Monday, January 18, 2016

Date Day with Riley

No school today means I'm free to have a date with one of the kids and today was Riley's turn! All weekend she has wanted to do our date and I promised we'd do it today, despite the cold. Unfortunately her chosen date activity was ice skating.

Well, a promise is a promise so skating it was!

Never mind the winchill of -23. We probably didn't last much longer than 20 minutes. But she did well for our first time out this season. Hopefully it's a little warmer the next time we try.

After skating we decided to warm up with some Caribou. We picked up Austin first because we felt bad leaving him at home (Ellie was at her friends house). Generous of Riley to allow him on her date!

We dropped Austin back at home and headed to Joann Fabrics for some stuffing so she could see a pillow but instead we fell in love with some incredibly soft fabrics and decided a blanket was a better project. Her baby blankets are more holes than anything so this is her replacement.

Riley got a sewing machine for Christmas. She is still getting the hang of it and sews at an incredibly fast speed. It's a work in progress.

She did a great job. Not so eager to work with the pins but still great. Next up is a matching pillow that we might stuff with her ratty old blankets.

Another successful date!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ellie's Debut Song

All December Ellie was asking me what I wanted for Christmas.  She was dead set on the idea that she was going to use her own money to buy each of us a Christmas present.  It was very sweet but I didn't want her to spend her money on us so I kept coming up with silly things I wanted...."for you to hang up your coat for a whole month"..."a giant hug"....."your best drawing of a penguin", etc.  Then one day I was cleaning up their papers of doodles when I started reading one of Ellie's sheet.  Ellie has always liked to write lists and often writes little poems on her drawings.

As a side note, Ellie has always been our little "holy roller".  And I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with that, it just always throws us off a bit and makes us smile when, out of no where, she brings Jesus into the conversation.

So, I was not surprised to find her latest poem had to do with the birth of Jesus. It was close to Christmas and all so it was on her mind.  But, her latest poem was a bit more insightful than her others.  When I told her I really liked it she explained it was a song.  The next time she asked me what I wanted for Christmas I told her I wanted her to write music to go with her lyrics.  This was finally an acceptable gift in Ellie's mind.

Next my sister joined the game.  Not only is she Ellie's Aunt, but also her piano teacher.  Also, she has written her fair share of music.  I had sent the song to my mom and sister in an email earlier in the week so when Ellie approached Kerry "secretly" about writing the music she wasn't totally caught off guard.  On the Monday before Christmas Kerry came and picked up Ellie and Ellie told me she had to go practice a Christmas duet with her.  But really they worked on my song (and really, I knew this all along but Ellie really wanted it to be a surprise).  And when all the work was done Ellie came home with a folder in her hand, with a bow on it, and put it under the tree.  Then she nonchalantly told me that she was pretty sure there was a new gift for me under the tree. A file folder with penguins drawn all over it.  Who could it be from????

And on Christmas I received my gift!


(I had to make it a "video" to be able to post it here)

Of course I got a little teary both as I read the dedication to me on the front page and when I sat down at the piano to play the song while she sang for me.  She is just too sweet.

Kerry gave me the details of the writing process and so thank you to her too because it sounds like Ellie definitely had some opinions on how she wanted things to sound so I'm sure the process wasn't quick.

Now you can all say "I knew her when..." when she achieves her goal of becoming a famous rock star someday.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Snow Globe

I know I've already posted about the porch and how much I love it but as an update, it's still my favorite room of our house.  It's so warm and toasty with the fireplace. It's almost impossible to resist a nap when you're in there (just ask Rob and Loki...they fall victim the most!).  And this year we added a beautiful Christmas tree!  But mostly I want to thank my friend, Michelle, for making the tree happen.

Here is what I did.  Purchased the tree from Walmart.  Called Michelle and said "Please come make my tree pretty."  Escorted Michelle to purchase whatever ornaments and decorations she declared were necessary.

And then, on the day of the big party for the neighborhood I decorated our house with our Christmas stuff and I left Michelle alone on the porch to do what she does best.  I was and am still delighted with the result!

It's a skinny little thing but it fits there perfectly and I love sitting out there in my snow globe and looking at it. I decided that I am just going to throw a sheet or bag of some sort over it and it will go down in the basement all decorated and put together because I would never get it to look like that again.

Thanks Michelle!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Big Reveal

For at least a year Rob has dreamed of transforming all of the woodwork in our house.  Everything is honey oak.  Everything.  And although we loved it when we built our house (even though it wasn’t our first choice, just the standard option) after 10 years we were ready for a change.  We really love the look of white trim.

We spent hours looking on to find pictures of what we could do to our house (and what we couldn’t).  We finally settled on the idea that Rob would be able to replace all of the trim around the floor, windows and doors with new white woodwork and that we could stain all remaining woodwork (fireplace, family room posts, kitchen cabinets, and actual doors) with a dark stain that would hide all of the oak grain we were tired of looking at.  And then we thought the kitchen might get kind of dark with that color so we thought painting the island white would brighten things up.
Well, fast forward to October 20th.  An email was sent out to some of the neighbor ladies asking who would like to host this years Christmas party.  I was thinking it had been awhile since I had hosted everyone so I asked Rob if he cared.  He did not.  And then  he added “we should redo our house for that”.  I didn’t think there was a way to get everything done by the party day, December 11th.  It was only 7 weeks.  Rob assured me we could do it.  So, I agreed to host the part and the next day we got started.  And of course I didn’t remember to take pictures until we were under way.
Rob took off some trim to see how it would come off and thankfully the answer was “fairly easily”.  So, the next day I spent the whole day removing every piece of trim around the floors, doors and windows.  It remained one of my favorite parts of the whole project.  Apparently I’m more of a destructor than constructor.  I then made a schedule of every single thing we would have to do each day in order to have the project completed on time.

For the most part, I worked on all the staining of dark wood and Rob worked on all the painting and trimming of white.  Of course there was some tag teaming both ways but it was a good system.  Rob built some beautiful headers for all the doors and windows!  Once we had almost everything stained we painted the whole downstairs.  We removed the balusters from the staircase and replaced them with fancy iron balusters (this was my favorite project).  In order to stain the wood around the stairs, we had to cut the carpet about 3 inches on either side…which meant we needed new carpet.  And then just to add a little more chaos to the schedule we decided new counter tops were in order as well.

It was a hairy 7 weeks.  I think there were only 2 nights out of the 49 that we didn’t do something for this project.  Our countertops were installed on December 7th and the carpet on December 9th.  That left the 10th to paint remaining areas and touch up stain.  And that left the 11th to finally decorate for Christmas for the party that night.  Nothing like taking it to the last minute!  But we love the results!  And without further adieu here are the before and after pictures:

Front Hallway:

Piano Room:



And for good measure a shot of the whole kitchen and the whole family room (no before pictures)

I still don’t feel rested from all the work.  As soon as the party was over it felt like December just flew by with one activity/party after another. I’m looking forward to the kids going back to school and settling back into a routine that doesn’t involve any paint brushes.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Got the presents wrapped. Finally.

Time for the kiddos to inspect, shake, compare notes with lists, count, and otherwise make me nervous they will accidental be opened.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Let's Go to the Movies...

(You have to sing that title….like from the movie “Annie”.)
My children are harassing me because I promised I would blog about this a month ago and have not. Here goes…
About a month ago Rob went to Brazil for the week.  We were in the middle of our giant home renovation so there was chaos surrounding us.  Plus, it was a Thursday and on Thursday our evenings look like this:
4pm – kids get off the bus
4:25 – bring Ellie to piano lessons
5pm – pick up Ellie
6:25 – bring Riley to piano lessons
6:40 – drop off Austin at karate
7:00 – pick up Riley
7:45 – pick up Austin
8:00 – Eat

Some would argue I could throw “eat” in there after Ellie’s lesson and before Rileys but if Austin eats before karate he feels ill.  At any rate, its our only super busy day so it’s not a huge deal, but when Rob is traveling it gets a bit nutty.  So, on the way home from karate I was mentally done for the day. I said “Let’s rent a movie. When we get home everyone puts on their jammies and we’re having popcorn, M&Ms, and apples for dinner while we watch a movie.”  The kids scurried upstairs to get ready when we got home and I put some thing away  downstairs got the DVD ready (the new Cinderella) and then headed up to get my own sweatpants on and when I came down I had this:

They had made me a movie theater.
Get the theme?  Cinderlla’s glass slipper, the pumpkin that Ellie is changing into a carriage…
I had a menu:

If I remember correctly I had popcorn, cotton candy, and pop (with free refills!).
And they made me a red carpet to walk on to get to my seat:

And they had set up a snuggly spot for me to sit and enjoy the show:

We stayed up a bit too late for a school night but it was worth it.  These guys knew just what we needed that night!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

She's "Spec"tacular

About a month ago we noticed Ellie was having a little trouble reading things on the TV. But she seemed fine otherwise and life was busy so getting her to the eye Dr. didn't happen immediately. Then about 3 days later she came into our bedroom at about 10pm and said "Mom, I forgot to tell you....I had a hearing test today and I need glasses.".

Now, it was 10pm, and I tend to shut down after about 9pm, but something about that didn't make sense to me. I must've looked at her funny because then she giggled and said '"Oops, I mean, they checked my hearing and it's awesome! But they also checked my eyes and the lady told me I had horrible vision". (I thought that was a bit harsh.) So, the next day we took her to the eye doctor and he confirmed she is near-sighted; 3 days later she now looks like this:

Isn't she adorable! It was so cool to watch her try them on for the first time. I mean, she doesn't have a horrible prescription but he did say it was a fairly significant prescription for a first pair. She put them on and smiled really big, then she'd take them off, and put them back on. Tell me all the things she could read on the walls and all the signs she could see on the way home. Ellie has had experience with glasses once before in an effort to control her migraines but she hated wearing them and they didn't seem to do anything for the migraines so we eventually stopped trying. I was worried this was going to be a similar experience where I would constantly be telling her to put her glasses on, but she was so excited about what she could see that she hasn't once complained about them.

Ellie picked out two pair. These are her favorite. The other pair is a bright, almost neon, purple. To be honest I wasn't crazy about either pair in the store but I am the girl who picked out Smurfette glasses in kindergarten that were pink on the top and blue on the bottom so I wasn't in a position to say anything. I do love them now. They are very "Ellie".

The only sad part is that I think they make her look older....*sniff*....she's growing up.