Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Calendars

I love seeing different advent calendars. You can find about a million different ones on pinterest. We currently have three in our house right now. One is wooden with little doors you open each day.  That one has candy in it.  My sister, Cassi, sent us one for our computer - the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar. I think I look forward to this one just as much as the kids.  It's a view of London with a different activity or scene that's unlocked each day.

The third one is one I've wanted to make for a few years.  It's one I loved growing up.  My mom made this felt advent calendar in the 70s at a church craft day. I love that it focuses on the real Christmas story.  You move Mary and Joseph up the trail each day and on Christmas, you put Baby Jesus in the manger.

Cassi and her cute girls traced all of the pieces and sent them to me.  I don't know who came up with this idea, but they are pretty darn creative.  Once I got going on mine, I got a little annoyed with all of the tiny pieces that I kept losing, and that needed to be doubled, ironed on and stitched, but I'm happy with how it came out and my kids are loving it.  Some traditions just need to keep going!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finally Snow!

We went to bed last night with the forecast saying 8-12 inches overnight.  We heard an icy snow/rain against our window all night and woke up to ice on the grass.  We laughed since we're still waiting to see winter in the midwest these last two years.  But all morning it has been snowing and it's starting to pile up.  I took the kids out and within a few minutes we had icy wind burns on our cheeks.  It's not exactly "play all day in the snow" kind of snow.  It's a cold, wet, frozen blizzard out there, but we're happy to have a white winter, especially in time for Christmas.

We're also ready for Tuesday because we visited Santa last weekend.  This Santa makes me teary when I see him.  He was there last year, too.  He looks pretty darn real and is the sweetest, kindest man.  He acts like each kid is the only one that matters and is so tender.  He might have me convinced he's the real thing. :)

Madeline asked for "a snowflake that floats around my house."  Not sure what to make of that request. :)  And Charlie refused to look at Santa and was mute.

I'm getting a little giddy thinking about Christmas on Tuesday.  Matt will be home, we'll make good food, enjoy being together and remind each other of why we have so many reasons to be happy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Wonderland?

Not quite...  Everyone warned us about midwest winters and we have yet to see them.  Last year we hardly got any snow and this year we're still waiting.  Some of the coldest days have definitely been bitter, but we're really hoping we get some snow for Christmas.  Despite the lack of white powder, we've been enjoying some winter activities.  We took the kids ice skating.  After a few times around, Madeline started to love it and got a little more confident.  After a few times around for Charlie, he decided he did NOT like it, so he spent some time with me watching. We're a little paranoid about me doing anything while pregnant, so I sat and watched and the kids took turns with their daddy. I feel like such a weenie, but we're 2 for 2 for bed rest and trying our best to delay it this time.

We've also been enjoying many Christmas music and movies. Madeline's favorite is the Jim Carey version of the Grinch. We have neighbors who put up cut outs of the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who and Max the dog and we love seeing them every day and worrying whether he's going to come steal our presents. :)

Since we tend to stick around for Christmas with Matt having to work, we had to get a real Christmas tree. The kids were excited to decorate it, only to find that after seven years, our christmas tree lights all died.  So we had to postpone our decorating party so we could get re stocked with lights. Hopefully they'll last at least another seven years.

I feel like this time of year gets so busy.  I'm trying to relax, enjoy it, enjoy my kids. not have preterm labor :) and remember why we celebrate Christmas and what and who is important.  Somebody might need to send me a reminder each day to keep me on track.   I hope your weeks leading up to Christmas are Merry and Bright.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's Thanksgiving and we are all enjoying a lazy morning. The kids are watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and I thought I would take advantage by doing a blog post which doesn't seem to happen very often these days.  This time of year seems to have days and weeks pass so quickly.  Next week we find out if we are having a boy or a girl. I just can't believe I'm almost halfway there.

Well, I have a long list of sewing projects that I want to try.  I usually shy away from clothing, especially for me, but I got a little spark in me to try it- without a pattern! And I'm actually pretty pleased with the results.

First, if you have a 4 year old girl, or want to readjust the pattern, you must try this pattern by Un Petite Design.  I have a hard time buying dresses for Madeline that fit her around but aren't too short.  This fleece one is so cozy and comfy. Perfect for wintry days. She loves it.

And my mom thinks I'm crazy, but I've been messing around with making maternity clothes. I made this one out of thicker jersey fabric - kind of like sweatshirt fabric and just used another shirt to draw a pattern.  I had been wanting a longer shirt to wear with straight or skinny jeans for the fall.  To accommodate my quickly growing middle, I added some elastic on the sides as ruching.  I used this tutorial as inspiration. Sometimes the neckline looks a little homemade, so I just took a tube of fabric, sewed it to the neckline and made a cowlneck. Here is a tutorial.  Just attempting it gave me a lot more confidence in trying to make or rework clothes I already have.  I'm working on fall/winter tshirt dresses for me and madeline. I'll let you know how those go...

Feeling a little awkward about posting a "posed" picture of me on my blog.  I tried cropping my head off but that just looked even weirder. Madeline and I had fun taking pictures of each other. We got some very silly poses.

Girls are so much fun to make things for. I think I need to come up with some boy ones so Charlie can get in on the homemade action. Although, a couple of weeks ago I looked at all three of us sitting on the bench at church and realized I had made something on each of us.  It was a little embarrassing!

Happy Thanksgiving!  We are missing family today, but putting on our own Thanksgiving makes me feel kind of grown up - I guess expecting my third child, being married for almost eight years, and having a husband in a medical residency doesn't really provide that, but being in charge of a turkey does?! :)  It will be a good day.  My little family is together and we have so very many things we are grateful for.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Fall

The weather here in Iowa City has been gorgeous this fall.  Usually, it's sunny and just a little crisp. The leaves turned beautiful colors. Against the fields and old barns, there is a lot of beauty here.  We have this fun orchard near our house with amazing varieties of apples. They really suffered this year because of the warm, dry weather, so we didn't get to pick apples, but we did go let the kids pick out their pumpkins.

 Madeline requested Hello Kitty on her pumpkin and Charlie wanted Curious George.  Matt and I had our work "cut" out for us.  Madeline surprisingly got her little hands in all that goo and made sure it was completely cleaned out - not a seed anywhere.

 Madeline wanted to be Madeline from the books this year.  It was fun to make her costume and even more fun to have her want to be the character that we got her name from.  Charlie was thrilled to be a skunk, and I was happy to have him wear it, since I didn't need to do a thing!  My mom made this cute costume for my oldest nephew 16 years ago!  We pass it around the family. We went to our church party and trunk r treat, which satisfied the kids. We only had one trick or treater, which means we have A LOT of candy left over.  ugh....

We had a fun Halloween and are excited to hunker down and get ready for an Iowa winter.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A little tour through D.C.

Ok, I'm feeling up to blogging again.  Between sickness after sickness (thank you preschool) and morning all day sickness, I have been lacking a little in the motivation department, but our trip last month was too great not to post about:

We decided to take a roadtrip for fun to Washington D.C.  We have good friends from San Diego that now live in MD that we were excited to see, and Matt had been in the spring and was anxious to show me around.  We also weren't sure if we'd ever live this close again, so we took the plunge and drove the 15 hours.

The drive out there was beautiful, fast and event-free.  It was fun to drive through states I've never been through. The kids did awesome, only needing to stop when we stopped for gas.

It was so fun to stay with our friends and see their new baby.  It was also amazing to see all of the sights and museums around D.C.

Above: Matt and I by the Potomac River. I love cities with rivers running through them.  It's nice to have Madeline around to take a picture.  If only Matt wasn't so tall... ;)  The Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument were of course very memorable. 

After a long day of sight seeing, we waited with the kids at Sculpture Garden while the boys went and got the car.  The kids had fun playing by the beautiful fountain and running from an eerily friendly, unafraid squirrel.

The Clawsons scheduled a tour to see the Capitol.  Their new baby was only three weeks old.  Can you believe they let us come land at their place for a week and drag them around D.C. with us?!  They're the best. The Capitol was beautiful.  Charlie especially enjoyed it curled up on Matt's shoulder.

The museums were lots of fun and I couldn't believe they were all free admission.  The kids enjoyed the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum.  On our last day, our friends watched our kids all day so Matt and I could go explore on our own.  I didn't get any pictures, but one of my favorites was Arlington National Cemetery.  It was extremely humbling to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  We also had lunch and wandered through the National Gallery of Art.  That was really amazing.  
Another place I loved walking through was the American History Museum.  One of my favorite exhibits there was the first ladies' room.  They had on display all of their inaugural dresses and the china they had when they were in the office.  The history of the American wars, was also very interesting.
We also couldn't leave without stopping in to see the National Archives.  Pretty darn cool!

I really enjoyed our visit.  It was so much fun to eat good food, make yummy treats, stay up late playing games and to visit with old friends.  I also remembered how great our country is and what went in to it's  beginnings.  I wish everyone could just go walk around and remember that.  It made me feel very patriotic.  I want to take our family back when our kids are older.

Our drive home was not as thrilling as the drive there.  I was less prepared with activities/surprises, we found out that Charlie also has motion sickness, the kids were tired and ready to be out of the car, but it was so worth it to be together as a family and experience some of our country's history.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Little News...

We are all very excited and happy that so far things look great.  I had an ultrasound yesterday.  I'm about 12 weeks.  I was amazed at how clear that little thing was.  And even the third time, I was giddy watching that baby wriggle and move as I saw those tiny fingers moving around by her face.  Yes, I really think it's a girl.  I guessed right with the first two.  Madeline would be ecstatic, but I have a feeling she'll be happy doting on a baby, be it boy or girl.

We're a little nervous about pre term labor again.  I've been pretty consistent with starting that at 27 weeks in the past. My doctor wants to try having me take progesterone from 16-36 weeks as it is recently known to prevent pre term birth.  Pre term birth hasn't been my problem in the past, but it could help prevent or at least delay early contractions, dilating and effacing.  I feel good about just being able to try something this time.  Hopefully we'll see some results.  My pregnancies haven't been terrible, just mostly inconvenient with 10 weeks of bed rest,  but it's a short amount of time in the big scheme of things and we'll make it work.

We have had a fun month. We spent a week in Washington D.C. and another weekend with Matt's colleagues at a lake cabin. I have a lot to catch up on. Lots of picture posts to follow...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr. Charles!

Charlie turned two yesterday. It was pretty cute to watch him soak up the day. He kept saying, "I'm so excited!" but I don't really think he knew why. :) I think his favorite gift was a mylar balloon. After dropping Madeline off at preschool, I took him to pick out one. He chose Mickey. And are you aware of this helium shortage? Very weird, but as a result, the ballon cost $6.50.... yeah.... We celebrated Thursday night since Matt would be out of town at a work conference the rest of the weekend. Here is a little peek at our celebration. I'm not sure there is much cuter than a two year old on his birthday.


I tried my hand at cake pops this year.  At the beginning of the process, there were almost tears as the cake kept getting swallowed in the melted candy melts, falling off of the sticks and crumbling to pieces.  I persevered and made them work, although they're not as easy as Bakerella claims! I'm glad I tried them, but I may try something else next time.
You can find the recipe for the Winnie the Pooh and Hunny Cake Pops HERE.

We got a steal of a deal on a train table and set of Thomas trains from a lady that Matt works with. Charlie slept with Harold the Helicopter and Thomas the train that night.

Charlie is a very silly little boy who recently has turned all boy with his love of cars, trains, buses, helicopters and planes. He's always cracking us up with some new phrase of his or his cheesy grin. He loves to read. Some of his latest favorites are Jamberry, We're going on a Bear Hunt, and The Napping House. He also loves puzzles and playing with his sister, although he can definitely cause a little trouble.   Happy, Happy Birthday Charlie! We sure love you around here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Black Apple Dolls

When Madeline turned one, my friend made her the most darling little doll.  Madeline has loved it ever since.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to make one, but it turned out to be a fun and fairly simple project.  The fun part is that you can add to the pattern any way you like to personalize her.

The one on the left is Madeline's.  The one on the right now belongs to the lovely Miss Jadelyn.

 I added a skirt and pigtails.  I was nervous about painting her face, but I drew it on with a pencil first and it came together pretty well.

Madeline had fun helping me. She picked out the fabrics, helped me sew and loved stuffing her with fluff. :)

I'm pretty sure every little girl in your life needs a black apple doll. Here is Martha's pattern: Black Apple Doll. Oh and make sure to add seam allowances to the leg and arm patterns. Otherwise, they turn out a little small. If you make one, I'd love to see how it turned out!  Happy sewing.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Love-Hate Relationship

Charlie is cracking us up these days. He really can't decide if he likes this bird or not. Maybe it's because I'm the youngest in my family and never had anyone to tease, but it's a little fun to see his reaction. :)  And if you couldn't tell, his latest, overused phrases are, "I don't like it" and "Stop it!" usually with Madeline after it. He turns two next week and he's definitely got a mind of his own.

And a Madeline update: on Wednesday when picking her up from preschool, she actually said, "I had such a great day.  I never want to leave preschool!"  I'm sure she'll have good and bad days, but she seems to be enjoying it more now that she has gotten used to her classroom, the people, and the schedule. She also is joined at the hip with a little friend, which I'm sure helped a lot.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Shyness is a personality trait, not a fault" Dr. Sears

This was Madeline on her first day of preschool - a little nervous, but curious about what it might be like.  Well, we haven't seen this smile since.  She goes to bed sobbing because she doesn't want to go and wakes up sad saying, "I don't think I can do this" over and over.  I'm trying to be positive and assume with time it will get better.  But it breaks my heart and I've shed many tears over it. Madeline is very reserved and quiet.  She has been since she was a tiny baby.  She much preferred sitting on the sidelines just watching and observing.  She struggles being herself in a large group.  She's most comfortable playing with one or two other kids, and even then she's slow to warm up.

This morning, after loving her through her morning, we were walking down the school's halls to her classroom, when we saw a little girl turn around and say loudly, "That's the little girl who won't talk to anyone."  My reaction was a smile and to keep walking, pulling Madeline quickly behind me, but I really had to hold back the tears.  And then when we got into the classroom, Madeline was already in tears.  I helped her get settled, but she was obviously struggling.  The main teacher said, "Another rough morning?"  Somehow that hit me the wrong way - probably I was already in a sensitive mood. I just said, "She'll need some time and patience to get used to a big group, classroom setting."  The teacher said, "So she hasn't ever had anything formal like this?" I said, "no, no daycare." She said, "Kindergarten is going to be challenging..."  Again, a little offended, although I believe she didn't mean any.  "Well, that's why we're doing preschool this year to help her prepare." As I turned to leave, a mom said to me, "Don't feel bad. My daughter was the same way." I was touched by her kindness, but on the other hand, I'm really tired of people thinking being "shy" is some kind of problem. I have even had to catch myself as I think I need to "fix" Madeline to make her be like the other kids. Saying, "she's just shy," especially around her, may make her think something is wrong with her - when that couldn't be any more false.

Some of the  best people I know are more reserved. Some may view this personality as weak, but they have a lot to offer. They are very kind and thoughtful.  They aren't the center of attention and don't push their opinions on others.  They make very good listeners, are cautious, are smart and strong, and they are loyal friends.  I really don't know how to handle this situation - any advice would be great. Maybe it's the mother bear in me, but I'm feeling committed to standing up for her.  She has a lot to offer if people will give her a chance.  She has many strengths.  I hope I can help her feel comfortable at school, so she can express her personality, even if it's different than some of the others.

This parenting thing is not easy and my kids are so young! I can't even think about down the road... I hope I can help them be happy and confident, no matter their personality.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Best Summer Ever!

The last two weeks have been so much fun.  We first got to meet Matt's family in So. Cal at Newport Beach at a beach house.  The week was full of sand, sun, waves, family, great food, movies - you name it.  It was a much needed vacation for all of us.  It was so great to have Matt to ourselves for the week.

Matt and I took the kids to Disneyland one day.  Although it was different than a typical visit - mostly waiting in line for kids rides :) - it was great and fun to have some little family time.

When the week was over, Matt had to get back to work.  He has an extra busy summer with work as the new residents come in and they don't take call yet - so the others have to cover their shifts.  We knew he'd hardly be home, so the kids and I decided to fly up to spokane for a couple of weeks.  My parents have property on this little gorgeous lake - Waits Lake-  where my family gathers a lot. Since being away, I forget how many pine trees there are here. And how green it is.  Poor Midwest.  We desperately need rain!  The kids loved swimming in the lake.  Madeline even went on a tube ride behind the boat!

I got to go do a little antique shopping (window shopping) with my sisters and mom while my nieces watched the kids.  How strange that I used to be the go-to babysitter for my nieces and nephews and now they are teenagers and watching my kids!

Grandpa Steve and Grandma Julie took us bowling and out to dinner.  The kids loved it.  Charlie asked if it was his turn after every bowl, but he tried to be patient. Madeline was mostly excited about the pink bowling ball.  Grandpa won.

And of course being on vacation gives me a break from all of those little things you have to do at home and just lets us have fun and be silly.

And the fun isn't over yet.  We get to spend another week in Spokane and then we're off to Salt Lake City for Matt's sister's wedding.  Real Life is going to feel a little too real when we have to go back!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Latest Projects

Matt has been pulling some long hours at work, so I, of course, keep my little head busy with sewing projects.  I was too lazy to take very good pictures, so my iphone (an old iphone) ones will have to do. (My mom and sisters send each other pictures of things we're working on.)

I love these little clutches. They're a perfect, not-too-hard, but so cute and feminine homemade gift.
The tutorial can be found here - Elm Street Life Bow Clutch 

I really shouldn't be posting these horrible pictures, but I already sent this one off.  Look at the tutorial for some gorgeous pics - Asthetic Nests's Heirloom Cut Chenille Baby Blanket.
This is extremely time consuming, but the chenille-like backing to this quilt, by fraying cut strips of flannel is so soft and beautiful and worth it.

I taught a lesson at church to the teenage girls about prayer.  I saw an idea for prayer pillowcases to help remind them.  I thought it was a cute idea and found some fun fabric at Hobby Lobby, which by the way, has the cutest fabrics! I'm going to need to stop in there more with a 40% off coupon.
Tutorial Here
I appliqued the "pray" on instead of painted it - it still needs to be stitched in this picture. :)

I had been seeing a lot of maxi dresses floating around pinterest.  I fell in love with this one from A Small Snippet.  I browsed Joanns and just couldn't picture any patterned fabric working with that much fabric on me.  Then I remembered the little onesie dresses I had been selling...

and thought it might look cute enlarged!  I'm a solids kind of girl anyway. I'm pretty excited about this one. I used the Small Snippet maxi dress tutorial (except didn't use as much fabric around - just enough to barely gather), and I added  2" elastic strip on top with a zig zag stitch.  It's a little tight to get off, so I'm wondering if you could use elastic thread to sew the elastic on like you do with the fabric....more experimenting will follow.  I think a fabric sash would look cute, too.

That's about it for now.  I have a few more projects in my head, but we leave for the beach this week, (yay!) so they'll have to wait.  Happy sewing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cooling Off?

Today felt SO good.  I never would have imagined saying 85 degrees would feel cool and like I could breathe.  Now I know many of you have it far worse so I've tried not to complain.  I just had no idea the midwest got so hot.  I had heard about the humidity, but over 100 AND humid?  Yikes.  But I must be getting used to it because it hasn't felt as bad as last summer and it's given us a lot of excuses to hit the pools and play in the water which has been so much fun.  And at least we never lost power, so we've enjoyed the luxury of air conditioning.  

We have a busy summer with a beach vacation, visiting family and friends, and a wedding. Life is busy and good and I just can't believe how fast time is flying.  Matt is halfway done with residency.  How did that happen?!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

As the Crow Flies

Cassi has a friend in Spokane who is opening a new little gift shoppe called, As the Crow Flies. Cassi and I have been making the Nikki Tote Bags that I made for my etsy shop.  Her friend loves them and wanted to buy 10 to put in her shop!  So Cassi and I each made five and our bags are actually in a store to be sold at the grand opening on Tuesday!  If you're in Spokane, you should check it out. It looks like a darling little shop.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Harp

I recently hosted a little harp recital for my three students.  It was pretty simple as my students have only been playing for about six months, but it was fun and they seemed to really enjoy it. One is four, and the other two are nine.  I just love seeing all of those little harps lined up in a row.  I am enjoying teaching, although I feel bad for the weeks I didn't practice growing up because it's hard to teach students that don't practice or don't try and you wonder why they're even taking lessons, but you know they have a lot of potential.  It's a challenge, but it's been good.  My kids somehow are pretty well behaved and play quietly and the families don't mind them there, so it has worked out really well for our family.

Madeline has showed a lot of interest in the harp.  She listens quietly during lessons, then later will "try out" the things she heard on my harp.  I wish I had a small one for her to learn on.  I've started teaching her piano and she gets so excited to practice and for her lessons.  I need to take advantage while she's excited about it.  I think I'll keep my eyes out on craigslist for a little harp...just incase somebody posts it at a ridiculously low price. :)

Music has always been a big part of my life and it's really fun to see these little kids learning and growing and getting excited about music.