Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here comes Christmas!



This last picture shows George's section of the tree. It's a tad on the heavy, crowded side, but he likes it!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Last Minute Place Cards

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family that may stop by here!

If your turkey is well on its way to completion and the potatoes are mashed, here's a quick way to finish off your table decorations. Best part? After you print, the kids can help assemple and place them!

*Except of my article in the November Digital Scrapbook Place newsletter*

I used Kim Liddiard's "Plenty to be Thankful For" kit series in creating place cards for our table. These are very simple to make, using standard 4 x 6 photo paper, your chosen digital designs, and a bit of glue or tape. In your design program, create a 4 x 6 canvas and cover it with the background of your choice. Any design elements, names, etc. should be kept in the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the canvas. Print and fold: either in half for a tent style place card; or in thirds, using the bottom fold as the base of your place card. Because I used a tape runner adhesive, I actually shaped a very thin forth fold as a lip I could tuck behind the front of the place card.

Remember the kids' table when making your place cards! Use a fun frame element to add a photo to the card, allowing the kids to find their place easily! On this card, I added a coordinating ribbon to the base for increased stability.

You can simply prop these on the table or fill them with napkins, silverware, or seasonal decorations!

And don't forget to give your guests an easy way to share their thoughts with a set of journaling cards like this one!

Align rows of journaling elements on a letter sized canvas, backed by a matching background, and print onto cardstock. Cut the cards apart, use a rounded corner punch, create a small hole in the upper corner of each, and tie them together with a pretty ribbon.

Leave this set of cards on the table with a pen and allow your family and friends to add their notes throughout the meal. You will be left with a wonderful memento of your gathering!

Happy eating, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good Morning to you!

When the kids were transitioning from crib to bed, we worried about whether they would be up at all hours, exploring the house. Luckily, neither one has ever done that. We never told them they couldn't get up, but both seemed to feel that they had to stay in bed until released. Only recently has Emma started getting up on her own on the weekends. And since she loves to have that time to herself (if she actually gets up before us, which is rare), she's incredibly quiet. George stays in his bed playing until we open the door, sometimes for an hour or more, if he's woken up extra early and I make him wait until I've showered and declared it late enough to emerge. But in the last couple of weeks, he's been less inclined to wait for us to come to him.

George's current way of letting me know he's ready to get up consists of one word, yelled repeatedly at a steadily increasing volume. So I thought I'd let you see him first thing this morning. His bed cracks me up as he insists on sleeping with his five foot long stuffed dog on top of him. Good thing our house is pretty cold, because that's got to get hot.

Turn your speakers up for the beginning, it starts quiet. (And I apologize for my loud voice right next to the microphone!)

You only heard one, quiet "MOMMY!", but trust me, that gets louder and can go on for a long time! And sorry for the lack of light, I didn't want to blind him; he has blackout curtains, so his room is VERY dark.

So that was a sampling of our morning. He calls, I come in. He prompts me with what he wants me to say: "Were you calling me?", I repeat the question so he can answer. Our "good mornings"; it's a new, HUGE step that he's taken recently in using the name of whomever he's talking to. A variety of gibberish from whatever video he was acting out before I came in. And then, today, the "CHEESE" in reaction to the camera. The school photographer had to work hard this year because every time George smiles for the camera these days, he throws his hands up to his face like he did here.

That's my silly guy! Hope you got a chuckle out of our morning!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


What to do when the irregular holiday school schedule leaves kids bored, cranky, and less than darling? Give 'em beans!


Notice the important bits of this activity:

Equal amounts of each kind.
Equal tools to use.
Equal containers available (deviled egg carriers are GREAT craft helpers!)
In case you can't tell, I can't stress the whole equal idea enough.
Also, big baking sheet to help keep the beans off the floor (in theory).

Emma is very carefully measuring and counting. George started carefully, then transitioned to the "let's see how many beans I can get into each scoop" method.

And the house was quiet.

(Be sure to look closely enough to see the tear stains on George's cheek. Because just prior to this activity, I was the Worst Mommy Ever. I am now somewhere in between the Best Mommy Ever and the Kinda Fun At Times Mommy.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

My life is so glamorous

You know what's fun?
Searching for and cleaning up dog *ahem* doo in the fall.
In an un-landscaped yard.
Under an apple tree.
"Doo" from a dog who likes to stroll as she, um, "does".
Because, though she can't see an adult human standing in front of her if there is also a ball within 10 feet, she can, apparently, multi-task as she does her business.

Bet you want to come visit now, huh?

Bet you're glad there aren't any pictures to go with this post, huh?

Only because the batteries are dead and I refuse to keep feeding my camera cheap batteries that it inhales and I forgot to get the lithium-titanium-platinum-gold plated rechargeable batteries at the store today.

Be grateful for small things, I say.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What did people do before the Internet?

George doesn't have school on Fridays, so we generally spend it together running errands, cleaning, and playing outside. Today he woke up with a suspiciously stuffy nose and a bit of a glaze over his eyes. So we did all our usual activities, but we've also spent an amazing amount of time on the computer.

One of George's favorite finds is Google Videos. Our search key words:
Steam trains
Black steam engines
Thomas the Tank Engine (I know, shocking!)
John Deere tractors
Model railroad

Image Hosted by
(Taken with the web cam as Thomas comes into view)

See that smile? I suppose it's worth the brain numbing repetition of steam trains (whistling! wheels! train signals!), overloud narration by excited moms & dads at Day Out With Thomas events (Look! There he is! And here's the gift shop!), and poorly filmed extreme close-ups of model trains (somehow always located in dark basements, hmmmmm, we've got one of those...).

While he watches and points to each one he wants to see (and believe me, he knows his way around the various menus), I blog-hop, look through photos, and, today, got sucked into Facebook. I'm not sure what the purpose of this site is, other than seeing updated photos of friends from long ago. But it certainly does kill time nicely. And hey! I was able to chat with my brother, my best friend from high school (who I had exchanged emails with this morning), and about a dozen people from DSP who I... chat with... everyday. Um. Hmm.

Yeah, I'm really not sure it's the most useful thing I've ever seen, but at least I had something to do while trains chugged across my other monitor!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Veteran

iraq downtime

The long separations lately are due to, and in preparation for, a future deployment. Sometime next spring I'll be seeing pictures like this one in my email box, and our communication skills will really be put to the test. But I count my blessings. This deployment will be different.

  • He's with a different unit, one further away from the front lines.
  • Last time, he was deployed ahead of any technology. Just getting mail was iffy, there was no email option available and phone calls were rare and difficult. (He had to travel quite a distance to call me the day we found out George was a boy, it was a quick and scratchy call, but we were incredibly grateful for it.)
  • I'm near family, not on a base across the country.
  • We know how to do this, we've done it before.

Take a moment today to remember and thank any veterans who have touched your life. And though most of us have "moved on" and the war is not a daily thought, it goes on still and the soldiers continue in their duty. Forget politics, remember the men and women who believe in this country of ours enough to fight for it, no matter where they are sent or why.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cleaning house

And my brain, while I'm at it.

Cleaning the counter

This is that counter space. You know, the one right by the entry way, the horizontal surface that is oh-so convenient, otherwise known as the junk pile? I swear that as the pile grows, so does the tension in my shoulders. When the pile buries the phone in its charger, a new wrinkle shows up on my forehead. Every time I drop the day's pallet load of school papers on top of the heap, the pressure in my head increases.

Yeah, I know... a tad on the dramatic side. But really, when my house is out of control, it usually signifies an imbalance in my life. Don't get me wrong, I have two kids, two cats, a dog, and a husband that all pass through here. My house is far from spotless. And I don't want it to be spotless, I want it to look like people live here, play here, and get messy here. But its the spaces like this one, where things are left and not reclaimed, that drive me crazy. Because I know each thing in that space needs to go somewhere else, I need to do something with each one, attention must be paid. And if the pile is as big as it was this morning when I started, I haven't been paying attention in quite a while.

So, as part of my plan to work on the little things that contribute to my mood swings, this morning I attacked that pile. I don't have a before picture. Trust me when I say that the phone was not visible and I could not have crammed a single new piece of paper into the mail holder thingie. All that lovely space in front? Haven't seen it in months.

Today I touched, sorted, and moved every item in the holder and the pile beside it. I now have a full recycle bin and two boxes with papers that need to be filed; sorted into kid stuff and non-kid stuff, already carried downstairs and left in front of the new file cabinet. The saddest part of this adventure is that it took me less than 90 minutes. There were papers and pictures in that pile from last spring that have added to my tension since last spring! How ridiculous!! While my kids played in mud puddles outside, I stood in the open doorway, sorting and enjoying the fresh air.

I have no doubt that that pile will renew itself. Just adding one piece of paper to it today after the mail was delivered made me grit my teeth, but I put it there because it requires action that can't be completed during the weekend. Will it get covered by others? Yup, probably. But if I can remember how much easier it is, somehow, to breathe with it gone, maybe it won't get too bad.

Really though? I just posted this photo to prove to Jason while he's away that there is a counter in that corner.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The comfort of home

Every morning, when he first awakens, George looks out his window.
This is his favorite view.

George's favorite view
Two vehicles in the driveway = Daddy is home.

Jason's schedule has been highly erratic for the last couple of weeks and will continue to be so through November. He's working most weekends, traveling all over the state, so he takes random weekdays off to compensate. While we had gotten fairly used to him being away, this irregular schedule has been hard. The kids miss him. I miss him.

He and I pride ourselves on our communication skills. So much of our relationship has been long distance, that I suppose we feel like we've mastered it. But when you have a very busy husband, doing all kinds of big and varied things; and you are a very busy mom, doing all kinds of little (but important!) and varied things; it seems it's easy to lose our common ground. Which was becoming obvious this week as we spoke on the phone, and even more so when he came home last night for a 36 hour visit.

So, how to find it again?

You can be like me, and go the passive aggressive route. Slump around the house with tightly controlled emotions and use as few words as possible. Answer questions politely, but without affection. Say, "I'm fine", "Everything's fine", "I'm just busy/tired/thinking/distracted", in response to every inquiry. Wait for the visit to be over so you can get back to being grumpy about him being gone again.

Or, you can be like Jason, and force the issue. Say the dreaded words, "We need to talk", triggering flashbacks to drama-filled high school days. Ask, "What's wrong", and don't accept a generic (i.e. false) answer. Pull out the details and share your own. Find the common ground. Hug.

I'm glad you're home, J, even if it is only for one day. This house isn't home without you in it.

Me reflected by you

Monday, November 03, 2008

Now this is the Oregon I know!

Fall in Oregon.
Wet leaves in the rain.
my favorite bench

Looking for bugs in the rain.
looking for bugs

Running in the rain.
I call him Running with Leaf

Good thing we happen to love the rain!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Pictures!

The predicted, and traditional, Halloween rain came down early in the day, leaving the afternoon and evening gorgeous and even a bit warmer than we would have liked! It was a stroke of genius on the school district's part to give the kids the day off (parent/teacher conferences instead), so we were able to enjoy the day and relax; rather than the usual tightly scheduled and stressful lead-up to trick-or-treating.

My little cat and mouse were, quite simply, the cutest trick-or-treaters in Oregon. I'm sorry if you think yours were cuter, you're wrong. I mean really, look at them!

My favorite cat & mouse


That mouse costume is almost better from behind:
Itchy costume!
Though I think it may have been a bit uncomfortable, there was a lot of tail adjusting going on!