Thursday, May 21, 2015

This and That

My mom turned 60 and turned into our very own Martha Stewart. One of her hidden talents was growing asparagus and we have enjoyed several meals of her very delicious crop. Our favorite way to eat it is an easier version of eggs Benedict.
Here's my quick, less gourmet eggs Benedict:

Make this blender hollandaise sauce -
Place Canadian bacon rounds into cups of a greased muffin tin . Crack an egg into each muffin cup. Bake at 400* for 8 minutes or until egg whites are cooked.
Lightly steam asparagus while eggs are cooking.
Place asparagus and eggs on plate.
Top with hollandaise sauce.

Elise had a birthday recently and I decided two gets a bad rap. I actually really like this age. For a whole year she did nothing but hang on my leg and whine. Then she turned two, let go of my leg and became this cute, funny toddler. She wants so, so badly to be like the big girls.  A few weeks ago they were decorating the table with flower bouquets they had gathered in the back yard. A bit later she came to me with a dead dandelion in a tupperware container as her contribution.

Koen's antics continue to delight us. I'm not sure how many babies you have before these milestones get old but we still enjoy them very much.

Just a little too little.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I Hope I'm Like Them When I Grow Up

Both of our moms have March birthdays so I had planned to write this last month. But, April's a nice month too, right?

One of my hopes for married life was that I could have a good relationship with my mother in law. Fortunately, God didn't test my resolve and I was blessed with one who is kind and generous. 
We sort of had a crash course on how to get along because we basically lived together for the first two years that Jeff and I were married. Mom G. and I worked together everyday and then went to church together on Sunday! Her very detailed oriented, organized personality patiently put up with my always- trying -to -be more organized self.

Mom G. has become one of the most influential ladies in my life and I am incredibly blessed to be her daughter in law.  I love how she showers our kids with affection! Not just our bio kids but also our foster daughters. They found a place in her heart from day one.

 Mom often blesses our family with food. Which in a big family with big eaters is a huge help. In the weeks after Koen was born she would send a gallon of soup over so I didn't have to think about lunches. Jeff often comes home from work with treats she thinks we would enjoy. Our kids think this Grandma and food go together. Elise starts asking to eat as soon as we pull into her driveway. She also has expanded my knowledge of cooking and ingredients.

I have learned so much from her about what it means to truly have a servant's heart. She is  willing to give even without recognition.

My mom taught me a lot about having spontaneous fun and not taking myself too seriously! She made time for lots of memories like long bike rides in the summer and reading chapter after chapter of our favorite books. Now that I'm a mom a realize that meant she was sacrificing in other areas in order to make those things happen.

Mom really helped prepare me for the life that God had planned for me. By the age of about 12 I had free reign in the kitchen and she never belittled my flops (believe me, tofu peanut butter bread was tough to get down) or begrudged me ingredients. I'm so thankful that she encouraged that skill since it's one I use all the time and I really do enjoy cooking.

 Since she poured her life into us kids it's no surprise that her grandkids are also being blessed by her dedication. Recently mom and dad were away for a week and the girls missed her so much! One of them even asked if I would call and ask her to come home early :)

Mom makes it a point to be encouraging when she sees us working at various areas of parenting. I appreciate this so much, especially on days when I feel like I must be doing everything wrong!

I'm so thankful for these two ladies. I am rich because of them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Big Boy

This little man turned 6 months old last week so this afternoon I threw together some props and took him up to the photo room for some quick pictures.

Elise thought she was the one being photographed so she dressed herself up. She turns two on Saturday so I will be doing pictures with her soon. But fortunately I'll be the one choosing her wardrobe.

This is a Koen photo Shelby style.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Book Character Party and a Few Rabbit Trails

There's a sweet group of young ladies at our church who are very generous to our kids. After church it's not unusual to see two of them reading stories to the younger girls, carrying Koen around or giving piggy back rides.  Consequently our girls admire them very much and have been begging me for about a year to let them plan a tea party for the big girls from church.  I promised them that in the new year we would give it a go and we decided on a book character theme.

I let each of my girls choose a decoration to make and I really tried to let them make it mostly on their own without fixing it after they were done (it was painful).

I wish I could post pictures of 6 year old because she made an absolutely hilarious Miss Viola Swamp. Celene and Shelby each chose to come as characters from Kate Seredy books which are set in pre-World War I era Hungary. Ginetta and 4 year old came as Fancy Nancy and her best friend Brie. The young ladies who came were all good sports and dressed up as well. But unfortunately I forgot to ask permission to post their pictures! There were some very creative costumes for sure.

These dirndl dresses belonged to Natalie and me when we were younger. The funny thing is that we wore them for real and not for costumes.  Actually I told Jeff it really was a great plan. I wore prairie dresses until I was about 20 years old which meant that no guy gave me the time of day. Then Jeff came onto the scene and I switched to normal clothes. Definitely a  plan that should be repeated with our daughters. Now, now some of you better get off your high horse. I'm just kidding. Or not.

Filed just behind this picture of us in our dirndls was a one of a book character party I went to when I was a teenager. My love of dress up parties goes way back! We had an amazing group of friends that knew how to have fun. When I think back to these times I remember lots of laughter!

And now for the first rabbit trail...
I have always love, loved the baby stage. But eight years old is definitely in the running as a new favorite.  Watching God work in Celene's heart is an incredible experience. The baby stage is adorable but the fruit we're starting to see in Celene is eternal and that's even more priceless than little baby smiles. Our little guy is however growing up way too quickly for my liking. He started crawling and got is first tooth last week. So the loud sound you hear from our neck of the woods is me weeping.

The next one..
Koen was noisy in church last week so I was standing in the back of the sanctuary trying to get him to go to sleep. My mind wandered over the room as I thought of all the people that I wish we would have over to our house. At that moment the Holy Spirit convicted my heart with a gently nudge that if I would lower my standards we could have people over more often.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that my first thought was "but people will think I don't know how to cook".'s better to act like you have it all together and never have anyone over?  Well, not exactly. So what exactly?  If you're invited over for dinner and I serve you frozen pizza you'll know it's because God is teaching me to value what's really important.

Lastly, judging by pictures this is one crazy family. Oh, I guess those of you who know us don't need pictures to prove that ;)

               The girls love to play hair dresser. Celene's style of choice seems to be Dr. Suess characters.

Detective McSmogg

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 :)