Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Calendar **UPDATED**

(More details on the Advent Calendar Below)
Last year I was reading Sarah's blog and was totally inspired to make an advent calendar. It didn't happen last year, but this year, I was determined! My girlfriends and I stayed up late into the wee hours of the morning last night to get these sweet things finished. What do you think?











I just love the way they turned out! I saw the idea for a muffin tin advent calendar somewhere but can't for the life of me remember where. She used a mini muffin tin, but I took two regular-sized tins, drilled holes in the bottom edges, and connected them together with ribbon I had in my craft box. I found the cheapest muffins tins in town at Kroger on sale for under 4 bucks! The scrapbook paper was half-off at Hobby Lobby, and I added a few cute details from old Christmas cards for FREE, so the whole project was well under $10!

I can't wait to fill each one with something fun to get ready for Christmas! Don't tell the kids, but I bought a really cool new Christmas book for them at Cora's book fair the other day, and the little note inside the tin tomorrow will give instructions on where they can find it on the shelf! I love Christmas! This year will be a bit bluer without my sweet Emma. The sparkle isn't nearly as bright as it once was.

So, what's going on at your house to get ready for Christmas?


**Update**
Okay, so here's what we did to make our muffin tin Advent calendar...

~You need 2 12 cup muffin tins, which works perfectly for an Advent calendar, which has 24 days! :) Of course you can use the 24 cup mini tin, but with three kiddos to provide treats for, I needed a bigger cup size. (I just had to giggle with the last sentence. Who couldn't use a bigger, or perkier, cup size? Hee, Hee!)
~Get a box of adhesive magnetic sheet
~

~Cut whatever shapes or designs you would like to cover your muffin cups. We did circles, but you could do squares or whatever.
~Decorate the front of the the paper, adding numbers 1-24.
~Cut strips of the magnetic adhesive and add to the edge of your covers.
~Arrange your numbered papers however you wish on the muffin tin. I put mine in order from 1-24, but my friend suggested it might be fun to scramble them for a little challenge for the kiddos.
~Add treats or notes to the cups.
~Get excited each evening when it's time to reveal the treat of the day. The book was a hit last night! I think tonight's note will suggest we make s'mores indoors.

Spread marshmallow cream on graham crackers with a piece of chocolate...yum! You can also microwave a large marshmallow on a graham cracker for a few seconds, then add the chocolate...yum! Either way is fun and yummy!



Have fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a week!

We had a wonderful week at the deer lease. It was a huge change for us since we are usually in town with family for Thanksgiving, but we decided to take advantage of the week off and head out of town. I made the dressing early and took it with us along with a Cajun smoked turkey and a whole lot more. I even made the apple pie again! It was yummy the second time too!
Apple Upside-Down Pie



Carleigh had the opportunity to hunt with Kelvin this time too. We were so excited for her when they drove up in the Scrambler with this bad boy in the back!


Man, the standard is set high for this little chica! My 8 year old little girl shot her first deer...an 8 point white tail buck!

The marks on Carleigh's face are the result of a long-standing "tradition" which Kelvin convinced me and Carleigh she had to do after harvesting her deer. It's the deer's blood! EEEW!




Luke was chomping at the bit to get his hands on that deer!


We got a play-by-play around the campfire when our friends joined us. The Garretts have a lease a half mile down the road, literally. And our friends, the Bakers came up Thanksgiving evening and joined us for the long weekend. We had a ball!





Sunday, November 21, 2010

What have I forgotten? Updated

I can think of a few times I have promised something on this blog and have yet to follow through, but I can't think of what they are specifically. Can you? Is there anything you're dying to know or see that I have forgotten to tell or share photos of? With the exception, of course, of the roadside treasure I found. I haven't had the chance to do what I want to with it, so you'll jut have to wait on that one. But I don't want to be a tease, so please, do tell...

It's Sunday morning. We had a great evening last night around the fire pit with marshmallows and good friends. Yesterday afternoon we went to a birthday pool party in November! One of the rec centers in our area has an indoor pool, and the kids had a ball splishin and splashin in the water on a cool fall day! Fun stuff!

Hope to get some things squared away around our house this afternoon. Getting the Christmas decorating itch! Looking forward to getting everything out after Thanksgiving!

***Updated****

Thanks for the reminder, Lesley! Below are some not-so-lovely pics of my kitchen, post paint. I'm not the greatest photographer, so use your imagination. They are so much better than they were. We got new granite counter tops and had the cabinets painted and glazed. We also had laminate flooring installed throughout the entire bottom floor of the house...the BEST decision we ever made. I'm lovin' these floors. I will always keep the box so we can use these floors again should we ever find ourselves in a different house!

Before




After


Friday, November 19, 2010

Garment of praise


He (the Lord, the One true God) wants...
To console those who mourn in Zion (or Texas, Ohio, France, New Zealand, Sweden, you get the point)
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3


I needed that today. It came from InCourage which you can find on the right sidebar on our blog. The nurse at school called yesterday to say I needed to come get Luke. He was running fever and had a really yucky throat! UHG! So, I went to get him and made an appointment for the pedi. We made a quick run to the grocery store to get some soup for him, and the poor little guy puked in the parking lot on the way into the store. He's such a little trooper. We got the soup and made it home without any more excitement. The doc said the strep test came back positive, so he's home with Cora and me today, and we're nursing him back to sweet goodness! Thank God for Amoxicillin! He felt really pretty awful yesterday and spent most of the time on the couch like this...

(photo was actually taken this morning after Luke had taken two doses of medicine
and found his smile again.)


But today we're looking more like this...


Hope you have a great Friday!



Monday, November 15, 2010

We're a buncha weinies!



I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner,
That is what I truly want to be,
Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner,
Everyone would be in love with me!

My bologna has a first name,
It's O-S-C-A-R,
My bologna has a second name,
It's M-A-Y-E-R,
Oh, I love to eat it every day,
And if you ask me why I'll say,
Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with
B-O-L-O-G-N-A!!


Takes you back doesn't it? We were at a hot air balloon fest at NASA and had the opportunity to take our photo with the famous weinie car! When the opportunity arises, well, you know. So, our little family is a bit bigger now. The little bundle in my sling peeking out was Emma.


"OH MY GOSH! That's the biggest weiner I've ever seen in my whole life!"
said the little boy with sheer amazement named Luke.




Aren't they the cutest things!?! I can't believe how much they've grown.
I wish I could go back.




Like father, like son. Man, I love those two guys!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Domestic Diva

Today was our former small group's Thanksgiving Dinner, and they invited us to join them. Everyone brings something yummy, and I did a little searchin' and came up with this delectable delight!

Apple Upside-Down Pie



If you click on the title it will take you to the Southern Living recipe. You'll notice my photo and their photo look slightly different. I think I should have crimped the crust tighter and scraped the edges to fit the pie plate. I was tickled pink with myself for baking this beauty though! I'm not normally one to enjoy baking. I would rather whip up some crawfish étouffée or tortilla soup, but this just sounded gooood, and boy, was it! "Make-you-slap-yo-mama good," as the Cajuns will tell ya! I also made some fresh cranberry sauce. It usually turns out really good, and the kids love it, but not so much this time. I tried using orange juice instead of sugar, and the kids and I were making some serious bitter-beer faces upon tasting before the dinner. (Please tell me you remember those commercials!)



All this talk about food makes me think about Emma gobbling down whatever was placed in front of her. I'll never forget when her occupational therapist first started visiting and asked if I wanted the nutritionist to come by and evaluate her eating and give me some tips on healthy food choices for Em. I didn't outright decline, but I did say, "I am a pretty big health nut, and Emma eats like a horse." When she stayed to watch Emma eat lunch one day she was blown away by the amount of food that little girl could consume! She loved to eat. I miss her sitting at the table in the high chair shoving food in her mouth as fast as I could give it to her.

Last night Carleigh and I pulled out her sewing machine she received for Christmas last year. It's a really nice one! We (even Luke) practiced making stitches on her scrap fabric, and then I decided to try my hand at making a pillow. I did it! It was sew easy! (snicker, wink!) I bought some beautiful red fabric at Hobby Lobby the other day (50% off!) with the intention of Carleigh and I making a Christmas pillow for our sofa. I'm glad to know they are so easy to make! I'll be sure to take some pictures to share with you! Carleigh and I (heavy on the I) are totally stoked about the endless possibilities that lie ahead for that sewing machine! I see a cutie patootie Christmas skirt in her future...

I finally did it!

My husband is so proud! You see, he is a garage saler, dumpster diver, pull-over-on-the-side-of-the freeway-to-get-something-you-think-is-worth-dying-for kind of man. Me, not so much. I have never been one for garage/yard sales, I hate places I have to dig through stuff to find what I want (Ross or Marshalls), and I would rather do just about anything other than pulling over on a freeway, or better yet, exiting the freeway and making a huge, out-of-the-way U-turn, to check out something I saw on the shoulder. That is until I started checking out all of the awesome decorating blogs and discovering that they are finding some incredible "junk" on the side of the road and various other places. I have been frequenting our town's new Goodwill store to find some of the best stuff! I can't believe it. The other day, they had a totally to-die-for goldish velvet sofa. I know it sounds hideous, but it really wasn't. Velvet is probably not the right word for the material. It was soft and pretty. It was so warm and inviting looking. I would've bought it right then and there had it been a love seat, since I am in the market for one. I'm pretty sure it was marked under $50! UNBELIEVABLE! That baby didn't last long. It was gone the next time I went in there a couple of days later. Last week, I made my husband so proud. I actually pulled over, stopped the car, and got out to get something someone left for the Waste Management guys to pick up!! I'm gonna make you wait to see what it was so I can take some before and after photos, but I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it was in the trash. I'll be very disappointed if said item doesn't work, but my man doesn't see why it wouldn't! (grin) I'm so proud of myself! I can't wait to see if it works, and what it will look like after I spray paint it.

We moved into this house when I was just about 8 months pregnant with Emma. With all that has occurred since our move, I haven't been able to settle in like I would have liked. So now that things are starting to settle down somewhat (everything is relative), I have been itching to get the house more in line with our family's needs. I rearranged my den the other night. Kelvin just shook his head when I started the project at 10:30 p.m. I saw him kind of chuckle at one point, and I knew he was up to something, but he wouldn't admit it. The next day I knew what happened when I saw his post on Facebook about not understanding the female mentality. Thankfully, most of his comments were in my favor! :) I plan on reclaiming possession of my formal dining room in the extreme near future, and making the breakfast nook where we currently eat into more of a lounging area with a love seat or two chairs and a coffee table where the kids can spread out and do homework or we can sit and read the paper the laptop, a magazine or book and enjoy our coffee, hot tea or hot cocoa. The space is just too cramped now with our bar stools and table and chairs, especially since we're adding another little body to the table now. I'm also going to get rid of at least some of the doors in the back entry/laundry/half bathroom. It was definitely a man who designed that space with all of those doors. He was surely not thinking of how irritating it would be to open one door, close said door so you could open another door to go to the bathroom, and then do it all over again! It. makes. me. crazy! So, I want to replace the current doors with something like this...





...which will match the doors going from the kitchen to the dining room.

I hope I'm not boring you. I'm just excited about focusing on a project or two. Sometimes the whole home decor thing seems a tad bit frivolous to me, especially in light of our past couple of years of loss. But somehow, God seems to be using the decorating blogs I've found lately to bring a newness, a hope that there may still be a silver lining behind every dark cloud. I know it sounds pretty goofy, but I guess the new found excitement for decorating and crafting is taking my mind off the continual grief and almost suck-the-air-right-out-of-me pain. The past week or so we have been trying to pick out a design for Emma's cemetery marker. Things like these seem to set me back a few steps. There is nothing I like about the cemetery...not yet. It is not peaceful for me. It only makes me cry. I got angry when I went out on Tuesday afternoon to put out some new flowers for Lori since the next day, November 10, marked the 11th anniversary since she was taken from us. I was under the mistaken impression that our family owned the spaces surrounding Emma. The person in front and slightly to the side has friends who must have thought it would be a good idea to smoke a few cigars and leave the butts on his marker spot. I didn't think it was very appropriate or polite. I understand everyone grieves in their own way, but really, clean up after yourself! UGH!! The dumbest things irritate me, I know. I am a "less is more" kind of girl, but the people next to our family at the cemetery are of the "more is more and crazy tacky" mentality. Not only do they have a ginormous high back bench, they have the gaudiest flowers attached to the top of it! Have mercy! I hope I have not offended anyone with my ranting. It feels good to vent.

Today Carleigh and I went to my friend's baby shower for the little girl they are adopting from China. Her name is Libbie Lin, and she is precious. Her birthday is next month, and they were hoping to get to bring her to her home to her forever family then, but the travel window they've been given currently is late January to early February. My friend is a little bit disappointed, but knows God't timing is perfect. I'm still praying that if He sees fit He will open the doors for them to go get their sweet little one in December. I was totally excited and proud of myself for thinking of the idea (even at the very last minute) of decorating a cute little canvas bag to put Libbie's gifts in. I think it turned out adorable, if I do say so myself. Of course, my scatter-brain forgot to take a picture of it before we gave it to my friend. Maybe she'll take a picture and I'll be able to share it with you.

Have a wonderful weekend. I would love to hear from you. Your comments are always appreciated. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Night under the stars

We could not have asked for better fall weather this weekend! It was GORGEOUS, I tell you, BE-U-tiful!! Friday night I went to a fundraiser for Batten Disease research. Click here to learn about Will Herndon and all the great work his family and friends are doing to find a cure for Batten Disease. My friend, Aimee and I had a really good time. The event took place literally under the stars at the Lodge and Field at Rob Fleming Park in the Village of Creekside Park in The Woodlands, Texas. Several hundred people showed up for the "Country Chic" event outside in the rather cool temperatures. Translation...I got to wear my new boots and jeans but froze my boot-skootin booty off in the process! It was all for an extremely good cause, though.

Researchers are so close to a cure they can taste it! I am so excited to hear about the progress. And I read more wonderful news today! Click here to read about the good news about the Bluebird Circle and their efforts to fund research for rare diseases such as Batten Disease. I was super excited to think that I will hopefully become one of the members of this fantastic organization in June 2011.

I met some lovely ladies at my table at the event under the stars. Unfortunately, we all have Batten Disease in common. One lady has several (more than three) family members affected by the adult onset of Batten Disease, Kuffs. How devastating! Another lady at my table has a seven year old little boy, Zachary who has juvenile Batten Disease. He was diagnosed a week after her husband died unexpectedly from what they think was a blood clot! What in the world do you say after hearing news like that? My mouth just hung open, and I finally said, "I'm so sorry." I cannot fathom life, especially the past couple of years and now, without Kelvin. He is my rock. He is the one I laugh with, cry with, cling to and love. I almost hyperventilate at the thought of his absence from my life. Please pray for Michelle as she makes her way down the road ahead with Zach. Oh God, give the researchers the means and the knowledge to find a cure quickly for these precious families.

The rest of the weekend was full of birthday party fun for the kids, church, and lounging around the house. So, do tell, what did you do this weekend?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Wish...

I wish I could follow through with all the great decorating ideas for the house I see on other people's blogs. I'm either too tired or lazy most of the time to get things done. I need that money tree to grow in my back yard too. Oh well, slowly but surely.

I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. I wish my hip wouldn't hurt when I do any kind of mileage walking or running.

I wish there was no such thing as Batten Disease.

I wish I didn't have a reason to go to a fundraiser tonight to raise money for research to find a cure for Batten Disease. Don't get me wrong, the fundraiser will be tons of fun, and I will enjoy going. I just wish we didn't have to raise money to fund the research to find a cure. I wish little girls and little boys didn't have to lose their vision, memory, muscle tone, eating function and more because of the dreadful disease called Batten. I wish that cure would come sooner than later so little lives could be restored.

I wish my little girl, Emma, was here today well and disease-free to enjoy the cool weather and her little sister. Cora is so funny and cute, and I know she and Emma would have gotten along like best friends.

I wish my dad, sister and grandmama were well.

I wish we could have beautiful days like today all winter!


I wish I was as organized on the outside of my head as I am on the inside... On the inside of my head, my laundry is always washed, dried and folded before it has time to wrinkle in the laundry basket. My children put away their clothes in an oh-so-neat manner in the correct drawers, or hang them perfectly on their little people hangers in their closets. On the inside of my head, my children have the little hanger cubbies hanging in their closets, and an outfit per day of the week, complete with socks and underwear/panties are in each cubbie.




Of course on the inside of my head, this nifty little organizational trick always takes place without any argument from my kiddos on Sunday afternoon or evening.


I wish little children all over the globe weren't homeless and hungry. I wish our family could meet our Compassion child one day.

I wish I knew Spanish. Well, more than "how are you" and "where's the bathroom."

I wish my friend's heart wasn't broken.

I wish I could take a long, lazy nap every day.

I'll be looking for the first star tonight, how about you?

What do you wish?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Butterflies

Sunday morning we stayed in and ate brunch on the back porch with the kiddos. Carleigh set the table, and it was lovely. After breakfast, Kelvin took some photos of the butterflies flying around our butterfly garden.



I was reminded of the words I penned to our Compassion child just the day before..."butterflies remind us of our little girl. They make us happy." I guess all of these things were going through my subconscious, because I had a wonderful dream, during my Sunday afternoon nap, that Emma was still with us, and my mom and I were with her somewhere. Dreams are weird, at least mine are, and I'm not sure what we were doing or where we were, but she was talking! It was the most beautiful, magical sound I had ever heard. I wish I could have stayed in that place forever listening to her. I wish she were here to enjoy all of the fun festivities. I wonder what she would've dressed up as. Carleigh is a pretty pirate girl, Luke is Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Cora is an adorable little lion. Would she have wanted to be Tinkerbell or one of the Disney princesses? I wonder how long her hair would've been and what her handwriting would've looked like. I wonder what she would've enjoyed doing most in preschool at Weeschool. I wonder if she would love eating okra as much as Cora does. Would she have loved cooking in their play kitchen like Carleigh and Cora and playing games on the computer like Luke? I wish November 1 didn't mark 9 months since Emma let go of this life. I miss her terribly.
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