Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry (day after) Christmas!

Hoping you and your loved ones had a Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Teacher Gifts

This year, I was stumped as to what to give Macieo's teachers for Christmas. There's a silly Iowa law that states that government employees cannot accept any gift worth over $1.99. That includes teachers. I doubt this is very closely monitored, but it kind of eliminated gift cards and the like.

What on earth can you buy for less than $1.99?

So I decided to go the homemade route. Candied Pecans are my gift of choice this year.

Granted, I probably spent more than $1.99 on ingredients and jars, but no one will every prove it :)

Candied Pecans

1 large egg white
1/2 T. water
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 C. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
2 C. pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick spray. Whisk egg white, water and vanilla in a lage bowl until foamy. Add pecans to bowl, and stir until pecans are coated.

In a large ziplock bag, mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer pecans from bowl to bag. Seal bag, and shake well, until pecans are coated.

Spread pecans on baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Let pecans cool completely, then package and share!

Dear Santa

On Saturday night, I realized we were getting down to the wire! Less than a week until Christmas, and my parents STILL hadn't taken me to visit the big guy. So we headed here... I could see him!

I had to give him a closer look. I know Santa's not real, but this guy really looked a lot like him!

I even got to ride the train. These three girls jumped into the first car (the one with the bell) before I could get to it. Good thing I'm not shy! I jumped right in with them!

This bear was pretty cool. Maybe I should ask for one of these for Christmas. Do you think it would fit in my room?

Dear Santa,

This year, I would like a Wii, a Nintendo DS, and another dog.

Sure hope you get this list and can help me out with my requests, because my parents have already assured me there's no chance I'll be getting all three of the things I really want.

But I'm still holding out hope that I'll find at least one of them under the tree!

Love, Macieo
After visiting Santa, we decided to make a night of it, and headed down to Brenton Plaza for some skating. This was my first time skating, but I wasn't scared.

My mom kept trying to hold my hand, which was really embarassing!

Seriously mom! Why won't you just let me skate?

Hmmmm....maybe I should have let her hold my hand after all. This ice is not soft!

Merry Christmas! Hope you all are having as much fun as I am!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Name That Cookie

I tried a new cookie recipe tonight that I thought was really good.

When my son ate one, he told me he thought he might throw up. So I guess that means the recipe is not kid-friendly.

The original recipe said they were called Pecan Meltaways.

My mom came over, ate one, and said "these are really good Russian Tea Cakes."

I don't know what they should be called, but I think they're yummy.

And they were easy, which is always a bonus.

Pecan Meltaways
1 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. confectioners sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 C. chopped pecans
additional confectioners sugar
In a large bowl, cream the butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and stir well. Stir in pecans. Refrigerate until chilled.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until set. Roll wamr cookies in additional confectioners sugar; cool completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies again in confectioners sugar.


**If you're like me, and like to eat the dough while you're in the process of making cookies, don't. It was terrible!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Meet Merle

Meet Merle, our resident squirrel.

He cavorts about our yard, scurrying up trees or burying acorns under our lawn.
He is in or around our yard all day, every day, rain or shine.
When we would eat dinner on our deck during the summer, he would climb up into the apple tree that hung over the table, and snack on apples while we ate. The only downside to this was that when he was done, he would toss the apple cores right into the middle of the table! It was funny until one landed on Macieo's plate, and he refused to finish his dinner because it had "squirrel germs" on it. I assume this behavior for Merle's passive-aggressive way of telling us he wished we'd invited him for dinner.

But overall, we get along very well, and have enjoyed sharing our yard with him.

Macieo wants a new pet for Christmas. I think he's going to have to be satsified with Merle.
**Merle is named after the title character in one of our favorite children's books.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

O Christmas Tree

This year, we decided to continue our one-year-old tradition of having a real Christmas tree. We were determined to cut down our own, so we headed out early in the season (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). We had lots of luck at a beautiful tree farm, and it also turned out to be a gorgeous day! Sunshine and 60 degrees doesn't exactly make it feel like Christmas, but we were thankful that we weren't freezing cold!

I think we may have even topped last year's tree. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This year, there's much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Room - Before & After

Redecorating at our new house has been a slow process. Part of it has been lack of motivation (there's nothing that I hate more than painting). Another part has been the fact that every job I start turns into a big project. Stripping wallpaper leads to repairing mildewy walls which leads to retexturing drywall. I'm making friends with the staff at our local Menards.

We painted the family room this summer, but are just finally starting to "settle" into it with some new furniture, etc. It's definitely still a work in progress!

I forgot to take a "before" photo until after I had already moved out all the furniture to start the painting. Here it is with spongepainted peach walls and our old red couch (not a good combo...)

Full of random, mismatched stuff.

Sampling colors to find just the right shade of green.

My super cute helper. He actually spent two hours painting this wall!

My view was obscured by the bookshelf, and I didn't see his masterpiece until he had finished it. I was sure surprised!

And the (semi) finished project! Still a random mix of things, but looking a little better!

This was definitely a bargain project. I needed six panels to cover the windows, which is not a small task to do on the cheap! I found these thermal-lined faux silk panels at Tuesday morning, and they were a bargain!
I was getting tired of my red couch (it's now in the living room), and I found this one on Craigs List! The lady had just purchased it and it didn't fit in her apartment. I don't know if navy blue would have been my first choice, but it was a steal!
The camel colored chair and ottoman in the corner were in my parents first house. They're actually older than I am. Not the cutest thing in the world, but SO comfy! A friend of ours refers to it as the pumpkin :)
The one item I splurged on back when we moved into our old house. Ahhh...Pottery Barn, I love you. I miss my employee discount.

I fell in love with this Amy Butler fabric I found on Etsy, and was excited to discover they carried it at a store in West Des Moines. Right now, it's just thrown over the back of the couch, but as soon as I get motivated it will likely become pillows.
We've also been at work on the kitchen and the master bath, so hopefully I'll have more pictures to share soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Mother Told Me

When I was registering for wedding gifts, my mother told me that I should register for china and formal flatware.

At the time, I was a college student living in a crummy apartment, and I had a hard time imagining that I'd ever have a use for china and formal flatware.

She said I'd be thankful to have it when I was older.

We compromised. I didn't register for fancy china, but I did pick out some gorgeous, shiny, overpriced flatware.

I've been married six and a half years, and up until a week ago, I had never taken it out of the velvet lined wooden box that I keep it in.
I spontaneously decided to have a dinner party last weekend, and invited over a few girlfriends. Since I finally have a dining room table that seats more than four, I decided to go all out and "set" the table. And I finally pulled out that fancy flatware! I guess that means, sadly, that I must be "older" now :)

We definitely need to do it again soon! I've got six years of flatware non-use to make up for!

Friday, November 13, 2009

some days

Some days are better than others.

Yesterday was an other.

As I read through my previous posts, I notice a tendency. I blog about things that are fun. Lighthearted. I post pictures. I remember the good moments. The upside of parenting.

I read a lot of other blogs. And I notice this theme there, too. After all, who wants to broadcast it to the world when they've had a bad day?

But I think sometimes the bad days are the ones we really need to be talking about. As a mom, there are so many things I wish other moms were talking about.

My kid misbehaves. He's naughty. Some days he drives me crazy. Are there any other moms out there who feel this way?

We jumped into parenting late in the game. Our son was six when we became his parents. When you meet parents who are expecting new babies, they get a whole slew of advice, admonishments, warnings. There are so many new things to learn, there's even a book called "What to Expect When You're Expecting."

I wish they'd written a book called "What to Expect When You're Adopting a Six-Year-Old."

Because there are so many things, when you enter late in the game, that nobody prepares you for.

Yesterday was not a great day. Macieo got in trouble at school. He came home with an "oops" note about his behavior. Our walk home from school was tense and silent.

When we got home, I sent him out to rake leaves as his punishment.

Then he came back in and told me a lie.

I sent him to his room for the rest of the evening and told him he couldn't go to Wednesday night kids church.

He cried.

I didn't care.

I was just glad he was in his room so I didn't have to talk to him.

We woke up the next morning. Macieo refused to cooperate and follow directions as we were getting ready for school.

I yelled.

He cried.

I yelled more.

The yelling and crying continued as we got in the car and headed for school.

I was furious.

He was late for school.

I didn't care.

And to make matters was out of town. So I had to deal with it all by myself.

Before he got out of the car to go to school, I caught myself. As a parent, sometimes it's SO hard to try to be rational with you kid when you're just MAD. But I knew I had to be the grown up and make amends. So we talked about it. I asked for forgiveness for yelling. He asked for for forgiveness for being naughty and disrespectful. I told him I loved him, and he got out of the car.

And I spent the whole day feeling like a horrible parent.

I spent the morning yelling at my kid, and then sent him off to school where I expected him to behave and have a good day. How can I expect him to behave when I don't?

The amazing thing is, he had a great day at school. Kids are funny like that. Resilient.

Looking at behavior from a parents perspective, it seems like it should be so easy. Your child does something wrong. You discuss their behavior. You give them a consequence. Logically, they should learn their lesson, and cease doing the unwanted behavior, right?


It's just not that simple.

So we muddle through. Most days are great. He's so sweet and creative and funny and loving. But other days he just won't listen. And those are the days when I stop and ask "why didn't anyone tell me it would be this hard?"

So I'm telling you. Whether you're expecting a baby, adopting an older child, or currently raising a child of any age. Even after they start sleeping through the night, it will be hard. You'll be more tired than you've ever been. And even worse than dealing with their behavior? Dealing with your own. You'll be forced to deal with angry, frustrated, yelling sides of yourself that you didn't even know existed. You'll realize that you're so far from "good" at parenting that it's scary.

Being a mom has forced me to take a long, hard look at my relationship with God. After all, he is God the Father, and I am his child. And when I look at it that way, I realize that I'm not that much different than Macieo. Oftentimes I don't listen. I screw up. I'm disrespectful. But God loves me no matter what. He is unendingly patient. He is completely loving. His grace is enough.

I desire to be a parent who displays those characteristics of God to my son. But sanctification is a process, and I've got my work cut out for me.

Thank God, literally, for forgiveness.

I still think this is the best job in the world. I love being a mom, and think my son is the greatest kid there is. But this job is hard. So hard.

Some days are better than others.

Monday, November 9, 2009

After School Project

I'd love to take credit for this, but my son is the creative one. One afternoon last week he asked if he could have some toothpicks and some marshmallows. We spent the next hour creating our masterpieces!

This project required extreme concentration...

...and careful selection of materials.

I had a little trouble thinking outside the box
and could only muster up the creativity to build a house...
...and write my son's name.

This kid, on the other hand...

...created a masterpiece.

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