Our Kitchen is Gross

So we bought our house this fall. We love the location, we love the homey feel of the house, and we love the neighbors. What we don’t love is the look of the house itself. It’s a ranch house that was built in the 60s. The exterior is actually pretty okay. But the interior… yikes. There is wood paneling, rust-colored laminate flooring, and lots and lots of oak.

Apparently wood trim (baseboards, doors, railings, etc.) is a thing here in Wisconsin. Most of the houses we looked at when we were buying, both online and in person, were chock-full of wood. Wood everywhere. It feels so dark and grim to me. I like bright, white, clean, and crisp. Wood can be pretty sometimes, but wow, it’s overwhelming to me.

So my kitchen. Let me tell you about my kitchen.

  • Cabinets: Oak with tiny round white knobs, very flimsy-feeling, and noisy as heck
  • Flooring: Rust-colored laminate made to look like terra-cotta tiles with super dark grayish brown “grout” in between
  • Appliances: Older than me– literally, mismatched
  • Countertops: Gray
  • Wall color: Formula-fed-baby poop
  • Layout: Terrible, closed-in, dark

Here are a few pictures to help you visualize the madness. Comments below each picture.

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This is the pantry/coat closet that greets you as you walk in from the garage. Here you can see a good representation of the floor and wall color.

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I have been doing dishes all morning. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. The counters are full of clean dishes, too. The dishwasher has a towel stuffed underneath it because somehow the opening for the dishwasher is open to the freezing cold Wisconsin air. I’m totally keeping it real here, everyone. Oh, and that phantom light fixture is hovering there because we have a ghost in the kitchen and/or my phone case reflects light in weird ways.

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Here’s a really nice close look at the cabinets and their hardware. Geeee-rossssss.

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Haha, look at that tiny tiny microwave. And the oldest stove known to man, which is currently taken apart so I can wash the under-burner crumb/spill catcher bowl thingies. (I am certain they have a much more proper name than that.) Also, I swept the floor this morning. And then the kids ate breakfast. Oy, this is the life.

Ok, so here are my thoughts.

First, I would love to rip everything out, tear down some walls, and start over. Gotta save the dollaz for that. So, we will be doing some small stuff and some not-so-small stuff in the interim. I think we’ll go in a couple of phases.

Phase 1 (2017)

  • Paint all the wood stuff white and replace the hardware
  • Replace the shelf and drawer liners with something that’s not fifty years old
  • Paint the baby poop walls a light, warm greyish taupe
  • Replace the crazy faux-brick backsplash with something pretty and shiny to reflect a bit more light
  • Figure out why the dishwasher opening leaks frigid air and fix that problem
  • Replace the ceiling fan that is in the eat-in area of the kitchen

Phase 2 (2018-2020)

  • Cut out that low-hanging header from which the cabinets are suspended– it serves absolutely no purpose except to make the cabinets lower and closer to the countertops, so the work space is super cramped
  • Replace the sink and fixtures so I have more than 12 inches between the faucet and the bottom of the sink (the current setup makes washing large bowls and pots very difficult– it’s like Sink Tetris, y’all)
  • Replace the appliances

Phase 3 (sometime around 2025?)

  • Reconfigure the layout
  • Replace flooring, cabinets, etc.
  • Basically rip it out and start over (WOO!)

I plan to start washing all the wood stuff with TSP this week. Gotta start somewhere. Clean surfaces really help. 🙂

I’ll keep you updated every now and then.

Antsy

Every now and then, I get a little bit antsy. I get into a rhythm, it gets to be too easy, and I start to think of the next great project. I find if I don’t have a particular thing to look forward to, my mind wanders and my hands start to create. This could be an amazing gift if only I had some sort of direction for my periodic spurts of energy.

I often fill these times with crafting. In the past year, I’ve done sewing, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and Christmas ornament making. Sometimes I get a bit more physically involved when I feel bored, and I tackle a new exercise routine or clean out my closet. Occasionally I just need something to engage my mind and so I read several books in a short period of time. And rarely I will experiment with cooking and baking a bunch of new recipes all in one week or so.

The key characteristic of these phases for me is the need for planning and executing something and bringing something new to fruition. Being a stay-at-home-mom is wonderful in many ways, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t tedious at times. Waking up and doing the same routine and sorting out the same squabbles over and over, day after day, gets a bit tiresome. My mind begins to wander and I begin to consider what my contribution to our family, and to our society, will be.

I have a bunch of ideas running through my head all the time. I guess you could say I have a bucket list. But mine isn’t fancy– I don’t feel the need to go skydiving or fluttering around the world in scary scary airplanes (seriously, I’m terrified of flying). And yet I struggle with trying to balance my big ideas, like writing a book or opening a Christmas tree farm, with this scripture from 1 Thessalonians 4 that the Lord has laid on my heart over and over again over the past year:

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.10 …Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life… I have no trouble with this usually. I’m very introverted, I enjoy staying home, I can go for days without speaking a single word to anyone and feel very much okay. I’m not interested in gossip and I do everything I can to stay out of it when people try to involve me where I’m not needed. I’m constantly working with my hands, whether it be cooking or cleaning or laundry or crafts or gardening or mommy-ing. In fact I am sure Jonathan and I do a lot more work with our hands, in order to save money, than many people in the world. We try desperately not to be in debt or to ask favors from anyone.

With all that said, I still feel the urge to dream and plan and set goals. I have my sights set on some particular achievements I’d like to see come to fruition, and yet I’m not certain how to get there. God has also been working in my heart and seems to be leading me to consider doing some work I never thought I’d consider. It’s all very murky and unclear, and I feel like I’m wearing glasses that I can’t seem to wipe clean. Every time I sit and consider where God might be leading me, I have more new ideas and come up with even better plans for the old ones. Each new idea is just another speck of dirt on my life lenses, and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to make my path forward clear.

And so I’m making it my task right now to lead a quiet life. I’ll go through the steps, day by day. I’ll be the mom, I’ll clean the house, I’ll teach the day’s lessons, I’ll cook the meals. But I’m also digging in quite a bit deeper and doing a bit more self-care, which for me involves exercise and spending time alone with a notebook, a Bible, and a blanket. Jonathan and I are going to sit and come up with a schedule for both of us to go to the gym and for me to have an hour or two alone throughout the week in a quiet comfortable place.

To keep my mind engaged, I’m reading a bunch of books right now, ranging in topics from photography to parenting. I discovered I prefer nonfiction, and I checked out about 20 books from our library last weekend. I do have a couple of books that are on my list of what I’d like to read, but they’re not available in our library system, and so I will have to save my money and purchase copies later on.

I’m also working on another year-long project that will be more on the fun, creative side. It’s helping me learn photography, and I’m really excited about it.

And now to plan.

What are you working on right now? What head space are you in? What’s inspiring you? Where is God leading you? How can I support you as you tackle your next project? Friends and family, connect with me!

Selling our House

We are selling our house!

There is so much to do to prep a house for sale. My sweet husband has been working tirelessly for a couple of weeks now. He has been packing everything extraneous, fixing “small” annoying problems, cleaning up the yard, power washing the exterior of the house, touching up trim, hanging decor in new locations for staging purposes, spreading rock, mowing weeds, and working his regular full-time job. I don’t think he has slept more than 5 hours per night for the past couple weeks.

The kids and I (and our cat!) have been staying with my parents for the past week and a half. I just couldn’t handle the constant disruption to the preparation process, and it was getting to be hard for the kids, emotionally, to see their things being packed away to be opened…sometime later. We are very thankful we can escape here!

We had some wonderful people come help us clean up the yard and deep clean the house. I was so thankful for their work! I did some light staging, but nothing too fancy. Our goal was to present a house that is clean, spacious, and light. I feel like we have achieved that goal!

We listed the house on Monday and had a showing on Tuesday morning. That was exciting, but the  buyers didn’t like the location of our house. I am hoping we have a few more showings this weekend, and that one of them is the right one!

Please join us in praying our house sells soon, and that the buyer is one who will be blessed by owning our home. We certainly have been blessed by being there. Our neighbors are WONDERFUL, all of them. We hope we can move to a new house with neighbors who are just as pleasant. (I feel like we have great neighbors everywhere we live. We have good neighbor luck! Carrie and Karen, you know I mean you! But this particular set is even greater than our average neighbor set so far, because it includes everyone on the street!) I hope the buyer will love our street and the people on it just as much as we do.

The kids and I will be living with my parents until our house is under contract. Pray it goes quick, for my poor parents’ sakes! 😜

More to come on Monday… Hopefully I’ll get to write that the house is under contract! Wouldn’t that be fun?!?!

 

Playdates, Playdates, Playdates Galore!

Since the end of Hula Girl’s dancing career, I have been working overtime to try to get her engaged in unstructured social events with her peers. We have had three official playdates and we have several more scheduled in the near future. I am determined that she will go back to dance class someday (she keeps telling me she will be ready to go after Christmas) and that when she goes she will interact with the other ballerinas and she will have a good time. So there.

Our first playdate after that fateful day was with a set of twins who attend our library’s storytime. They are about a half-year younger than Hula Girl. They have beautiful names and even more beautiful curly locks. It’s hard to tell them apart because their mom dresses them the same, but one of them is just slightly taller, so that helps. They really enjoyed the dress-up clothes.

Hula Girl has about 25 complete outfits for dress-up, thanks to my mom, Walmart’s post-Halloween sales, and my old across-the-street neighbor, Karen. She absolutely adores dressing up in her tutus, wings, tiaras, and shoes. She also really enjoys princess dresses, wands, and Fancy Nancy slippers. She is usually wearing at least one part of one costume at all times.

I recently put together a “closet” of sorts for her dress-up clothes. I built a PVC frame with a rod across the top for hangers. Then I made curtains for the whole thing out of a shower curtain that I got on sale at Ross. It took me about 2 hours, total. And it’s PERFECT. I will have to post a picture.

Anyway, the twins really loved dressing up! We had three little princesses, some cowgirls, a nurse, a mermaid, fairies, and cheerleaders in our playroom that day. Hula Girl is very excited to have another playdate with them soon.

Our next playdate was with a friend of mine from Bible study. She has two girls who sandwich Hula Girl age-wise; one is turning five soon and one is turning three. (She also has a cutie little three-month-old boy who looks just like a Butterball turkey! I love babies who haven’t lengthened out yet but are chunky and heavy already. So roly-poly and just plain squeezable!) Those girls came over and took over the playroom! They sat right down at the play table and served up a play feast in the kitchen! The elder girl, in particular, was great with Hula Girl. She invited Hula Girl to play, gave Hula Girl the pink plate/cup/silverware, and just interacted so well with her. Hula Girl was absolutely intrigued with this girl who is so brave and so talkative and NOT afraid to just play! There was a good deal of dressing up during this playdate, as well! The girls also got to have a treat of hot chocolate with their snack. I loved their manners, their imaginations, and their mom!

The last playdate we had was this week on Thursday. We went to the home of the same family, and another friend joined us. There were four little girls, one little Gelato, one little Butterball, and a teeny weeny 6-week-old baby girl in the house. Seven children, lots of giggles, and Hula Girl had SUCH a good time. She was afraid to go into the playroom for a while, but once she realized the other girls were very friendly and that Mommy was going to sit and talk and admire the BABIES the whole time, she became braver. I overheard her asking one of the littler girls (who is a full year younger than her) to play with her. That little girl is very similar in temperament to Hula Girl. She is very timid around others she doesn’t know yet, but she is boisterous once she gets to know someone. I have played with her at her own house a couple times, and she is just a sweetheart. (That little girl will be in Hula Girl’s Sunday school class tomorrow, so I am hoping that will help Hula Girl adjust!)

We are scheduled to play again with some other friends next Thursday, and we continue to go to storytime on Tuesday. I also had a babysitter come this morning and watch the kids while I went grocery shopping. My goal right now is to put Hula Girl in situations where she HAS to be social with lots of people besides me. She has been doing really well with it, and she tells me every time, “I want to stay with ______ a long time next time! I had so much fun!” I just wish she’d keep that in her head long enough to be brave from the beginning of every situation!

Garden (Jungle?) 2013

It’s time for a garden update! With pictures! Basically, we’re going to talk a lot about this today:

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And this:

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And this:

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As you can see quite clearly, Jonathan has a green thumb. Heck, he has a green hand. Two of ’em.

We have been practicing with different gardening techniques since 2011; this was our third garden. Jonathan has got some kind of natural gift for gardening that I surely don’t have. I think a lot of it has to do with his perseverance and his ability to observe. He notices when creepy crawlies start to invade, and he works hard to do what it takes to get rid of them (non-pesticide). He is much more patient than me. I start getting all worried each year around June, freaking out when things haven’t started to grow yet. He just laughs at me and tells me to wait. So I weed and do my part to contribute but mutter under my breath about how it’s going to be a failure this year. By the 4th of July, however, everything is green and lush. Funny how that works out.

Anyway, this year we decided to incorporate a lot of things we’ve not done before in a garden, and we’ve been quite pleased with the results. We used beneficial insect-attracting flowers. We used pest-repelling flowers. We planted less peas and green beans and more watermelon, corn, and kale. (Mmmm, kale chips. I need to pick some kale for tonight’s dinner! I think kale chips would be a great accompaniment for crock pot macaroni and cheese! Who’s with me!?) We ordered all organic seeds from my aunt’s seed company in Willits, CA. Here’s their website.

And do you know what? We learned even more about ourselves and our gardening needs and wants. But that will be another post. For now, let’s take a peek at what we’ve got growing out there! Jonathan takes pictures almost every morning. Here are some of my personal faves, mixed in with some food shots, just to keep it real. And don’t forget my gnomes.

Sunflower! Isn't the center detail insane?

Sunflower! Isn’t the center detail insane?

 

Cinderella's carriage- not quite ripe yet!

Cinderella’s carriage- not quite ripe yet!

 

Mint blossoms. Yes, we know you're not really supposed to let your mint flower. But we have about 20 mint plants (not exaggerating), so we figured we'd let the one in the hanging basket do its thing. Pretty!

Mint blossoms. Yes, we know you’re not really supposed to let your mint flower. But we have about 20 mint plants (not exaggerating), so we figured we’d let the one in the hanging basket do its thing. Pretty!

 

Oh, Fumwallikin. Gettin' old.

Oh, Fumwallikin. Gettin’ old.

 

These flowers are really cool. See how the petals start out as small spiral-shaped spears poking out of the center of the flower?

These flowers are really cool. See how the petals start out as small spiral-shaped spears poking out of the center of the flower?

 

Then they start to open up and a new set of petals pushes its way out...

Then they start to open up and a new set of petals pushes its way out…

 

Then more petals, and these pretty yellow star-shaped stamens...

Then more petals, and these pretty yellow star-shaped stamens…

 

And they just keep on going! Petals after petals after petals! They are SO lush to behold; from the sides they look like soft pink pinecones!

And they just keep on going! Petals after petals after petals! They are SO lush to behold; from the sides they look like soft pink pinecones!

Zzzzz.... introducing our newest gnome! He has yet to be named. Hula Girl suggested calling him "Counter" but I countered. I'm thinking "Lolly" might be part of his name.
Zzzzz…. introducing our newest gnome! He has yet to be named. Hula Girl suggested calling him “Counter” but I countered. I’m thinking “Lolly” might be part of his name.

 

Watermelon!

Watermelon! Don’t you just love the curly curly vines?

 

Festivity corn! This stuff is pretty tasty, and the kernels are super cool. They're a mix of red, blue, and yellow . Quite festive!

Festivity corn! This stuff is pretty tasty, and the kernels are super cool. They’re a mix of red, blue, and yellow . Quite festive!

 

Good ol' peas.

Good ol’ peas.

 

Aren't these pretty?

Aren’t these pretty?

 

I think I'm going to have this one blown up on canvas for my bedroom. It's just beautiful.

I think I’m going to have this one blown up on canvas for my bedroom. It’s just beautiful.

 

Lookin' good, Elmwinkle.

Lookin’ good, Elmwinkle.

 

 

 

 

Hula Girl’s Art Table

Hula Girl and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to “projects.” I tend to have a finished vision in mind and she couldn’t care less. She is much more interested in the process and discovery than the actual product. She LOVES to paint, color, tape, glue, and make a mess. A huge mess. There is some innate sense of hatred of paint that resides deep in my soul. Every time we pull out paints (water colors, tempera paints, finger paints, doesn’t matter), I end up a stressed-out ball of frayed angry nerves and I don’t tend to mother with very much gentleness or grace. I don’t know what it is about paint that does this to me.

And it’s not just paint. Hula Girl puts everything in her mouth. I mean, EVERYTHING. (I’m actually looking into this from a more medical/psychological point of view right now because I mean it when I say she puts everything in her mouth.) She knows that she’s not supposed to, but she does it. From the very first of our art endeavors, when I handed then-10-month-old Hula Girl some crayons and a piece of paper and proudly posted pictures of the scribbles all over Facebook, to our most recent watercolor masterpiece at the easel encounter, she has had her supplies taken from her for putting them in her mouth. I am not kidding. I have had to stop the activity or take supplies each and every time we have ever attempted art, because she is always tasting and sampling and chewing and licking and spitting. Drives.me.crazy. (My poor mother-in-law has had to hear all about this over and over. Sorry, Momma C.) Thank goodness kids’ art supplies are generally considered non-toxic (although you’d have to pay me a LOT of money before I’d admit that maybe the artificial dyes aren’t so bad after all…)

Anyway.

I have been wanting to test a theory. I have been pondering the idea that perhaps Hula Girl has been so obsessed with putting art supplies in her mouth partially because she knows it makes me so upset. What if I just gave her free access to them and didn’t care about what she actually does with them? What if I just let her go for it using whatever supplies she wanted to use to create anything she wanted to create? Would we still have the mouthing issue? I have been talking it over with Jonathan and he said we could create an art space for Hula Girl somewhere in the house.

Then, last Friday we were given a free “art table” for children. It looks like this. Some random neighbor we’ve never talked to before chased me down when I was out on a walk with the kids (actually, I was terrified about this random person running behind me!), and she offered the art desk to us since she doesn’t have any kids. I said we’d take a look at it, and once we did, we knew we had to have it.

Since it was used, Hula Girl and I spent some time on Saturday afternoon washing it and making it a bit more presentable (we removed the white board section before we soaped it up). It wasn’t in really bad shape, but it had some writing on the white board that was done in permanent marker, and it was a bit dusty. Hula Girl was a great help when we were washing it. I gave her a sponge and let her go for it. She ended up with mud all over her feet, a trend that continued throughout the weekend. (Mud messes I can handle; paint messes, not so much. Weird?)

I ran to Walmart (our favorite store, duh) and stocked up. Like, STOCKED UP. Hula Girl now has access to white board crayons, regular crayons, markers, watercolor paints, colored pencils, regular pencils, erasers, tape, glue, scissors, paper, and stickers. I am planning to add playdough (homemade), 3-D supplies (like egg cartons, etc.), and chalk. I will also add other supplies, and specialized supplies (like glitter crayons), as she gets older.

She has been busy. She has spent 2.5 hours total over the past three days just cutting. My floor is covered in little tiny scraps of paper. But she is busy and happy and she feels that the work she is doing is very important. She keeps putting stickers on paper and cutting them in half so that Jonathan and I can “learn what happens.” She has painted, colored, taped, and written the letter “N” over and over. Absolutely nothing I would have wanted to do in my supplies-hating heart.

And do you want to know something else? She has not put any of her supplies in her mouth, with one exception. She put the glue stick on her lips because it reminded her of chapstick. She hasn’t done that since. 🙂

 

Hospitality

Jonathan and I just listened to a recording of the message delivered this Sunday by my old friend, who is now the pastor of my home church from childhood. The kind of hospitality and life-giving relationships that Ben (Pastor Ben? Pastor Brooks? How do I address him now? I literally grew up with him! He’s always been Ben to me!) spoke about really got to my heart.

Ben told the (fictional) story of a couple who joined the church, then joined a “Kingdom-Life Group”. The Kingdom-Life Group was a close-knit, fully-invested group of families who were “all up in each other’s business” in a good way. They all had a huge heart for the Lord and were keenly interested in living the way the apostles and believers did in Acts. They met frequently to break bread, pray, hold each other accountable, study the Word, and worship. But they decided to take it a step further. They were intentional about hospitality and missions. They wanted to get out into their neighborhood and win others for Christ. And they did. They hosted parties, they prayed, they went on walks with the intention of meeting specific neighbors. They were warm, inviting, caring, and, well, weird. Weird in a good way. People knew them, they knew their message, and even if they didn’t believe in the same things, they wanted to have a part in what was happening with those “Christians.”

Jonathan and I got so excited about that idea… but then we realized we’re kind of a long way from that kind of thing. Which was discouraging.

We’ve moved a lot since we were married. And then we made a lot of excuses. So, no, we really have no church that we call “home”. We don’t know many other young families who love Jesus and who are teaching their children to do the same. Heck, we haven’t even had either of our children dedicated yet. Yes, it is terribly sad. Yes, we have totally dropped the ball. Yes, we are heartbroken over the fact that we got so lazy.

So now we’ve got to be crazy-intentional. We ARE going to be attending church, starting this Sunday. First Advent Sunday of the season. Seems appropriate. We ARE going to step out of our comfort zones (including being nervous about missing naps, etc.) to stay at church and meet some new people each time. We ARE going to find out how we can host a small group in our own home (is that selfish? I just figured we can’t really afford a babysitter, and it would be easy to put the kids to bed by 6:45 and then have the group arrive at 7). We ARE going to raise our children in a church, in a community, and hopefully, if all goes well, in a Kingdom-Life Group of our very own.

So I guess we’re going to be taking all the right steps… just maybe a bit out of order. ‘Cuz the first thing we’re going to do is open up our home and practice some good old-fashioned hospitality. Starting December 15.

This morning I woke up with a hare-brained idea. I said, “Hey, would it be okay if I decided to invite some of our friends from Storytime over for a Christmas party this month?” It kind of blew up from there. Now we’re hosting a Christmas Cookie Decorating and Reindeer Games Party. And we’re expecting at least 10 families.   In our teensy weensy little home. That is half-filled with Goliath’s Christmas tree. Wahoo!

The whole point of this get-together, for me at least, is to get to know the names of the moms I see week to week. Huh? Yeah. I know that she’s Gracie’s Mom, and she’s Adam’s Mom. But I don’t know their real names. I don’t know anything about them. In fact, just by handing out the invitations, I learned that one mom’s husband works on the railroads in Minnesota, so she’s alone with her little girl day in and day out. I am betting that mom could use a little friendship. I would never have known. (Ironically, I have yet to learn her name. Whoops.)

I kind of want to establish a gathering place. My home is never spotless. My home is rarely even tidy. I can’t cook very well. My husband will have to be home if you want coffee, because I don’t know how to make it. But I can heat up water and soak a tea bag. And my couch, albeit old, is cozy. And the living room smells like Christmas. So yeah, I can handle this. In fact, I’m craving it. Give me a reason to keep things tidy! Give me a reason to try a new recipe (but give me grace when it’s a disaster!)! I can’t wait to welcome folks into our home. I hope one day my children will feel strange when we don’t have someone new in our home for a week. I just want to create a space that is welcoming, comforting, and serene. I want people to feel loved, served, honored, and relaxed when they enter our home.

Yee-haw. I just found my mission. 🙂

BIG FAT FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

a.k.a. CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE!!!!!

So, to begin the season right, take a little listen to my favorite favorite favorite Christmas Season Song. (I actually have a different Favorite Christmas Eve Song, so be prepared for that one in a few weeks.) And yes, I only like this song when Nat King Cole sings it.

What is Big Fat Fabulous Friday?

Well, it’s the day that begins the most wonderful time of the year, of course.

Sure, many people are out being crazy and mauling each other in order to gain possession of that one special item. That’s not exactly the most wonderful time of the year. I will admit that I have participated in Black Friday deal hunting, and that I look forward to it again in the future. But I am not a die-hard, get-there-at-the-crack-of-8:30-p.m.-on-Thanksgiving-and-shop-all-night kind of girl. No, no. I prefer getting up around 5:30, stopping by Starbucks, loading up on caffeine and FAR too much sugar, hitting a few fun stores, feeling absolutely sick by 7:30, stopping for breakfast, getting out to a couple more stores, and then heading home by 10. That’s the extent of my Black Friday. And I like to leave it that way.

But Black Friday is NOT the same as Big Fat Fabulous Friday.

Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when we bust out the ol’ Christmas decorations. Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when Jonathan spends FAR too much time on the roof putting up lights. Big Fat Fabulous Friday is the day when our little family piles in the car and gets our CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

So, it’s safe to say that Big Fat Fabulous Friday is awesome.

This year, Hula Girl is old enough to understand and participate in some of the rituals. She will be outside with us when I help Jonathan string the lights on our outdoor trees. She will be inside with me, jamming to our favorite carols and sipping hot chocolate, while I put up the few decorations that last year-to-year. She will get to help Jonathan choose the very best tree while I carry Gelato around the tree lot. And she will be able to help me water the Christmas tree every morning and afternoon until it stops drinking water or January comes.

Can I tell you how excited I am to be sharing some of these things with my kiddo!?!?! I mean, this is the first year we will actually start traditions with her! She gets to hang her own ornaments! She gets to make cookies for Santa! She gets to leave cheese for Santa Mouse and a carrot for Rudolph! (Her current thinking on Santa/reindeer is that Santa will come wake her up in the night when he gets here so that she can come downstairs and feed an unpeeled carrot to the reindeer. Yes, she specified that the carrot will not be peeled. ??? She has also expressed concern that Santa Mouse will need to hide her present in the MIDDLE of the Christmas tree so that she can crawl under the branches and look up to find it. No joke. She is hilarious.) 

Another tradition we’re SO excited to begin is one I heard of somewhere out in blogland- we’re going to set out a small empty manger and every time someone in our family shows kindness, joy, or love, we’ll add a piece of straw. We hope to make a nice, soft bed for Jesus for his arrival on Christmas Eve.

I have come up with a Christmas-related topic for every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and have planned 2 activities to go along with each topic. Hula Girl will LOVE Christmas by the time December is over. And not just for the toys. We’re focusing on things like the characters in the Christmas story, the advent wreath, and Christmas traditions like candy canes and stockings. I plan to keep it quite simple (duh, she’s 2) and not try to hit on EVERYTHING this year (we do have several Christmases ahead of us, after all), but I also want to try to give her a bit of an understanding of the miracle and why we celebrate so very much. I mean, 1/12th of our LIVES are spent in celebration of this one event… she may as well understand why we go so crazy over it (especially if her understanding diminishes the importance of TOYS and emphasizes the importance of…oh, I don’t know… SALVATION)!

So, back to our plans.

We’ll get up, have an awesome Christmas-themed breakfast (I’ll post about that when it happens), and start up the carols. Hula Girl and I will start reading a few Christmas stories that we have here at home (we have, like, 1000 books-no joke- so I’m sure we have at least 20 books about Christmas). Then Jonathan will bring in all the Christmas decorations and lights, and we’ll figure out what goes where and which strings of lights need replacing, etc. Next, we’ll head outside to watch Jonathan start putting up lights. When Hula Girl tires of that, we’ll head inside and start decorating the inside of the house (because, of course, we’ll have taken down all Remnants of Fall on Thanksgiving night). I can’t wait to show her the special decorations we have and tell her what they mean to us. I’m thinking particularly of a little statue we have that has 3 snowmen. I got that for us when we learned we were pregnant with Hula Girl. She will ADORE having a snowman self. Of course, lunch will be Thanksgiving leftovers. While Hula Girl naps, Jonathan and I will finish up with the lights and decorations. I will also start some turkey soup so that when Hula Girl and Gelato get up from their naps in the afternoon, we can head out as a family and choose our TREE! When we get home, we’ll set it up in the garage to let its branches fall a bit and we’ll enjoy turkey soup for dinner. Once the kids are in bed, Jonathan and I will plan this year’s extra-special decorations… I plan to go crafting-crazy, and I will have to shop on Saturday to purchase all the extra supplies I need. 🙂

Wahoo! Welcome to the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

Learning About Colors

 

This morning I was reading a story to Hula Girl about mixing colors. It’s called The Color Kittens. I was therefore inspired to do an activity with Hula Girl that showed her the same concept. Since it was so cold outside today, and I don’t yet have a nice winter coat for Hula Girl, we did a longer experiment than we normally would have done. This ate up about 40 minutes. Nice! (In Toddler Time, 40 minutes is like an eternity. Keeping her focused on one activity for this long was amazing.)

So this little activity is all over the internet in Mom Blog Land. Baking soda + food coloring + vinegar = fun foaming way to entertain and teach your toddler about colors. I was particularly fond of doing this “project*” in muffin tins as it really worked well to keep everything contained.

*Hula Girl refers to every single thing we do requiring supplies or materials of any sort as a “project.”

Anyway, we started out just learning what happened when we dropped vinegar in baking soda. Then we saw what happened when we added each of the colors separately. Finally, we used the second tin to do our color mixtures. She was STUNNED by the results! I had her make guesses to see what colors she thought would result from the mixtures. Her guess for red + yellow? Green. Surprise! How about blue + red? Pink? Surprise again! She was very excited to announce the color of the foam as soon as it appeared each time. We documented our color findings very carefully on a separate sheet of paper so we can use it again as reference when we’re mixing colors in the future. She will also be psyched to show Daddy her discoveries when he gets home!

But her very favorite part: squirting the vinegar out of the medicine syringe, of course. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things are “Falling” into Place

This weekend was great! I feel like I’m nesting. I didn’t do any nesting when I was pregnant with Gelato, so I guess now’s as good a time as any. Better, in fact! It’s fall, for one, and therefore I can light my pumpkin spice candle and bask in the scent of autumn goodies all day long without feeling like it’s forced. And I feel better than ever since Gelato was born, so I will be able to actually keep up the tidiness, cleanliness, and accomplished-ness.

Here’s what I did this weekend: got all the laundry done; deep cleaned the whole house; took Hula Girl on a “girls’ shopping adventure” (gotta get those groceries!); got Gelato kind of on schedule again; read a lot of a new book from the library; watched Dance Moms, America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway (what can I say? I like quality entertainment); and went with Jonathan to get the car. Woohoo! The only thing missing was that I did not get to do Hula Girl’s curtains. I have been wanting to sew her actual curtains to the blackout liners that are currently hanging in her room (yep, we’ve lived here over a year- I really need to get on this!), but I didn’t feel like busting out the ol’ machine. Guess that will have to be a later-this-week-or-maybe-next-month project.

This week we’re having several different dishes for dinner. Different in our house means anything that’s not been frozen for a month. So, no lasagna, no casseroles, no macaroni and cheese. Okay, we are having mac’n’cheese next Sunday night… but it’s comfort food! Anyway, some of the things on this week’s menu include turkey chili, creamy chicken penne, and manicotti. Of course, I won’t be able to actually eat any of these dishes… but at least Jonathan and Hula Girl will appreciate the change.

It dawned on me today as I was nursing Gelato that I haven’t wistfully thought back to the days of having only one child in a while. Having two kids is my new norm, and it feels pretty darn normal! We’ve made it through almost seven weeks now, and Hula Girl is starting to show signs that she’s not going to be messed up for life by the addition of a brother. Gelato is starting to show signs that he might actually sleep through a nap again someday, and maybe even continue to stretch out his nights! Jonathan is starting to show signs that he’s learning to balance work/family/gym (let’s hope he gets to go to the gym more than a couple times this week, for his sake). And I’m feeling just pretty optimistic about our little family’s future. As hard as it has been to add a second child to our family, I have been much more able to just enjoy him than I was with Hula Girl. A short nap or a quirky schedule doesn’t send me into a tailspin the way it did with her. Let’s be honest here- of course these things bother me, but I am much better equipped to just let it go and try again the next time. I have seen evidence that one faulty day is not going to ruin every part of my child’s future. 🙂

I think this weekend was just really good for me psychologically. I feel caught up. I feel organized(ish). I feel like I’ve struck on a healthy balance of control and go-with-the-flow. And now I have some extra time to plan fun activities with Hula Girl, my in-laws’ visit and the festivities surrounding that, and my Christmas decor. Yes, I like to plan my Christmas decor months in advance. I will be making a lot of new decorations this year. I had planned them for last year but was too sick with morning sickness to follow through.

YEE-HAW! Jonathan just brought in another box of fall decorations. I gotta go.

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