Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa Was Here

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Okay, I'm not even going to bother trying to get all of these pictures into the right order. I think you're all sick of hearing me rant about Blogger, right? At least it only took me 3 tries to get them all up.

There was snow on Tuesday, although it's all gone by now. That was also the day I took the kids down to the Children's Museum for their awesome Jolly Days exhibit, including the Yule Slide... I had never actually done the slide before; I was surprised at how fast it actually is! (Parenthetically, we also visited the newly opened Barbie exhibit. Porter didn't hate it as much as I thought he would. IT WAS AWESOME.) I spent a good chunk of the week wrapping presents and baking with my three little helpers. Actually, Amy's idea of helping is: put on an apron, drag a chair over to the kitchen island, and stand there demanding cheese. But what she lacks in utility, she more than makes up for in cuteness.
We went to Mike and Mandy's on Christmas Eve for a family tradition of theirs aptly titled All The Snacks In The World; the cousins exchanged gifts and we got to enjoy some adult conversation and came away quite sated. The kids went to bed easily on Christmas Eve and let us sleep to a quite reasonable seven o'clock on Christmas.

And then: the presents. It turns out my kids were good this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


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Some kids only get to celebrate their birthday on ONE day. Not Betsy - she got a whole weekend.

On Friday, we took a birthday treat to her class to share - Meijer brand granola bars with rainbow chocolate chips, as she specifically requested. Here she is with her teacher.
It was really cute watching Betsy pass out treats to all of her little classmates, especially because she let Porter help her. For Saturday, Matt had told Betsy she could choose a fun place to go, since she didn't get a party this year (I only have parties for even number birthdays). She vacillated on it for a while but finally settled on Chuck E. Cheese.
We had actually never taken our children there before (and I grew up in the era when they had a whole animatronic house band and not just the rat and a big screen TV, and they didn't stamp your hands so you could take just anyone's kids home with you) but somehow they knew instinctively that it would be fun. And it was surprisingly inexpensive - for twenty bucks we got a greasetastic pizza, some drinks, and thirty tokens, which was plenty. The kids had a really good time, even Amy.

Sunday was the actual birthday. We let Betsy open presents first thing in the morning, since it was going to be a crazy day with lots of church things. And in spite of the fact that she knew exactly what she was getting for her birthday (since she was with me when I bought them. In January.) she still managed to drum up some enthusiasm.

Anyway, once we undid all the little twist ties from her Barbie MyHouse, and I applied all the stinking little decals, she had a fine time with it until we had to leave for church.
We finally had cake at night and sang to her. Only, because I am the worst mother in the world, I had neglected to buy any birthday canles, so we only had three teeny tiny little nubs. But I think I'll be able to tell from the photos that she's actually turning seven and not three.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thirty things I've learned in thirty years

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1. If you love someone, tell him right away.

2. I have the best sisters in the world.

3. My brothers aren't too shabby either.

4. It doesn't pay to be an early adopter of new technology.

5. Chocolate.

6. In looks and personality, I am a little dad, a little mom, but mostly my own self.

7. I am a good writer.

8. I can be either a morning or a night person as required.

9. How hard you work in life sometimes means less than who you know.

10. No matter what job I have, I can always find something to like about it.

11. But it's probably good I've never worked retail.

12. I will probably never stop twirling my hair, and that's okay. I actually see other people doing it all the time.

13. If God wanted me to swim, He'd have given me gills.

14. I shouldn't have waited so long to learn how to sew.

15. I live in the greatest country in the world.

16. Music makes me happy.

17. It's impossible to start the Christmas season too soon.

18. I still swoon over cute male celebrities. This is totally normal and doesn't make me a bad wife.

19. There is a huge difference between the ages of 19 and 21.

20. Filtered water is best.

21. I am more financially responsible than the majority of Americans.

22. The best books were written between 1910 and 1950 or so.

23. It's kind of nice to be five foot seven.

24. Be mindful of the opportunity costs.

25. Eating good food with people you like is one of the great pleasures in life.

26. If you're wearing something crazy and people are staring at you, it's probably because they wish they were brave enough to pull off something like that themselves.

27. The internet is awesome, but it'll steal your soul if you don't watch out.

28. Leftover black bean quesadillas are the best breakfast of all time.

29. The most flattering clothes are ones that fit.

30. The dryer really does work better if you remember to clean the lint trap. (Sorry, Matt!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ten years gone

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This picture was taken on my twentieth birthday: December 5, 1999.

You may notice that the date was exactly ten years ago today. Yep, it's my thirtieth birthday. Now, being that I'm a woman, this is supposed to be one of those dreaded milestones. I have to say, though, I think I've gotten my money's worth out of my twenties. Let's take a look at the last third of my life, shall we?

  • Age 20: When this picture was taken, I had just changed my major to chemistry a few months before, I still wore glasses, and I had very recently broken up with the last boy I ever dated and didn't marry. Within two months of this photo, I had switched to contact lenses and started dating Matt.
  • Age 21: Got married. Bought my first non-rusty car, got a job in a lab, met my in-laws, started scrapbooking, and graduated from college (eventually).
  • Age 22: Got pregnant with Betsy and got laid off from my job a few months later. Oh well, that gave me more time to look at garage sales for baby stuff. We bought our first house in November of that year.
  • Age 23: Umm, became a mother.
  • Age 24: Started working for the online tutoring company that I am still with, five years later. Got in a car accident & wrecked the Taurus - bought a minivan, which is what I've wanted ever since I was a teenager. Matt turned 30 and I found out I was pregnant with Porter the next day.
  • Age 25: Had Porter and served in the Relief Society presidency.
  • Age 26: Sold our first house and moved into our current place which is much, much bigger. Wrote my first piece of fan fiction, started my blog, bought a sewing machine, and had a scrapbook page published for the first time.
  • Age 27: Found out I was pregnant with Amy, went to Disneyworld, and taught seminary.
  • Age 28: Matt lost his job a month or two after my birthday. Thought we were moving to Utah, then didn't. Paid through the nose for COBRA. Actually went into labor on my own and gave birth to what I didn't realize at the time would be my last baby. Upgraded my sewing machine. Got a full-time job for the first time in years. Spent a lot of time pumping.
  • Age 29: Got sacked from my job and enjoyed being home with my kids again. Bought a serger.
  • Age 30: Wrote this blog entry.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

T-Day Wrap-Up

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Since Thanksgiving was a week ago, and I've now officially divested my fridge of anything that could be considered a 'leftover,' maybe I should actually write about it.

We had, as you can see, a houseful of Blinns. My parents drove out on Tuesday night, arriving in time to watch that night's episode of NCIS (I thought it was
just okay but I enjoyed the shoulder holster and the Real Genius reference), and left on Friday morning. It was a whirlwind trip, but we still had time to go on Steak 'n' Shake - we went on Wednesday night since my mom and I were full on sick of cooking at that point - and even squeeze in a visit to Hancock Fabrics. Matt and my kids and my dad and sisters went down to the Childrens' Museum on Wednesday and Mom and I stayed home to cook and bake and generally mess up the kitchen. (I also found the time to list a bunch of stuff on eBay - I've finally figured out how to use that site so I've been clearing out some of the piles of stuff I've accumulated in my basement over the years. The fact that I get money for it is just a nice little bonus.) Also, I discovered that the Guacamole Steakburger is the fall-apartiest steakburger ever, but it's delicious, as is the Peppermint Chocolate Chip Shake.
Mike and Many and Miles came up on Thursday morning while Matt was at Turkey Bowl, and there were plenty of cinnamon rolls to go around. We pretty much feasted from one end of the day to the other, what with crackers and cheese and sausage and veggies and deviled eggs and then the feast really began. The turkey was done around 4:00, which was perfect timing - if it had finished before the Packers/Lions game was over, I don't think anyone would have touched it. My personal big accomplishment was making yeast rolls from scratch for the first time ever ( with only a little help from my mom) (okay, and some assistance from Molly) and they were really, really good. A little pie to round the whole meal out and some Christmas music while cleaning up the dishes, and I'd have to call it an enormously successful holiday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All About Amy

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Amy had what I'm deeming her 19-month checkup today. She weighs in at a hefty yet adorable 25 pounds, and I forget her height and head size but she's right on track for that. She also got a bunch of shots and I swear, the look she gave me afterwards was heartbreakingly hilarious - Mom, how could you do this to me? But even that should be more or less done with, since she won't have too many more immunizations scheduled, and she'll be better able to understand it when she does. Actually, Porter was really funny in the dorctor's office this morning: once we established that he wasn't having a shot (both he and Betsy got the H1N1 through the schools, and it was a mist) he informed me that Amy wasn't going to have one either. I don't know if this is because he didn't want to see her hurt (Porter has his moments of being a really solicitous and loving older brother, like when he and Amy went to Egypt while I was making dinner last night) or if he just didn't want to hear her cry.

Anyway, Amy is now or will soon be immune to a whole host of nasty-but-largely-forgotten childhood diseases. Yay! She's also forgiven me for the thigh jabs. Our doctor's office has just added a nurse practitioner who doubles as a lactation consultant, and that's who we saw today, so I had a nice chat with her. I was slightly embarrassed to admit that my daughter is nineteen months old and still nursing, but she was impressed (or at least nice enough not to call me a freak). For what it's worth, the High Octane Mom Juice seems to be agreeing with Amy, since she's healthy, adorable and fat. Anyway, I told her that my goal is to get Amy off the sauce before her birthday, and she agreed that it probably wouldn't hurt to keep nursing her until winter cold/flu season is over, which is a point I hadn't even thought of. So, that gives me a little while to figure out how I am going to handle the Weaning Angst.

Mine, not Amy's.

We also chatted about Amy's speech development a bit. Now, I noticed about two or three months ago that while Amy had plenty to say, she wasn't so much for actual words. I'm perfectly willing to chalk that up to any manner of causes (her explosion of gross and fine motor around 13 months probably had a lot to do with it) but I also consider speech, hearing, and communication in general to be important enough that I don't mess around. So I called First Steps who came in and did an evaluation, and almost to my surprise they said that she did have a mild speech delay, so Amy's been getting speech therapy twice a month. The nice thing about speech therapy for a one-year-old is that it basically consists of a nice lady coming to our house with a huuuge bag of toys and giving Amy her undivided attention for an hour. Boy, that's really hard, right?

Anyway, Amy's had about four or five visits from Nice Lady With Toys, and I swear it has actually made a difference. Amy's gone from saying "hi," "bye-bye" and "Daaaaa" (her name for Daddy - it's not so much what she says, as how she says it) to having probably twenty or twenty-five words. Her Top Five right now are:

1. NO

2. Mine (Hmm, is someone the youngest of three kids?)

3. Bite

4. Daddy (she still doesn't know how to say my name, although Matt says she does, but if she only says it when I'm not around then it doesn't count)

5. Baby (Let me tell you, this child is fixated on dolls. She's either carrying around one of hers or one of Betsy's. I decided to go ahead and give her a Bitty Baby for her second birthday instead of her third. And because I'm AWESOME, I found one at a church sale for five bucks last weekend.)

So, that's my little girly in a nutshell. She continues to be the center of attention and probably will be for a long, long time. Actually at the moment she is trying to play Duck Duck Goose with me - this consists of saying "Dah? Dah? Dah?" and randomly patting my head, then running away. Then we're going to go to Meijer and see the fishies and I am going to bribe her with juice to let me do the grocery shopping.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Candy Hangover

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Yeah, we have A LOT of candy in the house. Fortunately, I've been doing my best to remedy that situation, as you knew I would. The kids basically got to do Halloween twice: Ward Trunk-or-Treat on Friday (And I've been wondering, is that an Indiana thing or a Mormon thing? Because I'd never heard of it until a few years ago) and the neighborhood parade on Saturday. It was a little bit cold, but the kids' costumes were warm enough, or at least I didn't hear any complaining. Betsy had the fewest layers on, but she's also the one posessed of the most intestinal fortitude (at least when candy is involved), so she wouldn't even dream of putting a jacket on over her costume.

Just to rehash: Betsy was Glinda (sewed by yours truly); Porter was Buzz Lightyear (re-used from last year, although I think this is his last time wearing it); and Amy was a zebra (a costume which has been in use in our family almost continuously since 2004). I didn't even bother trying to get a photo of all three of them together; if you've been reading this blog, you know why. But I did get some adorable pictures of each kid individually. I guess when I scrapbook, I'll just overlap them.

I think that the best part of Halloween, as far as my kids were concerned, is that their Grandma and Grandpa were here to enjoy it! Matt's parents flew out for a quick three-day visit while the kids were on fall break. Betsy had a blast doing shrink art with Grandma (she kept referring to it as 'snark art' which I find irrationally hilarious); Porter duly impressed everyone with his reading skills; and Amy made a point of being especially adorable and fetching. Grandma insisted on taking them down to Target and buying them each a small toy. (Sadly, my kids don't have anywhere near enough toys!) Betsy got a My Little Pony (I later found out that she chose Star Song mainly because the neighbor girl already has that one and she didn't); Porter chose a Lego fire chief car (to go along with the fire truck he'll be getting for Christmas), and Amy got a baby doll that can go in the bath. She couldn't wait until it was out of the package, and was hugging the bath. Girlie has definitely hit the baby doll stage in a big way.
Now, of course, I'm ready for it to be Christmas. It's not that I don't enjoy Thanksgiving. Any holiday when we get to enjoy three or four kinds of pies in one day is the kind of thing I can really get into. What's more, my parents and sisters are making the trek out from New York for T-Day. But nothing can really compare to the Christmas season! We're having our family picture taken on Friday (there's a guy at Matt's work that does them for free) so I sewed myself a fluffy skirt out of this cool retro poinsettia fabric I got a couple of years ago.

This week, I'm scrapbooking, and making some cards for some submission calls (I don't think I mentioned, I had one picked up by Cards magazine last month - it'll be my first time in that mag., so I'm thrilled) and today I'm probably going to Hancock's for some really awesome fabric of which I will shortly post pictures. Oh, and maybe I should at least think about taking the Halloween decorations down.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Before and After

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Here's our recliner, which has been around forever:
I got it from my grandparents when they were downsizing, so probably 2004 or 2005. My grandmother says she's actually had it reupholstered TWICE. I had bought fabric to do same, only then the economy collapsed, and I couldn't justify spending $3-400 on something that wasn't food, diapers, or health insurance. But, I did have the fabric (which was a steal at $5 a yard) so I finally decided to try my hand at sewing a slipcover.

To wit:
I actually... sort of hate it. The pattern I used was badly drafted, and nothing fits the way it's supposed to, and it looks all bunchy and homesewn, and the only way to keep it together is with a bunch of upholstery pins which like to pop out and prevent a safety hazard. BUT. At least it matches the rest of our furniture now.

I got a lot of other stuff finished last week, too. Like Betsy's Halloween costume, which is very sparkly and girl-tastic. I also made some random doll clothes (my current obsession, I must admit) and an apron for Betsy that I cut out in, I think, 2007. I made matching mother-daughter aprons for us and since I had so much leftover fabric, I also cut one out for her in a larger size, since she grows and whatnot. The interesting thing was, something that used to take me days to sew is now completed in mere hours. Yay competence!

I should be cleaning my house before my in-laws arrive on Thursday, but I'm blogging instead. I'm also dealing with a houseful of sickies... not fun. I was rather miserable last week but all I have now is a lingering tickle in my throat, which is more of a nuisance than anything else. But poor Betsy is home from school today. On Friday morning she threw up on the bus and had to come home. I'm hoping she'll be all better tomorrow, since it's a short school week as it is. And Amy had a fever yesterday: we actually had to leave church early, but not until the Primary program was done, which was AWESOME and I was so proud of all the kids and not just mine.

But, it's not all bad around here. Look what we saw this morning:

No, that house isn't on fire. It's a RAINBOW.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Haven't Died

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I've just been doing a lot of multi-tasking.
(Isn't that picture hilarious? The best part is, Amy came up with that trick all on her own... and immediately came running to show me Just How Clever she is.)
We've been getting ready for Halloween, which is always a fun holiday. I put up the decorations a few weeks ago and I've been working on Betsy's costume:

She's being Glinda, the good witch from the Wizard of Oz. She came up with this idea entirely on her own, mind you. The dress isn't totally finished in the picture above: it still needs hemmed, and there's a lit of sparkly trim. But I'm thrilled to death with how it looks. The funny thing is, this costume weighs a TON. I made it out of good heavy satin - I think it was originally from the bridal section, and not costumes, because they didn't have the right color - and that skirt is abot a million yards wide. I have no idea how Betsy is going to handle trick-or-treating, but I'm sure she'll manage.

We went to the pumpkin patch last Saturday and let the kids pick out their own pumpkins.

It's really turned into quite the event, with games and rides and whatnot. We let the kids each pick a couple of activities that they could do.

The next big thing on my plate is the Primary music program. We rehearsed it in the chapel last Sunday; we have one more practice on Saturday and then it's SHOWTIME. And I woke up this morning with a killer sore throat... I seriously cannot lose my voice this week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

WCMD '09

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Okay, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn't get any cardmaking done yesterday, which was World Cardmaking Day. I was just way too busy. But, I'd sort of anticipated that that would happen, so I got these done a little earlier in the week:

Yeah, I'm still having lots of fun with that Early Bird paper pack. Maybe at some point I'll actually use it for a scrapbook page?!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There's a chill in the air...

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It was actually in the mid-sixties yesterday, but the gale force winds made it feel a lot cooler. The calendar and I agree: it is definitely fall. Now, I largely view summer as something to be gotten through in order to achieve the reward of cooler days (I mean, I like the 4th of July and the State Fair and everything, but I hate to sweat) so I'm happy when I can open the windows to let the breezes in and haul my sweaters out of storage.

There are lots of fun things about fall. Like the season premieres of all my favorite TV shows. I actually somehow spaced out on the first episode of The Office (don't worry, I caught it online) and Chuck, another favorite of mine, won't be around until winter (curse you, Jay Leno, for messing up the NBC schedule!) but the first episode of Season 7 of NCIS was AMAZING. Now, it's no secret how I feel about that show, but WOW. Can't wait for the second episode tonight.

Speaking of NCIS, here's a birthday card that I made for a friend who is also a fan of the show:
The sentiment on the front is a reference to how DiNozzo likes his pizza, and on the inside I wrote (actually stamped, and I still have red ink all over my fingers, which would be so cool if it was Halloween) "May you enjoy all of the things you love on your birthday." And I love the crisp autumnal colors and vintage stylin' of those papers (Cosmo Cricket's Early Bird line). I made a whopping $10 off of our fall neighborhood garage sale, and promptly blew it all on scrapbook supplies.

And speaking of cards, October 3 is World Card-Making Day. (There are just all kinds of craft-related holidays! For example, September is National Sewing Month. I think my previous post shows how I feel about that.) That's also the first day of General Conference, so I think I'll set up the broadcast on the baby monitor and go down in the basement, so I can listen to the prophet and apostles and play around with paper & stickers at the same time. Since it's conference, I'll also need to make some cinnamon rolls.

Speaking of baking (Man, I am just on fire today with these awesome segues!), fall is also the time I really want to start baking again. Actually, I'd start making Christmas cookies right now if I thought I could get away with it (have I made it clear on this blog how I feel about Christmas?) but that would be weird, so I'll hold off until at least November 1. But I got some baking apples to make a pie, and I just found a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that I'd like to try (did you know that a can of pumpkin has like a zillion percent of your RDA for Vitamin A? See, they're not a dessert, they're health food) and oh yeah! The cookie press that Matt gave me last Christmas has a pumpkin shaped plate so I'll have to get that out too.

Another thing that fall brings is the Primary music program for church. Now, at first it seemed like a bum deal that I got called as Primary chorister less than two months before the program, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it's not so bad. See, the kids already know the songs; I don't have to worry so much about teaching them, just reviewing. And the calling is really starting to grow on me. (Much like seminary did two years ago.) The first two Sundays, I thought I was going to die, sweat was just pouring off me and I was certain that the kids could all see through me. BUT once I convinced myself that I could do it (and really, how judgemental can these kids be? They're all eleven and under) then I started to have fun. I mean, I like kids (apparently), I like music so what's not to love?

Oh! And I am so looking forward to Halloween, even though I am nowhere near ready for it. Matt's parents are actually coming out to visit the last weekend in October, and the kids are way psyched that Grandma and Grandpa get to see them in their costumes. Porter is going to be Buzz Lightyear again, Amy is going as the ubiquitous zebra, but Betsy actually gets a new costume this year. She told me in June, or maybe it was April, that she wanted to be "the good witch from the Wizard of Oz" this year. Yikes - lucky thing I have a serger, for all that ravelly fabric! Anyway, lucky me, this was the year that Simplicity put out an actual licensed Wizard of Oz pattern (they actually did several versions, including baby, dog, and ho) so I won't have to improvise. It did take me a really long time to find the exact right color for Glinda's dress - it's not a pink pink, it's more of a peachy pink - but I finally tracked it down at Hancock's (clearance, yay!) and got everything cut out last night. So, we'll certainly be an eclectic bunch for Halloween (someday I'll make matching themed costumes for the three of them, but not this year) but as long as there's candy, it's all good!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Craftaholics Anonymous

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So, I've been pretty much crafting non-stop for the last couple of weeks. (What else did you think I was going to do with my free afternoons? Laundry?!) And since I haven't updated the ol' blog for a while, I thought I should share some of the fruits of my labors.

Needless to say, I've been scrapbooking. (Don't know what's up with these scans; I promise the real thing isn't so blurry!)

And, while I had the trimmer and the stamps and all of THAT mess out, I made some cards too. Just for fun and a way to use up the scraps.

So, I decided to go ahead and get started on Christmas. Betsy's getting a lot of doll clothes for her Bitty Baby, mostly made out of the scraps of other projects. If you look closely, you'll probably see something you recognize:

Anyway, I had so much fun with that, I decided to haul out my old Molly doll from 1991 and see if I could sew some dresses for the 18" dolls. (Betsy will be getting one next year so I guess I am REALLY working ahead for Christmas 2010!) I could seriously get addicted to sewing doll clothes... they only take about half a yard or so and I can whip one up in an afternoon while Amy sleeps. Kind of the sewing equivalent of making cards from my scrapbook supplies.

Anyway, now it's time to stop messing around. Tutoring started this week, I got a new calling (Primary chorister), and Halloween is just around the corner. (Actually, if the aisles at Hobby Lobby are anything to go by, Christmas is just around the corner.) Betsy is getting a homemade costume this year, so I guess I'd better get cracking!

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