I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Favorite You.

One of my favorite books that we read our kids is called "You Are All My Favorites."  After we read it, I always think Man...I could've written that book...

It wouldn't have been nearly as eloquent or beautiful, but I could have because I totally get it.  

We have three kids, and I'm constantly thinking about how I need to parent each child differently, how I need to teach each child differently- how I need to love each child differently.  They are all beautiful.  They are all smart.  They are all my favorites, and I wanted them, one day far from now, to understand why.

To my dearest Eva,
You, sweet girl, are such a joy to my heart.  You were a beautiful gift from God when Daddy and I didn't even ask for anything else.  You were an added bonus.  I love you for that, and for that, I praise God daily.  In the last year, you and I have been through so many great and not so great moments.  Looking back, those many many months of middle-of-the-night feedings were amazing bonding times for you and I.  

I love your laugh.  

I love how you take your time to do things.

I love playing peek-a-boo with you over and over and over....and over.

I love how you reach for me and are completely content for a moment after you have me.  You don't want to be anywhere else in that moment, and neither do I.  You hold my heart, Eva Grace.  I love

To my dearest Izzy Belle,
You, my dear, have given me every grey hair and wrinkle I have, I think.  I adore you for that.  You never cease to entertain and amaze me.  God gave you to me (to our whole family) in a moment when He knew we needed an Izzy the very most.  He helped heal so many broken hearts with you, and I praise God for that amazing gift.  You drive me crazy, but in such a wonderful way- and I wouldn't want you any other way.

I love your free spirit.  I envy it, honestly.

I love your hair.  Thank you for being my doll.

I love your imagination.

I love that you live in your own little world where everything is wonderful and God is big.  I pray that a fear of God and His amazing vastness is always something you recognize.  Thank you for the sweet moments where you show your vulnerability to me.  Thank you for making me work at being a mommy.  I'm a better mom because of you.  You hold my heart, Isabella Ahavah.  I love you.

To my dearest son,
You, sweet Isaiah, are...excuse me while I wipe away the tears...such an amazing gift.  From the moment I knew you were growing in my womb, I knew you were given to me to love and care for and teach and parent.  You were not given to me for me to keep forever and ever.  That is a struggle for me.  I want to keep you.  As I have watched you grow over the last 6 years, I have fallen so deeply in love with you as you.  I praise God for giving me a first born son who is so much like me- so much so that I know how you will react in most every scenario.  That's an amazing gift.  You were the very best introduction to parenthood that I could ever wish for.

I love that you are so loving.  God has used you to help me learn to love others better.

I love that you're so kind.

I love how you smile.  I love your dimple.

I could not get through my days with such ease without you, dear boy.  You are the best helper a mother could ask for, never complaining and always willing.  I can't get over you.  You hold my heart.  I love you, Isaiah Matthew.

You are all my favorites...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Creepy Crawly Hair

I get so into holidays.  All holidays.  I love them.

Almost to the point of silliness.

Bird would say well past the point of silliness. No way.

But I digress...

Anyway, I love them, so I love to extend the season as much as I can.  In our house, Christmas season starts after my birthday (which just happens to be just around the corner...) and includes Halloween...

That being said, I love the idea of being festive with Halloween for more than just one night.  Because of that, I wanted to share this super quick (seriously, this took me less than 5 minutes) hair-do that you'll most certainly see on my little monster this season! (mostly because she says it makes her look "reawwy cweeeeeepy" and I like hearing her say that.)

What you'll need:
4 pipe cleaners
googly eyes (I used two, but this would be cute with lots)
some bobby pins (I used 8 in all)
A hair donut
You'll also need a bit of hot glue, a brush, and a ponytail holder

First, you need to hot glue your eyes onto the ends of bobby pins.  Make sure that they look like this picture.  You need to be able to see the eyes when you stick the pin through the hair.

Next, pull the hair wherever you want it.  I like a high ponytail.  This would be cute on the side or even smack on top of the head, too.

Ooops....I forgot to add that you need a willing participant who can be really really scary!

Once the hair is pulled up and secured with a ponytail holder, it's time to twist the pipe cleaners around the base of the ponytail.  I pulled two around the front and two around the back.

Please disregard my very messy table.

Now for the hair donut...these things are so easy to use, but they are hard to get pictures of how to use them.  If you don't know how to do a sock bun, I'd suggest checking out one of the upteen million youtube videos showing you how.

But for this 'do, a sock won't do. (how punny!)

Just be sure to secure with bobby pins.

PS, I got this one at Dollar Tree, but you can also find them at any beauty supply store or online.

Separate and bend the little spider legs...creepy.

Stick the pins into the bun with the eyes sticking out...tada!  Spider bun!  (You could add fangs, but I wanted cute, not scary.)

How funny is that?!

My creepy-crawly lover loved it, and I hope your's does, too!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our School Room.

This is our school room table and chairs.  My husband and I built
the table together, and I found the chairs at a resale shop
and painted them myself!
When we bought our home, we knew we were in it for the long haul.  We also knew it wouldn't be long before we started to homeschool.  I sort of avoided thinking about it hoping the problem of space was going to just work itself out.  On top of that, I was crazy naive.  I had a table we had made out of an old suit case, and I just knew that was all the storage we were going to need.  I was so cute.

Fast forward a few years, and we started Kindergarten out with a fun setup in our living room.  It was really cute, but it didn't take me long to realize how it was a bad idea to have everything just out in the open.  Isaiah had no privacy to do his work in, it was never quiet for him, and the mess was a constant headache.  Now, if you have your school setup in your living room and it works for you, I sincerely applaud you.  I have no idea how you do it.

After a few months, we decided to have the impending baby sleep in our room for the time being, move the older kids into a room together (which they adored) and change our third bedroom from a nursery into a real-life school room.  This was a dream...at first.  Honestly, this would have lasted as long as we needed it to, but the room isn't big and I knew we would be needing some room to grow soon.  Everything was stacked on everything else, and the loss of usable play space for the kids became difficult.

I had always had a far off dream of converting our attached garage into a school room, but I honestly thought it was going to be more like when the kids were in high school.  Amazingly, we were fortunate enough to be able to do all the work ourselves.  In addition, buying our house from my grandparents came with the added bonus of some really awesome finds that they had left for us!  We have now used this room for many parties, family gatherings, and of course, school.  It's been such a blessing....I hope you like it, too!

I knew exactly what I wanted this room to look like in my head before we ever began creating it.  I knew I wanted a vintage school room feel, so I went online and found the perfect fabric.  I used it to recover the chair seats, the background of our calendar, and in various other places as ribbons and such.

We had a perfect little alcove built in already for a freezer.  It has its own light and everything, so we decided to fill it with an awesome reading nook.  We went one step further and went for a reading loft.  We already had some white cabinets (below), so I simply painted the fronts with chalkboard paint and added new nobs from Hobby Lobby.  This entire area cost us around $100!

We got these letters with Isaiah's homeschool curriculum.  I loved how they had a bit of a vintage look to them, but I soaked them for about 10 minutes in coffee just to stain them a bit.  I also soaked the clothes pins in very very strong coffee to darken them.

I wanted an area where I could display the kids' artwork and achievements, but I couldn't figure out what would go.  I went through so many ideas in my head until I was walking through Lowes one day and saw these amazing...I don't even know what they call them.  Wire grids?  I don't know.  Anyway, I knew they would go perfect on either side of our French doors, and I was dead on.  I just clipped clothes pins all over (which can be removed or moved).  These have been wonderful!  We can change out artwork all the time, and it's easily changed for party decor!  These, by the way, are right around $7 each.  That, coupled with the clothes pins, we only spent about $20 on a huge,  functional statement piece in our room!

I knew we were going to need desks for individual work, so I went on Craigslist and found these.  They had been modified by a previous owner by taking off the original desktop and replaced with a big piece of wood, creating a much larger work space.  I picked two of them up for around $20, and I simply sanded and repainted them with chalkboard paint.  I found $1 galvanized buckets and screwed them down to hold chalk and an eraser.

Speaking of erasers...

These were legitimately my favorite project of the entire thing.  These were so inexpensive but so much fun!

I simply got a yardstick and used my circular saw and cut it into measured pieces.  I then glued them onto the backs of inexpensive chalkboard erasers I got from a local teacher supply store. It gives the kids a nice little handle to grip onto, and I just adore how they turned out!

This chalkboard was mine when I was growing up.  I could not believe my mom had kept it all these years, but when she offered it to me, I jumped!  The history behind it is so much fun, and it fit perfectly with the decor in our room.

I found this clock at Cracker Barrel, and I loved it so much.  I loved it even more when I realized it was half off!

It was super important to find a clock with actual numbers and not roman numerals...which proved to be much more difficult than I expected!

I really wanted to find a vintage library cart to store books that could be pushed all over the house.  Unfortunately, I never found one within budget, but I did find this little gem at The Container Store (more on that awesome place soon!), and it worked out perfectly!

In the background, you can see our lockers.  These are my favorite part of the whole room.  These were left to me by my Grandpa in our back garage.  They are so special, and since he isn't here to see what all we have accomplished with our building skills, it really means a lot to me to get to incorporate some things of his!

Plus, vintage lockers went perfectly!

This was another awesome artifact left from my grandparents.  Apparently, I sat in it as a young child, and so did my mom.  I simply recovered the seat and cleaned it up.  Now it's the perfect Mrs. Teacher chair!

In addition to all of this, we also have a huge lower cabinet set and a large, long work table, both of which I refinished with wooden tops that I stained the same color as our loft.  These are great for storage, but they also have served as the best serving areas for parties!

We also have lots of fun little odds and ends that really helped to pull the room together.  We have a great globe that will get used all the way up through high school, the most adorable vintage-inspired pencil sharpener, and this amazing wire basket I found in our garage when we were cleaning it out.


We absolutely adore this room, and it has been the most amazing blessing.  We are all looking forward to many many years of learning some wonderful things here!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Isaiah The First Grader.

Well after a whirlwind vacation to California, we got a whole day at home to get our school room in order before it was time to start our new school year.  It was really great, actually.

Maybe it was great because my sweet little Eva slept the entire time we were working...either way, it was a perfect first day of school!

I'm a big fan of letting the kids sleep.  No need to set alarms for us when we have all day to get all of our stuff done!  That being said, we started a bit later today than we did last year.  That was totally okay with Mrs. Teacher.

Eventually, we did wake up, and I made them a yummy treat for breakfast...cinnamon toast sticks.

...with icing, of course.

Isaiah is starting first grade, and Izzy is doing Pre-K this year.

Then we made our way out to our school room where the kids found new school supplies waiting!

This was always my favorite part of the first day of school.  My mom was so great about making those things really special, and I try to carry that tradition on for my kids.

Then it was time to work!

I am so excited about all the things we have ahead of us this year!  Both kids have so much to learn, and I pray I can teach them with grace and confidence and understanding.

2013-2014 school year...here we go!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dinner For Daddy Bird.

One of my favorite things to do is to watch cooking shows- also known in my house as "cooking movies."  Izzy will come in and sit with me, all cuddled up, and give her cute little opinions.


"I wike dis girl cause she makes chocolate chip cokies!"

"Oooo I wooooove strabewwies!"

Sometimes she will see something and ask me to make it, and I'm always a big fan of that.  Today, however, we were watching a show, and the lady cooking was making chicken soup.  She was very intently paying attention to every detail.  Finally, she was finished, and as the show ended, Izzy looked at me with the biggest eyes.

"Maw Maw...will you help me make that for my daddy this night?"

Uhhh yes.

We promptly went to the store and picked up what we needed.  As we cooked the soup (and added grilled cheese sandwiches), she was so pleased.  She was serving her daddy, and she didn't even realize what that meant.

At times...or most times in her short little life, I have fretted over her heart.  She can be a tough kid to parent, but I am watching daily as I see God work on her heart.  I think this one just might be okay...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Surprise Adventure.

Every so often in life, the opportunity presents itself to be a bit spontaneous.  These are always my favorite moments.  These moments are even better when they include kids.

Bird and I decided we wanted to take a trip to California before we started back with school.  He had some time off of work, and everything really just fell into place to allow us to go.  We opted to keep it a secret from the kids because we wanted to really surprise them.  So, we meticulously planned out an adventure...

On a Thursday night, the older two kids spent the night with my parents so we could have the time to get everything ready and pack without them realizing what was happening.  They loved this part.

On Friday, I waited until around dinner time to go get them.  We had dinner with my family, and then it was adventure time! (Skip to the video at the bottom if you'd rather just watch how it unfolded!)

First, we gave the kids a gift.  Inside was a new puzzle (something my kids love doing), and we had them put it together.  They realized there was a message on the back while they were working on it, so when it was done, we flipped it over.  It read:
It's time to have an adventure,
So get ready and let's begin!
You love to play Wii with Grammy.
Now let's see how fast you can win!

We all proceeded to the living room where it took about a minute for Isaiah to beat Grammy at a mini game. Then, she pulled out an envelope with a card inside.  This card said:

Now that you've won your game,
It's time to find an Aunt
Who will turn the music on and up
Cause it's a party, and it's time to dance!

They found Aunt Kara, and we all danced away.  It was so much fun to get all our wiggles out!  When the song was over, Kara gave them another envelope.  The card inside read:

If all that dancing has made you hungry
And you really want some kind of treat,
Go find Grandpa!  He is waiting
With a sweet treat to eat!

They ran and found grandpa waiting with ice cream sandwiches for everyone to share!  This was a sweet and welcomed surprise, and it was so funny that the kids thought THIS was the climax to this whole adventure!  Of course, he then gave them their next card, and it said:

Now that you had something yummy
And you had some food that was real,
Go with Grandma to the back porch
And make us a play-dough meal!

This thrilled both kids, but Izzy especially loved it.  She would sit and play with play-dough for hours at a time!  They made pizza and hamburgers and pancakes, and then Grandma gave them their next card.  It said:

Playing play-dough was so much fun,
But it's time to tell everyone "bye!"
Put on your shoes and have a peek
In the black thing Mom and Dad drive!

They quickly put their shoes on and ran outside!  They found their last envelope taped to the window of our truck.  They tore it open, and we read it together.  It said....

Our truck is packed with clothes and snacks
And a way to watch some shows.
We even included your Mickey Mouse ears,
So where do you think we should go....?

It was hilarious how long it took them to figure it out.  We stuffed our truck with all kinds of new things (and I will do a post soon on how to successfully travel with small children), and they were so enamored with everything, they couldn't even think of Disneyland!

The next morning, very very early, we headed to California for a week!  We spent time with friends and family, saw princesses and Carsland, spent time at the beach, and made some of the best memories as a family.  This was, by far, one of the best experiences for us as parents!  

But I think the biggest achievement in all of this was my ability to keep it a secret for weeks...

If you'd like to watch our adventure, here you go!