Welcome to our blog! As an Army family, we are not usually stationed anywhere close to our relatives and often have to leave behind dear friends every time we move. This blog is our way of keeping our family & friends in "the loop". Check back every few weeks to see what is happing in our lives!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Maddie's Piano Recital

Madison began playing piano in January 2006. She loves music and is one of those rare children who actually enjoy sitting down to practice. Oh sure, we have our moments. Moments when she would rather be doing something else... anything else, but as she gets older they are fewer and farther between. God has truly blessed her with this gift and I have told her that from the first time I saw her play. On the way to her recital on Saturday I asked her if she was nervous. Her response was heartwarming: "Mom, I don't need to be nervous. God has given me this gift and He'll help me do my best."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Break

Friday already?!?! I can hardly believe that today is the last day of Spring Break! We decided to stay home and relax instead of traveling, which ended up being a great idea due to the fact that we had car issues in the middle of the week (which have all been resolved without having to sell a kidney to pay for repairs...). Here'a quick wrap up of just a few of the things we have done this week:

~ Girl Scout dance event ~
~ Pottery painting at a local studio ~
~ Bike riding ~
~ Playing at the local park ~
~ Playdates with friends ~
~ Sleep-over here with Maddie's BFF ~
~ Lots of reading ~
~ A visit from Uncle Bill & Aunt Nancy ~
~ And lots more I can't even remember.... ~

Monday, April 6, 2009

April 6th Already?!?

The end of March came and went and somehow I have found myself 6 days into April. The past two weeks have been a blur, and here is a sampling of why:

~ Two Easter dresses for the girls ~
Plus a skirt for me, although I didn't take a picture

~ One birthday quilt finally marked, layered and pinned. ~
This has turned into a hand-quilt job, so the finished product will take a little longer than anticipated. I attempted to machine quilt this thing, but became frustrated with my standard machine. Now on my Christmas wish list: Longarm Sewing Machine.

~ Two cute little reversible summer jumpers ~

~ Two more projects that aren't quite far enough along for pictures ~
But here is a sampling of the fabrics for each project!

~ Spending time with the girls ~
Here they plant some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
Check out the look Ella is giving Maddie... she cracks me up!!!

~ Teaching the girls to make real homemade ice cream ~
Here we have chocolate ice cream with Girl Scout Thin Mints! YUM!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I love to read a great book, but rarely have the time without sacrificing sleep. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about… the kids are finally sound asleep after a normal day of chaos, the kitchen is clean, and you’re in bed for the evening, snug and warm, with your current read. You’re only going to read a “few” chapters and then turn out the light so you can get some rest. Only, mysteriously, hours have passed without your knowledge and you have gone from getting at least 8 hours of sleep to only getting 4.

Honestly, I think a great book is sometimes worthy of a few less hours of sleep, I just need to find the right book and the motivation to actually take the time to read it. So, I was thrilled when my dear friend Heather decided to start a small book club. I have always wanted to be a part of a book club ~ reading great books and then getting together with other readers to discuss our thoughts on the subject matter over coffee. It all seems so sophisticated… and, believe it or not, I do actually have deep thoughts and love to dig into a character (my English teachers would be so proud…).

So here, my friends, is my brief review of our first book ~ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. I am no literary expert, so my apologies if this seems scattered.

The book was cleverly written as a series of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton, and the residents of a small island off the coast of England (Guernsey) that was occupied by the German Army during World War II. The book begins post war in 1946. I found that I had to remind myself several times that this book was fiction as it is historically accurate. The characters were developed very well and seemed so real… I quickly fell in love with them and their quirky ways. I was captivated by their stories and how the German occupation impacted their lives. It is both humorous and touching. I LOVED this book and recommend it highly!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Madison's 9th Birthday

My sweet little Maddie is growing up right before my eyes. It seems like just yesterday she was charming the world with her little baby cuteness, yet earlier this month we celebrated her 9th birthday. How quickly time passes. I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming ~ so kind, compassionate, smart, sensitive, loving, and full of life. She is truly a gift from God!

Here is the cake I made for Maddie's party. Ella loved "helping" me make the frosting and decorate the cake!

We celebrated Maddie's birthday with a party at a huge play center with blow up obstacle courses. The kids loved it! Here she is with a few of her friends.

Some more of Maddie's friends enjoying themselves. Below: Maddie celebrated her birthday along with her good friend, Nina (who happens to share the same birthday!)

Everyone had a great time! Thank you to all of our family & friends for helping to make Maddie's 9th birthday so special!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our New Chore System

I think I have Spring Fever. Not only do I long for open windows and long walks in the warm sun, but I have been de-cluttering my house like a mad woman. For those who know me, I am very organized (most of the time...) and I don't keep things around just because. It has to serve a purpose, be used, or be extremely sentimental. We move way too often to be hauling unnecessary items around! While on this crazy quest to de-clutter, I decided I needed to rethink our Chore Chart system for our girls.

We started many years ago using this typical chart:
Although I liked it, our lives are busy things vary from day to day. So, this is what I came up with this past week. They hang from our refrigerator where they can be seen and not ignored!

After the girls are in bed, I put their chores on their ribbons for the following day. Each day will be different depending on our schedule. For instance, some days Maddie will need to set & clear the dinner table, while others we may be eating out. I also included pictures so that Ella can "see" what she has to do until she learns to read. Once they complete a chore, they remove it from their ribbon and put it in a basket. Easy!

I only have two children, so this project was quick and easy. (For those of you with more than two children, check out my friend Heather's blog for another great chore system!)

1. Print out the child's initial on white cardstock and cut out a circle with decorative scissors.

2. Cut out a larger circle with a corresponding color of cardstock.

3. Sandwich a ribbon in between the two pieces of cardstock using double sided tape to secure.

4. Attach magnetic tape (magnet with adhesive on the back) to the back of the cardstock.

5. Print out "chores" on white cardstock, laminate, and cut out squares (I cut mine 1.5" x 1.5").

6. Hot glue "chores" to mini clothespins.

Monday, February 23, 2009

For Your Musical Enjoyment...

Madison has always loved music, so I was so excited when she began piano lessons at age 6. I think music and the arts are a very important part of a child's development and education. I am amazed at how quickly she has learned and far she has come in the past 3 years. I'm very proud of her... can you tell? Anyway, since all of our family live in other states and have never been to one of her piano recitals, she decided to let me make a video. So... without further ado, here is Madison:

And because Ella can't be left out of anything:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Conscious Eating

Many years ago I decided to become a vegetarian. I would like to say it was a life changing experience, but it only lasted one month. Even now as I type this I can't believe how quickly my motivation came and went... I guess I could blame said lack of motivation on those (who shall remain nameless) that made fun of me and told me I was crazy. I could even blame my dear family who still required meat at meals. But the truth is, I really like a great steak once in a while. So, then, why does becoming a vegetarian still intrigue me? What crazy mind games are going on inside this head of mine?!?!

But, Alas!!!! Today, as I was stalking a few blogs, I ran across this post by Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate. Her post mentioned that one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mark Bittman, has a new book out! I was completely overjoyed (as I have a slight cookbook addiction) and immediately opened her link to this podcast. Here's a quick summary: he lives a vegan lifestyle all day and then eats whatever he wants for dinner (or "vegan 'til 6pm"). I realize that I just lost many of you, but for those of you who are still reading, this was a new concept to me and I am so excited to try it out! Not necessarily because I want to save the earth or throw red paint on fur coats, but because I need to add more veggies to my life and long to be healthier. I'm realize that the "vegan 'til 6pm" isn't a mind blowing concept and won't win the Nobel, but it has opened my eyes to options that I have never considered before.

So, to those of you who feel the need to make fun of my new found "vegan 'til 6pm" lifestyle, don't. And for those of you who are equally intrigued by this idea, you can get more info in Mark Bittman's new book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recommendation For My Crafty Friends

Hello, crafty friends of mine. I have been stalking Skip To My Lou for quite some time now and absolutely love it! Cindy, the creator of this wonderful site, has many free downloads and tutorials. I'm always adding something from her site to my project list of "things to do". Please take a second to check it out!

If you have any great crafty websites or blogs you would like to share, leave a comment! Happy Crafting!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hello Blog!

OK, OK... so I have been a little distracted and haven't blogged in quite a while. I always plan to blog and have some fabulously funny thoughts running through my head, but they never quite make it to my computer. I feel as though I owe my loyal readers (*cough*) an explanation, so here it goes:

The Top 10 Reasons I Have Been A Blog Slacker

10. One of me. Two of them. If you do the math you'll see that I am completely outnumbered. There's always something to do: read stories, help with crafts, explain homework, taxi to events, etc., etc.

9. Brownies. Not the yummy gooey dessert kind, but the little vest-wearing girl kind. I am co-leader of Maddie's troop and a very busy troop it is! Right now we are preparing for World Thinking Day and I have been working on making "swaps".

8. The Buttercup Quilt. I have completely finished hand-quilting this thing!!! (I feel like maybe you all should stand right now at your computers and give me a standing ovation...). All I need to do is put on the binding which, hopefully, will get completed before I start another quilt. Oh. Wait. Too late...

7. Maddie's Birthday Quilt. Because you can never be working on too many quilts at the same time, I decided to take on another project. I am making Maddie a new quilt in her favorite colors for her 9th birthday (which is approaching rather quickly!). As much as I want to hand quilt this thing, I have decided to machine quilt it so she can actually have it for her 9th birthday instead of her 10th.

6. Did I already mention that I am outnumbered?

5. Fabric. So Joann Fabrics decided to open a fabulous new store not far from my house and I am in sewing heaven! I'm pretty sure they already know who I am due to the fact that I have been there several times since they opened earlier this month. Anyway, the girls picked out fabric for their Easter dresses (and fabric for some spring/summer dresses). I am going to do my best not to start on any of the above mentioned dresses until the above mentioned quilts are finished. We'll see...

4. The "Mommy Looks Like She's Concentrating, So I'd Better Talk To Her" Rule. Without fail, my children who have ignored me all day, will need to talk to me when I am on the computer. In fact, at this moment, I am blogging while trying to undo a ginormous purple "yarn knot" for Ella who is telling me in detail why she needs this yarn un-knotted. This rule also applies to when the telephone rings.

3. Household Chores. I admit it ~ I'm pretty sure I have a mild case of OCD. Not crazy "straightening fringe on the rug" OCD, but "clutter drives me crazy and everything should be labeled and in it's place" OCD. Of course, having children has really helped relax my standards. I have worked really hard at letting things go so my girls can enjoy their home and not worry that mommy is going to go postal if they make a mess. Their happiness is more important to me than if the crayons are put in the proper plastic bin.

2. Laundry. I know you are probably thinking that this should be included under Household Chores, but I think it deserves its own place in my top 10. Just when I think I have finished all the laundry and there couldn't possibly be another dirty article of clothing in my house, I discover a hamper exploding with clothes. And no, my girls can't wear their clothes more than once before needing to be washed. If you know Ella, no explanation needs to be given. Let's just say that I always have a supply of stain remover on hand.

And the #1 reason I am a blog slacker.....

1. Facebook. Those of you with FB accounts know this is true. You log on with the intentions of just checking things out for a few minutes and then suddenly you realize 45 minutes have passed. By the time I am finished checking every body's status and writing on walls, I have no time or energy left for the blog. I know, it's sad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Whirlwind Tour Of The Midwest, Part 1

On December 19th we left the East Coast and began our "whirlwind tour of the midwest". We spent 15 days traveling through 8 states!! The girls remained in good spirits for most of the drive with the exception of Ella being car sick all the way through the mountains of West Virginia (she refused to wear her Sea Bands). Gotta love family trips.... Anyway, I'm going to split up my postings so that each entry isn't way too long. I'll also try to limit how many photos I add to keep from boring you.

Our first stop was in Indianapolis where we spent some time with dear Army friends, Scott & Kathleen and their three boys, Jacob, Matthew and Michael. My Michael (or Big Mike as the boys call him) was honored to be the MC at Jacob's Eagle Scout Ceremony. They have since moved to the mountains of Colorado where we hope to be able to visit very soon!