Friday, August 31, 2012

This moment - concentration

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Technology and kids

I've been thinking about this topic for a while, and I've got quite a few thoughts swirling around in my head, so hopefully I can pull them together and get them all out clearly.

A while ago (can't remember exactly where or when) I read something that said, when it comes to technology, we are immigrants but our children are natives.  It really made me start thinking about my kids, and how they will interact with technology and how it will shape their lives.  It will definitely be different than my own experience, no doubt about that.

The other night a friend and her husband were over for supper, and we got to reminiscing about how we were introduced to computers and the internet.  We talked about when we first got our own email addresses (I believe I was about 16).  We laughed about the sound of the dial-up (beep boop screeeeeeech), and how you had to get off the computer if mom or dad wanted to use the phone.  How we'd get home from school and go on instant messenger to "chat" with our friends, even though we just saw them and there was really nothing new to say, but just because it was such a novelty.  How now we are so attached to our cellphones that we feel almost naked without them (not me though - I have a very basic cellphone which is usually dead in the bottom of my purse. :P  However, the day when my internet wasn't working for half the day....  that's a different story).

These days, kids are exposed to technology far sooner, and at a sometimes alarming rate.  But is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Is all that screen time really a benefit to them?

We've purposely tried to limit the amount of "screen time" (TV, computer, etc) that our kids are exposed to (please note, this is just our decision for our family - I know that everyone will make their own decision for their family and I'm not judging or saying you need to do what we did.  This is just what works for us).  We noticed something when Annika was just a little baby, maybe around 2-3 months, that helped make the decision for us - she was absolutely captivated by the TV screen.  She would stop crying, stop fussing, completely tune out the rest of the world if she could catch a glimpse of that screen.  And we didn't like it.  She became a little zombie, even at such a tender age.  So after noticing that, and discussing it, we decided to keep the TV off when she was awake (or, when she was still little enough, we would hold her so that she couldn't see the screen).  This worked for us, and for a while, when Annika got bigger, she didn't even take notice of the TV when it was on.  I remember when I tried to watch "Charlie Brown Christmas" with her, an all-time favorite of mine (she was just over a year and a half at the time), and my somewhat-disappointment that she had no interest in it at all, and wouldn't even stay sitting on the couch with me.

So for about the first 2 1/2 years of her life, Annika didn't watch TV.  That all changed when Emmett was born, and Annika decided that that would be the perfect time to stop napping.  That did not make for a happy mama.  I needed a little sanity, a little break, so I started letting her watch TV after lunch, which usually coincided with when I would feed Emmett.  Once we got into the routine of it, she started sitting still and paying attention to the TV.  At first it was just a half hour that she would get to watch, then we started watching Sesame Street and it was a full hour.  She's "outgrown" Sesame Street now (at 4!!), but she still gets to watch an hour of TV after lunch, once Emmett goes down for his nap.  Usually it's Dora the Explorer or Strawberry Shortcake.  Occasionally she'll get to watch a movie (she's a big Shrek fan, although not as much lately).  Her TV "repertoire" is fairly limited, but she seems to be okay with that (I'm the one who usually pushes to find a new show, when I can't stand hearing the same ones over and over again!).  As for Emmett, since the TV is only on when he's asleep, he's still blissfully unaware of such things.  On the few occasions when it is on and he's around, he's just like Annika was, and pays little attention to it.

Lately, Annika has discovered the computer, and the fact that there are games online that are designed especially for kids.  I had a hard time with this one, mostly because I don't want to share my computer!  At first I would let her play a game every now and then, but it was getting to be a bit frustrating for both of us - for me because she would pester me to let her play, and for her, because she never knew when she'd be allowed to play (TV time has always been very predictable, which I think is a good thing for her).  So recently, I decided that she could have 15 minutes of computer time each day (I set the timer), as long as the day before she had cleaned up her room after quiet time and cleaned up the toys before bed.  I'm hoping to make a little "chore chart" for her to keep track of that, since she loves stuff like that.  It seems to be working pretty well so far.  Yesterday she even decided she was done before her 15 minutes were up.  She's fairly limited with the games she plays (just a few on the Strawberry Shortcake website), so if anyone can recommend good, simple games/websites, that would be great.  I also think I'd like to get a mouse for her, since we just use the track pad on our laptop, but it's a bit difficult for her.  She can move the mouse and click on things, but the concept of clicking and dragging is too difficult for her.  I've also been contemplating getting her one of those kid-version tablets for Christmas, but I still haven't decided yet whether it would be a good thing or not.

Little by little, technology is starting to creep into our little girl's life, and I have to admit, I'm still a little uncertain about how I feel about that.  It's undeniable that one day she will be immersed in it, but does she need to be already?  Should I be trying to preserve these screen-free (or rather, screen-limited) days, or should I be preparing her for what's to come?  Am I doing her a disservice by not teaching her about computers?  Will she be behind the rest of her classmates when she enters kindergarten in a year?  I know that sounds sort of silly, but is it true?  Things have definitely changed since I was in school.  Computers are now an integral part of the classroom.  Just the other day I read on a friend's blog about how she created her own QR code for her students' parents to scan with their smartphones to access her contact information and the class website (she teaches grade 1).  A little while ago there was a news article about a high school near our place requiring students to have laptops.  I'm not saying that the influence of technology is bad, but it's definitely changing things.

And how does my own screen time affect the kids?  I don't have the TV on during the day, but I certainly spend time in front of the computer.  Usually it's not much - just replying to an email, checking Facebook, looking for a recipe, pinning something to Pinterest...  harmless stuff, right?  Or maybe not.   I'm sure most of us have read this article - "How to Miss a Childhood" (if you haven't, it's worth a read).  For me, it's not a phone that distracts my attention, but my computer.  But really, is it any different?  Maybe a little more limited, since I don't always have my computer with me (I never go on the computer while driving ;) ).  But what am I missing in those brief minutes when I'm just "checking in"?  What message am I sending to my children about what's really important?  I'm not quite prepared to say that I won't go on the computer when the kids are around (because sometimes I really do need to send an email before I forget, or get a recipe from online for making supper), but I'm going to try to consciously cut down on the number of "quick checks" that I do. 

Wow, this ended up being quite the post!  Thanks for taking the time to read it.  Hopefully all my ramblings made some kind of sense.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic - how does your family deal with things like screen-time and technology?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From pinned to practice: buttermilk and busy bags

This week I tried out 2 pins.

#1. Freeze buttermilk

This one was pretty easy and straight-forward - one of those things that make you say "why didn't I think of that?!?"  I occasionally buy buttermilk for pancakes or some other recipe, and I almost never use up the full container.  The rest usually ends up going down the drain.  So this is a great idea - freeze the leftovers and then you have it on hand when you need it (like when you don't know what to make for supper and it ends up being pancakes... that has happened before, and no one was terribly thrilled about the non-buttermilk recipe I tried out).  Anyway, I haven't tried thawing out the buttermilk yet, so hopefully it's not some strange consistency once it's defrosted (they recommend giving the bag a shake to mix it up, if it has separated).

#2. Pool noodle "beads" - busy bag

I've been seeing ideas for "busy bags" all over Pinterest, and I absolutely LOVE the idea of them.  For those of you who aren't familiar, busy bags are different activity bags that you can pull out when you need a few minutes of uninterrupted time (and you don't want to stick your kid in front of the TV) or when your kid starts complaining about being bored.  They should be age-appropriate so kids can do them without your help (or with minimal assistance).  They are also usually educational, helping kids practice hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, letter/number recognition, matching/recognizing colors, shapes, etc.

I'd love to have at least 5 or 6 (or more!) different bags for each kid, so there's always something relatively "new and exciting" to pull out.  I think that's one of the brilliant aspects of these bags - they are cleaned up and put away after using them, so they're not just "another toy" lying around.  They're a novelty, which increases their appeal to kids. 

I picked the pool noodle "beads" idea to start our collection, mostly because I had an old pool noodle in the garage and it was easy to do - just get a knife and go at it.

For string I used a skipping rope that Annika got for her birthday, but both the handles came off before she ever really used it, so it's just been lying around since then.  I made a set for both Emmett and Annika (even though the task is a bit too easy for Annika) because I knew that she'd want to do it too if she saw Emmett doing it.  I will likely modify Annika's set a bit to make it a bit more age-appropriate (i.e. more difficult).  I've seen a few ideas for older kids - having different color noodle "beads" to create patterns, or drawing letters or numbers on the noodles and then stringing them in order. 

So how did the kids like them?  Well, at first they were both intrigued and strung the beads onto the rope (the task is actually a little difficult for Emmett right now, but I'm sure he'll get the hang of it soon).  As you can see, Annika is a pro at it.

However, it didn't take long for Annika's imagination to take over.  The beads became "food" for her airplane...

then... bread crumbs??

Meanwhile, Emmett got bored and went back to playing with his Lego. :P

I ended up putting everything away (after fishing beads out from under the couch and various other places) after Emmett started taking bites out of them.  Sure, the kids were busy, but not exactly like the quiet, serene picture I saw on Pinterest. :(

I was a bit disappointed that the bags didn't "work" as perfectly as shown on Pinterest (but really, what ever does??), but I think once the kids get used to the idea of how the bags work, and perhaps with a few "rules" (sit at the table or around the coffee table when playing with busy bags, items from busy bags must stay together, etc), then hopefully they will be more successful. (Note: as I'm typing this, Emmett is pointing towards the cupboard where the bags are kept and is saying "beads, beads, beads" - this could be a successful idea after all).

From what I've seen on Pinterest and the various busy bag pins I've checked out so far, it seems like a lot of people who make busy bags often do it as a "swap", so that they can get lot different kinds of bags without the effort of making them all themselves (it's also likely more cost-effective).  You get a bunch of people together and everyone makes just 1 or 2 kinds of bags, but enough for everyone in the group.  Then you swap bags and end up with a great collection!  I think this is an awesome idea, and I'm toying with the idea of organizing a swap myself, if I can get enough people interested.  I haven't totally worked out all the logistics of it, but I'd like to get at least 10 people participating, and you have to know me in real life and be relatively close by (so we don't need to worry about mailing stuff).  We'd probably have 2 categories of bags - toddler (under age 3) and preschool (age 3-5).  I could provide a list of bag ideas and you could pick one of two to make, or you could come up with your own idea.  Each bag should only cost about $1-2 to make (or less).  We would get together one evening to swap bags (and probably would need to have some snacks or something to go with it! ;) ).  Let me know if you're interested in participating - leave me a comment here, send me a message on FB or email me! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three years ago today...

... we moved out of our old house and into my parents' basement.  Why??  We needed a place to live while we tore down our old house and built the new one. 

Here's what the house looked like before...

Not exactly your typical tear-down, right?  No, when we first bought the house back in 2003 (we moved in after we got married in January 2004), it was not in the plans to tear it down.  The house was on the small side (but not tiny), pretty old (I think it was built around the 1940's but I could be wrong about that) and could use some fixing up.  The plan was to live here for a few years, fix up the house, and then sell it and buy our next house, the "family" house.  So, we did fix ups - we repainted the interior (some rooms twice, after experimenting with some bold colors that just weren't us), we gave the bathroom a face-lift, we tore down a wall inside to open up the entrance way and the living room, we replaced the siding, put in new windows and added more insulation to the attic.  We would've liked to do something with the basement, but it wasn't really tall enough to finish out (although I never had to stoop down!), and it got water in it every spring (a fact that had never been mentioned to us before buying the house :P).  Every now and then we would joke that perhaps we should just tear the old place down, but it was just a joke.  After all, we had put so much time and energy (and money) into our improvements.  We had Annika in 2008, and our little love nest got a little more crowded.  By 2009 we started looking at other houses and lots, dreaming of what we would like next.

After seeing a bunch of houses and touring empty lots in new developments, we decided what we wanted the most was what we already had - a fair size yard (we actually have a double lot, so our yard is twice the size of most on our street), mature trees, convenient location, nice neighbourhood, a school nearby...  The real estate market had also changed since we bought our house, and prices were now considerably more that they were in 2003.  The tear-down idea moved from dream to reality....

We attempted to save anything we could from the old house.  We took out doors, windows, door handles, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, landscape stones - one evening a friend even came and took off most of the new siding (we told him he could have it for free, but he would have to do the work of removing it).  We reused what we could and sold/donated other stuff.  Some of it is still sitting in our garage (dishwasher anyone?? It still works, just didn't "go" with our new kitchen).

Here's the house after we stripped it...

Finally the big day came - the tear down happened September 18, 2009.  I think they started around 7:00 am, so I was still at my parents' place with Annika (also I'm not sure I could've handled watching them tear apart my home).  Carey was there and filmed it all, so I saw it after the fact, which was a bit easier.  Annika and I went by later in the afternoon and took some pictures.

The building in the background is our garage, which we kept.  Carey built it the summer after we moved in.

All that white stuff is the insulation from in the attic.

Here's a few pictures of our temporary home in the basement...

We made this little alcove into Annika's room, since there was only 1 bedroom in the basement.
We had bottled water while we lived there, since we didn't like the taste of my parents' well water (even though I grew up drinking it - funny how tastes change).
We were very fortunate that my parents' had a full kitchen in the basement, so we could still cook our own meals and have our own space.

We moved in to our new house on January 16, 2010, almost 4 months to the day from when the old house was torn down.

Annika had no problem making herself right at home.
I have to admit, it took me some time to get used to the new house.  For quite a while, I kept expecting to see the old house when I'd drive up the street.  However, I love our home now, and I don't regret our decision for a minute.  I love that we have lots of space (this house is about twice the size of the old one), even though it does take quite a bit more work to keep it clean.  There are days when I miss cleaning only one bathroom, and when vacuuming the entire house only took 20 minutes.  We still have little projects to finish up around the house, and someday I hope to actually decorate.  Right now we have a "minimalist" kind of thing going on, but it's not entirely on purpose!  It's half keeping the house kid-proof, and half the fact that we just haven't taken the time to do any serious decorating.  Someday. :)

Here's the house today...

Yes, the grass looks pretty bad - just one of those things that still needs work. :P

HOME. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Emmett's personalized ABC photo book

I got it finished just in time to use my free book voucher!  It was a challenge coming up with some of the words (or getting Emmett to pose for the corresponding pictures - there were some that just didn't happen and I had to quickly come up with a replacement), but I got it done.  I'm so excited for this book, I'm going to have a hard time waiting until Emmett's birthday to give it to him!!

Visit to create your own personalized photobook.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From pinned to practice: chalk, wasps and blueberry breakfast cake

This week I tried out 4 pins, all with limited success.  I guess you win some, you lose some. :P

#1. Use chalk to get rid of grease stains

The first was this laundry tip - to use chalk to get rid of grease stains.  I had a shirt and a dress that had oily spots on them, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I didn't have regular chalk on hand, just sidewalk chalk, so I'm not sure if that made a difference.  I rubbed the chalk on the stains, but I wasn't sure how long to leave it before laundering.  Since I had a load waiting to be washed (and I'm not an overly patient person) I waited about 15 minutes.  I took before/after pictures, but the stains really didn't show up in the before pictures, so I decided not to post them, since you couldn't really see a difference anyways. After one wash I could still see the spots on the dress, and a few of the spots on the shirt, so I rubbed the chalk on again and let it sit overnight before washing again.  The shirt came out nice and clean, but the spots on the dress were still there, just smaller.  However, I think the dress may have gone through the dryer before I initially noticed that it was stained, so that might have been a factor.  And there's a possibility that the stains weren't from grease but from something else, since I don't remember how they got there. :P  So, I'd say that this method works, but probably it's best to do it on fresh stains.

#2. Cover cups with cupcake liners to keep wasps out of drinks

The second pin I tried was this tip - use upside-down cupcake liners as cupcake covers to keep wasps, dirt, etc out of drinks.  I hosted an outdoor potluck brunch yesterday, so I thought this would come in handy.  However, I was disappointed to find out that the cupcake liners didn't really fit nicely over my cups (even when I tried with my narrowest cups).  They must've used very narrow cups in this picture, or had oversized cupcake liners.  I could get a cupcake liner to cover the cup, but every time I touched the cup, it slid off (even with the straw through), which made it pretty useless.

So, in order to get the liners to stay put, I had to flatten them out, and then fold them down around the cups.  It worked, but it doesn't look as nice as the Pinterest picture.  The other downside of this, if young kids are drinking from these cups, is that you need to remind them that these are just covers and not water-tight lids.  Annika almost spilled her drink since she's used to being able to tip a lipped cup.  So this works (no one had a bug in their drink), but it's not as great as the picture leads you to believe.

#3. Homemade wasp trap from an empty pop bottle

This was the third pin I tried out - homemade wasp trap.  Again, I thought it would come in handy for our outdoor brunch.  However, not a single wasp ended up in my trap (and there were definitely wasps around).  Not sure what I did wrong...  Maybe not enough syrup inside?

#4. Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Finally, I tried out this recipe for buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake, to serve at our brunch.  Mine didn't turn out as pretty (and I forgot to take a picture of it before serving :P)

I accidentally added the blueberries to soon, so the whole cake was sort of purplish.  Also, some of the comments after the recipe said that it was a bit dry, so I added extra buttermilk and I may have added a bit too much (it was quite moist).  And to top it all off, when I went to bake it in the morning (I mixed it all the night before and stuck it in the fridge overnight), my internet wasn't working and I couldn't double-check the recipe to see how long to bake it. :P  Luckily I remembered the right time and temperature, but it probably could've used a little longer, since it was quite "moist" in the middle.  Despite all this, it still tasted pretty good (there's lemon zest in there, and I really like the blueberry/lemon combo), and I may try it again.

So that was my week.  Go check out my friend, Andrea, to see what pins she's been putting into practice!

PS. by the way, the brunch went really well, despite the so-so turn out of my pins (and no one was stung by a wasp!).  Thanks to everyone who came! :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

1000 gifts: #192 - 200

Thankful for...

192. Running water!  Going for half a day without water last week made me realize how much I take it for granted.  Good thing I had some disposables on hand, otherwise Emmett would've been running around without a diaper, since they were almost all dirty when the water was shut off.

193. Annika's summer day camp last week.  Over the summer Annika has participated in 3 different week-long "day camps" put on by the city's leisure program, and she really enjoyed them all.  I'm so glad she was willing to try something new, as I also really enjoyed those weeks! ;)

194. Eating outside on our deck (and Carey's ability to kill wasps with the fly swatter without anyone getting stung!)

195. A family bike ride.

196. Getting my favorite pair of sandals fixed for only $5 (one of the straps had pulled out of the sole at the end of last summer) and being able to wear them again.

197. This face (we call it his "handsome face").

198. Safety for Emmett while he was discovering the ladder and slide on our play structure (some days I just think that I'm not cut out to be the mother of an adventurous little boy!).

199. Snack time (princess fruit snacks) in princess tent set up in the living room, just for something different.

200. Take-out pizza for supper tonight and an invitation to a BBQ for tomorrow which means two nights in a row that I don't need to cook supper. :)

Friday, August 17, 2012


We use cloth diapers on Emmett primarily, but he also wears disposables occasionally (I'd say it's about an 80/20 split, and I'm perfectly fine with that).  I buy Huggies diapers and wipes, and I collect their "reward" points from the packages.  Since I don't buy a lot, it takes me quite a while to accumulate points.  So far I've gotten one thing with my points - a $15 Starbucks card (and I'm so sad that they no longer offer that as a reward, since I've almost got enough points to get another one!).  However, a little while ago Huggies sent me an offer to get a free 20-page, 8x11 hardcover photo book from Shutterfly (which I contemplated using for this project, except the offer expires at the end of August, so it wouldn't work).  I was all caught up on my vacation pictures, and I had already done the kids' first year books, so what to do with this free book?  (The Menno in me can't pass up something for free, although I know I'll still have to pay shipping).  Then I remembered pinning this idea...

Source: via Pamela on Pinterest

A homemade "ABC" photo book!

I want to make one of these for Emmett, but I'll have to be quick (the offer expires on Aug 28).  I've just started compiling my list of words, and I need some help! 

A - Annika, Uncle Andrew
B - baby (baby pic of Emmett)
C - cheese (I know, not a traditional "c" sound, but it's one of Emmett's favorite foods)
D - Daddy
E - Emmett
F - family
G - Grandma and Grandpa (our kids call both sets of grandparents "grandma" and "grandpa" so I'll do a pic of each set)
H - hammer
I - ice cream
J - Auntie Jodi
K -
L - laundry basket (one of Emmett's favorite spots)
M - Mommy
N -
O -
P - plane
Q - quilt
R - room (pic of Emmett's room)
S - swing/slide
T - Auntie Tracy
U - upside-down (Emmett loves when I flip him and hold him upside-down)
V -
W -
X -
Y -
Z - 

Please let me know your suggestions!!  Thanks! :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

From pinned to practice: dry shampoo

A while ago my friend Andrea started doing these weekly posts called "from pinned to pratice."  As you can probably guess from the name, she tries out different things she's pinned on Pinterest, and then blogs about how they turn out.  This seems to be quite a trend right now - people reporting on how well these "great ideas" actually turn out (or don't turn out!) - and so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. :)

I've actually tried out quite a few things that I've pinned (although I've pinned quite a lot more than I'll likely ever be able to do!), and the one that I'm going to write about today is DIY dry shampoo.

I found this recipe and made it a while ago and it works pretty well for me.  It came in particularly handy yesterday morning when I woke up to find that we had no running water!  Now, for as long as I can remember, I have started my day off with a shower.  Some people need coffee in the morning to get them going, I need a shower.  And I wash my hair every day, otherwise it's very greasy (I know, I know, if I didn't wash my hair so often, it wouldn't be so greasy - it's a vicious cycle, maybe one day I'll try to break it).  So I was glad to have this on hand yesterday.  I mostly just used it in my bangs and then put the rest of my hair back in a ponytail (sorry I don't have any pictures to show you :P).  My hair didn't look as good as if it had been washed, but it was a vast improvement over the alternative (being a grease ball).  I felt decent enough to go out and be seen in public.

A few tips - if you're looking for the ingredients, I found the rice flour and the arrowroot powder (also called arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch) at the Bulk Barn.  I used peppermint essential oil, but I think next time I'll leave it out.  It seems to make the mixture quite clumpy.  It does take a bit of "working in" to get the white powder to disappear, so I recommend putting this in your hair first and then styling (I tried to add a little extra after I had my hair done, and it was difficult to get it blended in without wrecking my style).  Another tip - don't apply while wearing a black shirt. ;)  The author of the blog also suggests adding a bit of cocoa powder into the mix if you have dark hair, so it's not so difficult to blend in (which I might try next time, even though my hair isn't that dark).

So there you have it - I actually do make use of those pins!  How about you?? Are you on Pinterest?  Do you practice what you pin? ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Digital pictures... what to do??

What do you do with your digital photos?  Do you still print photos and keep a photo album, or just look at pictures on your computer, and print off the odd one or two to put in frames or give to a relative?  Do you make photo books online and have them printed?

I'm asking these questions (and I'd love to hear your responses) because I'm having a bit of a dilemma with what to do with my photos.  Since getting our first digital camera about 6 years ago, I've been pretty good at keeping on top of printing pictures and putting them into photo albums (not every picture I take gets printed, but quite a few do).  I don't scrapbook, but I do have organized albums, and I usually write the date and the names of any non-family members pictured on the back of each photo.  Or perhaps I should say that I was pretty good at keeping on top of things.  It's now been about a year since I've printed pictures for my photo albums.  I've printed the occasional picture to frame or put in a baby book or give to family, but I haven't done pictures for my albums since the beginning of last September.  That's a lot of pictures to go through now!

I'm wondering, though, whether I should keep printing pictures and doing albums or if I want to switch over to making a photo book for each year instead (I would then still print pictures to finish off last year's album, but not print pictures from this year).  I've made a photo book for each of our family vacations, and one for each of the kids' first year, and I really like the finished result.  I'd love to make one of our wedding photos some day, but I need to get the negatives scanned first!  We got married just before digital took off. :P  The kids love looking through those books (at first I was quite anal about them, and then decided that they were meant to be looked through and enjoyed, even if it meant the pages got a little creased), and I like that they're easier to handle than a big album (and a photo won't fall out!).  However, I wonder if I'll regret not printing pictures?  If I did photos in a photo book, I wouldn't be able to write on the back of the photos with date/subject info (and it would likely get cumbersome and cluttered to caption each photo with that info).  And if I no longer have a photo album, what would I do with all those photo thank you cards and birth announcements and Christmas cards that I receive?  I always stick those in the back of my photo album each year.

So there's my little dilemma (I know, what problems I have :P).  I want to have some actual photos that I can touch and look at, because it's just not the same for me to gather the kids 'round the computer and look at pictures and reminisce.  But what's the best way to go??  Your thoughts???  If you do photo books, what's your favorite place/site to do them?

Monday, August 13, 2012

1000 gifts: 181-191

I've been very bad at keeping up with my "1000 gifts" posts (or my list of things that I'm thankful for, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "1000 gifts"). Granted, over the summer I've had very little motivation to blog at all (remember those weekly summer cooking posts I was going to do?  Whoops. :P), but I feel especially bad about not doing these particular ones, because I know that I have so much to be thankful for. I find, though, that if I don't take note of things as they're happening, if I just try to sit down and write a list all at once, it's hard to come up with things. Why is that? Why do those beautiful little moments slip away so easily? Is it just me, or does anyone else find that too?? Anyway, I'm going to TRY to be more intentional with these posts, even if it's just a quick list, or a few things (I usually try to aim for 10 in each post, but better to note 5 things than none at all, right?). So here's what I'm thankful for so far this summer...

181. Enjoying fresh peas, spinach, rhubarb and cherry tomatoes from our little garden (okay, I didn't enjoy the tomatoes all that much, but I did taste one, and I'm very thankful that they're growing and others can enjoy them).  Hopefully we'll also be able to enjoy our carrots very soon.

182. Spending time at the lake with family and friends.

183. A new bookshelf for Emmett's room (which we got on sale), and finally hanging up these baby photos!!

184. Hobbies that let me lose track of time.  I was painting Annika's dolls the other day during her quiet time, and I lost track of time and she caught me in the act!  So much for a surprise. :P  Good new is that she's very excited for having "Strawberry Shortcake" dolls.

185. Being able to wear my contacts, at least for a few hours each day.  This summer my eyes have been misbehaving, and after wearing contacts for 15 years with no problems, I now find that my eyes are irritated by them, especially with extended wear.  I've consulted my contact lens guy a few times, and I'm trying out some different brands of lenses.  I can wear them fairly comfortably, but it's just not the same as it used to be.  But it's better than wearing my glasses full-time (or not having anything to correct my vision!).

186. That whatever this is (double decker planking??), they both seem to enjoy it. :P

187. Friends that take the time and effort to connect with our kids.  It really means a lot to us. :)

188. A sleepover for the kids at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and a date night for Carey and I.  We finally went to see The Hunger Games!!

189. Annika's bed staying dry at night.

190. A new tooth for Emmett (#11) that came in painlessly.  Hurray for amber teething necklaces!!

191. Afternoon day camp for Annika, nap time for Emmett and a wonderfully quiet house for me.  Ahhhh....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wooden peg dolls - woodland folk

I just finished painting another set of wooden peg dolls and wanted to share them with you.  These ones, however, will be making their way across the country shortly, as I did them at the request of a dear friend who lives far away, for her daughter's upcoming birthday.  I know that they will have a good home and be well-loved, but I'll still be a bit sad to see them go!  We actually did a barter trade, and she made something special for Annika in return, so it's a good deal. :)  My friend requested a forest or woodland theme, and provided me with some pictures for inspiration (see here, here, here and here) and this was the result.

The little "tree" boys look a bit funny with their bald heads, but my friend will be making them some little wool elf hats.  I tried to make some hats for them out of felt, just for the picture, but they looked even weirder than the bald heads. :P  Just imagine them with hats.

Here's a few more pics.

Mushroom girl

Flower girl


"Tree" boys

Red Riding Hood

I've just started painting my next set, another bunch for Annika.  I thought about making them as a Christmas gift, but I just can't wait that long!  And I have another reason for wanting to give them to her sooner - I'm doing the cast of "Strawberry Shortcake" (her favorite show for a while now) and I'm a little afraid that if I don't give them to her for another 4 months, she'll be over them by then.  But if I give her the dolls now, I'm sure they will get lots and lots of play time!  So that's my next endeavor.  However, I want to wait until all the dolls are finished to give them to her, so it will require me to be a little sneaky!  Hopefully I can pull it off. :)

My inspiration for Annika's next set of dolls - I love their bright colors.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Baby shoes

I mentioned a while ago that I was hard at work making some baby presents, and now that they've all been delivered (the presents, that is) I can show them to you!  Baby shoes!!  Not to toot my own horn, but aren't they adorable?  Almost makes me want another...  ummm, wait, nope.  I'll just keep making shoes for other people's babies. ;)

My first attempt. This pair ended up being smaller than the other ones because I had to keep sewing them smaller to get them to look even and be the same size.  After they were finished, Carey asked me if I realized that the fabric looked different on each one.  Yes dear, that was on purpose. ;)

Annika really liked this pair because I used the same fabric as her apron and her t-shirt dress.  These shoes are great for using up scraps and little pieces of fabric.

I'm particularly fond of stripes (and orange), so I think this pair is my favorite. :)

The material that I used for the soles was a faux leather on one side, and a soft fleece on the other.  When I told the lady at Fabricland what I was planning to make with it, she said, "oh that will be slippery on the floor."  Ummm, these are size 0-6m - I don't think that's really a concern, but thanks anyway. :P

If you're interested in trying to make your own pair, I followed this tutorial