Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's this place we found....

...almost four years ago. It's down the road from the sled hill.
We always forget it exists. and what a shame, because it's such a nice little spot. between buying new guitar strings and running into the grocery store,
we stopped for twenty minutes.

It's days like this I am going to miss when they all grow up.
I am thankful and blessed to be their Mom.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Pig Roast Toddler Fort.

It's cloudy. It's windy. It's chilly. The night sky is creeping up on us earlier and earlier.
Our wood stove is warm and crackly. A bean chowder is simmering on the stove for dinner.
Loud giggling is coming from the kitchen as my girls mix up my great aunt's biscuit recipe.

My boys are outside riding skateboards...
wait, correction, I mean long boards....there's a big difference ya know!
So while I have a minute to myself....I thought I'd throw up a few pictures from our weekend.

It started as a bonfire....s'mores and cake for the nine birthdays not yet celebrated. (yes, I said nine ;)
By the time the weekend rolled around it turned into yet another pig roast at my parent's house.

{the above picture ^^^ is me being a tattle tale...
yep, she painted her nails on my mom's fairly new couch!}

The party wrapped up with green faces and a toddler fort built by my dear husband...aka Uncle Jeff.
I love being part of a big family. So thankful for parents who made that decision.

Happy new week to you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fashion Tip Friday {The Sister- in- Love Edition}

Who has the greatest sister in law ever? Me!
A couple of weeks ago I had a casual conversation with Rachel.
We talked about shoes. It was a short chat.
She told me about the boots she had just ordered. I told her about the ones I wanted.
Our kids were playing in the front yard at the time...husbands were talking boring computer stuff...
We left soon after and never spoke of boots again.

They weren't the cheapest things in the world and now is not the time for me to shoe splurge.
So I put them out of my head.

But Rachel didn't! Guess what came in the mail yesterday?
Yep. Dear, Sweet Rachel for no other reason except to be nice had a pair shipped to my house.

Boot season is in full swing. I thought I'd write about them.
However, I found this site and the twenty-something's opinion aligns perfectly with mine. ;)
She said everything I wanted to say and with pictures. Check out her fabulous boot advice.

Tonight Jeff and I are going on a date. It's my turn to plan.
I found a groupon for this little Mediterranean place we've been wanting to try.
Jeff doesn't know yet, so Shhhhh....

How about you? Busy weekend? Date night? Laying low?
Happy Friday XxOo

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Messy Girls No More.

I promised myself I would never be the kind of mom that eases up with each child.
I was going to be just as tough on the last as I was on the first! you moms of more than one child know...Ha...that usually isn't the case.

For us, it wasn't so much the behaving part of raising kids we eased up on, but the work ethic part.
We were harder on our boys when it came to chores and getting tasks accomplished than the girls.

Our boys get up each day without being told. They keep their room clean. They do all their chores.
They start their school work without me saying a word. They are very diligent and responsible.
It took a lot of work to get to this point. Years of teaching and consistency...but it payed off!

My girls...well, let's just say they are the complete opposite!..starting with the morning wake up call.

I can't stand a messy house. Is it perfect all the time? No. Is it always clean? No.
But we try our best and for the most part it stays pretty tidy.
Except for one room....the girls room.

It is the absolute worst room of the house. (Or should I say...Was. ;)

There were clean clothes mixed with dirty clothes mixed with clothes their cousin had just given them.
They made their bed each day, but the clothes.Oh the clothes!
and the papers! and the rainbow loom! and the jewelry! and the trinkets! and the dolls! and the clothes!
Did I mention the clothes? Oh, oh the clooOOOoooOOothes.

For so long I let it go. I would peek in the doorway, feel overwhelmed and think..we'll organize later.
I didn't take the time to train them. I didn't take the time to discipline. I didn't take the time to teach.
I know it was just as much my fault as it was theirs. Okay..maybe a little more their fault!

They know better than to throw clothes on the floor.
But it was the lack of discipline. The lack of consistency that kept those clothes on the floor.

~Enter in Mother In Law~
I told her of my little girl clothing woes. I told her of my own laziness.
Then she saw the room.

For the first time in all of our lives I heard her say something stern to the ones she calls princess.
She told them that there was no reason for this.
She told them how much extra work they made for their Mama.
She told them there would be no Christmas gifts purchased if the room remained this way!
(if you know my mother in law...those are BIG words!)

So she tidied up a bit with me.
I worked hard with the girls the whole next day.
We sorted and tossed and swept and cleaned and rearranged and organized and gave away.

And then....with the help of my dear mother in law...came up with a solution.

You see, my girls love fluffy, fancy clothing.
Dresses and bows and fancy tights and shoes that "clamp" when you walk.
Hand them sparkles and they are elated!

However, Not while playing outside.Not while riding bikes.
Not while jumping on the trampoline. Not while running in the woods.
They like their gym shoes. They like their sweatshirts. They even like their jeans.

So...each morning after breakfast I check their room.
If there is anything out of place...even a sock!
They have to get dressed fancy with fancy shoes...and stay fancy all day long.

I know some of you are thinking...How terrible that she threatens her girls with pretty clothes!
She is ruining them. They are going to rebel against femininity and modesty and all things beautiful!

Pishposh! Think what you will! They have been keeping their room spotless! Spotless I tell you!
And guess what?..they still LOVE getting dressed up pretty!

Sometimes us parents just need a reality check. The girl's messy, messy room was mine.
I wasn't doing them (or myself) any favors by letting their room continue to be a disaster.

Teaching them to keep their room in order is more than just a clean room.
It's building character into them.

They are learning responsibility. They are learning to respect the things that have been given to them.
Someone paid for all those clothes on the floor. Someone worked hard for them.

All they have been given is a blessing and they need to know that.
It's our responsibility to teach them. I wasn't doing my part just as much as they weren't doing their part.

It feels like a breath of fresh air to walk past the room and see it clean.
They have also been spending much more time playing in it!
They are learning to appreciate a clean space too.

Happy Day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10 Things

1. Today I declared "Home Economics" in this home school. All math has been canceled.
Kids are happy. Mom is even happier. {more on this later}

2. Our wood stove is making the house cozy and toasty. Love it.
3. We had our first big frost last night. Everything was so glittery in the morning sun.
4. 38 days and we put our Christmas tree up. {Yay!}

5. Instead of a date with Jeff, I spent Saturday night in the ER with my oldest.
He went on a 22 mile hike with friends from church. He fell off of a guard rail and sliced a chunk out of his shin. Literally a is missing from his leg. The bone was exposed. It was the most disgusting wound I have seen on one of my children. He was 8 miles into the hike when this happened.
Did he stop and call his parents like he should have? Was he worried at all? No and No.
The boy wrapped it up and finished the last 14 miles. He ended up needing 7 stitches.

6. My friend  Jennie and her family stayed with us last night passing through on their way to PA.
Wish it wasn't such a short visit.

7. Thankful I get to be a mom. Not always easy, but such a fun and rewarding job.
8. Chocolate chip cookies are baking in my kitchen. I may or may not have eaten too much dough.

9. I couldn't love anyone on earth more than my husband. Seriously, he is the best.

10. It's Tuesday, I'm acting like it's Saturday.....
...waaaay too late for me to still be in pajamas. Time for real life.

Happy Day to you

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fashion Tip Friday ~

We outgrow pigtails, ribbons in our hair and puffy, ruffly, skirts from the teen section
do not look pretty on a 40 year old. There are only certain ages that can pull off certain looks.

But nail polish....It's classic.
Any woman at any age can wear any color and look great.
It's a timeless accessory to a woman's hands. (and feet! :)

The season is fall, the color palette has shifted into warmer and/or darker tones.
Deep creams, oranges, dark blues and purples are a few trendy colors this season.

A few ideas if you're not quite sure.
Some color choices from Essie.

I usually choose colors in the red/brown family.
However I am also a fan of the darker blues too...which is currently on my toes.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend. Happy nail painting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Tuesday, so....

...two little princesses left their great, big, fancy castle, rode their black and brown and white horses through the village, all the way to school where they traced and painted fall leaves.

...we baked the most disgusting cookies ever. My kids thought they were delicious and fabulous!
{Sophia's favorite food on earth is cotton candy. She gets it once a year from the county fair.
When her Auntie Dana found this mix on clearance at Target.....she made one little girl very happy}

....I taught four piano lessons this afternoon.
...canned a batch of raspberry jam in between lessons.

....thought about juicing my grapes for grape jelly.
....didn't juice my grapes.
....promised myself I'm going to juice the grapes tomorrow.
*note* I also made this same promise  yesterday ;) rained most of the day. It was nice to have everyone inside together.

Is this not the cutest little guy? He came for a visit yesterday.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Our bonfire has gone out.

The s'mores plate is empty. Morning came early.
The husband is back at work. The schoolwork is calling.....until next weekend. :)

Happy Monday. Hope you have a great one.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fashion Tip Friday ~

{the Saturday morning edition}
Now that farmer's markets have ended...I am around on Fridays.
{Except on busy days at the apple orchard near my house when they ask if I can fill in....
which was this Friday, which is why this post wasn't published until today. ;)
So back!...are Fashion Tip Fridays.

Today's topic...Children's clothing.
How can you make your kids look nice without breaking the bank?

This store is one of my absolute favorites.
Not just for my kids, my whole family actually.

But last fall when I made a list and added up all that I wanted to purchase,
{coats and a couple of dresses} my total came to over $9,000.

This coat for example.... $7,000!
One Christmas walk around the city sipping hot've just blown a lot of money.

While I drool and wish over these clothes..they are just not practical. and quiet honestly a waste of money. There is so much more one can do with 7K than purchase a coat for a child.

But what is it about these clothes and these clothes that I like so much?
It's their classic style I like. the preppy look they have about them. the crisp, clean feel they have.

I can't afford to drop a few thousand dollars on my family's closet each season.
So what is one to do?

Be a copycat.
Take the style you like and find it elsewhere.

I love this trench coat from Burberry for my girls....but I can' afford $850 (x2)
Alternative - Target. $24.99 (x2)

And while this shirt is actually on sale at Ralph Lauren for $27.99 which isn't bad,
my mother in law found one at the resale store {brand new, tags still on it!!!} for only $2!
{Allison is wearing it in the ^^^above photo}

{Remember when we hailed cabs a couple of weeks ago with Julie?
Well..her sister came up for a visit! My girls once again dropped me like a hot potato.
My sister AND a friend of hers who gave them lots of attention!...they were in heaven all day.}

Look through catalogs and pinterest boards for styles that catch your eye...and then try to replicate them.
You don't have to spend a fortune to dress your family well.
You just need to have patience and the willingness to search. Even online.
My sister in law doesn't have the time to scour resale stores..but she does find fantastic deals on ebay!

This week Chicago was gorgeous. Perfect weather...I just love the city in the fall.
I may have mentioned this before? ;)

Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I am just as in love with chilly rain as I am with the perfectly perfect, sunshine sky days of fall.
I know, I know.... I will be laughing at the above^^^ sentence in just a few months.

This time of year is the best of the best.
So much fun going on, so much to look forward to in the coming months.

I'm not completely ready to tuck in...especially today. It's just beautiful outside.
I will miss laundry on the line. Playing around in the garden. Windows open. Walks with no mittens.

But there is something so splendidly cozy about the rain. (and snow...yes I said the "s" word ;)
We recently had one of those days. It made staying in sweatpants way too easy. and it was just fine.

Off to make more applesauce. Happy day to you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, Monday.

We're feeling pretty fall-y around here.
We've been in the kitchen A LOT. canning. drying herbs. baking.
Our maple tree out front is colored yellow/orange/red.
I love Chicago this time of year. I think everyone should have a visit.
It's cold enough for slippers and chunky sweaters and boots and hot cider.
Life is busy. Life is Blessed.

Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Humbling Shoes.

People without children always seem to have the best parenting advice.
Two people engaged or freshly wed seem to have all the answers to a flawless marriage.
The best financial advice is usually given by well off people who have all they need.

{In case you're not catching my sarcasm....those first few sentences are heavily coated with it...wink}

It's so easy to offer our wisdom to others. Soooo, so easy.
Especially when we haven't experienced what we know (or think we know) so much about.

This past year I have been humbled. Having my own "wise advice" come back to haunt me.
Subjects I shelled out my self righteous wisdom upon...thoughts I had about things and kept to myself...
some of those situations... I have gotten to experience first hand. :)

God slipped my feet into the same shoes the people I offered my "helpful" advice to once wore.
Then He had me go for a walk. A walk in their shoes.

I thought certainly I was only going for a short jaunt in this not so nice neighborhood I was now in....
Oh No...we (God and I) went for a long walk. He took me miles.
I was stubborn at first...dragged my feet. Denied this course of action was for me.

But with God in charge, I had no choice.
So I walked. I whined. I complained. I felt bad for myself. Really bad at times.
I had blisters. My legs were sore, my feet were sore, my head hurt...I was miserable.

I wondered where He was taking me.
Sometimes I felt like He wasn't listening when I talked to Him. Sometimes I felt like He left me.

"Why?" I cried out to Him ..."I walk where life is pretty. life is grand. peaceful. comfortable."

That was the problem. My life was comfortable. Too comfortable.
I was also pretty high on myself. and the way I lived. and the things I had.
and it was nothing I had was all blessings from God I gave myself the credit for!

Yep. I was comfortably bragging about my blessed life.
You know what happens when one of God's children boasts and gets too comfy?
He takes us on a walk. and not through Central Park on a sunny day. Yikes!

God knew I needed pressure applied. I needed that stretching and pulling.
So I had no other choice but to seek Him. So seeking is what I did.

I needed to surrender. I needed to give it all to God. So much easier said than done!
But once I did, once I really, really did...well, THEN I saw!

Looking back down that road, I see His hand in SO much of my life.
He never left me. He never leaves us. Never.

When I couldn't find Him, I just wasn't looking in the right places!
I was looking where I wanted to the areas of my life I thought He should be in.
Which was a lot different than where He was actually at. Where I needed to go.

There were things I needed to learn on that road.
Gratefulness. Obedience. Trust. Patience. Contentment...{Still working on this one}
In fact, still working on ALL of the above. I have a long. looong way to go.

So back to the humbling part I started out with....
I've learned that until we are in a situation, we don't know how we would respond.
To simplify...Keep My Mouth Shut! I know nothing.

It's easy from the outside, it's always easy from the outside.
The "I would never-s" and the "they should-s" fly out so easily...
like toys on shelves at Christmas time.

Once we're IN a situation we have a better understanding of why people handle things the way they do.
And you know what? We gain new perspective. We learn to have compassion.
I gained Compassion I didn't know I didn't have.

I've learned we need to be there for each other. Not with a harsh, judgmental spirit, but a loving one.
Shaming people. Comparing. Making someone feel less than us...that's just wrong.
Especially when we don't know how they are feeling.

I don't know anyone who finds comfort from a nose pointed upward and eyes looking down at them.
I've had it done to me and I've done it to others. I'm guilty of thinking I was better.
It's embarrassing to think back on those times. How rude I was.

If we as Christ followers are in this together, if we are family, then we need to be there for one another.
In the right way. Showing love. Showing compassion.

I am thankful for my walk..even though to be honest...I really didn't like it too much at the time.
I am thankful that He gave me listening ears and seeing eyes. (even if it had to be by force. ;)
I am also Scared To DEATH! to make any sort of judgment call on anyone! Ha!

I'm sure I'll be going on lots more walks throughout my life...and that's okay.
It's okay if that's what it takes to bring me closer to Him.