Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Allison turned 3 last Saturday! I can't believe my baby girl is 3... where did the time go?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


So I got a letter the other day. From the Utah State Tax Commission. Turns out that when Brian and I (okay... it was just me, because I do our taxes) ammended our 2007 federal tax return (because BYU was WAY late in sending a tax document that accounted for $1500 in income for that year), we (again, I... but we sounds less blamey and judgemental of myself) forgot to also ammend our state return. Oops...
So, now Utah wants their $68 refund back, plus some that that we probably should have paid that year, plus interest. *sigh* So NOT what I want to do with my money. Oh well... at least it won't be much.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Hand Built Play Kitchen


Brian and I built Allison a play kitchen! I have wanted her to have one for SO long, and I'm so glad that she finally does! And I guess its only "mostly" finished... but finished enough to give her this morning.

I teased this project back in March, but things didn't go as I planned. The plans I drew up, although cute, weren't really working out for us, so I turned to Knock-Off Wood. Ana White has posted FREE plans for all sorts of furniture build projects. I love this site... its amazing! We intend to do several more projects from her plans, including this console table (topped with a slab of marble instead of the wood planked top), this bed (in King size, if I get my way) for our room and these bedside tables to match the bed... or maybe this one instead. But first we'll need a miter saw (can anyone guess what Brian's getting for his birthday this year?)...

We stuck the phone on there becuase the kids love playing with it. Allison frequently "calls Grandma and Grandpa." Its very cute... and the phone is more useful as a pretend toy for the kids than a connumication device when you don't have land-line service.

Anyway, the plans we used for the kitchen can be found here. There are several other plans on that page too. This kitchen is patterned after a now-discontinued Pottery Barn Kids play kitchen.

Was this cheaper than just going out and buying a plastic or MDF play kitchen at Walmart or Target? No. Total cost ran us almost $200... but it would have been cheaper if we'd through through the plans a little more and had bought the right wood the first time around. But caulk it up to experience. But this kitchen is larger, higher quality and CUTER than what $200 might have gotten us at Toys R Us... and something similar to this at Pottery Barn Kids would have run us anywhere from $300 (for the most recently discontinued model) to $600.

We still need to find something for a faucet (we're thinking a straight and a U- or a J-bend PVC pipe painted with a large pair of those glass faceted knobs) and I need to sew a curtain to hide the shelves under the sink (I tried last night, but my serger just WOULDN"T play nice! The needle kept hitting the upper and lower loopers, and it was casting the stitches onto the throat plate, instead of the pressure foot... tying knots that I had to snip off. I re-treaded the stupid thing 3 times and still could NOT figure out the problem... so I gave up until another day). After the curtain and the faucet it will be done... until we find more accessories to add to it! :)

$200 is a lot... but we love it, Allison loves its, Carter loves it and it will see a LOT of play time over the next several years. And that, makes a project worth it.

Museum of Play

Brian took the day off yesterday as kind of a birthday gift to Allison (she LOVES it when Daddy doesn't have to go to work!), so we took the kids to Rochester to the Strong National Museum of Play. We had so much fun... we were there 4 hours (its a 90-minute drive and the kids went napless, so we decided to leave kind of early), and didn't even see everything... we didn't even have time to THINK about the Toy Hall-of-Fame on the 2nd floor!

There was so much to see and do there... an active area call the Field of Play (not a plyaground, but lots of large, active toys... race cars, PVC Pipe Organs, Dance Dance Revolution, Ball Rollercoasters... stuff like that. The other half of the first floor had a giant Sesame Street interactive exhibit, a kid-sized Wegman's (THE grocery store, for all you non-east-coasters!) to shop and "work" at, a little Historic section, an art section, a post-office, a helecopter and a boat and I don't even know what else, because we didn't see it all!

The kids had a blast, and it was a fun, exhausting trip for all of us. If it was closer to home, we would have paid for a family membership before leaving yesterday. Enjoy the pictures!

Allison got to meet (and hug!) Raggedy Ann. She's been visiting the museum this month to celebrate her 95th birthday!

Carter ejoyed Wegmans, but would have liked it better if the food had been real.

Allison loved ringing up her own groceries and pushing the buttons to make the receipt print.

So cute! The reading nook at Sesame Street!
Allison's favorite is Zoe. Carter thought Snuffleupagus was pretty cool...

Look out, world!

Allison was excited to see the Barbie display when we first came in.

They both loved the big aquariums at the entrances.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

OCD in Training

This is how Allison puts her crayons away.

She started doing this a few days ago with no prompting at all. She also will take them all out, line them up neatly on the table, then put them all back, neatly stacked.

Nice to know that she is capable of (extreme) organization and orderliness... wonder what the best way to channel that into her toys and books and general helpfullness around the house would be?

Oh, and I survived the party... but have no pictures to show for it. Oh well... the girls enjoyed it, and I'm more excited for Saturday morning, when Allison gets her gift from Brian and me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Tomorrow I am throwing a birthday party. A princess party. I'm expecting eight three-year-olds.
And today, I'm thinking, "What was I thinking?!?"
Then again, maybe this will be a good training ground for Joy School in the fall...

Friday, July 16, 2010

On systems, schedules and eternal messes

I have a housekeeping schedule. Its a little loose, and looks something like this:
Monday: Major Pick-up, Bathrooms
Tuesday: Groceries & Errands
Wednesday: Laundry (clothes), Vacuum downstairs, Garbage
Thursday: Dust, Pick a room and clean thouroughly
Friday: Kitchen Floors, Counters, Stove
Saturday: Laundry (non-clothes), Vacuum upstairs & downstairs
Every evening I sweep the kitchen floor (it is desperate for it, EVERY evening) and Brian does the dishes (I don't do dishes. I delegated that to him 6 years ago and he has, lovingly, stuck to it for 6 years).

Confession: I do not follow this schedule. I manage the groceries and errands on Tuesday, I manage the laundry on Wednesday and Saturday. I manage to sweep the floor every evening and nag Brian (when necessary) into doing the dishes. But the rest... I just can't bring myself to do it.

Maybe its just an excuse, but it just feels so darned fultile to try picking up or (heaven forbid) cleaning a room while I have two little people literally following me a round and un-doing everything I try to do. If I try to pick up the kid's DVDs and put them back in their storage bins, Carter will help by removing them, one-by-one, as soon as I've got them in. Same goes for the books on the bookshelf, and the toys in the bins in the family room.
Allison is super-helpful in that the second she's done with something, not matter what it is, she throws it on the floor. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I've told her not to do it, she still does.
I've been reading lots of house-keeping system books lately, trying to get a handle on my house... so that I don't feel like its always a mess. The most recent one suggests that your schedule includes an errand day, a "quiet" chore day (pay bill, balance the check book, make grocery lists and menu plans... that sort of thing), a moderate cleaning day (2-4 hours of cleaning), a heavy cleaning day (4-6 hours) and one free day, where you only do things you want to do.

Really? I only get to do things that I actually WANT to do one day a week? And further more, what am I supposed to do with my kids while I'm busy doing whatever I want? Becuase I can tell you that 1) I don't want my children getting their hands on the things I want to do for me and 2) what I want to spend my day doing and whay my kids want me to spend my day doing are two VASTLY different thing.

And what about those cleaning days? Seriously? How am I supposed to accomplish 2 or more hours or real, actual cleaning when I've got these kids following me around, asking for constant attention, fighting with eachother and whining about being bored, or hungry, or tired. Just exactly when am I supposed to accomplish that? Naptime... doesn't exactly last that long anymore. And I typically use naptime to "treat" myself to a nice, healthy lunch that doesn't consist of food leftover from my kids' lunch plates (and, furthermore, since when was a real meal a treat? At what point in my life did proper nutrition morph from need to privilege?).

So if naptime's out, and I don't want my effort undone immediatly after accomplishing it, so while kids are awake is out. I guess that leaves after the kids bedtime... so I need to spend 2 nights a week cleaning, starting around 7 and ending anywhere between 9 pm and 1 am. Wow. Sounds like exactly how I want to spend my evenings. That was my sarcastic voice, for those who didn't catch it.
Yes, I'm frustrated. Yes, I'm whining. Yes, at this point I'd think I'd prefer to just throw everything we own away so that I don't have to deal with it. But seriously, is there a system that works when you're kids aren't in school? Is there one that doesn't involve spending every spare moment I have without the kids picking up, or cleaning in the endlessly futile battle against the mess? Or is it hopeless? Should I just give up until they're all in school?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

As if I needed a longer "To-Do" list

For your viewing pleasure. Please note that I take no responsiblity for your urge to do these projects as a result of looking at this post.

I've been thinking I should make some skirts for Allison. She loves skirts and they'd be so cheap to make... cheaper than buying the things. Toddler-sized skirt patterns don't exist (becuase they're so stinkin' easy, but I'm a Type A, so I looked anyway), so I hit the internet. Here are a few of my favorites that my searches yeilded me today.

Lazy Days Skirt. No picture here, but click the link for the instructions. Its simple and easy. I'll probably make this one several times over.

The Dresden Plate skirt. Cute, huh? See the scallop edge? Not being a quilter I had no idea what a "dresden plate" was when I stumbled upon the post. But it makes a DARLING skirt. But, not-so-simple. Good thing I was taught well how to sew well (thanks, Mom!). Find the tutorial over at Crafter Hours.

The Tumbler skirt. Adorable. I love the shape. I acutally think I need to make one fore me before Allison. Looks like the PERFECT summer skirt, if you ask me. Tutorial over at Crap I've Made (seriously, thats the name of this blog).

Easy Whirly Skirt. Cute, simple, looks FAST to stitch up. Another make-it-a-million-times winner by the looks of things. Find the tutorial over at This Mama Makes Stuff.

By the way, if you're in the market for patterns, Simplicity is $1.99 at JoAnn's this weekend. We picked up the pattern for Allison's costume today. I'm not telling what she wanted to be... I was mildly (but not completely) surprised at her choice, and I'm excited that she chose something that I could use as a jumping-off point for costumes for the rest of the family. We might even convince Brian to play along and dress up this year. :)

On a related note, I now aspire to NEVER take my children to Jo-Ann's again. Ever. And if you happened to be in the Fayetteville Jo-Anns before 11 am today, I apologize for the crying, screaming banshees' behavior... er... I mean, my children's behavior.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

As heard in church today..

Allison was looking through the pictures in my Primary binder, pointing out Jesus in every picture that includes Him. She came across this picture:

Stilling the Storm, Artist Ted Henninger

She points to Jesus and says "There's Jesus! Jesus is a pirate!"

Doctrinally sound? Nope. But thats okay... we're pretty sure Heavenly Father has a sense of humor too. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010


It's 10 p.m. It is currently 86 degrees in my house. Its only 83 outside... but according to is feels like 88, if thats worth anything. It been in the mid 90s all week. With 50% plus humidity.
We, obviously, have no AC. The coolest its been in my house since Sunday morning is 77 degrees. Its only going to get down to 72 tonight. It'll be 80 again by 10 a.m.
The kids are having trouble sleeping in this heat. I haven't turned our 2 measly ceiling fans off in over 72 hours. We're also running four additional fans pretty much all day and all night, just to make the kids rooms sort-of bearable... and our window AC unit too. I'm dreading our electric bill. I can't remember the last time I didn't feel like I'd just worked out for an hour (sweat wise). Make-up is pointless, and only lasts a matter of minutes. And this kind of oppressive heat makes me cranky. I am miserable.
Saturday can't come soon enough. Its supposed to rain all morning, and not even hit 80. Sounds glorious. In the mean time, I'll be pricing out central air...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Projects and Accomplishments

I have a very long list of projects that I want to do. I think it might be longer than Brian's "Honey-Do" list... hard to tell, beceause some of the things on his honey-do list are on my list too, as I intend to be a big part of them.

I've had a very long list for a fairly long time. And things just seem to never get done. I often feel like I accomplish absolutely nothing. So, here I am reminding myself that I do accomplish things occasionally... and sometimes its even something more signifigant than the laundry.

This shouldn't even count, it was so easy. I've talked about having a bow-holder since Allison was born. A few weeks ago, I finally did it. Almost too easy to be called an accomplishment, but everything counts when you're a mom, right? Literally, I bought the A, stapled the big pink ribbons to the back and hung it on her wall.

We built our garden boxes and planted in June and its really taking off. I love that the garden required almost zero effort from me. I water it when its needs it (every day this week with our current 15 degree above average heat wave!), and pull a few small weeds here and there, and its flourishing! We planted cherry tomatoes (we've got some tiny green ones out there now!) cucumbers (a whole bunch of flowers on the plants!), red and gree bell peppers (I saw our first few tiny peppers on one of the plants yesterday) green beans, peas (which are getting taller than I expected!), pumpkins (with a few nice big flowers), zuchini and squash (both are starting to think about putting blossoms out). I'm so excited that I'm not failing at the garden. I'm thinking we'll expand next year and put in a third bed. I'm not sure what else we'll plant... I guess we'll start figuring that our when we see what kind of harvest we get this year.

This little fabric playhouse has been on my list forever. You can find the tutorial here, at UK Lass in US. Apparently her idea also made it into One Yard Wonders. Pretty neat! I enjoyed making this little barn for Allison's barn animals (and I love, even more, that the barn animals now have somewhere to live!). Its not totally done yet... Allison wants me to put in a puddle for the pigs (who are currently MIA) and I should put a door on the outside. But I wanted Allison to be able to play with it, and I haven't been able to get it away from her since! I'm also already have fabric for a Littlest Pet Shop home of sorts. I found some Littlest Pet Shop pets on clearance, and I happened to also have buy-one-get-one coupons... so I picked up half a dozen for $0.75 each. They've made great little prizes for Allison, and now they need a home too.

A little home organization. This is going to go on my kitchen wall to help me keep track of what we have going on. I decided we needed one when I forget to pick Brian up from work in time for his chiropractic appointment a few weeks ago. I just created the calendar, had it blown up (22x28) at a copy center and put it in a frame... instant wipe-off family calendar. Now maybe I'll actually get my monthly dinner menu done to put on it one of these days.

I've also done a little paper crafting recently, but don't have any pictures of those taken. But I'm hoping to do a bunch more soon... our trip to Europe is calling my name, so I finally ordered prints and hope to work on that soon.