Monday, October 26, 2009

URL, Family, and More

If you read my blog regularly, will you re-save your link to my blog to ? 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 "" 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.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Penny on the Track

Did you know that one out of every 100 babies born has a heart defect? I gave birth to one.

Did you know that having a baby with a heart condition raises the likelihood of having a second baby with a heart condition to just 4%? I had a second one, too.

Did you know Pookie's cardiologist gave her a 50% chance of survival during her first heart infection?

Did you know she had 2 life-threatening MRSA infections - first in her heart and then in her bloodstream? She survived both.

Did you know in 15 years of practicing medicine, T's otolaryngologist had never treated a child post-T&A (tonsil- and adenoid-ectomy) with a blood transfusion due to the amount of blood lost after surgery? Until T.

Did you know appendicitis is rare in children under the age of 2? Sashi's appendix was removed in July.

Did you know that finding out your 5 year-old is positive for H1N1 can put your life into an absolute tailspin for an entire day as you field questions and seek answers from the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, and the pediatrician?

I feel like someone left a penny on the railroad track of my life.

Did you know leaving a penny on a railroad track will not actually derail the train?

Good to know.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's a Rainy Day

A contemplative day. Not what I expected from today, but I embrace it, nonetheless. This morning while Meiners and Sashi absorbed their new favorite show (Go Diego, Go!), I sneaked onto two of my daily must-reads just to see what was there. I didn't plan to read them, per se, I just wanted to know that there'd be something to read later - during PM Kindergarten and nappy-time. I got sucked in. Briefly. And I decided to return later. To This.

Now, if you are still here, reading my shallow little blog, then I have some deeper words for you today, as well. Except they aren't mine. They are hers. But I am borrowing them to document them here for my eternity - for my space (because a link doesn't print when you make your blog a book). So, please accept my sincere apologies for taking your words, A. Ann. But they - along with NieNie in general - have struck to my very core this week.

I've thought about how easy it is to be all sweet and smiley on the outside. . . the inside being all wrong.

Talk about a lesson in HEART training. God isn't interested in how good and christian I can act or look -- lots of big smiles and sweet talk. He's interested -- no MORE than interested -- He actually came to save me from that type of deceptive living and birth me into new life!

Which is what I pray for my children - a salvation from outward form, salvation from outward behavior that covers up the running in the other direction in their hearts. I cannot forsake prayer.

I desire my children to behave - to say please and thank you and respect authority and all that. We require this. But seriously, what good is this outward form, this outward behavior, if their hearts are not changed, if their inward lives are not transformed by God's power? Ultimately, it could even be a deterrent, a hindrance in knowing God, because they may think they are good, when they are not.

I don't want to raise little hypocrites. . . who grow up to be big ones. Who will rely on their good deeds, and be blinded to their deceptive sinful hearts that need a Savior. Oh, I pray no. I have asked the Lord to show me how to cry out to their hearts and not just to their heads about why we do what we do.

I am so needy for God in this parent occupation. There are a lot of books, and seminars and speakers and even well meaning people who seem to have all the "right" answers on child training and are more than willing to give them even if they've never raised children themselves!

But honestly, it all becomes overwhelming and sometimes I truly wonder if the answer is as simple as not living for myself but for God as a wife/mother, and teaching them as well, that life does not revolve around them, but God and others!

And to live what I say I believe.
~At a football game Saturday, before getting out of the car, I heard myself say, "Now, guys let's not run all over the bleachers and climb on the railings and scare every one there trying to watch the game. Let's sit still and watch the game and cheer Scott on. . . "

And then it was like a flash of lightening buzzing through my head - "WHY? but why do I tell them this? for what reason? so others will think well of us? so I won't be humiliated? so I don't have to go to the ER in the middle of the game because one of them has fallen from the bleachers?"

Okay, that last one, yes. yes, good reason to tell them this.

I was looking into the eyes of all these children and they were listening to me and what were they grasping? In essence, what was my own heart and what was I training them in? Outward formality or something more?

I thank God for the Holy Spirit who is our Helper. I sensed this little tap, tap, tap inside my heart, "Hey, Alyssa, tell them the reason behind the action. Get to the heart."

". . .Guys, you know why we don't run on the bleachers and jump around and climb on the railings? It's not because I am wanting you to make me look good as a mommy or because I am trying to make you perfect little kids, or because I don't want you to have fun. . .

It's because in the Bible God tells us to love Him and loving Him is to love others. It's the greatest commandment, remember? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love others as yourself. . . If God is working in your heart, you will desire to love Him and to love others. Is it loving to others to be running all over the bleachers so that they cannot see the game or enjoy the game?"

"No. . ." they replied.

"Is it loving to the women in the stands who don't have many children to see boys hanging from the bleachers looking like they will fall?"

"No. . ." they replied.

"Would it show love to Scott to cheer him on and support him in his game?"

"Yes. . ."

"So why we do what we do is because we love Jesus. It's not for people, it's not for me, it's not because we want others to think we are this great, well behaved family. It's because we love Jesus, and to love Jesus is to also love do you see why I say what I say? It's not just because, and it's not about me. It's about God. Everything we do should be for Him. It's about love."

I find myself, the older the children get, talking a lot about this. Explaining in a simple way that religious behavior, or good deeds, or outward formality is not what God is after. And it's not what I am after as a parent. The heart - the relationship with God - the motive. That's where it lies.

The children are very honest with me where they feel they are spiritually. I tell them honestly where I am too. I ask them for prayer from them. There are times when I am beyond knowing what to do or I am struggling with attack in my thoughts, dealing with unforgiveness, or hurt, or whatever - feeling defeated - and I just outloud tell God about it right there with them and ask for help.

I want them to know that I am willing for them to see my weaknesses and confess, yet, that when I am weak, God is strong. I want to live out for them being real, not pretending that I am any better than them, or that I have arrived. That I am growing in my relationship with the Lord, just as they are. . .

That we are all in a process - confessing one to another, forgiving each other, giving mercy and grace to one another, encouraging each other to press on - despite failure - to humble ourselves before each other and God and look to HIM for strength.

My desire to be real before God and others has motivated them to want to do the same - sometimes I am challenged by their zeal and love for God as they pour out their hearts in prayer before Him. I listen to their hearts, crying out for revival in their own lives and I am brought to tears -- because I have not been so diligent as they have to seek this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Disappointed House Hunter

I answered the phone early this morning to the sound of JT's voice. Our conversation was brief but full of assurances that we were both indeed fine. We didn't get the house - either our offer was beat out or the bank didn't think it was enough. Either way, we stay where we are.

It wouldn't be honest to tell you I'm not sad. My heart ached this morning more than I wanted it to hurt. I didn't make time to shed any tears, but I think I could have. It wouldn't have mattered. Overwhelmingly beyond the grief of the dream extinguished is the reality that our family has been covered in His cloak of pure blessings. My only prayer throughout the process of trying to buy this other home - all 8 months of it now - was that God would do what was best for our family. I prayed the same prayer earnestly day after day.

Today I rest assured that this remains where we are meant to be. This is home.


Check back later this week for a view of Pookie's slick giraffe-print city jacket (I have two seams left to sew and 6 buttons to add - and I'm DONE! Instant Giraffe Diva!) and some ways I've found to decorate on a budget!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Math Minute

This morning after dropping the twins off at school, I returned home to T's homework sitting on the kitchen table. Math Minute problems are meant to be practiced at home before Friday's big Math Minute test (10 addition facts finished in a minute or less). I was a little surprised at T's work. I mean, he's a reeeeeeeeeeally smart kid - the only kid in his class to qualify for the school's gifted program - he woke up the other morning and met me face to face at my bed (I was a little groggy and caffeine needy, I'll admit) with the following announcement (again, he's in second grade ... ):

"Mom! I know what 1million + 182 + 50 - 100 + 1 = ... 1,000,133."

What?! Where's the coffee ...
Wait a minute ... What?!
Tell me your math problem again, T.
"I saaaid, '1million + 182 +50 -100 +1 =1,000,133.'"

Uhhhm. Yeah, I think you're right, T. That's really good, Buddy. Now, where's the coffee ...
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when this morning I came home to this:

(note: the circles and arrows were added by me)

T has not once shown signs of dyslexia before. I don't think he's reversed a 7 since preschool. I've worried lately that maybe he's under too much pressure - placed on himself, by us, by school ... maybe he was truly reaching a breaking point. Or maybe he was being silly. I set the paper aside to speak one-on-one with T later ...

Tonite, I found a quiet moment, showed him the paper and prompted him to share what was going on. "I didn't do this, Mom." Keep in mind, T's a super kid. He tows the line and then some. But it's a full moon out and the boy can act just as squirrely as the next kid. And lately he has, believe me! So I looked him straight in the eye and started my lecture about honesty amidst my concerned discussion about math and writing numbers correctly and what could have caused these reversals ... "Honest, Mom. It wasn't me." By now, I'm starting to get mad. The reasonable, compassionate, concerned-over-stress-induced-new-found-dyslexia-in-my-sweet-baby-boy mommy had flown the coop. I stood in her place. Ever so quietly, and so as not to be noticed, Meiners had sneaked up beside us and stood nonchalantly listening to our conversation. I glanced in his direction. Understanding sinking in. I turned to Meiners.

"Meinie, did you finish this paper?"

He hung his head.

Laughing, I repeated, "Meiners, did you finish this math paper?"

He has always believed he was born a triplet. This sweet little boy who is only 5 and sits at the dinner table soaking in all the math and spelling questions that Daddy uses to quiz the big kids. He's been listening. And the boy can do math. Maybe a little backwards. But darn good for a 5 year-old kindergartener!

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