30 September 2010

welcome fall


I am happy that fall has finally arrived.  Don't get me wrong, by next spring I will be missing summer and the warmth and all the fun that seems to come with June, July and August, but fall is my favorite.  There is just something about big comfy sweaters, warm rich colors and crisp cool air that brightens my mood.

This past week we have had nothing but rain and it has been fantastic.  I hope we get a few more good storms in before the season is over.  After months and months of no rain and temperatures above 95 I am ready for a change.

Last weekend just as the storms were starting to roll in (as we were paying is when it started to pour) we stopped at a pumpkin patch that is only a few miles from the house.  It is a local family who grows the pumpkins and gourds up in the mountains.  They have all kinds of interesting things from birdhouses made out of hollowed out logs to huge mums there.  But it was the pumpkins that we came to see and pumpkins we did buy.


See the little pumpkin in Mabry's hands in the picture?  The man who owns the place gave it to her.  It has become her new prized possession.  I try to keep it up high where she can't mess with it (visions of busted pumpkin all over my carpet keep creeping into my mind) but sometimes she wins and can hold it while she watches TV.

On a scale of one to ten how weird does that make her?

Back to the pumpkins....

Did you know that there is such a thing as a knuckle head pumpkin?  Neither did I.  In our house we refer to them as the warty pumpkins.  What a creepy jack-o-lantern they would make on Halloween.


My favorites are the white pumpkins and the fairytale pumpkins.  Dan and Mabry prefer the more traditional giant carving pumpkin.  We all got what we wanted and it makes for a nice little decoration by the front door:


Like my wreath?  I love door wreaths, especially unique ones.  I just hate their sky high costs.  Hobby Lobby was having a 50% off sale at the beginning of September and I bought all the bones to make a wreath of my own and it only cost $15.  The purple feathers are my favorite part.


27 September 2010



It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction, but it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my child to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Written by: Mary Lynn Plaisance

I have been feeling pretty invisible and sad the last few days.  The sky yesterday was a really good depiction on what I feel like right now.  Grey and gloomy.  Not really in the mood to talk and certainly not in the mood to blog.  I'm here.  Just trying to pull myself out of this funk. 

21 September 2010

where it is apparent dan and i need some parenting classes


Last week my mom sent me an email about a fun Halloween project she had stumbled across.  I loved it and just had to make my own set of monsters.  It was a great way for me to spend time working on a project with help from my own little monster.

Even though you could easily click on the link above to get the directions for how to make these guys, I thought it would be fun to include my own pictures and step-by-step how to.

The first thing I had to do was find jars.  Luckily it was almost grocery shopping day, which meant we were running low on everything.  So we finished up some peaches, the last of the ice cream caramel topping (Mabry was only too happy to help with both of those) and a jar of pickles.  I then raided the pantry and ended up moving all of our peanuts into a Tupperware to have the tall glass jar they come in.  The only jar I bought was the square one.  It is the only plastic one out of the whole bunch and it came from the deli section at Walmart.  It originally held about 20 Claussen pickles (now in their own Tupperware) and the square shape was perfect for old Frankie.

After I had gathered up the jars I peeled off all the labels and washed them.


Next Mabry and I took all the lids to the garage and using some left over spray paint, painted them black.


Then we went about resizing and printing out the faces we wanted to use for our jars.  This was a little time consuming as Mabry wasn't sure which ones she wanted to use.  There was a lot of back and forth. Once we had made up our minds I printed them out and set each one in front of the jar it would go with. Notice the one jar has two faces by it.  That is because Mabry just couldn't decide between the friendly ghost and the skeleton.  You can find the different faces here, here and here.  You will need to resize them to work with your own jars if you do this project.

The next step was to take a single sheet of tissue paper and cut roughly 1" strips the length of the jar.  I made mine a little bigger so that they would start just under the threads where the lid screwed on and then tucked underneath the bottom of the jar.


Taking the jar and laying it on it's side I would then paint a thin strip of Modge Podge the length of it and apply a strip of tissue paper.  I continued doing this all the way around the jar, making sure to overlap each of the strips just a little bit.  Since this next part was really messy, I put Mabry in charge of handing me the strips of tissue paper.  (For the mummy I used a pale yellow paper because I thought it would look more aged and I made the strips go in different directions like a real Mummy's wrappings.)


Once I had covered the jar in tissue paper I would cut out the face and Modge Podge that on.  Then the jar was set aside on its top to dry.


After all five jars had been covered and given faces I started with the first jar and painted a second layer of Modge Podge over the entire thing to seal it.  This seemed to be just the right amount of time for the first layer to have dried before starting on the next.

After that I left the jars for several hours sitting upside down and drying.

In the Halloween section of Walmart they are selling LED candles 4 for $2.  When you flip the switch they glow and flicker orange just like a real flame would.  I put these inside the jars once they were done, screwed on the tops and sat back to admire my work.


Mabry loved helping and asking all kinds of questions about each of the different monsters.  She kept referring to the mummy as the "Mom."  She even had a favorite:

Except once nightfall came and I turned on the little candles inside each jar she had a total meltdown.

I don't blame the jars, I blame the LED candles.  Only what I really mean to say is I blame Dan.  Dan who took two of the candles, put them in his eyes and then came around the corner and scared the snot right out of her while she sat on the potty getting ready for bed.


He thought it would be funny and she would laugh.  Call it a total lapse in parenting judgement.  Honestly, he kind of scares the snot out of me too when I look at the above photo.

I think this year for Christmas maybe we should be asking for tuition to a Parenting 101 course.  :)

Poor Mabry.

20 September 2010

10.10.10 i'm doing it....are you?

I have a habit of turning my mind off for at least 10 minutes every afternoon and blindly roaming the Internet.  One never knows what they might stumble upon.

This little break is usually a good refresher to help get me through the rest of the day.  It seems that the "terrible twos" are actually some sort of vicious joke others play on people who are first time parents.  Those older parents sit back and laugh.  I can hear them all now...  We'll just tell them that two is the worst.  Those silly new parents will start to get confident when it isn't so bad.  They won't know what hit them when three rolls around.  Ha. Ha. Ha.


We are only 10 days in, but I assure you, all you new parents out there, that raising a two-year-old can't hold a candle to raising a three-year-old.  At this point I am just praying that I make it 355 more days without ending up in a padded room or curled up in the fetal position in the corner of some stranger's house whispering a plea to "not let her find me."  Anyone care to take bets?

Add to the insanity one 6-month-old-fiery-red-head with a mind all her own that I watch for a friend, attempting to get a photography business off the ground, my design work for the radiology company and tending to this house and you can see why sometimes Mama needs a time out.

Anyhow, that whole little tangent was to tell you about this interesting site I stumbled upon the other day.  How I got there is still a mystery to me.

The site is for a project called One Day on Earth.  Rather than me try to explain the project, take a moment and watch this trailer:

My mind is already at work trying to figure out what it is that I want to share with the world.  I am so excited!

If you visit the website and sign up to become a participant in the project, please leave me a comment and let me know.  It would be great to know that I have other friends out there doing this right along with me on 10.10.10

18 September 2010

where i fall madly in love


Last weekend I found a great deal on Craigslist.  I have been scouring sale ads, Craigslist, you name it trying to find the right one for months and months now.

What is my new toy you ask?  Why don't we take a look under the cover and find out....


Internets, meet my new to me Kitchenaid mixer in cobalt blue.  I am in love.  Actually, I think we all are.


For Mabry it is because I have been channeling my inner Bakerella and have been busy all week in the kitchen.  Which means lots of beaters...


Like daughter, like father...


I of course like how easy it is to make (and clean up!) all of my wonderful creations.  My newest favorite would be the double peanut butter paisley brownies I made the other night.


Yes, please!


I'm very excited to try making bread dough this weekend.  Cross your fingers it turns out.  If anyone has a good recipe they want to share, feel free to leave it in the comments.  I am finding my newest love to be an inspiration to spend more time in the kitchen.

17 September 2010

where i attempt to teach a toddler bible memory verses


I found this great book, ABC Bible Verse Book, at Barnes and Noble last week.  There are 26 verses in the book, one for each letter in the alphabet.  I loved the simplicity of the wording and the illustrations that went along with them.  Not to mention it has thicker pages making it more durable for Mabry to play with.  Plus I thought this would be a great way to teach Mabry memory verses in a simple way that she could understand.

Once I was home I decided to take it a step further.  I took our book and scanned each of the pages.  Then I shrunk the pages down into 3 inch squares, which I then printed out and laminated.  


I cut out all of the squares and glued magnets to the back.  

Each week we will take out a verse and stick it up on the fridge or dishwasher (I'll leave it up to Mabry where it goes) as a reminder and visual aid.

She has done great learning her first verse for this week:

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

16 September 2010

giving a three-year-old chores

Now that Mabry is three-years-old Dan and I decided it was time for her to have some responsibilities around the house.  We want to instill a sense of pitching in to help the family, responsibility, a good work ethic, etc. and felt a chore chart would help accomplish just that.


Dan and I decided to take it a step further and add in an allowance.  At first I didn't want to pay Mabry to accomplish her tasks.  I felt that they were things she should be learning to do and that as a part of the family, she should just do them.  We changed our minds after reading this post that my sister told me about.

Basically the blogger gives her children three quarters a week.  One quarter goes in their piggy bank to learn savings.  One quarter goes into their change purse to spend.  The last quarter goes with them to church to be put in the offering.  What a great way to show Mabry the three places we put our money: Jesus, saving and spending.

I was initially going to buy a marker board and create the chore chart on that and attach it to the fridge.  While scouring Walmart for a marker board a light went off in my head and I realized that the huge chalk board I had painted in the kitchen had enough space to draw a chore chart onto.  I used a white permanent marker I already had to make the lines for the chart and write the days of the week so that I don't have to redo them each week when I erase the board.


Deciding on what chores and how many to give her was a little more difficult.  I mean how much responsibility can a three-year-old really handle?  After much thought we narrowed it down to:

Making the bed each morning:  This really just involves helping me to put the pillows and her stuffed animals on the bed.  Someone happens to be way too short to actually make a bed.

Getting the newspaper:  Every morning the newspaper is delivered to our house and I usually pick it up out of the driveway when I go to get the mail.  It will now be Mabry's responsibility to go out with me and get the paper.

Putting her dishes away:  After she is finished with a meal she is to clear her place at the table and bring us the dishes.

Picking up toys:  The playroom looks like a bomb went off in it at least once a day.  Mabry is going to be given a specific group of toys  (all of the blocks or all of the Mr. Potato Head pieces, etc.) that she is going to have to pick up on her own and when she is done she is going to have to help me or Dan pick up the rest of the room.

Laundry:  When I am folding or doing the laundry she is going to have to help.  She likes to put things from the washer into the dryer already.  I have also taught her how to fold wash cloths and rags and she helps with that.  Now we need to work on putting things away.

The last thing on the list isn't really a chore.  It is just a daily reminder for us to work on learning her weekly Bible verse.  This is something I am going to talk about more in depth tomorrow.

So what do you think, chores for three-year-olds are they good?  Bad?  Should we have been doing this a year ago?  Should we have waited another year or two?

13 September 2010

a girl and her toys

I thought I would share a few videos of Mabry playing with some of her new toys.  The girl has quite the imagination:

It is embarrassing to post a video of me meowing, but sometimes that works to get her to change you back when she "turns" you into a certain animal.  If you meow or bark or whatever she giggles and then turns you back into Mama or Dada or whoever you are.  Unless you are making a video of her for the whole world to see.  In which case she will make you meow without mercy.

Good times.

She also got a tricycle for her birthday.  Her legs are a little too short.  So for now we do a lot of steering practice.  The walkway up to the house has just enough of an incline that she can coast along and have to steer.

I apologize in advance for all the motion in the video.  I wasn't thinking as I shot this.

As for pedaling, we do a lot of this:

I have one more video to share of Mabry playing with her Woody and Buzz dolls, but it is a bit of a long one and once again I apologize for my poor quality directing.

10 September 2010

where someone turns three

Mabry's birthday was on Labor Day this year.  It still seems weird to think Dan and I are now the parents of a three-year-old.  Seriously, when did she get permission to grow up?  Do all parents feel this way about their kids?  Does it ever stop?

Some of our family were able to stay after the graduation to help celebrate Mabry's birthday over the weekend.  We started things off on Friday with a little garden themed party.

I pulled a butterfly shape off the Internet which I used as a template to cut out over 30 butterflies from scrapbook paper.  Some ended up on the Happy Birthday banner:

Mabry's 3rd Birthday Party

Some ended up on the photo banner:

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

Some ended up just flying around the table:

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

I had found a Martha Stewart kit for making tissue paper flowers in the clearance bin at Michaels for $2.50.  I also bought some scrapbook paper to make accordion flowers hot glued to dowels to put around the house.

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

The tissue paper flowers were really easy and now that I know how to make them it would be easy to buy some floral wire and tissue paper in any color and make my own for other occasions.  Or for decor in Mabry's room (which is exactly where the flowers on her art cable in her room came from).

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

As a thank you for everyone who came I made chocolate covered pretzel rods.  All of the pretzels were dipped in milk chocolate and then broken down into three groups: sprinkles, white mint drizzle or dark chocolate mint drizzle.  For the kids who came we gave out bug catcher houses and a butterfly rattle for Baby N.

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

I made a birthday shirt for Mabry this year.  I took a plain shirt and some scrap fabric and just sort of cut and pieced together a cupcake bottom, candle and flame.  Then I took some felt type fabric and gathered it together and hand sewed that on for the frosting.  Believe it or not this was probably one of the least time consuming of all the projects.  I started it and had it done and cleaned up in less than an hour.  I tried to take a good photo, but the Birthday Girl was less than cooperative for me to get a good shot.  She was too busy with her Sheebus and people coming in the door and trying to get someone (anyone) to let her open a present.

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

Like the crown? Someone else did too...

Mabry's 3rd Brithday Party

Mabry's 3rd Birthday Food

I kept the menu really simple.  We had lemonade and peach tea served in glasses with lemon and orange wedges.  I bought some fruit that my mom cut up and put in a trifle bowl.  I made an angel food cake (my favorite and an old family tradition I found out for birthdays) and I tried to also make a frosting that my great grandmother used.  The frosting was an epic fail.  Luckily my mom stepped in with a bread knife and trimmed the hard sugar frosting layer off the top of the cake and we were able to frost the whole thing in Cool Whip instead.  My good friend, Dana, provided the sugar flowers and ladybugs.

I'll be posting some videos of Mabry with some of the toys she received in the coming days.  As usual, I will be taking the weekend off from blogging.  Have a great weekend!

09 September 2010

where we are no longer in the infantry now

Dan is no longer an Infantryman.

That felt really weird to type.  Ok, his job title is may no longer be Infantryman but deep down I think we will always be an Infantry family.  There, that felt a little better.

Last Thursday Dan officially graduated the Civil Affairs course after 18 months of schooling and waiting.  Hooray!

It was somewhat of a hectic day and I grabbed the wrong lens for my camera.  Also I was sitting towards the back of the room.  Which meant not the best pictures ever.

CA Graduation Ceremony 9-2-2010

The guest speaker for this ceremony was a Colonel who I am quite sure forgot that there were civilians there.  He went on and on in mostly military jargon.  At the end of his speech/lecture/attempted murder by boredom each of the 87 graduates had their name called and picked up their certificates.

I tried to keep myself entertained by taking random photos of the crowd:

CA Graduation Ceremony 9.2.2010

It was something to watch each row stand up in unison.  I remember my graduations from both high school and college and we must have looked like a bunch of rabid cats stampeding to get our diplomas. Dan said later that they had practiced standing up as soon as they heard a certain name called.

Can you spot Dan?

CA Graduation Ceremony 9-2-2010

As soon as his name was called to walk across the stage for his certificate TWO ROWS of people stood up.  Someone forgot to mention to his 5'2" wife that his name was one of those "stand up names."  Which meant that I dived across people into the aisle to get what photos I could.  One of him starting across the stage:

CA Graduation Ceremony 9-2-2010

And one of him coming off the stage:

CA Graduation Ceremony 9-2-2010

And one of him coming to his seat (trying not to smile):

CA Graduation Ceremony 9-2-2010

We were happy to have his parents and two of his siblings and cousin join us for the ceremony and celebration afterwards.  My parents, sister and her fiancee came down as well.  The celebration afterwards was in the best little Italian restaurant downtown, Pierros.  All the food smothered in cheese---yes please!  Oh and did I mention that they had garlic knots?  My waistline just grew an inch thinking about them, but they are worth it.

Mabry and I couldn't be more proud of our soldier.

08 September 2010

where i didn't get my inspiration from a victoria's secret bag, i swear

While blog surfing last weekend I came across a little girl's room that was too adorable for words.  My sister (who was blog surfing on the phone with me) loved it too.  Between the two of us we realized it wouldn't take much to transform Mabry's room into something similar.


First up were the pink walls of Mabry's room.  All I needed to do was buy a little white paint and frog tape to add the white stripes.  Because math is not one of my favorites I decided on the width and number of stripes based on what was the easiest whole number to divide by.  You can't really tell, but the bottom pink stripe is about a half of an inch larger because any of the leftover measurement ended up down there.



A few things I learned about painting stripes:
1.  Laser levels have a little nail that holds them to the wall.  Which means more hole patching (GAG).
2.  Even with the laser level it is hard to keep things perfectly straight and chances are you will have to retape some of the lines several times.
3.  About half way through taping the first stripe going around the room you will regret the idea altogether but will forge ahead because you have come too far now.
4.  When you are finished painting the Violet Pearl (even though the Lowes lady swears it is white) stripe onto the Milady pink colored walls you will have a panic attack.  You will grab your husband and see if when he walks into his daughter's room he has the same reaction you do.  Which is, VICTORIA'S SECRET.  It is at this point that you will force yourself not to cry having wasted the better part of a day working on three blasted stripes and continue on putting the room back together.
5.  The next day when things are hung on the wall you will start to breath a sigh of relief and think it looks less VS and more little girl.

Now on to the rest of the room...


While in TJMaxx I found a cute white coverlet for only $19!  Her old Target quilt is still one of my favorite purchases ever, it just had a few problems.  Namely a mystery stain and some rips from where the squares weren't sewn with enough extra fabric.  So I cut down the quilt to throw blanket size, hemmed it and put it at the foot of the bed.  This way I could still have the quilt and keep the shams and other pillow I had made.  The only thing I would like to do is get a pink tulle bed skirt.  I have one picked out and I think I might even have a gift card I can use, score!


Hobby Lobby was having a big sale on wall decor and I found this cute little polka dotted hook thinger (like my technical term?) to hang up some of the dress up clothes Mabry owns.


Also on the wall is my own version of the art cable from the room I took my inspiration from.  I made these tissue paper flowers and then wrapped them around two nails that I tied some twine to.  I used mini clothes pins to hang up all the photos of her aunts and uncles.



The only other thing we did was rearrange the room per Mabry's request.  She decided where she wanted everything.  I am quite proud of her.  The girl has a future in interior design if she wants it.  Putting the bed the way she did really opened up her room.

Oh and did I mention I decided to do this whole redo two days before we were having company for the whole weekend?  Talk about last minute!

07 September 2010

the one where i kick my week off

I have so much to share with you this week.  I just hope I can get my act together to type up and schedule posts!  To say that things are busy, busy, busy around here would be an understatement.

To add to the madness, I have been on a kick lately of trying to redo the house decor.  I am in the mood for change, especially in the kitchen and dining area.  I am in love with our pub height table, but I can't help but look at other kitchen tables.  Take for instance when I saw this kitchen table, I just about died and went to heaven.  Seriously, how great would that look in the dining room?

Did you see that drawer underneath for added storage?  Seriously, I am a girl who can't get enough storage...especially in my kitchen area.

I also like the idea of a rug in the dining room.  For instance this one and this one.  Oh how I love them!  Did I mention I have a thing for stripes lately?

Unfortunately the budget isn't up for such big changes.  I am, however, saving pennies to hopefully buy a new chandelier for above our table.  I have been searching and searching for just the right one.  I found this one, which I love the shape and size of.  I wish it came in silver to match the rest of the lighting.  But then what kind of DIYer would I be if I didn't find a way to make it into what I wanted?  A little spray paint, some elbow grease and maybe a few other personal touches and voila I can already picture it now!

In the meantime I am making other changes in other areas of the house.  For instance Mabry's room which under went a major transformation in the last week.  Tomorrow I will be sharing all kinds of photos and fun details with you about her room!
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