Monday, December 20, 2010

Cute as a Button Christmas Ornaments

Are you ready for Day 2 of Christmas break? Only 13 more to go!

I posted a super cute, cheap, easy craft on Kids on the Grand...the tri-fecta of kids crafts! Here's the link!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking the Crazy out of Opening Presents

Sometimes I wish my kids were little puppets so that I could control what came out of their mouths! Not all the time....just when they unwrap an ugly sweater on Christmas, right?!

No matter what your kids say...unwrapping presents at BIG Christmas parties can be overwhelming. I find myself forcing thank-yous and leading them by hand to find the person who gave them the gift. It's confusing for kids! Add into all of that the fact that once they open their first gift, all they want to do is play with that gift! Forget opening more!

I was commiserating over all of this with a friend at our moms group when she told me her secret. They have the gift givers keep all of their gifts and have the child travel from aunt to grandma to cousin and so on... This way the child gets to open the gift in front of the giver and the child knows who to thank and hug. GENIUS! I love love love it!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where do sweaters come from?

Today I went with a group of friends to a live nativity. My daughter was in heaven petting the kitties, bunnies, and holding little baby chicks. I grew up with a barn of horses, chickens, bunnies, dogs, and cats but we currently have no pets. We had a few fish who lived for a few years and then we had a hamster which caused way too much grief with it's untimely passing.

Anyway, was eye opening to watch my daughter today with the animals. She really was out of her element. This became obvious when I tried to explain that the sheep's coat was cut with clippers, washed, spun, and made into sweaters...I was trying to bring it home for her. This is the point where she turned to me, horrified, and said, "I don't want to wear sweaters!" I just about died laughing right there.

I got my laughter in check and tried to continue her barn education explaining that it doesn't hurt the sheep but I had lost her attention by then. When we got home I picked up the conversation but was told, "I just want sweaters from Target." I was never a fully fledged country girl but I definitely have a city girl on my hands. I'm still dreading the conversation of where babies come from but who knew explaining where sweaters come from could be so hard!

Clay Pot Nativity

Looking for a great Christmas craft to fill in those long days of winter break?
Her'es a post I contributed to Kids on the Grand that willl give you the step by step how to...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kids on the Grand

I'm so happy to share that I'm now an official contributor to the blog Kids on the Grand!

Read my latest on organizing kids toys before Christmas here!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

CSN $55 Giveaway!

This Contest is now closed!Need a little help stretching the Christmas budget this year? Help is here with a CSN gift card giveaway!

You know that I love CSN! And since I'm not driving anymore, most of my holiday shopping is happening online. I'm in love with shopping during nap time, tucked in a blanket, hot cocoa in hand! Plus, I get to choose my own music to listen to and NO lines!

If you've never heard of CSN stores...they have over 200 online stores where you can find everything from stylish briefcases to cute cookware to chic lighting pieces.

So much to choose from and easy breezy to win!

Visit CSN and then leave a comment telling what you might use your winnings on!

One entry per person, winner must live in the U.S. or Canada, and the winner will be announced December 7!


Congratulations to Cafe au Mommy & Dianne's Butterfly Dreams, winners of the EZ Sox giveaway! Enjoy a break from putting on kids socks ladies!

Friday, November 26, 2010

EZ Sox Review and GIVEAWAY!

This gieveaway is now closed !
Socks are always a headache at our house. First of all, I'm about to start gluing them to my 3 year old'ss feet. It seems that every time I turn around she's sock less and just when I was starting to wonder where they all were....I found then in the oven of her toy kitchen.
Thankfully, there is one pair that she will wear ALL day and even better...she can put them on herself! The makers of EZ Sox sent me a pair of their adorable bunny socks for her to try. I was telling my sister-in-law about them at Thanksgiving...
EZ SOX are fun learning socks for children and a helpful teaching tool for parents. It helps build the confidence that pre-schoolers need as they learn to dress themselves.
When I asked her to put them on,she fought me for a second because after all, up until this point she hasn't been able to do it herself without a ton of frustration. With a little encouragement she slipped them right on using their handy loop handles. The face on the socks helps kids figure out which side is up...genius but I'm sure what the makers didn't count on was the fact that my child will wear little bunny face socks ALL day long....hooray! They also have non-skid bottoms which definitely protect her from falls on are hard wood floors. I'm planning on buying a pair of EZ SOx Cat socks for her Christmas stocking!

Here's your chance to wind a pair! Visit the EZ sox website and let me know which pair you'd like to win in a comment below...that's it! EZ to put on....EZ to win! I will announce 2 contest winners on Dec. 1!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Yesterday, I had a happy accident when I meant to google mapquest but traded the "m" for an "n". Napquest. Yeah, I'm googling that all day today. I'm searching for any time that I might be able to lay why weary head down.

I am not going to be efficient. I am not going to use nap time to put laundry away, wash dishes, or do anything even slightly productive. I'm going on a napquest!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Think Thanksgiving

Here are a couple of cute Thanksgiving crafts to try at home. I can't lay any claim to the ideas and I'd gladly credit the original if I could only think of where I found them.....

Step 1: Paint your kids hand to make a turkey body. I used brown, red, and yellow.
Step 2: Print the hand on construction paper. You can see that I pre-printed a Bible verse that I hope to help my kids learn this week.
Step 3: Using construction paper, cut a head (tear drop), nose (triangle), and whatever that red thing is called (...I should really know this by now). Glue the pieces to the dried hand print. You can either cut eyes or use google kids can't get enough of the google eyes.

Okay, so truth be will end up making these hats if your kids are under the age of 6, but trust me, they will never look more adorable and it is totally worth the effort!

The pilgrim boy hat is, I think, fairly self explanatory. You cut the shapes, glue them together, and then attach them to a long strip of paper to make a sweat band like hat. The girl pilgrim hat takes a bit more ingenuity.

Step 1: Use a 12"x18" construction paper. Fold back one of the 18" sides to make a 1" crease.

Step 2: On the opposite side make two 5" slits.

Step 3: Make a hole punch next to the 1" crease on each side. Attach string to tie the hat under the girl's chin.

Step 4: Fold and staple the cut flaps to create a bonnet. And let it be said that I am no hand, do I need to lotion!

Happy craft time pilgrims!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

I need to step it up in the craft department. I have 2 kids who LOVE crafts and truth be told, the other night they snuck down to the basement to "craft". Their version of crafting included watercolors, old business letter head paper, and glitter...handfuls of glitter! So, after I de-glitterized the basement and banned them from all paint, I thought that maybe I should offer a few more mommy lead crafts so that they don't have to sneak off to get their fix.

So, here's some fun that we're working on at our house. If you're not a big fan of this book, copy the idea and use it with any book that your kids love. I'm happy to report that it promotes literacy,(you can use that line to impress other moms, pediatricians, and teachers) and your kids can actually play with it and re-tell the story when they're done.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a classic children's book. The repetition of the text makes it an easy read for early readers! Here's what we did:

I stapled together 6 pages of construction paper, 1 for the title page and then 1 page for each of the "oh no" adventures....grass, river, mud, forest, snowstorm, and cave.

For my 3 year old, I made the backgrounds and for my 6 year old, I helped. Then, using a paper trimmer, make a slit in each background. Be sure to leave a margin so you do not cut the paper all the way to the edges.

Color people shaped popsicle sticks to use as bear hunting characters. You can also glue on a paper person to a regular popsicle stick.

Have your kids draw or sticker in details to the pages. We plan to add flowers to the grass page, foot prints to the mud page, forest animals to the forest page, fish to the river page, and a bear, of course, to our cave page.

Kids can re-tell the story using their own book! Help them slide their characters through the slot on each page of the bear hunt. Encourage them to use the pattern, "Oh no! ________ We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh no, we have to go through it!"

Happy bear hunting!

This post is a part of Things I Love Thursday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Like Nails on a Chalkboard

I used this phrase on my kids but realized, as soon as it left my lips, that it had lost it's meaning. I guess I missed the obituary and was a no-show at the funeral. Isn't that sad... a whole phrase has lost it's meaning.

My son is in 1st grade and has whiteboards in his class which will surely be updated into some sort of techie super thin plasma touch screen. He has never experienced a moment when the chalk twists and screeches out in a teachers hand. He's never had a classmate, determined to inflict pain on the rest of the class, raise his hand, bare his fingernails, and slide them down the board with a cruel grin. All this to explain that I have to come up with another descriptive phrase to explain why he should stop the noise he's making.

And, oh what a noise. How can one small person make so much noise? I guess I don't fully realize the volume that our family lives at until we're out in public. In public, my ears are hyper-attune. In that moment of noise, I'm slightly embarrassed and frustrated but when I reflect back on it I'm thankful for kids who live so lively and loudly.

So, I'm trying to stuff down the type A personality bits of me and embrace the noise, the fingerprints, the wiggles of today. I'm trying not to be aggravated and just hear the symphony of chaos that it is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happily Late

Sometimes I think that somehow our family was just programmed to be late. Any combination of 1 to 3 of us can be on time to an event but throw that 4th family member into the mix and we're late. Last night, Michigan, along with a few other wacky states even gained an hour and we were still late to church.

So, we made a new commitment. You would think that it's to be on time but nooooo, that would be to logical. Instead, we've committed to be happily late. Before our newfound commitment, my husband and I felt like drill sergeants. Our sole purpose was to round up the troops, feed them, clothe them, and march them to the car. And all for what? To teach them how fun and enjoyable Sunday mornings and going to church as a family is? Yeah, that's probably not the lesson they were picking up on.

It's not that we're opposed to being on time. Certainly, punctuality is an upstanding trait. It's the realization that if you're going to be late you might as well be happy, remain calm, and carry on.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Opposite R.I.P.

Just when you thought this blog was R.I.P...

Well, if you didn't I did. I was stuck. I promised myself that if I was going to have a blog that tied in with the funny stories and helpful hints that I, the author, would bare myself. I would not hide the ugly truths, the painful bits, or the mundane and boring pieces of life.

Somehow though, when I shared the bittersweet truth about my sight I became stuck. I wasn't sure how to move from something so life changing, so brutal, so honest and then go back to talking about the little celebrations of parenting. Truthfully, I'm struggling at knitting myself and my non-driving status into this blog. Even more truthfully, I'm having a hard time allowing something that has been a bitter journey to not affect the sweetness of my life.

What lead me to this ah-ha moment was one of my favorite author's, Shauna Nequist. Shauna's new book Bittersweet (yeah, I didn't coin the phrase folks) speaks straight to my heart when she wrote, "When life is sweet say thank-you and celebrate and when life is bitter say thank-you and grow." I'm still learning what that looks like. This season of change has been hard on me and hard on my family...and maybe it's even been hard on Parenting in Blue Jeans. In the last few days, it seems I've been granted permission to come back and write. I'm can't say that I'm done with this time of loss...but I've learned how to celebrate the sweet spots that are scattered through it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chalkboard Sticker: Things I Love Thursday

It's Things I Love Thursday and I love to write on the walls. At our last house I took a permanent marker to our ugly kitchen walls...until we remodeled it that is. In our current state of ugly, I've refrained from permanent marker by using this cute chalkboard sticker.
I applied it to our refrigerator and it's turned out to be a great place to make grocery lists, write notes to the babysitter, make to do lists and so on. It was fairly easy to apply and I was able to reposition it to fix a wrinkle I made. Because it's made from vinyl it won't damage your surface area either.
I bought my chalkboard sticker at a local Hallmark store but you can get this one at Mushi.

You can find many more things to love at The Diaper Diaries

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Too Quiet to Think

It's so quiet in our house right now that I can't even think. I'm conditioned to living in an environment where my thoughts must compete with a sometimes shrill, ear spitting racket. Now my thoughts seem to boom and echo through the hushed noises of the house. With our oldest off to 1st grade and our youngest quietly playing by herself, I can't get anything done let alone think.

Really, there is noise. Noise that has eluded my ears for awhile. The trees are swaying in the wind dropping leaves like they've been caught red handed. Acorns are falling onto our roof making me fell like Henny Penny, and there's a slightly disturbed woodpecker who cannot distinguish the brick of our house from...wood.

I vaguely remember this variety of quiet. It's been a long time and truth be told, I'm not sure that I like it. It makes me feel lazy. It's beckoning me to have one more cup of coffee, read one more chapter, or even *gasp* take a nap.

My eyes keep darting to the clock with the silly fear that I might forget to look for the bus at drop-off time. My mind keeps wandering off to his 1st grade classroom, wondering what he's doing. There's nothing load enough to distract me from missing my 1st grader.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Flip Flops and the President

I have strep throat. I've had no trouble feeling sorry for myself either. It's a holiday weekend and I'm missing out on a friends s'more party and possibly another friends out door movie party...wahhhh. To top it off, this is my kind of's jean and a sweatshirt heaven out there.

Even though I'm knee deep in self pity, there's 2 things that have put a smile on my face . Number one, we have the most hilarious neighbors across the road from us who are entirely fed up with the neighbor next door to us. They're not alone of course! Mr. next door likes his rock and roll and he likes it loud. I feel like we live in a horrible B rated movie when I look over and see him on his porch, no shirt, beer in hand, scruffy beard, and long stringy hair, rocking out to The Rolling Stones. Anyway, in protest Mr. and Mrs. across the street have started to play speeches of President Obama, knowing full well that Mr. next door cannot stand anything milady Democrat let alone the President's voice. It just makes me smile with a low chuckle, and a slight tilt of the head. And just to be clear...we live on the good side of the tracks.

Secondly, my daughter who is now 3 (do you know how much I love 3?!) Anyway, the same child who struts off to her bedroom, arms crossed , a look of pure defiance on her face, yelling no and even daring to slam the door behind her is the same child who can change my mood with one word...well, maybe it's two. Flip flop, only you have to say it with the pronunciation of a 3 year old....plip plop. I swear, it's the cutest thing you've ever heard.

So, to sum it up, I'm laying on the couch listening to the muffled sound of the President's voice, sucking on Halls, and asking my daughter to say flip flop. Awesome, right?

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Mother's Song

I've had some good old fashioned Dutch guilt about not posting anything lately. Nothing seems important enough to post and some things seem too important for a casual post. Anyway, 2 nights ago someone asked me what I would want my kids to say about me 30 years from now. I think more than anything, I would want them to say I laid myself down for them.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

What about you? If I ask your kids, 30 years form now, about your would you want them to answer?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Loving the Mess

So today my mom picked up me and the kids and hauled us to Meijer, Payless, Sears, and Cosco. Now that I'm not driving, I'm more thankful than ever to live by my mom. I'm even more amazed that she loves my kids because their behavior, was at times, down right embarassing.

Now, I've always known that my mom loves me. She's always made that very clear but the fact that she loves my brood is beyond me. Today, there were moments when even I wanted to pretend I didn't know them. Like wwen my oldest found the hand sanitizer in her car and helped himself and her car to gobs os it....and then proceeded to blame his sister. Aye!

I think it goes to prove that nothing warms a mother's heart more than when somebody loves her kids. Nothing makes us feel more accepted, more understood, or more valued. So to all the people who can see passed the mess and the sass...thanks for seeing their hearts and loving them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Free Babysitting

I'm a big fan of date nights but between dinner and a movie and then paying a babysitter, they can be a killer on the budget. Not to mention, how many times can you really hit up your mom to watch the kids...Here's the solution. Free babysitting or really a babysitting co-op.

When our oldest was all new and snugly, we set up a system with a group of our friends who were in the same boat. We traded babysitting and to keep it fair we
Here's how to set up your own group...

1. Find like minded friends who are also looking for babysitting. You can include as many families as you'd like to but you really only need 2 families to pull it off.

2. Set up the payment plan. We decided that 1 Popsicle stick was good for 1 child per hour. That way if you have 2 kids and your friends have 4, it's still fair. So, for an example, if a family with 3 kids needs babysitting for 4 hours, they owe 12 sticks.

3. Make the sticks (i just used a permanent marker on craft sticks) and start out with an equal amount. We passed out 6 sticks per family to start.

4. Use them. The system fails when only one family is really using the sticks. Make sure that you call your friends for free babysitting and when you're getting low on sticks that you invite friends to take advantage of your babysitting. Also, if you and your spouse are already babysitting for one family why not call and ask another to join in on the fun and earn more sticks!

Of course, you can still use a driving babysitter for those late night dates but this is a great way to pad the calendar with dates!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now

I thought communicating with my 5 yo, mind of his own, son was static-ky but put us both on a bike and watch out! Even on our own 2 feet we often but heads about who's in the lead, where we're going, and what's next. Being on bikes together is like taking all of that and putting it under a magnifying glass.

There was a moment when, after we had agreed that I would go first with his sister in the trailer, he passed an intersection...realized his mistake, hesitated, and then rolled out into the next intersection. Holy pajamas, I don't know if I was more scared or mad. He Huffied it back to the bike path and took one look at my face, dropped his head, and walked his bike up to mine. We put our noses together and that's all. Sometimes, when you want to yell, and lecture, you just need to put your noses together. He knew I felt angry and terrified and I knew he felt foolish and regretful.

Let's hope that our next biking adventure isn't so traumatic but still produces a nose to nose moment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I was at Target recently and it felt a bit like Christmas. The aisles were packed with people looking to score a deal. Mothers had half crazed looks on their faces while their children begged for the latest. Target marketing was in full swing, boasting the latest and the best at the lowest prices and half of the shelves and bins were empty. I stopped and remembered that it is, in fact, the most wonderful time of year...back to school!

We have 24 more days until school starts. 24 days to soak up that last of the summer rays and 24 days for me to be with our 6 yo all day every day (whaaaa). I'm a SAHM, but this time of year I still get school fever and the former teacher in me kicks in. The single greatest thing that you can do to ready your kids for school is get their bedtime reinstated. But hey, I've got at least 21 more days to procrastinate that...Instead, I'm helping jog my 6yo reading skills.

It's amazing how much a brain can loose when it's not worked out regularly. I'm not trying to get him ahead...just regain what we lost over the Summer. Kids always seem eager to do a little bit of school work this time of year so take advantage of it.

Here's what I do for sight words. First of all, sight words, in general, are words that you cannot sound out, appear frequently in text, and should be known at first sight. What I do is cut write out sight words on slips of paper. I toss in a ton that I know my son already knows as a confident booster and then add in the next set that he needs to work on. I call them hug and kiss words because every time he gets one right he gets and x or an o on the back. Once he gets 3 x's and 3 o's on the back of the word, he can kiss that word goodbye. If you weren't given words to work with by your school, there are a ton of resources out there. I like to use Fry's's a good website that you can use.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clogged Memory

Sometimes I get frustrated with my memory...faulty memory that is. I can't recall the year the civil war started, the capital of Ghana, the names of the constellations, the author of Catcher and the Rye,... It's all gone. I knew it at some point but since becoming a mother my memory has become clogged.

Instead I can...

10. Tell you the best price of diapers per unit.

9. Recite Good Night Moon.

8. Make 5 varieties of paper airplanes.

7. Recite the full script from Dora's Pirate Adventure.

6. Sing the full soundtrack to the movie Potty Power.

5. Make Kraft macaroni and cheese without reading the directions.

4. Know the meaning behind every cry, moan, whine my kids make.

3. Know the exact level of quiet that is too quiet.

2. Track a time out without a timer within 10 sec.

1. Locate every park, family friendly restaurant, and potty with a 25 mile radius.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Juicy Idea

Really. I don't let my kids have juice all of the time. I have to admit though, it's awfully convenient to tuck a few juice boxes in the car, the beach bag, and even my purse when we're on the go.

One of my pet peeves is when the box leak's juice from being held by chubby toddler hands. The kids and I were having a play date with some friends when the mom brought out the juice boxes like this......isn't it cute?! Next time you hand off juice boxes to the kids, pull up the little side flap. Kids can old onto these flaps with ease and you won't have juice to mop up! Simple and handy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Coming Soon....CSN Rreview

So I'm feeling spoiled by CSN. I love that store! ...well, technically I love all 200of their stores. CSN has given away 2 gift certificates to PBJ (No, turn your mom brain off...not peanut butter jelly...Parenting in Blue Jean) readers and has worked with me on a review. Once again, I'll be reviewing one of their products.
Now I just have to choose what that product is. And here lies the conundrum. I like pretty things but I have a house that is well, ugly would be a polite way of saying it. We're still dreaming of painting the exterior of our house by the time the snow flies and so the practical side of me thinks I should buy some new outdoor lighting. It's hard when one side of your brain is suggesting needs and the other is going, "oooh, look at those pretty throw pillows". Either way, CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware (you know I love my Caphalon pans) to lights to furniture (ooh, and throw pillows) so...Coming soon, a review and you'll be able to figure out which side of my brain won out.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be, written by the well published Max Lucado, proves to be the perfect book to tuck away in your college kid's boxes or tuck into your high school student's backpack. The book sends a motivating counter cultural message to inspire young adults into finding their "sweet spot" and purpose for their unique abilities.

Truly, American culture has trained us all to believe that we can be anything that we want to be. Max Lucado questions the core of this ideal by writing,
"If God didn't pack within you the meat sense of a butcher, the people skills of a sales person, or the world vision of an ambassador, can you be one? An unhappy, dissatisfied one perhaps. But a fulfilled one? No. Can an acorn become a rose, a whale fly like a bird, or a lead become gold? Absolutely not. You cannot be anything you want to be. But you can be everything God wants you to be."

Divided into 29 sections, this book breaks down the basic steps to discovering one's purpose. The book, which uses selections from Cure for the Common Life, motivates young adults to define the unique talents they possess and live a purposed filled life.

I found this book to be a great graduation or back to school gift. The reader is freed from the generic notions that possibilities are endless, anything is within your grasp, and the sky is the limit. Unlike a generic Hallmark card, Max Lucado's book teaches that the very thing you were created for, what you desire the most, and what you were tailor made to do is yours if you work to seek out what that niche is.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dog Day Radomisms

Hello August. What have you done with June and July?

Remember back when I posted our paper chain count down of summer? It was even color coded so my kids could visually see when our vacations were. Well, it's all blue from here on out which means we have no vacations plans. And even with the summer bucket list I'm struggling to find something exciting enough to keep them out of trouble.

On top of that, I'm a little overwhelmed about all the back to school ads. I think our local grocery store started putting out their back to school stuff on July 5. That's ridiculous! Don't rush me people...I still have one more month with my baby before he starts going to school full time!

With August here I also have this need to soak up as much sun as I possibly can. Today, we're hitting the pool and tomorrow we're heading off to the beach. I need to store as much Vitamin D as I can in preparation for February when here, in west Michigan, we don't see the sun...ever.

Today marks my first friend taxi too. I have awesome friends. I'm looking forward to leaving the house and I'm starting to realize how home bound my life is going to be. Every few seconds I think, "Oh, I'll just run and get..oh, that's right. I don't drive." It's a bit frustrating but I'm choosing to be thankful for the things I can do. I have 2 healthy legs to walk and bike with (okay, they're a bit out of shape but they still work). I have much more to be thankful for but for today these things rang at the top of the list...awesome friends and 2 legs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


How can something so important slip by unnoticed? We've all witnessed love, friendships, money just slowly drift away. It rarely happens overnight. Instead, a little bit slips away unnoticed until one day you realize it's gone.

It's that way with me and my sight. As a teenager I noticed a change in the classroom... not quite catching all the notes on the board. I noticed the details of friend's faces fading from far away. And yet, it just seemed to fade gradually to the point that if you asked me what I can and cannot see...I can't quite articulate it. I don't know what I've lost. My world is shrinking slowly; the details were slipping away unnoticed until now.

Yesterday, I had to renew my license. I didn't pass the eye exam. It wasn't a great surprise to me. I've been seeing a specialist at U of M for years, and while they can't give me a prognosis, it seemed that things would keep deteriorating. In the last few years my family has been preparing for this step. We moved to a location where I could walk to our kid’s elementary school, church, grocery store, library...still, it feels like my wings have been clipped.

I visit the optometrist next week. As my sweet sister put it...having your vision tested by the secretary of state is like having your foot measured at Payless. Ha...that still makes me chuckle! I don't want to have false hope...but, I may earn back part of my driving privileges. I may, I may not. The truth is I don't know. If there's one thing I've worked through these last few weeks, it's that I'm not a good judge of what I can see. My sight is slipping away unnoticed by me. I don't know what I can see compared to you. Somehow, I've moved past that desperate need to drive to a desire to drive only if it's safe.

I have hope. I know that my God is big enough to give me back sight. I also know that His plan might be greater for me. While I may be focused on just achieving car pool status He might have something greater. Either way, I will still say He is great. He is loving. He is good. He is in control. He wants the best for me. Glory to God...either way.

This post may be a bit heavy....but it feels good to share. After all, we've all experienced loss...slipping. It's a part of my blue jean life that I wanted to share with you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vacation Whiplash

I'm experiencing whiplash...I just got home and I'm turning around and leaving again, this time with family in tow. I was halfway unpacked and now I'm halfway packed. That's summer for you. It's a frantic pace of fun.

This time we're heading north up into the upper peninsula of Michigan. If you've ever been to the U.P. you know that it's almost like stepping into another world. The natural beauty seems untouched and is breathtaking. At the same time, I can't help but chuckle every time I pass a shop that proudly displays on a billboard that they sell, "Fudge, Bait, Fireworks". Now, that's classy!

I hope your summer is rushing by at the same pace...a combination of lazy heat and frantic fun!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homeward Bound

Home at last! Can I just sing....what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man! After being gone for a week and spending 26 hours in flight and in airports, I arrived home last night to spic and span clean house...uh, huh, laundry done and put away, grass mowed, sandbox installed, clean sheets, coffee programmed to go on for me at 7:00 AM, dirty dishless house! Oh yes, he's a mighty good man!

I have no idea what time it is or what I'm suppose to be doing but my family never looked more beautiful to me! I can't hug and kiss my babies enough and home is the only place I want to be! And because I know that you love to look at someone elses vacation pictures...I'll try to post a few later...for now, I'd just like to say that there's no place like home!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bon Voyage Top 10

I leave tomorrow for a week long vacation with my mom and my sister. I've been away from both of my kids for only 1 night...a month ago. I am a stew of emotions right now! I can't wait to go....hello, but I'm going to miss my hubby and kids like crazy.

Top 10 Things I'm Most Excited About (and reversely will miss the most!)

10. I can potty alone. For 1 week I will not live in fear that one of the kids is going to open the stall door from the inside prematurely, announce what I am doing to the bathroom masses, or touch something.

9. No preparing meals and snacks. I only need worry about my tummy and taste buds. I also only have to cut my own food and I'm pretty sure I won't have to force anyone to eat their vegetables.

8. I can get ready in the morning. I could do full hair and make-up...uninterrupted. I just sit back and laugh when I think of how long I took on my appearance before I had kids. Now, I'm ready (shower included) 10 minutes flat.

7. I can sit poolside and not watch anyone! When we swim I'm constantly scanning the pool area. Oh, to sit and relax with no mommy radar on!

6. I already made about 8 frozen meals for the fam...and now, I'm off the hook! No grocery shopping. No preparing. No cooking. AND, best of all (Seeing that I have no dishwasher), No dishes!

5. A break from being the shoe monitor. Everyone I'm traveling with keeps their shoes on...genius! They know how to put their own shoes on and tie them and they will most likely know where they put them.

4. I'd like to say that I'll have less spills to clean up but I'm a klutz and I spill as much as my kids so, yeah....

3. As I gaze on the statue of David, no one will say, "I have to go potty". I will also not have to remind anyone to go potty or frantically search for a public bathroom.

2. Do you ever just want to run an errand of go for a walk and you realize that you can't because you have a child sleeping? I'm really looking forward to just coming and going from my room as I please anytime of the day or night! I might just leave at 2 A.M. for something random and unnecessary because I can.

1. I will be called Jennifer more than I'm called Mommy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Body Wash Puff Turned Scrubber

Yesterday I planned on cleaning the house today...

So I woke up this morning, expecting cool morning air to be breezing in through our windows. No such luck. The humidity is heavy and the air is hot and our central air is still broken.

I can think of a million places with air that I have to run errands to and I know of a handful of people who have invited us to their pool...but I can't ignore the sand and dirt stuck to the bottom of my feet. It's time for a quick clean but first I need one of those giant buttons seen on The Road Runner to launch me into motion! C'mon a girl out.

My new favorite cleaning tip...

Clean the shower while you're in the shower. I leave the shower for last. That way you can spray your cleaner of choice, strip down (yes, I really did just say that), and scrub, then take your actual shower. Also, best scrubbier for the of those body wash puffs! I need to say that you should have one for cleaning and one for yourself. Hmmm....

I hope you're staying cool at your house and feel free to leave other helpful cleaning tips as a comment!

This post is a part of Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everyday I'm Away Surprise Bags

The last few days I've been running around trying to tie up all the loose ends before I leave for a week. Okay, really I'm trying to get caught up on laundry before my mother-in-law comes to stay with the fam. I'm absolutly thrilled to go and at the same time, dreading being away from my kids and husband.

One of my favorite things to do for the kids anytime I'm gone is to leave them with a daily surprise. This workds well for little ones who can visually see how many surprise bags they have left until mommy and/or daddy get home.

I genrally just use brown paper bags and write numbers in decending order on them. Then I fill them with a little candy treat or activity. This trip, I'm stuffing them with bubbles, pop-its (those fireworkds you throw on the ground), fun-dip, new office supplies (yeah, my kids are nerds in the making), and horns for their bikes. Each bag also has a love note in it too, of course.

The gifts can be little or doesn't really matter. Instead, it's more about having something for the kids to look forward too, and helping them understand how long you will be gone.

This post is a part of Works For Me Wednesday. Be sure to visit We Are That Family for other great ideas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tee Pee Playhouse

Umm, no...not Pee Wee's play house, tee pee playhouse.

I wanted a charming hideaway for our 2 kids without building a massive play structure. What we ended up building was a tee pee big enough for 2 kids and their imaginations. I love it because the look fits with the natural setting of our yard. It sits near the campfire ring and the sand box and it features some beautiful climbing plants. The kids love it because it's whimsical and will offer them a great hideaway. To make your own tee pee you only need 12 -15 foot long poles (we used small young ash trees), gardening twine, and a few climbing plants. I found our poles growing in a wooded area on my parents property. If you don't have a wooded lot ask around...

First, lay (or lie hmmm...) your poles out so that the bottoms meet. Your poles do not need to be the same length and actually look better if they vary in length and width. I would recommend taking the time to prune off the branches and leaves.

Next, loosly tie the top of the poles together. You can do this on the ground before you upright the tee pee. Tying the twine loosely allows you to place your poles in the best position while keeping them in a tee pee formation.

Once you have them tied together, you're ready to upright the tee pee. This is a great time to grab a friend or neighbor for extra help! Work with the natural bend and curves of the poles to find the best position along with the space you have to find the area of your tee pee. We had a small area to work with and chose to put it in our bark bed to avoid having to mow under it.

Next, dig holes from 6-12 inches deep to bury each of your poles into. This will give your tee pee extra stability.

To add even more stability, use a ladder to reach the top of your tee pee and re-tie the posts together. Weave between and around posts to create a tight web of twine.

At this point the basic frame of your tee pee is complete. You could plant climbing plants and call it a day....or, you can use more twine to add grid lines between your poles for the vines to grow on. We want a completely covered tee pee and so we chose to add twine to encourage the climbing plants to cover it. When we did this we were careful to leave the bottom half between 2 poles open to create a door for the kids to scramble in and out of.

We also found that it worked well to go around each pole once before stringing the twine to the next pole. This way the twine will stay in place as it ages and weathers.

Time to plant! There are a lot of climbing plants to choose from. Make sure you pick a plant that will work well in your climate. At first, I planned on using a climbing bean plant but then decided to go with Dutchman's Pipe because it's a perennial (no need to replant each year), flowers, and loves to climb.

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