Saturday, December 31, 2011

Glorious Christmastime

Despite all of the pre-Christmas crafting, I tried to keep the perspective that my kids will probably have more memories of the Christmas SEASON than of the actual day & gifts.  I tried to keep things fun and not stressy.  Here are some pre-Christmas memories from this year.

Santa hats.  Bought at Michaels as a bribe...that is THE WORST store to take my kids to.  I'm not sure what makes it so much worse than other stores.  Anyhow, the Santa hats worked pretty well for that trip.

After we decorated the Christmas tree (or put "decorations on the decoration tree" as Monkey puts it) the kids wanted me to take their picture...while wrapped in blankets.  Don't ask me, they do their own styling.

By the way, when the tree was first decorated 75% of the ornaments were in a line at Monkey's eye level : )  Thankfully the tree kept getting rearranged over the next week or two, and the ornaments were more evenly dispersed by the big day!

Christmas morning before the chaos.  I got the idea to hang the Christmas cards on a strand of lights from Pinterest, and LOVED it.  L.O.V.E.  Next year I want to mod podge some christmas deco papers onto clothespins to hang them, but for this year I just taped them up and called it good enough.
(The good news about this picture is that I'm reasonably happy with how my home looks.  except for the ceiling.  Will it ever get done??!!!)

This picture is pretty terrible, I know, but I haven't installed photoshop on my new computer yet.  But there are three fun things here: 1. My new table runner (I also bought a second one to give as an exchange game gift) that I got for 90% off of the Bed Bath & Beyond retail price : )  And I needed a table runner for that table, and I LOVE this runner.  2. What looks like a haphazard collection of toys and such is actually very careful staging done by Chick.  Arranged just so, for Santa who was coming that night.  And 3. is even more obscure: the three duplo blocks in the center of the table?  It's "Singing in the Rain."  boy, girl, boy, like on the cover of Singing in the Rain.  Kids are so random.  Whenever we have two of one thing and one of another, it gets arranged "boy, girl, boy" and it becomes "Singing in the Rain."  I'm sure Santa picked up on the nuance, though.  He's very in gamba*.

*Sorry for the probably obscure use of Italian, but it's ridiculous-- I've been home from my mission for over 10 years, and still some words or phrases in Italian work better than those in English.  "In gamba" means "on the ball."  Somehow Santa is more "in gamba" than he is "on the ball."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Christmas

I made (or helped the kids make) lots of presents this year. 
Now that the holiday is over, I'll show you what I did.

I saw a Living Social or Groupon deal for framed artwork of letters found in nature.  I couldn't really see spending as much as they charged, but figured that I could make my own.  So I did.  It was fun going on a hunt in my yard looking for letters.  (sorry, the picture isn't very good...)

I found a boxed "build a birdfeeder" kit at the thrift store for $1-$2, and let the girls build it for HH.  Then all three kids painted it  (I helped).  I love how it turned out : )

Dave brought home some scrap cuts of wood, so I painted them in a rainbow of shades and put numbers on one side and dots on the other for Moose.

Rainbow hairclip for Chickadee.  (idea from pinterest)

Chick's preschool made these felt bird ornaments as gifts for their Mama.  They are scented with peppermint stuffing, and each child drew on the side and then stitched up the edges.  I was actually the teacher that time, but Chick just told me not to look while she was working on it : )

I found a big bag of these wooden beads, and my aunt was getting rid of the storage container, so I just designed some sequence cards and laminated them for a simple sequence kit for Chick.  I don't know how she likes it...we haven't had a chance to play with it yet.  She likes that kind of activity, though, so I think it'll be fun.....

Another thing I saw on pinterest was a button necklace.  I tweaked it a little (added extra buttons on jump rings between the stitched ones), and used it as one of our exchange gifts for the big family exchange game at my brother's Christmas Eve party.

More buttons.  more pinterest ideas.  We did a monogrammed button D for my aunt. 
She hung it above her sewing area and it looks really cute : )

Peg family for my SIL's family.

 My awesome visiting teachers have an annual craft night for the December visiting teaching. 
This year we made cute sock snowmen.  (the order of them is: Chick, Moose, Me, HH, and Monkey)

Something that I saw on a blog somewhere or other, was a build-a-fort kit.
I loved the idea, and figured that since we had a family with 4 boys for the Christmas exchange gift it was a perfect time to make one. 
My favorite touches: the ribbon in the centers of the sheets says "experience the adventure,"  and I like the custom-designed label for the outside of the bag. 
I was going to do a freezer paper stencil for it, but was running out of time, so instead I printed the outlines onto the fabric and then hand painted inside the lines. 
Also included in the gift was headlamps for each boy.
I told my other SIL about it, who also has lots of boys & whose name we have for next year's exchange, and she requested the same gift.  Chick will be getting a kit for her birthday, as well.

(notice that our peg family is a work in process).

I did also make a bracelet for Monkey, but she left it in the car, and it's cold and rainy, so maybe I'll take a picture some other time.

Also I made flannel jammie pants for Moose and HH.  They're matching, and my guys look super handsome and comfy in them : )  I was going to do nightgowns for the girls too, but ran out of time...maybe for Easter.

I think that's it.  I was super productive in the last few weeks. 
This week I am a slug, but at least I'm starting to blog again!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Photos

A while back, my awesome friend Heidi took our family pictures at a nearby park. 
 I'm thrilled with how they turned out.  Thanks, Heidi!

I think we do a pretty good job of not looking cold and wet, despite the horrible weather.  Heidi's family was supposed to be there that day too, and we were going to play photographer for each others' family...but they chickened out : )  And to add to the fun, Monkey had an accident in the car while waiting for us to get things set up in the second location...she was SUPER whiny and clingy after that.  I don't blame her-- it was cold enough without being soaked from the waist down!  But sometimes you have to grin and bear it, and I wanted my family pictures!!  We went home and had hot cocoa to recouperate.

OK, true confessions time: the top photo is pretty much as it was taken.  The bottom photo is HEAVILY photoshopped.  HEAVILY as in Moose and Chick's entire bodies were taken from other photos, and Monkey's head is from a different (yep, that IS the best picture there was of her!), and then of course the usual cropping and lighting changes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Letters to Santa

Wow, I've been MIA from the blogging world for almost two months now!  I have so much to catch up on!  I'll start with something short (because I need to get to bed).

It was looking like we wouldn't see Santa, so I suggested writing letters instead.  Chick opted for emailing them.

She didn't want any help on hers, but I did end up adding spaces between the words.  Here's hers:

dder sca cloz,
i want sam papez and dogz and ristacats

(translation: "Dear Santa Clause, I want some puppies and dogs and Aristocats.")  I think she could have spelled Santa more closely, but I think she got distracted while she was typing it.  And what she's asking for is stuffed 101 Dalmations and Aristocats.

When I asked Monkey if she wanted to write Santa a letter, she said, "Yes, I want to write the letter B, because I start with B."  So she typed that, but was having fun pressing buttons, so she wrote lots of other things too.  Lots of 8's because for her they're B's as well.

b- kol0048b8888b8b8b8b--*9847411210
bnn fffffffddddddsa


It's ok that Santa won't know what she's asking for--she just wanted a candy cane, and I think that's pretty standard fare from Santa.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I've been...

...making covered composition books using Annalia's tutorial.  I did one for each of the kids in Chick's preschool, as well as for a couple of the younger siblings for when preschool was held in their home (Monkey was one of them).

(They aren't perfect, but they're still pretty darn cute.  Plus I enjoyed getting to make something for each of the kids in preparation for preschool.  And I think they like having their own special book.  Whenever Monkey sees a scrap of any of these papers she tells me, "That's Hyrum's paper"  or "That's Bella's" ...those papers will forever be associated with the kids in preschool)

...Making smocks for preschool.  I made up my own smock design using a men's oxford.  They're a little funny in the back, but the kids don't seem to mind.  The girls got matching headscarfs, because we don't want their hair to get paint on it...and because I didn't want to waste the good details of the buttons and button holes : )  {you'll see more smock pictures when I blog actual preschool pictures}

...making picture pebble magnets.  I did 5 large ones, and 4 small ones.  I love them.  The large ones are on my fridge, and the small ones are on my lockers.

(and speaking of my lockers)
...organizing my fabric stash into my previously-pretty-waste-of-space lockers.

 {left: Chick quilt fabric / Multi-color and holiday / Purple / Blue / Green}
{center: Gear / Red / Pink / White, neutral, yellow}
{right: Felt / Fancy and specialty / Black, b&w / Kid} 

(someday I'll need to fill that in, but in the meantime I didn't have the heart to take that space away)

...making hair accessories.  My niece (in-law) told me how to make the petaled fabric flowers, and they were so easy (aside from the long time that it took me to pick out the buttons for the centers) that I did a bunch.  The small dk green ones are to go with a oxford-refashioned shirt dress that I'm making for Monkey.  I still need to do the waistband, so no pics yet.

My favorite is the blue and white floral with the polka dot center.  That blue floral fabric is from when I was a flower girl at my sister's wedding...when I was three-years-old!

...practicing butterfly face painting.  Not very good.  I blame that partly on the inferior paints that I was using (I'm definitely upgrading before my next practice session), and partly on the girls who both were crying just as I was about to take the picture.  Monkey was even putting her face on her hands and laying on the ground, so she really got smeary.  Anyhow, it's just a starting point...I'll keep practicing.  If I get good enough by January then there will be butterfly facepainting at Chick's birthday party.

...making a shaved-crayon jack-o-lantern with my girls.  (Moose just wanted to eat the crayons).

...thrift store shopping.  Honestly, there will be thrift stores in heaven.
Anyhow, here's the whole haul from my most recent shopping trip.  A lot of it is gear for making gifts.  A lot of the ideas for the gifts came from the hours and hours that I've spent looking at things on pinterest.  I have a love/hate relationship with pinterest.  Love everything about it, hate that it has monopolized my time.

 {$57.  A little more than I usually spend.  That was with several things on sale for $1, and everything else 20% off.  1 sheet and 2 duvet covers, box of 1000 popsicle sticks, wax, spool of candlewick, 2 spools ribbon, 2 photo albums, 2 pairs of pants for Chick, new Gymboree tights for Monkey, tie for Moose, like new Espirit shoes for Chick, 2 kids books, clutch purse for me, shirt and bodyshaper for me, matchbox cars for Moose (for Christmas), Melissa & Doug tool box &a tool belt (+ extra tools) for Moose (for his birthday), duffle bag, build-a-birdfeeder kit, and a Haba Pic-pac set.} 

The highlights of all of that: 

red, white, & blue ribbon that will be perfect for Monkey's upcoming Madeline in Paris birthday party!!!! 

The clutch for me.  It's green.  I love green.  I don't like to carry a purse. I've been using a really cute little pouch that Lia made for me, but it's starting to look a little worn out.  Hopefully I'll come to love this clutch as I've loved the pouch.

The Pic-Pac.  I don't know what Pic-Pac means.  I assume that's all in German.  But I do know that at $1.60 and almost unused, all pieces included, it was a GREAT find on the night before teaching about construction workers.  In fact, I think this was everyone's favorite part of preschool that day.  Who doesn't like to hammer things?!

The tool box set.  Pretty cute, and looks quite complete. 
(would have also been good to use for construction day at preschool, but I resisted)

This yellow Ikea duvet cover.  I don't think you can really see the wonderfulness of it in this picture, but it really is wonderful. And it'll be PERFECT for the intended project...but I can't say what it is because I'm also doing the same project for someone who probably reads this blog.

...planning birthday parties.  Monkey's is next month, and Chick's is in January.  Madeline, and Rainbows & Butterflies.  Super fun.  I think party planning is one of the perks of motherhood.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I don't get on facebook so very much.  Imagine my surprise when I got onto Facebook for just a minute today and found this:

It was a close race, but after tallying up the votes from Facebook and our UDMA ...shows, this year's Design Your Dream WINNER is Paige from Reflections School of Dance! Her costume will be in our 2013 catalog and Reflections will get a class worth of the design for free! Congratulations Paige and Reflections School of Dance!
Seriously, I am so surprised.  The facebook votes were almost 100 down below the first place person, and I didn't like pestering people for votes, so I'd given up.  I hadn't taken into account that there would be voting at the UDMA show...where people who are actually looking to buy costumes would be voting...and who have no affiliation with a specific studio or contestant.
So exciting.  Thanks, if you voted.  Stay tuned next June, when you see pictures of my design dancing in the recital!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Another wedding reception this weekend...another nephew married to a great girl.

The reception was very elegant, and I liked the layout of the food table, but what I want to share from it is: the photobooth.  So incredible.  A real photobooth, and you could do it unlimited times, and then you can see the pictures online afterwards (in addition to the strips that they give you after you do the booth).

So here are some of my favorites.  Some because they're hilarious, and some because I love the people in them (and some that are great for both reasons).

Awww, so cute. 
They're getting married next month : )

parents of the groom

No relation...just funny

Sisters (and sister-in-law, if we're technical)

He said that Moose was uncooperative. 
I'd never have known.

The newlyweds from last month : )

I definitely wish that I'd done more.  If you are planning to get married soon and will have a photobooth at the reception, please invite me!