Sunday, February 28, 2010

Getting Started

Slow and steady wins the race, right?
What am I talking about? Redoing/Fixing/Reorganizing the office. I've been talking about it for awhile now, and have done nothing, until yesterday.
The kids have accumulated so many art/craft supplies, old colorbooks, toys, etc. over the years, and it's just been stored in the office.
Here is a before picture...

It's just chaotic! The room screams.....HELP ME every time I walk into it.

I knew yesterday afternoon after our Upwards games in the morning, I would have some time to tackle, maybe just the file cabinet. I was feeling somewhat creative, but needed

a couple cups of coffee to rejuvenate me!

I laid out all the colored pencils...

pretty all in a row....

and recruited my lovely assistant Grace to sort through all of them, and to SHARPEN all of them. I wanted it pretty after all!

Then we got started on the crayons.

We sorted through all the broken ones, and all the ones that weren't "pointy" enough. I know all you creative ladies out there reading this would've said, those other crayons can be used for something......but frankly, I haven't got the time, so into the trash they went! Literally, we have hundreds of crayons!

I sorted through some toys/color books, etc. and got a pile ready to take to the resale shop, and one for the trash. It felt freeing to throw some of it away.

Then I had to sit and think....what sort of container was I gonna use to sort this all into something organized?

I remembered the cute old Dr. Pepper bottle carrier that I got at a garage sale, last year, I think.

My original intention was to use it for utensils, etc. when we eat outdoors at our table in the summer. I have used it for that several times, but this will work wonderfully for their colored pencils/markers/pencils and pens/etc. and they can carry it from room to room.

This is what the file cabinet looks like now.

I realize it's not a HUGE change from before, but it's a start. We'll tackle moving the furniture around another day. I'll keep you posted on changing up the room. But I'll need to wait for another day when my creative juices are flowing and I have more than an hour to sit down.

Until then....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Fair

We had our bi-annual family/school book fair tonight. Book Fair Diner was the theme. Teachers wore 50's attire, as did anyone else who wanted to.

Our second grade teacher Mrs. Miller on the left, and our Kindergarten teacher, Lori Wilson, who I work with everyday.

I saw kindergarten boys with muscle shirts, and slicked back hair, little girls with poodle skirts and scarves in their hair, and men teachers who my kids said looked like "The Fonz!"

My kids LOVE books, and I'm so glad, cause I really do too. Can't get enough of them, actually. So, when these book fairs roll around, and being on PTO, it's a given, but we always help set up, and help get things ready. We like to be the ones to "Preview" the book fair while we set up.

They had a book making station...

a reading room....a picture taking opportunity...

and an ice cream float station in the cafeteria.

Grace really liked hers!

At each station, they got a small record replica. If they turned in 4 records to a certain teacher, they got to pick fuzzy dice, or a gift certificate to McDonalds. Guess what Evan and our neighbor Clayton picked??????

Now what are we gonna do with those? They were MEGA excited, though.

They saw friends from school, and got new books. To them, it was a great evening!

Monday, February 22, 2010


My kids are 13 1/2 months apart.

I can hear you gasp!

I remember crying the day I found out I was pregnant again. I had a 4 mo. old at home. What in the world was I gonna do?

Fast forward 10 years. Grace turned 10 on Jan. 27, and Evan will be 9 on March 12.

So, we now have a "in the middle" family party for the both of them.

I never thought I would do that. My sister and I have birthdays 2 weeks apart, and we shared birthday parties. At the time, I didn't enjoy that, but I can now see why my mom did it. It's easier to handle one big party, than 2 parties a couple weeks apart.

We "solve" the problem, by allowing each of them to have their FRIEND parties on, or very close to their actual birthday, and the Brentster and I give them their gifts, not at the family party, but on their actual birthday.

Fast forward the family party last night. Grace has fallen in love with the Paul Frank monkey at Target.

He is pretty that was her choice for the party.

Evan is just totally obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog.

Everyone knows it. He talks about him all the time, and draws him all the time, so the logical choice for the party was sonic.

I let them each pick a theme for the family party, and I try to make a cake of that character. Since my sister and family moved to South Carolina, we have less to serve, so I made their cake together this time. I tell you, the older they get, the harder their characters are to replicate!

This is what the cake turned out to be. It's not my favorite, and it's not the best, but it was good.
We set the table for 9

and had lasagna, homemade garlic bread, homemade applesauce, salad, cake, and ice cream. Good on all accounts if I do say so myself!

This was the only picture I got of them before blowing out the candles. Actually, Grace never did get to blow them out, because the cheap candles burned themselves out by totally melting!

They were very thrilled with their gifts. Grace got two American Girl craft sets.

Micheals has a whole new line of American Girl crafts. WONDERFUL!!!!!

Evan got a sonic character, and he was over the moon!

We had a good time. The kids were happy. We ate well. And had a good time with family.

Happy Birthday guys! We love you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Can you believe it?

Never in my life did I think something so simple would make 2 kids so happy.

For the life of me, I can't understand my children! One boy and one girl who, most days, fight like cats and dogs, but who cannot sleep apart from each other any night of the week.

It started a couple years ago. Both Grace and Evan were having terrible nightmares. One, or both of them, would separately wake us in the middle of the night because they were having such bad dreams. NO ONE was getting any sleep.

Out of desperation, I decided to move the mattress off Ev's bed into Grace's room, just to see, as an experiment only.

Both slept perfectly for a week. NO nightmares.

Well, you know me and decorating.....the mattress just looked hideous on the floor, so we took down Ev's bed, and moved it into Grace's room. They shared a room and a closet for a year.

They were both sleeping good at night, but it was HORRIBLY hard to get them awake in the morning for school. I figured out why, one night, when at 10:00 (we put them to bed at 8:00), they were STILL talking.

We decided to move them back to separate rooms, because the late bedtime was making them horribly grouchy, not to mention mama as well!

They did ok, apart, but on the weekends, begged to sleep together again. I just couldn't figure it out. What kid doesn't want their own room, their own space? So, on the weekends, one of them took turns sleeping on a small cot that we moved back and forth from room to room.

Needless to say, another year later, the spell has been broken again. They just couldn't handle separate sleeping conditions, and begged for more than just the weekends. The cot was too small, though, so I found this on craigslist for $20.

It's a fold away cot from a very nice family in Goshen. It was an extra bed at a lake house.

Grace claimed it immediately! We put the extra blankets/sheets on it, and moved it into Ev's room. (It's been at least a month since he's slept in his own bed.)

I think the smile gives it away, you fake sleeper!

Now, they don't fight about sleeping together, they fight about who gets to sleep in the "bouncy bed" (it has some incredibly bouncy bed springs in it!).

I guess this is just one of those parental battles I'd rather not fight.

I know I can't exist on only a few hours of sleep, so I'm happy for no one running downstairs in the night with a nightmare.

We'll see how long this fad lasts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekly Menu Part II

Most days we're running at full speed! From the time I wake up at 5:30 am to get ready for school, get the kids movin', etc. , we're runnin!

My menu has been less than spectacular lately, and I'm sad about that. I used to enjoy making my menu for the week, but we have so many things that start early in the evening, by the time I get home from work between 3:30-4:00, I have about 1 hour to make supper, get everyone fed, and leave again for the evenings activities.

I know I shouldn't be complaining. I realize I have the perfect job that allows me to get home earlier than most and get my kids to their events.

I realize that I shouldn't be complaining because I actually have a job, and many don't.

I realize that I should be enjoying this time in my children's lives. But I'm just tired.

I've never slept this hard in my life.

My "free time" doesn't start most evenings until about 9:30 pm. By the time laundry is done, lunches are packed, the dishwasher is emptied and reloaded, coffee made, etc. I'm beat. I would love to sit and watch some shows, or read, but I usually wake up in the chair about 2am, and realize I have been there since about 10pm.

Not good.

But I digress. This is not what my post is about's about my menu for next week.

Here goes...

Friday: (Evan at a friend b-day party) Breaded pork chops, mac & cheese, roasted potatoes

Sat. : cheeseburgers, taco salad

Sun: leftovers
Sun nite: (family b-day party for Grace & Evan) Lasagna, homemade garlic bread, salad, applesauce, cake, ice cream

Mon: Chi Chi's seafood enchiladas, homemade salsa and chips, taco rice, chicken tacos for the kids

Tues: (book club - me, Grace softball practice 4:30-6, upwards practice 6-7) Leftovers

Wed: (church) Fish sticks, mac & cheese, green beans and bacon, waffle fries

Thurs: (book fair @ school, Ev upwards practice) Hot ham and cheese

Friday: Chicken fried rice, egg rolls, grilled cheese (kids)

Sat: BLT's, zucchini, applesauce (wish I had fresh tomatoes and zucchini!)

Sun: meal @ church

That's it folks. That's all she wrote. Help me out with some favorites of yours that can be made in a flash.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stir Crazy

Today's snow foiled my plans.
I was beginning to think maybe winter was winding down. We're already two months in, and I'm ready for it to be out.
I've been garden dreaming lately. I'm perusing my catalogs...

and have found seeds in both. I wish I could consolidate, but I can't. Burpee has the concord grape plants that I want, so I can have my own arbor someday and not buy grapes for my homemade grape juice/jelly. They also have my new favorite tomato of all time....Honeybunch they call it. It is tomatoes that grow in bunches, and are the size of the tip of your pinkie finger. you just wash them and throw them in salads, etc. whole, and they don't get all soggy like if you chopped up tomatoes. They are WONDERFUL. However, the Cooks Garden has my heirloom tomato seeds, and my bicolor sweet corn that will be new to my garden this year.
This was the start of my garden last spring.....

Bare dirt and all! The rhubarb plants are coming up nicely and the Brentster has just tilled up another part of the garden to make it that much bigger. I see the grass clots that I still had to take care of.

Here's a little later in the season.

I see a red tomato peeking out at me, and I can't even begin to imagine what my husband was contemplating out there the in pasture.

I found this garden layout the other day while perusing the Internet. I want this garden. It's neat rows are calling out to me.

I'm in garden envy!

In just a couple of weeks, I will start some seeds under the light in my basement, so they grow big enough to put in the cold frame my wonderful husband built me last summer.

I can't stand the waiting. Literally. I'm not a patient person. Ask my mother. Winter is over for me, unless it provides me with a snow day from school.

I'm tired of having recess duty 3 times a day outside, and having to "put on all my gear" to do just that.

Spring, disregard what that crazy groundhog saw, and just get on with it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Keepin' Busy

Today is Sunday. A day of rest...ha. ha. I wish I could be the one to rest, but then, who would do the dishes? The laundry? Make lunch? Get lunches packed/school clothes picked out/snacks packed? I'm totally feeling overwhelmed again, and I don't know how to stop.
As it turns out, however, in the midst of all the craziness in my life, I found time (one project on our snow day this week) to finish two things. Well, really one and a half of one.
On our snow day from school this past Wednesday, I did a very simple DIY project that I had seen on a BHG website one day.
I wanted to dress up my bedside tables. Now, I'm not really complaining, but I have never had a matching bedroom suite. My two dressers are hand-me downs from different sides of the family. My headboard was birthday gift from my mom and dad about 7 years ago (I still love it!), and our bedside tables are just two TV trays that I've painted.
ANYWAY......Here is the before picture...

Pretty plain. I'm totally rockin' my alarm clock, though. I had one like this in my punk teenage years. It has earphones in a little compartment in the side, and has both a beeping alarm/music alarm setting. I found this YEARS later, after I was married awhile, in a second hand shop. It works, may not look the best, but it works.
Back to the table, though. The first thing I did was pick out some cute scrapbook paper that matched the colors/patterns in my bedroom, and covered both sides with clear contact paper so it would be waterproof in case we had a cup of water on the table.

Then I got out the hammer and some push pins to go along the outside of the paper once I put it on the bedside table.

I put a push pin in each corner and 2 on each side, just to make sure the paper was secure on the table.

And wa-la! Cute table.

My next project is only half finished. The Brentster and I have been toying with the idea of putting up an eggs for sale sign in the yard and on each corner of our road. We're getting too many eggs a day, and the people that do buy from us, don't buy enough to keep our supply down. So.....

Here is the first sign I made. This one will go in our yard at the front of the house, and I need to make 2 more for each end of our road.

Brent found a small piece of galvanized metal, and I printed out a picture of one of our hens, and then used my Cricut to cut out the letters and arrow. Then I laminated the whole thing with clear contact paper again, and we will mount it to an old for sale frame that he also found. Hope it works, and we get some business. It would be nice to actually make enough to pay for the chicken feed!

More later!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things I adore...and then some

These are just some of the favorite parts of my house, plus one room, that is very perplexing to me, and was only transformed into it's current state because of my love for my husband, and his constant nagging about displaying his favorite John Deere toy tractors.
So, after I show you my faves, for the love of pete, help me out with suggestions for the room I'm growing to dislike little by little, only because I can't figure out what to do with it!
This is the little area going into my kitchen, and I got this little dresser this past fall in a cute antique store in Nappanee.

I store Tupperware, and jelly jars in it, in preparation for the canning/freezing season ahead.

This is also in the kitchen. First of all, I LOVE the color of the wall. I just repainted the kitchen this retro aqua color over Christmas break. This cabinet once had doors on it, but I took them off to display some of the enamelware, etc. that I collect. As you can see, I'm running out of space, so that's another dilemma.

Last one from the kitchen, I promise. I bought this old fruit label picture at a garage sale about 4 years ago, but it's followed me through all three color changes in the kitchen.

Grace made me this a couple years ago in church, I think. I think they colored a Kleenex and rapped it into a flower shape. It hangs on my bulletin board front and center.

The room next, is the reason for my distress. I like the color of the room, and the pictures hanging there...

but the room needs help. It was meant to be a breakfast nook, but instead, it's our office, arts and craft storage for the kids, and "display" (I use that word loosely) for Brent's toy tractors. He has hundreds more, but this is all I would give in to. HELP, all you DIYers out there. This room is screaming for some new ideas.

With 4 large windows, and 2 door openings from this room, there are only several options for moving furniture around, and believe me when I say I've tried them all! Here is the computer desk .

In the other corner is this....which just looking at it makes me wanna hurl, it's so disorganized. It totally needs a redo. Markers, pencils, activity books, paper, colored pencils, PLEASE!

The other corner by the kitchen has this very cute shelf I got a resale shop years ago, and it holds just some of the tractor collection.

I love the shape of the shelf, but....I just don't know.

Lastly, this pedal tractor sits in the room under one of the windows. My husband restored it about 10 years ago, and wanted desperately for it to reside in our living room. THAT is where I draw the line. My kids are too big to ride it, so it's just sitting there.

As you can see, my house is a work in progress. I love it desperately, but it's a new house in the middle of the country, and I'm trying my hardest to make it look old. I miss all the original woodwork from our 100 year old house in town, but I was glad to trade that home for the warmth of the new one.

So, if you all have any great ideas, throw them my way, along with some pictures. I need help for the room that plagues me. Until later.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Surfing a snow day

When my alarm clock rang at 5:30am , and I got a call from school that we had a 2 hour delay, I was ok with that.
Then, an hour & 1/2 later when I got another call school was cancelled, I couldn't help smiling a little.
For some odd reason, I hadn't slept well the night before, and a day of reprieve sounded wonderful!
So, after several loads of laundry and a DIY project completed, which I'll blog about later, the kids and I decided to go outside and play awhile.
We all donned our gear, and set out. After watching our wonderful neighbor with his giant tractor plow out our driveway, as well as our road (the county regularly ignores our dirt road), we set out for the backyard.
This is the first thing I saw:

I thought this was how deep the snow was, but then the kids stood up! They were only sitting on their knees!

We walked out back to the remote part of our acreage, and I took a very peaceful looking picture of the ditch that runs through our pasture.

Just look how beautifully blue the sky is.

We walked over to our mound system, which sits smack dab in the middle of the pasture, and is really only good for sledding.

Of course, with the Winter Olympics starting, my kids are a little obsessed with the events. Evan has taken to wanting to be like the snowboarders...

And the skiers:

Then Grace decides to get in on the action:

And discovers skiing

really isn't as easy as it looks:

But just look at what a beautiful day it turned out to be...

I'll graciously take a snow day anyday!