Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Serendipitous Quote

When life doesn't take you exactly where you thought it would,
it takes faith to know you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meiners' Christmas Stories

So the festivities are about half completed at No.6 Cottage. We'll celebrate at my mom's house on Tuesday. But before then, I thought I would share the news about the death of our shelf elf. And a funny story.

Last Friday night, Elfie returned from the North Pole and landed atop the living room ceiling fan. It was pretty cool to see him perched there when we all woke Saturday morning.

Li'l Meiners thought it would be even cooler to see what would happen if the fan blades began to spin. Would he fly? Could he land? He turned on the fan to see.

I wasn't in the room when all this experimentation transpired. But I saw the remains. Poor Elfie. Were it not bad enough that he face planted into our Friese carpet, but only minutes after his failed landing attempt, Elfie accidentally got kicked across the floor when Meiners was sent on an errand to open the front curtains in the room. You know, of course, that you can't touch the shelf elf.

Elfie didn't come back for two days.


Yesterday, Pookie received a pony for Christmas. No, not a real pony. Just a really big one.

Meiners received Duck Tape. Truly, a perfect gift for him.

When discussing how we would transport Pookie's equine home, Meiners piped up, "I know how we could get the horse home, guys. We could just Duck Tape him to the van."

That was certainly one option.

We did opt for Grandpa to drive him down today, instead.

Monday, December 21, 2009

In the quiet hour

It's 1:00 A.M.

And I'm loving that the house is quiet.

No more Monday Night Football.
No more voices asking for one more drink.
No more, "NO!" coming from my 2 year-old.
No more boys screaming and laughing as they pretend to be reindeer.
No more girls laughing and calling as they pretend to be Santa and elf.
No more whirring of the sewing machine.
No more stampeding of four pairs of feet.
No more dinner to fix.
No more boo boo packs and negotiations.


And in the quiet, I can love all those things. And I can enjoy the peace that comes now.
I can love the Santa purses we finally finished tonite.

I can love the photos that are edited, printed, displayed, and ready for school.

I can love the light reflecting on presents wrapped in all red papers.

I can love the magazine that inspires me.

And I can sleep. Heavenly sleep.

It's now after 1:00 A.M.
'Night world.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One Week To Go

I breathed a huge sigh of relief this afternoon after returning home from the elementary school. I think I pretty much crashed on the couch with a peppermint martini in my hand (it was 5 o'clock somewhere), but that's just between you and me. It's been a crazy busy week - as I know it is for all of you out there, too. I'm very pleased with how it culminated today at the kids' school for their parties, though!

This time around, Pookie begged me to help in her party instead of taking photos for the school. I made arrangements to come to her class at the very end and read them a story. After all, the jolly ol' elf himself (or some version of a helper) comes to the 'Winter Party' - so I have to take pictures, I rationalized. But, I have spare change at the end of the hour as I'm just returning to all the same rooms to gather that many more sweetly posed or sugar-induced crazy photos, so I spent those last minutes in Pookie's class instead. Reading a book. But not just any book. You know how - when you go up to the school to read to the class - there's always that one kid with the Troy Bolton moptop and a Lindsay Lohan chip on his shoulder that croons, "We've heeearrrrrrd this one!" Whine. Whine. Well not this time li'l Troy Lohan. Not this time.

Cuz I wrote my own book. I took pictures last week of the second grade teachers, the principal, the lunch lady and the gym teacher, the recess aides, the students, and a snowman. Then I wrote a story based on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' that I called, "'Twas the Day Before Winter Break." I uploaded my photos to Shutterfly (I do NOT recommend them - though the final product was fabulous, the uploads were slow as molasses and their coupons suddenly 'expired,' with a call center in India ... I won't get Gramma started *wink*), ordered two copies, and wow'd the students today with a story about them. Well, them and a big snowstorm and an impending ruined Christmas vacation (dare I say it?).

It was a hit.

But before I read the story, I put together a game for the party this time, too. Based on The Price is Right. I hope it turned out well --- I asked a friend to implement it for me since I would be chasing Santa I mean photographing portraits of sweet li'l sum'ms --- and it looked like it went well. I cut out images of hot products from the Sunday ads, blew them up 300% and pasted them onto Christmas-hued cardstock. On the back, I wrote the actual retail price. Then I penned a whole Rod Roddy cheesy script along the lines of sleek silver detailing on that Uniden phone - I see used car sales in my future. My friend and I agreed it was a unique party game. Plus, the kids practiced their math skeelz - just imagine a showcase showdown for older kids!

So along with my normal duties as mother, my additional duties as Santa's helper (no offense to hubby, but I took on the brunt of the Christmas buying this year), and photographer (I edited a GIGANTIC number of photos for the school this week), I have been a prolific author and a game show coordinator.

And I loved it. I'm also glad it's over for another two months. I do plan to pass the torch of party aide back to the other mothers next time and just take pictures of the pretty pink and red sugar cookies and heart-shaped party favors. But it was fun this time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

St. Nicolas Debacle

Last Sunday was St. Nick's Day. This was never a holiday we celebrated when I was a child. I think it's a Catholic thing, perhaps. In college, my good friend Patty received a care package with an ornament and other goodies every December 6th. It was the first time I'd heard of St. Nicolas' Day. Fortunately for my kids, St. Nick has crossed the Protestant lines and visits our house every year.

At the No.6 Cottage, he leaves an ornament in the shoes he finds sitting on the coffee table (although I hear he may leave a few more things in other houses in the neighborhood). Around here, it seems St. Nick might procrastinate most years in determining what the children of the house might like for their ornament. This year, however, I know for sure that St. Nick didn't procrastinate. He ordered the ornaments from his elves quite early, in fact, it is my understanding.

But on the Friday before his special day, St. Nick discovered the Jungle Junction ornament specially ordered for Meiners would not be ready in time. So he penned a special note suggesting a bungle amongst the elves that he would rectify by returning to St. Louis quick-as-a-lick when they had his ornament ready. Finally, Tuesday night, he returned.

And he brought along his trusty Shelf Elf. Because, apparently, I hadn't been keeping up with the Advent Calendar. He also sent me an invisible-ink letter meant for my eyes only to reprimand my waywardness and to let me know where he'd stashed a bunch of special Santa candy --- to be used daily, just for the Advent Calendar.

Later that day, Meiners reported in the car that he was relieved St. Nick had brought him that ornament. Because he'd been thinking he must have been a bad boy to not receive an ornament like the other kids (despite the letter...). I think St. Nick may have sent a VERY nasty email to the elves who didn't put the ornament in his burlap sack, even though he had requested it from them special early in November. He may have even called their customer service terrible (and he doesn't 'cuss' like that often, as you and I both know).

I think, anyway. But I don't visit him at the North Pole much or anything. So I'm just saying I don't imagine that he uses such lanaguage often...

Needless to say, St. Nick's Day was redeemed and that shelf elf is keeping his eye on me. Although he did travel from the North Pole Friday night to my in-laws since the kids spent this weekend there. Surprisingly, he was found hanging out in our curtains when the kids returned home this morning.

I love Christmas with all its traditions - old and new.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teacher Gift 2009

I do always like to give the kids' teachers something unique at Christmastime. Last year I think it was origami boxes filled with homemade truffles and, for the dog-lover, homemade dog treats (which may have grown moldy by the time she opened the gift - ours did - but i digress). I also insist that the kids be involved. Not in just picking the project, but also in doing the project.

So without further adieu, let me introduce to you Teacher Gift 2009:
:: The Santa Purse ::
This one is not entirely finished, obviously. It is the prototype for Aunt Sharon to use to monogram the teachers' initials there in the lower right hand corner. It's all in the family with these handmade presents! --- Thank you again Sharon!!! I'm noticing I'm not thrilled with how much it actually looks like Santa's pack here...perhaps a little on the too tall side. We'll scale it down, I think.

Since my mom and I monkeyed around with my Santa purse to design our own pattern, later this month I'll show you how to make the bags. And hopefully show you the actual finished project. Ya'll know how that goes around here sometimes. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

another day

Sitting here tonite, listening to the crooning Harry Connick Jr. sing me some jazzy Christmas tunes. Melting my feet on the fireplace hearth. Contemplating the unfolding of the day that will be known as Today.

Just another half day of school. The kids have one a month. Plus a day off. Every month. Remember when we yearned for snow days to have just one day off from school? Nowadays days off from school are a dime a dozen. Who needs snow days?

We had our usual plethora of kids over after a half day of school. Pookie's friend comes over so her parents can attend the teacher meetings that go on during these half days. Meiners and his li'l buddy didn't finish building their train track this morning, so Li'l Buddy came back over to complete it. T's friend joined us a little later. Sashi flew solo (or with her best pal - me!)

We decided it might be fun to build gingerbread houses. Only one out of the 7 kids had ever built a gingerbread house before. Just imagine 6 plates of graham crackers, 6 bowls of frosting, 12 candy topping choices, and the tasty chaos that ensued. We had so much fun!

The teacher called. Pookie's been asking to go to the nurse's office. Often. Every day. As parents began arriving for pick-up, more kids climbed out of cars to come inside. The doctor's office called. They wanted to take a look at Pooks due to the asthma symptoms. I sent one friend home with another friend's mom. My kids piled into the van. Baby had no shoes. Socks were found shoved under the van seat. Good enough. We made it to the doctor's office only a few minutes late.

No pneumonia. No strep. Maintain asthma protocol. Looks pale. Call me if anything changes. While I have you, Doc, she has these headaches. She's leaving class several times a day. She vomited once. A neurologist? I've always brushed them aside as inconsequential. When do you know? When do you know your baby's really hurting? Or maybe she's just being dramatic and likes the attention? When do you draw the line - that a chiropractor for posture, a dietician for weight gain, a psychologist for anxiety plus the dermatologist, the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, and the pediatrician are truly enough? At least the gastroenterologist d/c'd her.

My thoughts turn to dear Gus who is in the Cardiac ICU tonite with myocarditis. He's 9, probably close to if not 10 now. The scrappiest little kid that must just keep his mama on her toes, I'm telling you. Broke his arm just before heart camp a few years ago and didnotletitstophim. At all. My heart goes out to him and to his family. On a healthy and normal path for years. Now visiting the hospital once again. In good hands. I'm praying for his strength. And his mama's. He has a li'l sis that needs her big brother and her family back together again. God Bless them.

I think of a little girl I saw at the medical building today. In her wheel chair.

I see in my mind's eye the accident we passed on our way home from the doctor. Ambulance. Fire trucks. Light pole. Cars. We thanked God outloud that Dr. Ortiz kept us a few extra minutes tonite. Or we kept her.

The tapestry of life.
Just another day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Santa Needs the Money

Yesterday we went to the mall to purchase my brother-in-law's Christmas gift. (I know - I said I wouldn't go to the mall on a weekend in December. I went anyway.) I tried to avoid Santa (I don't know why, really. Just didn't want to stand in the line, I guess), but T saw him. And we decided, since Sashi didn't know who he was until this week (?!?!), the kids would all get their picture taken on his lap. T asked if he really had to, but when I asked him to do it for his baby sister, he quickly agreed. It's not a bad photo, actually. And, apparently, it's the first time Sashi's ever sat on Santa's lap. I swore before I was a mom that I wouldn't be that mom - the mom who takes her firstborn dutifully to visit Santa every year from birth to 5, but as each subsequent child enters the family, she visits Santa less and less. Anyway, on the way home yesterday, Meiners informed us that it sure was a good thing we helped Santa out. Because obviously if he had to find a job at the mall taking pictures with kids on his lap this close to Christmas, he needed money. Boy was he glad we'd bought the photo so that Santa could have a little cash.

I had never thought of it that way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Still Not

Yeah, still not writing the sequel to that Van Story. But it's definitely on the list. Of things TO DO.

Yet, in the meantime, here's what I AM doing. Attending a Children of the World concert. Sponsoring Nawal - a 15 year-old girl in Iraq. Seeing more and more about the Clean Water issue. Repurposing to fully believe in Santa. Finding UHmazing deals on electronics (sure - normally from $20-40 on a MixStick that they're selling for $7, but yesterday, $500 GPS with XM Radio thingy-bobs sold for under $100...if only I needed a $500 GPS with XM Radio thing...) Thanking God every day for my husband, his job, my kids, and ultimately my Savior.

....just about 1/2-way finished with my Christmas cards...writing personal notes in every.single.one...

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I'm Not Doing

Inspired by Nester's post on Monday, here's a list of things I am not doing this Christmas.

I am not letting all those digital photos stored on my hard drive go to waste. I printed out pictures from each year since the kids were born, framed them in forgotten frames I had sitting on shelves in the basement, and hung them on the entry wall in my living room. It's not perfect. But they're being utilized - and that's beautiful to me.

I'm not using tinsel on my tree this year. Or last year, either, actually. But every year before that when we decorated our 13 year-old Christmas tree, it held the same silvery tinsel my mom's tree carried all the years of my childhood. Last year, after the kids placed their beloved ornaments all over the Christmas tree, I discovered there was barely room left for my own ornaments. Let alone tinsel. This year - by the time the kids were done - I think I had to leave about 25% of my own decorations in the box. Although my initial response was to cringe at all the haphazardly cut shapes and stickered nativity scenes and paper chains, I realized that this tree - in all its homemade splendor - was perfect, too. One day, when I open the holiday decor box, package theirs up, and send their decorations off to them in their own grown-up homes, my tree will be bare. And I will be forced to create a new beautiful. But for now. For this tree. This is perfection.

I'm not forcing my kids to take and retake and take again Christmas card photos every Sunday between now and Christmas Day. Cuz I took my sweet cutie-pies out to that barn in the park weeks ago. And my cards are done. The End.

I'm also not writing our Christmas Top 10 list in lieu of the Christmas Letter. It's been done. And copied. And I'm trying to write a letter in the voice of one of our canines. But it's hard to be a canine. And it's tough to write a creative, new, imaginative , and fun Christmas Letter. So, I may not write one at all. After-all, if you really want to know what's going on in our lives on a regular basis, read the blog. Hello!

I'm NOT shopping at any stores - WalMart, the mall, Target, anywhere any weekend in December. We're usually last minute shoppers. This year, for the most part, we're finished. And it feels wonderful to NOT be under that stress!

What else am I not doing? Blogging regularly. I've opted, instead, to sleep.
Laundry. It's growing mold. But I'm not moving. It isn't either. Yet. Give the mold time.

What else? Anything you're not doing this year?

(P.S. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of From New to Used!!!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

From New to Used

A blistery winter storm threatened to coat the outdoors in sleek, dark ice that night. Sleet pelted the windows. The rhythmic sound was broken only by the familiar hum of the TV. And then the phone. Ring!

"Hello?" I asked, picking up the receiver.

"Hello. Is this the home of John Schmackton?" an unfamiliar voice questioned.

"It is. May I ask who's calling?"

"Is he of legal age?" the voice hedged.

I paused before responding. "Legal for what?"

"Well, legal. Over the age of 18?" He seemed anxious. Quick to get on with the conversation.

Was this a prank call? Was this one of my husband's employees, calling in sick for the following day due to weather ... already?

"Who is this?" I insisted.

"My name is Dave Crafton. I'm calling on behalf of the St. Louis Auto Association. Is John home?"

I took the telephone downstairs to the home office and handed it to John. As I passed over the phone, I informed John who was on the other end. I climbed back up the stairs to my position in front of the Fisher Price barn alongside my two year-old twins. And then my imagination started to run wild.

The night before, John had taken the kids to the Auto Show. Did he leave something there? His wallet? The stroller? How would they have known to call him over a stroller? Had he won a car? That's the only thing I knew they gave away at the Auto Show. A vehicle. I listened from my post at the top of the stairs, but no clues wafted up. Until ...


He had won a Dodge Durango. From the St. Louis Auto Show.

Five months pregnant with our third child, we'd begun looking at options for our family's robin's egg blue Dodge Grand Caravan. New tires were necessary. Bucket seats would be optimal for managing three small kids in and out of car seats. But as a single-income family by choice, we also chose to manage our finances. Out of necessity. And tires and bucket seats were not on the grocery list.

Then, suddenly, I was driving around town in a new Dodge Grand Caravan. Brand new tires. Bucket seats. Heated leather seats. Moon roof. Automatic doors and lift gate. The. lap. of. minivan luxury.

John had taken the Dodge Durango prize and traded in for a decked out minivan for his pregnant wife. I happily drove that van for six years. It was the nicest vehicle I'd ever owned. And we'd won it. At the 2004 St. Louis Auto Show. The Auto Show that John had left with two year-old twins in tow before realizing he'd meant to register for the Durango they were giving away. And he returned. From the exit gate at the outskirts of the building to the 50 yard-line in the center of the Edward Jones Dome. To fill out one slip. With his name, address, phone number. Slipped into a giant metal drum. To be chosen. Out of thousands of entries. On a stormy winter night. The winner. Of a brand new Dodge.

It had been the answer to prayer.
To be continued...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Just a Few of My Favorite Things

I've been working on a post for a while now about some of my favorite things. (I feel like Oprah, only I don't do the give-aways!) This post isn't exhaustive, but I haven't put anything up for a while, so I thought I'd start with a couple (rather than a few!).

I recently ordered stationery and Mommy cards from Vana @ lepapierstudio.com. Yes, I can make my own stationery, and several of you out there received Mommy cards from me last year that, yes, I had made. But not like lepapierstudio.com. This girl's got the market cornered on silhouettes. And ya'll know I love me a good silhouette!

Also, I have found a gal who makes the most beautiful jewelry for an absolute steal! Pookie and I have been searching the globe for a monogram necklace and Kara is the only person in the world (and believe me, I have looked) who can make the perfect monogram necklace. And get this. She does it for pennies above cost. Can you believe that? All I have to do is measure Pookie's neck while she sleeps and tell Kara what color beads I want to hang alongside the sweet li'l K she's making for my diva, and we'll have a beautiful necklace under the tree for Pookie Christmas morning!

Another item I'm loving is my new circle address label self-inking stamp! I dunno if these guys are related to me or not, but HolmesStamp.com has them for the lowest price I've found. And mine turned out just perfect! I can't wait to get started stamping all these Christmas cards that have already come in! And isn't this the perfect gift? Personalized, useful, clever, creative, trendy. All wrapped up in one li'l box. Yup. Lovin' it.

Somewhere I have pictures, of these, but I ran in the Jingle Bell Run this morning, and I'm really starting to fade, so rather than scope out pictures I may never find tonite, I'll rattle on and look for visual proof another day...but please believe me when I tell you Walgreens.com has THE BEST, most cheapest, awesomest gift ever. A photo collage (size 8x11 for $3.99). I made one recently for the principal of our school. I framed it in my best 40% off Michael's frame ($9, people). He told me it was 'the nicest piece of artwork' he'd ever received. It looked that good. For $13. HELLO! I'm going back through ALL our old and current digital photos and printing out Christmas photos and collages to make a new gallery on my entry wall. I'm super thrilled!

And our photo book of Chicago (also from Walgreens) has been a total hit! All the kids have studied that, and turned the pages, and shared it with each other and their dad (and me, too!) for hours and hours and hours!!!

So, there you have it. A few of my favorite things.

Well, these and 5Ks are also my new favorite. I can totally run 3.1 miles in stripey fur-trimmed socks and reindeer antlers and not feel like I am dying (which I guess I already knew). PLUS, The Mister and I both kicked our PR! WooHoo! You gotta love that! And I'm signing up for another 5K in the very near future - a once in a lifetime opportunity to run down one of St. Louis' finest new highways! Oh. And come April, I am making this official. I will be running the Nashville Country Music Full Marathon. (The Good Lord willing.) But, that's never gonna be one of my FAVORITE things. That's just a midlife crisis.

Monday, November 16, 2009


As moms, we go about most of our daily business without a ton of fanfare. Most days I get by without accolades and "attaboys," but once in a while, it would probably feel nice to have someone tell you, "That brussel sprout you forced me to mush in my mouth and swallow against my very last will was AWESOME! Mom, YOU RAWK. I wanna be just like you when I grow up and force MY kids to eat brussel sprouts JUST LIKE YOU!"

Career Day. I see it now. The Stay-At-Home-Mom shares her tricks of peppering that spaghetti sauce with extra fragments of carrots and peas with energetic, wide-eyed youth - the moms of tomorrow!

And the reality is, it just ain't so. But most days, I'm OK with that. I have been called and fully blessed to diaper duty, vomit duty, dog diarrhea duty, and laundry and dusting and taxiing duty. (Among the other duties...). I am meditating this week on the Bible verse from Proverbs 14:1 which states that a wise woman builds up her house.

Last night it hit me. She doesn't just build the HOUSE, but she builds up the people in the house. Some days I'm very good at that task. Other days I spend more time mending the mistakes I've made. But last night, I decided to build these little people up for a job well done. I took out a purple marker and scrap paper and wrote them a note:

This morning Meiners told me he had something to show me. He pulled me past his door where he had cemented my lovenote with 8 miles of black electrical tape I must have left out. He led me to my bedroom door. There, he had posted this:

Translation: Oh Mommy. Love your room Mommy. Matt.

I nearly cried. It meant everything to me. That a little 5 year-old would tell me my room looks pretty. That my note meant enough to him that he felt compelled to write one of his own.

The experts tell us to consider their hugs to be our salary. Their smiles and requests to read books and play games and snuggle as our bonuses. Their full tummies and sleepy eyes as our pats on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, sometimes I just see those things as the physical filling up of my personal space (hello - spit up on my clothes AGAIN?!). And sometimes. The right times. The blessed times. I see them for exactly what they are.

I am paid in full.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Never Before

Never before have I successfully taken the Christmas photo before Thanksgiving. Never before have I completed my Christmas card order this early!

We took Daddy along today. And, although Pookie's telltale Diva-style poses were absent, joyful and childlike laughter shook their bellies and lit up their faces. No one cried. Mom didn't yell.

And I saved 35% off my Snapfish order simply by Googling coupons! Which means the extra 25 cards I told myself last year in my then-new 2009 calendar that I would need this year to have enough - were free!!!

Love it!

Now to place an American Girl order...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Letting Me Be Me

Nothing says Veteran's Day like Christmas pictures, so in a minute I'll show you some of the hilarity I tried to render into sweetly innocent Christmas card expressions this afternoon, arguing with the sun to keep itself aloft for just a wee bit more of its soft glow hitting upon yonder barn.

But first, thank you for letting me be me. Here on the blog. Me sure ain't perfect. I think I'm the farthest thing from perfect on the planet. But my mama always did tell me I was way too critical of myself, so perhaps I'm just shy of Pluto, really. Or that N1R2s;fihjse[orijt b planet they just found out there. (or was that the flu...I forget).

Anywho, if you sent me a note recently (or called --- Kimberly!) - THANK YOU! I haven't gotten back to you because I've turned into PTO Photographer extraordinaire again this week, snapping 350 pictures of Al Hrabosky and FredBird at the school assembly Monday. It wasn't bad enough last year that I took hundreds of pictures, now I know a tiny bit about Photoshopping them - and MAN can it take up a life if you're trying to get your photoboards out before the kids forget that Al Hrabrosky and Fredbird came to visit...and if you aren't from StL, then you have NO idea who those two are...but nonetheless, just know it was big! And I finished them today. Now I just have to catch up on Fall Festival and the Run/Walk (Hello September?!).

But, I digress.

Yes, Here has been Ugly for a while. And yet, perhaps part of the healing is in admitting you have a problem? Hi. My name is Karin and I'm living on Autopilot? Or Hi, my name is Ugly. (Not to make light of any 12-step programs.) Call it sunnier weather, call it self-acknowledgement, call it taking Gramma's advice and starting a vitamin regimine, or call it God. But things have been better. My Women's Bible Study group has been reviewing Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd since school started. I've read it before, so I chose to finish my Lysa Terkeurst journey before getting back into the Positive book again. I've been attending the studies - and leaving feeling GUILTY every time. Then last week, I thought to myself, wow I wish I had some sort of book on spurring on a positive attitude. I then hit myself in my V-8 head and pulled out my book. I'm off to read some more of it now. But first, here's to taking four kids to the park by yourself for the 30 minutes remaining of daylight before 6PM karate when no one's eaten and ... well ... roll tape:

It all started out innocently enough...

Then someone decided to start practicing the wildly popular I-sit-down-and-do-karate.

And someone else started impersonating historical figures.

Well here, writing on the photos is easier...

it pays to make the font bigger...

Friday, November 6, 2009


I'm not really sure how to start this post - or really even where it's conclusion is - but I'll do what I do best. When stuck between a rock and a hard place, I just start talking. Think Balloon Boy's Dad. Did you see how he just started yapping after the truth slipped out - and somebody tooted - he just started talking nonsense.

Anyway, that's actually completely unrelated to anything I'm trying to say - except for the just start talking part. Eventually you'll get to the end. It may make you sweat - or toot -but eventually, you get out of it. Right?

I feel like I'm on autopilot lately. I'm going through the motions and they aren't even enjoyable motions. They just are. Motions. Open dishwasher. Take out dishes. Fill dish washer. Repeat. Sort laundry. Open washer. Take out clothes. Fold clothes. Repeat. I'm always tired. I'm always crabby. With the kids. I'm always impatient. With the kids. I'm always apologizing. To the kids. Always. Always. Always.

I'll just be honest with you. I'm not sure how to snap out of it. My husband would say, "Just do it." Is that just a logical mind? Is that plausible? Do you just turn off the faucet and move on with your life?

For the most part, I wake up in the morning and start fresh. It usually goes pretty well. At first. Then kids start dragging their feet. Or ignoring my reasonable requests. And pretty soon, frustration leads to Ugly. And I tire of asking them to pick their pjs up off the living room floor. 3X. Or to get their shoes on. Over and over. And soon enough the baby is screaming because I pulled her hair while brushing it and I won't give her her binky in the car and she wanted to sit in the backseat instead of her carseat. Screaming. And arching. And screaming.


So what do you do when you feel like you're in a pit. Flying close to the earth. Truthfully, flying haphazardly and dangerously close to the horizon. When really you just strive to be good enough. Not Top Gun material. Just able to fly at all.

I'd stop there. But it sounds so desperate. Am I at the bottom of the barrel and can't find a way out? No. Absolutely not. But I used to be the fast blinker in the Acura of life...

After dating only a short time, JT and I sat at a red light in his
blue Acura Integra in a small college town. The
blinker indicating left turn went AWOL, wildly clicking away with a
short in its circuit. The right turn signal paced at a slower
rhythm. JT laughed and likened my high spirited energy to that of the
left turn blinker. His to the right side.

Nowadays? Nowadays I have energy about 10 minutes a day. You laugh. Or at the very least think I'm kidding. ...OK, so I exaggerate a little. It's more like 5 minutes. Twice a day.

This from the mom who held her baby upright on the couch night after night catching the reflux in a burp cloth or on my night shirt. Giving breathing treatments around the clock or heading to the ER - always at 2 in the morning. The mom who regularly is woken to the quiet look of a child needing a hug or a dog that has diarrhea or the mom who just wakes up. Because apparently as you age, you do that.

I'm tired. And tired of being tired. And I'm a night owl. Always have been. Try to change. Seems like the nights I go to bed earlier, I get woken more often. More tired.

Tired of being tired. Tired of being cranky. Tired of snapping. Tired of running on autopilot with a frown on my face. I have every reason to be happy and upbeat and energetic and the mom I always dreamed I'd be.


So how do you do it? How do you take back control of the plane and use your broken blinker again?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Popular Art

I have aspiring artists in my midst. Do you, too? When they work so diligently on their pieces at school and bring them home en masse, what do you do with all that artistic papery goodness?

Pile it up?

Recycle it?

I realized today there is an overflowing box of previously-used frames in my basement. And an overflowing pile of school art on my counter. And a completely empty pallate on our half-wall leading to the basement. When these three strangers meet, here's what becomes of their instant friendship:

I love it! And The Man even complimented the look upon arriving home from The Office. Now you know it's good!

Here's the new view from our front door!

It felt so much better to keep their hardwork - and now display it for all to see - while re-emphasizing that this is a home where we all live, a la The Nester.

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Untraditional Halloween

Our goal for Halloween this year became making it especially memorable. We chose to keep Pookie home from school the day her classmates were vaccinated against H1N1 with FluMist and for 48 hours after the dosing - as FluMist is a live virus administered in the nose, and the virus sheds for 1-2 days after it is given. Because no one in our household can receive FluMist - and the standard shot option was yet to become available - we opted to keep the boys out of school, as well. Unfortunately, it was Halloween Party Day.

See our Princess Leia, Karate Master, ex-Elmo, and Fruitbat with their dad?

After some initial tears from the kids and Divine intervention with The Man's job, we packed up the kids and headed to Chicago! Although they missed the time with their friends, we enjoyed a super weekend making extra special family memories. Here were some of the highlights:

Our view of the Magnificent Mile from our hotel was spectacular! We spent hours staring out the window, watching cars drive past - even a few boats floated by on the Chicago River! The best was when all four kids gathered around the window to watch the city lights while they drifted off to sleep!

We visited Shedd Aquarium - one of my absolute favorite places to visit in the world!

-- and I think I have a budding lover of all things marine biology in my midst --

She wants to swim with the dolphins in Australia when she's old enough - Don't worry, Sweetie. So do I. So do I.
We shopped downtown and ended Halloween with a glimpse of the Navy Pier's final fireworks show of the season!

Add to that a trip to The Museum of Science and Industry, Gino's deep dish pizza, the Rock-n-Roll McDonald's, and the John Hancock Skydeck, I think it was definitely a Halloween (weekend) to remember!

Monday, October 26, 2009

URL, Family, and More

If you read my blog regularly, will you re-save your link to my blog to http://6byhisdesign.com/ ? When you do this, you should not need to be redirected each time you visit or be asked if you wish to succumb to all sorts of heinous threats about my blog being a potential risk to you. *small snicker* It's still me. Just my thoughts and crafts and stories. No filler.

This is me, and my sweetie, celebrating our 11th anniversary a few weeks ago:

I take literally thousands of pictures. I read some amazing blogs that showcase gorgeous photography throughout the images of the writers' homes. I'm trying to incorporate more of my photos into the design of my home. But what do you do with the old pictures that are replaced with your new favorites? Can you have too many pictures? In the end, when your house is just 1100 square feet with four adorable kids and two dogs and an aging cat, yes, you can. So, I'm trying to figure out what to do - with all these photos. I haven't even placed pictures into a photo album in over a year, let alone scrapbook any of them. Last week I spent some time with my mom poring over old photos from my grandparents' time. So many meaningful at one time. Now silently looking back at my wondering eyes are countless images of people undocumented. Stories not shared. I'm beginning to realize blogging isn't enough.

Truthfully, there are lots of things I've been contemplating lately, perhaps the rain, the change of seasons ... age. I began to wish someone had told me that these early years of motherhood would be gone in a flash. And then I realized someone did. Countless someones. From elderly women with a wise gleam in their eye at the grocery store. To my own mother. My mother-in-law. Books I read. Blogs I visited. My own voice. The minutes last forever, but the years fly by.
And suddenly, in just a breath, I'm looking around and it's gotten past me.

Friday, October 23, 2009


My friend in real life is having a party for her daughter. After 2 years of having blue fingertips and toes and three open heart surgeries, her sweet princess is finally pink! To celebrate, they are having a PINK party!!! I think this idea is awesome! To add the icing to the cake, so to speak, instead of gifts, guests have been asked to write a note telling how they prayed for and were touched by this little one's already amazing life. I wanna have a 'Pinkalicios party!' But my babies were never blue (well, except at bathtime and swimming - when so many of our little guys seem to get prematurely cold!).

I shared some ideas for a pink party with my special friend. My favorite tablescape of all time was inspired by this superb blogger. My version of her ballerina table came out looking something like this:

Initially, after our Princess Protection Plan Party, I folded all the decorative tulle up into neat piles and tied them with the sparkly ribbon I'd used to hang it from umbrellas in the yard. And then I stacked the whole sticky mess in a pile somewhere in the basement for another party another day. Until I came across this post from one of my faves - and suddenly I knew what to do with all that forgotten fabric! I thought about using a beloved hula hoop from one of our many summer parties. But when today left all four kids at home while the teachers took a day off from their hard week of parent-teacher conferences, I decided to shop the house, and Pookie and I used the old paper lanterns hanging over her bed to launch our Project Princess Canopy!


We gathered several pieces of the tulle (all different lengths!) at the top of the pink lantern and tied the shiny ribbons in a knot to hold it all in place. It really isn't perfect. But, in the words of The Nester, it is beautiful. And Pookie loves it. So really, that's all that counts! (Oh! And $0 spent, so even if she decides in a week to hate it - I'm not out anything but a little bit of time!)



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Art

This weekend, we were busy with Scouts and family time! While enjoying Grandma and Grandpa's Annual Bonfire, the kids decorated pumpkins. They are all my favorite, of course; but this one just tickles me:

Meiners is the artist extraordinaire of this orangey goodness. And it is a likeness of his favorite person...his best friend...his brother! (Complete with 'God's Kisses' ... a.k.a. freckles!)

He also painted a jelly fish, an octopus, Arthur, Buster, ...the list goes on. He was quite a prolific pumpkin painter. What a fun activity!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blogger's Excitement

Hey! I know not all of you who read my blog are by nature 'bloggers.' (Maybe you are but you just don't realize it yet?) You may not, therefore, share my sheer and absolute excitement over some changes I am making around here. However, I recently stumbled upon the notion of creating my own URL ... which, actually I sort of already had. But today, thanks to this tutorial and the help of this super-wonderful stranger (if she's a blogger - and she knows more about computers than me [which isn't saying a ton, unfortunately] - then she's automatically a BFF!), I created my very own naked URL. What that means is all you have to do to find this blog on the web is type "6byHisDesign.com" and VOILA!

Soon, I'll have a special email address that is connected to my blog, as well. Less apt to get stalker mail that way ... not that I get stalker email. It's just something that's always in the back of my mind!

I'm also super happy that this also-tech-savvy gal posted her tutorial on super-cool blog banners! The last banner I made took me an entire night to research, try, make errors, and by the utter grace of God post at long last. Tonite, I did the same thing in less than 15 minutes! HELLO! So much more 'other stuff' I can get accomplished now! (like laundry, listening to my husband when he talks to me --- without merely the obligatory head nods and the 'that's nice, honeys!' while my head is stuck under the hood of my computer...).

That's that, then. I ponder sometimes what I'm doing to make sure my brain cells aren't idly sitting up there turning into jelly. Today, at least, I taught those itty bits of micro-me's a thing or two about computers. And I'm thrilled!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I found this lil gem in my inbox tonite. After the conversations I've had today - and Meiners absolutely FINE after just about 24 hours - I had to laugh outloud. Dunno who to give credit to for the pic, but it's blogworthy for my remembering, for sure.

Anyway, a friend asked me last night what I'd been creating lately. And since my creative side has been silent around here for quite some time, I thought I'd share what I actually have been doing in my 'spare' time.

My favorite project has been Pookie's giraffe coat. The other night I showed her what was left to finish on the coat/Halloween costume outerwear - buttons and hemming the sleeves. Quietly, she hedged, "What if I don't want to be a giraffe any more?"

"What would you rather be instead?" I answered calmly.

"Princess Leia?" she suggested.

"Pookie, you can be whatever you want to be. I just want you to be happy." (And wear this coat at least once. Please.)

She did. She wore it to school and told every adult in proximity that her mom made it. Then she came home and told me she needed to start wearing her winter coat. (It is cold outside.)

Oh well! I loved making it, regardless. (I'm still going to make her do a better fashion-pic in it when the rain stops and we can get outside ... )

Together, Pookie and I made Sashi this lil dress. It was a simple pattern to cut out and pin together - and Sash loves wearing it! Pookie and her friend did most of the sewing really - I just spun the skirt to the shirt and tied on the bows. Too cute! We're planning to make two for Christmas - one for Pookie and another for the littlest fashionista!

In other crafting news, I'm diligently trying to catch up on old projects - finished making a framed monogram to thank our elderly neighbors who bring us an Easter cake every year. (Yes. I said Easter. And it's two weeks before Halloween. I'm just that on top of my to-do list!) I spray painted some lake shells we found on the beach in Minne with my cousin in August - for a thank you I've been planning to make for her (maybe by Christmas?). I visited the paper store to check out some 'fluff' for the pictures I made last winter for my pay it forward friends (it's not in stock right now, so maybe by Christmas I'll finish those?). I started staining some inexpensive Walmart cornhusk baskets to imitate Target's pricier version for my toy room makeover. (You think it needs a makeover? or just a good once over?)

Who plays in this room, anyway?! I've removed 8 trashbags full of donations to Good Will and still have more to very secretly take. The room is on its way (slow train to no where some days) to being very Pottery Barn-esque. But, it might be Christmas before that's done.

Let's see. I've got a cool fridge front re-do in the works. Not quite finished with that one. Boy. Have you guys got a lot to look forward to. (And I have a lot of work to do.)

...Think I'll go watch The Proposal. Again. (For the third time in two days. ...I have a lot of procrastinating to do.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...