Sunday, January 31, 2010

thoughts today

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~Robert Frost

This poem (one of the first I memorized) always comes to mind when I'm in the snow.

This morning, the sky and the ground and all that lay in between were the same white.

We had a frozen fog...and it was quite amazing. Hadleigh pulled me to the living room window to show me a large, intricate spiderweb, outlined in frost. Incredible.

I love the quiet stillness, the blanketing of snow. Everyone and everything pauses.

Like my favorite line in the poem:
"The only other sound's the sweep of easy wind and downy flake."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Days

Our days have been full of wintry, snowy fun.

Fires and smores.
Snow cream.
Stories by the fire.
Walks in the snow.

It's beautiful today...bright and sunny, with plenty of snow as far as the eye can see.

But yesterday was freezing and snowing most of the day, but we still ventured outside. The kids were dying to pull on their boots and play:

Such a little snowbunny.
He was constantly adventuring.
And after watching some figure skating last weekend, she was convinced she could do the same on our little patch of ice. :) (Despite my warnings (and example!) of the danger of the slick surface.)

And I'm not sure what it is....
but my children have a thing...
for laying face down...
in the snow.

I love watching them love it. Reminds me of all the fun I had as a child with my brothers and sister in the cold outdoors.

I hope they will have the same happy memories!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Before & After Friday: Family Ideas Notebook

I love magazines. Pretty, inspiring images. Creative ideas. How to's. Great stories.

For a long time, I kept the whole magazine. But then found that not only was I using up a ton of space, but I was wasting a lot of my time...trying to find what I was looking for to reference.

So I began to tear things out. And place them in folder. Solved the storage problem, but not the ease of finding.

I've been in the "planning stage" of my solution for years...but finally found some time (and materials) to put my plan in to action.

Piles of different types of articles, pictures, stories. Piles of magazines yet to go through.

I found the Staples-brand "better binder" ideal. Love the color...the flexible edges and the clear space on the spine for a little label flair :) (The colors look better together in real life, though.)

I found some great dividers, also by Staples: "better dividers". You can see in the picture above that the tabs are movable (like they are with hanging file folders), so you're not stuck with a permanent placements. The dividers are a sturdy but flexible plastic (which you can see below as well), so no fear of tearing...and you can see through them! The dividers also come with a set of printable labels, which you can access a template for online. Super easy and super neat!
I organized all my "magazine tears" by the following categories:
  • Decorating: Spring
  • Decorating: Summer
  • Decorating: Autumn
  • Decorating: Winter
  • Traditions
  • Activities/Games
  • Crafts
  • Cleaning
  • Organizing
  • Gardening/Landscapes
  • Travel
  • Hospitality
  • Gift Ideas
  • Books & Movies
  • Special Stories
  • Party Ideas
I have the crafts and activity section subdivided by holiday/season as well, using the new Avery NoteTabs. Have you seen this product? Love them. Wish I had access to them in college...they would have been super helpful for research and studying! Love the periwinkle blue color too!

It feels great to have something (even so little as this) accomplished and ready for each month's clippings!

And now I have everything at the ready for figuring out some Valentines Day activities and crafts for the kiddos!

p.s. It's STILL snowing! Going on 24 hours now! And the Oklahoma wind hasn't blown it all away. Pictures tomorrow! And Lisa, you may still giggle at our snow...but we've got at least 6" in some places now! Feel free to send your snow our way any day, though! We love it! ;)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


At least on the windowsill. :)

Supposedly heavy snowfall through tonight...we'll see what that means! Company made it safely into town, so hopefully we can have a snowday tomorrow and play outside!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January plays games.

Outside my window, the sun is shining. It's actually nice.
No need for a jacket today.
The girls are in dresses and no tights or leggings. (They're a bit happier that way!)

Just from looking outside, you'd never guess that all of Oklahoma is bracing for a winter storm to hit sometime during the night.

And wouldn't you know? We have company coming into town tomorrow. Not sure how that drive to the airport is going to look.

But I'm thinking through how I will cook the meals I am planning if we lose electricity.

I'm thinking how we have almost no firewood left and how scarce it is to find here.

I'm thinking that we should have lots of baked goods on the Irish Creme Chocolate Chip Pound Cake I'm planning to make...or these delish caramel brownies:

Baked goods won't go bad if the power goes out. :)
That seems like sound logic, right?

You should make these. They are so ooey-gooey yummy. They are great cold. They are good room temp, and they are good warmed and served with vanilla ice cream. I bet dulce de leche would be amazing too. And if you can't find a box of caramel cake mix, a yellow cake one works just fine.

Caramel Walnut Brownies

1 14 oz package caramels
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
1 package caramel-flavored cake mix (Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups walnut halves or pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap caramels and place in a medium saucepan. Add 1/3 cup evaporated milk and cook over low heat until melted, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Combine 1/3 cup evaporated milk, cake mix, and next 3 ingredients; stir until blended. Spread half of the dough into a lightly greased nine-inch square pan. Chill remaining dough. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.
3. Pour caramel mixture over brownie. Sprinkle with walnuts. Divide chilled dough into 9 portions; pat into three-inch circles. Overlap circles over walnuts in pan.
4. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely. Cover and chill before cutting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bad. The Good. And the Wonderful!

The icky sickies continue to linger at our house.
Not all at once.
But ever so slowly drawing themselves out.

Are they gone yet?
Stomach viruses. Check. (Everyone. Over three weeks. Hoping we're ALL done there.)
Mysterious 24 hour fevers. Check. (Just Hadleigh.)
Horrible Miserable Colds. Will get back to you. (Currently only parents suffering.)

That was the bad.

The good? Well, at our house, being sick means all meals on a special tray...your choice of a neverending supply of movies and books...a special place of honor to be cozy...and lots of hot tea. :)

This is the wonderful.
Last night, I found this tea at the store.
It is what I always drank growing up for a sore throat...all through college...until mysteriously sometime during our first year of marriage, it disappeared.
I remember the last bag I used. I was really sick.
And the honey lemon black tea is NO substitute.
When you're sick you need herbal.
It's a rule.
I might buy out the supply tomorrow.
You know. Just in case.
I brewed a cup tonight for Brent.
Ahhh...the aroma.
Took me right back to my childhood bedroom and my Mom bringing me my own tray.
I miss that. :)

p.s. When I get sick at my in-laws, Kammy (Brent's mom) adds freshly sqeezed lemon and honey to a cup of hot water...and it soothes my throat wonderfully too! Just in case you're in need :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Before & After Fridays

I have a looooooooooong list of projects that need completing...household projects, creative projects, organizing projects, projects with children, decorating projects. Lots.

So I thought I'd make a new feature on the blog: Before & After Fridays. (Hopefully it offers some inspiration, as well as gives me a bit of accountability to get some stuff done!)

And for our introduction? Something that we waited way too long to do.

Hadleigh has slightly wavy curl to her hair...but it gets kind of straggly towards the end when it's too long. So we got it cut this week! Yay! I'm not that brave with her hair yet, so we just trimmed off about 3-4 inches...but she loved getting it done. Especially the lollipop she got afterwards!

& After

What projects are you in the midst of?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

happy discoveries

First of all, I discovered the sweetest Etsy shop today. And I'm in love.

Meet Sarah Jane Studios. And her adorable shop at Etsy.

This makes my heart hurt a bit...because they just grow up too fast, don't they?
This is on my list of must haves for the girl's room. Precious.

And that calendar...even though January is almost over, I think I'm going to need that for my desk. The pictures are so sweet. (All pictures are from Sarah Jane Studios etsy listings...go take a peek!)

I think I could fill up walls of my house with her whimsically vintage drawings. Kind of reminds me of a little softer Mary Engelbreit. I just want to get lost in the childish romance of the drawings. Sigh.

And she's writing a children's book. Can't WAIT to see that!

Secondly, every week after church we have a fellowship meal. And this week, I contributed this salad (as well as a yummy caramel bar, but I'll save that for another day.):

To die for. It would be absolutely perfect all autumn long...but don't wait until then. It's still fabulous right now! And pretty easy! I altered the recipe ever-so-slightly for need of presentation: I quartered the apples before baking them (to yield more brown sugar per inch of apple when sliced) and then sliced them in smaller wedges before tossing in a salad bowl.)

Apple Pecan Salad

3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. chopped pecans
3 small sweet apples, halved and cored
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 cups mesclun mix or mixed greens
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat with spray. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and finely chopped pecans. Place apples halves, cut sides up, on the baking sheet. Brush tops of apples with butter; sprinkle with brown sugar mixture (use all of it.) Bake 15 minutes or just until tender when peirced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, in a screwtop jar, combine oil, cider, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well.

3. Arrange greens on a platter; top with apple halves. Spoon melted sugar and pecans from sheet atop salad. Shake dressing and drizzle desired amount onto salad. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Pass remaining dressing to suit taste.

I hope you enjoy this!

Monday, January 18, 2010

We decided

to wait.
(See previous post if you're lost!)

More tomorrow!

Hope you've had a great long weekend...we sure have!

Friday, January 15, 2010


or WAIT???

This past week, we came home from Target with a bag full of undies. New ones for the big kids (princesses, Thomas, and Disney/Pixar boy characters)...and a bunch to have on hand for when Miss Madeleine begins potty training. (She got Hello Kitty--so cute and on sale--and some plain ones for those early trying days.)

So, four years ago TOMORROW, we began to potty-train Hadleigh. I remember because we had the MLK, Jr. long weekend to our advantage: 2 parents, 1 baby sans diaper.

And while she was a quick learner when it came to being wet...let's just say it was a long year otherwise.

So we waited with Nathanael. Didn't want to rush it. He was around 3. And he did great. A couple accidents here and there, but very little drama.

So I'm not sure what to do with Madeleine. I think she might be ready. She's very excited about those undies. And yesterday she told me "I'm wet. Need potty."

But I don't want to rush her.
Because I do not want history to repeat itself.

We'll see. Maybe I'll have a good report next week :)

And I will be oh-so-excited about having a diaper-less house...even if she is our last.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Emerging into 2010

This morning felt good.

Cozy, relaxing morning...with a cup of tea that had beautiful steam rising from the mug. The twirling, twisting kind of steam that makes you think of General Foods International Coffee commercials. :)

A morning with a good sense of purpose to it. Dig in. Accomplish much. Cross off that to do list.

Last week (with my agenda post below) I was so ready for all that 2010 had to bring.

And then Tuesday morning, I woke up with a stomach virus and three healthy children to take care of. Thankfully, they were so sweet for the two days I was out of commission...we watched videos, napped, read stories, and lounged. Then Saturday, Brent got sick. Early Sunday morning, Hadleigh got sick but felt fine the rest of the day.

Monday, I had two root canals. I was only expecting one...but surprisingly, my recovery has been easy and relatively pain-free. I'm thankful for that!

Brent relapsed yesterday. Went to work today. Came home sick this afternoon. Poor thing.

But today. We accomplished much. Almost all the laundry is folded or put away. (Still waiting on the last load to finish drying.)

School? Check.
Reading together? Check.
Bible Study complete? Check.
Dinner in the oven? Check.
Babysitter scheduled? Check.

Hate it when sickness pulls the rug out from under you...but it sure does feel good to be on my feet again.

So, some of my goals for this new year to put into practice:
  1. Careful study of the Bible. Not just completing my homework for Bible Study. Not just reading my devotional or my daily reading. But STUDY.
  2. Exercise and eating right. I have three active and energetic children. I should be able to run around without getting winded, you know? And I still have clothes I want to fit into. So Brent (who will be getting certified as a Crossfit Instructor in a couple months) has developed a "modified" Crossfit plan for me...and our goal is four days a week for me. I'll let you know how that one goes.
  3. "Homeschool first." This "saying" means a couple different things to me. School first before housework. Before projects. Before telephone calls. Before checking email. Because all of those things distract me...and I have to remember that I am the teacher. I need to teach, and the kiddos need to learn. If we get started right away in the morning, we get finished more quickly with enough time to fit in most everything else. It also means that when making other outside commitments (squadron stuff, playdates, errands, etc.) I need to consider how it will affect our schooltime and not feel guilty for saying "no" to some things.
  4. Creative writing. This is such a part of me...but something I have neglected for a long, long time. I want to pick up my pen and write more this year. I've got lots of ideas floating around in my's time to get them down on paper.
  5. Reading more. I did a lot more fiction reading this past year, because I set this goal last year as well. This year, I want to continue but also read some poetry and read some tougher stuff. Stuff to think about. Stuff to talk over with Brent. Books I've started and stopped too many times to count. (And reading helps me to write, so #4 and #5 go hand-in-hand.)
Glad to be back. Sorry for the weeklong break. (I'm also trying to be a more consistent blogger!)

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Agenda

Ever since high school (and maybe middle school, now that I think about it), I have kept a planner/agenda/daytimer.

My first few were the ones published with our school mascot...they included school rules and maps of campus...and had a section on "good study habits".

When I went to college, I needed one more than ever. Lots of important academic deadlines to keep...and SO many social activities. Maybe too many :) Back then, I had a couple Mary Engelbreit planners that were cheerful and bright.

Towards the end of college, I bought a beautiful brown leather-bound agenda, that was refillable from Scully (the sewn-bound option). I used it for several years. (and I still have it, so maybe one day I'll go back to that one. It is still in great shape!)

Then I was tempted by a spiral system from Target. The 365 Covey, in a clutchbound size. Perfect to fit alongside the new things I toted around every day in a diaperbag :) But this year, Target no longer sells the Size 3 Refills.

What to do...but google agendas. And I found this:

the momagenda. i ordered it in the chocolate desktop size (with the pockets accessory)...they have lots of great colors and a few different options and accessories.

like these clips.
and a magnetic chore chart.
fun stuff.

Plenty of fun colorful things to encourage you to get organized this year! Right now, they have some good sales...and if you want, I can email you a link to receive 10% your first purchase. (It's part of a rewards program they offer for customers.) Just let me know below in the comments!

If you have another planner/system that works for you, please share it! I'd love to file it know, for next year!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010!!!

I am excited about this coming year...excited to see what it holds...excited about goals and plans and projects that are in the works.

Excited about seeing how these three continue to grow and learn and explore.

Here are our first pictures of 2010:
(This one spent the day with a yucky tummy...too much fondue last night, methinks! Poor thing.)

(And poor Mommy and Daddy who after staying up to ring in the New Year woke up at 3am and again at 6am to tend to her. To bed early tonight!)

(This one has had a blast getting up and having breakfast with Daddy for the last 2+ weeks. He's going to be so sad come next week.)
(And this one...she's LOVING this hat. She slept in it last night. Who sleeps in hats? We are so curious to see how her little personality continues to develop this next year!)

Hope you have a wonderful first weekend of 2010!

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