Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Decorating with Heidi

At the urging of one or two of my readers, I hope to begin a decorating series here on the blog sometime soon. I'm not exactly feeling qualified. Very few of my projects are original. Most of my projects are very simple. There isn't much time these days for elaborate decorating schemes! Maybe I'll ask my sister, Shannon, to be a guest decorator on occasion. I'm sure she has nothing better to do, and I've failed at my attempt to get her to create her own blog.

So, for those of you that might appreciate little decorating tips, ideas, or projects: this series will be for you. For those of you that have no trouble reading a magazine, seeing an idea on your own, and copying it: you might want to skip future posts on the subject of home decorating.

I would love to see pictures of the projects that you complete! Check out the silhouettes that my cousin Amy created (didn't she do a great job?):

Amy also gave me the great idea of using silhouette cut-outs to make Valentine's cards for grandparents (or other family and friends who might appreciate them). Watch for ideas and instructions next week. (Mom and Haley, pretend that you didn't read that, okay?)

If you are anxious to get started on a project, try planting some wheatgrass. (See top photo.) It is fresh, fun, easy, and grows quickly.

The first step is to find a {container}. You could do something classic such as a terra cotta pot, step it up a notch and use an old tin pail, or go for the out-of-the-box prize and plant in a.... Wait. I'll have to call my sister. Drat, not home. Let me look through a few decorating books. Ah, yes. I have it. Plant the wheat grass in a watering can with an open top. Or an old metal recipe card box. Really, you can use anything that will hold soil, not leak water, and have room for the grass to grow out the top.

Prize. Hmm. That is giving me an idea. If you plant wheatgrass in an unusual container, send me a picture and we'll have a little contest. Shannon, you are disqualified as someone with a unfair advantage, but send me a picture anyway and I'll post it. Maybe I'll see what I can come up with, as well.

The second step is to locate some {wheat seed}. I happened upon some at the craft store while picking up some artists' canvases. You could also try a health food store. And don't forget to grab a bag of {potting soil} while you are out and about!

Now it is time to put it all together. (I told you I would be giving you difficult, involved, astoundingly intricate and amazing project, right?) {Fill} the container with potting soil, about an inch from the top. {Scatter seed} liberally. {Top} with another thin layer of potting soil. {Water}. I prefer to use a spay bottle filled with water on a mist setting. That way the seeds aren't disrupted. Kids love to perform this step!

Put the container near natural {light}. Keep the soil moist. Wheat grass grows quickly, another reason why it makes a terrific project for kids to make with you! {Trim} the grass with a pair of scissors as needed. I usually put the container in a window sill until it gets a good start, and then put it wherever it looks attractive once it is an inch or two tall.


Browse other decorating/project/art blogs that are an inspiration to me:
Nesting Place
Ali Edwards
i have to say

Finally, I think this series needs a snappy name. I am terrible at coming up with witty titles. Have you ever entered Ree's photo naming contests? Not me. Nothing comes to mind. I am so impressed with the clever titles her readers come up with. Maybe it helps to have 25,000 hits a day. Hmm. I'm not quite there yet. I am positive, however, that I have linguistically creative readers. I'm counting on you to come up with a name. Let's start with Decorating with Heidi and go from there...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Even When He's Sick

Levi is down with the stomach flu, but he certainly doesn't let that stop his priceless comments and vocabulary words. Heard today:

(I check on him and tell him that he looks like he's feeling a bit better.) Yeah! (He says, very chipper.) Dad put some steam on in the bathroom and got me back on track! (He was sick again within a few minutes.) I'm off track, again.

My legs feel like they are going to fail.

(He throws up just a little.) Mom, sometimes it is only a portion.

Mom, I need to go to market. (Market? Why?) To get more cran-raspberry juice. That seemed to really work.

Poor kid.

And just the other day, we were out (just the two of us, which rarely happens) and he had me in stitches the entire time. I can't even remember half of it. My mom says that I need to have a recording device clipped to my belt at all times.

While we were driving to the appointment, he asked me if I had watched the commercial about the vehicle with video games for the kids. He proceeded to 'play' a video game. (We don't own a gaming system. The poor child is limited to the occasional computer program.) Who needs a video game system when you can do the whole thing in your imagination?!

(After the appointment, I ask him what the nurse and he talked about.) Oh, a great deal of things. (What questions did she ask you.) A bunch of foolishness.

On our way home, he tells me that he'll need the keys to the Suburban because he is going to own it. I promptly inform him that it will be 10 years before he can drive it, much less own it.

Actually, I'm going to drive that Dodge. (That what?) You know, the Caravan we discussed earlier. (Oh, that Dodge. The one with the DVD player?) No, with the video games. (He pauses while mulling over something.) Well, my wife will drive. I'll be playing the video games.

(Later that evening, Russ was getting out the microscope with the boys for the first time. He was in his element getting it all figured out. Levi has a way of sizing up the situation.) Dad, is this your big moment?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The World in White

Waking Up to a White World:

Our Summer-time Fire Pit:
Out and About:


My Most Favorite Trees at My Childhood Home:
Our Shop, Poet's Garden:
Out for Hot Chocolate:

Back Home to Play

'Bambi':

'Poppy':

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Small Talk

Quite some time ago, around the time that I read The Art of Civilized Conversation, my sister and I came up with a long list of 'small talk' questions that might help start a fascinating conversation when we seemed to be at a loss. I know that Shannon has put many of the questions on our list to good use, but I haven't had much time for small talk in the past year.

So, would any of you, my dear readers, be interested in some small talk? I would love to hear your answers to one or all of the following questions. I realize that this blog format loses much of the 'intimate chat' atmosphere, but we can try, can we not?

*Tropics, desert, mountain, coast, or valley~ what climate do you prefer?

*If you were forced to list your best asset, what would you reply?

*What unusual features would your dream home have?

*If you owned a restaurant, what would it be like? What would you name it? What food would you serve?

Feel free to chat in the comments or on your own blog (but be sure to put a link in the comments!).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

7 Random Facts About Me

My friend, Carole at Thoughts of Home, tagged me with a '7 Random Facts About Me' meme. I wasn't sure if I would be able to come up with anything remotely interesting about myself, but I thought I should come up with something. It is fun to read the '100 Things' lists on other blogs, and I had toyed with the idea of doing one here. However, I can barely come up with 7, much less 100. We'll give it a try:

1. I am a worrier. I think I started worrying when I was about two years old. One, maybe. The fear of something happening (accident or illness) to my children is almost overwhelming at times.

2. I played the flute for years. Still have it. Never play it.

3. I want to learn how to ballroom dance. Badly.

4. I think Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.

5. I used my own money to subscribe to Home magazine when I was in 6th grade. I spent hours drawing house plans.

6. I hate movies with bad endings. I need emotional closure. I also hate movies (or books) about animals. Speaking of animals, during my childhood I (or a sister) had dogs, cats, chickens, goats, sheep, horses, fish, and hamsters. I have absolutely no desire to ever own pets. I would love to name a bunch of pets, though... (Okay, that was a two (three, four?) for one.)

7. Eight years ago, I opened a home, garden, and gift shop with my sister and mom. We were featured in Victoria magazine. Shannon and Mom now run the shop without my 'help.' They get nervous when they see me coming (with all three boys...).

Well, that is it for today. I know I am supposed to tag 7 people, but how about those of you who might be interested consider yourself tagged. (Cop-out, I know.) Comment and let me know if you decide to participate!

Game of Blog Tag Rules:
*Link to the person that tagged you.
*Post the rules on your blog.
*Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
*Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
*Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Joys of Life

Reading through For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, I came across this passage today. It reminded me of my recent post about fulfilling interests. Macaulay is quoting Charlotte Mason:

We should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children; but should teach them that the devine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Engaged!







Larissa has been a long-time friend of my sister, Shannon. She and Chad recently became engaged and agreed to be my guinea pigs since I have only had experience photographing wiggly little boys. They were great sports and very brave to be my first couples session in this lovely cold weather. At least the rain stayed away.
Aren't they gorgeous? These are just a few of my favorite images from today!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fulfilling


What fulfills you? What gives meaning to your day when it comes time to put your head on the pillow at night? I'm not necessarily talking about our purpose spiritually (to glorify God and be in a right relationship with Him) or the other end of the spectrum (merely completing our duties for the day, or doing something pleasurable), though it certainly might touch on one of those.

I believe that God gives each of us something, part of our individual personality or talents that, in addition to His presence, helps us feel fulfilled. For some, that might fall close to spiritual purpose, such as touching lives within their 'job' as missionary. For others, living a relaxed and carefree life or even finishing tasks on a list may be the thing that fills them up.

What creates that fullness in your life? Is it solving a problem? Is it earning a salary? Is it learning something new? Is it connecting with someone emotionally? Is it bringing order to chaos? Is it providing for your family? Is it serving others? Is it sharing your talents (singing, acting...) publicly? Is it teaching? Is it discovering a truth? Is it ministering to another's need? Is it working against social ills? Is it trying something new or taking a risk?

Surely, by now, some of you are wondering what this all has to do with the above picture. Sometimes I wish my 'thing' was as noble as drilling wells for people with no clean water. Or delving into the Bible to find truths that have eluded others. Even taking risks, which I avoid like the plague. But I know without a doubt that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. I have no wish to discount either my talents and desires or the talents and desires of the people around me.

When I thought about it today, I was again sure that two of my main 'things' are family and creating something visually pleasing. Which is why I love to decorate my home. And entertain for family events. And scrapbook (which, by the way, hits just about everything on my list of enjoyments). Or how about taking visually appealing photographs of family members?

Yep, at the end of the day, if I have spent meaningful time with my family or created something beautiful, I breathe deeply and am happy with my life. If I have created something beautiful that connects me in some way to my family, even better. On the flip side of the coin, I go to bed troubled when my house is dirty and chaotic, I did something to make me feel like a failure at this 'mothering gig,' I am worried about someone in my family, or I did nothing to nurture a relationship with those closest to me.

I have long wanted to try my hand at creating silhouette cut-outs of my boys. It is one of those things I have 'meant to get around to' for quite some time. Today was the day. I keep looking at them and smiling. When I put my head on my pillow tonight, I will breathe deeply and be happy with my life.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Fresh

In the Kitchen:On the Piano:
That One Little Word:
On the Mantel:
I was in the mood for something fresh. Thanks~The Good the Bad & the Ugly, and Pottery Barn catalog. I needed a push in the right direction.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

And If the Moon Could Talk



As much as I have enjoyed reading Goodnight Moon to all three of my boys, we are ready to move on to another dreamy, magical, goodnight book. And If the Moon Could Talk is a stunning, color-saturated, glowing picture book with a lulling cadence. I could look at it forever. I will not tire of it. Not even after the next three years have passed, and Leif no longer wants to read the same book over and over. I'll have to read it to myself as I snuggle into my warm bed with my stack of books.

I originally purchased And If the Moon Could Talk due to adoring the illustrator's work in Isabelle and the Angel, another favorite picture book. Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa is the next book series on my list to check out!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quick Routine Update

I have lots to say about our routine. (I always have lots to say.) But today I will try to make it short and sweet.

My favorite thing about our new routine is the evenings. The boys are getting to bed earlier and with more consistency. Having specifics written down seems to have also helped Russ. He has a better idea of what needs to be done in the evening and has been really helpful! The benefit to both of these things is that I get my 'chores' done on time or early. It is incredible to have a whole hour set aside for reading in the evenings. I am loving it!

The downside to getting the boys in bed earlier is that they wake up earlier. At least that makes me get out of bed. The one thing I have not been able to do is get Bible reading done in the morning. If I do it when I first wake up, I'm too drowsy. If I wait until after showering, the kids are already going crazy. So, I've been doing that before going to sleep at night.

Part of what is making our new routine successful is that I was trying to be as realistic as possible when creating it. I could have planned to get to bed early and wake up early, but I know from experience that the evening can be my most productive time. Not only that, but I have zero self-discipline to get myself out of bed in the morning. Especially when I have not had eight (or ten) hours of sleep and it is cold. Nothing like three wide-awake little boys to be my self-discipline. I get the same amount of alone time, whether it is in the morning or evening (unless I further scrimp on sleep--not an option). Why not pick the time that is most likely to be successful?

Blessing

Quite a few days ago, Barb at I Was Just Thinking tagged me with a blessing:

The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed!

I have been terrible about tags. Ages ago, my cyber friend Lindsey tagged me with a wedding meme that I never completed. Last month, another cyber friend Jennefer tagged me with an eight things about me meme, again not completed. And I am two weeks behind on sending out this blessing. Friends be warned. Apparently I am terrible at follow-through!

However, I do want to pay this blessing forward! This blessing goes out to Dreams of a Country Girl. For her humor and honesty. I also know that she is possibly making a big transition in her life, so I know she could use some prayers!

Thanks again, Barb!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Levi at Six




I decided to create a site to hold my favorite pictures. (Must not have anything better to do.) Head on over if you are interested in taking a peek.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More From the World of Levi

Getting Levi to focus on his one main chore, emptying the dishwasher, can be a bit of a challenge. This boy is not about doing things 'correctly,' step-by-step, and finishing in a timely manner. He is all about the creative process. I had no idea that emptying the dishwasher could be creative. The above picture shows, I am told, a buffalo. Do you see the horns? (Hint: they are orange and blue.) The flatware basket is apparently the body.

Do you have any idea what mismatched cups do to my mental and emotional state? It is ridiculous. But I'm taking a deep breath and going with it. I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if the kids didn't drink out of specific colored cups. I always know that a purple cup is Leif's. But what about a purple and green cup? I'm flummoxed.

Levitical Sayings:


Mom, I have an appointment with you. (Is that so? Did you want to show me what a lovely job you did cleaning up the front room?) No, Lukie did it all. I came to pay him credit.

Mark my word.

Just passing the time.

Have it your way.

I'm convinced.

What a shame.

Hey, Todd! (We were in the food line at Costco, and he was talking to someone behind us. It worried me a little, as we don't know anyone in town by the name of Todd. I looked behind me at a young man wearing a service uniform. He sported a name patch with the name Todd, of course. For Levi, that is as good as an introduction. Levi chuckled at the guy's bemused look.) Actually, I just read your name tag. (Grin.)

(We go for dinner at Red Robin. Our server come to the table. Levi cranes his neck to look at her name tag.) Kristen, it is my dad's birthday. Could you please sing to him and bring us balloons and ice cream? (It was just a day or two after his birthday, and we had not talked about 'celebrating' at the restaurant. Russ practically crawled under the table, but we did get free ice cream.)

(Pointing at Leif.) Turn thy head into a donkey'est'. (Maybe we should cut back on the Shakespeare.)

(Levi was escaping from the kitchen after breakfast without clearing his plate. I reminded him.) Sorry, I forgot that process.

(We are snuggling in bed early in the morning.) Mom, diets don't work. Do you want to know what does? (Not so sure.) Weight Watchers.

(We were working on a grammar lesson covering common nouns and proper nouns. I asked Levi to think of a proper name for a girl.) Mona Lisa. (Um, okay, I guess that works. How about a man?) King Louis XV. (I almost hate to ask, but how about a boy?) Levi, of course! (A proper name for a book?) Kings and Queens of England. (You do know that King Louis was a French king, don't you?) I'm not talking about him anymore. (Alrighty, then. I guess there is probably a book called Kings and Queens of England. I glance at the example in the text book. It says Go, Dog, Go. Who knew that grammar could be so entertaining.)

____________________________________________

Because many of these Levitical sayings were from the last month or two, when Levi was five, I will leave you with these amusing quotes:


A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. ~Groucho Marx

There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child. ~Frank A. Clark

The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old. ~Joan Kerr, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, 1957

Friday, January 11, 2008

Home Depot

Did you know that every month on the first Saturday, Home Depot holds a Kids' Workshop? Levi, Luke, and Russ attended their first session this past Saturday. The boys had a blast creating Castle Treasure Boxes. Russ was thrilled because the kits were free. Not only that, but the aprons were free as well! Now all three boys have personalized Home Depot Kids' Workshop aprons. They feel pretty special!

Thanks, Char, for letting me know about the workshop!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008

After joining the Spring and Summer Reading Challenges over at Seasonal Soundings then completing an Autumn reading list on my own, I was in the mood for something a little different this year. Being deliberate about my reading made a big impact in my literary life, and it is important that I continue to be intentional about the things that are priorities to me. Reading is one of those things. I want to stretch my mind and imagination. I want to learn new things. Feel something new. Go on adventures. I want my boys to see me reading.

In that spirit, I've decided to make a book list following (most of) the rules of the 888 Reading Challenge. Eight book catagories. Eight books in each catagory. Eight books may overlap catagories. In the year 2008, of course. 56 books. Very ambitious for me.

But I don't want to read the books on my list just to complete the challenge. I want to get out of each book what I need and be sensible to the other priorities in my life. More than eight of my books overlap catagories, not all of them will get read, some of the books are re-reads, and I'm sure to change my mind a few (or more) times over the course of the year.

This list excites me, and I am looking forward to digging in!


Literature Set in Ancient History:
Ben Hur
Quo Vadis

(With Levi:)
In Search of a Homeland (The Aeneid)
Black Ships Before Troy (The Iliad)
The Wanderings of Odysseus (The Odyssey)
The Bronze Bow
Detectives in Togas
The Cat of Bubastes (unabridged audio CD)

Children’s Fiction with Levi:
Swallows and Amazons
Little Britches
Owls in the Family
The Great Brain
Understood Betsy
Emily’s Runaway Imagination
All-of-a-Kind Family
Little Pear

Christianity:
The Life of Our Lord (Charles Dickens)
*Ben Hur
*Quo Vadis
Victor Journey Through the Bible
From Jest to Earnest (E. P. Roe)
Hard Questions, Real Answers (William Lane Craig)
The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis)
The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis)

Education/Parenting:
The Intellectual Devotional
The Closing of the American Mind (get around to finishing)
Family Matters (re-read)
Protecting the Gift (re-read)
Bringing Up Boys (re-read)
The Well-Trained Mind (re-read)
The Essential 55 (Ron Clark)
For the Children’s Sake (Susan Schaeffer Macaulay)

Book Club:
Watership Down
Me: Stories of My Life (Katharine Hepburn)
*From Jest to Earnest (E. P. Roe)
The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Agatha Christie)
Life With Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse)
(7 more books to be decided at a later meeting)

Non-Fiction:
*The Closing of the American Mind
Crunchy Cons
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey)
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (Lynne Truss)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences (Kitty Burns Florey)
* Protecting the Gift

Just For Fun:
*The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Agatha Christie)
*Life With Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse)
Tears of the Giraffe (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Book #2)
The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks)
A Tom Clancey Novel (not sure which one…)
Hotel Pastis (Peter Mayle)
The Thirteenth Tale
*A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)

Literature:
*Ben Hur
*Quo Vadis
A Wrinkle in Time
Animal Farm
Brave New World
Messenger (Lois Lowry)
Taming of the Shrew
A Midsummer Night’s Dream


(*Books listed in a previous catagory)

What's on your list? Or are you the type of person that avoids lists at all costs and thinks I'm insane? Wicked grin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

In a Word

Enjoy

Courage

Generous

Potential

Gratitude

Intentional

Become

Change

Haven

Quiet

Relationship

Intentional

Tranquility

Enrich

Consistent

Joy


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Before and After


Luke, what can I say about Luke?
He melts my heart a hundred times a day.
And I spent the whole day yesterday gazing at this picture.
(Try to view it full screen if you can.
His eyes are incredible!)

Leif is the cutest one year old on the planet.
(Certainly I can't just be prejudiced.)
But a little editing can even do his picture justice. I rarely change Levi's pictures to sepia tone because of his amazing blue eyes.
But this drama fits his personality perfectly! Ilex looks beautiful no matter the picture.
But why not try something fun?
Nice picture, but a bit dull and gray.
A little more pizazz, don't ya think?

This is one of my favorite pictures of Luke,
but I was disappointed in how washed out it looked.
Not anymore.
Or the handsome guy in sepia.
I am sure I'm breaking all sorts of rules with my editing, but it is so much fun to experiment. Sometimes I like the pictures to be sharper and more realistic. Sometimes I like extra color saturation, just for fun. Or a high-contrast sepia tone. Sure, why not? All I know is that I no longer wonder what I might do if I had gobs of free time.