A Night to End All Nights
I wish I could say I spend New Year's Eve counting down the minutes until midnight, but alas, I am always asleep by the time the big apple drops in Times Square. But, if you're the gutsy-celebratory type, I wish you a very enjoyable evening. Best wishes for the big 2010!


Breaking It (Winter Breaking It, That Is)

Those cold, pouty lips!

These three sledded while I sat in the car with Miles, who has an aversion to snow and cold.

We also rented a carpet cleaner and got the rugs beneath our feet clean as new. You should've seen how dirty the water was! We do this every year and it's amazing how dirty they get in one year!

Travis says this is the best break he's ever had. (I should note that he's spent about 95% of it on the couch playing video games). I have loved it too. I've had nice, long naps every day, we've had practically no schedule, and I've still got Pandora on the King's College Choir station. Finn has played with his Legos almost the entire day, Lucy has taken on a Donna Reed persona, baking and cooking with her new kitchen food/pots and pans, and Miles is walking all over the place. I don't want "real life" to ever come back.


Golden-kissed and Ruffled

I did something I've never done before: bought a home hair highlighting kit. I coaxed Travis into pulling the strands of hair through the plastic cap with that plastic crochet hook (part of the kit). I was actually impressed with how it turned out. I was expecting a more amateur-ish look, but for $6, it was not a bad salon alternative.
(Ignore the poofy hair; not sure what was going on up there on Sunday). But, look! More ruffles! This time on one of my favorite cardigans. It was alot easier than I thought it would be and it literally took 10 minutes. I used fabric that doesn't fray (kind of a stretchy webbing-like fabric) so I didn't have to hem the edges before sewing the ruffle. I ended up sewing two rows of ruffles to give it a fuller look. If you want to see a really cool Anthro-inspired cardigan, go here to see what my sister Lauren created. I love it!
sweater inspiration here


From Fuzzheads to Buzzheads

Miles (with the softest head of golden hair) was getting a mullet just like his older brother Finn. So we decided to take action. Come Christmas Day, the clippers came out and all but shaved these brothers' heads. If I had more haircutting skills, I would've scissor-trimmed their heads of hair, but alas, this was the easiest fix for the mullets.
Little Touches

I "ruffled" our family picture last night. It just needed something to spruce it up.

I love how little, subtle- perhaps noticeable only to me- changes really do make a difference.
(I just sewed a thin ruffle and then hot glued it around the edge of the mat).


Yuletide Greetings
Our Christmas Eve so far has included:
:: unwrapping new pajamas ::
:: reading Luke's account of the Savior's birth ::
:: watching a short Christmas movie ::
:: bedtime (though the ruffians are still bouncing off the walls upstairs) ::
:: reflections on a young, humble Mary who entered the experience of her first birthing in an animal's stall ::
:: gratitude for the Babe who would become the Savior of Mankind ::
:: lots of talk of presents to be unwrapped in the morning ::
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from all of us at the Chicken Coop!


Joining the Masses

Update: these boots are making me lazy. If I want to go out, I simply slip on a pair of leggings, tie up the boots and go. I don't change my shirt because my coat covers it up, even if it is a grungy old pajama shirt. Tie a scarf around my neck and who knew I'm only halfway out of my pajamas. (It's our little secret). Above, I am pictured with my pajama shirt layered with a short cotton dress and thermal leggings. Travis shot this just before we walked out the door to join the scores of warm bodied, last-minute Christmas shoppers at the local Target.

And I just threw this picture in the "post" pile because it features Lucy wearing her favorite hand-me-down-from-cousin-Ivy candy dress, plus a homemade bow I made for her special Santa's Boot Camp activity. (Incidentally, she didn't come home wearing the bow, so I'm assuming it fell off and was lost forever. Such is life).

Okay, I promise this was the last post about the boots. I'm ready for Christmas. Shopping: completely done. Food for Christmas dinner: bought. Christmas pajamas for kids: wrapped. Christmas tree: only 3 ornaments broke, shedding needles, but still in tact. "It's a Wonderful Life": watched, enjoyed, internalized.
Wishing you and yours the Best Christmas Ever!
P.S. The funniest part of our night at Target was when Miles was "letting it rip" on several occasions. Picture this: he's leaning back in the child seat, strapped in tight, just hanging out, when he did a loud grunt and then an even louder toot, followed by several quiet ones. Travis and I busted up laughing. Travis said, "Miles must feel alot better now." Tru-dat.


Bags Under Eyes: Explained

Ever since Finn was born, I've wanted to make a set of coordinating family stockings (how quaint, right?). I was inspired by the vintage fair ribbons I've seen around the webosphere, and also by snowflakes. I'm not sure the combination works super well, but hey, there's not alot that I can do about it now that I've ironed on the "ribbon snowflakes." I think it would also be cool to have hand-embroidered the names in cursive lettering. Maybe next year when I haven't put it off to the last minute.


Today Could've Been Christmas

I have to tell myself often, during the Christmas season, that I need to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas because sometimes the actual holiday day can be a little disappointing. Some moments I tell myself "This is Christmas" because it just feels that way, though December 25th might be weeks away.

And today was a red letter day for me. It truly felt like Christmas.

I will give some reasons it felt like Christmas today:

  • new snow
  • cinnamon french toast
  • morning run
  • kids up early (6 AM: Miles had pooped all over his sheets, then Lucy heard me bathing him and joined in, then Finn shortly thereafter)
  • King's College Choir-like music playing on Pandora all day
  • pine-scented candle burning all day
  • Travis played his video game and the kids watched movies intermittently
  • I got a deep-sleep-type 2-hour nap
  • we decorated glitter snowflakes as a family
  • I made my fourth batch of pretzel rods this season
  • we ate black bean soup for dinner
I love this time of year: most of my shopping is done, the tree is up and decorated, the Etsy-crafting season is over with, and now I can ease up and switch into vacation mode. I love days like this.


Let's Have a Peek at Breakfast Time

Lucy is testing out different types of spoons to eat her applesauce with. So far, she's tested baby spoons, plastic child spoons, measuring spoons and soup spoons.

Miles is rotating between the standing and kneeling positions in his high chair, as per usual, while eating his Teddy Grahams appetizer.

And Finn is sitting "close to the pictures" so he can get a good view of himself on the Scrimsher's Christmas card. He is having Peaches 'N Cream oatmeal, his favorite.
If you'd like to make it on our Christmas card wall, it's very easy. We take Christmas cards of all kinds: pictures, no pictures, lengthy letters, short hand-scrawled notes. We love Christmas cards!


Firmly Planted
With the temperatures dropping into the single digits here in Cleveland, it was high time I got some "Mommy boots." You know, the kind to slosh around in the sometimes-treacherous walk out to the car, then to the preschool drop-off and pick-up, then to the grocery store, maybe to the post office, you know the drill. I thought alot about the kind of boot I wanted to purchase. I don't buy cheap shoes, unless they're really trendy and I know I'll be sick of them within a year. I like to buy good shoes and then wear them out (I bought my Dansko's in 2002 and have been wearing them practically non-stop since then). I spent some time sorting through the features of this mythical Mommy boot. In-style, but not dressy. Casual, but not too rustic. Comfortable and easy-to-slip-on (how do you top the ease of slipping into a Dansko?), but not (gasp) an Ugg. I know, everyone loves Uggs, but I personally think you pay for the name and they make people look like flat-footed Eskimos. (Sorry if that offended some of you.) So, anyways, the point of this post is to show how gratifying I felt buying (in my mind) the perfect pair of boots. Unlike the disciplining of children and staying calm through tantrums, which have long-term pay-offs, the buying of boots is instantaneous. I try them on, I choose, I offer a plastic card for payment and I'm off. I put on my old Danskos and walked around the mall after buying my boots. I don't know why, but when I thought no one was looking, I sat on a bench, took out my new boots and laid my beloved old clogs in the massive boot box. I walked with a little more lilt in my step, perusing the store window displays. I felt somehow more grounded, more validated, like someone had just dipped their pen in a golden ink well and wrote, "You are correct," on my life's report card. It was empowering, in a small, but very personal way. And I hope I feel that way every time I wear them for at least the next seven years.


Virtual Goodie Plate

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!


Our Rhombus-Shaped Christmas Bush

The story to go with our Christmas "bush" goes a little something like this: Finn wouldn't have any other tree. He picked it, and he wasn't interested in buying any other tree. At least it's a Frasier. It actually fits the space perfectly, and not having to rearrange furniture to fit a Christmas tree was a relief. It's the ugliest tree we've ever had, but there's something so charming about it. I love to sit in the glow of it at night.


The Tradition of the Evergreen Wreath

Each year our Relief Society hosts a wreathmaking night during the first part of December.

It's become a favorite activity for the sisters and their friends.

It starts with plastic-wrapped tables, huge piles of pine boughs, and a tarp-covered and taped gym floor...

...and ends with the rapport of friends, carrying wreaths of their own make, and satisfied tummies full of cinnamon rolls and milk.


Big Eye, Little Eye
This is what I looked like this afternoon when I came home from the dentist after getting 3 cavities filled. I think the anaesthesia did something to momentarily make one eye bigger than the other. At any rate, 7 hours later the numbness in my entire lower jaw has finally wore off and I can chew and talk now. Dr. Schuller doesn't mess around when he's giving shots! He gave me six practically painless shots. That is saying something coming from someone who cringes at needles.
Bright Frosting, Butter Cookies, and Pez


Slow Simmer
I'm taking it super slow today: no gym this morning, resting on the couch after getting Finn out the door to preschool, putting on the mulling spices. One of those days. I was up last night three times, dry heaving and blacking out once. The loveliness of being a woman and playing the find-the-right-BC-pill-for-you game. And though I don't enjoy these "tutorial" sessions very much, I think it's nice to slow down and reflect on the direction I'm taking. To kind of "mull over" (like my spices) the busyness and bustling in my life, the thick of thin things I am so often orchestrating for myself and the ones around me. Life is so beautiful, painful, exciting, joyful, heartbreaking, and stressful all at the same time. And though I'm not the type to rush off and plan a trip to Disneyland, I do enjoy taking days off to catch my breath.


Advent Redone

I have yet another confession: I sold the Whoville Advent calendar I made specifically for my kids. I know, my poor kids. They were really sad. We skipped several days of advent until yesterday, when we made the one we're going to use this year.

It was very simple: plain white bags, numbered, then colored, some candy thrown in them, then tied to the mantel in a garland.

Ahhh, I got that monkey off my back. And it's sorta pretty too.



Last night, as Travis was going to put Miles in his car seat to go to our Ward Christmas party, Miles flailed his body, surely trying to avoid getting buckled into his seat. He also hit his head on the door in the process. We vascillated between taking him to the hospital or trying to bandage it up ourselves. After a few calls to physician friends we decided to take him in. The hot 30-pound pan of sweet potatoes I'd just pulled out of the oven to take to the party would never see the party. Neither would we. After 3 hours, lots of waiting and a papoose board, we are now back in business. Poor little guy. He was a champ, but I hope we don't have to make a visit like this for a long time.


Scrooge McSchuller
I have a confession: the second-to-last thing I said to Travis last night before I went to bed was that it was too hard to help other people while tending my three kids. At church we've been encouraged to do 12 nice things for other people during this holiday season, to perpetuate the spirit of Christmas. When I first heard the challenge during one of our meetings, I thought to myself, "Yeah, right. I can't even do one nice thing for my own kids, let alone TWELVE for people in the community." Then I found myself smack dab in the middle of another long afternoon (when naptime was over almost after it started) and I scrambled for an activity to occupy the better part of 3 hours. It went down like this: two batches of chocolate chip cookies, lots of throwing crayons, two homemade thank-you cards, some marshmallow stick-men thrown in the mix, and a vanload of kids on their way to meet, greet and treat the most famous of public servants. It turns out there weren't any police men available at the station, but we did get a picture with a future policeman, a member of the Police Academy, who was working at the front desk. I admit, despite the wonky stroller-pushing and steering 3 kids in the rain, it was a nice experience. My attitude was thawing out. The fire station was quite a bit more exciting: talking to a real fireman, trying on the boots and hat, seeing an ambulance light up then siren off. It was the perfect remedy for a self-pitiful me. And it was a highlight for Finn. I just "bought" myself hours of conversation about fire trucks, policemen, firemen, ambulances and "really big garage doors" (for the firetrucks).