Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There was a set?!?!

You may have seen examples of how my talented sister, Lori, paints canvases for her kids' rooms. Well, when I first bought Brandon's nursery bedding, I enlisted her to help me paint some canvases to match his bedding.

I wanted three square pictures, one of each animal, to hang directly over the crib. Lori went with me to Hobby Lobby to pick up the supplies. Between the canvases themselves, the paint, and the paintbrushes, it wasn't exactly inexpensive.

Have you ever had Burger King nachos? Well, they don't serve them at Burger King... Lori serves them at her house, and she served some to me when I came over and spent the better of a day working on the paintings. It's a very secret recipe, so you probably shouldn't ask for it.

We made a lot of progress on the paintings, but there was still a lot to be done when we stopped for the day. I said to Lori, "After the cost and all the time we've put into these, I probably should have just bought the set."

Stunned. "There was a set?!?!" Oops, yeah. We looked it up online, and it was actually cheaper than I thought. BUT, there were only two pictures and they were 10 inches square instead of 14 inches square. Plus, they were not made with love. We tried to convince ourselves it was totally worth it. I think it was... even after spending the majority of the following week finishing them.

And here's the whole effect. Two 10-inchers would've looked kinda cheesy, right people?

And the lovely window valance plus the cute wooden rod I searched forever to find at a decent price.

Now that Russ has finally hung all this stuff up in the nursery, I let the baby sleep in his own room. Yahoo! We actually get more sleep now... zzzzz.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Spirit of Christmas

I went to Costco today. So did a few hundred of my neighbors, apparently. The parking lot was a chaotic free-for-all where only the rudest were aggressive enough to snag a decent parking spot, and I ended up parking farther from the entrance than I ever have before. As I prepared to get out of the car, I checked my list to make sure I really needed to brave the crowd. Yep.

The carts are big, and there were lots of them. Some people were browsing, and others were in a hurry, so there were lots of jammed aisles with annoyed people trying to get through. Smiles were rare, and "excuse me" seldom heard. Is this what Christmas is all about?

All of the checkout lines were open, and all had long streams of people behind them. As I waited, I reviewed in my mind the things I would need to rush around and do today. Hurry. Rush. Stress. People, please get out of my way!

When it was my turn, I asked the cashier if they sold stamps. She said that they did sell stamps, but only in lots of 100. With the internet, I remarked, I hardly ever send things in the mail... that would be too many.

The next thing I know, the woman behind me is holding out two sheets of brand new holiday stamps. "I've already sent my Christmas cards, and I won't be needing these. Just go ahead and take them. I'd hate to have to make an extra stop for stamps."

Surprised, I asked, "Are you serious?" She insisted, and I took them from her, despite the twinge of guilt I felt for freeloading. I wished her a Merry Christmas and went on my way.

As I walked to my car, I noticed a new feeling inside. Gratitude? Not exactly. My stress melted away, the crowd didn't seem to bother me anymore, and I smiled at everyone I passed. The gift she gave was more than stamps; it was the gift of charity and good will toward men. This gift lifted my spirits, changed my attitude, and revived my hope in humankind. I realized I had been shown the true spirit of Christmas by a perfect stranger, and I vowed to pass this spirit on to others by paying it forward.

I hope that woman feels happy about what she did today because it really made a difference to me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2455 E Gingerbread Lane

We needed more sugar around (right?)

The girls were so excited about the idea of building a gingerbread house. I was kinda scared (Lori, remember the "outhouse"?)

We carefully worked on the yard while the icing was drying...

Made lovely patterns on the roof...

Adorned it with the perfect finishing touches... (love my trees?)

And voila! It may not look like much, but it's the best gingerbread house I've ever made, and I learned a lot for next time.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Fun and ER Visit

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Time to relax now that the week of Halloween is over. It was a mad dash to finish all five costumes that I made this year (I stayed up until 5am one night!), a trip to the fair, a dinner and birthday celebration for Kallie, the ward trunk or treat, and all our regular appointments in between.


On Halloween day, we managed to find time to carve a pumpkin together. It was a family effort...

Russ drew the design.

I carved it.

The girls cleaned out the innards and played in the mess.

That night, Russ set up in front of our house.

Paige's no sew witch costume turned out really cute.

The mermaid was beautiful, and the alien was out-of-this-world! Kallie had just woken up from a nap and wasn't feeling too good, so she missed the first block of trick-or-treating. When we came back by the house, Paige decided to stay home, and Kallie decided she was ready to go. We went around one more block before heading back home for the night. Brandon only collected one bag of candy that this old lady insisted on giving him. She tried to hand it to him, but I told her he was too small to grab it, and I put it next to him in his stroller. I guess he looks older than he is!


Kallie didn't feel super, but you wouldn't know it from her sweet expression.

I know the pictures are bad, but I had fun dressing up as the Queen of Hearts. That costume was a beast to make!

Hard to believe that little mermaid ended up in the hospital the next morning. She had been coughing the night before, but it didn't seem very serious. During the night, she was coughing and crying for Mom, so I brought her in my room and turned on the humidifier. She kept waking up and complaining that her tummy hurt, which I think was from coughing so much, so I gave her some Tylenol. The coughing continued, though, and it caused her to throw up a couple of times. In the morning, she became extremely lethargic. I tried to get her to take fluids since she had been vomiting, but she just laid back in my arms with little response. I started crying and begging her to drink something, but she wouldn't. When I left to get Russ, I heard her tiny voice say, "Sorry, Mom."

Russ took her to urgent care where they told him she had pneumonia and that he needed to get her to the ER as soon as possible. He rushed her over there, and I met up with them later. It nearly broke my heart to come in and see her like this.

Later, she was admitted and they put her on oxygen. After sleeping much of the day, she began to perk up a little bit in the evening.

She loved pointing out her red toe to everyone and telling them that it was her blood.

The nurses loved her. She was cooperative and talkative, and when we left the next day, the nurse said she was going to miss her little chatterbox.

We're just so thankful everything turned out okay. She still has a cough because of all the congestion, but it is improving. The doctor said she is no longer contagious after her fever stops, which it did yesterday, and that she can return to school after 24 hours of no fever. So today she is resting, and tomorrow she'll be back at school collecting more germs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Red rock dreams at sunset

Believe it or not, a couple of weekends ago was my very first trip to Sedona. I know, I was practically raised on day trips, and I lived here for 25 years before moving to California, so how could this happen?

Okay, I take it back. My dad flew me and my high school boyfriend to Sedona (yes, the view was awesome), and we had lunch at the airport before flying back, but that was it.

I didn't even know about Red Rock State Park (how embarrassing)

Saturday, I just had a hankering to get out of town, and I asked Russ if he had anything going on the next day at church. He said no, so we made a quick plan and took off the next morning. Boy am I glad I parted Kallie's hair pretty straight because I sure got a lot of pictures of the back of her head. You know, she's exploring, so what am I supposed to do?

Don't worry, I asked her to turn around once in a while.

The original idea was to find some fall color, but alas, the trees were not turning yet. I'm glad Paige managed to find a few beautiful specimen.

Maybe this leaf is turning, or maybe it just happened to be dying. Either way, I'm cool with it.

There's something about kids sitting by a stream that is so quintessential summer time... if only they had overalls and bare feet.

See that collection in her hands? I was pleased to see the girls finding the simple little things in nature so beautiful that they wanted to collect them and take them home.

Finding a bridge is always fun for some reason. Even I get excited. I know, you saw a bridge before... but that was the first bridge, and this is the second one. Still very cool.

For Russ, there was a lot of bug slapping. I don't know why I laughed so much about that... it was kinda mean.

When you're exploring, you might find a funny forest that only exists in dreams and fairy tales... very curious.

And there just might be a lot of bugs to slap (ha ha)

While you are on your adventure, you must write everything down so you can remember when you wake up...

(using your imaginary pencil, of course)

And share a smile with your friends before you leave.

What would you do after a fun adventure like that? PLAY! We found a park just before sunset that had beautiful views of the red mountains, and the girls got to run free.

Russ and Brandon sat and watched.

And now I get to share with you some of the nature photos I took.

Okay, I really wanted to let you enjoy these photos in silence, but I can't be quiet. I love this next picture because of the light. I was trying to capture it, but I think you just had to be there. It was glistening!

And I thought this one looked like a postcard picture, so there you go. You can send me 25 cents and then print this out and send it to your friends so that you can pretend you went to Sedona, too.

Finally, I found some beautiful fall color... even if it was on the plant at the visitors center.

Arizona sunsets cannot be matched. What a beautiful way to end a beautiful day.