Happy Birthday Michael

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mikenmeg.jpgWell it is my wonderful husband’s birthday and I have spent all day trying to decide how to write a post for him without getting too mushy. Well, needless to say, it probably is a lost cause! I decided to give into the mushy-ness. So here are the top 10 things I love about Mike (in no particular order):

1. Let’s just get it out of the way right now: He is good lookin’! After 10 years together, he is still as studly as that first time I saw him walk into the cosmetics department to pick me up for our first date. (Which was actually on his birthday in 1997.)

2. He is SO smart. I have always been wowed by his mental prowess–from when he would explain class discussion topics (He’s a Mechanical Engineering grad.) to how compile a kernel..the guy is plentiful with the gray stuff!

3. Relatedly, he can figure anything out and therefore can fix anything. It is awe-inspiring and more importantly, very VERY useful!

4. He is a very cute Daddy! As soon as he gets home, the girls flock to him. And I can’t blame them, there is nothing as fun as being with daddy.

5. He really takes care of us. I know it is a high priority for him to keep us taken care of in all senses, which is no small job.

6. When he gets excited about things, he gets this cute little boy look on his face.

7. He can tie a lot of cool knots (Scoutmaster extraordinaire–which is also impressive, but for different reasons.)

8. He’s athletic (which I envy) and very muscley, which I highly enjoy.

9. He is passionate about the things he chooses to do. I love to hear him talk about whatever new project he is undertaking; from an affiliate site (my husband can talk shoes better than me!) to photography…or more recently, Facebook apps (wink).

10. He is a really good person. In all aspects of his life, he demands the best from himself. Spiritually, he always strives to be the very best he can. At work (or when working on something), he gives every project 100% when others might cut a few corners. Even in his pictures (he is a great photographer), he looks for the perfect light, crisp images, good subject balance…etc.

Okay, it is not easy, but I am stopping here. I know he will already be embarrassed and you guys have been patient enough with me; so let me just say: Happy Birthday, honey. I love you and feel very lucky to be your wife!

witch’s broom bags

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witch’s broom bagsI am lame. We all have colds and I am rushing to get things ready for a boutique that I was asked to join at the last minute. (Yes, I am incapable of saying no.) Anyhow, we went to a great Halloween party at Stephanie Bletzacker’s on Wednesday. It was done with her usual style and everything was so cute. The kids were my favorite, of course; but in close second were these darling witch’s broom bags. Stephanie said that they aren’t hard to make, but possibly a little time consuming.

Materials: (per bag)

2 paper lunch bags

1 twig (about 12″ long)

yarn or string

scissors

treats to fill the bag.

Directions:

1. Cut one of the paper bags into a fringe (about1/2″ wide and down to about 3/4″ from the bottom.

2. Open the bag and place the other (uncut bag) inside; fill with treats.a table full of fun

3. Pull the fringe up and squeeze the 2 bags closed. Stick the twig in and hold all of it together with one hand while you wrap the string around several times, then tie it off.the cute kids

megan and belaone cute cowboyCute little MiaAbe as Robin

We are HOME!

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Well, we are home and strangely, I feel as though we were out of town and not just over a mile away. So now I am trying to get my house back in order (how did it get to be such a mess?) and trying to catch up on the various things I let slip. First on that list: Halloween costumes. Tomorrow is the girl’s first Halloween party and we are not outfitted yet. Other than the fact that it is super crazy, I guess is the fact that it is super boring to write about. (I can only imagine how bored you are.) I think I could use a get-away day. You could use a project: at least one of us will get what we need tomorrow. ;-D

In the meantime, let me share a creative site for making your walls a little more exciting. Scroll down a little to see the Sticky Weed stencil which they did on the wall and over onto a little cabinet. You can buy stencils from them, I think I might have to do something to make my living room walls a little more exciting…this is the site to check for it!

spooky halloween decorations

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a close-up of the ghostsHooray! Halloween is here and I am so ready to get spooky! I noticed some adorable luminary ghosts in this issue of Family Fun made out of milk cartons. Unfortunately, we do not get many visitors traipsing up our front walk. So I took the basic idea and made a goulish garland for our front porch. Beside being great looking, it is cheap and easy and made from recycled milk cartons.

My goulish garland

Materials:

This depends highly on how long you want the garland to be.

Milk jugs (rinsed and without caps and labels)

Black tulle (I used about 7 yards)more ghosts

Yarn or string

Black permanent marker or paint

Utility knife and/or scissors

Directions:

1. Cut an X in the bottom of a milk jug then use scissors to make jagged Vs up past the curve of the bottom to the side.

2. Bend the Vs out so that they are pointing out, down and in.

3. Draw the faces. I liked the simple ones best (with small “dot” type eyes…but see what works for you.)

4. Tie string through the handles to create a garland. (Take your long line through the handle and knot it, then through to the next.) It is best to leave some space in between them, about 6-8 inches.

5. Cut the tulle into strips. (It is fine for them to be jagged, just roll or bunch it up (so the short side is rolled and cut.) Knot the strips on the yarn between the jugs.

glue bead on foam letterI also did a Happy Halloween banner by cutting the letters out of fun foam and then laying them out (backwards) and hot gluing them to 2 lines of wire. (It took a little trial and error, but running a bead of hot glue along the wire is the best way I have found to keep the letters on.

i will survive: going from 2 kids to 6

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The title pretty much sums it up. For 9 glorious days (and even more fun nights) we have traded our relatively quiet life with two (okay, not really easy-going girls) for the busy life of my wonderfully organized and put together sister-in law (including her 4 kids.) Between all of the art projects the kids want to do, soccer, dance, piano, and just keeping the house somewhat clean, meals made and kids healthy and happy, I am running–hard. It doesn’t help that Megan is constantly saying “I want to go home. I want to go sleep in my brown bed.”

Okay, I am tired of my own whining. It is actually going as well as I could ask for. My sister-in-law, Kristine has made it as easy as possible (and then some really.) And her kids are wonderful! (The only downside to kids that help out a ton is the oft sung chorus of That’s not how my Mom does it.) Anyway, this is my long-winded way of saying that I am tired..but I will get back on it soon. Something to look forward to: More spooky Halloween decorations that you can make with your kids…no later than Thursday. In the meantime, let’s hope I keep it together.

spooky spider webs

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The finished spider webWe are spending a fabulous 9 days with our 4 nieces and nephews while their parents (along with Mike’s younger brother and his parents) take an even more fabulous Mediterranean cruise. Morgan, their oldest daughter is one seriously crafty girl! We have been having a ball. Today we made these spider webs. They are easy to do and are great for kids over 5.

Materials:

3 black pipe cleaners (per spider web)

black yarn

spider materials (see below)

Directions:

1. Hold the 3 pipe cleaners in a bundle and twist them (all together) in the middle. (See image below)

2. (They should now be intertwined.) Arrange the legs to create the spokes of the web.

3. Cut a length of yarn about 1 1/2 feet long and tie the end to the tip of one of the spokes.

4. Working around the circle, move from spoke to spoke, wrapping the yarn tightly around each pipe cleaner you pass.

5. You can also connect lines of the web by tying the line onto the middle of another line of yarn.

6. Knot it at the center when you have gone around until as many times as you like and leave a length for the spider to dangle on, if desired.Step 1

Some spider options:

1. A store-bought spider works great. You can wrap yarn around its legs to attach it.

2. A body cut out of felt or paper would also be good. Fold the paper (or felt) in half and cut 2 body shapes. Then use 4 pipe cleaners sandwiched between for the legs.

3. You can also make a spider from a large and medium (or medium and small) pom-poms glued together. Googley eyes are great for either of the handmade options.

4. I made mine with 3 more pieces of pipe cleaner. I cut 4 three-inch lengths and bent them into an M shape Then used the rest to circle around them Ms, holding them together and create a ball shape for the body.

a saturday search for the spiral jetty

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the spiral jettyThis Saturday we packed up a dizzying variety of snacks and toys, picked up the Kramers and headed North to find the “earth art” icon, Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson. I have wanted to see this for a while, but we just haven’t managed to make time for it. As the Great Salt Lake itself (admittedly a quite big lake) is probably only about 20 miles away, I was envisioning an hour or so of driving, a quick hike, pictures and a kid-friendly lunch somewhere exciting like McDonald’s.one backseat full of kids

Well, actually it turned out to be a whole day excursion (but we did end up having that fabulous lunch at McDonald’s–at about 3:45.) Yet, lest you think the longness of the day or lack-luster lunch means that this wasn’t a great experience, you are wrong! The kids had a great time stuffed into the back seat (actually so good that they didn’t fall asleep for naps.) For the adults, really all I need to say is that 8 hours is not too long to spend in a car as long as you have Jon Kramer making you laugh and sharing little known facts about music and (well actually pretty much everything.)

The Jetty itself was intended to be remote. (Think ~15 mi. long dirt road with complicated instructions and virtually no landmarks…after the 75 mile drive to Golden Spike Monument) Here are the trains at the monument, which was actually pretty cool. We didn’t do too much looking around due to the lateness of the day/hunger of passengers

.trains at golden spike monument

The Spiral Jetty was completed in 1970 and is 1500 feel long. The jetty is well set in the salt encrusted landscape. The lake is pink (due to brine shrimp) and has an definite ethereal quality with a saltyMegan and me on the jetty smell and noticeable lack of wildlife. It is just a cool place to see and the gray rainy day added to the melancholy feel of the lake. The New York Times has said that the jetty is “the most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh…” I am glad that we are in the club. ;-D

the coolest blog ever

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We had a great weekend. I got my Halloween decorations up and can’t wait to tell you about the cute ghosts I made as well as our trip to the Spiral Jetty. However, we also split and stacked our firewood supply for this year today and I am exhausted! So all of that will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, may I share with you the jewel of a blog I stumbled onto this weekend. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard over so many things. (It actually caused Mike to look up from his laptop and say “What are you reading?”) I was also super impressed with how well thought out and put together it is. Anyone who has done this will appreciate how much time it takes to put in so many links and images. (And dorks like me appreciate actually producing very funny blogs so often…*sigh*) Anyway, that’s enough gushing, you can just take a look at Cheeky’s Hideaway for yourself.

good news/bad news

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meg asleepAlright, since I am that kind of girl, we will start with the good. My cute friend Amy turned me onto this tasty new blog, The Glutton…which I am loving! I can’t wait to make the Wild Rice Chicken Salad and I think I will make the Tomato Basil Tart for dinner tomorrow night (I am not sure that it goes perfectly with the already slated butternut squash soup, but they are both 2 very good things.) You have to take a look at it–does life get any better than food blogging?

Now for the bad news. I am rapidly slipping into desperation over Megan’s lack of sleeping skills. So here is the question for all of you good moms out there: How do you get two toddlers to go to sleep (and hopefully stay asleep) in one bedroom? So far this is how a typical night goes:

8:00 bedtime (Scriptures, prayers, 2 stories, hugs and kisses)

From here it goes one of two ways:

8:20-10:00ish We put Emily in her crib, shut the door and tuck Megan into our bed. She gets out, plays, calls me to help with one thing or another a few times, I end up laying down next to her bed or she does actually go to sleep somewhere in the house. We put her in her bed when we come to bed.

or

8:20-10:00ish We put both girls in their beds and go downstairs, soon the sounds of giggling and merryment float down to us. We make a few stern reprimands and possibly throw in a time out or two for Megan. Finally, we shut the door to let Emily calm down and go to sleep (it takes about 5 minutes tops) then resort to option #1 to get Megan to sleep.

I know this isn’t the night of a good in-control mother. The saddest part is that the getting them into bed isn’t the end. I end up getting up with them a few times (or more) in a night and laying next to Megan on the floor while she falls back to sleep. Needless to say, I am so tired!!! Help me please! I know I am not doing it right, I just don’t know where to go from here.

one cute little birdy

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Front view of birdMegan made this little bird in preschool last Thursday and she has loved it so much that I had to get directions from Miss Shan so that  you can do with it with your little one. She has carried this guy around and carefully placed him in Emily-proof spots when he is not in her arms, admonishing me, “Careful, the birdie is veeery fragile.” It is super simple, but a super big pleaser!
Materials:

Brown lunch bag

Decorative moss (in the floral section of your craft store)

2 cotton balls (colored ones are cute)

googlie eyes

orange construction paper

White school glue (like Elmer’s)

Directions:Side view of bird

1. Roll the bag down so that is makes a nest or bowl shape and fill with the moss.

2.  Fold the construction paper in half  and cut a triangle for the beak.

3. Glue one cotton ball on top of the other.

4. Run a bead of glue along the fold of the beak and glue on.

5. Finish by gluing on eyes and settling the bird in the nest.