Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gallery Wall Tour

There's nothing like company coming to spur on a house project! We were having the extended family over on Sunday and I decided it would be my goal for getting the gallery wall done. I had a lot of fun with my projects in spite of the fact that only about 1/3 of them turned out the way I initially envisioned. At one point I wondered how many layers of paint a canvas could hold before it just fell off the wall from the weight.  Here's a little tour of what I used and the meaning behind some of the pieces.

 For a few years we've joked that we're a banana split family. Different colors and flavors combined to make one yummy treat.
Supplies: garage sale frame that I painted yellow
the banana split pattern was traced off a picture online and then made with paper scraps
mounted on a tacky Christmas sign from the JoAnn clearance section
Of course I had to include a vehicle on a wall about our family. Anyone know what make and year this car is? We don't either.
Supplies: I tried about 50 different things for this since free is a big factor in my decorating style. I finally found a free clip art image and then colored it blue in photoshop where I also divided it into thirds.  It's printed on regular paper and mounted on some thin cardboard I confiscated from the playroom ( I have no idea why they had cardboard in there?).

 Sort of self explanatory since there are nine people in our family. Yes, I do realize that if we ever have more kids I'll have to change it. No, that's not an announcement.
Supplies: The cardboard from the playroom served me well. I just drew the number on free hand and painted it, then glued on white circles I had punched.
I saw a variation of this quote a few months ago and knew I wanted to include it somewhere. "We can do hard things because God gives us strength." I wanted a reminder that God gives us what we need in the little, everyday kind of hard things. Things like not being rude when your sister provokes you, math, being cheerful even when I've been up with sick kids in the night.
The quote "we need more Jesus and less drama" was definitely in the running ;)
Supplies: I painted canvas and then wrote the quote with a Sharpie paint pen

I didn't know chalkboard fabric existed but it does indeed! 
Supplies: a canvas covered with chalkboard fabric
yarn and a pom-pom maker 

 I had way, way too much fun with our family portrait! I saw this idea on etsy and decided to give it a try.  All those little pieces of fabric I've saved over the years were finally put to use.
Supplies: fabric scraps
              wonder under to adhere everything
              mounted on another cheesy Christmas sign from JoAnn's.

A big thank you to my patient children and my husband who happily served me by hanging everything since finding studs in the wall is not one of my skills.

Now it's time to head to the other side of the living room and work on the fireplace mantle....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cleaning Favorites

 When you're writing about yourself it's so easy to only include the nice things and I never want to give the impression that we have it all together. Yes, I go through the day with a soft and patient voice encouraging my children who always obey the first time. Seriously! On the other hand I'm often frustrated by the attitude that acts like we're all a mess and there's nothing we can do about it. We're sinners in the process of sanctification! We have times where a child pitches a fit because their shirt itches them the wrong way. But on the other hand we have times where a child comes up and tells me I'm the most perfect mom they could ever want. The good and the bad just like everyone else.  So that's a long way of saying that when I write about the things that are working for us it's not because I think my system is so amazing. But it just might trigger an idea that could work for your family.

After that nice long build up.....

I've had this vague awareness for quite awhile (OK my whole married life) that I should be more systematic when it comes to cleaning.  Now that the girls are bigger we are finally settling into a routine. Disclaimer: my mom is a big help when it comes to cleaning so it's not like I'm doing it alone.

1. It works for us to do all the cleaning on one day, usually Friday or Saturday when there's little or no school work to do.

2. Little people can be easily entertained while you clean if you just give them a rag too! We found Elise crying in our storage room last Friday. Fortunately Celene has the gift of toddler interpretation and knew she was upset because I didn't give her a cleaning cloth like the big girls.

3. I usually set my pandora station to Celtic Fiddle Festival. It gives us some rousing good "get your work done" kind of music.

4. I write down all the chores that need to be done on a paper. Cut it into strips and put them in a bowl. Everyone chooses a chore and then comes back for another when they're done.

5. Spray bottles make for happy little cleaners. We use non toxic cleaners that are safe for them use. Of course when you're six there is the very real temptation to spray everything within an inch of it's life. But once that was overcome it's worked nicely.

6. Define expectations! Although others would disagree, my goal right now is not for a job that's thorough. I want them to be learning to work cheerfully with a sense of teamwork as a family. So I'm not going to be super picky. If a year from now there's no improvement in how the jobs are done I'll reevaluate.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Calendar Snippets

After Koen was born I wanted to make calendars for our moms. It was mostly a lot of fun, there were only a few moments where I felt slightly crazy.
It's a long story but my mom's calendar was an Elvis song themed calendar. We can't help but tease her about her youthful infatuation with Elvis :)
The title of the song for this one was Early Morning Rain. So hard to believe that 2 1/2 years ago there were only 3 grandkids! Getting 10 kids in a picture was definitely...exciting?!

Jessica was the creative genius behind Cotton Candy Land

                                             These two were so cute as Old MacDonald

I tried to do a picture that went with the time of year for Jeff's mom but a few months had me stumped like May and March.






I have a great idea for this year. Start earlier :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


As much as I love the time of year from Thanksgiving to Christmas I'm ready to pack things up by the new year and get back to our normal routine.  I usually do a decorating project in January and though I'm making slow progress with this one it is getting done.
I decided last summer to work on our living room which was in need of a makeover. The pictures were way overdue for an update since I was several kids behind and the whole look was a bit somber for a house that's full of small children. Time for something colorful and fun!

Jeff just shakes his head at this project. I had the wall designed and new pictures all framed and ready to go but after I hung them up it didn't look right. So I've been staring at this blank wall for hours as I nurse Koen.
Slowly, slowly the new plan has taken shape and I'm having fun pulling together things that represent our family. I'll update when it's done and I'm hoping it's sometime before next January. Ha!

Just because I can't resist here's Koen at four months. I highly recommend having a few small girls jump up and down behind your head when you take pictures of babies. It made him look at the camera every time.

Friday, December 26, 2014



                                                    Fun times ahead for the 2014 cousin trio

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gift Giving for Kids

Last year on Christmas Eve Shelby announced that she wanted me to help her make matching outfits for everyone for Christmas. I was flattered by her confidence that I could pull that off in one day.  This year by the time October rolled around everyone was thinking of all the people they wanted to give gifts to.  I did some quick calculating and realized that even if they only gave to their siblings and a few other people that would total at least 50 gifts. As much as I want them to be generous I purely don't have that many brain cells. I knew I needed to come up with a plan and thankfully God gave wisdom for one that is working very well for us. We put all the names of people they wanted to give gifts to in a bowl and they each got to choose two.  Then we came up with simple ideas (OK, some of them came up with simple ideas and others had to be reigned in a bit) mostly using things we had around the house.  Each girl has a day of the week that's
"their" day to do something special so we've been using those times to work on gifts. It's really been a lot of fun! There's been much cutting, gluing, sewing and embroidery going on in the evenings. I've really enjoyed the opportunity to craft with the girls in a one on one setting.
Since Elise doesn't read my blog I think I can safely post a picture of what 6 year old daughter has been working on for her. Isn't she the cutest little ballerina?

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Favorites

A few of my new favorite things..

1. How did I ever live without a crock pot? My mom got me one for my birthday and I have used it so many times in the past month. The best site I've found is www.365daysofcrockpot.com

2. Jeff's mom gave me a book that I have really enjoyed.  It's a whole book of tips by moms with lots of children. Reading their description of what it's like to get a big family ready on a Sunday morning made me laugh because I could so relate. I gleaned a lot of helpful ideas from seasoned moms. The only section I might skip is the quick dinner ideas. The first one was hot dogs and ice cream. Well yes, that is a quick dinner but perhaps lacking in a small thing called nutrition ;)

3. And a gift from Jeff that was different and fun. I've been hearing about Jamberry nails and thought I would give them a try. They're called nail wraps and once they're heated you stick them onto your nails like you would a sticker. The biggest pluses for me were that they don't have to dry and they lasted for two weeks. 
4. One day Jeff came home and said he felt like spoiling me so he treated me to a pair of new high heels. They are totally impractical but I feel so stylish when I put them on. Well, at least for the whole hour I can wear them before my toes start to feel like they're going to fall off.
5. I forgot what winter was like.  Mornings are busy with school and chores and then there's lunch and quiet times. But after that comes the wild hours between 5:00 and 7:00 where the volume level in this house goes through the roof. Listening to this dramatized audio Bible while coloring has brought the energy and noise down a notch.
(choose Kidz under Bible options)

6. A beautiful new niece is definitely on the current list of favorites.  Her arrival made for a very happy end to our Thanksgiving day.  Although Ginetta was a little put out that she wasn't born sooner because she was counting on her coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Evan and Jessica are so calm you would never guess they're first time parents.
(photo courtesy of Jessica's brother)

7. Happily, these two can now be in the same vicinity. Elise is still not trustworthy with Koen but she has stopped whacking his soft spot, poking his eyes and pulling his arm to see how far it would stretch.