Monday, January 27, 2014

Creative Explosion

The dad was on a little business trip not long ago, and while he was away
we jumped into hyperdrive and knocked out a few projects that have been
on my want-to-do list.

One of the projects I'd been dreaming up for the last year and a half, was putting
some kind of light-colored false wall in this cubby of our entertainment center.
Since it's not full of a big screen TV, it feels akin to a black hole and I'd really like to
see it become a reading nook of sorts when it grows up :-)

I picked up some cedar fence boards (because they're cheap) and my
two very capable boys cut and sanded them, and built a free-standing panel.

Wow.  You know, I am so amazed and blessed by these guys who are becoming so able!

Below is a picture of our trial fit.

Completing the panel, the boys measured for trim and holes for access to outlets.
Zachary did all my figures and cutting, and by golly!  He did a fantastic job!
I'm pretty sure there's no way I could have tackled this project alone, and I'm
certain my outlet holes would have been cut in the wrong places.

Thank you Zack!
And thank you Clay, for all that sanding you did.  Cedar fencing never looked
so beautiful!

The fellas let me help some, so I applied a whitewash to the wood to lighten it further.
Then too, Zack did such a great job cutting the trim to fit just so, but because of
my inexperienced false wall-applying abilities, there was a certain amount of 
shimming that had to be done in order to get it all tidy.
Just don't look too closely - any discord would be all my own responsibility.

And Ta-da!  
I should have taken a final picture with my laborers in it, shouldn't I? Oops.

Wonderful wonderful wonderful!  I'm so pleased.  Now to add a photo canvas 
and maybe a reading lamp?  Hmm... Creative juices still flowing on this one :-)

Meanwhile, there were other endeavors en process.

The big girls are each working on a mini quilt as a first go at piecing a quilt.
And they had had quite a lot of help as well  - the kind of help that makes you keep your
scissors off the ground and watch your cord! 

Miles is just big enough now that his little hands reach up to grip the table tops, and 
whatever happens to be near the edge is considered fair game haha!

Pretty stuff going on here.  Can't wait to produce pictures of the finished creations!

The other thing the boys did for me during the week, was to handle all the shop work
pertaining to a school assignment "station" where I wanted to hang clipboards permanently.

It takes a lot of extra effort for me (and use of a limited supply of brain cells) to figure
how to measure, cut, and hang things strait and evenly spaced. I've never been accused
of perfectionistic tendencies. Ha!
The boys were a lot of help where those things were concerned, and I wanted to do
it for the dad - if he (who notices such) was going to have to walk by it every day :-)

Bryce and Carolina and Aloria made stars with me while the boys were working
in the shop.  They then painted them, and we glittered them all!   Low and behold...
accent art to make the school assignments sparkle!

I love.

We are kind of getting a rainbow theme going in this house, aren't we!
And now, there is glitter everywhere and a few more stray stars to enjoy here and there as well.

Also, I made a first attempt at chalkboard art!  I just love hand lettering.
It's so therapeutic to be artistic on something that feels predictable like
a word or letter.
I definitely want to try my hand at it again before long.

Well friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg as regards the
sawdust and fabric scraps that are flying these days.

Isn't it a wonder that the Lord gives us the pleasure of creating, just as He
Himself delights in creating?  I sometimes marvel with the kids that while God
created everything out of nothing, we have to use the ingredients He has already
made when we get creative :-)

And because this post is a little short on baby faces (some of my favorite creations),
here are a couple to close on.

Love you all!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Swimmers

One of the most fun things in our Colorado winter, has been getting
the kids into swimming lessons.  I've found that swimming isn't
necessarily standard fare everywhere in the country, but being raised
in sunny California, both AJ and I grew up in the water.
Learning to swim is just a good idea when you're going to be
hanging around water for recreation.

In North Idaho where we spend most of our time now-a-days,
the hot summer season is shorter, but we still spend a lot of it in the
lakes and streams.  It is really really good to see the kiddos catch on
to staying afloat and learning their strokes!

This year Aloria joined the ranks of swimming learners.
Isn't she just the darling-est thing ever in all that swim get-up?!

Our lessons take place at 5:30pm and we've had great instructors
who've fit seven children into two classes that overlap so we can
get out of there in an hour(!)

Still with the convenience of all that, it is a full-on sprint to get out
the door with 7 towels, swim caps, goggles, shoes, warm clothing over
swim garb (since it IS winter and there IS snow on the ground)...
then to get hair up, caps on, kids in, kids out, dried off, socks and shoes
onto wet feet, collecting of all said garb and paraphernalia and phew.
It's a workout just rehashing it!

A few fun photos from swim lessons :-)

WAHOO!  Come'on summer - we'll be ready for ya!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Big Help

We decided to surprise dad and clean the shower drain ourselves.
Thankfully, Bryce was available to be my right hand man with the tools.
(I'm sure he didn't need my help - I was just trying to prevent the screws
from going down the drain!)

It's a good thing for boys around here!  I don't know what I'll do when
they have their own drains to clean :-)

Maybe I'll buy their tools for them and keep them at my house. Haha!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Sitting in the semi-darkness with my feet up on the coffee table,
white lights sparkle softly over my bed and behind me on my
"Every Day is a Party..." sign.

It's ten o'clock at night, but things are just finally quieting
as two big fellas turn down the volume of their boyish laughter,
and two toddlers find their eyelids too heavy to continue in their
after-being-tucked-in hooliganism.  My littlest chub has been
sleeping peacefully for a while.

This afternoon I taped an invitation to my big girl's bedroom door.
"Come join me for a Girl Date tonight!"  it said, and promptly
at 8:00 they did.
First we painted nails - so unique from one another, my girls.
One wants light pink, one wants red on her toes and glittery green
on her fingernails.  My eldest wants only a bit of glitter on her toes.
She doesn't like to be noticed.

After that, we made chocolate muffins  - one minute each, in a mug -
then topped them with yogurt and raspberries.  I offered a dollar to
whoever finished the whole thing.
Only Olivia.
The other two will have a lovely breakfast of left-overs in the morning :-)

Finally, all hunkered into my bed (which I find, now barely fits four of
us at the sizes these young ladies are!) plus the addition of three dolls who
joined us for our date, we watched a short Shirley Temple.

Now they too, are tucked.

So the sign over my loveseat ~ "Every day is a Party..."
apparently it's true.
At least it was tonight.  Or it can be if I make it so.
Not only that, but even after the "guests" have left my room and it's
less giggly and more peaceful, I believe there's a bit more party to be had.

Shall it be a movie?  Maybe a little bloggy chatter?  Or perhaps...
perhaps I'll pick up a pencil and whittle away at a new piece of artwork.
Whatever, it will be lovely.
I have my twinkle lights and a candle and the day's not over quite yet!
And don't you know?

Every day's a party :-)

~A work in Progress~

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Clayton

His birthday - celebrating 11 years at the close of 2013 - was an opportunity to reflect back
to the time surrounding his birth, and to praise Jesus for sharing this fellow with us.

First as a baby, now as a full-fledged boy, and hopefully on into manhood!

On my children's birthdays I love to retell to them their story.  Each one is unique and each
one has it's own quirky twists.

Clayton came fast.  I arrived at the hospital 9cm dilated, and his dad determined not
to drive with a transitioning wife again if it were in his power :-D

We had called my folks on our way to the hospital and when my mom arrived,
AJ met her out in the hall and sent her in to say hello to me.
She was uncertain if this would be the best time to say hello - while I labored -
and had planned to wait in the waiting room with my brother Charlie.

AJ ushered her into my room, dimly lit, peaceful, and quiet.  With covers tucked
snugly around me, I asked her if she'd like to "see him" referring to the small bundle
in the crook of my possessive arm.
That look of incredulity was priceless as her eyebrows shot up and mouth dropped
open.  "Wha...?"  For indeed, we were all done. Three and a half hours from the start,
and an 8 pound baby boy later. His name: Clayton Praise.

My midwife said that sounded like a big name for such a little person.
We knew it would fit just right and he would grow into it :-)

My hospital stay with Clayton was particularly special in memory because of all the
time my brother Charlie spent hanging around.
He had been in a motorcycle accident earlier in the year and was relatively incapacitated
due to the llizarov apparatus on his leg.  He was falling head over heals for Auntie
Hannah at that time and while they were just recently engaged, Char had some time on
his hands while he was recovering from multiple surgeries on his leg and Auntie Hannah
was tied up with Nursing school.
It is precious to remember him sitting across from my hospital bed with his foot propped
up on a chair.  Sharing Clayton and just being together.  It was a special time.

Clayton is a guy with a sunny disposition, joyful countenance and content spirit.
I'm so grateful to be mom to this boy!  He delights my heart and is a major part
in creating our family's identity.  I will be in awe if the Lord allows me to be a part
of his life as he comes into manhood, and may his dad and I have wisdom and
understanding as we gently support the stretching of his wings.

Clayton, I love you buddy!

Each of his siblings poured out lots of love and sweet gifts to make Clayton's birthday special.

His great Grampa F would be proud to know that Clayton has started a tradition of requesting
and making together with me, Lemon Meringue Pies as his "Birthday Cake" (that was Grampa's
I'm so glad for something different from Chocolate after all the Christmas treats and I too, love
Lemon Meringue, but boy-howdy it's a process to make!  So I'm glad for this sunshiny guy
as an extra special excuse to make something I'd otherwise never attempt 3 days after Christmas :-)

*That's my boy!*

And after his brother Zack sent him on a marvelous and very clever scavenger
hunt to find a pair of (wished-for) polarized sunglasses (so that he could see into
the water when he went fishing)... I really couldn't compete.
So I made up a little rhyme for our final gift.

"Jump 15 times..."

"...and stand on your head..."

"...Make a good wish...

...and go look in your bed."

Oh Boy!
Clay has had his heart set on a banjo for the last few years.  I think we're finally ready to get him
some lessons to go with it (which has been the real hold-up), though banjo teachers aren't as
numerous as piano and violin teachers in these parts!

Last month we visited a man who let Clayton try out a couple banjos.  Although I was impressed
that an "Old Time" banjo (one without a back on the pot) had a quieter sound (here I am thinking
like a mother, about a beginning banjo student living in my house!!)...
Clay knew right from the start that a Blue Grass banjo had stolen his heart.

After a lot of used shopping, we decided to go ahead and buy new for our guy.
I was pretty tickled with the banjo we decided on (thanks to some direction from that fellow
we visited in Parker), and was equally certain that Clay would be over the moon.

He was.

Clay has told me that he loves Banjo because
"you just can't make a banjo play sad music, mom."

And he may be right.  Whatever it plays, my heart already leaps just to hear plucked strings
in our home.  I can't wait to hear it's happiest sounds.  They'll go so well with this smiling face :-)

Happy Birthday Clayton Praise!   Play on!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Pleasant Kind of Lazy

Whoever says that modern technology 

doesn't bring families closer together

might be mistaken.