (rainbow, clothespin, watercolors, birch log and traffic light).

{note: take a quick look at the book page you're using BEFORE the pic or you'll have to edit colorful language!}

So...now you're all set for some grown-up summer reading!  What is on your list?  I'm on a memoir kick lately (about to start the Belinda Carlisle book shown above), but need some suggestions and all genres are welcome.

Roomies

What do you get when you put a night owl and an early-riser in the same bedroom?


So far...a really long time before anyone goes to sleep at night and two very happy sisters!  But we're only 18 hours in, so check back with me in a week or so!

Mother's Day Plea

Please take two minutes to watch this video...
video

And now please help Lindsay's dream come true.  Help Ella's wishes for a cure become a reality.  Help this mother to help her beautiful child.  Please...

We walk as a family in support of our amazing friends on Sunday, May 15th.  You can donate or join our team by clicking here.  Thank you!

Fort Kit


EJ received this personalized fort kit for her birthday.  Totally cute bag on its own (and the girls love carrying it around as if they are all packed to leave home), but it has even better surprises inside!  Another awesome creation from the fabulously crafty Leslie...thank you!!!

Sewing Basket for those too little to sew


Little kids love to do what the big people around them are doing.  I'm not a sew-er (so not a word), but I do love to get crafty.  So when I saw this toddler sewing basket idea, I knew I had to make one for EJ (and maybe a couple more for some pint-sized friends).

It's filled with fun fabrics, yarns, ric rac trim, a big zipper, and you could add so much more!  There is also a cheese shaker and pipe cleaners (the holes on top of the shaker are the perfect size for the pipe cleaners) for threading practice.  And the favorite thing in this house...an embroidery hoop with a piece of shelf liner inside.  Add a plastic needle and my kids make the craziest creations threading yarn every which way.


Add to the threading fun by including buttons, mini spools, crochet flowers and embellishments for them to include in their needle creations.  I also added a simple initial (I painted a balsa letter and then attached with hot glue) to each basket to personalize it.  The best part of creating this basket is that you can add whatever you have on hand or items you like to use in your own crafting!


This sewing basket has been a huge hit with EJ!  It's a great hands-on toy for my Montessori learner, but it's also something she is proud to own because it seems like such a big kid thing (even though everything within is perfectly safe).  I can't wait to add to the basket as she grows and is able to try new things!

Fitnessgram

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and at our school each class is assigned a second teacher/person (those who don't have one set class) so that everyone is showered with appreciation this week.  Jack's class has our wonderful Physical Education teacher, Mr. Hoffman.  You've seen the (super cute) candy gram idea, right?  Enter the Fitness Gram...


In short, it's a bunch of goodies for the health & exercise-minded teacher matched up with some cute cheesy sayings to tie it all together.  Many thanks go to Jackie for sparking this idea (and for some of the sayings) and to Nellie for creating the awesome card!

{custom card design by nellie*design}

The word-gift connections:
propel -Propel beverage pouches
bar - chocolate bar (dark chocolate so somewhat healthy)
trail - trail mix
rhythm - iTunes gift card
stride - Stride gum
burn - sunscreen
bottle - stainless steel water bottle
the home team - something from the local sports team
a perfect pair - socks

This was definitely outside my normal gifting experience to focus on a general fitness theme (and to plan it for a boy too!), but was a lot of fun to put together.  I think it's a nice alternative to a sweet treat and hopefully full of useful items for the recipient.  A fitness gram would also make a great gift for a coach or an active parent (maybe for Mother's Day or Father's Day)!

Waterpark Weekend


This is the only photo I took this weekend.  The rest of the time we were too busy enjoying our family time...the perfect mix of fun and rest...truly awesome!  This year we even made sure to leave time for dinner AND cake!