Tuesday, November 30, 2010

License to Drive?

For those of you who don't know me or know me very well, you probably don't know that I grew up in a really small town.  I mean small.  I mean a town of less than 400 people. 

Growing up in this small of a town there are certain things that happened that don't happen in the city.  People left their houses unlocked.  Cars were left running while the owner ran into the grocery store and kids were left in cars.

Now, not only did I grow up in a small town but I grew up in the '70's when child safety laws were basically non-existent.  Kids sat in the front seats, unbuckled.  Back seats were more of a playground than a means to get from one place to another.  We even used to ride up in the space above the back seat and the rear window. 

So, knowing all of these things, it may not surprise you to learn that I actually started to drive a car at about the age of 4.  Now, of course, I couldn't reach the peddles but this is how it would happen . . .

I remember that my parents owned a gray or silver Vega.  I remember driving to Sikeston, about 25 miles from our house, and my dad would sit me on his lap.  I would steer the wheel and use the blinkers and he would press the breaks and the accelerator.  Now, I'm sure that there were times that he would put his hands on the wheel but, for the most part, I drove that car at 4 years old! 

Can you even fathom a parent letting their child do that now?

This happened throughout my childhood until I got too big to sit on his lap.  Then, he started letting me drive our car, it was a white Pontiac something, by myself at about the age of 12.  I would drive from right out of city limits to our church that was about 4 or 5 miles away.  I did the peddles, the steering, the blinker.  Everything.

I know that some of you reading this are thinking "I cannot believe that her parents were so irresponsible!" But, remember, I lived in the country and it was a different time.  I think everyone had driven a car, tractor, combine or something WAY before 16.  The only thing 16 meant was that I had a card with my picture on it.

I don't know why I have been thinking about driving lately.  I think Kanin must have asked me when I learned to drive one day.  You'd better believe that there is no way  that I'm telling him about driving at his age!  He would never quit bugging me to let him try. 

I guess maybe if we lived in the country he would already have driven by now . . . just kidding!

Toy Soldiers

Last year I picked up these little wooden toy soldier and a Santa Clause at Michael's that the kids could color and put them in their stockings.  What I thought was something really small, the kids really loved so I went out and bought 3 toy soldiers this year.  They come with a set of 4 markers and they cost about $2 each.

For our final craft last night, the kids colored their soldiers and we put them up on the mantel.  I realize that if I do this every year for the next 18 years that I am going to have a bunch of wooden figures but that's ok, I'll figure out a place to display them all.

Here is Kanin working on his.  Since he has art at school now he informed me that there really should be no "white part" showing.

In true Gracie fashion, she thought this was "too hard" and wanted Bubba to do hers for her.

Caleb was quite the mess with the markers.  I finally put him in his high chair and gave him one marker at a time.  Thank God that they are washable.

I wrote each of their names, ages and the date on the backs.

Then, up on the mantle they went with last year's creations.

Gingerbread House

Last night was craft night at the Westerhold house.  We made dough ornaments first and then moved on to a Gingerbread House.  I found this Michael's brands for $8.49 and thought that was a pretty good deal. 

I have never done a Gingerbread House before so I was a little intimidated.  I was afraid that the icing was going to harden before we were finished.  

After looking at the outside of the box and how the house was supposed to look, I knew there was no way we would get that accomplished so I just let the kids decorate it anyway they wanted to.  I think it turned out perfect!

Christmas Dough Ornaments

Earlier in the week my friend, Dawn, posted that she had made ornaments with her daughters.  I had been looking for a fun, easy craft so I immediately asked her for the recipe.  I stopped by Michael's and got 4 tubes of acrylic paint and some brushes and last night we got started.

First, we measured out the flour, salt and water and mixed it altogether.  Then, we rolled it out with a rolling pin.  As you can see, rolling dough is hard work and requires removal of the shirt.

After cutting out our ornaments, they went into a 325 degree oven for about an hour.  After they cooled, it was time to decorate.

It looks like painting also requires removal of the shirt.  How cute is she in her pajama bottoms and pink boots?

Now that Kanin is in 1st grade he really takes his work seriously.  

Even the Boo Boo got in on the action.  He loved painting.  Couldn't you just eat him up?  I love his little chubby hands and how he is really concentrating.

We left them out to dry and then I put a string through the holes.  Remember to punch out holes with a pencil before you bake them!

Here they are hanging on our tree!

12 Days of Christmas-Things I Don't Like About Christmas-Day 8

On the 8th day of Christmas we are talking about "Things I Don't Like About Christmas" on the Aly and Molly Blog Party.

For the most part, there isn't a whole lot that I don't like about Christmas.  If I had to pick some things, though, this would be it:
#1 I don't like how people will put themselves into a financial bind to buy "enough" Christmas presents for their family and friends.  I know that everyone does it because they want to make it special and they don't want to look "cheap" but I really wish that they would just say that "things are tight this year and we aren't going to be able to spend that much money."
#2 Tying in with #1, I don't like how Christmas seems to be more about how much you get or how much you spend.
#3 While I love to get gift cards, I don't like to buy them for people.  I like to take the time to pick out a gift that I know they will like.
#4 I don't like that the holidays just seem to fly by.  I turn around one minute and it is Halloween and in a blink it is January 2.  I love the hustle and bustle of the season but I hate that sometimes I forget to juts slow down and soak it all in.
Is there anything about the holidays that you don't like?

Monday, November 29, 2010

12 Days of Christmas/DIY and Crafts-Day 7

I am very excited to read everyone's post for today's topic from the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge.  You can check it out here:

This year will be the first year that I do crafts with the kids for Christmas.  I know that a lot of people start younger than 7 but I am not  a crafty person by nature so I just never put a lot of thought into it.  This year, though, I am really trying to focus the decorations and all of the "spirit" of the holiday on them.  I wrote about it last week and you can read it here.

It so happens that one of my friends posted a recipe on Facebook today about making Christmas Dough Ornaments with her little girls.  She sent me the recipe and we are going to do it tomorrow night.  You can check the recipe out here.  We are going to do our ornaments tomorrow night.

I also bought our very first Gingerbread house to decorate together. 

Last year the kids got these little wooden cut outs of toy soldiers in their stockings.  They each colored them with markers and I put them up on the mantle.  While I was at Michael's today, I bought 3 of the same toy soldiers.  I am going to have the kids do one of these each year and just line them up either on my mantle or the buffet in the dining room.  Even my little baby Caleb will be in on the action.

If you have any cute, easy, kid-friendly crafts for the holidays, please let me know!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

12 Days of Christmas/Holiday Traditions-Gift Ideas-Day 6

On this 6th Day of Christmas Challenge I am to list what I would like for Christmas.  Here are some ideas:

A picture scanner.  This one is at Best Buy (click link, hint hint)

A massage or 10

Any kitchen stuff from Rachel Ray

A NordicTrack A2550 Pro because it is cool

A new camera lense.  Yes, I know that I just got a different one this summer but I am ready for another one already!  Here is a link

How to Photograph Your Baby DVD.  It is on Amazon

Finally, any gift cards to:  Target, Pier 1, Gordman's, Lowe's, Home Depot, The Limited, Macy's, Starbucks, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Bath and Body Works, Famous Footwear, Nine West or Kohl's.
That sure is a long list. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We were blessed enough to have Thanksgiving at our house again this year.  Since we are up at the crack of dawn around here anyway, I like to have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade playing in the background while I'm cooking--until football comes on!

I LOVE this picture of my babies.  

Here is the turkey.  It looked so pretty until we had to slice it up.  If you'd like the recipe, check out my food blog HERE for the recipe.

Our kid table was full this year.  My niece and nephew, Ali and Aidan, were here along with my great niece, Kenzie, from Chicago.  We were just missing my great nephews, Ben and Ian.

We are not a formal family but for Thanksgiving I like to set a table and have everyone sit down to eat; otherwise, it ends up with some people in one room and some in another.  I like us all being together.  I think this is the last year, though, that I will put all of the food on the table.  I think I'm just going to put it in the other room and have a buffet and then everyone come and sit down. 

Aren't these cute?  My niece, Alissa, made them for all of the kids.

After dessert, it was time to read Elf on the Shelf.

We ended the day by playing Scattergories.  Some of us played while others watched the football game.  It was a great day!

12 Day of Christmas Blog Challenge-Favorite Holiday Show/TV Movie Special-Day 5

Today's challenge over at Aly and Molly's place is Favorite Holiday Show/TV Movie. 

My all-time favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life

This is my favorite part:

There are others that I really like a lot, though:

Friday, November 26, 2010

12 Days of Christmas-Tips/Tricks to a Budget Friendly Holiday Season-Day 4

Today is Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge.  Today I am focusing on tips and tricks for a budget friendly holiday season.  

I don't really have any tips, yet, because my children are still young enough to appreciate dollar store toys.  I am really big into looking on the clearance section of every website I peruse and I always go through the dollar bins at Target and every other store that I go to.
This year we are going to make more ornaments and decorations just because I think the kids will really think it is cool to help decorate the house. 
Homemade and heartfelt gifts are always appreciated!

Look Who's Back in Town

He's back.

Our Elf on the Shelf made his way back from the North Pole tonight.  He decided to land on top of the cabinets. 

He will come back every night until Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat lots of turkey, laugh lots of laughs, make lots of memories.

I am thankful to God who sent his son so that we may all be saved.

I am thankful to God that he chose to send me the best husband and father that I never deserved.

I am thankful to God that he gave me the gift of three healthy children.

I am thankful to God that he has allowed me to still have both of my parents and that they live a lot closer now.

I am thankful to God that he has given me a sister, brother-in-law and a niece and nephew that I love very much.

I am thankful to God that he has given me "outlaws" (inside joke) that love me with all of my faults. I am grateful that they have taken me in and treat me like I am theirs.

I am thankful to God for the friendships that I have made. Each of them serve a different purpose and role in making my life a happy one.

I am thankful to God for my health.

I am thankful that God allowed me to born into an American family.

I am thankful to God for Scott's job that not only puts food on our table and a roof above our head but gives me the opportunity to stay home with my children.

I am thankful to God for the food that I will eat today, the farmers who grew that food and the truck drivers who drove that food to the store so that I can buy it.

I am thankful to God that their are people who have chosen to be in the military to protect our freedoms.

For all of these things, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chair Landmine

No, this isn't a chair landmine that you are looking at.  My sweet little Caleb is a climber.  Every chair in the house has to be turned over or he is on top of the table!

Truly Thankful

On the eve of this Thanksgiving I am all of a sudden overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness.  If you read my post from yesterday, you know that I had a stressful day.  After my project was finished, I plopped down on my couch to relax a bit and my sweet baby Caleb climbed up on lap.  He sat there for quite a few minutes and just let me soak him up.  Sitting there in the quietness and peacefulness of the moment, a Bible verse came to my mind.  It was 1Thessalonians 5:18 came, "In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  After my long, hard day, I was still to give thanks.

On a "whim" I put this out as my FB status. 

Today I received a FB message from my very best church camp friend.  She told me how much she appreciated me posting that Bible verse because she really needed to hear it.  She and her husband just found out that he is going to be deployed for a year in February . . . he just got home in August.  They have two little boys.  I'm not quite sure of the ages but I would say around 3 and 1.  This will be his 6th deployment.

My heart just broke for her.  I cannot imagine what she must be going through.  It would be bad enough to go through one deployment but SIX?  It is almost more than a person can handle.

Reading her story has really made me stop and think of everything that I have to be thankful for.  I know that no day is promised to any of us but I think the knowing that your loved one is for sure going to be gone on a certain date would make it that much harder.

If you have the time and think about it, please send up a prayer for my friend, Jacquie.

12 Days of Christmas/Most Meaningful or Best Gift You Have Received-Day 3

Today's topic for the 12 Days of Christmas Blog party, hosted by Aly and Molly, 

is to tell about the Most Meaningful or Best Gift we have received.  I actually have two.
Most meaningful:
Growing up we did not have a lot of money.  My mom and dad were just normal working-class people trying to raise two daughters.  They both worked hard to make sure that we had everything we needed and most of the things that we wanted.  Like most kids in America, when the Cabbage Patch Kids came out my sister and I each wanted one.  I think they were going for $40 or $50 and this was back in the early '80's where $40 or $50 was more like $100.  Being kids, though, we had no clue how much things costs and we just knew that Santa Claus was going to bring us each a Cabbage Patch doll.
Now, my mother is a fantastic seamstress.  (She's a good writer, too, click on her link)  She came up with the idea of making us "Cabbage Patch" dolls.  She went to Wal-Mart and bought doll heads that looked like CBK's and then she sewed and stuffed the bodies.  She then made our dolls several outfits each. 
Well, on that Christmas morning we were so happy!  We had no idea that our dolls weren't "real".  We actually thought we were lucky because our dolls came with all kinds of different outfits.
At the time, this didn't mean a whole lot to either us of us but now that I am a parent and have 3 kids to buy for I can appreciate how much time, effort and money went into those two dolls.  She would work all day long at a regular job and then somehow sneak in making us these dolls at night.  It was definitely a gift of love and it is now so cherished.
Best Gift
Each year we do Christmas Eve with Scott's family.  This was new to me when I first started dating him because my family has always been together on Christmas Eve.  The great thing about his family, though, is that they have welcomed mine and one particular year my mom and dad were at his sister's house, too. 
We had been dating for a couple of years and, of course, I was at the point where I really wanted a ring.  I mean I really wanted a ring.  I knew that it would come at sometime but I was just hoping that sometime wasn't 10 years down the road.
Another factor was that I had a son, Kanin, who I had when I first met Scott.  Scott is Kanin's only Daddy and had been since he was 5 months old but we were at the point where Kanin was calling Scott Daddy and I wanted to solidify all of our relationship so that not only would my heart not be broken but Kanin's, either.
We were out at Debbie's and had finished eating and opening Christmas presents.  Scott said that he had one more gift to give and it was to me.  He came out with a scrapbook.  I thought that was great because I love scrapbooks.  This scrapbook was filled with all kinds of things:  our 1st trip together, Mother's Day at Busch Stadium with Kanin, Kanin's first Rams game.  On and on just all kinds of memories.
I kept flipping the pages and when I got to the last page, there was a blank page and on it read "Will you marry me?"
Yes!  It was such the perfect proposal.  It was intimate and sweet but it also included our family.  That was, by far, the best gift I have ever received. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DIY: Mother-In-Law's Buffet

A year or so ago my sister-in-law, Debbie, moved to a new house and in the process she got rid of a lot of extra furniture.  Scott and I got two pieces, their mother's buffet and the piano.

I have been using the buffet to store dishes, place settings, table cloths, etc., but recently, I decided that I could really use the storage for other things.  I only use the "fancy stuff" one time a year, Thanksgiving, and I could move all of that stuff down to the basement and have a lot of extra room for other miscellaneous stuff.  The buffet, though, just wasn't my style.  It is quite a few years old, the door was broken and one drawer stuck so I decided to redo it.

Before I go on with this let me tell you that I am not a a crafter, DIY'er or anything close!  The only thing I can claim to be is a HGTV watcher and I have seen shows where they refurbish plenty of things so I figured it couldn't be hard, right?


Notice the broken door.

The one thing that I knew for sure that I did not want to do was to sand it down and stain it.  I knew that I wanted to paint it but I wasn't sure if I could just do a spray on Krylon paint or if I should prime it and then paint it.  I decided to prime it first. 

Before priming, I took off the hardware and used a wood filler to fill in the holes.  While using the wood filler, it didn't seem like it was "working right" but I have never used it before and I didn't know.  After the filler dried, I sanded it down.  I primed all of the pieces two times.

Next, came the paint.  I decided on a semi-gloss black.  Everything took two coats with a little extra touch up here and there.

Here is where the problems started mounting.  After all pieces were painted, I headed off to find some new hardware.  If you look back in the original pics, I just couldn't stand that look so I knew that I wanted stainless steel pulls and handles.  After using the wood filler and sanding it down, I could still see the holes from the original hardware but I couldn't get them to fill up.  I don't know if I didn't do something right or what.  I, personally, didn't care because I knew that no matter if you could see the holes through the paint or not, it still looked better than it did before. 

It was at this time that I realized that I was way over my head.  I am full of creative ideas but I do not have the knowledge to follow through on them.  I have never used a power drill before today. 

When I got to the store, though, I started doubting myself.  I had really put a lot of effort into the buffet already and I didn't want to mess it up so I decided to go with handles where there were handles before and pulls where there were pulls. 

Now, remember how I said this piece was old.  I couldn't find any handles that where the holes were exactly the same length apart as the old ones.  I decided to get as close as possible to the original ones because if I would have gotten 5" or 6" pulls then you would definitely be able to see the former holes.

I got home and measured where to drill the holes and this is where the trouble began.  The new holes were literally within millimeters of the old holes so whenever I would try to drill the bit would slip over to the path of least resistance.  No matter how hard I tried to drill down straight, it happened every time.  So, now, I didn't have two holes but 4. 

This is where the meltdown began.  I don't mean getting upset.  I mean full on crying, ugly face upset.  This was Scott's mom's furniture and I didn't want to mess it up to where it had to be thrown away.  I would have been heart-broken.  Plus, I really wanted this to be a piece that I would keep for a long, long time since it was hers. 

After I came to terms with the fact that I would have to fill in some extra holes, I went on to put on the pulls for the three doors down below and I didn't buy any.  Are you kidding me?  I had texted Scott to ask him how many handles I needed and he told me 7 but we both didn't even think about needing pulls for the 3 doors.  I just figured that I would get the doors back on, replace the magnets and then go out tonight and buy the pulls.

On to the hinges . . . I bought hinges this morning along with the handles and magnets.  When I went to put the hinges on, they wouldn't fit.  Don't ask me what this means but, apparently, the old hinges were kind of like two "backs" put together that allowed the doors to open.  The six that I bought this morning would not let the door open.  Ok

It was getting close to time for me to pick up Kanin so I thought I would just run back to Home Depot and exchange the hinges, buy the pulls and buy some new black puddy to fill in the new holes.  I drove all of the way to Home Depot and realized that I had forgotten my wallet.  I didn't think they would exchange anything without an i.d. and a lot of the times stores will just credit back the card that you used to purchase.  

Back home to get my wallet and then on to pick up Kanin.  I took Kanin with me to pick up the stuff and realized that there were NO hinges like what I needed.  By this time I had been working on this buffet for almost 3 full days.  I was very frustrated and overwhelmed.  I just decided to grab some spray paint and spray them black. 

Finally, after a very, very long and stressful day.  The buffet is finished.  It is beautiful and I love it.

I hope she would have been proud of me.

I forgot to the put the costs down:

1 can of Valspar primer $20.98
1 can of Valspar semi-gloss paint $24.47
2 3" brushes $2.72
1 1" brush $3.79
1 can of spray paint $5.19
3 knobs $8.91
Puddy $2.97
3 Magnet catches $2.94
7 handles $20.93

GRAND TOTAL:  $92.90