Recent Days

It seems crazy that Spring sports are starting up again (well, practices for Spring sports at least) and it is so dreary and yucky here!  It has snowed, it has rained, and it has not been sunny at all!  Yuck!  Come on sun!

So, these are some of the things I've been doing to keep busy while we wait.  EJ had yet another family party with my family this time and I forced my mom to take a pic with the kids.  Fifteen photos and this was the best one...why can't my kids just look and smile??

I stopped at Miller Park to get a gift card for a friend and was amazed at their attempts to melt the snow by spreading it out across the parking lot.  I thought I'd take a pic to show what needed to melt in just one week and my companion decided to photo-bomb me!

I have been spending time on the treadmill and clearly my choices have been trending a bit.  Just below this category was Dramas Based on Books.  Netflix gets me!

I'm plugging along on my baby blanket when I get a chance.  I'm running out of time to finish, so I need the girls to read to me a little more so I can get it finished.

Looks like we're starting a couple bath remodels here too.  It was on the agenda for this year already, but the upstairs bathroom forced our hand with a major clog.  We've all been using the downstairs bath for about 3 days now and it's already getting old.  I'm remembering how much I hated having only one bathroom in our old house (yes, I am spoiled).

Jack's soccer practices were supposed to move outdoors this week, but the weather has not made that possible.  The indoor location is not exactly close-by however, so if it is a short practice we often need to kill time.  Last night that meant a trip to Target (for Diet Coke and sketchpads for the girls) and then a little geocaching in the dark (the filter made it look much brighter).  Liv and I (the smart ones) chose to stay in the car.

Happy Weekend!

80s Exchange

{cross-stitch pattern from wee little stitches}

My brother and I are four years apart in age, but our birthdays are two days apart which is kind of cool.  As kids, my mom made big signs for our birthday mornings and definitely made each one a big deal (not one big celebration, but two).  Now it's kind of fun that our birthdays are at the same time, so we gift at the same time.  And while the big presents are always nice, I like the handmade stuff we give each other even more.  My all-time favorite is this soundtrack that D made for me.

My mom was also very tolerant of our 80s music (although we weren't always tolerant of each others music) and let us watch the same movies over and over again.  I don't know how she didn't go completely insane when my brother watched Ferris Bueller 5000 times, but she did.  Today my brother, my husband, my oldest friend, and my kids (I'm working on them) quote lines to each other in everyday conversation.  We love our old-school movies here.

So this year I decided to make my brother a little something based on his favorites and cross-stitched up Sloane, Cameron, Ferris, Jeannie, and Mr. Rooney (pattern here, above with my modifications).  I hope he loves it (yes, don't tell him yet...we're a month late on getting him his present...shhh!).  It was really fun to make, especially because I haven't cross-stitched in years!

This was D's awesome gift to me this year...
His friend makes these pencil cups out of cassette tapes and he picked an awesome lineup for me...Depeche Mode, U2, Chemical Brothers, and New Order.  I'm trying to get info on her shop and I'll post a link when I have it.  Love it!!  And as Livie told me, it's cool because it is repurposed (thanks for the lingo, PBS Kids).

Time with the Boy

He's the only boy...the firstborn with an almost 4 year gap before the girls joined the family.  He is quiet, he is super busy with activities and sports and homework, and he likes to do his own thing.  He has bravely faced a lot of changes and new experiences as we have tried (many times) to find the right school situation for him.  And while he may get grumpy, he rarely complains and always tries to do his best.

This past week at school was not a good one for Jack.  So when Matt's mom asked to have the girls overnight this weekend, we jumped at the chance.  I can't remember the last time that it was just the three of us and I think Jack enjoyed pretending to be an only child for the night.  We went out to dinner, we stayed out late watching the Badgers win (yay!), and we talked, laughed, and just had fun hanging out.

Our schedule can get pretty crazy.  I often feel like my job is to nag and keep everybody moving.  But I hope no matter how busy we get, and no matter how old this kid gets, he know how proud he makes me and how much I like hanging out with him too!

Seven and a Surprise

EJ turned 7 yesterday and our gift to her was this earring stand, a couple pairs of earrings, and an appointment after school to get her ears pierced.  She had been asking for a few years to get her ears pierced but we had said no for a long time.  We wanted to wait until she was older and could be responsible for caring for them herself (after the initial 6-week starter period) and I also wanted to do a little research of my own.  I'd read a lot of articles regarding where to get piercings done for kids (most recently, this article) and had my own concerns about the age & cleanliness of the mall option.  After asking for recommendations from friends with kids, we ended up at an awesome piercing shop that I will be recommending now.  They were awesome with EJ (and with her parents), let me take pics of the process, and really helped a nervous little girl feel at ease.

So, here is the photo play-by-play...

Waiting and trying to not be nervous.

Guide dots set and almost ready to go...

 Nothing has happened yet...this is all nerves.

First piercing in progress...

Getting ready for #2...that pout was so sad.

Second piercing is done...getting her fancy dark pink/purple hoop put into her ear.

All smiles after she hopped off the table. She rebounded very quickly.

Outside the shop on our way to her birthday dinner.  I can't believe how grown-up she looks at seven!

EJ was so brave and I was really proud of her for keeping her nerves in check in the moments leading up to everything.  It also helped that the staff was so kind from helping her pick out the perfect hoops to talking to her and making her laugh throughout the piercing process.  Today, EJ is off to school to show off her new earrings to her her friends.  She didn't tell any of her friends yesterday so she could surprise them today!

Green and Simple

This year we are keeping St. Patrick's Day simple...somewhat by choice and a little because I was so sick last week!  The treats in the pic above are EJ's birthday treat for tomorrow.  There are big advantages to a birthday so close to St. Patrick's Day (and with a peanut butter allergy in her class, I did some scrambling to change what we had initially planned).

I have a couple extra treats for dessert tonight, but that is the extent of our celebration today (well, everyone is in green, but isn't that mandatory).  I'm going to blame it on me getting old.  This weekend I dyed my gray hair and got a sore muscle in my calf...from bowling.  And tonight our night consists of a conference with a math teacher and dinner at home.  Tomorrow is a big day though...maybe I'll blame the big celebration tomorrow for my laziness today.

Reading List Summary, February 2014

Mom's List
The Light Between Oceans (M.L.Stedman)
Things Not Seen (Andrew Clements)

Jack's List
The Carnivorous Carnival (Lemony Snicket)
The Slippery Slope (Lemoney Snicket)
Game Changers (Mike Lupica)
The Grim Grotto (Lemony Snicket)
Travel Team (Mike Lupica)

EJ's List
The Haunted Hotel (Ron Roy)
The Invisible Island (Ron Roy)
The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner)
The Jaguar's Jewel (Ron Roy)
The Kidnapped King (Ron Roy)

Olivia's List
Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane (Cynthia Rylant)
Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (Cynthia Rylant)
Don't Be My Valentine (Joan M. Lexau)
Danny and the Dinosaur (Syd Hoff)
Fox on Stage (James Marshall)
On the Go with Mr. and Mrs. Green (Keith Baker)
Fox Outfoxed (James Marshall)
Mr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold (Cynthia Rylant)
Frog and Toad All Year (Arnold Lobel)
A Dozen Dozens (Harriet Ziefert)
Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch (Cynthia Rylant)
The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Suess)

Read-aloud List
Lost Cat (C. Roger Mader)
The Table Sets Itself (Ben Clanton)
When We Go Walking (Cari Best)
Farmers' Market Day (Shanda Trent)
Copycat Bear! (Ellie Sandall)
Hello, My Name Is Ruby (Philip C. Stead)
Bugs In My Hair! (David Shannon)
A Mammoth in the Fridge (Michael Escoffier)
The Little Gray Bunny (Barbara Barbieri McGrath)
Otto the Book Bear (Katie Cleminson)
Sally Sore Loser (Frank J. Sileo)
Outfoxed (Mike Twohy)
I Have Two Homes (Marian De Smet)
Drat the Cat! (Tony Ross)
Dealing with Feeling...Sad (Isabel Thomas)
Snow Day! (Patricia Lakin)
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit (Il Sung Na)

Reading List Summary, January 2014

Mom's List
Amelia Lost (Candace Fleming)
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jeanette Winterson)
Children Playing Before a Statue Of Hercules (Edited by David Sedaris)
Dirty Love (Andre Dubus III)

Jack's List
Animal Superstars (Aline Alexander Newman)
Shiloh (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
Baseball Turnaround (Matt Christopher)
The Cabin Faced West (Jean Fritz)
Maniac Magee (Jerry Spinelli)
The Viper's Nest (Peter Lerangis)
The Hostile Hospital (Lemony Snicket)
The Christmas Rat (AVI)
The Hypnotists (Gordon Korman)
Popular Clone (M.E. Castle)
Hero on a Bicycle (Shirley Hughes)
Hollow Earth: Bone Quill (John Barrowman)

EJ's List
Big Cats (Claire Llewellyn)
That's A Possibility! (Bruce Goldstone)
Wisconsin (Janice Parker)
Amy Meets Her Stepsister (Callie Barkley)
Birthday Traditions Around the World (Ann Ingalls)
How Do Hot Air Balloons Work? (Buffy Silverman)
The Empty Envelope (Ron Roy)
The Falcon's Feathers (Ron Roy)
The Goose's Gold (Ron Roy)
Pony Problems (Carolyn Keene)
Bobcats (Henry Randall)
Meet Kaya (Janet Shaw)
Violet Mackerel's Personal Space (Anna Branford)
Pink Snow and Other Weird Weather (Jennifer Dussling)
Ellie's Lovely Idea (Callie Barkley)

Olivia's List
Flappy and Scrappy (Arthur Yorinks)
Annie and Snowball and the Pink Surprise (Cynthia Rylant)
The Outside Dog (Charlotte Pomerantz)
George and Martha: The Best of Friends (James Marshall)
Little Lucy (Ilene Cooper)
Ruby Paints a Picture (Susan Hill)
Shampoodle (Joan Holub)
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears (Cynthia Rylant)
Henry and Mudge and the Sneaky Crackers (Cynthia Rylant)
George and Martha: Round and Round (James Marshall)
Mr. Putter & Tabby Run the Race (Cynthia Rylant)
Four on the Shore (Edward Marshall)
Fox and Crow Are Not Friends (Melissa Wiley)
Fox on Wheels (Edward Marshall)
Twinky the Dinky Dog (Kate Klimo)
Fox and His Friends (Edward Marshall)
George and Martha (James Marshall)

Read-aloud List
The Chocolate Touch (Patrick Skeene Catling)
Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers)
Pirates Love Underpants (Claire Freedman)
The Reader (Amy Hest)
Hush Little Baby (Sylvia Long)
Eat Like A Bear (April Pulley Sayre)
The Green Bath (Margaret Mahy)
The Frazzle Family Finds a Way (Ann Bonwill)
Oliver and his Alligator (Paul Schmid)
The Friendliest Ballerina (Timothy Knapman)
Big Snow (Jonathan Bean)
I Dare You Not to Yawn (Helene Boudreau)
Picture Day Perfection (Deborah Diesen)
Penguins Can't Fly! (Richard Byrne)
Ruff! and the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day (Caroline Jayne Church)

A New Habit

I've never been an audio book person.  I've tried to listen in the past, but I'm very visual and so I start listening to something and then I get bored and either start reading something on my phone or doing something with my hands.  Next thing you know, I have no idea what is happening in the book.

Last summer, the kids and I were driving around all together quite a bit and decided to switch to the audio version of The Wizard of Oz (we had been reading it together previously).  They loved listening in the car and we finished up the book on a long road trip.  On that road trip, I totally spaced out and must admit that I didn't hear half of the book during that time.

Jack is doing a Battle of the Books event for school and has a stack of six books to read.  He reads all the time, but I think the stack (and the note-taking that was to go along with it) was a bit overwhelming.  So, I offered to read them along with him.  However, I started running low on time and decided to take advantage of my many car trips alone (kid dropoffs and pickups) to get myself through the 600 page book shown above.  It's actually going really well, because I can't really do much more than drive and listen.  There have been a couple times that I started list-making in my head, but overall my concentration has been pretty good.

I'm thinking that after I finish this book, I might keep up this habit in the car.  There are couple books (pop culture reads) that I've read before and want to revisit.  I'm thinking my time in the car will be much more fun with friends like Andy Cohen and Mindy Kaling, right?

Build A Snowman

When life hand you an endless winter...make the best of it with a snowman in March.  Of course, he's already started melting by sun-up this morning, but that is fine with me!


Lately, I've been taking inspiring pins and making them work for me.  The printable above is a great example.  I found the "You've Got This" chart on Creature Comforts and loved it.  Ez is using it as a workout chart and uses two colors (a good and a bad) to track her progress.  Jack's speech teacher recently told us that it takes doing something for 21 days to make it a habit and I thought this chart would be a great way to track things I want to become an everyday habit.  So, I get to color (messily) in a stripe each day that I do the thing I want to become a habit (even if I just do it for a few minutes).  I'm on track, although it's just day 3, but "no snacking" has been a super tough one for me.  I'm a huge snacker (in fact I usually snack more than I eat meals), but...this holiday treats/back injury/vacation weight isn't going to lose itself.  I am loving the workout/read/create stripes much more though.

{photo courtesy of Shugary Sweets}

These Fluffernutter Krispie Treats looked awesome and I knew we had to make them.  Guess what? They were awesome!  I think I may be making them again soon for EJ's birthday treat, but next time I will make just a few small changes to the recipe.  The treats were thick.  A little too thick to manage for me (which means really hard for the kids).  I plan to use a 9x12 pan instead of the 9x9 recommended to get the height down a bit.  Also, when I made these the first time, I burned the peanut butter chips instead of melting them (serves me right for trying to do a microwave shortcut) and so I ended up using a PB chip/chocolate chip combo on top (using what I had in the pantry) and it was really good.  I think that next time I will do that again and forgo the PB cups on the top.  They look really cute, but I think the treats are divine on their own and with chocolate on the top, they will still be awesome!

Matt changed jobs, I pulled out an old phone for Jack to use, etc. - basically what I'm trying to say is that my kitchen counter turned into a mess of charging electronics overnight.  In browsing Pinterest to find a possible "charging station," I found a great way to keep the mess under control.  I found this file folder sorter at Target for $4.  Contains the mess, the kids can reach the devices they need, easy to charge whatever needs charging, and there is even a spot for my glasses.  Problem solved!

{photo courtesy of Alessia Scrap & Craft}

Yesterday, I found this great tutorial for Wave Stitch on Alessia Scrap & Craft and I really want to make something with this awesome stitch  It's just so unique and I love how it is woven together (looks much harder than it actually is).  Yep, haven't figured out how to make this one my own as I'm not sure what to make with it.  Thoughts?

Long time, No photos...

Hi everyone!  Long time, no posts.  We've had a little craziness going on in our world, but we've also been busy with fun things.  So I thought the best way to jump back in would be with a photo-filled post.  So to catch up a little....

Olivia had a little date with me one Saturday afternoon.  We had a lunch and then went to a paint your own pottery place for a little artistic fun...just the two of us.  She picked a cat.  No one was surprised.

We had this date because the big kids were busy at an event doing a little jumping.

We spent a family night out at a small, local brewery/tasting room...

We did a puzzle...1000 pieces (Mom & Dad may have spent a late night finishing it up).

EJ was the last girl in her school (and possibly the US) to see Frozen...she loved it!

A gorgeous new cousin/nephew entered the world (can't wait to hold this little guy).

We watched speed skating trials at our local rink.  Our city is so cool that we have an Olympic training center in it...pretty awesome, right?

Jack's painting is featured in a show at our local bookstore.  He was just a little proud.

And after all of that (and more...), we crashed!

Happy Monday, everybody!