Monday, October 22, 2012

Original... Fun... Halloween costumes

Gathering some photos of our halloween costumes from the past few years... in order to get them up asap I took pictures of photos with my phone. 

Can you tell we love halloween?!
What are you gonna be this year?!

Frankenstein and his bride!

Under the Sea!
"Bar fly" with strainers for eyes (sorry about the sideways photo)
MR and Mrs Potato head!
Grinch and Cindy LouWHO!?
Gift from God... wow someone has high self esteem!
Holy Shit and Oh Shit (back in college- ya know)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free- app Friday!

Dear Diary,

Here are some other interesting apps.

*Remember to download as soon as possible as they are free fro only a short time.

Cursive Writing HD -

Extreme FX -

Toca Hair Salon -

Splashtop 2 - Remote Desktop for iPhone & iPod -

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Hay Stacks and Pumpkin Cakes!

Dear Diary,

New endeavor-- blog worthy;) Lots of joy this season. I've had the pleasure of decorating people's porches for the past week- check out my designs. Share them... love them ... Pin them!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Personalized Stools... encouraging independence one stool at a time!

Dear Diary,

Just finished another personalized stool today. This one was ordered from someone I don't know- that's fun:)  I've been too busy with the new school year starting to really find out how this person came to me but I think I met her at a craft fair or ladies night event last winter. She ordered this stool for her grandson. How precious;)

I think one of the reasons I like making these stools is because they always come along with a little story.  A good friend of mine ordered this one.  She said it was for a soon to be "Quinn Rita". She was giving it to her co-worker/girlfriend who was having a baby :)   She talked about this friend as a "farm girl... sweetest person she knows"  She was pregnant with her first child and I got the pleasure to meet Quinn's mom a few days before she went into labor.  I have to say, she was WAY too cute to be that close to labor!  In fact, she was mentioning inductions and I said WAY too much about how I feel about premature inductions (foot in mouth)... afterall, I think I am an expert with 2 induced labors.  But I got a call the next day that she naturally went into labor and had a wonderful delivery.  Maybe the new stool put her into labor.  Quinn couldn't wait to come out and sit on it! This is all silly- I haven't been on the computer in a while and I have some weird writing energy that I have to get out.  I wonder where this stool sits in her little farm house.     

These little projects don't make me rich but they are therapeutic and I imagine all the ways the stools might be used for years to come.  Little feet climb up to reaching the sink to wash hands and brush teeth... or decide they want to wet their whole head of hair and get the entire bathroom wet (that's what Eva likes to do at the sink).


Monday, September 3, 2012

Baby-Girl is Going to Kindergarten!

Dear Diary,

Ravioli dinner, shower, pajamas, settle down, good night kisses and "let's go read some books"... seems like a normal night around here but oh contraire mon frair! Tomorrow is Mea's first day of kindergarten.  The nervous tension in this Mama has been brewing for weeks and now it's coming out my ears!  I should just warn y'all right off the bat that this is gonna be ridiculously dramtic.  You'd think something really serious was happening. I know, its just kindergarten. 

All day, well, all weekend ... aw heck... all summer long- everyone is SO excited for Mea to start kindergarten.  They ask her "How excited are you? Did you meet your teacher?! Are you gonna ride the bus?" I think each time those questions were asked, I cried a little inside.  Earlier today, my nerves started to get the best of me.  The edge broke off when Mea's Godmother called (in tears herself).  I pleaded, "Keep it short. We are barely keeping it together here." I think "we" all knew who "we" were talking about.  She wished her well and that is about where my neurological system called it quits on me.  There is a slim chance, a very slight possibility, I may have made it to tomorrow without any tears until we read the "super secret" note from the teacher.  Those darn teachers really know what they are doing. Stupid... super sweet poem! 

"Mom, what's wrong? Are you laughing or crying?"

BOTH! I couldn't stop. I'm a crazy lady.  I CAN'T stop to be more accurate. What am I crying about? I have no idea. She is ready for it. We are ready for it. Like I said though,it has been brewing for weeks.  I have been seriously nesting.  Obsessing on getting things ready... just getting things done, ya know, doing things and somehow all the while not really getting ready at all.  It has been a looming summer finish line... or have we been approaching the starting line?

I recently witnessed nesting at its best as one of my sisters prepared for her second child.  Everyday for a month she would say, "as soon as (some random thing) is done, I will really really be ready for this baby to come."  Now that she has had her baby... she passed the baton in the nesting relay to me.  I ran with it.  I have been feeling as though, once my Mea starts school, nothing will ever be the same again. Oh lord, will it? Is that why I am crying? Breathe. Rationalize: Change is good. Growth is beautiful.  Every new age and discovery has been as awesome as the one before.  oh crap... That'll get me thinking.. oh here we go again..Wahh! Boo Hoo:(

Preschool was one thing... it was a few hours for 3 days a week. This kindergarten is 5 FULL days!  UGH I've been so lucky to be able to be home with my girls (working a perfectly part-time schedule).  Maybe that's it... I've been there and now she will be with someone else for so much of the day and week. What will she learn? How will she change?  Will she be herself and will people listen? Will she be kind and will others be kind to her? YES YES AND YES

Like I mentioned, we are ready for this. The summer has been a marathon of parties.  Everyday felt like a celebration of one thing or another. We swam. We rode bikes. We traveled.  We spent tons of time with family and friends.  The girls really grew up a lot this summer and recently the 2 years that separate Mea and Eva started to really show. Little things like Mea wanting to shower and Eva likes baths.  I could see Eva gravitating toward other kids where she could be the "older one" for a change.  I saw Mea getting tired of always being the voice of reason for her little sister and giving up whatever she had for her to stay happy.  We are ready for school and schedule and... WE are ready for kindergarten.  There is a real silver lining here in the fact that tomorrow will start a whole lots of NEW things! One thing in particular that I am looking forward to is this one on one thing with just me and Eva. That should be interesting.

Tonight, we read the teacher's note and then a Fancy Nancy book and I made it through my usual rendition of Twinkle Twinkle and You are My Sunshine before the tears came up again. Flowing like the Nile River.        

So tomorrow, our baby girl is going to kindergarten and I need to get some sleep.  Find a happy place.  The mantra I'll focus on comes from another one of my sisters... she texted me...
"Roots and Wings". 
Yup. Balance. We have given Mea roots and it is time to fly.  It was the same sweet subtle advice that this wise sister gave me at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Mea. Six years ago she gave it to me in the form of a mixed CD.... It had songs that were new to us and hilarious:

"Victor Vito and Freddy Fasco...
They liked to eat fast, they never eat slow...
oh they ate their rice, they ate their beans.
They ate their rutabaga and they ate their collard greens."

The CD had other songs that were real oldies and goodies...Cat Stevens..."Wild World"
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile, girl
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
I'll always remember you like a child, girl

My aunt sang that to me as I went away to college. Thank heavens this is only kindergarten! and GOOD thing I have all these sisters in my life.

Roots and Wings
Sweet dreams     

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coins Display!

Dear Diary-

My husband loves to collect foreign and rare coins. Whenever a friend comes by and mentions coins, he takes out his old cigar boxes, pours all the coins on my nice table and sorts through them. This was starting to make me go crazy after a while. I had to find a solution!

I watch the Nate Berkus show religiously and I always listen carefully as to what he says. There was one episode where he was talking about displaying your jewelry. "If you like it and wear it often, why not have it be your decoration in your room?" That man is a genius. To the thrift store I go...


1. I found a wonderful (brand new) frame at a consignment store. My requirements was to have glass front AND back! I know how much my husband loves seeing both sides of the coin. (NOTE: It CAN"T be the frame that you slide the sides back on... the coins are too thick and all fall down... learn from my mistake!)

2. Time (15 or 20 minutes)

Yup, that's it!

I opened the frame and laid all the coins on the glass. I made sure to make all of them touch so there were not any open spaces for the coins to slip and slid.

Voila! An amazing, personalized frame that my husband loves! Now I have to find more to put the rest of the coins in. Below is the front and back photos!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Guideline to having a laid back 1st Birthday Party!

Dear Diary,

The first thing to realize when planning your child's first birthday party is they will not remember it. This party is all for you :) Which is perfectly fine in my book. Considering I did it last week! After I stressed out about the party for over a week, one day it clicked that it is a one year old birthday party, relax. It was smooth sailing after that. I put together a list (in chronological order), and felt great as I was getting farther down the list and closer to the day.

1. Venue- you can not even think about invitations (cause I was ahead of myself in that department) UNTIL you have the place. I chose to have it outside on the lawn. It was perfect!

2. Guest List- Considering how large your venue is, your guest list can begin. You need to get a count before you start making invitations (again, we aren't at the creative steps YET!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Positive Parent Talk... Words are Powerful!

Dear Diary, 

My mom is a nerd and is that is a compliment.  Isn’t imitation the best compliment?... well, I embrace the nerd in me.  She has a keychain that says “I love math” and her favorite t-shirt says something about pie being square.  She loves puzzles and reads- how nerdy J  I’d definitely select her as one of my “phone a friend” calls on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”.  She regularly exercises her brain and I can imagine her one day at the ripe old age of 110 with all her wits about her. 
She is a mother of 6.  She has been “teaching” and raising kids for a long time. I’d have to guess that as we grew up, she taught and nurtured us by referring to her own parent role models, using her intuition and then by trial and error.  We turned out pretty good... well most of us.  Growing up, we shared our mom with everyone.  Her mothering tactics extended well beyond her own children.  Our house had an open door policy- quite literally; our door was left open a lot of the time like we “lived in a barn”.  My aunts tell me that they often mirrored her and deferred to her for parent advice.  Sometimes they’d say, “WWTD”… what would Tess do?

My mom impresses me because as smart as she is, she is not a “know –it-all”.  She is always learning.  Einstein said something like… the more you learn, the more you don’t know.  As much as my mom is a teacher, she is a student. As an adult with 20/20 hind sight, I ask her, “Why didn’t you teach us this?... Why did you do that?”... she admits that she didn’t think about it like that... or she didn’t know or she didn’t how to do that under this circumstance or another.  She did her best… that is for certain.   

Now that we are grown and we have kids of our own, my mom’s knowledge has reached a new level. She has a few degrees to prove it.  She is a middle school math and science teacher and she is constantly attending workshops.  She takes those personal development days pretty seriously.  And lucky ME!... she shares her master class lessons with me.  Like most people, her learning is reinforced when she teaches someone else about it- I am a hungry student.  Here, I am paying it forward by sharing it with you.   

A few months ago we were reviewing her notes from her grad class.  It taught ideas from Parent Talk, a book by Chick Moorman.  The subtitle is Words that Empower- Words that Wound…  How to Talk to Your Children in Language that Builds Self Esteem and Encourages Responsibility.  There is a partner book called Teacher Talk that I wish/hope my kids’ teacher read. 
Everything from my mom’s Parent Talk outline and notes made a lot of sense.  Some of it I was proud to say happened organically in my parenting.  Many other positive parent talk phrases were not my natural reflex responses.  And even more interesting to me was that things that I said all the time were well-intentioned but I learned how and why they send the wrong message.  We as parents say that we sound like a broken record- I want the things I say over and over to be sending the right message.  I really wanted to integrate it into my parent talk.

It’s not easy to implement new parenting strategies.  It takes intentional practice.  So, spending the day with my mom and my kids was good opportunities for us to try out some of the phrases that were new to me.  It was a little bit comical as every time the kids approached me with something, I would very slowly and carefully chose the words that I said back to them.  They noticed there was something different.  They flexed their eyebrows and cocked their head to the side. (“what’s going on with mom?”)    

So, that initial introduction to Parent talk happened months ago that my mom and I were reviewing her notes.  It was planting seeds for me… I got in some food for thought and a little practice.  A few weeks ago, she just gave me the book and when I found a few minutes to myself this morning, I got it out. The first section was a good review and made me realize that I have made some good changes.  Still some other things that we discussed a few months ago, didn’t things don’t seem to be working. So, I’ve put into practice the things that we talked about months ago and some of the phrases really stuck for me- as they feel natural.  I truly believe that many of these things have empowered my kids and helped them to make the right choices. 

Here are some highlights from the first part of the book:         


“Choose. Decide. Pick.” Add these words to your parent talk.  The power of choice is amazing.  Teach children that they choose their own acts… their attitudes and behaviors.  “If you chose to have your chores done by 2pm, I’ll take you to the mall.”  “If you chose to keep whining, you are deciding to go into timeout.” It really has a different ring than what I often say: “I am going to put you in time out if you don’t stop crying.”  I feel like the big bad cop when I say it this way. Parents can be control (with less guilt) by giving the power of choice to the child.

“Please make a difference choice.” Imply that you trust they are intelligent enough to choose an appropriate response.  It is not threatening or scolding- just asking them to make a better choice.  

Offer kids 2 choices (that are both good) to let them practice making their own decisions.  “Do you want fruits or vegetables?” I learned trick a while ago when it came to bedtime routine. “Do you want to lay with this bear or this bunny? Do you want to read 1 book or 2?  Do you want to this song or that one?” when the kids had a choice in the routine, they went along with the program. I find that my kids LOVE  to know “the plan” and know that there are slight variations of their own choosing.

“You decide.” (when your inclination is to say “yes”)  Can I watch TV?... “if you don’t disturb anyone. You decide.” I like to think of this one more like “You decide if it’s a good choice.”… on occasions that it most likely is a fine choice.

“Check Yourself” Make them be responsible that they have everything… that they are acting right. Etc.  Good thing to say.

“Check it out inside.” What’s your intuition say?


It happens all the time… Kids come running from the playarea crying, “He called me __(a jerk/ stupid/ ugly) _____.” Self Talk- what we say about ourselves- should mean more than what anyone else says about us. Kids should learn to overpower anyone else’s ridicule with their own confidence. If someone says to you “You’re stupid.” it is just as silly as if they said “You’re a car.” The clear self talk that should happen in your head is “No I’m not.”

They say that a kid’s self image is instilled at a very young age… usually before kindergarten.  They have a list of things that they think they are. “I am____.” Parents are completely responsible for creating that list for their kids.  I am special. I am loved. I am creative. I am good at trying new things. I am nice. I am loving. I am strong and healthy. I am a good learner. I am coordinated.  I am a good listener. These are the things that I try to say to my kids all the time. 

Other people often tell my kids that they are pretty, smart, so cute, funny…. These are all really nice compliments that we appreciate but they don’t have to be the top-rated self-talks in their mind.  On the contrary, I hear other parents say things about their own kids about them being lazy, aggressive, clumsy, and I am sure that they kids can hear it and it sinks into their self conscious and becomes more and more true.
Self-Talk is important for adults too… and I believe that we have the power to rewrite what we think about ourselves.  I believe in constant and consistent personal change for the better.  Other people sometimes “put me in a box” regarding something that they knew me for years ago… “I thought you didn’t like doing that?”  Maybe at some point I didn’t, but that’s not forever.  I know lots of people who have negative self talk causing low self esteem. They hold onto something they thought about themselves growing up… “I am not athletic.” Well, learn a new sport… practice.  As adults we practice self affirmations- say it aloud and it more likely to come true.
“Act as if” Teach kids to be a doer. If they are struggling at something, it is NOT helpful to say “Sure you can, just try.”…………..  that implies that they will be able to do it as long as they try- which isn’t always true.  They may be afraid to even start the action- encourage them to give effort and do it- even if it incorrect or imperfect at first. I am a proponent of “fake it til you make it”…. For things you want to be true and happen… it eventually becomes a real and right.   If you are in a bad mood try forcing a smile... it will eventually stick.  If you are feeling lazy… get up, start moving and you will be happy you did.  If you don’t really like something (that you wish you did), fake it until you actually will like it.

Sum it up in ONE WORD: Caring/ Self Control/ Faith/ Willpower/ Effort/ Follow Through/ Love/ Courage/ Appreciation/ Honesty/ Respect (NOT Good/ Beautiful/  Excellent/ Super/ Awesome)  I use the word awesome often… too much I’ll admit.  When my kids show me something, my reflex response is “awesome!”  I’d think that is a good thing until I read this book and now I know there are better one word accolades. “Awesome” is an evaluation instead of acknowledging the value and character that was exhibited.  I have to practice this one.  My 5 year old asks for evaluations all the time.. “Mom, is this good? Did I do a good job? Does this make you happy? Are you proud of my for this?”  she is hungry for evaluation and I should be able to put it back on her to feel the satisfaction and I can share it with her… “I am proud for you.”… is less judging.  Just like I don’t like someone my own age to say, “I am so proud of you.” That feels weird to me as if they are judging me and determined that they were proud.  I would love it if they said something like “I can see how much effort you put into that.” Or “I noticed the courage it took for you to try that.”   


“Let’s have a trial period and then you have to decide if you want to commit.” INSTEAD OF the idea of “Don’t be a quitter.” This was an interesting chapter.  I am a stickler for commitment.  I don’t like to be thought of as starting something and not finishing it.  In retrospect and after reading parent talk’s explanation, I go thinking.  I am proud of myself for graduating college and I think more than anything else it shows that I can commit and complete things.  I remember in high school, I was on 4 sports a year and the moment I was “on the team” I was committed to making it to every single practice and every single game and giving it my all.  So, we have established that commitment is important however we don’t want our kids to be afraid to try new things worrying that they might be stuck doing (until the end) them even if they don’t like them.  Today, I hesitate to try new things and honestly, a lot of it is what I would tell my friends about this “new thing” and what if I don’t stick with it.  Its only after I have been doing things for 5 years that I say to myself, “okay, I do that, and I am not going to quit.”  I should allow myself a trial period J … and I will really be thinking about this for my kids too.     

“What’s your goal?” Make sure the goals are S.M.A.R.T. specific measurable attainable realistic timely Write down your goals. Look at it everyday.

“Make a picture in your mind.” Close your eyes and talk through the details.  Describe the detailed picture of a great outcome.


“No.” Youngsters deserve to know there are adults in their lives who draw lines and enforce them, lovingly and consistently. “No” can be a complete sentence. “No” should not be followed by “ok?”.  I think 90% of good discipline is to have clear lines and to enforce them. I find over and over that my kids appreciate plans and rules.

“I love you.” make this phrase meaningful and habit

These are my notes from just the first quarter of the book. It is really thought provoking stuff.  I’d love to hear if any of it resonates with you.  What works for your parenting style? 

Sisterly love, 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tomato, Basil Mozzarella Salad

Dear Diary,

I know I've always tried searching for a healthy choice of an appetizers for my guests.  But like all of you, I don't have much time on my hands to make anything extravagant. I decided to make a salad with only 4 ingredients that took me less then 10 minutes to make!

1. tomatos
2. basil
3. mozzerella
4. olive oil
It's that SIMPLE!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grieving and Fun Funerals (?!)

Dear Diary,
The universe has been begging me to share my thoughts on the subject of death.  They say it is part of life... and now it’s a part of my blog.  (I never really planned to write about death.)  I have been to 5 funerals in the last couple months.

Dealing with the News Initially

Sad and shocking news came recently in many forms- I saw on facebook that an old high school friend passed away.  I got a text from my brother that his best friend’s Dad passed away. I got a phone call from my sister that our uncle unexpectedly died.  I heard word of mouth about the passing of my friend’s grandma and a phone call about my brother in law’s grandpa. Also my best friend’s Dad died late last year.  Thoughts rush through my mind as I hear the news: When was the last time I saw them? Talked to them? Memories flood in.  Who was closest to them and how might they be feeling?     

What do you do when you find out someone has passed? Personally, I get on the phone with my sisters. I want to know the why and the how and what can I do? What should I do?  I look up facebook statuses and find old photos.  And then I wait to hear about what services are being planned- where can I go to gather with others who also knew the one who passed away or their loved ones?