Friday, December 30, 2011

2011

So, since my laptop quit (monitor), I haven't been able to post from Craig's laptop. Then I thought, I'll try scheduling it to post and see what happens.

Our Christmas was lovely, thank you for asking. It was bookened by some of us being sick, my son on Christmas Eve and my husband and I the day after Christmas. In between we managed to remember the precious Baby in a manger, the promise of life for the whole world.

2011 was a good year; nothing outstanding, nothing awful. Average but lovely in its averageness. I feel like (by God's grace and strength) I became more purposeful in my parenting, more forgiving of my mistakes, less critical of others, and more disciplined in my routine. Even in tiny increments, those are big steps for me.

I'd like to make some kind of list of highlights from the year but am moderately discouraged by the thought that this might not post . . . also trying to thing right now is daunting. Hmmmm . . .winter, spring, summer, fall. The year cycles by so fast; the days lengthen and shorten and goodnight kisses are given before it seems possible another day has passed.

God is faithful. If there's any theme I see as I look back over the year, it's that our loving Father, God, is faithful.

And will continue to be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shortest Day of the Year

I like Christmas songs that talk about Jesus as the light. Barlow Girl "Hallelujah, Light Has Come;" The Martins "Light of the World;" Point of Grace "Let there be Light."
Part of the wonder celebrating Christmas, for me, is that we pause at this time of year, when the world is cold and dark and turned from the sun, to remember and rejoice that God sent His Son, the Light, as the greatest gift. We don't know when Jesus was born to celebrate His actual birth day, but I love how celebrating now represents why He came. To bring light and rescue us from our sins.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Remember when we went to Abe & Louie's?
'course not. I didn't tell you about it.
It's in Boston. We went there after we saw Blue Man Group in the spring.
Great night.
Abe & Louie's serves a Lobster Mac & Cheese. Craig found a recipe online and made it for me tonight.
It was fantastic.
Because of computer problems I can't link anything. So let your fingers do the googling . . . Lobster Mac & Cheese on Food.com.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Real Life

I've been focusing on actual life lately and not the version of my life that I would like to have presented here or on facebook. It's amazing how much more laundry gets put away, dishes moved out of the sink into the dishwasher and then back into cupboards, and patience I have with my children telling me random anecdotes.

Here's a winner: Kate told us there's a girl at her school who has a ipod4. This thing can talk . . . and walk. If she needs a pencil, she tells the ipod and it gets the pencil for her.

I do have a bunch* of pictures to post, of all the pinterest/stumble** inspired stuff I did . . . and the hilarious collapse of our gingerbread house (you may have seen it on FB already).

* by "bunch" I mean 3 or 4.

** I still like Stumble. Because you get to see the whole website. There's some good reads out there . . . and some lame ones. Also I can't install the 'pin' button so I can't pin the stuff I find on Stumble. Sometimes I have them both open at the same time because the computer loads so slowly and I have a very short attention span.

Overall I cannot believe that Christmas is 9 days away. I have my South Carolina presents wrapped and in a box to go but nothing else wrapped. And not even everything bought. I want to do a bunch of baking . . . so little to do, so much time, right?

Maybe I'll stumble for awhile, just in case there's a craft I haven't seen yet that I can squeeze in before Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reality, Kindergarten Style

Sweet Baby K was telling me the difference between fiction and non-fiction, something she learned at school.

Later on, she asked if the Muppets were fiction or non-fiction.

"I think they're fiction," I answered.

"But there are real people in it," she countered.

Since I had kept her home from school because her pinkeye has blossomed from just a little gunk in the corner of her eye to a swollen, red, oozing mess and I could not plausibly plead ignorance of her condition, I thought I should answer her honestly so the day could be slightly educational. I tried leading her to the right answer without telling her directly.

"The Muppets are puppets," I said, hoping I wasn't destroying her childlike belief in magic.

She gleefully exclaimed, "Then they're REAL!"

Childlike wonder win.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It started with these ruffle trees. How cute, right? So I bookmarked it and stashed it away in my mind to make this year. Then I saw this variation on the Craft Catwalk and thought how much easier that would be.

So in between printing Lego party stuff and sanding another project, I did this one afternoon:



I used my 1.5" circle punch on this graphic from the Graphics Fairy (also a Craft Catwalk find, I think). I used 4 for this but had to print 5 since apparently Kate needed one. I used my glue gun to attach them and sort of arranged them in a random pattern, overlapping to cover the styrofoam. I sealed it with glossy modge podge and sprinkled on some glitter. I finished it with some hemp from Close to my Heart and two little rusticy bells that I've had forever.


The wooden topper and stand came from the wood stuff aisle at AC Moore. I spray-painted them black and since that's flat, I did a coat of glossy sealer. I just hot glued those on and could not BELIEVE how great it looked. I am just thrilled it turned out great with such little effort. I was all I love it when a craft comes together and since I thought that was so clever I put it as my FB status.


Since I was high on success, I made a ruffly one. This one was a little more work (it's hard to ruffle burlap and I don't have a fancy ruffler foot [doesn't that thing look cool?] like Shanty 2 Chic has); I kept having to yank ruffles off the melted styrfoam to re-arrange the layers AND the hot glue was messing up my manicure. But I LOVE how it turned out:




I was pulling one of the threads in the burlap to make a straight line to cut (saw this idea online but don't have the link) and realized it was ruffling as I pulled so I ran it through the machine and straightened the edges. I got the muslin in the remnant bin a JoAnne's and frayed the edges of that, too. I ruffled that the old-fashioned way, by doing a running stitch and then pulling the bobbin thread. Same topper and "trunk" as the other but painted off-white (with really old trim paint).


That fully awesome advent calendar came from Country Treasures in Maine and I have to say I've been wanting something like that for longer than I can remember, but everything was either wildly expensive (I'm looking at you, Pottery Barn) or gaudy or cheesy or just not right. But that one? Perfect. I put the bow on it and like some of my mother-in-law's friends suggested, I could use it for more than Christmas by switching out the bow. It's a teeny bit sparkly and perfect.


So what are you waiting for? Go grab some styrofoam cones (I got mine at AC Moore but I later I saw some at the dollar store) and make your own.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sam's Lego Party



Seriously, I wasn't going to plan and host another party here, ever, after the Halloween Party. Did I mention there were 17 kids here? It was a lot of work, and fun, but I thought I'd need a year or two to recover.

Craig and I were discussing options for Sam's birthday and Sam said he wanted a Lego party. We'd done one two years ago, with the kit from the store, but I thought we could make this one more of a games and free-build party.

I looked all over the web (and Pinterest) for ideas. I started with Birthday Party Ideas but the party at Delia Creates was where I got most of my ideas. I didn't do a lot; these two parties are amazing to me, how thorough they are with their design concepts, but I really wanted to stick to primary Lego colors.



I'm not sure exactly where I saw this idea, it's gotta be one of those links above:



I filled this jar with two little "City" Lego sets (minus the three pieces that were too big for the jar) and the guests guessed how many; the closest won the legos (and the instructions to build!).


I saw these somewhere, too; maybe pinned on Pinterest. There were a few things I saw that I could recreate without following the link. I just used my 1.5" circle punch and glued "studs" on the bags. (That punch got quite a workout last week, as you'll see in a later post). (The "8" on the baseplate pictured at the top of the post was a Pinterest idea, too.)









I was really determined to have a banner, and even after hanging red, blue, yellow, and green crepe paper all over, I still felt the need to use all the stuff I printed and cut out to make one. I found the Lego brick paper printable here (cut into 2x4 bricks) and the heads . . . not sure. (OK, I've looked and looked. It's a pdf I downloaded, called "Lego straw" and the idea was you could make a slit in their mouths and slide them on a straw. I suspect I found it on the Brickipedia photo gallery . . . guess how many images are there. Go ahead, guess. Wrong. 42,041. That's a lot of images to search.)







The party was after school on a Friday, so when the kids got here, I had a bunch of snacks for them. We invited 6 kids and four ended up coming . . . it was the perfect number (primarily because it's distance from 17). All his good buddies. I did wrap a few juice boxes to look like bricks, but didn't think all the kids would want juice. The wrap threw them off . . . "can we drink this?"




We ended up not using some of the games I planned because the kids were playing so well without structure or intervention. They played Mario and Cars . . .





(blurry pic of kids in Sam's room with Mario figures) and later transitioned to Jedi light saber battles.



We did two organized things:



I printed big ol' minifig heads (again with the not bookmarking where I got this. Blogger FAIL.) I erased the features (leaving a weird yellow blotch on the side where it was shaded) and had the kids draw themselves.





Then they cut them out and played "pin the head on the minifigure." This minifigure image came from one of the coaches at our school's Lego League that Craig enlarged 400% and I colored.



My first idea was for these heads to be masks they held up with paint stirrers but the day I was at Lowe's there were none on the counter and no one around to ask for 6 paint stirrers. So I said, "Cut out eyes when you get home and have a mask," and then somoene taped his head on his face so they all (minus one) did it and I took their picture:




They played some more, then had pizza and cake.






Variations of this Lego cake are all over the interwebs. I made Nigella Lawson's Buttermilk Birthday Cake (oh my word) and some Almost Homemade Buttercream (My computer freezes when I go to CL so you'll have to google it yourself. It uses fluff.) from Country Living. It is literally too much. Like, fall out of your face. I made a double batch of the cake so I would have some cupcakes for the studs.


Blue smiles all around.


In the favor bags were a little bag of corresponding color M&Ms, a minifigure, a cake pop (I made them for Sam to take to school; "we can make them look like something," he said, but there was not enough time for that), and a Lego magazine. When I was the Lego store getting the box of 650 bricks (it is HARD to find straight up Lego bricks, everything's a set now), the guy gave Kate a magazine so I asked for 7 more and that was in there, too.


It was so fun and low-key, the cake was yummy, and Sam had a good time with his friends. The recovery from this party should be much shorter . . .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eight




He's eight.


My baby boy is eight.





I really don't know how this is possible . . . it seems like "just yesterday."






He's funny, smart, athletic, artistic, kind, thoughful, and affectionate.


I just don't know where the time went.


Love you, little man.