Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, everyone!

We had a quiet day here at home yesterday. Here, in the sick house. The place where everyone is sick. Still. All 5 of us. Again. Not really sure if it's still or again. Have we ever really gotten rid of it???? It seems like I start to feel better, and the girls and Anthony and Darrell all start to feel better, and we start to not go through *quite* so many kleenex in a day, and maybe we're not using *quite* as much Sudafed, but it doesn't last long.

Darrell and I both have sore throats. Darrell's hacking up a lung. Makayla's nose won't stop running. All three kids had pink eye this week. In both eyes. (Not sure how I managed not to get it. Oh wait, I haven't had time to look in the mirror - maybe I actually DO have it and don't realize it!) Anthony's got a fever, sore throat, cough and runny nose. And Mackenzie - take a wild guess - has green crud coming out of both ears. Again.

Anyway, in spite of all that, we had a nice turkey day meal yesterday. I roasted the turkey in the oven this year - the past few years, Darrell's been smoking it on the grill, but he wasn't up to it this year. I also fixed stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, and sweet potatoes (can you say carb heaven?). I cheated and used canned cranberry sauce this year, mainly because I forgot to have Darrell pick up cranberries when I gave him the grocery list. Everything came out delicious. I had picked up a caramel apple pie from Sam's Club, and it was yummy too...for breakfast AND for dessert! :)

We have so much to be thankful for this year, it is overwhelming to think about! The girls, Darrell's promotion, the tremendous amount of help from our family and friends, the house, our wonderful new friends, our new church family...the Lord has truly blessed us beyond measure.

I hope that you were able to celebrate with your friends and family, and that you took time to reflect on how much you have to be thankful for - because the truth is, we all have much to be thankful for, in spite of whatever hardships we are facing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lavender drawer sachets

Today we went to a wedding shower for my niece, Chaleena, and her fiance, Andy. We had gotten them a baking pan set from their registry, and then I made her a hostess apron from the other half of the skirt I used to make my sister's apron.

Then as the final part of their gift, I decided to make some lavender drawer sachets. They were incredibly simple to make - I didn't even use a pattern or tutorial - and took me very little time. The aroma was heavenly as I was filling them! I used an old die-cut cardstock tag from my scrapbooking stash and simply hand-wrote on it, and free-hand drew what is supposed to be some lavender...my drawing skills leave much to be desired, I realize! ;) I tied them all together with some twine, and they make a lovely gift!

I plan to make some more of these for Christmas gifts, and I will try to put together a quick little tutorial for you all. By the way, I ordered the lavender from San Francisco Herb Company...it was quite reasonably priced, at $7.15/lb., although they do have a $30 order minimum. They have a HUGE selection of herbs, essential oils, fragrance oils, spices...lots of good things!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pretty things

These are the fabrics I got with the gift card my mom gave me for Fabric Depot.

All three of these are Heather Bailey. I am LOVING the green and red!! So pretty!! It would be great for some non-traditional Christmas-y stuff!!

I haven't got a clue what I'm going to do with this - but it's just so stinkin' cute, and I don't have many kid fabrics, so I just had to have it!

Ginger Blossom in flannel!!! Yay!! I'm totally making myself some pj pants out of that bottom fabric. It makes me happy!

This pair is Makayla's. Love the owls! The flannel and fleece are so soft.

These are Mackenzie's. They're also lined with fleece, but the outside is regular woven cotton - from Amy Butler's Midwest Modern line.

The cards I made last weekend. Loving the Prima flowers and the Marta Stewart felt snowflakes!!

Remember the awesome Cricut cartridge I mentioned - Wild Card? These are some of the adorable things it does.

I am so excited...my hubby decided this afternoon that we can go Las Vegas in 2 weeks for my niece's wedding! I've never been to Vegas, so this will be exciting. Looking forward to it!

The sweetest sound

Just a little while ago, I was in the kitchen, and Mackenzie was crawling around on the floor, and all of a sudden, I realized she was saying, "ma ma." Oh my gosh!!! Over and over and over again. I asked Anthony, "Do you hear what she's saying???" He said, "Yeah, 'mama'." No biggie. Of course, the minute I turned on the video camera, she stopped.

So then Darrell came downstairs, and I said, "Did you hear Mackenzie saying, "Mama?"" Cynically, I expected him not to believe me. His reply? "She's been saying it all morning - I thought you knew!"

Oh.

Edited to add: Got it on video! :)


video

My sister, my friend.

I love watching the girls as they begin to interact with each other more and more. They are often sitting together on the floor, swapping binkies, toys, whatever is in their hands, and not a complaint in sight (or earshot) YET. I am not so naive as to think it's not coming...but I'm enjoying the current bliss. When one of them has been sleeping, and the other one has been up, and I take the awake one into the room to see the newly-awakening one, they both get such HUGE smiles on their faces when they spy each other. It's so adorable. When I put them down to sleep at the same time, they both immediately stand up in their beds and face each other, and commence a 15-20 minute "play session" before falling asleep. I love listening to them - laughing, jumping, "talking" to each other.

Of course, it's not QUITE so adorable when they are jumping up and down in their beds, laughing with each other AT 2:30 A.M., as they were this morning. That's never happened before, and I sure hope it doesn't become a routine!! I nursed Makayla, put her back to bed, then took Mackenzie to our bed, in the hopes Makayla would go back to sleep. Nope. By 3:15, she was screaming again. I handed Mackenzie, who was STILL awake, wanting to play, off to Darrell, and went to nurse Makayla again...she nursed for 45 minutes!!! I was having flashbacks to the newborn days! And was still awake! Oh. my. gosh. Teething sucks. She has two coming in on top. I had given her teething tablets and teething gel, to no avail. Finally, she accepted her binky, and I just rocked her to sleep. By 3:45, I made it back to my bed, where Mackenzie appeared to be asleep. By 5:00, she was awake. I tried for an hour to get her to go back to sleep in my arms, but it was useless, so by 6:00, we were up.

In other news:
  • I made a pair of soft baby shoes for each of the girls this week - photos to come - and they turned out really cute. This time I used two layers of fleece for the soles, so hopefully they won't wear holes in them so fast. I also added some puff paint to the bottom, thanks to a great suggestion from my friend Allison, to add traction! (It was rather comical watching Makayla try to stand up on my friend's linoleum floor before the puff paint was added!)
  • Makayla is MOMENTS from taking her first steps! Seriously - it could happen at any time. She is so ready! She can easily stand without holding on to anything for at least 5 seconds.
  • Mackenzie has perfected crawling and is now pulling herself up on everything.
  • Teeth count - Makayla: 2 on bottom, 2 coming in on top; Mackenzie - one on top!
  • I had an appointment with the neurologist yesterday; she increased my Topamax in the hopes of cutting down further on the frequency of my migraines. I have had some improvement already, so am hoping the increased dosage will help even more. I'm also hoping it doesn't cause more side effects though - I have to go to sleep right away after taking it, or else I get really bad restless legs!
  • Our coordinator from Inland Regional Center (for Early Intervention Services) came out this week to see Mackenzie. She was pleased with her progress. She is sending an Occupational Therapist out to help us with feeding issues. She also took a referral for Makayla - because, as it turns out, Makayla is several months delayed in her language development! She's ahead in other areas, but for whatever reason, she's not developing speech at the rate she should be; by this point, she should be making consonant sounds and putting 2-syllable sounds together, like "ba-ba," "ma-ma," "da-da," etc. She doesn't even make one-syllable sounds, other than "mmmm...." when she's eating something! :)
  • Thursday night Darrell had bible study, so I took the kids over to my friend Allison's house. It was her birthday, so my friend Kristi and I both went over there to have dinner with her. So, for Allison's b'day - she cooked US dinner! :) She made an awesome pasta dish - Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina - so yummy! I took monkey bread for dessert, and made it with homemade bread dough - yum! I'll post that recipe later. Anyway, the kids had a great time playing, and the moms had a great time talking, while the dads had their end-of-the-year spaghetti dinner.
I'll try to get photos and recipes posted later!! Have a great weekend everyone!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Korker bows

My friend Kristi came over today to hang out, and we decided to try out a tutorial I had found for making korker hair bows for our girls. Her little Abby is 7 months old (but bigger than either of my almost-11 month olds!!). The tutorial is here. It was very simple to follow, and they weren't hard to make at all. I actually already had most of the supplies on hand from scrapbooking, and had picked up the alligator clips, clothspins, and dowels a couple weeks ago at Wal-Mart. I did find that using a lighter to seal the ends of the ribbons was much easier than applying fray-check to the ends of each ribbon!! Just don't scorch the ribbon!

We used a hot glue gun to cover the alligator clip in velvet ribbon, and then hot glued the korker bow to the top of the alligator clip.

Now I just have to get pictures of them IN the girls' hair!! I remembered after I started making them that the girls' Christmas dresses that my mom bought them are brown and pink, so these bows will be perfect!!

34 years and counting

Last Thursday, the 13th, was my 34th birthday...hard to believe! On Tuesday, my friend Deanna came out and spent the day with me. She made me the CUTEST set of wooden blocks, covered in pretty papers and embellishments. They are lovely!! There are some blank sides for me to put pictures on, and I had the perfect spot for them on top of the bookshelf in my craft room.

While she was here, she wanted me to teach her how to sew...or at least, introduce her to sewing, so she could decide if it was something she wanted to pursue. It didn't take long for her to add a sewing machine to her Christmas wish list!! She had brought some of her daughter Taylor's old flannel baby blankets with her, and we whipped up a quick little blanket for Taylor's dolls. It turned out sweet, don't you think?

My birthday gift from my awesome hubby was a complete surprise. If you recall, when he got me the sewing machine back in August, he told me that was my birthday gift. So I was quite thrilled when he came home Thursday with a sewing machine cabinet!! Thus far, my machine has been sitting in the corner on my main desk in my craft room, but this will work out so much better!!

My mom sent me a gift card to Starbucks (yum - I had my first peppermint mocha of the season on Sunday) and to Fabric Depot. I ordered some fun flannel from Sandi Henderson's Ginger Blossom line to make myself some pajama pants - can't wait!! My friend Gloria sent a gift card to Jo-Ann's, and Anthony and I had fun shopping after church yesterday...I got several little odds and ends, including a very cool little glue pad I'll be playing with in the near future. You can use stamps with it to stamp an image in glue, then sprinkle glitter over it!! Fun!

Anyway, it was a nice birthday. Saturday, Darrell let me go to the house of a woman who used to work in his unit in Indio, who lives not too far from us now, for some scrapbooking/card-making time. I made some great Christmas cards - I'll post them later. It was a lot of fun, and I fell in love with a new Cricut cartridge - Wild Card. If you get just one Cricut cartridge - THIS needs to be it!!! Wow. Seriously. Wow.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two years ago today

To the baby we lost...

Because of you, I am a better mama today.

Because of you, I hug my kiddos a little bit tighter and a little bit longer.

Because of you, I take more time out to enjoy the ordinary miracles every day.

Because of you, I take less for granted.

Because of you, I have two beautiful, precious daughters that would not otherwise be here.

Because of you, I am a more compassionate friend.

Because of you, I have a gentler spirit.

Because of you, I am more sensitive to others' hurting hearts.

Because of you, I have some precious friends in my life who might not otherwise have crossed my path.

Because of you, I share a knowing with other mamas who've experienced the same brokenness of this loss.

Because of you, I live more in gratitude and less in want.

Because of you, I know what it means to lean not on my own understanding.

Because of you, I know it is truth that His ways are not my ways, and that His plan is perfect.

Because of you, I know that His grace is sufficient, in every circumstance and in every need.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roasted Acorn Squash

Mmm...I wasn't a big fan of winter squash when I was growing up, but as an adult, I've grown to LOOOOVE it, especially when roasted and sweetened up a bit! I fixed this last night, and even Anthony gobbled up two slices of it - which is a big kudos, since he rarely eats veggies of his own will!!

To start, simply cut open an acorn squash in half, and use a spoon to scoop out the insides. I toss them, though I suppose maybe you could roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds - I've never tried it myself. Then slice them into hefty pieces - about 3-4 per half. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over them, then add salt and freshly-ground pepper, and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until tender.

You can eat them just like that. Or you can take it a step further. You could drizzle warm maple syrup over them. Or you could sprinkle some brown sugar over them and broil for a couple minutes. I melted some brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup together and drizzled it over them - wow! Yum! A perfect fall side dish!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Peppermint Soap

I'm continuing to work on Christmas gifts...really trying to stick to handmade and trying to get things done early to avoid last-minute stress. I had picked up a copy of a Martha Stewart Holiday special issue on handmade gifts, and found a cute idea for making striped peppermint loaf soap. Since I knew I was going over to my friend Allison's today for some crafting time, I figured it would be a good time to give this a try.

As it turns out, I should have looked up some more info online before I made the soap. The process went smoothly enough. I bought 4 lbs of melt-and-pour soap at Michaels - two pounds of clear olive oil glycerin soap, and two pounds of white shea butter soap. I also had peppermint essential oil and red food coloring. I melted, dyed, scented, poured, and repeated, until my soap loaves were complete. But when I got home and excitedly dumped my soap loaves out to cut them into pieces, and I began cutting, I discovered a slight problem. On about a third of my pieces, the layers of soap came apart. As I discovered, upon looking it up online, this is a common problem - conveniently NOT mentioned in the magazine article!! And there's an easy solution - in between each layer of soap, you just spritz a little rubbing alcohol before pouring the next layer - and this will cause them to adhere to each other. Unfortunately, there's no easy fix for AFTER the fact. So unless I figure out some magic, I guess we'll be using quite a bit of peppermint soap around here!!

The instructions can also be found online here...along with comments from people about the layer separation problem and solution!

***Update: I discovered that by using a long candle-lighter (actually, two of them - one in each hand), I was able to slightly melt the top layer of soap and then re-attach the separated layers fairly successfully. I only had a couple small drips, and overall, they turned out great! Yay!!

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Yesterday, we went to a playdate at Tracey's house (from our mom's group). The kids all got to paint cups/pots, and then plant seeds. We chose basil seeds...since I just killed our basil plant. (Hey - I kept it alive 3 months, which is longer than any other plant I've had!! Progress, people!) Anthony woke up this morning and said, "How come my plant isn't growing??" Patience, my son, patience!!

Did you happen to notice that there were no twins in any of the pictures?? That's because my wonderful husband had yesterday off and kept the girls home with him while I took Anthony to the playdate!! As we were leaving the house, my arms felt so empty! It seemed entirely too easy to just walk out the door with my purse and one child - no diaper bag, no heavy car seats with babies, no running around looking for pacifiers and bottles and blankets...we actually just walked. out. the. door. Bizarre. Thank you, honey!!

Anyway - we'll keep you posted on any growth that happens. Hopefully it happens. Or I'll have a very disappointed 3-year old!

Hip hip hooray!!

A HUGE HUGE thank you to my friend Allison's hubby, Bryan, for fixing the problem in my coding so that my blog looks normal in Internet Explorer now!! I went over to do some crafting today with Allison, and I ever-so-casually (not!) mentioned that there might be a little problem with my blog code. Twenty minutes and a whole lot of techie lingo later, he had it fixed!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bryan!!! And, by the way, if your website is in need of some fixing, click on Bryan's name to go to his website...this is what he does for a living, after all!!

All of you IE fans - does everything look good now??

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Party at Makayla's crib...2 a.m.!!

*yawn*

Oh, excuse me...it's been a long couple of nights in our house!! First off, the snot monster is making a return visit...or really, he never completely left...at any rate, Makayla's all snotty again. And now I've managed to catch it - I've got that lovely "my head might explode at any minute" sinus headache thing going on...only slightly more bothersome than the "now I'm dizzy and can't lean over too far either direction or I might end up on the floor because I took some cold medicine" feeling.

Two nights ago, Makayla actually slept all the way through the night - pretty unusual - she usually wakes up at least once or twice to nurse. Mackenzie, on the other hand, who normally sleeps for about 12 hours straight, decided to pick up the slack for her sister, and woke up crying at about 2:30 a.m. and ended up in bed with us, refusing to go back to sleep for at least an hour. She did finally go back to sleep - in our bed, where she remained for the night.

Then last night, it was Makayla's turn. 11:30 p.m. I was *just* about asleep - you know, that place where you're blissfully unaware of anything and just about to completly doze off into the sweet darkness...when Darrell rudely awakened me by handing me a wide-awake curly headed munchkin. I nursed her, took her back to her bed, started the process of trying to fall asleep again, and...REPEAT an hour later, once again *just* as I was about to fall off the cliff into a nice deep sleep. Ugh. Nursed her again. Took her back to her bed. Went back to my bed.

Forty-five minutes later, she's crying. Again. I thought, "Maybe she's being thrown off by me nursing her in my bed - usually I nurse her in the rocking chair in her room." So I tried that. She nursed for all of 2 minutes, I put her in her crib - let the screaming begin. But it wasn't "I'm hungry," or "I'm hurting," or anything like that. It was very much, "I'm mad, and I want to play, right now!" I didn't want her to wake up Mackenzie, and I don't like to let her cry, so I got her back out and sat in the rocker, thinking maybe I could rock her to sleep. Not. So. Much. She much preferred to play games - drop the binky on the floor and make mom pick it up, try to put the binky in mom's mouth, give mom big sloppy wide-open mouthed kisses so she can't possibly be mad about this 2:00 a.m. crib party...you get the picture!

I played along for about 20 minutes, and when it became clear that she was not going to let me rock her to sleep, I finally put her back in her crib, gave her the binky and blanket, put her music on, and walked out. She cried. She got mad. I think she threw her binky on the floor. But two minutes later, she was asleep. I know it was TWO minutes, because I watched the clock, praying the whole time that Mackenzie would not wake up and that Makayla would calm down and go to sleep!! Mack didn't, and Mak did. And I finally, finally, got to go to sleep.

*yawn*

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mama to Mama: the Caps to Cap-Haitian Project

As we start to get into the holiday season, it's easy to get caught up in the festivities and the decorations and the gifts. But if you're like me, it's also a time of year when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for how incredibly blessed I am, and the desire to give is strong - to give beyond just my immediate family and friends. And yet, sometimes when I look at the world, it seems so overwhelming - so many problems, so much need - where do I start?

Amanda, from SouleMama, author of The Creative Family, has just started an incredible project that really excites me. The bigger project is called Mama to Mama, and this is what Amanda says about it:
"As crafters, the reasons we create are many. Just one may be to spread a little bit of peace into the world, to make a small but meaningful difference in one person's life through a simple act of crafting with intention. Mama to Mama seeks to find ways to connect handcrafters with mothers, children and families in need of a little bit of handmade love." -Amanda Soule

The immediate, specific project she has started is the Caps to Cap-Haitian Project. Haiti has a very high maternal and infant death rate, and there is a current project going on where they are putting together safe birthing kits, which include newborn caps. I am thrilled by how simple it is to make a difference for these mamas and babies. I can't wait to go through my drawers and closet to find some t-shirts and get to sewing some little baby caps!! Click on the link, where you will find a description and more information, as well as a PDF download with the pattern and instructions for making the caps.

photo by amanda soule

Holidays by Hand

It's probably a little bit silly that I'm SO excited about this - but SimpleMom is hosting the first in a six-part Holidays by Hand series today...this week's theme is Sewing. And if you head over to SimpleMom, you'll see MY NAME listed in the list of projects with a link to my apron!! :) How fun is that?! There are also lots of other really great gift ideas, too, by the way!!

And for even more inspiration, Sew, Mama, Sew is doing an entire month of gift ideas right now on their blog - you should definitely check it out!! AND they're offering giveaways every single day this month!! How great is that?!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween happenings

Yes, yes, I will get to Halloween. But first, I have to share these pictures...though, I am somewhat ashamed of them, because I am admitting that I knowingly allow the girls, ahem, Makayla, to do this.

So these are my little darlings. Mackenzie's just along for the ride - she puts nothing in her mouth, other than her fingers, so she's just tagging along for the fun of it. Makayla, however, is on a full-fledged HUNT for food (because, of course, I'm starving her!).

Apparently, having found none IN the high chair, she's now searching the floors below.

And...success!! Look, mom...a cheerio in my mouth!!

And this picture - this is my view whenever I try to get anything done in the kitchen...cooking, cleaning...whatever. Two little munchkins at my feet. All the time. When they're not hunting for food, of course.

Anyway...Halloween! I was lazy and did not dress up the girls...well, lazy and broke...didn't want to spend money on costumes or supplies for costumes. Anthony's dragon costume from last year - which I didn't get to see him wear, thanks to being in the hospital on mag sulfate trying to keep two little girls from coming WAY too early - still fit him, so he happily wore it again.

We started the day off with me taking Makayla for her upper GI...exciting! Wouldn't you know - they had her drink the barium, and did the x-rays over a period of time, and she had NOT ONE DROP of reflux the entire time. We got back to the car, I nursed her, and the second she sat up, she puked all over me?! So I need to email the doc and figure out where we go from here. I'm starting to wonder if she's allergic to something I'm eating - like dairy - that she's getting in my breastmilk.

Then, in the afternoon, we all went to a Halloween party at the park with the mom's group. Emily did a fantastic job organizing it, and there were well over 50 moms and kids there (a few dads too). Anthony wore his costume for a bit, but quickly took it off, because it was just too hot! He had fun finding candy and playing games, though, and enjoyed the cake!

Then, after a quick dinner at home, we headed over to our church for their Hallelujah Night harvest festival. Anthony had a great time hanging out with his friends, playing games and winning candy. As you can see, the dads were all on stroller duty!!

When we got back home, there were some trick-or-treaters out and about, and Anthony wanted to go out too, so Darrell took him out for a bit. It was short-lived, though...Anthony was a bit scared of the dark and scary costumes and a house that had flashing lights/scary noises...he only lasted about 10 minutes. He had fun handing out candy at our door, though, to the other kids...but even that went quickly - we figured he was tired of it when he pretty much dumped the rest of the candy at the last group of kids that came.

We never did get around to carving our pumpkin!! It's still sitting on our island, all big and pretty! Maybe we'll have to cut it up and roast the seeds and roast some pumpkin to eat or something...we'll see!

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