Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Kai!

Kai's big day was an action packed one! We had the family party at Nina's house last night, a school party today, and our little Loving family party at Kai's favorite restaurant tonight. Not bad for a day that included a trip to the ER, right?

Kai's chosen theme for her school party was Tinkerbell. I picked up a generic pre-made balloon cake from Publix and added some purple icing, silk flowers, and a Tinkerbell candle to create an easy fairy cake. It wasn't a homemade wonder, but it was a good cheat and I think I'll remember that for the future occasions where I need an easy personalized cake.

For a classroom treat, I made fairy wands made from pretzel rods, melted white chocolate and sprinkle stars. They were a HUGE hit with parents, teachers, and kids and something that was easy and fun to make. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of the class party but it was fun and she really enjoyed spending the day as the center of the classroom's attention.

Tonight's family dinner at Buca was great since they gave us the kitchen table and made it super special for Kai.

They gathered the whole kitchen and wait staff to sing Happy Birthday, flashed all the lights in her honor, and generally made her feel like a celebrity on her birthday. If it wasn't her favorite restaurant before tonight, it certainly will be from now on!

**updated** oops I did it again...

Yep. I'm sitting in the E.R. waiting on an xray for my other foot...

Don't even ask me how I managed to do this. Twice.


well, it turns out it was just a really bad sprain which, as far as I can tell, is not actually too much better than a break. I'm sporting an aircast and crutches and have been placed on driving restriction (it's my right foot) until it heals a bit. I thought I might try driving left-footed but Thomas assures me we don't need an accident on top of all our recent yucky luck.

Oh well. For now I will enjoy being chauffeured around town and waited on hand and foot by my family (yeah right!).

Four Years






Four years ago your daddy and I spent the night in a small quiet hospital room waiting for the moment that would change our lives forever.

Four years ago you were born into the world in a way that would serve as a sign of your personality: bold, surprising, miraculous.

Four years ago I met you face to face and realized I would never be the same person again.

Thank you, precious girl, for introducing me to a love I could never have predicted the power of. Thank you for teaching me more about God's love than I will ever have the ability to teach you. Thank you for making every day more exciting, dramatic, challenging and beautiful than the day that preceded it.

You are the best of me. I love you beyond all measure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

When our oldest daughter was born, my husband and I discussed the importance of teaching our children that there was a much bigger world out there. We wanted them to know that they are blessed and that it is okay to enjoy nice things in life, but that there was a world out there to share our blessings with. We wanted to teach them about compassion and empathy.

So, in Kai's first year we decided to sponsor a child through Compassion. We had both been familiar with Compassion and we were excited to incorporate it into our family life. We decided to sponsor a girl with the same birthday as Kai so she would understand that birthdays aren't just about getting cool things. We wanted her to understand that they were about sharing.

That is how Roselle Marie came to be a part of our family. Though she is a girl living another world away in a culture we have never been a part of, she is connected to our family. We pray for her. We send Christmas and birthday gifts. We write letters to her. Read letters from her. And her sharing a birthday with Kai makes that connection a little more real to Kai.

We did the same when Ivy was born and have now established a sponsor relationship with Hellen in Africa. It is exciting to see the girls learn about other children, their cultures, and their needs. It is exciting to teach them that on the day they were born in a country on the other side of the world there is a little girl celebrating that same day as her birthday. It is exciting to see them share their blessings and their gifts with other children.

That's what is working for our family in our attempts to teach compassion and love to our girls. I look forward to doing it with each new child we add to our family.

Head over to Shannon's Dryer to check out what is working for other families...

Guaranteed to completely freak you out.

Okay, for all the non-parents out there who may never have had the chance to experience the most freakish and disturbing children's show in the history of television I thought I would post this video.

Yo Gabba Gabba comes on Nick Jr. and my children are completely weirded out by this show. It was on once and Kai looked at me and said, "this is freaking me out. pleeaaasse turn it off!" Since then, if she sees it on she rolls her eyes and asks me to change it off of the "stupid" show.

I can't for the life of me imagine who (besides shroom loving, acid dropping college guys) is watching this show.

If you watch it (or better yet, if your kids watch it) do tell what the deal is with this show. 'Cause I'm just not getting it...

Total Truth Tuesday

I am a selfish, shallow and short-sighted person. I really, truly am.

In general, I am fully aware of how ridiculous my "problems" are. I am aware that I am an amazingly blessed woman. I am aware that in comparison to much of the world, I am living a life of extraordinary luxury.

And, though I am aware of these things, sometimes I need a big reminder. Last night I got just that.

First, let me say, my Total Truth Tuesday was originally going to be about how completely satisfied I am with the direction my life is going. I was planning to admit that I am living a blessed life and that I am acutely aware of that fact.

But, then I saw this video and it brought to mind an event that had happened earlier in the day. An event I am certainly not proud of.

Yesterday, I had to run lots of errands.

Run and get diapers, wipes and milk: check.
Pick up gold ballet flats for girls to wear in wedding: check.
Make extra stop to get a cute pair of shoes I'd been wanting: check.

But, wait. What's that? The girl at Target threw away my shoe box and I didn't realize it until I got to the car? The shoe box I was planning on using to pick up my totally frivolous purchase of 5 chickens? How dare she!

I went on a rant to my husband that I can only say was less than gracious, loving, or grounded in reality. I was frustrated at the unspeakable inconvenience of the whole thing. Didn't she realize how important it was that I have a shoe box? Didn't she care that it RUINED the next hour of my day?

I pouted like a baby about being inconvenienced and made a big deal about this most ridiculously stupid situation. I essentially acted like a total fool.

And then I moved on and forgot about it. Until about 1:45 in the morning when I saw this video. Watch this video all the way to the end and you will see the most heartbreaking image.

At the risk of spoiling the video for you, I have to tell you that what you will see is the face of a dying woman in Ethiopia when she sees photos of the family that has chosen to adopt her two sons. You will see the joy in her face at the knowledge that her children will have a loving home to live in when she passes away.

You will not see sadness on the faces of anyone in this video. You will only see joy.

And you will see that your problems, though they be big to you, are minor compared to the plight of countless families outside your sphere. You will be convicted that if they can find joy in the midst of a situation that is most people's worst nightmare surely you can get over yourself about some stupid shoe box from Target. And you will go into your kids' room and pull them out of bed just so you can hold them and cry and ask God to forgive you for being so petty and small.

At least, that's the reaction I had...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Green Acres is THE place to be...

Okay, so I'm a far cry from Eva Gabor but I do feel a bit like I've stepped into the Green Acres life. It's just this organic eco-friendly self-sustained living is so stinkin' addictive!

This weekend we planted our garden. Soon we'll have tomatoes, green and yellow peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, onions, lettuce, and a variety of tasty herbs. If all goes well, we may even have corn one day.

Then we did the craziest thing ever. We added some sweet little chickies to the family. After much searching, we finally found some Rhode Island Reds.

Turns out these popular egg laying fiends are sold out for at least the next two months at nearly every hatchery in the country. But, we found an awesome local man who has dozens available. He's selling them out nearly as soon as they hatch, but he has a pretty steady supply. If you're in the area and interested in his info drop me an email and I'll get you the hook-up.

We ended up buying 5 from him just to get us started and we'll see how it goes. We are also planning on adding a couple Silkie Bantams to our coop once we get it up and going. They lay small eggs, but they are sweet chickens and really pretty, too.

Since Rhode Island Reds can lay as many as one a day we could conceivably have around 25-30 eggs a week from these hens. We've already have a few people tell us they want to buy our eggs when our hens start laying so I think I'll let the girls have this as their first little "business." They can sell the eggs and keep the proceeds in exchange for their egg collecting services. I love the idea of them learning about chores and reaping the benefits of making a time investment in something. I don't think it's ever too early to teach that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


You know you're all winners to me, but sadly only two of you could win the Bloggy Giveaways here at Land of Lovings.

Congratulations to Chelsea on winning the Matt Maher CD and to Paula who won the Creative Home Magazine subscription!

Thanks to all who checked out my blog and left comments! I enjoyed meeting you all and surfing your blogs.

Be sure and come back May 12th-16th for the Mommyfest Blog Party when I'll have a couple more cool giveaways!

Things I've had to say this week...

Get your feet out of the French Fries!

Toilet water is not for drinking.

Yes, you will learn to wipe your own butt!

No, you can't have fireworks for your birthday.

Because I'm the mommy and my stomach is the boss.

Sorry, but you can't marry your daddy.

No, you can't marry your sister either.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wanna go to a carnival?

I LOVE blog carnivals! I just happened to be blog hopping from Don't Try This at Home and found this cool site with what looks like an awesome blog carnival coming up! It has to be an great carnival with such a cool banner, right? I am so loving the peacock!

I submitted a couple blog posts and you should too. Yes, you. The one in the back who doesn't think they have anything cool to submit. You should totally do it!

Visit Today's Homemaker and submit a post to one of the categories. Then check back during the carnival to see the best of the entries. I can't wait to check out everyone's submissions.

While you're at it, explore her site. I'm always looking for cool new sites to surf and this one promises to keep me busy wasting time online while I should be cleaning my house!

Kai-versations: The Money Management Edition

Me: "Kai, I'll give you $3 if you'll go babysit your sister while I clean out the van."

Kai: "Mom, I'll give you $3 if you'll let me help you with the van!"

Me: "You don't have $3, Kai. How are you going to pay me?"

Kai: "Uh, helllooo! I'm going to get it out of your purse!"


Do you think Countrywide would let me work out a deal like that?

Friday, April 25, 2008

My new favorite salad

I found an awesome recipe for an "oriental" type salad on the other day and modified it a bit to create what is now my new favorite salad.

First, I must say, I LOVE cabbage. Red cabbage, green cabbage, asian cabbage, any kind of cabbage. I'll go on these cabbage eating kicks where I eat it everyday. Until, my body screams at me to STOP! and then I take a break until I get the hankering again.

So, when I found this salad I couldn't resist:

One head of Purple or Green Cabbage (you can also use the pre-shredded coleslaw bags)
Grilled chicken
Toasted almonds
One bag Ramen Noodles, crushed

For the dressing:
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Vinegar
1/4 C Oil
1/4 C Soy sauce

Mix the dressing separately and pour over the cabbage and chicken. Top with crushed Ramen and almonds. It's a great sweet and sour salad that is perfect for warm summer days!

Because it's entirely possible I've lost my mind...

I actually made reusable diaper wipes and diaper wipe solution.

Yes, I am aware that my life is too hectic already with two little ones and that I am not the most organized mom around. Yes, I realize it will increase my laundry significantly.

Though I wish I could say I did it to make the world a better place by contributing less trash, it's not entirely true.

Yesterday, I was fed up with high gas prices and high food prices and high everything prices. I was tired of going through baby wipes like crazy. I was tired of spending all our money on things that seemed "wasteful."

In all honesty I had a bit of a "George Banks" moment from "Father of the Bride." I was thisclose to tearing hot dog buns out of the package so I don't pay for one more thing I don't need.

So, in this moment of mommy madness, I cut up a flannel sheet that we never use and made myself some reusable wipes. I found a cool site with recipes for diaper wipe solution here.

I think we'll only use them for faces, hands, and the easy no-mess diaper changes (if you know what I mean). But, still, since Ives is already potty training it should make the average pack of wipes last much longer.

Sure, I've only really saved us a few dollars a month, but it is a greener alternative and I feel a little better knowing I've done something to make a difference in our quest to save more and waste less.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I have a feeling...

this is going to be the child we end up taking to the ER for broken bones, stitches, and all the horrible adventure related injuries kids seem to get.

I turned my back the other day for a second and found my fearless almost-two-year-old nearly halfway up the climbing wall. Doesn't she look like she's having a blast?

She enjoyed it. But it terrified her mother. Why can't I have at least one scaredy-cat kid?

Beach Chair Make-over

Once upon a time, we bought these cute beach chairs from Pier One. But, 4 years in the sun and a 100lb. Great Dane later they looked like this:

So, when it came time to spend time outdoors the thought of sitting in these chairs really grossed me out. But, with a little spray paint and some upholstery fabric I had sitting around I turned the chair into this:
Turns out sewing new chair seats was pretty simple. I basically just took the seats off and made a pattern from the existing chair fabric. Then all it took was sewing a simple seam and rod pocket for the dowels that keep the fabric in place.

Just goes to show you how much difference a can of spray paint can make! I LOVE painting old furniture and making it new again.

I'm pretty excited about how it turned out. I have 3 more to do and I'm planning on painting them similarly but having fun with different color fabrics/patterns. I'll post pics of all of them when I finally finish...

Guess what we're doing now!

We're buying the plan for this Playhouse Coop from My Pet Chicken and building a house for our future chickens. We're planning to get 5 or 6 Rhode Island Reds to keep in the back so we can have fresh brown eggs from now on! Since each chicken lays as many as 5 a week we'll have plenty to share.

We're also installing raised vegetable garden beds. We're planting tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, herbs, lettuce, radishes, and a few other veggies.

I'll be blogging as we work on these projects in case anyone else is interested in trying these things out. I'll share all of our successes and failures and what we learn along the way. Just check back often to see how it's going.

Oh, how I am looking forward to the self-sufficient organic life!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

This one is kind of related to a post I made last week.

I've found when life gets to be just a bit too intense, sometimes our family needs a break. We've started a new tradition of taking a family "time out" and getting away for a night.

No matter where you live you can take a mini-break to a hotel in your city, eat some international cuisine and pretend to be far, far away (while still being able to make it to school/work the next day).

Last week we took off to "India" and I'm looking forward to trying out a new location the next time. An inexpensive hotel with a pool and on-demand movies is sometimes just what the whole family needs to get recharged.

And, it's an awesome way to get the kids in practice for any future "real" trips!

So, that is what's working for me. Head over to Shannon's Dryer to see what is working for other moms!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blog Vengeance

I've posted before about the power of an outspoken customer. I love to let companies know about my experiences with them (be it good or bad).

I've used Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the past and had a horrible experience the last time. After telling the agent I didn't want the additional insurance coverage (my insurance agent assured me I was covered and didn't need it) the Enterprise agent (a man) told me I was "making a stupid decision." He then condescendingly told me I should go call my husband who would set me straight and help me understand the right thing to do.

Needless to say, I never rented from them again. But, this, is the best revenge ever. RagamuffinSoul's experience was pretty horrible and bravo to him for telling his loyal readers about it. In the age of blogs, companies may want to think twice about ignoring a customer's needs. They may just be a blogger with 4000 visitors a day to their site!

Another Bloggy Giveaway!

Okay, ladies. Here's my second bloggy giveaway this week.

As many of you know, I love me some creative decorating ideas. I like turning funky things into unusual decor and coming up with ideas that are far from traditional. Since I think I'm probably not the only one, I'm offering up a year's subscription to Creative Home magazine.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment with a way to get in touch with you and tell me your favorite creative decorating idea.

2. You get a bonus entry if you link to my giveaway on your own blog and let me know in your comments.

3. U.S. addresses only. (I love my international readers, but the magazine limits my options on this.)

4. One entry per person please.

I'll be closing comments and drawing names on Saturday night and will post the winner's name here Sunday. I'll also send an email letting you know you've won. You have two days to respond or I will pick a winner from my favorite creative decorating idea.

Good Luck! Be sure and check out the HUNDREDS of awesome giveaways going on at the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival!

Total Truth Tuesday

I am a FREAK about throwing toothbrushes away. In fact, my gross-out reaction to used toothbrushes is almost enough to put me into the Howard Hughes category of freakishness.

I just hate toothbrushes. To me, they are one of the most disgusting personal hygiene products out there. Which is saying something, 'cause there are some gross things out there.

But, my gross-out reaction can be kept under control as long as I throw toothbrushes away pretty regularly. Just ask my husband, I will throw my toothbrush out once a month (or more) because they just start to give me the heebie-jeebies.

I mean, have you heard about why you should keep your toothbrush locked up? According to Prevention magazine, when you flush, the 3.2 million microbes per square inch of the grossness in your toilet bowl project out as far as 6 feet. It lands on the floor, the sink, the faucet and YOUR TOOTHBRUSH.

Just typing that made me want to go throw away all the toothbrushes in the house and start over. So gross!

So there you go. My Total Truth for this Tuesday. Now I'm off to throw away every toothbrush in my path...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Please tell me this is a joke.

Newsweek has this article on a new book written by a plastic surgeon for all the kiddos of the mommy's who are pursuing physical perfection.

And, for the life of me, I can't think of anything witty to say about this only because I am so horrified at the actual book. I can't imagine what goes through a child's mind when their mommy sits down to read a book about her quest for physical perfection.

I wonder, does it address the issue of whether mommy will still love them if they're physically imperfect? Or perhaps it suggests that cosmetic surgery will be something they will be able to have once they're old enough?

It actually says in the book that the new mommy will not be a different mommy, just a prettier mommy. Really? I mean, REALLY?????

Bloggy Giveaways #1


Welcome to the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival! Check out Don't Try This At Home to see hundreds more blogs with cool giveaways!

So, ladies, remember when I reviewed the new Matt Maher CD a few weeks ago? Well, now's your chance to own it! I'm giving away a new pre-release copy of the CD. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below and I will close comments Wednesday at midnight eastern time and draw names and contact the winner Thursday.

The only rules are as follows:
1. No anonymous comments ('cause I gotta email you to tell you that you won!)
2. Please don't enter more than once. You'll only get one entry per person so don't try to cheat!

Check back throughout the week 'cause I'll have a couple more cool giveaways during the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival!

Good Luck!

**okay, comments are closed and I'll be drawing the random winner tonight and contacting them tomorrow. In the meantime, check out my other giveaway and look for a new giveaway to be posted tomorrow afternoon!**

Friday, April 18, 2008

Don't Look, Eryn!

I got the happy task of making my baby sister's garter for her upcoming wedding. I bought this one from Joann's Fabrics:

And with a little dye and beaded jewel cording and some funky charms, I turned it into this one:

(Please excuse the non-sexy leg pic. I don't ordinarily post pics of my legs online, but, you know, the occasion kinda called for it. Might I also add that I am supremely bitter that this garter is designed to fit my tiny, tiny sister's thigh and fits my calf perfectly. I lost the genetic lottery on that one.)

Live and Let Dye

Oh, I know. Bad pun. But, I can't help myself. It's a sickness. It really is.

Anyways, I just thought I'd post a little solution I tried to fix all of the stained tshirts and tops my girls have. I love buying them little white shirts. The only problem is, they don't stay white for long.

Take this shirt for example:

I loved it 'cause it was so girly and sweet. But, Kai apparently loved to color with permanent markers in it. I hated to throw it out and it was too stained with Sharpies to let her wear it, so enter one package of Black Rit dye and ta-da! A gothic looking lace top:

I actually like it even better now. The lace took the dye differently but I like the way it looks. And since we have a touch of the Adams Family in us and love to wear black alot, it fits into her wardrobe perfectly! Now I can't wait to go buy a ton of RIT dye and try out all different colors.

I may even try dying my shirts, too...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Attention Mommy Bloggers (and anyone else who loves to blog)

Did you know that Blurb will morph all your blogs into one cool book for you keep?

I am soooo doing this! The prices start at around $25 for a 40 page hardcover book and it will bring in all the pics and comments from your posts. I think it's an awesome way to create an archive of all the things you've done over the course of the year.

And, since I don't really keep up with a baby book for my kids this may be the closest thing they get!

Thomas made a cool picture book for me last Mother's Day on Blurb and we've been in love with the site ever since. A friend just happened to mention to me the other day that she'd heard of Blog Books and it turns our Blurb does them and I never realized. Thanks, Jaillene!

Happy Blah! Blah! Blah! Day...

There is a holiday for everything. And Blah Blah Blah day is the proof. According to the description of the holiday at Holiday Insights:

"Blah, Blah, Blah Day just might be the blah-est day of the year. The intent of this day is to do all of the projects and things that people have been nagging you to do. This may include quitting a habit, losing weight, or working on home projects. The "Honey Do" list or job jar is a top target for today."

Great. Looks like I now have a nationally designated holiday that will compel me to clean up my dining room/sewing room once and for all.

But, if Blah! Blah! Blah! day has gotten you down, take heart in knowing that today is also National High Five Day. Give someone some high five love today...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Just Tamed the White Tiger

You should too. Watch out—this one goes to 11!

Thank you Ragamuffin Soul. Thank you.

Works for Me Wednesday - Earthworm Farms

Lately the weather has been beautiful and we've been out in nature more. My girls, being the kind of kids who like to dig in the dirt and play with sticks, discovered the amazing world of the earthworm.

I had planned on buying this earthworm farm kit so they could enjoy the whole earthworm experience. But, paying $29.95 for the kit + $9.95 for the worms and whatever they charge for shipping seemed a bit much to spend on something they are already seeing in our front yard.

Then I came across this article on a DIY earthworm farm. We bought a huge jar at Wal-mart for $4.99 and came home and set up the coolest little earthworm farm.

The article mentions buying soil and sand to start the farm, but I found that we could find all the dirt we needed in the yard and added to it some veggie scraps left over from making dinner. The worms were pretty easy to find and once we added them to the jar and poked holes in the top so they could "breathe" the farm was completely done.

They love seeing the worm tunnels, checking on the worms, and feeding/watering them. It's a great little no maintenance "pet" that teaches science and nature lessons to the kids. Plus, they feel super proud to have built it themselves. And I feel proud that I saved $30 going the DIY route.

Anyways, that's what worked for me this week. Visit Shannon's Dryer to see what's working for all the other mommy bloggers out there...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

5 reasons I think my best friend is the coolest person ever...

I have this amazing friend. She is quite simply the bomb. Here are 5 reasons* I think she is the coolest person ever.
* listed in no particular order and is no way intended to be a comprehensive list of reasons she is the coolest person ever....

1. She gives honest and insightful advice while still including phrases like "bros before hos."

2. She is friends with me even though I forget her birthday almost every year.

3. She never accuses me of being whiny even when I am.

4. She has the guts to tell me the truth and always does so with kindness.

5. She is willing to karate chop people who are mean to me.

So, ladies, do tell. What makes your friends great?

Namaste from India

Okay, maybe not really from India. But we can pretend, right?

Yesterday reality got to be a bit too much for the Loving family. There was too much stress from a number of different directions and we decided to take a break.

So, we got a hotel room here in the city and told the girls we were on a pretend trip to India. We ate Indian food, wore bindis, swam in the Indian Ocean (hotel pool), and watched for elephants outside the window. We met people from India and talked about what people do in India.

It was relaxing for both the girls and us. It was a much needed break from reality. As I type this we're packing up to leave India and return home to the real world. But, we all feel a bit more refreshed even if the trip was totally make-believe...

oh, and you'll forgive me if I put Total Truth Tuesday off for this week won't you? Honestly, yesterday had enough yucky truth for me and I just don't know that I have it in me to post my truth for this week. I promise I'll bring it back next week with a really good one!

Monday, April 14, 2008

I LOOOVE those breaking noises!

What do you do when you spend a whole week getting ready for a yard sale that turns out to be the biggest let down ever? Why, you totally destroy something, of course!

We had planned to do a spring purge of our unneeded belongings and because of weather or advertising troubles or just some bad yard sale mojo it was a disaster. We knew the rest of what was left was going to end up on its way to Salvation Army but Thomas has a great idea for the cheap plates, planters, and other various ceramic items.

Destroy them!

We've been wanting to make some garden stones and so we thought we'd just destroy every last pot and plate and urn that we had left out to sell. It was more fun than I can even tell you and a great way to release all the frustration from the failed yard sale.

We ended up with three Gallon ZipLock bags filled with mosaic materials. And the girls got to smash things without getting in trouble. It was a win-win for all involved.

I'll post some pics of the Garden Stones when we make them later this week. In the meantime, enjoy the pics of the destruction!

**By the way, I've got a $5 Starbuck's card for the first commenter who can tell me what movie my headline is a quote from! It's one of my all time favorite movies...**

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I forgot to mention...

I changed the look of the site. It's the start of a whole slew of visual changes to come and I meant to, you know, announce the new look but kind of got distracted by having to feed, clothe and bathe the kiddos.

I also wanted to say a very public thank you to my very talented man for getting this site rearranged for me. He worked until about 2 a.m. on a work night to get it right.

The photo is my absolute favorite new thing. It took me a whole day and three visits to different retailers to find a redhead Barbie for the shot(where are you Midge doll? I miss you so...). We spent 2 nights arranging the Barbie family to look like our family.

What I think is funny is that I can buy a pack of multi-cultural "Kelly" dolls and have two from different cultural/ethnic origins look exactly like my girls. Sometimes I know people have to wonder if they have the same dad. I'd wonder too if I didn't know better...

Who doesn't love a giveaway?

Kelsey over at My Sweet Life is giving away a cool multicultural kid's CD so head over and leave a comment for a chance to win the drawing.

She's got some awesome photography and some really interesting things to say about the world so be sure and check it out!

Weekend Project for the Little Ones

We've been all about keeping little hands busy (and out of trouble) lately. Finger knitting was our first new skill and a big hit. I love that it helps little ones develop dexterity needed for pre-writing skills and Kai loves that she can make snakes and scarves and crowns and more with her own two hands.

Our newest attempt at crafty handiwork projects was embroidery. I've been reading through "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule and she mentions embroidery for little ones being an excellent introduction into the craft. So, I picked up an embroidery hoop, colored burlap, some yarn and the coolest thing ever - a children's needle. It's a little blue plastic "needle" that is safe for kids to use and can't really poke or stab so they're perfect for letting siblings use without fear of one child becoming a human pin cushion.

I was kind of skeptical about whether embroidery would hold Kai's attention, but all it took was a quick explanation and the handing over of the hoop and the girl went to town! She LOVED it and I had to pry it out of her hands when it was time for bed. Since then she's done it several times and is enthralled with it each time. For now she's just making lines and stitches wherever she wants with no rhyme or reason but it's laying the groundwork for a possible interest in embroidery and, more importantly, providing something other than TV to distract her little mind...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Looking for some uplifting music? Check this out...


My musical taste doesn't generally include contemporary Christian for one reason or another, but every once in a while I get on this Christian music kick and find myself looking for uplifting and thought-provoking music. There just seems to be something really peaceful about being reminded of how big God is while driving down Ga400 in rush hour. Somehow the lady holding up traffic while she tries to paint her nails and drive seems less of an issue when I'm being reminded how big this world is and what God is really all about.

I was recently given the chance to hear and review Matt Maher's (rhymes with Mars) Cd "Empty & Beautiful." Though most of the songs are more traditional than I usually listen to, the Cd is a great soundtrack to introspection. I think it's the perfect music to have during a morning Bible study/quiet time or just as you get ready to start your day. If you like contemporary Christian music, then this is definitely a great CD to pick up and add to your iPod playlist. "Your Grace is Enough" is by far my favorite track and I think maybe I should just have that one loop in the mornings to remind me that whatever faces me during the day, God is faithful and present even (and especially) when it really doesn't feel like it. Maybe listening to that would give me some Christian love and compassion for the lady painting her nails on the highway. That truly would be a miracle...

Interested in hearing it? Listen to it online here or download it on iTunes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Haiku Friday

Oh, how I loooove the art of Haiku. I know this isn't technically in the truest spirit of the form, but surely you can forgive me. After all, once you learn the rules it gives you the right to break them doesn't it? At least that's what I learned in school...

Blue water swirling
Gently spraying on my skin
Cleaning toilets sucks
I once saw a fly
on the best day of it's life
sitting in ice cream

Okay, so now head on over to A Mommy Story to read more cool Haikus. And check back every Friday for a new Haiku (or two or three or more).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things I've had to say this week

Keep the gum on the inside of your mouth.
Stop hitting your sister with a shovel right now!
No, worms do not like to eat sidewalk paint so stop squirting them with it.
Right now it's mommy's turn to play with the Barbie.
NO pooping in the bathtub!
Get your toes out of your nose!

How to be a Wrap Star

Sorry about the pun. I just couldn't help myself. I wrapped a present for a friend of mine the other day and it occurred to me that I should share my absolute favorite way to wrap a present.

First, let me tell you a little tidbit about me. I can be really, really cheap. I mean, I like to spend money on fun stuff like make-up and shoes and clothes and purses. But, one thing I hate is spending money on stupid stuff like wrapping paper. I'd much rather find some other more creative option. Because as much as I hate buying wrapping paper, I LOVE wrapping presents. It's one of my favorite things about birthdays and holidays. And, there are tons of ways to wrap a present.

My favorite way, however, is to pull out one of the many old magazines I have lying around and tear out the prettiest pages. For small presents, you may only need one page (the present above only used one page from a home decor mag). For bigger ones, you simply tape a couple pages together to form a larger sheet or use newsprint or a larger format magazine.

I think it makes for the most interesting and pretty presents especially when adorned with a pretty bow that coordinates with the wrapping. I also love it 'cause it allows you to hand-pick wrapping that works with the recipient's tastes and interests.

Coming soon...

We have a cool new look for the site planned. Thomas is hard at work on it and we should be posting it in the next couple days. I am so excited to see how it comes out!

Keep checking back!

We heart art...

Oh, we Lovings do love us some art. We do, we do. We try to do at least one art "project" or experience a day. Sometimes more come about organically and we just go with it. It makes life pretty interesting around here.

Here are some pics of our latest art endeavors. First, we took on straw painting. With little ones such as mine, half the battle is reminding them to blow the paint out of the straw since they've spent the last couple years trying to master the reverse procedure with all other liquids. That, dear friends, is why we always use non-toxic paint in our house. We've ingested more than our share of kid's paint here...

Straw painting somehow turned into toothbrush painting. I usually keep the girls' older toothbrushes once they're done with them just in case we need to clean something tiny and because I find it nearly impossible to throw things away. So, we grabbed those and started painting away. We also learned that electric toothbrushes (like the one Ivy is using below) make some really fun shapes/textures on paper with paint!
Then yesterday since it was SO absolutely beautiful out (yeah for spring!) we decided to take our art outside and use my newly made sidewalk paints from this post.

Here's a tip on making your sidewalk paint. Follow the recipe. Because as I was making it, I kept thinking it wasn't thick enough and added more and more and more and more cornstarch to it. What resulted was a strange textured sidewalk puff paint. We definitely enjoyed it and it made for a WONDERFUL sensory experience, but as far as regular sidewalk paint goes it wasn't as easy to use.

Anyways, something about the beautiful spring air or sunshine must have gotten to us because sidewalk painting turned into sidewalk paint fight and Kai and I ended up covered in paint. It was so fun and the cornstarch paint was really easy to clean up so I had no regrets after the fact!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not Your Grandma's Recipe Box

My youngest sister is getting married in less than a month and for my contribution to her array of showers I chose to throw her a recipe shower. Everyone brought their favorite easy-to-make recipe all made up in a pretty dish she could keep and included a recipe card. It was a fun shower because we all got to taste everyone's signature dishes and get some good recipes for ourselves.

But, as part of her present, I want to get her a cool recipe box, a task which is easier said than done. The majority of the recipe boxes I found had apples and ducks and really country scenes on them. My sister is just a bit edgier than that and I knew if I got her one of those she'd never use it in her house.

So, I picked up a recipe box in the $1 section at Michael's and created the recipe box above. A little black paint, some cool artwork from istock and ta-da! a cool little recipe box for that special punk rock chick in my life. The top says "Recipes to Die For" in a cool anarchy type font. I finished it off with a coat of Modge Podge to make sure the paint didn't chip or scratch. It also gave it a bit of a sheen which I think made it look a bit more finished.

She loved it and now I am dying to do the same to my duck and apple covered recipe box!

Works for Me Wednesday - Musical Cleaning Edition

My girls, much like their mother, do NOT love to clean. In fact, until recently, the simple request to clean up their messes in the playroom were met with wailing, crying, and general shrieks of horror. Not anymore, my friends! I have found the secret to getting these girls to clean up with a big huge smile on their face!

For Easter, my girls got the Enchanted DVD. They LOVED it and, in particular, loved the part where the princess cleans up the apartment with her animal friends while singing the "Happy Working Song." If you haven't seen the movie, it is one of the funniest parts in the movie and the song, amazingly enough, is one of those fun kid's movie songs that doesn't really grate on your nerves after being played 3 dozen times.

So, anyways, back to the "Works For Me" part. Soon after Easter I discovered that if I play the song my girls will actually push me out of the playroom and clean it up themselves while pretending to be the princesses. They imagine a whole scene with forest animals (or sewer rats and cockroaches - if you've seen the movie you know what I mean). It works like a charm. Truly, we have not had a dirty playroom since seeing that movie. I don't even have to ask them to clean anymore. Granted, it sometimes means the song loops for about 15 minutes but I could care less when I come back to a spotless playroom and two happy non-screaming kids.

Since this song may not work for everyone and seems to only work when the movie is a hit with the kids, here are some other ideas to help kids love cleaning up:

1. Music, music, music! Go beyond the "Clean-up" song and try some more lively songs that inspire the kids to dance while they clean. Not only do they get the job done faster, but they burn energy in the process.

2. Make it a game. My girls love to play Cinderella and ask me to pretend to be the wicked step-mother and give them "orders" like Cinderella had. I have found, "Please clean up your coloring books and crayons" does not work nearly as well as, "Cinderella! You must clean up those crayons and coloring books before you can go to the ball!" It sounds silly, but when they think it is part of pretend play it takes on a whole new dimension.

3. Make it a race. See who can clean up the fastest. Having a race to clean up Barbie clothes makes it a fun activity and in the end since the room is clean everyone is a winner. Have a small prize for everyone (we use organic sugar-free lollipops) and the whole thing goes happily.

Remember what Mary Poppins said? A spoonful of organic sugar free sweetness makes the medicine go down. Or something like that...

So, now you know what works for me. Go check out what works for other cool people at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set...

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

It's coming soon! The Great Summer Bloggy Giveaway Carnival and this year I am participating. I've got some great ideas planned for a fun giveaway and may even end up doing more than one. So, check back here the week of April 21st for your chance to enter into a drawing to win a totally kick-a** prize from yours truly.

And visit Don't Try This At Home the week of April 21st-25th for chance to enter into all the blogs that are planning on giving away free cool stuff. Last year the blogs who participated gave some really awesome stuff away and since all you have to do to enter is leave a comment saying "Hey, enter me so I can win this free stuff, okay?" or your own version of that it's pretty much a no brainer right? Right.

Total Truth Tuesday

This should be an embarrassing truth to admit, but truth is I'm not even remotely embarrassed about this fact.

I love to play Barbies.

Okay, maybe the other moms (or dads?) can relate to this, but I LOVE to play with my kids Barbies with them or without them. If the girls are playing I will total play too. And, whenever they get a new one, I want to brush her hair and dress her up first. I think Barbies are the best toy ever invented.

I mean, officially I am opposed to the unrealistic body type, superficial beauty emphasis, gender role stereotypes, and all that. I've written several posts about how horrible certain Barbies are and I stand by those posts. I think some Barbies are just ridiculously destructive to the self image I am trying to build in my girls. And, I am a little concerned with the borderline trampy direction her wardrobe has taken lately. But, overall, I LOVE to play with them.

In fact, my new project is going to be making cool clothes for the girls' Barbie dolls 'cause I think her wardrobe choices are seriously lacking. And, if I'm going to have fun playing with these dolls I need more clothes, right? Okay, maybe I am a bit embarrassed now that I read that back.

So, tell me, anyone else have a secret favorite toy that they still like stealing away from little kids?

Monday, April 7, 2008

A New Friend.

I got this little guy today at Anthropologie and thought I'd share him with the world. He's a little plush friend based on the drawing of a 5-year-old South African child. He's part of a series of dolls all based on childrens' drawings and manufactured in South African villages. He's basically made from a variety of fabrics and textures. He's created with all kinds of scraps and I think that's what makes him so cool.

He's definitely going to be a source of inspiration for creating some of our own plush dolls.

Happy Birthday Eryn! **updated**

It is my baby sister's 21st Birthday and since I am the nerdy big sister, I decided to make her a Happy Birthday pin. So, this morning somewhere in between taking the kids to school and drying my hair I made this pin. My pics are crappy (as always) but she was working the pin and made it look super cute. She promised to get me a pic of her wearing it today 'cause it looks totally adorable on her. See what I mean? She made it look cute!

It was totally easy to make. I just bought some fat quarter fabric at Joann's and a bag of little wooden discs for crafting and glued it up. The "Happy Birthday" is a fabric appliqué that actually came from the scrapbooking section. It glued up fast and easy and she wore it all day. It's actually a pretty fun idea for kids and I can't wait to make them for the girls' birthdays.

Here's another pic of her modeling the pin and the finger knit scarf/necklace thing I made for her. (The scarf actually doubled as a really cool bow for her present. Oh how I LOVE finger knitting!)

She's too cute. And doesn't look even remotely 21. Which she will appreciate immensely when she's almost 30 with two kids and a minivan.

Lest you think me a terribly dorky and out-of-touch sister who gives finger knit scarves and crafty pins for a 21st bday present, check out her real present. I got her a set of these from Crate and Barrel which are so totally fun (who doesn't love anything miniature?) and her very first Cosmopolitan mixer kit!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Our Texture Stones

They're not as clean and zen looking as the ones we gained our inspiration from, but I keep telling myself it's the process not the product, right? Still, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out and they girls had a great time doing them.

They're pretty simple to do. We basically just followed the directions from Write Mama Write which entailed rolling Sculpey into small balls and pressing them down flat onto the nature pieces we collected. The Sculpey was too hard for the girls to roll into balls themselves, but once we did that they were able to press them down with our help. Afterwards we baked them at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.

Our Nature Treasures

Getting Ready To Bake

The Finished Products

Honeysuckle Blossom

Dandelion Bloom