Archive for December, 2010

from ghetto to fab

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Many of you have had to be visually assaulted by our living room sectional, and I apologize for that. For those of you who don’t know the story, then let me tell you. Approximately 1-2 months before moving from D.C. we purchased a sectional. I’m sure you are asking why I couldn’t wait until we moved to Wisconsin before purchasing a large piece of furniture. To be honest, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find what I had in mind locally, and I knew D.C. had tons of furniture stores from which to choose.

Not long after our move to Wisconsin we started noticing the fabric splitting apart in the cushions and many threads coming loose from the fabric. Within a few months most of the cushions had gaping holes in them with stuffing coming out. We had purchased a 5-year extended warranty that supposedly guaranteed the piece (of crap) no matter where we lived in the U.S. Apparently, the warranty didn’t kick in until after a year (something not told to us originally), so we had to contend with the furniture store directly. They immediately dismissed us as it being a problem they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) deal with since we were out of state. Oh, no you didn’t! So Mike and I proceeded to call the company’s corporate office several times a day for several days. The company finally relented and issued us a full refund.

However, now we were left with an almost new, structurally sound sectional that I actually love (and still love). With all the money being spent on other projects (stone patio, landscaping, painting, etc.), we couldn’t justify buying a new couch or getting it reupholstered. Instead we tucked some blankets into the cushions to cover them. It looked pretty ghetto, in my opinion, and drove me nuts especially when I had to constantly re-do the tucking and straightening. We have since decided that we’ll just rid ourselves of the sectional when we move and purchase something new when we move to SD. I actually want to get something essentially identical to our sectional because I really do love it so very much.

A couple of days ago the thought occurred to me that we will be selling this house soon, and that our ghetto sectional might turn off some prospective buyers. So I came up with the idea to make some cushion covers to temporarily make our couch look somewhat presentable. I headed over to the local Joann Fabrics and found the closest fabric to match. I essentially made box lids for each bottom cushion. I was a little worried about making them at first after the cushion fiasco of ’99 (we reupholstered an armchair and ottoman, but I had to have Mike’s mom make the cushions because I kept ending up with triangles instead of rectangles). My sewing skills have since been refined, and I now understand the tricks of sewing a 3D project. The project went very quickly and was finished before I knew it. To ensure that the covers stay on I safety-pinned them in inconspicuous places. I think they turned out great.

Just to give you an idea of what our cushions look like without any covers. Blech! These are the pictures we sent to the company, but the cushions are actually a lot worse now with holes every single one of the cushions.

Here’s what it looks like the with the blanket covers. Notice that Violet looks like she has an “outtie” belly button. That’s actually why I had originally taken the photo months ago. It turns out it was a piece of food leftover from dinner. Ha!

As you can see even Mike and Sadie like the new covers enough to take a nap.

jelly pride and other random snippets

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

While home for Christmas break Mike got busy making jelly from all the juice made this summer using our garden blackberries (and someone’s grape orchard). A few months ago I noticed we had no pitchers left to make beverages even though there were no beverages in our fridge. Upon further inspection I realized all those pitchers were housing the gallons of juice in the freezer that Mike had processed. As you can imagine, the juice containers took up quite a bit of space in our freezer. It was a relief when Mike finally had the time to make the jellies from all that fruit extract. In the end he ended up with about 35 pints of blackberry, grape, and blackberry/grape jellies. He was quite proud of his work and set up his own photo shoot.

Speaking of blackberries, Violet loves them. Here she is at lunch yesterday eating almost an entire container of blackberries.

In other news, we are truly grateful for neighborhood pals. Most of the days during break the girls have spent playing with their friends from the ‘hood. Even though the O kids were in my house most of the day yesterday including during lunch it made the girls quite happy and kept them OCCUPIED.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some pictures of my pets. I got a new point and shoot camera recently and felt compelled to test out some shots of the animals. Lucy is looking really old these days. Somehow I think she will be with us until the end of days though. Sadie just looked so soft and cuddly last night that I had to get a picture. Mike wants to make mittens out of her paw fur. It would take a lot of Sadies to do that.

Yes, we got yet another P&S camera. Mike’s camera broke a few months ago, and I hated to finally admit that I never bonded with mine. I know a few people purchased the same camera as me based on my recommendation, so I apologize for misguiding you. It’s just that it was a bit too slow for my taste since I’m used to my SLR which has no delay. For some reason Mike’s was lightening quick which meant I usually grabbed his most of the time. When Mike’s camera went kaput it forced me to use mine more often which caused a lot of frustration. Mike “convinced” me that it would be a nice Christmas present for us to get a new camera. It just so happened that I already had my eye on a highly regarded compact camera. All the pictures in this post are brought to you today by my Christmas gift.

christmas cheer with tons o’ pictures

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Finally, it was the day everyone had been waiting for. It couldn’t have been a better day for Christmas morning. The girls were quite delighted to wake up and discover that Santa had indeed visited our home. The mean parents made them wait until 8 a.m. to start opening presents, but it was worth the wait. Each girl got exactly what they had wished and written Santa for and were even more surprised to receive unexpected things.

Pretend UGG boots. This is all Annie and Mimi had been talking about for weeks, so they were quite thrilled to finally snag a pair. They light up, too.

Pillow Pets! Violet received a unicorn at Thanksgiving, and the girls have begging to each get one ever since. Unfortunately, once Violet spotted Mimi’s dog she wanted nothing else. Mimi was not pleased.

Santa was in on a little secret that 2 certain girls in our family have been obsessed with the store Justice which is not for little girls but BIG girls. Annie and Mimi were beyond excited when they received their various items from Justice. Those shirts and earmuffs haven’t left their bodies since Christmas. Yes, even today.

One of the final gifts for the girls were Zhu Zhu Pets. They are life-like hamsters that roam around your house and annoy pets and intrigue babies which then anger big sisters who do not want babies to play with them. The girls have said that next Christmas they want to get all the accessories for their “pet” hamsters. Ha, we’ll see if they last that long.

Violet was more interested in her cigar-sized pretzel. (Notice the Doggie Pillow Pet next to Violet–snicker).

Daddy was not thrilled about this present for Violet, but as you can see Violet LOVES it.

We hope everyone had as lovely of a Christmas morning as us!


Sunday, December 26th, 2010

As a way to get some of the squirrelies out of the girls I took them ice-skating a couple of times this past week. Our fitness club offered open skate every weekday, and I was glad to take advantage of it. The girls were able to practice their moves from lessons and also be silly. The first day we went with the Johnsons. The Johnsons have only skated a couple of times before, so they relied on the buckets and walls to help get them around the rink. The girls were happy to join in on the buckets of fun and were having races and doing other silly stuff with them.


merry christmas

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

We wish you a happy, merry, lovely, grand, jolly, or just plain fun Christmas. Please do stay cozy and warm and make sure to drink lots of hot cocoa.

From our house to yours. Enjoy!

flat baby and a christmas break

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Today begins 2 weeks of having the big kids home all day. So far I’m at a loss of what to do with them. If it was summer, then I’d just kick them outside all day. However, the current weather only allows for minutes at a time to be spent outside. Any ideas from all you clever moms of what to do with these rowdy kids for the next several days?

This is what Violet thinks of her big sisters being home and making her share her mommy all day.

food network’s next stars?

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

It’s that time of year again when I put on an extra -cough- pounds. Part of this is due to the fact that we like to bake cookies for the Christmas season. A lot of cookies. Did I mention a lot? To kick off the annual tradition the girls made sugar cookies with their father this past Tuesday night. We made enough for 3 batches of 20 cookies each. Last night the cookies got frosted with that oh-so-addictive butter cream frosting. Now what I am supposed to do with 60 (minus (((2×4)+1/2)x3)) cookies sitting in my garage taunting me every single second of the day? Next up are butter fingers either tonight or tomorrow night. I will say that we do plan to make a plate of cookies to share with some families from our church, so all is not lost (or shall I say gained?) on my waistline.

bouncy, stunts, playdate, dog butt, and a christmas party

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I’m trying to catch up again, so this post will be full of random goodness.

The week before last was starting to get too cold for the outdoors, so Julie and I decided another trip to Monkey Joe’s with the little ones would be fun. Chloe and Violet were actually playing with each other this time. So the play date actually was what it was intended for, go figure.

While I was away at a church meeting one night Mike stayed home and played with the girls. The next morning Annie revealed to me that she didn’t do any of her homework the night before. Mike’s just as much of a kid as those girls. This is the kind of stuff they were doing all night. Apparently, Violet loves this stunt and stiffens right up when it’s time for Daddy to lift her in the air. Too funny!

On Sunday the weather was a little chaotic with snow and tons of wind. Our church congregation decided to only gather for the first hour and dismissed afterward. Since we had 2 extra hours to hang out at home we invited Alyssa over to enjoy the Sunday with us. The girls frolicked out in the snow (even with those whipping winds) for a long time, then had hot cocoa and popcorn while watching a movie, and they also played dress up. I’m not sure what look they were going for, but all I could think of was Little Red Riding Hood.

Alyssa has been begging her parents for a dog (or maybe a cat) for a long time now. She spent a lot of time hanging out with Sadie and Lucy. Her parents aren’t convinced that they need another being to take care of. After all the stuff we deal with our pets, I’d say they are probably wise.

The girls also pulled out the balloons and air pump and did some balloon “launching”. Lucy got a bit freaked out from the noise (I suspect it sounds a little too much like fireworks which scares the whiskers off her) and nuzzled in and under Mike.

Our ward Christmas party finally took place this past Friday night. I was so relieved when the day came and went. After countless meetings, trips to the stores, and hours of setting up the morning/afternoon of the party, I was so ready for the party to happen and be over. Everything went off without a hitch, and I hope that the attendees enjoyed themselves. Santa stopped by for a visit with the kids at the end of the night. Annie and Mimi are big enough to appreciate this special treat. Violet, not so much.

After the party Daddy was the baby wrangler while I helped clean up. Violet finally calmed down enough to nestle up into Daddy’s jacket and fall asleep.

There you have it, a haphazard blog post full of different bits, but it’s what we’ve been up to. How ’bout you?

winter crazies

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Last week was the longest week in history. I didn’t think it would ever end with activities going on every single day and night. Monday: unpacking from our weekend trip, Annie’s piano lesson and girls’ ice-skating lessons. Tuesday: church young women sewing activity that I was in charge of (errands all day getting ready for the event). Wednesday: finally got some grocery shopping done and then meeting about ward Christmas party that night. Thursday: lunch and Christmas shopping with Julie and Chloe and then Relief Society Christmas party at night. Friday: ward Christmas party set-up and actual party at night (errands all day planning for the event). I don’t understand how people can handle that on a regular basis because I know that many do. My mind and body just can’t manage that much on a weekly agenda.

The weekend before was busy for us as well because we drove to Indiana to visit some friends. You may remember my childhood friend Rebecca visiting last year about this time. Well, I guess you could say there’s a tradition in the making with our visit to their home this time. Mike and Brad, Rebecca’s husband, really hit it off and have vowed to get together to hunt again. Brad wanted to host on his turf this go around. Rebecca and I were pleased just to have an excuse to hang out with each other again. On the first day we went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. I grew up going to this museum at least a couple of dozen times when I lived in Indiana, and it’s one of my favorite places ever. Mike always teases me when I say this, but I’m convinced that it’s the biggest children’s museum in the whole wide world (Mike thinks I think everything to do with Indiana was either first or the best). Ha, I was right: the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is rated #1 in this artice, “The 10 Best Children’s Museums“. I just had to check. The place boasts 4 stories of magical fun, so how I could not think that? I’ll show more in a minute.

The next day Rebecca and her mom took me to a craft fair that took place at the high school Rebecca and I attended. I was all excited to see my old stomping ground, but it turns out that they built a new high school a couple of years ago. The old high school is used for the middle school now. Oh well, it was still fun to get nostalgic and even see some old high school classmates. I do wonder how many of my former high school/junior high teachers are still around. Can you believe that that was a couple of decades ago? It’s just not possible. The huntsmen didn’t get back until way after dark that night but still wanted to eat out for dinner with us, so the babies were not very pleased by the time we sat down for dinner. It wasn’t so bad though as I got to see more of my hometown’s growth with tons of new restaurants and a new, fancy shopping mall.

Sunday morning we got packed up and headed home not long after breakfast. We did manage to squeeze in a quick photo shoot of Rebecca’s family. Even though it had snowed the day before, the temps plummeted which made for a bitter time outside. Kamille was not pleased.

Now for some pictures from the children’s museum. I won’t overload you with tons of pics, but I will mention some of the exhibits. There was an exploration section where the kids could explore nature and building and such. A personal hygiene and healthy area was fun for the kids to learn about how to eat properly and the best way to take care of their bodies. There was a real fridge that lit up when opened and had some turntables with healthy and junk food and dinged when the proper foods were chosen. There was a whole section devoted to displays of 70’s and 80’s era toys and games. I had the most fun in that space reminiscing. Rebecca was convinced that most of that stuff would make tons of money on eBay. The kids rode on the merry-go-round (I can’t believe it’s still there after all these years). There was a section devoted only to toddlers and babies. Violet had so much fun and didn’t want to leave.

One of the girls’ favorite places was their “trip” to Egypt. The museum always devotes an entire area to decking out the place to look like a foreign country. When you first enter it’s as if you’re on a commercial airplane with real seats and a video by a flight attendant. Then you “exit” the plane and enter Egypt. There was a marketplace with a few shops including a grocery and clothing shop, a restaurant, some homes (inside and out), and then there were famous monuments such as the Pyramids. I remembered being so impressed by this area as a kid, and it didn’t disappoint this time either. I just wish I could remember some of the countries they did in the past.

The last area and by far the girls’ favorite was Barbie Land. They had hundreds of Barbie dolls on display, a reception area, a fashion catwalk with real clothes to try on and model, a make-up and hair salon, a display with vintage Barbie commercials being aired. It was hard getting the girls out of there. If we lived there, I think the girls would be happy just going there to hang out in Barbie world all day long on several visits. The museum also has a planetarium and movie theatre. Like I said, it’s big.

Here are some pictures from our day at the museum. I took about a million and one, but I will force you to view 6 or 8.

Best friends. One comment about this picture. Right before I tried to take of Violet’s jacket, and she completely lost it and was crying in the picture prior to this one. As soon as I put the jacket back she was all smiles again. Weirdo.

Everyone needs a good nose brushing now and then.

Tunnel fun.

Up in the treehouse.

A real Indy 500 race car.

Annie is the official Barbie world receptionist.

This glass sculpture towers the entire 4 stories. Then you can go below it and sit on a round “couch” that slowly moves in the circle to view the bottom of the sculpture.

We had a really fun time and hope we can plan something together again in the future. Thanks, guys!

minnesota mania [warning: picture dump]

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Our annual tradition of going to MN for Thanksgiving continued this year. We got all packed up to go and headed out of town on Tuesday night. The trailer needed to come with us because Mike took his future dental chairs to store at his ma’s house. Lucy and her kennel started out on the trailer as well, but it became clear once it got dark that it was going to be too cold for Lucy out there. So she came into the Suburban and sat at Violet’s and my feet. Matt Larson came along to see his folks and sat up front with Mike.

Everything was going fine until we stopped for gas about 2 hours into our trip. Something was missing, but we just couldn’t place our fingers on it. What could it be, what could it be. Aha, the kennel is missing. What a relief to know. Wait a second! The kennel is missing!! The kennel is a very large, plastic box and flew off our trailer while driving at speeds of 55-65 mph!!! Our stomachs sank to think what havoc that event must have caused. Mike and I just pray that it didn’t result in any accidents or injuries. If it did, then we are truly sorry and would feel just horrible.

We arrived late Tuesday night. Wednesday was a busy day. Mike drove to SD to meet with the builder of his future office in Watertown, and he took Annie and Lucy with him. On the way out there another tragedy happened. A deer family decided to make their way across the highway at the same time Mike was passing by. One of the deer was unlucky and got hit by Mike. Mike, Annie and Lucy suffered no damage and returned home safely but the same cannot be said for our Suburban. The whole front end will pretty much need to be replaced:(

While Mike and Annie were off in SD I got to spend the day crafting with Sara and my oldest niece Katie. Mimi and Violet spent the day with Grandma. Sara, Katie, and I had a fantastic time listening to music, eating lots of sweets, and chatting and giggling all day long. This year we decided to make Christmas crafts. Sara and I both planned weeks in advance to have the cutest crafts to make. See for yourself. Sara’s craft was the ruffly Christmas trees, and mine was the fabric-wrapped wreath. They both turned out awesome, and I can’t wait to find a place to display them for the next month (or several months depending on when we get around to de-decorating for Christmas).

We had another huge group for the Thanksgiving feast. All of Mike’s siblings (except Jenni, sniff sniff) and their families were there. I think we had a total of 27 people. Sara was gracious enough to share her pictures with me because I was too lazy to take out my camera the entire visit.

Apparently, Mimi grew a third leg on Thanksgiving and was quite shocked.

The girls couldn’t keep from being themselves and wrestling most of the day. However, once all the cousins were there they kept busy running around.

Violet acted shy when folks started to arrive, but she warmed up right away to Uncle Jim. He must be the baby whisperer.

Lucy got a special treat of Turkey skin. I was convinced she would turn her nose up at it. Guess I was wrong.

As you can see it was a full house, but it was so nice to spend the day with family.

Since we most likely won’t be visiting Minnesota for the rest of the year, Jake and Steph decided to have Maya’s birthday party while we were visiting. The one big request from Maya for her birthday was to have all her cousins there, so we couldn’t disappoint. The theme for the party was ladybugs, tigers, and unicorns. The ladybugs came in the form of the treat boxes, the tiger was on the cake, and the unicorn was the pinata. The pinata was actually burro with a cone taped to his head, but the kids didn’t seem to notice.

Here’s the birthday girl enjoying a carrot. She was so thrilled to have all her cousins and Uncle Mike attend (for some reason she just adores Uncle Mike).

One of the birthday girl’s presents was a dress up box. Both Owen and Violet got in on the fun. Initially Owen wanted to try on one of the dresses, but he soon realized that that probably wasn’t a good idea for various reasons.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing and seeing a few friends. Annie missed her piano lesson on Monday due to parent/teacher conferences, so we decided it would be fun to have Grandma give her a lesson. Annie was so thrilled and practiced the songs and skills constantly. As a treat to end the week, Grandma let and Annie and Mimi each get a turn on the big organ.

Of course, the visit would not be complete without a horsey ride.