Friday, December 31, 2010

Man Up...

I do not like making New Year's resolutions.  I suppose it's a principle thing.  I feel like if I make a resolution, then I have to stick to it because it's sort of like making a promise.  If I don't keep it, then I'm breaking my promise to do what I resolved to do.  Then I feel terrible.  And I feel like everyone's Big Brother.  Okay, that's not true.  Anyway, I've had more failed attempts at resolution keeping than I'd care to remember.  Like when a former co-worker and I resolved to take the stairs everyday at work in lieu of the elevator.  I was all over that, but I only lasted a week.  There were a lot of stairs. 

Or when I vowed  (for my health) to drink eight glasses of water a day.  That seriously lasted only a day.  Who has time to camp out in the bathroom every 10 minutes when you have a four-year-old and 20 month old?  If you've read anything on my blog about my wee ones, then you know major destruction happens when they are unsupervised for even a second.  So, the water thing didn't last.

Last year, I  purchased The Biggest Loser DVD workout and told myself (and maybe my hubby) That I would do it at least three times a week.  I lasted a couple of weeks.  But, I will tell you, that my abs and buns were burning as promised by the claim stamped on the front of the case.

While resolutions aren't my thing, I know I need to man up (woman up?) and hold fast to a few important commitments.  So, I'm putting it out there for all to see me fail.

Here goes:

1)  Stay ahead of laundry.  I'm tired of Mt. Laundry taking over my basement.  Digging through laundry baskets for my other matching sock is getting old.  May I just add that my laundry baskets were never full before kids?  *sigh*

2)  Workout at least three times a week.  Yes, it's making my 2011 list...for now.

3)  Eat leftovers.  This is going to take will-power.  My hubby is doing the happy dance all over this one.  He's been grooming me to eat leftovers for almost ten years.  FYI, I'm not excited about this.

4)  Blog more than twice a week.  I love the blogging community and forming those common bonds through words.  Of course I can't maintain those relationships if  I'm not writing more.  This means my kids will have to up their antics...after all, they are my creative muses.

5)  Read my Bible everyday.  I wish I already had this one tackled.  But, I don't.  If I want to grow closer to HIM then I have to crack HIS word.  One Year I come.

6)  Re-train my children to pick-up their toys.  No more threatening.  No more pleading.  No more yelling.  In light of the massive haul generous giving of our families, we've got to get this under control.  And I don't mean me picking up their toys.

7) Commit to reading the books on the list for book club.  I don't know what it is about suggested reading lists, but something in my brain says, "Don't read them!" It's the only rebellious streak I have.  I've read two books so far.  Sorry girls.  I'll do better.  Catch 22 is on my radar.

8)  Finish our kitchen remodel.  Our budget has changed since B's layoff, but that's no excuse to not put the cabinet doors on for Pete's sake! 

9)  Grow my pet-care business.  What?!  You  didn't know I wore that hat as well?  You can add that to blogger, mom, wife, youth pastor assistant, cake decorator.  I'm a busy girl.

10)  Help my children grow in their faith.  This is a biggie.  My heart's only desire is to see them have a personal relationship with our Savior.  I can't make that decision for them, but I am committed to praying for them, teaching them and helping them understand the sacrifice HE made. 

So, my little top ten is out there on the Internet forever.  Not that anyone would google it to see if I did what I said I would (or would you?), but I think this is a doable list.  It's practical.  It's the RIGHT thing to do.  I can do this. It takes 16-21 times of repeating a task for it to become a habit.  Well, here goes, wish me luck!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Love These Guys...

I was going through some Christmas pictures on my camera when I came across these:

One of my guys is funny, sweet and a little crazy. The other is handsome, fun and the most sane of the Jackson '5'. He puts up with our antics without complaint...I love him.

I love their faces...  Now, link up to Emily's blog and go Embrace the Camera!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I'm not a big fan of leftovers. In fact, it's sort of a source of contention in our household, as my sweet hubby is usually forced (not by's his own conviction) to finish those few remaining morsels camping out in our fridge. I always know the leftovers have waged war against us when medicinal penicillin has taken up residence. Gross.

Well, I'm not here to talk about reheated meatloaf and my aversion to it. No, I am bringing you a DIY project rewarmed and served three ways using the leftover felt hanging out in my craft box. Yep, it's official. I have a craft box.

Anyway, I originally purchased the felt to make these stockings as gifts:

I had a ton of felt leftover and kept racking my brain to think of what I could do with it, and then I remembered Emily's awesome fabric flower tutorial over at The Anderson Crew . I knew it would be the perfect use for all that felt! Using Emily's simple tutorial, I created a few flowers to grace another stocking (a gift to the little Mr.'s teachers).

They were a snap to make and as simple as rolling the fabric and securing the flower with hot glue. But, I didn't stop there friends...oh, no, I did not.

I loved making these so much that I thought I'd follow Emily's lead and turn these sweet little flowers into a necklace. I attached the flowers to a faux pearl necklace by putting a little hot glue on the back of each flower, and then attached them to the necklace:

If I were a good DIY blogger there would be a picture of the front of the necklace...but, I don't have one...I thought I took one...oh well, I have toddlers and life is crazy. Just take my word for it. It's way cute.

For my final leftover project, I decided to throw together a little something for the kiddos, ala last minute crunch time. I had been wanting to do something a little special to help tell the story of Christ's birth and create some craft where they could pitch in. I decided to go old school flannel graph:

I searched online for clip art of the various pieces of the story, printed them on paper, and glued them to the felt. Then I cut around the pieces and...voila! Instant flannel graph Nativity! It was a huge hit with the kiddos. Last night we sat around our tree and read the story from Luke 2. As we got to each point of the story, my sweet wee ones placed their piece on the board. They loved it, and we loved seeing their excitement over hearing the amazing story of our Savior's birth.

So there you have it! A few felt leftovers. Nothing went to waste, and I loved it so much that I might even eat real leftovers now...or maybe not.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Miss Messy...

There seems to be a strange shift in personality around the age of two. A new curiosity for life and how things work gives birth to experimentation. A squeeze of the toothpaste tube. Flushing a ginormous wad of toilet paper (it doesn't work...just an fyi). Tipping over the dog's water bowl. Removing each wet wipe from its packaging. Using marker as a tool of artistic expression on one's body. Licking the windows. Eating play-doh. Macaroni and cheese hair-dos. Running water in a sink until it reaches the brim (don't ask).

My observation of all these experiments has lead me to one hypothesis: My daughter is a messy, tricky, sneaky little thing. She sets to work and upon completion of her task, claps her hands together and exclaims "WOW!"

She spends her day undoing. And while the 'Pollyanna' in me wants to believe that her motives are pure, I can't help but look at the mess before me and think she had been scheming for a while to achieve something that clever. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. She is very...successful.

With holiday travel comes lots of preparation on my part. Baking, cleaning, laundry, packing. She knows my weakness and tendency toward distraction. So, when I left my neatly folded basket of laundry unattended to answer a question my sweet hubby had, this is what my little opportunist did:

               All. Over. The. Floor. I gasped, and her reply? "WOW!"


She was 'trying' on clothes and flinging the cast-offs that didn't make the cut. Which pretty much meant everything except for a pair of the little Mr.'s stripped pajama pants that she chose to wear as a bolero:

I tried to remove the pants, but she screamed in protest, so she wore her makeshift bolero the rest of the evening until bath time. Whatever. Choosing my battles. We are nearing the 'terrible twos'...four months until B-Day to be exact. Until then, I am accepting the challenge and trying my hardest to match her sly motives and thwart her advances. Eva-9. Mommy-0

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Ladies Man, Christmas Edition...

He's a flirt.  He's a ladies man.  He knows what women like...he's only FOUR!!!  Let's just observe the facts friends: 

My husband and I help out with the youth group at church.  Every Wednesday night the little Mr. makes his grand entrance and begins making the rounds to all the high school girls.  He grins and bats his eyes and they pick him up, hug him, and gush at how cute he is.  And he eats it up.  We've got girls beating down our door offering to babysit (thank you by the way!).  He's a lady killer.

Aunt Sarah doesn't stand a chance.  Her will isn't strong enough to resist his hugs and kisses.  Try as she may, he always finds her and monopolizes her affections.  She's putty in his hands.

And remember this story about sweet little L?  I'm pretty sure it's just innocent friendship, but they still sit by each other every day.

The funny thing is he's really pretty oblivious to his powers.  He's just a sweet little guy who loves people and will talk to anyone who will listen...and girls are good listeners.

Since it's Christmas the little Mr. and I  worked together to make a Christmas gift for each of his teachers.  We got them all put together last night, when the little Mr. announced, "Mama, I would like to get Miss M. and Miss P. a flower too!"  He came up with this all on his own.  He talked it over with me and said he really wanted pink 'utunias' (petunias).   So, we decided we would get out early this morning before school and let him pick out flowers.  Well, he got up early alright...4am!  So I ushered him back to bed  and told him it was waaaaaaaaaaaay to early to go flower shopping.  He gave me a sad look and said, "Mama, I can't stop thinking about it!  Can we go now?" I would have thought he was super sweet, but this mama was tired and in no way thinking about flowers.

He finally went back to sleep, but he was rearing to go at 7am.  He scarfed down his breakfast, put on his clothes without a fight, and was waiting by the backdoor urging me to hurry.  We drove to the grocery store pink petunias.  But, he had already come up with a compromise just in case and settled on one pink and one yellow rose.  He carried his flowers to the cashier and told her excitedly that they were for his teachers. 

When we got to school he was so excited to give Miss M. and Miss P. their gifts.  He joined the line of children filing by the teachers, giving them their homemade gifts.  Their arms were quite full when Ethan walked by and whispered, "Here." Then quickly walked away blushing.  He didn't want recognition.  He just wanted to do something nice for two teachers he loves.

Every day, I learn a little more from my wee ones.  More about giving.  More about the heart behind a kind action.  More about taking the time to bless others.  More about putting others first.  More about doing something simple to say 'thank you'. 

A simple reminder from a small child as we draw nearer to Christmas.  May you be blessed this Christmas and every day.

Merry Christmas from the Jackson '5'

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Embrace The Camera--Longing For Warmer Days...

It is F-F-F-F-F-Freezing in Iowa. Here, in middle America, I can pretty much bet on shivering, complaining, and piling on the layers from early November through late April. I just can't seem to warm up.

Today, I planned to use a cute Christmasy picture for Embrace The Camera. But, when I woke up this morning, the cold air hitting my toes after throwing off my blankets had me longing for warmer days. And iced tea. And flip-flops. And the windows rolled down in the car. Excuse me as I pause and wipe away a few grieving tears.

So, I want to take a moment of silence and remember June, July and August:

Look at those joyful (WARM) faces...

Those were happy days.  Now, go link up to Emily's blog and EMBRACE THE CAMERA!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rumplestiltskin Is My Name...

Remember that fairytale? It's pretty creepy actually. Well, I'm not exactly spinning straw into gold (if I could...oh never mind, no use in torturing myself with the possibilities...), but I have been doing some sewing. I've shocked myself by how much I've loved it! I've found a new love of textiles and there's nothing better than seeing an idea become a finished product.

For my first real sewing project, I tackled Christmas stockings. I figured I should start out with something pretty basic so I wouldn't become frustrated and call it quits. I've been wanting new stockings to hang, and was really having a difficult time finding something that was A) simple and modern, and B) in my price range. So, I did a bit of online research, and narrowed down a few designs that really fit the style I was going for. I decided I was going for modern meets retro...or something like that.

I chose to work with felt because it's a sturdy fabric and fairly forgiving as far as mistakes go (and believe me, I made a LOT!). My seam ripper became my best friend during this project.

I sketched out a basic stocking pattern and a few details to attach to each stocking for a little flair. I used the patterns to trace onto the felt, then cut everything out, pinned it together, and straight stitched everything.(Sorry guys, I had some great photos of the whole process, but somehow they were deleted...) I decided to do a raw hem (I think that's what it's called) to give it that homemade feel.

And here is the finished product...

The only one left is Stella. She's been a bit naughty, but, even naughty dogs get a treat on Christmas. She'll have a stocking decked out with a bone...

This was a super-fun starter project, and I learned through the mistakes. Hopefully, I'll tackle other sewing projects and post about them along the way...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thrifted Threads Thursday...

Today isn't so much about thrifted threads, but rather repurposed threads. I have an extensive collection of t-shirts. In fact, I have more tees than anything else. I just can't resist their soft, stretchy, comfiness. It's crazy. It's an obsession. It's probably an addiction. But, rather than go to therapy for my little problem, I decided to repurpose them. A few of them were borderline immodest with all the holes and thinning fabric (yikes!). But, instead of throwing them out, I did a little google research and found a tutorial for a Jersey Statement Necklace. I got to work, and here is my formerly risque tee turned necklace:

The tutorial author gives lots of great embellishment ideas, but I chose to keep it simple by attaching some hand-me-down faux pearls I had lying around. The author also recommends using a tee that does not have side seams...I chose to keep the seams to give it a more urban/distressed feel. If I make another one (Hello? New obsession displacing old one?) I might give it a more streamlined look. So, there you have it!

Embrace The Camera...

This morning I caught the little miss on a good day...she wanted to cuddle and she wasn't going anywhere too soon. I called for my sweet hubby to grab the camera and quickly take a picture before she got spooked:
As soon as the photo op was done...she was too. It's all for publicity. Happy Thursday and go Embrace the Camera!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The One About Standing Out...

My sweet little guy was tasked with a preschool homework project: Decorate a paper tree. The directions listed all sorts of ideas to spur artistic creativity for parent and child. I dug through my stash of craft supplies and the little Mr. and I decided on some glitter, foam craft stickers and cut outs from Christmas wrapping paper. He colored his little heart out, cut and pasted and glittered the heck out of his little tree and when done, he held up his masterpiece and declared, "It's Finished!" Then we set it on the counter to dry for a Long. Long. Long. Time. (He used a LOT of glue).

This morning he ran in the kitchen and grabbed his tree and was so excited to show Miss 'M' at school. When we arrived at school, we walked the halls to see that some of the trees had already been hung. The little Mr. looked down at his Charlie Brown tree and looked back up at the Martha Stewart trees glistening in a row. Some were strung with tulle and real miniature ornaments, colored perfectly with stickers and gadgets applied expertly. He looked down at his tree and with a sad face said, "My tree doesn't have real ornaments, I only have stickers." I felt so bad. Maybe I should have pulled out more items for him. Maybe I should have arranged things. But then it wouldn't have been his. It would have been mine. I figured The little Mr. was probably too young to hear a pep-talk lecture on Picasso and how criticized he was for his break from traditional art and how choosing to step outside of the box changed art as we know it. Too deep a discussion for a preschool project.

So, I opted for a mommy hug and kiss, praised him for a job well-done, and ushered him into his class. Miss 'M' welcomed him to class and he raised up his tree to her and started to walk away when she exclaimed, "What a great tree! I love it!" She quickly began pointing out all the things she loved about his tree and he began talking excitedly about the glitter and the stickers. He was once again proud of his project for all of the reasons that initially brought him joy.

Today my sweet mr. unknowingly learned about satisfaction. That judging himself against others will not bring joy. He learned that he is unique. That God created him to be Ethan and that means that like each of us, everything about him is special. In his mind, he stood out today...and he didn't know if he liked that or not. But, with encouragement, he realized that standing out and being who God created him to be is good. This won't be the only lesson. It might get harder as he gets older. More comparisons. More choices. Differences...

The apostle Paul said in Galations 1:10

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ."

If only my little mr. realized today that he brought a great lesson to his mommy (Hello? People pleaser?). Even as adults we struggle with wanting to be like someone else instead of who God created us to be. It's hard to see ourselves as our Heavenly Father sees us. HE sees the potential and the things about us that will bring glory and joy to HIM. We struggle through worrying about pleasing those around us rather than serving HIM.

When I picked up my little mr. from school, his tree hung proudly in the hall amongst the Martha Stewarts. His stood out. His was different. And when he walked past he shouted out proudly, "Look mommy! That one's mine!" And that's what our Heavenly Father says as HE rejoices over us, "Look, that one's MINE..."

Thursday, December 2, 2010


It's Thrifted Threads Thursday! Today's post is brought to you by the equator. My, how this frozen Des Moines girl wishes for the warmth being experienced by the people hanging out on that imaginary line.
On the topic of the equator, that's what this outfit reminds me of. While I love the look of a belted cardigan, this outfit drove me nuts all day Sunday as I fussed and fidgeted with the belt cinching me in the middle as the cardigan bulged above and below giving me the look of a northern and southern hemisphere muffin top. Not cute. I eventually removed the belt at home and declared myself free.

I love the pieces separately, just not together...

Blouse: Thrifted J.Crew

Belt: Thrifted

Bracelets: Thrifted

If any of you have any great thrifted treasures, I'd love for you to share in the comments section! Happy Thursday!