Friday, April 27, 2007

Does he look two-er than he did yesterday?

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Well, he should, because Porter is two now.

We celebrated by going to the zoo in the morning - bouncy rhino bridge! dolphin show! lions! - and had McDonald's for lunch on the way home. Betsy helped me frost his blue birthday cake and wrap his blue birthday presents. (She's even more into the whole birthday thing than I am. I think she's going to grow up to be the next Martha Stewart.) (And speaking of Martha Stewart, I stopped by Michaels on the way home and they have the whole new Martha line for scrapping and crafts. Can I just say that I love it? That is all.) After Matt got home from work and we ate dinner, we did the presents and cake.

Porter's main gift was a train set from IKEA. It was so wicked cheap that I actually bought everything train-related that they sell: the basic set, the extra tracks, the bridge and tunnel, and the Euro-looking speed train. The little 3-piece choo choo was the first thing Porter opened, and in what appears to be fairly typical two-year-old fashion, could only barely be coaxed to show interest in the rest of his presents. Betsy was more than happy to make up for this deficit, however. We ended up laying out the tracks all over the dining table - you knew there was a reason why we needed such a huge table, don't you? - and I think Matt and I had as much fun as the kids.

Also, there was cake.
I don't know why, but I love this picture. Maybe it's the forced perspective that makes the cake appear roughly three times the size of his head; maybe it's the fact that for once I seem to have achieved depth of field; or maybe it's the slightly distrustful look on my two-year-old's face. "I know this is cake, and cake is good, Mom, but why on earth did you light it on fire?" Betsy ended up being the one who blew out the candles (real surprise there). Porter was actually pretty happy about the cake: he liked it so much that he was feeding it to his trains.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

So THAT'S why my house is messy!

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It's because I've been scrapping again. I got a batch of prints in the mail, so now I have something to keep me occupied.

Do you not absolutely love those colors? I think American Crafts really outdid themselves on their latest release as far as scrumptious colors are concerned. The brown paper with dots is actually called 'Bonbon' (the entire line is named after foods, actually) and I think it couldn't be more fitting.
I usually don't like scrapping multi-page, 'event' type layouts. I don't know why, but I find it easier to assemble a single-photo layout on some random subject like hating laundry. As a result, I'm usually unhappy with all the pages I've done for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. This time, though, I was on a roll and the design seemed to come together fairly easily.

The other great thing about scrapbooking, besides the scrapbooking, is shopping for supplies.

I finally killed off the Hobby Lobby giftcard that Matt gave me for Christmas. (Don't I always try to stretch out the enjoyment as long as possible? I know, I am such a dork.) I got sparkly cardstock and cool vintage trims and velvet letter stickers and ribbon. It's really amazing how much you can get when Hobby Lobby is having one of their 50% sales.

I've got one more layout to complete and then I really should fold laundry. But, Porter's birthday is tomorrow and I'm bound to take lots of pictures (I have some of this paper and Porter totally has an outfit that matches it) so maybe the responsible-adult-type stuff is going to have to wait.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You Won't Like This Present As Much As I Do

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(That's the title to an episode of Charlie and Lola, by the way. But I suspect it is a universal sentiment.)

This is the project I finished over the weekend. It's a going-away present for my good friend Rebecca, who is moving to Lexington next month. Rebecca's one of the few people I know who (like me) always wears an apron when cooking or doing dishes. I mean, there are other things to love about a person besides a mutual affinity for keeping one's clothes clean, but it's a good starting point, no?

Anyway, I love this apron so much that I'd be tempted to keep it, but there's no need when I can just sew another one for myself. It wasn't really all that hard, even, except maybe for the rickrack. (If you've been paying attention: Sewing trims and I are not friends.) And even that wasn't as bad as I'd expected. I could see myself making a lot more of these as gifts (so the time to get on my good side is now).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's Steak n Shake! And I helped!

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Elements of my family were here (specifically Mom, Dad, Rob, Laura, and Molly, plus Mike and Mandy as a special add-on bonus). They were driving back from Green Bay and popped in for a day or so. Which wasn't long enough at all but at least we got Uncle 'Maxed The Army Physical Fitness Test' Rob to perform the invaluable service of helping Matt lug our incredibly heavy new dining room table from the warehouse to the car and then into the house. Really, it's a huge table, but Rob is what Betsy calls 'stron' so I'm sure it wasn't a problem for him.

The picture is us having dinner the first night: we didn't have the dining table yet, but I had made Moroccan chicken stew for dinner so we ate dinner sitting on cushions at the floor (just like at the extremely tasty Moroccan restaurant Matt and I went to for our anniversary). I just realized that this is the only picture I got of Rob but that's not my fault - he kept hiding whenever someone got a camera out. He's really not (quite) that scary looking in real life. Also, if you look in the background you can see Betsy's new nightgown that Grammie sewed for her - it has butterflies on it and there was no nightgown-related angst this time, she actually put it on over her clothes the moment she received it. (Plus Mom gave me a scrap to make into a doll nightgown, so they'll match.)

Porter was not totally crazy about his house being overrun with strange people (and they were Blinns which I think makes them stranger). We eventually had to utilize the trick of Toddlers Will Approach Anyone Who Gives Them Food to get him in the same zip code as my mom. That totally worked on Molly when she was two.
And it mostly worked. He eventually worked up the nerve to accept raisins from his Grammie, but he was very very careful not to make any sort of actual, you know, physical contact with her.

Mom and I made a chicken pot pie for lunch - I can't believe you've never made one before, Mom, but now that you know how incredibly tasty they are - and that was the inaugural meal eaten on The Big Giant Dining Room Table. I didn't take any pictures though.

We went to Steak n Shake for dinner which is always a pleasure. (Thanks, Dad!)Did you know they have potties? I actually went out on a crazy limb and didn't order a Frisco melt. (I know Emily, you're shocked! Shocked!!!) The lighting was really good so I took a bunch of pictures.

Molly and Betsy coloring

Laura laughing at her dorky older brother(s)

Mom, Mike, and Mandy (who's really looking preggers now)

Hat! Hat! Hat hat hat!

Dad and me (Mom took this picture actually)

Anyway, it was a nice visit if rather short. Betsy had a ball playing with her aunties, I got to hone my slightly rusty Simpsons-quoting skills, and Mom played what I must admit was a pretty good practical joke on me. But that's okay, Mom! I spit in your food so now we're even!

Matt started working on our garden bed today and I did some sewing. I actually finished a project but I haven't taken a picture yet: I'll post one soon. It turned out really cool!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Time to buy furniture!

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Soooo... we went to IKEA on Saturday.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love that store? I really, really wish there was one here so we didn't have to keep driving to Chicago. We went to the Bolingbrook location instead of the Schaumburg store (no fair! they have two!) because it was a little closer. But the floorplan was really weirdly set up: like there was only one elevator and it was really hard to get to. I think we'll go back to the Scaumburg one next time.

Still, I had a really great time shopping there, since IKEA is like the funnest store of all time. We had lunch in the in-store cafe even. (I remember eating Swedish meatballs as a kid but I have no idea when, it's the vaguest of memories. Funny how my taste buds remember what my brain has forgotten.) And yes, we filled up three carts. Although one whole cart was just seat cushions for our new dining room chairs so I don't think that really counts, do you?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oh, for pete's sake.

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It is snowing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


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Now that I'm finally coming down off the sugar buzz from all the candy I've eaten, I can finally blog about Easter. Despite the fact that it was about seventeen below zero outside, it was actually a lovely day. I sang with the choir in church; I wore my new dress - of course - and Betsy got to wear her princess dress (ANY dress with a long skirt os a princess dress) from Emily's wedding last August. Mike and Mandy came over for dinner. We are gradually introducing them to the concept that Holidays Are More Fun With Chuildren Around. For example, where an adult would merely eat jelly beans, an almost-two-year-old would shake the jelly-bean-containing plastic eggs like maracas, keeping time to his frantic dance of joy. Check out that picture! He was even happier when he realized there was candy inside.

It's by complete coincidence that Betsy had her first dental checkup this morning. She did pretty well - she's surprisingly good at opening her mouth - and she even got to have her picture taken to go on the No Cavity Wall. Betsy's been practicing brushing her teeth ever since we got home and the corners of her mouth are slightly crusted with dried pink toothpaste. I'm sure she's just saving it for later.
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Friday, April 6, 2007

that potty thing...

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I came to a shocking realization the other day.

Betsy is potty trained.

She's still wearing a Pull Up at night, and I still have to remind her to go every couple of hours, but she hasn't had an accident in at least a month. I've been planning my errands around her bladder capacity, but lately, we've been working on introducing the concept of Other Places Have Potties Too. The church has potties, and the library has potties, and (this is the best) the museum has little child-sized potties. Of course this means I have to avoid locations which are likely to have really sketchy restrooms... but that's a good idea anyway.

I can't even begin to explain how this has affected my quality of life. Considering that she wasn't even trying to do it after her fourth birthday, I was convinced (and justifiably so) that she would never be potty trained. She would need to go to a state school so that she could come home for a diaper change between classes. I know, everyone says "She'll do it when she's ready." But I would have liked it if her readiness took less time to obtain than a college degree. We weren't getting along, and frankly, I was one unhappy mama. Betsy's found the key to getting on my good side, and it involves toilets.

I think, if she comes home with a tattooed boyfriend named 'Snake' when she's sixteen, I won't mind. I'll just still be so happy that she's wearing underpants.

And yes, that photo was taken for the express purpose of creating a scrapbook page. Is that a weird thing to scrapbook about? It's such a monumental event - at least on the level of childbirth or a new house - that I have to document it. Plus I have this really cute paper...
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Monday, April 2, 2007

compare and contrast

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I have two hobbies: scrapbooking and sewing. (Actually, I have lots of random little hobbies, but those are the two which consume the most money and space in my house. So, they are the ones my husband tends to notice.)

I've been scrapping for over six years - since I was a newlywed and I made an album of our wedding and honeymoon pictures. (coughStickerSneezecough) I never sewed anything until last summer, when I made the Hammer Pants for Matt. Scrapping actually led to sewing, in fact, because when I got published in 'Simple Scrapbooks' I used the check to buy my sewing machine. I thought hey, I could try machine stitching on my pages, and it kind of evolved from there.

Scrapbooking is cheaper, at least per project. I could make five or ten layouts for what it would cost for one dress (even when the fabric is $2 a yard). On the other hand, I've got waaay more money invested into scrapbooking stuff than fabric and patterns. Heck, my machine was only $40 - I think I've spent that much on rub-ons alone. Sewing is more public: I can make a dress and wear it to church or the grocery store, rather than create a page which will mostly sit unseen in an album on a shelf somewhere.

I'm at a much higher competency level for scrapbooking than for sewing. I know how to set an eyelet, but not a zipper. I don't have a clue how to re-size a pattern, but I can easily look at a 12x12 layout and adapt it for my 8.5x11 pages. Also, I think scrapping is easier, because everything is glued down and it doesn't really have to fit. Sewing involves notches and gathers and (so I'm told, I've certainly never done any) crazy things like darts, pleats, and princess seams.

I can do a couple of layouts in an afternoon, whereas a sewing project takes me the better part of a week (more, if there is bias tape involved). It's hard to say which will have more longevity. Theoretically, my scrapbook albums will last forever, but not if I keep letting my kids look at them. Clothes will go out of style, but they will eventually come back into style so I plan on keeping everything. Except maybe for Matt's pants.

So, which one do I love the most? I'll have to take the diplomatic route (I am after all the mother of two children) and say both. I love them the same, but different. I'm just glad to have so many things I enjoy doing.

(I just want to add that while I was writing this post, Porter was rubbing peanut butter into his hair. Thank goodness for that foaming baby shampoo.)

(That's foaming shampoo for babies, not shampoo for foaming babies.)
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