Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The All-Purpose Dress

I love hand-me-downs.  I love them for my kids and I'm not opposed to wearing them myself.  Some of my kids have even handed down clothes to themselves.  How? you ask.  By re-doing an item a bit to make it last longer.  A few years ago when Maddie had grown too tall for a pair of jeans, but  they still fit in the waist.  I bought a roll of thick pink ribbon and stitched it the hem of the pants for an adorable way to lengthen them. 

My favorite (and super easy) alteration, though, has got to be this dress.  Alaine received it as a hand-me-down from an older cousin.  She wore it through the summer with its original ornamentation: a pretty hot pink fabric rose. 

By summer's end, the rose was droopy, but instead of sending the dress off to the rag bag, I snipped the threads and removed the flower.  There was a slight pink stain where the dye had rubbed off, but this bright orange button (from my button jar) and this bronze-colored leaf (from a candle I had purchased) covered the mark. 

She wore her new look over and over and over throughout the fall.  In fact, when looking back through my photos of the past few months, it is almost embarrassing how many time I dressed her in it, but it was lightweight for warm days (of which we had many), yet still cozy with tights and a sweater. 

Alas, on Thanksgiving night when I put the dress in the laundry, I snipped off the reminders of fall and  the next day I stitched on a red felt flower with a silver bead, creating a bit of casual Christmas attire.  Of course, any girl knows that if you are going to wear the same item of clothing over and over, you need to mix it up a bit so this time she paired it with a light shirt and jeans.  (The hair band lasted less than 30 seconds.)

The questions is: do we re-create it come January or finally let it go?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Giveaway

Updated: According to Random.org, the winner is Commenter #3, Kati

I am one of those ~crazies~ who goes shopping on Black Friday weekend.  It's funny because I'm not really a big shopper, but Brian and I have made it a tradition to go out for a fun, no-pressure shopping trip in the days following Thanksgiving.  We get babysitters (my mom and sisters) and enjoy an afternoon of browsing amongst the crowds.  We shopped so hard that I have sore muscles this year from all the walking.  The past two years I have quite by accident found myself among the online shoppers of Cyber Monday, too. Craziness, I tell you.

Whether you are online shopping or simply catching up on blog reading after the long holiday weekend, why don't you take a moment to sign up to win this fabric rosette necklace?  It could save you from buying a gift or you could squirrel it away under the tree for yourself. 

There are three ways to earn an entry.  You may do one or two or all!
  • Earn 1 entry by leaving a comment {about anything!}.
  • Earn 1 entry by blogging about this giveaway. {Don't forget to leave a separate comment with the link to your post or it won't count.}
  • Earn 1 entry by sharing this contest with your Facebook or Twitter friends. {Again, be sure to leave a separate comment letting me know you did so.}
If there are at least 50 comments, I'll also give away this cute little bracelet.  It adds a bit of holiday pizazz to even the most basic of outfits.  

The giveaway runs from now until Wednesday, November 30 at 12 noon EST

(I'll announce the winner on this post by Thursday.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Tom

It's not too late to gather the clan to make your family turkey today!

Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do you know it's been nine months since I've hosted a giveaway? 
What better time than the Christmas season to give something away?

Come back early next week for my
Cyber Monday Giveaway!

 It will be short and sweet, only running until Wednesday at noon. 

Here's a hint:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crinkle, Crackle

This week is like a big sandwich cookie (or a pumpkin whoopie pie, perhaps).  Between our Saturday Thanksgiving celebration and our big Thursday get-together, came the creamy, filling center--

a day of soup,  leftover pie, roasted marshmallows, raking, and leaf pile jumping! 

It doesn't get more "autumn" than this!

{To see a few more photos of our day, visit my mom here.}

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our First Thanksgiving

On Thursday we'll have our traditional Thanksgiving meal with the turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and Jello.  But you know the saying that goes, "Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first?"  We did that this weekend as Brian's family gathered at our house for a big Thanksgiving dessert party. Brian's mom plus his older sister, Amy, with her family and his older brother, Mark, with his family-- 19 of us in all--came together to eat and laugh and play and read.  Read?  Yes, read.  (More about that later.)  Apparently we were this weekend's "it" party because even Batman made an appearance.

For some, the food made the night.  It was a little hard to resist a big plate of chocolate chip cookies at eye level. 

I guess the food was a highlight, though.  With everyone contributing, we had quite the sugar feast.  There was pumpkin pie, 2 different varieties of chocolate pie, molasses cookies, chocolate chip cookies, caramel candies, cranberry upside down cake, gingerbread cake cookies (an old family recipe), coffee, and cold drinks.  It was enough to make your sweet tooth ache. 

After eating, the cousins congregated in Maddie's bedroom for the grand wedding of Barbie and Ken.  They were married in a ballroom and shared their big day with Puss-in-Boots and Kitty Softpaws...and since the boys and girls were playing together, the wedding got exciting when a few Nerf shots were fired off.  (The girls didn't necessarily think 'exciting' was the correct word to describe it.) 

Meanwhile the adults talked and sipped coffee and broke up a few kid squabbles, but mostly talked-- about work and movies and Christmas shopping and holiday plans and wisdom teeth and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition  and Survivor

Aunt Amy made friends with Alaine by agreeing to read her a stack of books.  Alaine is friends with anyone who will read to her.

Before everyone went home to tuck the little ones into bed, we snapped a little-bit-tired, little-bit-goofy, little-bit-grumpy, little-bit-happy photo of the cousins. 

This is what memories are made of.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Brother

totally unprompted {and totally candid}, 
but totally noticed by this mama.

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

Linking to...


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Story {Part 4}

{Part 1}

{Part 2}

After the early days of life with three little ones, motherhood became easier.  My fourth pregnancy was easier, too.  Though I still had morning sickness (I always get morning and all-day sickness.), it didn't last as long and it wasn't as severe.  It was in the first trimester of this pregnancy that I began bloggingBenjamin was born eight days before his due date...and we became a family of six

Six people in a townhouse can get to feeling a little cramped so we began to tentatively, hesitantly look for a home to buy.  It was a leap of faith because we knew the Lord's hand was on us, but we didn't know if we were financially ready to handle the expenses.  I held back, but Brian said we needed to take the plunge.  We looked and looked and came up dry.  We made an offer on a house and someone outbid us.  We prepared to make an offer on another house and someone beat us to it.  We became discouraged and wondered if there would ever be a house out there for us.

Then we found out we were expecting number five.  Though we were not preventing pregnancy, this one took me by surprise.  I did not feel ready to have another baby.  Benjamin was only fifteen months old, still a baby himself, and we were still living in our rental. 

In August of 2010, I turned 30.  We had been home searching for fifteen months...and learning to bloom where we were planted.  Apparently God was planting us deep within the walls of our townhouse because there were no prospects on the horizon.  Alaine was due in less than a month when we finally surrendered our plans and contented ourselves with making the townhouse work-- arranging the kids' bedroom for Benjamin to move in with them and making space for the coming babe to share our room.  Three days later, Alaine surprised us by arriving three weeks early

It was a year ago this month that we first walked into our home.  We passed through its door on a sunny Friday morning and fell in love.  We made an offer and a counter-offer, and just when we thought things were working out for us, the seller decided not to sell and took the house off the market a few days after Thanksgiving.  In a whirlwind of events, she relisted the house again in the winter, we bought it, and we moved at the end of April this year, two years after our home-searching journey began.  Though we were ready to stretch our wings and get some elbow room, it was a little emotional packing up the house we had shared for six years and brought three more children home to live in. 

This summer we celebrated our tenth anniversary.  We reminisced about our years together.  We thought back to the people we were on our wedding day and wondered what those people would have thought if they had realized that ten years later, they would have lived in three different houses, changed careers, and become the parents of five children.

As a little girl, my dream was to be a wife, a mother, a teacher, a nurse.  Today, I'm living my dream. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tri-Moms: The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving has crept up on me.  I guess it was partly the weather since it was still close to eighty degrees far into October.  Perhaps I was so overly absorbed with getting through the 31 Days of October that I forgot to remember that November was coming up next.  Or maybe it always happens this way, and just when I slow down from the summer, the busy-ness of the holidays arrives. 
Whatever the reason, it was November 4th before I realized that we hadn't begun our yearly tradition of sharing thankful thoughts around our dinner table.  Usually we are so anxious to start that we begin in October and no one wants it to end so we continue into December.  Last year added the challenge that no one could repeat what another person had said that same day and that you could not repeat your own things from day to day.  For example, if Gavin said he was thankful for sunshine, Maddie couldn't repeat that (though she could say that tomorrow) and Gavin couldn't say that any day for the rest of the month.  It was a way for all of us to look beyond the obvious and dig deep into what we were thankful for. 

It was well into the first week of November, too, before I dug out our Thanksgiving books.  I'll admit, as much as I love books, it is hard to find a Thanksgiving-themed book that grabs me.  When it comes to Christmas books, I could go on for paragraphs, but my Thanksgiving list is shorter. 

Our very, very favorite is Over the River and Through the Wood, a book my mom gifted us several years ago. My kids are huge Peanuts fans so they already recognized the song from the Thanksgiving special.  Even Alaine (14 months) has been able to  enjoy reading and re-reading this classic book-song this year. 

We also enjoy Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebrationby Julie Stiegmeyer.  I like that it is a well-written story that shares a little of the Pilgrims' journey yet shares Who they were giving thanks to on that first Thanksgiving.  So many books leave out that important element!  

Most of our Thanksgiving reads come from the library.  Last year, we read Molly's Pilgrimby Barbara Cohen for the first time at Kathi's urging.  It was a wonderfully different look at Thanksgiving and not at all what I was expecting.  It is oh-so-short and worth a few minutes of reading time.  This year we also stumbled on the cute and (mostly) true tale of  Tad Lincoln in Thanksgiving in the White Houseby Gary Hines which was fascinating to me and the three oldest, but a few too many words for Benjamin and Alaine. Thanksgiving Mice!by Bethany Roberts was more their speed and, despite being written for toddlers and young children, has a surprising amount of message fitted between its pages. 

Could you help me add to our list?  Do you have any Thanksgiving book suggestions? 

It is too easy to get caught up in the superficial at Thanksgiving-- focusing on the scrumptious meal and the cute little turkey decorations and the parade...and did I mention the food?  (It is by far my most favorite meal of the year!)   It can take a bit of effort to slow down long enough to turn our eyes upwards and remember the Giver of all good things, but without Him, there would be nothing to celebrate at all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas Picture-ing

Today we attempted to take our family Christmas photo.  I say attempted because it is close to impossible to get seven people, five of whom are children, to look at the camera at the same instant... and smile...and not blink.

My sister, Kati, was our photographer and she has the patience of Job.  First Alaine was too shy to look at the camera and then Ben needed to leave to use the bathroom...and that was within the first five minutes.
Though it was warmer today than past Christmas photo days, it was breezy and the gusts were unpredictable. 

My youngest sister, Bekah, agreed to be photographer's assistant.  Her job was to do funny things to amuse the kids and get them to smile naturally.  She gets a prize for that! Her method of operation was to find unusual objects to place behind Kati's head.  First it was the droopy twigs that looked like antennae and then it was the large branch that turned Kati into a moose.  It ended with a prickly pine-cone that morphed Kati into a hedgehog or a porcupine-- it couldn't be agreed upon.  Bekah's method worked and instead of painted on smiles, we got loads of genuine giggles  so much so that the silliness oozed into the photos. 


It turns out that after weeding through the sour faces and the closed eyes and the turned heads and the talking lips, we have three equally great photos that we can't decide between.  Choices, choices, choices.

{Oh, and notice Brian didn't make the bloopers?  Apparently he has a talent for not looking goofy in pictures.} 

I'm a little weird about "revealing" our Christmas photo before I send it out in December {~kind of ruins the surprise~} so if you want to see our final pick, send me a quick e-mail and I'll add you to my e-mail list when I send our Christmas letter out next month. 

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