Friday, December 31, 2010

My year, according to Facebook

I compiled my favorite Facebook status updates of 2010. Here are the top 24. (That's two a month, you know.)

1. Jayda: "ga-ga-ga-ga" Translation: "So many pieces of furniture to spit up on, so little time."

2. I'm not sure how I'm going to tell my imaginary personal trainer on Wii Active that I haven't been showing up to jog in place on her fake track because I'm too busy dancing with my imaginary friends on Wii Just Dance. I think I'm getting more of a workout, too.

3. I'm wondering how the "French bread" I made for dinner is going to taste, since I just read the package and found out it was a roll of refrigerated pizza crust dough.

4. I'm thinking about going on my biannual run. I try to run one mile once every two years. It's a rigorous schedule so I want to make sure I'm mentally prepared before I just jump in.

5. Three children in awana. Spent the evening at awards ceremony. One out of the 3 actually made it all the way home with the award.

6. Matthew just asked me when I was a kid how old I had to be to have an iPod. :)

7. I love how the first born wants to make sure he completely understands the rules. The second born tries his best to break the rules. And the third born is like, "Oh, I didn't know there were rules!"

8. I love my 9-year-old. I asked him the difference between famous and obscure. Famous: "Barack Obama." Obscure: "A kid named Toto Baggypants who lived in Africa and only had nine friends."

9.The kids found a centipede in our house so they used the scissors to cut it into three pieces. When it was STILL moving, they suggested we put it on Facebook, my blog AND my iPod... "That would really froke people out," according to Alayna. (Froke is the past tense of freak, in case you didn't know.)

10. just discovered the best way to do laundry: "One load at a time." (If anyone wants to quote me on this amazing statement, please feel free. I'm sure it will be a famous quote someday. hahahaha.)

11. deep thoughts from a 9-year-old: "When Tiger Woods was good, it seemed like he was really good. But when he's not good, you find out his true character... I get tired of seeing his tantrums."

12. Alayna has an empty water bottle and she wants to know if she can use it for a "Skittles" bottle. Her plan is to go around the neighborhood and ask people if they have any leftover Skittles.

13. The 7 year old just came downstairs wearing swimming trunks, a firefighter jacket and carrying an Indiana Jones whip. Sometimes, I don't bother to ask why.

14. Quotes of the day: "WHEN is tomorrow?" ... and you can't let your toothbrush touch someone else's toothbrush because "you might get diabetes!!"

15. Hmmm... Not sure about certain little boys who beg me to go down the tube slide with them because my extreme weight will increase their speed, then to thank me they jump off at the end and make me flip into the water! Fun times!

16. Perspective is a great thing. Funny how when we had one child it seemed like we had our hands full. But now that we have four, and three are at a sleep-over, it seems totally quiet with one.

17. Quote of the week: Matthew: "So what's that smell at So-and-So's house?" Andrew: "I think it's... clean-ness." (Because, clearly, it's not a smell they are used to!)

18. Uncle! I've reached my limit. Just did the "emergency" load of laundry so we would have clothes for soccer tomorrow. The washing machine was on the spin cycle when I noticed the clothes still sitting on the floor. The load of water should be nice and clean.

19. Kent and I have been married for 13 years. He just said to me: "It's been the best 10 years of my life." Oh well... at least we make each other laugh!

20. We are studying biology this year, and we have read three different books recently with sections about the sea cucumber. When it is threatened, it protects itself by expelling its intestines. Another fish likes to live inside the cucumber and sometimes eats its insides. When we opened our book today and saw another setion on the sea cucumber, Alayna said, "Oh no! Not that pickle again!"

21. I love it when the kids, including their friends, all come inside for hot chocolate after playing outside since the crack of dawn, they take off their snowsuits and realize they are still wearing PJs. So funny!

22. iPad.

23. I solved the rubik's cube.

24. The zoo lights really put me in the Christmas spirit. I'm ready to get out the Christmas tree! Visiting the zoo in December inspired me to write this poem: At the zoo. In the Winter. No crowds. No animals.


Something for the new year

It's the last day of 2010, and I'm feeling the pressure. For the past few weeks, I've been contemplating something I would like to do in the new year. Before announcing my big plan tomorrow, I decided to post it here first and get the input of my wonderful and wise blog readers.

This is a resolution that doesn't involve exercising or reading a certain number of books or sending out more birthday cards or working harder. Whew!

I have been wanting to sit down with my iPhoto and create photo albums of our family. It's so easy to create beautiful photo books these days. No need for special papers or embellishments or acid-free glue anymore. In fact, the books themselves don't even have to be hard copies. They can play as slide shows on the desktop computer or travel with me on the iPad.

I started working on J's baby book and realized that I have so many great stories on my blog that I can cut and paste into her book to chronicle her first year.

So, I was thinking... What if everyday of 2011 I created one new page in my photo book? It could be a daily photo to capture the moment or a snippet of our life. Basically, I would like to do a better job keeping track of those "moments of meaning" that I talk about.

I would also like to post these moments on my blog. But here are my thoughts:

I would love to look back at 2011 and be able to remember one little thing we did everyday of the year. But I don't want to get so busy recording moments that I forget to enjoy the moments.

I would love to set a goal to do this every single day. But I don't want to add one more chore to my life that I stress about.

I would love to challenge myself to find the moments. It would push me to think of more creative ways to use my camera and my words to find the good in our everyday. But that also could change the tone of my blog. I don't want to lose my freedom to write about whatever random thought pops into my mind.

My friend, Kelly, does an amazing job of posting a photo and a short snippet to chronicle every day of the year at her house. She is also smart about it! She doesn't necessarily post every single day. Often she goes back and catches up from days she missed.

So, I'm trying to decide if this should be a 365 days of the year type of thing. Or maybe just a Monday through Friday thing. Or perhaps just a weekly recap.

Anyway, I would love to read your thoughts on the matter. You can feel free to encourage me in this idea or to be my voice of reason. And I also would love to know if any of you have a system for staying up-to-date with your photos and albums.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Captain's Log

Stardate: 122710

It is eerily quiet here. Half of the members of the ship have now been overtaken by "the illness." The three that are down have been in a near comatose state for the past four hours. (The baby is taking a nap.)

For the two of us that remain, we can't decide which fear is worse: To get the illness or to be the last one standing.

We are afraid to eat or drink. We have seen the violent ramifications of that activity on the other members of the crew.

We have lost nearly all contact with the outside world. The Comcast has gone down. This took out the phone, both desktop computers, the laptop, the iTouch. Even the iPad has failed.

Only the iPhone remains.

We ask that you don't come near. The illness spreads quickly, and no one is immune. For your own safety, forget about us. Stay away. Stay....



Sunday, December 26, 2010


When I was a kid, my brother and I had a long-standing tradition around Christmas time. As soon as our parents would leave us at home alone for any reason, we would look at each other and shout, "Let's find the Christmas presents!"

I can't remember how old we were when our parents started leaving us home alone. We had two older sisters who would watch us, and we lived in a small town where we didn't even lock our front door when we would leave the house. So, I know we stayed home alone at a much earlier age than I would ever consider for my kids.

I also remember that at age 10, I started babysitting for another family. Like most people, the neighbors probably confused my name with that of my older sister, Amy, and were actually hoping the 16-year-old would show up to babysit. Whatever, the case, I collected my 10-year-old self and figured out how to change diapers, make dinner and stay up until midnight, watching the backyard neighbors.


Most years, my brother and I had figured out what was inside all of our Christmas presents, and we had mastered the art of acting surprised as we opened each gift.

For many years, all I wanted for Christmas was a Little People set. I had the house, the school, the garage, the hospital, the Sesame Street house and several others. I'm sure I was a much older age than kids are today when I continued drifting off into my imaginary world to play with my Little People. (I think we called them Fisher Price People, back then.)

When I was in third grade, I distinctly remember begging my mom for a new electronic wonder called, "Blip."

"Please, Mom. If I get nothing else for Christmas, please just get me Blip." I spent hours back in those days scanning the landfill nightmare known as the JCPenney Big Book, circling every toy and game that looked even slightly entertaining. But the most awe-inspiring one that year was this electronic game that involved a single blip of light that bounced from one side of the screen to the other. Players tried to hit the bouncing circle and keep an opponent from scoring, much like air hockey.

In sixth grade, all of the kids in our family jointly received Atari. Boy, that was a relief not to be the only kid at school who did NOT get Atari. We used our joysticks to master PacMan, Pong, Tank and a racing game.

In eighth grade, my parents gave both me and my brother boom boxes. This gift required some extra snooping. When they were gone one day, we actually unwrapped our boom boxes and rewrapped them to find out what was inside.

Somehow, my kids have not inherited my obsession for finding Christmas presents long before Christmas Day. I supposed when we wrap a snowboard without putting it in a box first, it doesn't require a whole lot of investigative skills to uncover what it might be. The football and Lego sets were pretty obvious, too. Or maybe they also inherited my ability to act really surprised.

But I have found, after all of these years, that the best gifts are the ones I didn't see coming. The best gifts are the ones that weren't on my list. They are the ones someone else picked out for me. They are the ones I never would have even asked for. They are the ones someone else knew I needed or would love and they took the time to track them down and find them.

They are often the simple things, as well. Even in the mix of the Wii games, Barbie and Lego, my kids were still fascinated yesterday with teaching a Slinky to walk down the stairs and figuring out how to solve a Rubik's cube. We also spent a few hours solving mysteries last night with our new game of "Clue."

My husband did surprise me with the BEST. GIFT. EVER. in purely materialistic terms. (I will have to write about that one in a separate post.)

But this will also be a Christmas I will remember for the joy of giving. I was blessed because of a couple of totally strange and unplanned circumstances to give a few gifts to people outside of our family. Both instances were outside my control, and I guess you could have described them as life giving me lemons. But because of what happened, I was able to give someone else lemonade. (I so wish I could tell all of the details here, but I just can't.)

Anyway, God blessed me by allowing me to give those gifts to someone else. The beautiful thing was how much the people receiving them appreciated those gifts.

My heart was filled with joy this year at watching my kids open their gifts, even though they probably weren't as spectacular as some of the Christmases in the past. And I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of my husband and his surprise gifts. I definitely scored on the receiving end this year, but my happiness at his gift also filled him with joy. So, I realized that although it's better to give then to receive, it's also nice to be a good recipient.

What about you? What is your most memorable Christmas gift? Was it something you gave or something you were given?


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In defense of the friend finder

A few months ago, a friend of mine from college sent me a message on Facebook.

"I found Mark and Karen!" she wrote. "And they're married!"

I was a mix of surprise and totally not surprised. But mostly I was so happy for my two buddies from our single years. Immediately, I made a friend request, and within a few days, I was snooping around to find out what had become of my two friends.

I hadn't seen Mark in nearly 15 years. I hadn't seen Karen since right after I was married, about 13 years ago. Somehow, in all of their various moves to Russia, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas City and Arizona, we had lost track of each other.

I did a little snooping around Facebook, as any long, lost friend would do. I found out that after yeas of on-and-off dating, they had gotten married two years ago. I saw photos of them scaling gorgeous rocks in Arizona and looking like neither of them had aged one single day.

On Sunday, they sent me a message through Facebook. They were home from Arizona, visiting Karen's mom who lives just a few miles from my house! Could they come for a visit?

I have to admit that this thought, at first, made me very nervous. I wanted to write back and say, "Yes, you can visit. But you have to understand. I'm 41 now! I have given birth to FOUR children! I drive a minivan. We might not have a very peaceful conversation. And my baby throws her food on the floor. It's not always pretty."

You see. There's something very comforting about living inside this computer. There's something very safe about hiding behind the wall of Facebook. There's something nice and cozy about living inside my blog. I only have to show you the pretty parts. I only have to tell you what is nice and happy. And you can't see my wrinkles or the food on the floor or hear the children argue.

Maybe my marathon-running, mountain-climbing, professional friends would shake their heads at my minivan and my house in cookie-cutter suburbia. My home-schooling, stay-at-home mom self was remembering my ambitious, carefree, single self, and I wasn't sure if they would even recognize me. It had been so long.

As the time grew closer for their arrival, I started getting excited. "It's Mark and Karen! Why am I worrying?!" I was thinking about heaven, to tell you the truth. It must be so fun to show up in heaven one day and see friends you haven't seen in decades! It must be so fun to be reunited as one big family, never to be separated again.

And so with all of these thoughts fresh in my mind, I did what only I would do when they walked up to my door. I started crying. That's one way to break the ice, I guess.

We immediately started talking about the time Mark put the car in reverse and spilled an extra large Coke all over my lap. The time Karen and I were roommates, and I spilled a big tray of enchiladas on the (very dirty) floor, then served them anyway to our dinner guests. The times Karen and I drove to St. Louis to meet up with Mark, who lived in Kansas City.

We laughed. And my heart was filled with so much joy at that immediate connection you feel with people who knew you before. They knew me before marriage. Before kids. When we were all young and had dreams and plans. And now, here we were, in our 40s, not doing what we had planned. And we were all old enough to realize those things didn't really matter anyway.

We could pick up again right where we left off. We had all gone through heartache and pain and loss and joy and happiness, and we could meet again right where we were.

So, I had one of those days where I was happy for Facebook and the friend finder. And even happier for old friends who are new friends again.


Saturday, December 18, 2010


As I was changing around my blog last night, I was so amazed to see how much our family has changed in just one year. The kids look so much older since last winter.

I decided to look back at our family photos from this year. It's amazing how much their little faces change even from one season to the next. Take a look.

Last winter:





Friday, December 17, 2010

Time for a change

We've been doing lots of cleaning and organizing around our house the past few weeks, and I finally decided it was time to clean up the blog, as well.

If you are reading on your phone, via e-mail, facebook or your reader, click on over today and say, "Hello" to my new look for winter. I took some photos of the family today and got inspired to dress the blog in the same calm colors.

Remember how the blog looked this morning?

I cleared out some things on the sidebars, too. And I finally added my blog roll back on the right. It was getting so long and unruly last year that I just deleted it completely. For now, I have only listed my friends in real life who have blogs I read. I also only listed people who post on a regular basis. If I forgot you, PLEASE let me know!

Would you do me a favor and let me know if anything is not working for you with the new design? Thanks for stopping! Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The menu

I don't get out much. My idea of "me time" these days is sitting in the dentist's chair being lulled into a mindless state by the steady hum of the drill.

My idea of a quality meal is when I add a side dish of a flavored rice packet to the chicken and mushroom soup mixture in the crock pot.

And a quality conversation usually involves topics like, "What would you like to be when you grow up?"

So, I have to say that going out to dinner with my husband's boss last night was a rare treat. I had to focus all of my brain power to keep up with the conversation on politics, sports and all of the famous people he somehow knows.

And my stomach still hasn't quite regained full functioning ability after the shock of the culinary extravaganza that was put before us. So, yes. To prove just how uncultured I have become, I will now write a blog post about what I ate for dinner. I hope you will be just a tiny bit impressed. (If you aren't, I will have to pull from my long-lost brain cells some forgotten fact about all of the governors of Illinois and how many have been imprisoned, as I did last night.)

I have to say this combination of food at The Gage would have to go in my Top 10 list of the most unusual meals I have ever consumed.

House Poutine: Elk Ragout, Curd Cheese, Chips
Gage N-17 "Fondue": Butter Kaase, Spinach, Toast
Braised Swan Creek Goat: Ricotta Gnocchi, Fall Vegetables

Smoke Haddock Brandade: Grilled Miche

Three Rivers Greens: Dried Cherries, Pistachio, Blue Cheese, Sweet Sherry Vinaigrette

(I went with the house special. I was on the fence until my husband's boss declared, "When in Rome..." And since it was more expensive than the 16 oz. steak, I decided it MUST be worth trying.)
Roasted Saddle of Elk: Rutabaga, Aged Goat Cheese, Juniper-Cherry Reduction

Organic Greens and Duck
Roasted Woodland Mushrooms
Brussels Sprouts, Brie, Applewood Bacon

Baked Chocolate Parfait: Whipped Pumpkin, Fried Chocolate Truffle, Cocoa Nibs

And now, to somehow speed up the digestion process so I can go out to my staff Christmas lunch in an hour. (I need a nap.)

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Let them eat cake

We are having a cookie exchange tomorrow at our home school co-op. I decided that would be a good opportunity to make cake. You know. Since there might be a lot of cookies already.

OK. I might as well tell the truth. I LOVE CAKE BALLS.

This is my fourth attempt at making cake balls, and now that I'm starting to get the hang of it, I look for opportunities to make them. Maybe we'll have a pie-baking contest soon, and I can take some cake balls to that, too.


People always ask me what the heck a cake ball is, so here's the deal. (I'm sure you are all done with your duct-tape projects by now, and you are just DYING for another tutorial.)

1. Bake a cake. (Any cake mix will work just fine.) I made three types of cake for the ones pictured above: strawberry covered in chocolate, vanilla covered in white chocolate, and chocolate cake covered in chocolate.

2. Dump the baked cake into a bowl and crumble it into smithereens. Mix in about three-fourths of a can of frosting.

3. Stir it around until the whole thing sticks together like one big ball.

4. Take a small scoop and form the cake into balls. Put them on a pan covered in wax paper. Put the pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until you are ready for the next step.

5. I should have mentioned at the beginning that you will need some Candy Melt chocolate. (Wilton makes this.) I'm assuming you don't have this on hand, so I'm sorry I didn't say something earlier. This is only my second tutorial. You can buy the chocolate in almost as many colors as you can buy duct tape. They even have it in some swirly colors that slightly resemble the tie-dye duct tape. I'm not making this up.

6. Melt the chocolate according to the package directions. (Didn't that sound official?)

7. Add a big spoonful of Crisco to make the chocolate just a little bit thinner.

8. Dip the cake ball in the chocolate and turn it over with a spoon until it's completely covered.

9. Place on a tray lined with wax paper.

10. Sprinkle it with sprinkles. Or sugar it with colored sugar. Or swirl the top with swirls of chocolate. Whatever you prefer. Just do it QUICK! Since the cake balls were in the freezer, the chocolate will set up very quickly.

For a million super cute designs for every holiday and season, visit She has some amazing ideas.

Here are some other cake balls I made around Halloween. Don't you just want to bite their heads off?

So, there you go. Merry Christmas and Happy Halloween. Whatever the holiday, it's always the perfect time for cake.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to make a duct tape handbag

I'm addicted. Or should I say, I'm stuck? I will admit it. I'm not ashamed. I've gone crazy over duct tape.

After I made that bag on Sunday, I decided I should try my hand at weaving duct tape. I remembered reading this post over on Jenny's blog. By accident, I ended up making my entire bag with one huge piece of duct tape "fabric", and I came up with this:

Cute, huh? Well, I couldn't possibly stop there. I had promised my 6-year-old daughter that bag was for her. But...

Don't you think it would look better on me?

So, I started again. This time, I measured first. And after posting some photos on Facebook and getting lots of requests for instructions, I decided to photograph the process.

Here goes: My first duct tape handbag tutorial. I'm sure it won't be the last.

1. Select the color of tape you would like for the inside of the bag. Stick your strips of duct tape directly on the table. The edge of each new strip should overlap the previous strip.

2. Select the main color you would like for the outside of the bag. You will make another set of strips the same length as those for the inside. However, this time, you want to lay the strips right next to each other without overlapping the edges.

3. Now you are going to take coordinating colors and weave them through the first set of strips. Just pull the tape back and lay a new piece of tape down perpendicular to the first set of strips.

4. Continue doing this until you have weaved a full piece of duct tape.

5. You are going to pull the first piece of fabric — the one for the inside — off the table and lay it down sticky side up.

6. Now, pull the second piece of duct tape fabric off the table.

7. Hold it in a U shape so the sticky side doesn't stick to itself. I learned that if duct tape gets stuck to the OUTSIDE of duct tape, it is super easy to remove. However, if the two sticky sides get stuck, you will NEVER get them apart. (I mean never, as in... not in a million years with even the strongest two people on the planet pulling in opposite directions.)

8. When you have the second piece of duct tape fabric in place over the first piece, lay it down and try to smooth out the wrinkles. Once it's in place, that's it. No turning back. So, just do your best and take deep breaths.

9. Trim the edges to make them straight.

10. OK. This is where I got fancy. I folded my piece of duct tape "fabric" so the bag had a bottom, sides and a flap. I can't really explain how I did this. And it kind of depends on how large you want your bag to be. If you look at Jenny's tutorial, she explains another way to do it where you make separate pieces of duct tape fabric for the back, front and sides.

11. I folded the sides sort of like I was wrapping a gift.

12. Next, just tape up the sides and tape some trim around the top. The great thing about duct tape is that if you make a mistake, you can just tape over it. And if you don't like something, it's pretty easy to pull off and start over.

13. After that, I made the strap. Just tear off a really long piece of tape and fold it in on itself. Then tear off another piece of tape and stick it over the top, folding again around the back of the first piece of tape. Does that make sense?

14. Use tape to stick on the strap from the inside.

14. I added a little piece of velcro to close it, and DONE! I would say the whole project only took me about an hour!

Now, if you'll excuse me... I need to go make a duct tape cellphone purse.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Busy, busy, terribly busy

A friend I haven't talked to in a while sent me an e-mail recently. "You are so busy," she said.

I asked another friend how she had been doing lately, and she responded with one word: "Busy."

It's no secret that we are a generation that seems busier than ever before. And yet, I cringe when someone tells me I'm "busy." I really dislike that word. I don't like hearing it from others, and I don't like it when someone uses it to describe me. I'm actually trying to eliminate it from my vocabulary.

Here's the thing.

Every person on this planet has the same 24 hours in a day. Each one of us decides how we will use those hours. We are all equal in this regard.

Now, some people might have jobs that require them to work more hours than others. Some people have more children who demand more of their time.

But for the most part, we all choose how we will spend the hours in our day. Some of us choose to sign up for activities for our kids. Others choose to work outside the home or inside the home. Some people choose to work more hours than they really have to. Many people choose to exercise or keep their homes really clean or pursue a hobby.

And there is nothing wrong with any of those choices.

But that's just it. Whatever it is that people choose, it really is a choice.

So, when people say they are busy, they are actually stating a priority. They are saying, "I don't have time to do that because I have chosen to make other things a priority in my life."

If someone repeatedly says she is too busy to spend time with someone, she is stating a priority. When someone tells me that I'm too busy, that person isn't allowing me to state my priority. He or she has decided for me that I'm not willing to make time for... whatever.

Now, there are definitely times of life when things get crazy. Fall seems to be a time when all of the activities start up again and suddenly, it feels like we don't have time for anything that is just relaxing and fun. The same thing can happen around the holidays.

It seems like we often forget that we need to schedule some "margin" into our lives. This is the white space where we have time to sit on the floor with the kids or sit outside in the sun or be available when someone drops by. Those moments of margin can be the relaxed times when some of the best conversations can happen.

So, yes. I do have a lot of responsibilities in my life right now. But believe it or not, I actually feel like I have quite a bit of margin. To me, I feel busy when I am constantly running from one thing to the next. We certainly have our seasons of crazy.

But busy? No, thanks.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Just ducky

Or maybe I should say, "Just duct-y."

I'm not sure what's proper anymore. All I can tell you is this post is going to be covered in duck tape... er, duct tape.

Last summer, I was sitting around being pregnant when I read this awesome blog post by my make-believe, bloggy friend, Jenny. "What?!" I said to my pregnant self. "I have got to try that!"

But being rather tired for the next three months, I didn't try it. Instead, I told my homeschool friends about the awesomeness that can be achieved with colored duct tape.

Fast forward to Friday when my 10-year-old showed me a project from one of his final duct tape classes at co-op. Another mom had heard about the wonders of duct-taping things — other than things that needed to be repaired — and my son had become a bit addicted to the stuff.

He has been duct-taping everything he can get his hands on the past few months. He's made a notebook holder, a wallet, a bag, a cup holder, flip-flops, a belt and more swords and daggers than you can imagine.

When I saw the super cute bags the girls in the class had made, I couldn't stop thinking about it either. Yes, it's true. Bags might be the one fashion item that I love almost as much as boots... and necklaces.

To say I couldn't sleep the next night because I was so busy thinking about how I was going to turn a bag I have into a duck-tape bag would sound ridiculous. So, I won't include that part.

However, my son and I made a date to go duck tape shopping right after church. We spent two hours in the freezing cold running in and out of stores before we could find all of the colors we wanted. Of course, I was searching for those colors. It was two awesome hours of shopping, eating candy bars, drinking Sierra Mist and laughing as my 10-year-old talked non-stop about his life.

We went to Target, Meijer, two different Michaels and a Jo-Ann's to come up with this:

My project?

I started with this bag:

And turned it into this:

The electric Sanctuary bag. You want one, don't you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Our baby is 1 today.

I can't believe it. I can't believe what a sweet blessing this year has been. This first year has been so full of challenges, excitement, joy, laughter and even total entertainment since she joined our family.

She has been such a gift in so many ways. From that moment on April 6, 2009, when I realized my dream of having a fourth child was really going to be a reality, to the ultrasound when I realized our daughter was getting a sister, to Dec. 1, 2009, when she demanded to come out early and we got to see her beautiful little face.

From those first moments of life, she let us know she wasn't afraid to speak up for herself. She cried at the top of her lungs for more than an hour after she was born. My husband and I just looked at each other and laughed. "Wow! Isn't the fourth child supposed to be easy going and quiet?"

She eventually calmed down, and we got to know the little sweetheart that she is.

She loves to be snuggled. She is full of so much joy that she makes everyone around her smile.

Now, when she enters a room, she holds out one hand and says, "HAH! HAH! HAH!" as loud as she can until everyone around her is motioning back and greeting her in the same way.

She has loved music from as early as I can remember. Music has always soothed her. Now, she definitely has her favorite songs. Most of them are by TobyMac. She starts bobbing her head and shaking her shoulders as soon as she hears the beat.

She is spoiled rotten by her brothers and sister. She was an early crawler, an early sitter and an early stander. But walking? She has taken a step or two, but who needs to walk when you have five perfectly good people to carry you around the house? She holds out her hands and climbs up legs until someone picks her up. Then she grins with that knowing look as she is toted around from room to room.

Her siblings adore her. They race up to her crib as soon as they hear that she is awake. They argue over who gets to carry her downstairs or hold her. In a house that is so busy, she does not like to be left out. She cries if she detects the older kids might be going somewhere without her.

And go she does. I'm not sure if she is flexible by nature or because she has to be to survive. We try to stick to her schedule, but she often has to adjust to the activities of three older siblings. She goes with the flow and usually does so with a smile... or by taking a nap.

All of the kids have had a favorite blankie and she is no exception. Hers is a super soft white blanket. As soon as she sees it, her thumbs goes in her mouth and she makes her sleepy sound: "Oiy, oiy, oiy."

She has been a Houdini from the beginning, wriggling her way out of bouncy seats and high chairs. She races up stairs and shouts at us from between the stair rails.

As the fourth born myself, I have been so afraid that she would be ignored or overlooked. Instead, the five of us can be entertained for hours just watching her crawl around the room, empty baskets and squeal with delight.

"What would we do without her?" we ask ourselves.

Happy Birthday, sweet 1-year-old!

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