30 July 2011

Hello, friends.

Please enjoy a few favorite prints and quotes




And finally, something I have to tell myself almost daily:

Enjoy the weekend!

29 July 2011







When we got Oliver that blue camera for Christmas he ran around the house having us and our family pose for pictures. At one point we were walking down the stairs, he turned around and snapped a picture of me. Then he "showed" me the pic and said, "I'll send it to your faceblog!"

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Hazel's camera (a birthday gift from Claire!) is from Little Sapling Toys on Etsy. (You can't see, but it has her name on the front).

Oliver's camera was purchased from Twig Creative on Etsy.

27 July 2011

As I was on my run tonight I was thinking about what a lovely and full day I had. When I got home I decided to write it down, just for my own sake. If you happen to find it interesting, then please enjoy!

27 Jul 2011

8:30 - Wake up to Ryan getting ready to leave for work. The kids seem to be sleeping late, so we're glad to get some time to hang out before he has to leave.

9:00 - Ryan leaves.

9:20 - Oliver is up. He is exceptionally cuddly, so we just hang out in bed together for about 20 minutes and catch a bit of Sesame Street.

9:40 - I leave Oliver to get breakfast started. Waffles, yogurt (full fat!), blueberries & milk.

9:50 - I call Oliver to the table and head upstairs to wake Hazel up. I find her laying quietly, just waking up slowly. She's so happy to see me and give me a big hug, then chatters her way down the stairs.

9:53 - Over breakfast I have a quick pep talk with Oliver about the day. We talk about good patterns (obedience - he thinks of this in terms of circles and stars) and bad patterns (disobedience - squares and x's). Not sure if the logic is super solid on this, but it has been working for him for days. He tells me he's planning on an all circles and stars day. I agree that's a good plan.

9:55 - Hazel is upset that Oliver gets butter and syrup on his waffles and lets the whole house know it.

9:56 - Oliver gives Hazel a square.

9:57 - Oliver sneaks her a few bites of his waffles.

10:00 - Breakfast is over. I clean up while Oliver and Hazel head up to the playroom where they play happily and I do some picking up in the downstairs.

10:15 - I head upstairs with something I ordered online last week. Oliver is geeked and I spend the next forty-five minutes installing it, it failing, and installing it better. Oliver and Hazel play with it and while they play I shoot some images for a post I'm planning to contribute for The Land of Nod's new blog, Honest to Nod next month. (Have I mentioned that yet? HUGE honor! EEE!) Stay tuned. :)

11:00 - Hazel communicates in no uncertain terms that she would like to rest. I lay her down and she's out in minutes. Oliver continues to play and I sit down to check my email and read this lovely daily devotional.

12:00 - Ryan is home for lunch! I greet him, then hop into the kitchen to make this quick Salsa Chicken recipe.

12:30 - The family sits down for lunch, sans a sleeping Hazel.

1:00 - Ryan has decided to work from home this afternoon. He and Oliver get cozy on the sofa and he tries to teach Oliver how to play Monopoly on the iPad. I put finishing touches on the Oliver's Picks post and publish it.

1:15 - Oliver has lost interest in Monopoly.

1:30 - I take a moment to pull myself together for the day (yes, up until this point I am totally in my jammies. don't judge - you have to be comfy to use power tools!)

1:55 - I decide to take advantage of having Daddy at home to monitor the kiddos, so I head out to the salon for a quick eyebrow wax.

2:45 - I have the green light to stay out (and conveniently packed my swimsuit, towel and a book just in case!), so I stop at our neighborhood pool where I read Bossypants (on loan from Keight) and snack on Sprees for an hour or so. (Lemme tell ya, all politics and whatever aside, Tina Fey is FUH-NEE!) Trying to save the rest of the book for vacation next week, but it's disappearing before my very eager eyes.

4:00 - I return home. Hazel had woken up at 3:00 (a four-hour nap!) and just finished a very late lunch. She is sitting halfway up the stairs exclaiming, "maMA! maMA!" when I come in the door. Oliver sees the towel on my shoulder and is very put out that I would even consider going to the pool without him. He feels betrayed. Shoot - definitely should have ditched the towel.

4:05 - Something smells foul. Hazel needs a new diaper, yo.

4:10 - I grab some tube yogurts (organic!) out of the fridge and sit down on the rug in the living room to help the kids with their snack. Ryan is working in his chair near us. I like it when he works at home. :)

4:20 - Quick wipe down of paws and faces and the kids and I head upstairs to play with our new apparatus some more.

4:50 - It's almost time to leave to go to dinner at church but Hazel is communicating that we will regret taking her anywhere without a quick nap. I lay her down. She shakes my hand and goes right to sleep. She might have even signed 'thank you'. Okay, maybe not.

5:30 - We start the van to get the A/C blowing, make sure Oliver's wearing underwear under his shorts (he wasn't - glad we checked!), wake up a surprisingly refreshed Hazel and load the kids up.

5:45 - Quick stop at the Chick-fil-a drive thru. Don't ask what I got. And definitely don't ask if it included a cookies and cream milkshake. Just don't.

6:00 - We join our friends and their kids at the church for a "brown bag" dinner in which about 90% of their brown bags have names of major fast food chains emblazoned on them. Ah well, it's the fellowship that counts!

6:30 - We wrap up our meals and head to the sanctuary for a screening of Babe, complete with microwave popcorn and a 1-year-old who has no interest in sitting still.

7:30 - We give up, say goodbye to our friends and to Babe, load the kids in the van and head to the library to return a stack of summer fun and give Bea a ride back to her house since she was Oliver's date.

7:45 - Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Ry takes the kids upstairs for jammies and bed and I make a quick change into running clothes in an attempt to beat both the heat and the sunset.

7:52 - I hit the pavement and run a surprisingly pleasant 6.54 miles. Kind of a nice way to wrap up the day.

8:58 - After a cool-down walk I'm home - hot and thirsty. Also, pretty stinky.

9:10 - Shower, work on some things for the Finding My Feet St. Jude team, shop online for rafts for the ocean (no luck - anyone have any good suggestions?), chat with Ryan, then think to myself what a lovely and full day I had.

10:20 - Spend 40 minutes trying to recount my day on here - just for a fun memory of a full day as a Mommy.

11:00 - Publish

(ps - Oliver made it through the day with all circles and stars! Well, there probably should have been a few squares in there, but who doesn't find themselves in need of a little grace now and then?)

Hope your day was circles and stars too! :)


Back in June I gave you Hazel's picks for iPad games - a fun little collection of 1-year-old-appropriate apps that make her giggle, hold her attention, and hold back the waterworks when necessary. It was fun to hear some of the games you all love and I was glad to be able to offer a nice go-to list of free apps for little ones.

Now that July is almost over, it's the 4-year-olds' turn! I guess it's high time to share Oliver's picks as well. And since he has his own special folder in the dock of the iPad they were easy to find!

Not all of these apps are free this time, but they're a ton of fun and definitely worth passing along!


Puppet Pals - This is actually an app that one of you recommended to me back in June and you were spot on: it's fantastic! The lite version is free, but the "director's version" is only a few dollars and definitely a fun reward after something like a trip to the dentist.


In this app you get to choose your characters and backdrops, then record action and audio to make short (or long) plays. Below is the screen you see when you're creating your play - if you press the red record button at the top, it will record anything that takes place within the white square and any sound you make while it's recording. (You can pull the strings at the top to change backgrounds too.)


This game is totally 4-year-old friendly, and Oliver and Beatrice often make games on their own and (with our help) email them to each other for fun.


Red Ball 3 - This game is actually $.99, but again, totally more worth it than a pack of stickers at the Target dollar spot. :) It's just about a red ball who fell in love and is trying to rescue her from a mean black ball.


Lots of bouncing around, lots of funny sound effects. You are allowed a few skips if a level is too tricky and in my house it entertains both Oliver and Ryan.


The Three Little Pigs (A 3-D fairy tale) - This is some of the most impressive app-age I've seen to date. It's like a book that is very interactive. It uses the accelerometer in your iPad so that any way you tilt the screen your view changes.


Below are two screen shots from the same page of the book. Depending on how I tilted the iPad I can see things differently.


You can also make the characters do things - like build their house and jump ahead of each other on the path. Pretty cool and fun stuff.


The official trailer is available on YouTube and shows more live action previews. Pretty cool stuff! We got the preview lite version for free (it takes you several pages into the story) and the full book is $5.99. Kinda pricey, but even the lite version is a lot if fun!

Warships - This one's free and it's so much fun. Even in the car it's been a big life saver because we can play wirelessly (without using 3G or an internet connection) against each other, iPhone to iPod/iPad. Oliver's actually gotten pretty good at it and only peeks at my screen occasionally. :)


Max & the Magic Marker - ($3.99) This one is a huge hit. It's all about a little boy who had dreamed up a world that he has drawn. As he goes through the levels collecting more ink for his marker he can draw things to help him squash bad guys, launch him high off a seesaw or get over a lake of water.


Oliver loves to play this game on the iPad, but even more, he likes to run around the house with an orange, imagining he's Max. Such a fun jumping point for a little person's imagination!


Okay, now comes the fun part! You guys get to tell me what your three- to five-year-olds are digging from the app store these days!

Happy Wednesday, friends! Halfway through the week!

{also, just to be clear: we do LOADS of things with Oliver. We read and paint and sew and do worksheets together. The iPad is a reward and he gets to play it sometimes - not even every day. Please don't worry that these games or this device is keeping him from being a kid!}

25 July 2011

Just last week we received our very first American Girl catalogue. It's like they have a radar for homes with little girls in them, and they're not afraid to strike young!

Anyway, I started flipping through the pages and it brought me back to that Christmas when I was twelve. I'd wanted an American Girl doll for years (Samantha was my favorite) and I always envied the girls in my class who would wear their old fashioned Pleasant Company clothes to match their dolls, right down to the cool whistle necklace and funny white hat. (In retrospect, maybe not the best look. But for a little girl, so much fun!)

Like I said, I was twelve the year I unwrapped that beautiful little Molly doll for Christmas. It was my one big gift and I remember knowing I was supposed to be excited, but crying about it in my room afterward. I didn't even know how to verbalize it at the time, but I knew I had missed my widow to enjoy it. I was too old. I'd wanted one for years and years but we couldn't afford it. And when my Mom so sweetly splurged on it for Christmas the first year she could, my response was probably pretty far off from what she had hoped.

So as I browsed the $100+ dolls in the catalogue, I thought to myself that I would really like to try to get Hazel a doll while she's very young so she can have it for years and years of enjoyment. But, *ahem* they're pretty pricey. So of course things ended there.

Three days later my Mom and I were headed to Nashville to have lunch together to celebrate my birthday. It was a Saturday and we'd agreed to definitely stop at yard sales as we made our way north.

The first sale we stopped at was very busy and the adults were looking weary. 11 am and they'd already been at it for four hours. We moseyed around the sale for a while. I hmm'd and haww'd over a treadmill they had for sale (never owned one and really couldn't commit to giving up the real estate in my house to it).

Then my Mom noticed a funny white cabinet with stickers all over it. She pointed it out to me and upon further inspection we realized it was an American Girl murphy bed/armoire. It was actually full of AG clothes and two sets of bedding and a bunch of great accessories. The tired seller was thrilled to take $15 for it and my Mom was thrilled to have such a lovely gift to tuck away for Hazel's Christmas this year.

(We did let Hazel take a sneak peek on Sunday since we're pretty sure she'll forget all about it by December.)

I was also pleased to find that all of the stickers come off really easily. I'm tempted to wipe the slate clean, but I'm trying to be open to the occasional flower decoration if it pleases Hazel.

Here are a couple of the accessories that were in the side cabinets of the bed. I checked on Ebay today and the bed is selling for $155!


As we were paying for the bed/armoire I noticed two dolls on the seat next to the woman taking money. I said something like, "I'm assuming the dolls are not for sale, right?" and she just told me to make her an offer because she was anxious to wrap things up. I hadn't come with a bunch of cash and wasn't really planning to buy American Girl dolls quite so soon, so I told her that I didn't want to offend her and that I was okay to leave them, but if she'd take $5 for the two dolls I'd do that.

She happily handed me both of the dolls and a cute ladybug suitcase full of their clothes. I couldn't believe it! She was so friendly and just glad to be clearing things out. She tried to get me to take their American Girl dentist chair for free too but I knew we didn't want to get that committed to doll furniture in our playroom quite yet. Maybe when Hazel has her own room. I passed.

And that afternoon I came home like the conquering hero: Two American Girl dolls for $5!

Now, here's part of why they were only $5: Upon further inspection, it turns out that only one doll (the one on the right) is actually AG. And her bangs have been cut off. The doll on the left is an impressive copy, but not actually AG. Also, they needed a little attention. (You can see that I photographed our girl on the left halfway through her blowout and trim process and the other was still waiting her turn)

(Important tidbit: do NOT be an idiot and try to use a flat iron on your doll's hair. Just don't. And if you do - be smart and test a small spot underneath. So thankful I at least checked first...)

I pulled them together as best I could and set them up for an "after" photo. Oliver jumped in for a photo bomb and since I like him the best, he gets to be in focus.


Hazel saw all the fun we were having and asked to join everyone on the chair. (By the way, she ADORES the dolls. Just carries one around the house like it's her own little baby. So glad she's taking to them!)


So, that's my happy American Girl goodness at a garage sale story! And, I looked into the AG doll hospital options - it looks like I can send Little Miss Short Bangs (I think it's a Kirsten doll?) in to the hospital and they'll replace her whole head for $39. That would essentially make her a whole new doll - and sure beats $100!

Have y'all found any good garage sale deals lately? (My friend Christine just found 2 giant, iron farmhouse sinks on Craigslist for $70!)

Also, what has been your experience with American Girl dolls? At what age do your girls (or did you) begin to take/lose interest in them?

22 July 2011

A few of my favorites from my Pinterest boards this week.




21 July 2011

Over the past several months we have been talking with Oliver about the needs of the people around him and around the world. It started with little opportunities - like the Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmastime - and continued as we filled bags with food from our pantry to donate to a local mercy ministry.

At first it was very uncomfortable for him to talk about kids not having food or beds or ipods - he would cover his ears and ask us to please stop talking about it.

I worried that we were raising a child who didn't care to hear about the needs of others, but I quickly learned that I am actually raising a child with a sensitive heart - one that hurts when he hears about other people hurting. Chats like these are uncomfortable for him, but it is clear to Ryan and I that this is a conversation that we very much wanted to continue with him.


One afternoon a few weeks ago I invited Oliver to sit on my lap to watch a few videos with me on my computer. I told him that the videos were of kids his age in other countries and that the places they live don't look very much like the place we live.

He wanted to see.

We watched the first video for only a minute or so before I heard Oliver quietly speak up, "Mom, can you please stop dripping on me?"

It turns out I get pretty uncomfortable when I see people hurting too. We both agreed that we wanted to do something to help.

Ryan and I had recently become familiar with an organization called Food for the Hungry(many of y'all are probably familiar them already) and loved the way they operate by equipping communities to work together to ultimately become independent of outside help. Their plans to serve villages into sustainability appeals to us very much.

After watching those videos with Oliver and talking with Ryan, we decided that our family would sponsor a child.


One afternoon last week I loaded the kids up in the car to pick Ryan up for lunch (our van was having some work done but we still wanted to see Daddy at lunch time!). Since some of our best conversations take place in the car, I took this opportunity to chat with Oliver about our plan to sponsor a child.

I reminded him of our conversations about kids that are hungry and have no food and about the videos we watched together a few weeks earlier. I told him that there was something we could do to help and he was very eager to hear more.

We picked Ryan up at the office and once we were home, we all sat down in front of my computer to begin the process together.


We talked to Oliver about what it meant to sponsor a child. We would save money together every month to send to him so that he could eat and have clothes and books.

{This is the cool thing about Food for the Hungry (FH) - the money we send actually takes care of the child and their community. FH goes into villages for a set amount of time (usually 10 years or so) with a plan to get them on their feet and to a place of independence. They equip the leaders, minister in the churches, and teach sustainable skills so the communities will ultimately be independent of our support and dependent on their God-given talents and callings.}


We asked Oliver if he wanted to sponsor a boy or a girl (of course he chose a boy) and we let him look through the pictures and Ryan read to him about each of the kids.


Oliver chose a 12-year-old boy named Kendy from Haiti because his description said his favorite activity was playing soccer. We weren't surprised.


I have to say, I had a feeling that Oliver would grasp most of what we were doing and probably be mildly on board for it, but this boy took ownership of our child immediately.

Once we had picked Kendy to be a part of our family, I let Oliver get down off my lap while I finished up the logistical details online. Before I knew it he had run into the kitchen, grabbed a bunch of food out of the pantry and he was stacking it on the table to load into a box to send to Haiti!


"Oh, babe. Kendy would probably LOVE Craisins and PopRocks, but I don't think this is how it works. You're right that he needs food, but I think the best way to help him is by sending money so that he can buy food where he lives."

"Okay. What kind of food does he eat?"

"I don't know, but I'm sure we could write to him to find out! Did you know that there's a way on here to buy chickens to send to him? Maybe we could save a little extra money every month and send him some chickens for his birthday."

"Oh, yes! Two chickens! One to roast and one to lay eggs!"

"That sounds great! Very clever! Let's just plan to save a little extra for that, okay?"

I hear him reply something as he disappears upstairs and then, before I can wrap things up online, he returns from his room and I look up from my computer to see this:


"Maybe we could put his picture on it!" is Oliver's suggestion for our new official Kendy Savings Bank.

Minutes later Kendy's sweet face is plastered on an orange ceramic elephant bank from Urban Outfitters and I am making sandwiches for our family's lunch.


As we ate, we thought about Kendy and what he might be eating for lunch that day. We prayed for him together as a family - the first of many times we will bring his name before our Father in Heaven, and we thanked God for this new relationship with a little boy in Haiti, and for the opportunity to give a little of what we have to help him and his community.


And since that day last week the conversations just keep on coming. We have talked more about what it means to be truly hungry and about how Kendy will learn about Jesus - even how we can tell him about Jesus! We pray for him at night and wonder what Kendy's bed is like. And we keep putting money away in that bright orange elephant.

Food for the Hungry currently has 12 children from Haiti on their website that are waiting for someone to sponsor them for just $32/month (is it just me or can you not help but think of Sally Struthers any time someone says how much it costs to sponsor a child? I'm a child of the eighties...) There are over a dozen countries to choose from, but what if we focused on just one? Guys, what would it be like for all of these children to be sponsored this week? What if we as a community here worked together to support that community so many miles away?

Wouldn't it be grand!

If you don't already sponsor a child, I want to invite you to consider child sponsorship for your own family - not just because of how it will change you (because it will!), or because of how it will train your children to look at the world (though it will do that too), but because of how it will affect the life of a little person whose story and situation makes us want to cover our ears, because their hurts make us hurt. And we can be Jesus to them, one child at a time. You can click here to learn more.

Do any of y'all sponsor a child/children? How have your kids responded and how have you talked with them about it?