Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Little Girl With a Curl

There was a little girl that had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead;

When she was good, she was very, very good,

And when she was bad she was horrid.

Up until recently, 1 2 3 Magic had been working like a charm with the boys. It's a simple behavior management system that consists of us counting to 3 when the boys aren't cooperating and them turning their behavior around before we get to 3 or there is a time out. Over the past couple of days, I've gotten to three and the offender is completely ignoring me. That has never happened before, they usually jump as soon as they hear us counting. I stood there dumbfounded thinking "now what?". If 1 2 3 Magic isn't working anymore, my bag of tricks is empty. Kevin suggested in jest that maybe we should start counting to 4.

The boys just turned four and at times are already acting like moody and sassy tweens. I'm finding it's a fine line to walk with them, they are too often thinking of us as playmates rather than parents. I love the closeness we all share, the time we spend together with them reading books, puzzles and playing. However these little guys need to know their limits and to learn respect. I struggle with how to implement these values without being a constant critic of their behaviors. They have such an innocent and free spirit and the last thing I want to do is to stifle that in any way. I'm hoping like everything else in the past that this is just a phase. I'll lose sleep, obsessively think about it and in time they move on from the behavior and throw me a new loop.

To my little ones

I heard you clumsily open your door and the sound of your excited little feet. You called out "Mom, Mom, he came! We were first, he came and we were first." We gathered around the tree and you quickly claimed your pile and sweetly asked for permission to begin. Your tousled hair, sleepy eyes and morning froggy voice filled my heart.

Each gift was opened with such anticipation and was carefully examined before you moved onto the next...with the exception of your new underwear. You noticed that Santa had eaten his cookies but thankfully you didn't notice that Twink our family elf had forgotten to go back to the North Pole. I tell you almost daily that you are my Christmas morning, you bring me that inexplicable joy, that contentment that all is right in the world.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

The unfortunate drive by

I broke our camera last weekend. As in put it on the back of our car and drove off with it. Not a good time of year to break a camera. Kevin is taking his time researching the next camera we will buy so for now no pics. I can't stand having a delay on the camera, we get the boys to cooperate for a picture, then it takes the camera a few seconds to cue up and by then the boys are gone. So one of my requirements is a quick shoot camera.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the boys and myself before break begins. It is also the boy's last day at their current preschool. Come January they will start at the Montessori program at my school. On Friday they met their new teachers. They seemed excited and interested in their new class environment. A little shell shocked to see that there were no toys, but also a little curious about the materials the teachers had out. They had some baskets filled with pine cones, nuts and bolts and other various materials. They seemed comfortable talking with them and when they left they said they had "a really fun time".

Over the weekend I attended Grant's Karate banquet. Grant received his junior black belt after four years of studying Karate. There were only four students receiving one and he was the youngest. He and the three others put on a show of sorts to showcase their skills. I was very impressed. He won several awards and my sister and brother in law, won parents of the year for the dojo. It was a great night for the McBrides.

Grant's sensei is an admirable person, he held a board breaking event at the dojo in Grant's honor and helped our JDRF team raise thousands of dollars for juvenile diabetes. After attending the banquet and seeing what a valuable experience it is for all the children that are involved, Kevin and I are going to find out about enrolling the boys in the little dragons program. The minimum age is four, so they can now participate after the new year.

I'm so excited to celebrate the holidays with the boys. I just can't wait to see those little faces on Christmas morning. I tend to get caught up with the work involved to host, bake and clean, but I'm trying really hard to stay in the moment with them. It seems like after every b-day party and some holidays too, I sit down and reflect how things went and feel like I wasn't a part of the celebration. I was too busy prepping, serving, cleaning, sorting and putting away to enjoy any of it. I HATE that. I'll never get that time back, it's gone and I lost it. In fact my New Year's resolution is to be more "present" in our everyday lives. Taking the time to enjoy the time I spend with the boys and less focused on housework and whatever else that needs to get done. I'm organized to a fault and I'm fighting my instincts tooth and nail to change that.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Time for an update on the bubbies. Just a couple short weeks until Christmas is here and we are enjoying the anticipation with the boys. The boys have really been focused on what toys they are going to get from Santa and their family, which I know is completely normal for three. Kevin and I wanted to get them thinking about the giving part as well so we had them create lists of family members that they were going to buy gifts for and tonight we took them shopping at the dollar store.

The gifts they picked out were actually thoughtful, a bit ridiculous and a whole lot of sweet. They enjoyed choosing gifts for their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and each other. They were a bit disappointed about not being able to get the gifts they bought for each other tonight. That might be an understatement. Overall though, I thought it was a good experience for them and I hope they enjoy giving their gifts to everyone on Christmas.

The new year will bring some new changes for the boys. Kevin and I have decided to enroll the boys at the preschool Montessori program at my school. They are currently in preschool 3 mornings a week at another school that is about a mile away from my school. It's been a great experience for them and they have enjoyed themselves tremendously.

There has been however, one little glitch. There is a "friend" in their class that they seem to be smitten with. Unfortunately that "friend" is the class troublemaker. This little boy has taught them potty jokes and introduced them to the concept of guns. They talk about him all the time and have learned some very unbecoming behavior from him. When they started to tell me about guns (which they didn't even know existed till this little shit told them) I had had enough. I spoke to the teacher about it and she assured me that he was on a behavior plan and she had brought his parents in to talk to them, yada yada yada. Call me overprotective, overbearing, whatever but I just can't sit by and let this "friend" undo all of our hard work. Our boys are wide eyed, life lovin, innocently happy boys. I refuse to let this little troublemaker take that away from them.

Being a teacher myself, I know that every class has some unfortunate kid like this so it's only a matter of time before they cross paths again with a bad influence but for now I have control over the situation and I'm taking the bull by the horns. I didn't tell the preschool that was one of the main factors we were moving the boys, but now I question if I should or not.

The positive side of the situation is that the boys will be at my school with me! I love the school that I work at, I've been able to get to know their teachers and spend quite a bit of time observing the Montessori program. I'd prefer that the boys only attend preschool 3 days a week at this point, but the Montessori program is 5 mornings a week. So that will be an adjustment but they truly seem to love school so I don't foresee the increase being a problem. So starting in January, the boys and I will be in school from 8:30-12 each day right down the hall from each other.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Classic Red, Green and Silver Christmas Mantel

The Lettered Cottage is hosting a holiday home linky party featuring Christmas mantels. I've been pretty excited to decorate for Christmas since this is our first Christmas in our new home. After peeking into hundreds of homes to see how other's have decorated their mantel, I became inspired to recreate ours and join the party.

I had a lot of kitchey going on previously, I think it's because of having the boys. Some of my most fondest memories of Christmas are of the kitchey Christmas decorations my Grandmother used to put out. The nutcracker that wound up and played music, the Santa that held a lantern that lit up, and her Santa mugs just to name a few. I want the boys to have those same kind of memories, when I buy Christmas decorations I always have that in the back of my mind. So I shopped the house as well as Michaels and the dollar store and came up with a more timeless and classic Christmas Mantel. We'll keep the kitchey in the kitchen.

Our fireplace is two stories high, so I really needed to get some height on the mantel. I repurposed a mirror that has been out of commission for some time because it had the height that our mantel needed. I bought the wreath at Michaels. I liked that it looked a little more rustic than the traditional Christmas wreath because our stone fireplace has more of a rustic feel to it. I had some leftover burlap from a previous project that I used to dress the mantel. It's difficult to see in the photos but there is burlap on either side of the mirror.

The candle sticks are from Pottery Barn and I embellished them with silver snowflake ornaments that I picked up from the Dollar Store. The glass vase on the mantel is also from the Dollar Store and it is filled with Dollar Store ornaments. The faux Christmas holly is from Michaels. I used a piece of burlap around the vase as well to tie it all together.

Our stockings are from Pier One. I purchased them years before we had the boys because I loved the that they were made of velvet, were patchworked and the details on them are really pretty. It's difficult to see the golden thread that embellishes them in pictures, sorry about that! Thanks for stopping by!

The Lettered Cottage

Sunday, November 28, 2010

DIY kitchen curtains

No sew buffalo check curtains in the kitchen above the sink.

Coordinating painter's drop cloth curtains embellished with
buffalo check fabric on the door wall in the kitchen.

Close up view to see the detail on the fabric.

In a perfect world, I would quit my job and become a full time home decor/lifestyle blogger. I'd also be creative and talented enough to do so. Since I'm neither creative nor do I have the time it takes to commit to such an endeavor it will remain my pie in the sky dream. I am however, good at reinventing the wheel. Which is what I did in the above pictures.

I had read on many blogs that people were going to Lowes or Home Depot to purchase painter's drop cloths to use as drapes. I had previously spent 160 dollars on drapes from Pottery Barn that I felt were just okay. I returned those drapes and picked up my 20 dollars worth of painter's drop cloths. The beauty of the drop cloths is that they are a heavy and thick material that is already hemmed on all four sides. All you have to do is iron and hang with clips. They have been hanging for about 6 weeks, but this past week I worked on embellishing them to add more interest. I bought some buffalo check fabric from JoAnn's that was similar to what I saw in the Ballard Designs catalog for about 25 dollars. I also picked up some stitch witchery which is used as a bonding agent.

I used the buffalo check fabric to make curtains for the window above my sink by just measuring, cutting, ironing and creating the hems using the stitch witchery. I hung them with some drapery clips and tinkered around with them until they looked right. I did it in about an hour and a half after my little ones went to bed.
With the painter's drop cloth curtains on my door wall, I had to fold over the material from the top because they were too long. I used the flap of material that I folded down to embellish with the buffalo check fabric. Again I measured, cut, ironed and bonded one material to another using the stitch witchery. I then cut strips of fabric to gather the curtains in the middle to allow for more natural light. In total the project cost about 50 dollars for both windows, not including the window hardware. Much better than the 160 dollars I had previously spent on two window panels from PB.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

Our Christmas card pic unedited

Love those hands in the pockets wearing their Grandpa sweaters

Visit with Santa


This Thanksgiving has been an eventful one for the boys. On Tuesday, the boys had a Thanksgiving feast at preschool. I was happy that my schedule allowed me to join them and help their teacher out. They had a nice lunch with their friends, it was pretty precious to listen to what three and four year olds talk about around the dinner table.
On Wednesday we went to see Tangled with the McBrides. The boys and I chowed on popcorn and m&m's till I felt sick. We all thought it was a pretty good movie and afterwards we came home and played dolls together. I guess the girly type movie brought out their feminine side.
Thanksgiving Day we had some of Kevin's family over for breakfast. The bagels and egg casserole were delish followed up by a visit from Grant and Claire. I love that they can just ride their bikes over whenever they want. Later in the afternoon we headed to the McBride's house for Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner we celebrated Claire's 10th birthday. I can't believe little Claire Bear is already in double digits.
Yesterday we stayed home for most of the day. We had no interest in fighting the black Friday crowds so we stayed far, far away from the chaos. The boys played while Kevin and I tried to get some work done around the house. We still have a large amount of shelves and pictures to hang and in the mean time I keep creating new projects for myself which isn't helping. I'll save that for another post.
Today my mom came by for a few hours to sit with the boys while Kevin and I had some time away. We went to Meadow Brook Hall for the Christmas walk. It was beautiful. I have been many times, but haven't been for at least 10 years. I was so excited when they told us that they had opened up the secret playrooms to the public. I have always wanted to see the playrooms and they did not disappoint. Everything about Meadow Brook Hall is so uniquely beautiful and being up in the fourth floor playrooms was the icing on the cake. Afterwards we hit up Pottery Barn and picked up some treasures and then headed to Rojo for a late lunch.
The boys had lots of hugs and kisses for us when we got home. I love that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We booked our trip last week to head back to Disney World with the boys at the end of March. It's been under discussion for quite some time. We've been tossing around the idea of driving...yikes! It's almost a 24 hour trip for us and I'm guessing that nearly 48 hours in the car over the course of 7-8 days would not be too enjoyable. So I've been watching the airfare and when the rates dropped, we jumped on it. We got the best airfare rates that I have ever seen to Florida, and we've been probably 10-12 times. That was until a few days after booking I noticed that I booked our flight home a day earlier than I was supposed to. 75 dollars PER TICKET to fix my mistake and our unbelievable airfare was no longer.

Because of the nature of my job, our travel dates are always limited to holidays and the summer. All of which are the highest crowd levels. This year my school district has changed our Spring Break and it is no longer the week of Easter, and according to the crowd levels for the week we are going, things shouldn't be too crazy busy. We are all very excited and looking forward to the memories.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

On a whim

The boys got Chef Psghetti hats to wear

My loves

Little Jakey and Mom

Yesterday morning when we woke up, Kevin and I were deciding what to do for the day with the boys. We checked the local entertainment guide and saw that Curious George was playing at the Fox Theater this weekend. How did we miss that? The boys LOVE Curious George! It is hands down, Anderson's favorite show to watch. So we purchased some tickets on-line and headed to the D. We asked the boys if they wanted to know where we were going or if they wanted to be surprised. They chose to be surprised, I was impressed with their patience.
They were excited when we got to the theater and realized they were going to see George, Chef Psghetti, Noki, and the man with the yellow hat. They watched intently the whole time, never got antsy and enjoyed the entire show. I enjoyed holding them in my lap for nearly and hour and half and smelling their sweet hair.
After the show we headed to IKEA for shopping and lunch. It was a great family day!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halloween 2010

Two witches, a monkey and an i-pod touch

Love those little faces

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and the boys have just taken it over the top for me. This was our first year trick or treating with Grant and Claire and it was a great time. We had the grandparents, aunts and uncles over for some appetizers, pizza and some yummy deserts beforehand. It was a little party for the halloweenies and they loved being with their family. After dinner the boys changed into their costumes and we had a group of probably 12-15 neighborhood kids that we walked the neighborhood with. This year was Grant's first year walking the neighborhood alone with his friends, so their was a lot of excitement in the air :).
The boys did a fantastic job keeping up with the big kids and needed no prompting by Kevin or myself to go to the door and ask for candy like in previous years. They occasionally looked over their shoulder to make sure I was there but most of the time they were so hocked up on excitement and adrenaline they were in their own world. They each took more spills than I can count but even that didn't slow them down. The boys were pretty bummed the next day when all the decorations came down and they realized it was over. So was I.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Acorn Song

Preschool Halloween Celebration

Waiting in line to pin the nose on the pumpkin

All the boys and girls gathered to listen to their teacher talk about the parade

Class photo

At home before the party

Silly guys showing off their bellies
I love days like these. These are the days I've been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. Thoughts of days like today are what would send me into a dark tailspin during the two year struggle we had to bring Anderson and Jake into our family. My heart skips a beat when I think that days like today almost didn't happen, because I was so consumed with grief that at times I wanted to give up on this heart couldn't take anymore.
Today was the boys very first Halloween party and costume parade. The boys had Halloween costumes picked out for this year, but in the final hour Anderson decided he wanted to wear his monkey costume from two years ago. Then Jake changed his mind as well and decided he wanted to be a witch. So we did our best to throw together a witch costume for Jake and we squeezed little Anders into his old monkey costume.
The boys were bursting with excitement for their Halloween party at school. Poor Anderson woke up with dark circles under his eyes from not sleeping well due to the party anticipation. The boys paraded around the school with their class as well as the other 5-6 preschool classes. All the little ones were adorable! After the parade, the boys made monster hands, ghost suckers and played with their friends.
When the festivities were over, the four of us went out to lunch. The boys chatted about their parties and inhaled their food. I guess a Halloween parade will do that to you.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Landscape and Hardscape complete

This week we had the landscaping done. We had three companies draw up a design based on the type of look we like. We're both big on clean lines, and I love me some hedges and hate clutter (even in the garden) so the simplicity of what we got was exactly what I wanted. The kinda empty area where there are some random rocks is reserved for my annuals. It's too late in the year for that so it's looking a bit sparse. The river birch in front of the bay window is also looking a bit sad so late in the season, but I'm hoping it will fill in nicely this Spring. The sprinklers go in on Monday and hopefully we'll have some grass by the end of the week.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Pumpkin Festival

The most beautiful time of the year.

Van Hoosen Dairy Farm

The backyard of the Van Hoosen Home

The pumpkin we carved.

Today we took the boys to the Pumpkin Festival at the Van Hoosen Estate. It is a historic home and farm right down the road from our house. The boys did pumpkin bowling, games, carved pumpkins and went on a hayride. Everyone is encouraged to carve a pumpkin, because tonight from 7-9 p.m. they will light the nearly 1,000 jack'o'lanterns and set them on the old stone wall that lines the street. We will take a bike ride later tonight to see the display.

Check Spelling

Historic Houses at Van Hoosen Farm

Love this old stone wall on the original part of the Vanhoosen Estate circa 1840 The Van Hoosen Estate is about a mile from our house.

This barn is actually an art store. It had beautiful pieces of original art of all kinds. Pottery, craftsy type stuff, woodworking, etc. It's difficult to imagine, but the inside was magical. The original wood beams and floors and the most quait fireplace all decorated with the Halloween art for sale. It was gorgeous.

This home belongs to the owner of the art barn store.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Apple Picking on a Friday afternoon

Today we went apple picking. I just absolutely loved our experience last year with the boys and this year was just as fulfilling. The boys were pros this year and got right to work as soon as we arrived at the orchard. They filled their bags with Empires, Mutsus, Granny Smiths and Fujis.
We stopped for awhile and lounged in the grass, not a soul around, and held them tightly talking about how lucky we all were to have such a nice family. We set the camera up on a ladder to take this family pic.

Here they are stopping for just a brief moment to let me take a pic. They were all business, even examining the apples they picked for bruises or bugs. They each managed to eat two apples before we left.

This house was across the road from the orchard. I thought the hanging laundry was precious. I'm envious of those old farmhouses and families that still hold onto the simple ways of life.

If only I could freeze this afternoon in my mind...for now I'll tuck it away in my heart.