Saturday, December 31, 2011

DIY salvage bookshelf

Jonathan asked for a bookshelf of his own in his (our) room. To put it mildly, there just isn't much space for one! But we found a small, 12x12x30 bookshelf offered on craigslist for $1, and since that fits the space and the budget (ha!) I went and picked it up today.

I wish I'd thought to take a "before" picture, because it was pretty ugly. Black laminate and quite beat up. I keep reading on DIY blogs that spray paint is the easy way to fix problems like that, so we asked Jonathan to pick a color and gave it a shot.

Initially I thought it was doomed to failure. You can't see very well in this photo, but the paint did NOT want to stick to the laminate. It was uneven and drippy and definitely uglier than it had been while black. :(

We sanded off the drips and tried again. Hmm. Better. But we ran out of paint.

Gabe ran back to the store to get another can, and we kept working on it. I think part of the problem was just that it is hard to adequately cover black with any other color!

But after all that, it turned out pretty nicely, don't you think?

Maybe we're not DIY failures after all. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sewing for the kids

Usually when Jonathan asks me to make something for him, his imagination wildly outpaces my skills. But this morning we were both inspired, and look at the results!

Power Rangers!

Of course, it took all morning. But that's what vacation time is for, right? :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hybrid shopping

Shopping has never been something I enjoy, and shopping for clothing is the worst. But Jonathan's shoes have been pinching him, and I've simply worn out most of my pants. Something had to be done.

I noticed two fabulous coupons for JCPenney in the weekend paper. Hmm! So last night, after the kids were in bed, I spent about 30 minutes online looking through their site for options. The beautiful thing about online shopping is the opportunity to sort by size, color, style, price, etc. I found four pairs of pants that looked like they had potential, and two pairs of shoes that looked perfect for Jonathan. But pants and shoes really are the sorts of things that should be tried on before buying them! So I put everything in my cart and then printed it.

This morning I headed off with my printout (and all three boys) to Penneys. Just over an hour later, we walked out with three pairs of pants and a pair of shoes. Did I mention that I had all three kids with me? And no one had a meltdown? Not even me?

I love the fact that the "browsing" stage was vastly simplified online. I hate wandering through aisles and aisles of clothing and never finding quite what I want. Online browsing took that entirely out of the equation. All that was left for the store was finding the right section, trying on four pairs of pants, and buying the three that fit. Jonathan's shoes were even smoother: we walked in, asked for the size and color, put them on his feet, paid and walked out.

Seriously, people, Hybrid Shopping. I don't know why I never thought to do it this way before! :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crowning Achievements Doula Services

Gabe and I spent some hours working on my website today. New photos, new comments from past clients, some new content and better page organization. It is a thing of beauty (and a joy forever?)! Would you take a minute and look around?

I'm working hard to get my name and website more visibility, so that potential clients can find me. If you've known me in any birth-related capacity, could you take a few minutes to write a review? The most important places are yelp and Google maps.

Friends and family with blogs, every time you link to my website it helps Google searches find me. I'd be grateful!

Your help is invaluable! Thank you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It was a very merry morning!

Oh look, I was there, too. :)

Hours spent playing together.

And Christmas dinner: brisket, yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and green beans (Great)Grandma-style. Oh, and pumpkin pie for dessert. After 8 years, we've finally hit on the perfect Christmas dinner tradition for our family; this is it. Yum, yum, yum!

Jonathan approves. :)

A beautiful end to a lovely day.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Animal Discovery: Alligators

Alligators were the favored creature today during playdough playtime. We had tribes of them waddling across the table. Since there was obvious interest, when the boys tired of playdough I printed alligator coloring pages for them. We looked at color photos to see what they "look like, really, Mom".

We talked about their skin and what it might feel like, and how they like to live in the water more than on land. "And do they eat people when they open their mouths like that, Mom?" Um, sometimes, dear.

Finished up with an alligator jigsaw puzzle. It was interesting watching Thomas do a puzzle, and remembering how Jonathan used to do them. Jonathan was fast and furious, completed it once and was quite finished, moving on, we're done now! Thomas is methodical, a bit slower, and chose to re-do the puzzle three times, getting better each time. It is so fascinating, watching my boys learn!

8 years is long enough to wait, right?

I finally have a Kitchanaid stand mixer. Last week I stumbled across a phenomenal deal online. And since I expected a check for almost the same amount only two days later, I bought it. :) Isn't it beautiful?

The boys were suitably enthralled.

(well, we were making St. Nicholas cookies, so perhaps that accounts for the interest.)

I'm in love. I'm so in love that I cleaned the kitchen so that it would match the beauty of the mixer.

Pretty, pretty, pretty!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Song stories

This evening Josiah asked for a "bear song" at bedtime, so I sang "The Bear Went Over The Mountain." When I finished, there was a long pause, and then Josiah said "but I wanted him to see something on the other side of the mountain!"

Me: Well, what do you suppose might have been there?
Josiah: A big giant thing!
Me: Oh my. Do you think the bear was scared?
Thomas: Oh, the bear said "please don't eat me, I'm very small, but there is another bear that is much bigger than I am."
Josiah: And then the other bear came and saved the bear from the giant thing!

Mixed up scripts

We have a couple of "scripts" that we use around here, to simplify resolution of conflicts.

There's the "sorry" script:

Brother 1: I'm sorry for X, Y, Z.
Brother 2: I forgive you.

and the "bothering brothers" script:

Brother 1: Please stop doing X, Y, Z.
Brother 2: Ok, I'll stop.

Josiah is quite happy to play along with this, although I'm not entirely sure he understands anything he's saying. This is evidenced by the following conversation which I have been hearing on a fairly regular basis:

Brother 1: Please stop doing X, Y, Z.
Josiah: I forgive you! :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Auntie Leila on Advent

We're finding ourselves in a very busy life season right now. This tends to leave me feeling rather frazzled, and that has only been heightened by the nagging worry that I "ought" to be doing more with the kids for Advent.

Today I read Auntie Leila's post on Advent, and I'm feeling a bit more peaceful now. Because you know what? As usual, she's right. ;)
The simple act of lighting a candle in the home, if done peacefully and attentively, can open the door to wonder. Wonder is at the heart of Advent.

We can get frazzled and feel that we're not doing enough, that our children don't understand enough. Really, their understanding will grow with each year that they experience the same beautiful, simple rituals at home and at Church. . . . What I think the children tire of, eventually, is our jangling attempts to elicit some response from them, which, in the end, comes to this: That we seek affirmation from them. When really, we should confidently offer them what we know to be good, and trust that the good will be accomplished.
I don't need to have a perfect advent craft or activity planned for every single day. What I do need to do is be mindful of the season myself, and then offer the basic reminders to my children as well. So we light the candles at dinner. We pray and we sing advent hymns. We read books about Jesus and St. Nicholas during our morning story time. We unwrap our creche with care and set the animals in their stable. Perhaps we bake cookies.

And that really is enough. I don't have to *make* Advent special; it already is. I just need to point the way toward Jesus in terms and symbols that little boys can start to understand.