Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Family

Things will be a little quiet around ye ol' blog this week since we've made our semi-annual trip to Oregon and are hanging out with family.  Including this bunch of 20(!) yahoos that descended on the house yesterday.  Fun was had by one and all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Big Boy Fun

We finally got our yard cleaned up so we're not the redneck neighbors anymore.  Or at least not quite as bad!  It helped that in the process Brian got to have a large fire... which he also threw zinc and sulfur on.

Sorry, no pictures of those as they just go "poof" in white and blue light and it's too hard to time.  Fun to watch though!

Then some other guys came and took over the house and I have been listening to them play board games for the last few hours... some kind of parasite infection disease where they don't know who's infected so they kill each other off.  Fun times!  And also, about this much Coke has been consumed again...

Welcome to Christmas vacation at my house!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Star Wars

Who needs cookie decorating when there are new friends to fight???

Monday, December 19, 2011

Whose Birthday Is It?

When I was a kid we always had a birthday cake on Christmas.  And not because my birthday is in December, but to remember that it is Jesus' birthday.  I love that tradition and we're doing it with our kids and my mom is making the cake since we have Christmas at her house (right, mom? :)

But we usually do gifts at Christmas too, so what do you give Jesus?  Well, you can give him your heart, your time, your obedience, but those things are sometimes hard to convey to little kids.

This year we're going to let the boys pick out a gift from Compassion to send to a family in need.  Lots of charities do this now and I really like the idea.  Especially at Christmas it's a tangible way to give something in Jesus' name.

There are many other ways you can give, Angel Trees, food gift baskets through local charities, etc.  But we really like the work that Compassion does and the long term affects these gifts have.  Giving a live animal like a goat can provide nutrition as well as income for a family for a long time.

I hope to make this our new Christmas tradition!

Do you have any Christmas traditions like this?  What kind of gifts do you give on Jesus' birthday?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Room Makeover Done!

Alright, so way back in July I gave you a little sneak peek at what I was painting in my boys' room... and this week I finally finished!  Amazing how long it can take you to do something when you have to work around distractions and nap time...

There's a little alien in the rocket ship!  
(and we won't talk about the missing curtain/rod...)

These are stencils from My Wonderful Walls, which I got to review over at An Island Life (see my full review there).  I let the boys pick which design they wanted and then I've been slowly adding one or two things at a time.  This is the transportation theme.

If you're a perfectionist... it takes 20 minutes to stencil and then another hour to go back and outline everything so it looks smooth.  Darn textured walls!  So if you're like me I either recommend going with the stickers or being prepared for it to take a whole lot longer than a weekend!

I actually liked the stencils because then I could reuse some of them and also customize my colors.  For example, this hot air balloon was supposed to be green and yellow... however I think my father in law might have disowned me if I'd painted that color combination in their room!

Oh, and originally there was a short dresser right under the train so it looked good, but then we got my old high bed for Cory this weekend and rearranged the whole room so I may have to paint a track or something under the train.

And this last picture is for Grandma so she can see how the boys beds now fit!

There are actually quite a few stencils that I didn't even use because I just ran out of room.  It was nice to have so many options!

My Wonderful Walls would like to offer any of my readers 15% off their order through the end of the year.  Just use code WTML15!  I'm eyeing the Flower Garden stencil set for the girls room... but probably not for another year or two!

I received this kit for my review over at An Island Life.  I was not obligated to write here, but it turned out pretty cool!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sittin' Spot

I know, I know, this is two pictures.  But how can you resist???  This is a perfect spot to sit at Nana's house.

Now, too bad we didn't get this adorable grin for the Christmas picture...

Friday, December 09, 2011


I love the colors of Christmas.  Maybe it has something to do with my hometown (but only at 3am), but I really could have Christmas lights up all year round.  And I actually did when I was in college!

I love the softness that you get with just that little bit of light.  Especially the regular lights, not those newfangled LED ones that make everything look blue!  Unless of course I'm going with the blue theme, which I sometimes do!

Beyond the lights, I just love the color that comes with this season.  Around here we usually have snow and it's so brilliantly white in the sunshine that it makes all the other colors more vivid.  Or just the rainbow sparkles in the frost and ice on cold mornings.

I love Christmas decorations... when they are tastefully done.  Everything is "new" for this season.  If we didn't decorate this time of year I think we'd lose half the magic.  It's a visual reminder of the things we celebrate.

What does "color" make you think of?  Now, or anytime of the year?

And no, we won't talk about all the extra "color" that's been added to my house lately by one little toddler boy!

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

TILT: Shutterfly Books (with giveaway)

If you've been following this blog for any length of time (like more than a week) you've probably gathered that I'm heavily into photography.  So when I buy pictures I only buy quality - and I pay for it too.

But I also love pictures and sharing them with other people and I can't always afford that kind of quality!  So when I need prints for friends and family and especially when I'm making photo books as gifts I always turn to Shutterfly.  I've done a comparison.  Shutterfly is hands down the best quality you can get for mass produced products.

As you can see, I've made quite a few books for my own personal use too.  These are my boys' baby books (Noah's aren't done yet!) with one book for each 3 months of their first year.

In the 4 years since I've been doing this the software and options that Shutterfly has available for their books has grown exponentially.  There are so many themes to choose from and now they've made every page completely customizable to where you can change the layouts any way you want, move anything around, and add any kind of embellishment from their 3,000+ image collection.  I also use some professional scrapbooking software for other projects and I have to say, these were features that Shutterfly was missing for awhile, but they have really stepped up with their latest update this year.

Shutterfly isn't just about printing your pictures.  They would love to help inspire you to take better pictures as well.  To that end they have an entire section devoted to tips and ideas for taking pictures.  They call it storytelling, which I think is a very appropriate name since that's what we most want our pictures to do!  This section is updated monthly and you can always read back articles by category.


Shutterfly would like you to try out a book on them.  They will provide one winner with an 8x8 hard cover photo book as well as free shipping.  Please go check out the various theme options and tell me which one you might use and for what occasion!

Leave one comment (with a way to contact you) and a random winner will be drawn in one week.

Shutterfly is providing me with a credit for a storybook as well, but as you can see, I'm already a big fan!  Post also facilitated by the Family Review Network.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Train Time!

Noah was stoked to take his first ride on our little local train!  Sadly I couldn't see his face for the ride because I was sitting in that empty seat behind Brian, but I could hear him... my son who says "BYE" to the trains every time we drive into town from our house!

And thankfully it was not nearly as cold this year as it has been in years past!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A MommyParty with Pregnancy 2.0

A couple months ago I got an email from MomSelect asking if I wanted to sign up to host a MommyParty for pregnant moms with Pregnancy 2.0.  I thought, sure, that sounds fun and I have a few local friends that are pregnant too as well as all the million other moms I know around the country! (hello sister in law)

Well, I was rather shocked when things started arriving in the mail...
  • First a Britax B-safe carseat and B-agile stroller that go together as well as a baby carrier.  At first I was thinking, yay, we can replace the car seat we used with Cory because it will be 5 years old when baby comes, but no, now I'm super thankful because we need two car seats!
I also promptly used the stroller with Noah when we took a tour of the police station with our local home school group.  Good thing it's light and folds up easily as we ended up using the stairs instead of the elevators!  It was super nice to have and since we've never really been stroller people I was happy to use it rather than my big heavy jogging stroller.

I'm not sure how practical this stroller will be with twins, but I'm thinking I may wear one and push the other since I'm probably not about pushing a double stroller!
  • Next up, the Baby Plus Prenatal Education System.  And I have to say I was NOT impressed by this product.  You're supposed to wear it an hour each in the morning and evening to "introduce your child to a sequential learning process" by rhythms in the sound of a fake mother's heartbeat.
Basically the thing beeps rhythmically in progressively quicker rhythms.  And it is LOUD.  There is no way I was going to wear this for two hours a day.  Plus, as you can see me at only 20 weeks (and not much larger than normal yet) it was already at the largest it would go.  Not exactly comfortable.

    But there were a couple more fun products that came!
    • Snuggle buddies from Rashti and Rashti - the super cute pink owl and the black and white puppy dog
    • Spry gum and children's dental products made with xylitol as well as saline nasal spray

    And so I tried to gather my friends for a fun Mommies(only) lunch.  But have you ever tried to plan a get together for moms only around the holidays?  When you have older children that either have nap time or need childcare and there are a million other things going on???

    So I picked a day and my friend Rachel came for lunch with her daughter.  MommyParties sent us a wonderful menu to try, but um, we're pregnant!  So none of it sounded appealing right now other than the lemon mousse, which was amazing!  I may have to post the recipe for you all as it's super easy (and I recommend doubling it!)

    We had a good time chatting and actually getting to know each other better.  She also took all the Spry and Xclear products to MOPS with her the next week since there was way more than I could use and I knew those moms would enjoy them as well!

    I'm super thankful for the products I get to keep and happy to also be able to give the baby carrier to my sister-in-law who's pregnant with her first child and has very little yet!  MommyParties are fun, I just don't recommend trying to do them around the holidays unless kids are supposed to be involved!

    I was provided with all of these products for free to try and share with my friends.  All opinions are my own.

    Monday, December 05, 2011

    22 Weeks

    Apparently it must be a bit more than psychosomatic because my stomach has really popped out this month.  Here's me with Noah at 22 weeks and at 27 weeks for comparison.  I'm really starting to feel them moving around more and finally can feel it on the outside too.  Nice for Brian to be able to feel them now!  Sometimes they are awake at the same time, but mostly they take turns.  That could be interesting later...

    I have discovered that I really can't overdo it in any way or I pay for it for the next 2 or 3 days.  Not fun.

    We also went van shopping with the #1 criteria being something Brian could fit into.  The only one that didn't make him look like a giant in a clown car was the Toyota Sienna so that's what we're getting.  Crazy times!

    Friday, December 02, 2011


    My Bible study friends will all laugh at this post because for the last few years (basically since my first child was born) my standard response to "How are you?" has been "Tired".

    I guess I was just trying to be honest and I didn't even realize I was doing it until one of them asked me and then said, "No, wait, you're tired."  Whoops!  Maybe overdoing it a bit on the being honest bit!

    But to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever been as consistently tired as these past few months.  Some days I take a nap, other days I don't.  Those days are usually not as pretty as the nap days.

    In the midst of my tired I'm not sure I like myself.  When I'm tired, and especially when I've tried to take a nap or go to bed early and been thwarted by things outside of my control (see: 2 children) I get really grouchy.

    Eventually I don't like my grouchy self, especially when it makes my children grouchy.  I feel like a really bad, really tired mom.

    I'm not sure there's a solution to this tired problem, and I'm afraid it's probably only going to get worse for a few years before it gets better (please tell me it will get better!).  I am attempting to be more intentional with my time, make lists, and quit procrastinating.

    But if you ask me how I'm doing tomorrow?  I'll probably still tell you I'm tired.  Or at the very least if I don't say it out loud, I'll be saying it in my head!

    This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

    Thursday, December 01, 2011

    TILT: Earth Mama Angel Baby (with giveaway!)

    Things I love? Bath and body products that smell good!

    Things I don't love? All the chemicals that sometimes go into a product to make those smells.

    Things I really love? Products from Earth Mama Angel Baby that smell good and don't have any yucky chemicals in them!

    I've been using the Angel Baby Shampoo on Noah since he was born and recently had a chance to try out a few more of their products.  One word? Yum!  They just smell so good!

    The Angel Baby shampoo is a castile soap made with USDA certified organic ingredients.  It's scented with real vanilla and orange oils and it's super gentle on my little guy's sensitive skin.

    There are 3 other castile soaps in the family, Calm and Clean (with lavender and vanilla), Happy Mama (with ginger, lime and grapefruit), and the Natural Non-scents which is unscented.  I don't do lavender or ginger scents very well so the non-scents one is great for me!

    All these soaps come in a great foaming container which makes them easy to dispense one handed (squirming baby anyone?) and they last a long time!

    I love that they are rated ZERO on the Skin Deep Database (which means completely non-toxic) and they are certified vegan and cruelty free.  If you'd like more details on what kinds of toxins are normally found in bath products - especially ones kids use, please read this article called No More Toxic Tub.

    And so now I include a bottle of Angel Baby Shampoo in every baby shower gift I give!

    Win It!

    Earth Mama Angel Baby is generously offering one of my readers a bottle of the Natural Non-Scents to try for themselves.

    If you would like to enter please go visit their site and tell me what other product you might like to try (I'm seriously loving some of the pregnancy products right now! *wink wink).

    Giveaway will end on December 8th or whenever my pregnant brain remembers to pull a name!  Please make sure your email address is on your profile or leave it in the comments or I won't be able to contact you!

    Earth Mama Angel Baby provided me with a bottle of Non-scents to facilitate my review, but my love for them started a long time ago!

    This post also linked up with The Diaper Diaries and Things I Love Thursday.