Friday, December 24, 2010

A Blue Christmas

A blue, blue Christmas.

A beautiful Christmas.

A sparkle.

A shimmer.

A blue Christmas

to share with you!

image from google images (here)

image from google images (here)

image from google images (here)

image from google images (here)

Some Blue Christmas Beautifuls to share with you!

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A few photos

Family photo time again!

We have actually never had a family photo since. . .never? It's true! We've always enlisted the help of Oma or the automatic settings on the camera to take family photos for us. We thought that this year we would try to get some "real" ones done.

A relative of ours, Erin, is starting a photography business, and we asked her to do the honours! She has a facebook page and a website, for anyone interested. It was easy to arrange a time with her(and that is saying a lot when it means scheduling between possible naps and feedings, etc!), her price was great, and we think it all turned out great! (We definitely do not envy any photographer who has to put up with three kids (one being a baby!)--and try get them to take happy, smiling pictures--but we are glad we got some of those wonderful kinds of pictures out of the deal!)

She spent about an hour with us, back in our "backyard" and snapped away. A few weeks later we got the above CDs. We think it is great because we can do whatever we want (get various sizes, add to documents, etc) with the photos now. We had a lot of fun with her and would definitely recommend her to anyone!

So, here are a few of her "masterpieces":

Princess A


Little a

All of us

Some collages I made up/played around with using the photos. . .

A quote from a frame we purchased recently:
"The love of a family is life's greatest blessing."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cards

Each year--especially on my mat. leave years--I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice to have the kids help me make Christmas cards this year?" And for some reason, I never can remember what I felt like after the last time I did it! Because if I remembered how I felt afterwards, I know I would swear never to do it again!

But this was one of those years. . .when I forgot, and was so filled with the happy thoughts of involving my children in such a formative experience (yah, right!).

This first one was easy--making gift tags and candy treats. Punch the corners of old cards, poke a hole, tie some string. My kids can do that, I could handle supervising it all, it was gangs of fun.
And then came time for the cards. . .again, it was wonderful. I printed off some ornament pictures for them to colour. . .little did I know that my son would be so particular about how he coloured and my daughter thought brown would be perfect for EVERYTHING! Oh, how I tried to encourage them. Oh, how I reminded myself that it was their work and they were proud of it. Oh, how I really wanted it done my way!

But I resisted. Cut them all apart, had the kiddos help with the punches, had them help with some stamping, had them help with the mounting, had them help with gluing, had them help with the glitter pens (their favourite part), had them help tie knots and bows. . .had them help teach me LOTS of patience!!!

My side of the story: frustrating! It started out great, but a project like that is bound to get frustrating with a 5 and a 3 year old! And the time and effort that went into it! Phew! I thought they would never get done!

But they all got done, they got put into envelopes, and most are delivered (except for family and some neighbors, which my kids wanted to do).

And. . .I'm glad they are done. . .and deep down, buried under all the frustration and chaotic memories, I think I am glad they were involved. I'm hoping that they will remember this not as a frustrating ordeal, but a way that they can be involved in giving a "gift" to someone. Hopefully one day down the road, they will get what it means to "serve" other people. And hopefully it was just plain fun for them. . .which I think it was, because they keep begging to do more and trying to make some of their own (as I clean up all the messes!!!).

Here they are working away. . .
And here is a random finished project. . .a true labour of love for all of us! Is this the most beautiful card a person will get this Christmas? No, by no means! But a lot of work went into it, and. . .it was fun!
Whether you receive this card or not, we wish you all a very merry, blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I didn't get around to posting my menu plan, which is okay, because I didn't really follow it anyway.

The plan:

Monday-Chicken strips, noodles and beans
We had: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches using left-over chicken made on the stove top and Harvest Potatoes

Tuesday-Chili and buns
We had: Spaghetti Casserole, corn, buns

Wednesday-breakfast Bagels or Pizza Bagels
We had: fancy grilled cheese and salad

Thursday- Chicken and rice
We had: Bacon and Cheese chicken, substitute ham strips for bacon and did it in the oven, mashed potatoes and beans

We had: left-overs
We had: Taco Salad

Sunday-French Toast Casserole and sausage
We had: French Toast Casserole and sausage

This week's plan:

Monday-left-overs. What a way to start the week. Blah!

Tuesday-Chicken Fajitas

Wednesday-Waikiki Meatballs, Rice, cut veggies

Thursday-CP Thai Chicken, noodles, mixed veggies

Friday- kids? something easy-ish. We are going out~ We're doing a "date" and going to the MWS Wonderful Christmas concert--so excited!

Saturday-work party--love these! Fancy eating here we come!

Sunday-pancakes and bacon
(*Sorry, no links yet. . .if I get ambitious later on in the week, they just might come, but right now, sleep is looking more inviting. Sorry!)
One of the many reasons I've been too busy to post. . .I decided to have my kids make the Christmas cards this year. It is always a great idea, until they've been doing it for two weeks and I'm so tired (read: frustrated, annoyed) of it all!!! But they love it, so . . .what do you do? (Besides vow to never do it again?!?!?)
Have a good week. . .
For more mpm, visit!

Laundry Shelves

Ohh. . . look what I got my husband to do!!!

Our laundry room was "finished" about 2 years ago. We installed a counter top and shelf over top, and had a "leg" or "peg" holding the counter top up.
Then a half year ago+ our hot water tank broke and things got re-done.
And I liked it, but I didn't love it.

But then I was directed to the Ana White website, fell in love with it . . . and gave my hubby a choice. Buy a cabinet with drawers for laundry to go in and fit under the counter top we have (which could mean re-doing the counter top, filling the wall, re-painting, re-caulking, etc. if the cabinet didn't fit perfectly) or build a variation of this.

It may have helped that I had been up with a teething child for the whole night minus 3 hours of broken sleep, that a few other issues came up that he may not have handled well causing LOTS of additional work for me, and that I was just plain overwhelmed with life even at 9 a.m. that day, but he started building. (And I didn't stop him!)

Maybe there are a few blessings that go with bad days for moms! :)

I can't find a "before" picture (sorry!), but here is what he did- his progress:
The frame of it all
The painted finished product

A close up of the "shelves."
In the end, the project cost about $60. . .but it could be less if you used pressed board or more if you used fancy trim or melamine board. Hubby said he thought it was pretty easy, that I could have made it on my own. A nice compliment. . .not so sure if I could, but that means it is also an easy-ish project.Like I said, we had to make it work for us, so we used Ana White's tutorial as a guide for us. We had a "foundation shelf" to deal with in the back, and for cleaning purposes, I wanted to keep the back open. We also had a specific height to work with, so there is room on the bottom so I can store smaller, flat totes (see in above photo).
I am extremely happy. . .(and extremely happy to have a hubby who can do this!). . .and now have a place to store some of my sewing totes as well (on top), and can kinda use it as a sewing table. (Thinking of finding/making a flip-out or slide-out table to go with this for the sewing machine. . .we'll see)
Check out that website--there are tonnes of ideas. . .my hubby doesn't know what all I have planned for him to do still! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Winter Lights

(image from here)

It's not winter yet. . .

almost. . .

but just to get in the mood,
here are some inspirations

{image searching fun}

winter is coming. . .
and it will be beautiful!

image from here

image from here

image from korean times here

Waiting for winter beauty. . .

(Friday Pretties)

Friday, December 3, 2010

orange(s) for christmas

They are in the stores. . .
those {sweet} Christmas oranges.
They are gone in no time
in our home.
What about you?
Do you love orange(s)?

Some sweet Christmas oranges
for you. . .
(for your eyes--
not your taste buds.)
{Friday (Christmas) Pretties}
image from flicker here.

image found here. (I love browsing etsy for Christmas!)

image found here.

image found from here. . .LED lighted, of course!

image found here. made from real oranges!
Friday Pretties at "ILovePrettyThings": here
and also here (a giveaway too!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Organizing Paper Clutter

It's a family trait--it must be in the gene pool. I organize myself through "piles." I have one pile of paper for this, one pile of paper for that, and it may look like a mess to you, but I know what is in each of those piles and therefore everything is good.

Or not. . .because it looks so messy! And when your "office" space is shared with your kitchen and dining room and walks right into the living room, and when you have kids constantly around it and in it all, and when that is really an excuse I use to make myself feel better about the organized mess I created, well, that is when a new system has to be put into place.

And was my hubby ever happy to see the piles leave!

But really, I didn't make the piles disappear. They are just standing up a little nicer. Let me show you:

Because my kiddos are around, they helped me with it (How can they avoid it when I had to have my piles all over the floor?!?) I used a 10 sheets of white card stock, and then one of bright green and orange. You can pick whatever colours you like--I needed the bright colours to remind me where my "piles" went to. :) And of course a magazine box. I chose a plastic one--because I already had it in the house and it fit in the spot I wanted it to stay.

Then I used my Michael's tag punch (the pink size), and started punching out those bright card stock pages. (Or you can buy those dividers--but I couldn't find any I liked--and you really don't look too terribly hard when you a bunch of kids helping you in the stores--so this was my next option.) If you do it the hard way--not buying pre-made tags or dividers--you want to glue down two of the tags, one on each side of the divider, just to make it nice and sturdy. These tags are very important and will be filed through constantly!

I used two colours and made one coloured tag stick out on the top, and one stick out on the bottom. And I got my kiddos to help me. . .oh the joys of running tape. . .and help!

Then I labelled the things I liked to keep in my piles. Unfortunately, "bills to pay" has to stand out first. . .one of the reasons I figured I better do something with my "piles" system. . .that wasn't always happening on time! After that, file away. . .

Then of course, if you have used bright colours like me, they kind of stand out as being kinda ugly-ish, so I look through this box . . . enough to pay the bills on time anyway!

You can use a system like this for anything really--storing art work from school years (just label each divider by grade and put the artwork behind it all), sorting pictures to put in an album (just label each divider by month of activity), organizing recipes (especially if you are the type to rip out of magazines or have photocopies! Just label each divider by category), whatever it is you need to organize.

So, there is my simple way of organizing a mess. Works for me!

Thanksgiving Thoughts (WFW)

Thanksgiving at our House

I realize that it is well past Thanksgiving in Canada, and the left-overs are all eaten up in the United States. But I am still thinking about this warm and cozy holiday even as—and especially because—the Christmas season is beginning.

You see, I spent a bunch of years living in the U.S. and was fortunate to experience a "real American Thanksgiving" many times. During my college years I spent many Thanksgiving Days with my roommate's family—a family who made the dinner table just a little bigger each year to accommodate the college friends of their children—those of us who were not by our own families and had nowhere else to go. I remember one year they went as far as rounding up sawhorses and plywood, just to make eating space for all who came! And it wasn't just a dinner, it was a full day of activities and fun—truly something to celebrate and to be thankful for.

I lived on my own for three years in the U.S. and never spent a Thanksgiving alone. The hospitality of my fellow employees and friends always gave me a "home for the holidays." It wasn't right for a Canadian-rookie-single teacher to be alone for Thanksgiving, and each year I was blessed beyond measure by their generosity and kindness! Good food, good friends and good fun. I have so many wonderful memories!

Thanksgiving has looked a little bit different for me in the past few years. It's obviously not the grand celebration that it has been in the U.S. I definitely miss the extravagance of those days—pretty much the beginning of Christmas! In my experience, here in Canada, it is celebrated on a much lower key. Thanksgiving in my house is even less of an ordeal. My husband is a firefighter and the long weekend is the perfect opportunity for those guys to test equipment and hoses to ensure safety and ease when fighting fires. It is a few extra days wages for my husband. For that I am thankful . . . but it makes for a L-O-N-G weekend for me and the kids. To add to the mix, the church my family is part of is a little lacking in their Thanksgiving Day services. By lacking, I mean, lacking childcare. In the past I had enquired about it, was assured that there would be childcare, showed up and was pleasantly (note my sarcasm!) told there was nothing: my preschool (or baby) kids were to be in church with me, something quite out of the ordinary for them and for our church. And these services were not so "child-friendly" either—very much geared towards adults. To walk away or to grin and bear it . . . and I generally chose the latter. BIG mistake when you are acting as a single mom. You think I would have learned!

So this year was different. I checked with the church—was there going to be childcare? Only for the babies if enough people showed up. So, I made the decision to stay home. Please understand this is huge for me! I grew up as a faithful "twice a Sunday" attender. We try to go to church each Sunday. To miss church is a BIG deal to me! But this year I decided I just didn't want to pretend to be super-mom. I didn't want to go to church just to come home exasperated and very unthankful. And with three young children (one of them being 5 months old) and not near a full night of sleep prior, I knew that was probably going to be the outcome yet again. I had already played super-mom on Sunday for church. Monday's Thanksgiving service would have to take place without us.

So here I was, a little sad about missing church, a little deflated (I mean, my parents had us sit through church and we didn't make a peep! Why can't I do that with my kids?!?), a little defeated (Other parents can do this, why can't I?), and a lot tired! So, I printed off some thanksgiving pictures, got some books ready and prepared myself to stay home.

And then my son looked at me on Thanksgiving morning—of course there had been fights and tears and overwhelming moments that had taken place already—but he looked at me with big, sad eyes when I told him we were going to stay home, and he said he really wanted to go. {Break my heart!} And here was my fatal mistake: I asked him why he really wanted to go to church. I repeat: fatal mistake! And his answer—in his very-mature-five-year-old-voice—was, "All I want to do is praise God."

An hour later, me and three kids were on our way to church. How do you say no to that? (I know, I know, I'm a sucker for my kids. I was definitely showing them who was boss!)

It turned out there were enough babies, so I was able to drop off my crabby 5 month old with some loving ladies for a cuddle. And my kids had been warned: if they don't listen to me, we go home. If you want to praise God, that is what we are going to do. (Of course my theology was a little off here since there are far more ways to praise God than to sit quietly by your mom so she feels like she has it all together. But I'll correct that in the years to come.) And they actually were amazing! Maybe my threat worked . . . or maybe . . . they were just good. I didn't even have to pull out the reinforcements (aka: books, crayons, etc.), I didn't have to give them "The Look," and I didn't have to pull them out of the service. They sang, they listened, they sat, they watched. I was in awe.

But here was the big moment for me; the part of church that stood out. There was this time of sharing. You know, when people could come up to the microphone and share how God had blessed them this year. At one point, an older woman who was unfamiliar to me came forward and said she was thankful for the families in church that morning. She said that she knew that many, many things had already happened that morning in the homes, that for families the morning had probably started much earlier than it did for most, and that it may have been a tremendous struggle just to get to church that morning. It would have been easier to stay home for most. But the fact that she saw so many parents with children sitting in the audience showed her that there were some parents who cared deeply about teaching their children about God, both today and every other Sunday morning. There were parents who wanted to pass on the tradition of church and the love of God to their children. And for that she was thankful.

When we came home, I thanked my kids for acting so good in church. They shrugged it off as if they didn't know what the big deal was. And I thanked my son for asking to go to church. Again, he shrugged it off as if it was no big deal. And I realized too, that I was thankful for the first time in a very long time for going to church on Thanksgiving Day.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ~Matthew 19:4

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. ~ Mark 10:13-16

(image from here)