Monday, October 31, 2011

Circus! Circus!


Hope you had a fantastic Halloween!  

I will post with more details soon, 
but to satisfy a couple pesky aunts {we love ya!}.
Here is our homemade, very budget-friendly,
 and loads of fun interpretation of...

CIRCUS! CIRCUS!!

{with a few missing props, because any prop 
that wasn't mine was soo much cooler!}

{Ethan who also moonlighted as Anakin Skywalker}

{Aiden definitely clown material}

{Beckham, serious character actor}
He had an awesome shiny blue cape, I will show off in the coming pictures!

{Griffin is as tough and sweet as they come}

{Liam, may be little but the roar is LOUD!}

Will share more soon!

{michelle}


Sunday, October 30, 2011

mother*wonder Monday {six} - In the Trenches

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Sometimes as a mom, you find yourself deep in the trenches.
Making the tough decisions, praying they are right.


Never having imagined before you would be even thinking about the moment.  
Or having thought of it and wishing it would never come!
{like the teen years maybe?!}

Some of the things we do as moms...

Handing a baby over for surgery.

Holding a child for a blood draw.

Protecting your children's health.  

Saying no they can't play with this really awesome friend that you know is much more trouble than awesome.  

Forgetting you are sick because frankly there is just no time for it. 


I am sure everyone reading this could add a few more to the list.


While our lists may look differently, thing is we are moms in the trenches.  We show up, we do the dirty jobs, and yes we do it for love.  Even more so because I would not want anyone else doing them for me.  


It is crazy how love can translate sometimes...


I love you so much that I am going to take that treasured thing away from  you for not listening.


My love is so strong I would rather have you dislike me than anyone else on earth because someday it will all make sense and someday you will only see love.


Me, personally, I had a hard time at first when I had to say no to friends and family who wanted to be here with our preemie babies but couldn't take the precautions ordered by our NICU...after putting my life at risk and their fighting so hard, I had to stand firm.  It was tough, but in the end most everyone did understand.  


Yet in any regard, we do it all not because we have to, no, but because
 there is no one I would rather be advocating for, 
no life I would rather see fulfill its greatest potential, 
no journey I would ever pray more for, 
no story I would ever write a happier ending...
than yours my sweet child. 


I will spend years in the trenches if it means your life is good.

Our {Wonder*filled} Week 8


And on this chilly Sunday evening, my gratitude list continues...


174.  All of us piled in our car together, as a family.

175.  Making it through the mega superstore and not losing it even when my children did, and realizing we are all good.

176.  Uncovering every day more of the depths of His Grace.

177.  Sleeping past 7am {thank you love!}

178.  Knowing in my heart I can pray,
that I am not at the mercy of how others want to perceive me
or held captive by their judgments...as the saying goes...
it was never between you and them anyway.

179.  Choosing joy, a conscious, every day effort to give joy the best chance it deserves in my life and the life of my family.

180.  Warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks.

181. Cozying up on the sofa for movie night.


182.  Being crazy in love and crazy grateful for this "little" family of mine, one that loves me, accepts me for me, has no self-serving agenda, or years of hurt, not measured by what I do for them,  or constant evaluation of my actions, just simply and finally home.  

183.  Boy fun before bedtime, running, dancing, laughing, 
jumping, crazy little monkey brothers. 

184.  The precious time outdoors for it will soon come to an end.


Wishing you a wonder*filled week and a safe day and night tomorrow!
{michelle}


Linking up every Monday to...

For Halloween I am being a.....Procrastinator!!


The Procastinator...
I'll be back {maybe...later...how about tomorrow?}

So maybe it's because Halloween is not my all-time-favorite holiday,
but this year I seem to be doing things a little last minute.
Not such a big deal, but thought I would share
some of the wealth of my procrastination!
How's that?!

If you've found yourself with some baking, cooking, final costume touches, treat bags, etc. to finish up, we can wrap things up together!  Or if you need a simple idea, well here you go!  

{Crafts}
In enjoying fall and bringing out the fun {not gross} side of Halloween, 
we've made...

On the agenda for tomorrow from Family Fun...
It will smell so awesome I am sure!!

{Printables}
Have you been boo-ed yet?  Want to add some bling to your neighborhoods boo-ed party?  
Here is the Cutest Boo'd Printable  from TomKat Studios.
While we have been boo-ed we have not followed the rules too well, 
there's always Halloween night!
If any neighbors happen to be reading, pretend you've been hit with the memory zapping stick as in Men in Black or Monsters vs. Aliens ok?!


Creepy Halloween Treat Labels from design.wash.rinse.repeat.
They are awesome!  Totally were on my list, before the circus happened!
Instead I am just ahead of the game for next year right?!


And these Halloween Lunch Box Joke Notes from All For The Boys are going in E's Lunch tomorrow!  
{Treats}
I have made these every Halloween for several years now.
These are not mine though, because mine are waiting to be made!
I cheat and use box cake mix and tub frosting.  Sometimes you just 
have to take the shorter route.  Aren't they so cute?!

{Family Circle}

Finally, here are the treats we will be giving out as part of our Boo-ing!
I was going to make my own treat bags, but hey there were on sale for $3/12
at Jo-Ann.  They are so cute!  Maybe next year we will do the whole
apothecary jar/mad scientist theme?!

{Martha Stewart Treat Bags}

If you are looking for something similar, these printable goodie bags  from Oscar + Emma Designs are amazing!  Use iron on transfer sheets and drawstring goodie bags. 



Ok, so now I have to find a different costume, see we are no longer procrastinators!!

Happy Halloween my friends!
{michelle}

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pasta Anatomy: Dem Bones



I pinned this craft awhile back from my good friend Martha.
{Maybe you know her too?}

I showed it to Ethan and he was loving it and asking about it, 
so tonight we finally got a chance!!
E loves science, and he totally enjoyed this project.

So here is another new friend joining us for this Halloween-ish week...

Mr. Funny Bones


{pardon the glue still drying!}

I gathered the different pasta shapes and aside
from the pasta, we just used elmer's glue and construction paper.

The pasta types we used were...


mini and regular size penne
ditalini
lasagna
fettuccine
elbow
rotini

I could not find dry alphabet soup noodles, so we skipped the labeling.
Not a big deal.  

We gave our skeleton a little bow tie.
{Didn't think of that Miss Martha did you?!}

He also really wanted the skeleton to have a leg and foot 
so we made up our own. 

We also looked at some anatomy pictures to learn while doing.  


Had to include this catchy tune!


I think we wore out this Scholastic Video when we rented
it from our library this summer!!
{it also has The Wheels on The Bus, the absolute fave}


Enjoy!
{michelle}

Little Masked Men


I couldn't pass up these adorable wooden masks from Jo-Ann.
Oh just wait we have more for the next holiday too!

They were 50 cents each on sale.
Just some coloring with markers and instant fun!


Can you guess who is behind each mask?!

Of course they wanted to hold the side they colored toward their faces,
which made it more goofy.  

Always a laugh to be had in this home!!!
Now go on a scare up some fun!!

Back to costume making!!

{michelle}

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meeting One of My Favorite Authors!


I get this question A LOT...
How do you stay sane raising five boys?

First thing, I am not sure I am sane!
Second, I work at it, it takes a conscious effort to keep focused on 
my five blessings, gifted to me, to us, and not let the outside noise in.  

One of the ways is by being grateful for all of the moments,
even the smallest most ordinary, plain jane (ok jack in my case) 
moments...the ones that are so easy to miss.

Every week I link up to Ann Voskamp's Multitude on Mondays,
{I call it Our Wonder*filled Week} 
the author of the beautiful life-changing, 
 One Thousand Gifts and today I got to MEET HER!!! 
She had a book signing about 30 minutes from here.  

I didn't mention it sooner because I wasn't sure I could make it happen.
I had to take E with me, after karate and religious ed.

Matt encouraged me to go even though it meant he was alone 
again this week in the dinnertime/bathtime/bedtime routine.  
He is so good at that time, lots of giggles and roughhousing.  

Ethan was super good waiting in line to meet the amazing mama of six. 
Being his ever competitive self he said..."aww she has one more kid than us."
Only he would be upset about not having more brothers!
{One Thousand Gifts:  a dare to live FULLY right where you are}

We chatted with her manager? about a One Thousand Gifts for Kids.
after I told him Ethan and I talked about the foundation of the book on the way over.  It's a good idea!

E of course talked to her probably more than I did.

Of course she was as wonderful in person and just so special.
She was so sweet with us.  Told E having quadruplet brothers
was such a big deal compared to 6 kids!

I thanked her for writing words that I have held on to,
words I need to hear.  
She encouraged me immensely in such a brief interaction.  
This woman has a gift that's for certain.  


Thank you Ann for sharing your life with us so we can live FULLY too!  


{for more info watch this...}

my favorite...
receiving every moment for what it really is holy, ordinary, amazing grace



{michelle}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mr. Hoot-Hoot Pumpkin Seed



Last year E and I dyed pumpkin seeds and made them into a jack o'lantern.  
I saw it in our Family Fun magazine and we just had to do it! 
We wanted to try again this year, and came up this little guy...

{Mr. Hoot-Hoot Pumpkin Seed}


Isn't he cute?!
Pin It

When I dyed the seeds I wasn't sure what we were going to make this year, but I found this cute owl printable and the seeds looked so much like feathers!!

As for the recipe,I winged it this year...a spoonful of vinegar, some warm water, drops of food coloring and then I did bake them at 200 degrees for about 20 min. just to speed up the drying.  The waiting to dye and waiting to dry are the two most time consuming pieces.  Here is an actual recipe...




I have yet to have them turn out more uniform in color, but it actually looked better with the variation for this project.  

Here's the cute little guy we started with...

added some glue and worked on a good design with E...



Enjoy!!
{michelle}

Toddler Tuesday no. 1 - Fine Motor Fun

As many do, I love all the ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. 
I am always looking for easy, inexpensive, fun learning mini-projects to do with my boys.

A friend from college with little ones pinned a series of great toddler crafts {found here}.  
I took a quick look during naptime and found a perfect one that easily kept 
them busy and interested for over twenty minutes,
my made up criteria for a good project!!

This one was all fine motor, and when I searched a bit more, 
I found it was part of this blog.
{love when I can give props the right place!}

Anywho, all you need for this fine motor fun are things I am 
SURE you have in your home...

play-doh
uncooked spaghetti 
{I really could have messed with you if I said cooked spaghetti!!}
 small bowl of cheerios

{look at all that concentration...err...nice Aiden!!} 

Eating the cheerios afterward is the best!!  Especially if they have a little playdoh on them {bonus fiber}!



Or seeing how many you can use for train cargo...


And of course, completely unrelated to fine motor skills...
 the infamous Griffin where are your lips?  Zoolander pose.
This is also one of E's signature expressions, Griffin has been watching him intently, copying his faces, and then will surprise us...class clown ya think?



It really was super fun, so easy, and I loved seeing their faces concentrate and the little celebration filling up their spaghetti stick. 

Best part, it didn't cost a thing and was super simple!!

Get those fine motors a runnin'!!

{michelle}

Cake Plate & Tiered Tray Adhesive


I have had a couple questions about the adhesive used for the cakeplates and tiered stands I created using candlesticks and trays found at Goodwill.  I am not sure why I didn't include it in my post, maybe the fumes got to me?!!

Here is the product, you can find it at most craft/hardware stores.  
It's a super-strong adhesive, my nose is sensitive and I could definitely smell it as soon as I opened the tube.  I would suggest wearing a little mask {we had some left over from preemie baby days here}, and doing the gluing outdoors along with letting the project dry outdoors.

I am so someone who would glue my fingers together for eternity with this stuff, so I wore gloves as well. 

It does work really well.  I did have to apply it liberally, but I don't think anything else would have worked so easily.  The description at Michaels website is good as far as what you can use it for and all the precautions.

Hope that helps!!
{michelle}

Monday, October 24, 2011

mother*wonder Monday {five} - What I Want for My Children

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Often when we refer to what we want for our children, it takes some form of reference to how we grew up and knowing how we want to change things.  I think that it can be healthy in doses to know how we want to do things differently, as long as we are honest, open, and realistic about why we want them to be different.  Not to right wrongs for ourselves, but because we learn from the mistakes made.  The passion has to come from wanting the next generation and hopefully the following and so on to have their paths shifted by what we know we can do different that will help those who come after us reach their fullest potential and the plan God has for their lives.

My childhood was not all rainbows and lollipops.
My parents divorced when I was little.
I was often chided for my dreams instead of encouraged.
Confidence lacked majorly for a variety of reasons and while I believed in my abilities,
I had a very low opinion of myself that I grapple with even now.
Criticism cut deep.
Accomplishing anything meant doing it myself even if it meant putting me in a position that would be extremely difficult to overcome.

Yes, through this I have an extremely strong work-ethic, and have learned to be very independent, yet I always seemed to be in a vulnerable position.  I also never really took a break or learned how to just be.  I suppose that has something to do with why I am so passionate about it now.

Simply put, I have always held onto the fact that I can change it, I can make it different.  Through His guidance I can be the parent I want my children to have.  I do not have to carry on the patterns or pain.

I am not naive to think my children's memory will be perfect and every effort I make will be monumental...hardly.  I know my boys will remember things in a way completely different from my recollection, maybe in a light that is not so flattering.   I hope all the good will outweigh the few bad moments.

However, I want to be able to provide my children with a good, healthy, solid foundation on which to anchor their dreams.  It's going to take a lot of prayer and hope to alter our financial path, mountains will have to be moved, but I will not give up.  We will not.

I think what has always stayed with me most is the being okay with children going through major struggles and challenges where parents could have intervened and did not for self-serving reasons.  I am not sure of the thought process, but what I am sure of is I know both my husband and I want better for our children, we want to have gone through those things so they don't have to.

I do think it is important to build character, and work for things, don't get me wrong.  I just think there are ways to go about it that encourage, praise, and uplift.  Yes, my boys will have heartache and pain, but I want to be there every single step of the way.  Yes, there may be times when only they can do it, when they have to learn the lesson, but I will be their biggest fan, cheering them on from the sidelines.  When they want to push me away, I will respect their space but I will ALWAYS be right there.

I am putting it in writing here and now {smile}.


Nothing will ever be more important than being their mom.


My parenting will not end when they are 16. 21, or 35.  For as long as I am here, God-willing.


I will not ever love them for what they can do for me.


I will always give them everything I can to help them be
who they were created to be in every way.

Boys, by the way, your Dad feels exactly as I do.
Remember, we can do all things through Him, together.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

v. Fall-ify


Thank you for all of your kind words on my previous post.
I am up doing laundry and had started this post Friday.
Seems silly to care about wreaths and pumpkins, but at the same time I love
making my home festive for us, and once we get over summer leaving, we really embrace fall.

And kids God love 'em, they don't let you dwell too long!

On this gorgeous afternoon, we ran up and down the sledding hill {major cardio!}, played in the leaves, and just spent time in nature, perfect!  Tomorrow is supposed to be the same weather-wise, and a great time to...

v. Fall-ify
an effort to spruce up the place with pumpkins collected, artwork created, 
a new craft here-and-there to celebrate this truly gorgeous time of year.

{a new wreath}
Fabric strips and a few rolled fabric and felt flowers on a floral wreath form



{pumpkin topiaries}
Just love cinderella pumpkins, last year I had 3 pumpkins piled {see last picture below}, and used
rebar cut to size and hammered it through the pumpkins...with our warmer weather and wanting
the pumpkins to last longer this time around I piled 2 high without rebar.  Once the hole in the pumpkin is made, countdown to rotting begins, yuck!  Hope they'll last longer this way...still pretty I think!


{chalkboard pumpkins}
These were a hit last year, just spray with chalkboard spray paint, dry, spray again and done!



{entryway}
Our home is sans fireplace/mantel so this area gets the special treatment  All done with things we already owned and in about 5 minutes before bedtime!  Just a few changes can make a big difference.  Yes I could add more, but those costumes need to get done sometime right?!

{favorite purchased decoration}
This little pumpkin patch sign purchased at Home Goods, 7 pumpkins, it was meant to be!

{first apple stamping and pumpkin faces}
love 'em!!

{last year}
Can't believe how much my five cute pun'kins have grown!!

Now, on to costumes and all things circus, only 1 week to go, eek!!

{michelle}

It Could Have Ended So Much Different...


Yesterday as my husband was on his way to work,
he and a guy bumped into one another as often happens on the crowded streets 
of Chicago during the morning rush.  
This time was different.
This time the guy turned, lifted up his shirt and pointed to a gun.

A gun.  On a busy street, full of hundreds, in broad daylight.

While I have thanked God from my absolute core that nothing happened to him,
that he returned to us safe and sound, things could have gone so much different.

I am not sure why we are reminded of this so often in our lives.

That morning I had a sinking pit in my stomach, a feeling I couldn't shake. 
My oldest lingered in saying good-bye on his way to school.
One of those times you just think, is something about to happen?
I said some prayers for our protection.
Little did I know what had happened moments earlier.

I thank God for protecting him. 
I know he is still in disbelief.
I process things through writing, it's cathartic for me.

Things like this have to change you.
Not make you afraid.  Not make you paranoid or worried.
But if they don't make you stop to realize the sanctity of life,
how fragile it is, and how we can be so deeply impacted by the free will of others,
what was the point?

Anger is there, I would like to shove a picture in the guy's face of
our five perfect children and ask how he would have felt taking their Dad away.
What the ramifications of just threatening that are.

I know he wouldn't care.  If you're crazy enough to flash a gun at someone on a 
crowded street during broad daylight, every ounce of humanity is gone.
It's a shell of a person filled with hatred and evil roaming free.

We understand how worse things could have been.
Yet, it has to pause your life.
It has to remind you that there is no promise for the 
next minute, the next day, the next year.

While I always know this, sometimes the only way to get back to truly comprehending what it means is for something of this magnitude to happen.

Thank you God for protecting my everything.
Today I remember...


{michelle}

Friday, October 21, 2011

1. Give Thanks, 2. Prayerfully Ask


With a gratitude-focused month ahead, I wanted to have something for us to use as a family for our prayer requests.  Instead of just asking God, I wanted to make sure we thank him first for the good things that have come our way.  It may just help us see too how our prayers have been answered in ways other than we intended or asked for them to be.  I would cherish my boys understanding that in and of itself.

{give thanks and pray jars}





For the give thanks and pray jars I used...
2 large mason jars,
pretty tags and letter stamps,
striped yarn,
leftover fabric,
 strips of paper, 
and a burlap flower I made using this tutorial  

Of course you could embellish the jars however you'd like.

I am going to challenge us to use them throughout next month. 
We often cannot eat together or have prayer time together as a family, but we can still pray for one another and live in gratitude for the many prayers that have been answered on our behalf.

{loved this saying from pinterest}

If you have any ideas for creating an atmosphere of gratitude in your home, 
especially during this upcoming thankful time of year, I'd love to hear them!!!

Happy Friday all!!!
{michelle}

Monday, October 17, 2011

mother*wonder Monday {four} - Impatience Causes Accidents


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Today while driving Liam to his eye doctor appointment,
admittedly one of those trips marked by little annoying things happening along the way...

Major freight train coming through, always a 10 minute delay.
Trying to stop at my usual place to get gas but the turning lane closed due to construction.
Stopping at another gas station, but I cannot turn the direction I need to, re-routed again, 
another 5 minutes....and for once I had time to spare...

And then I see it...a bumper sticker that speaks right to me.

Impatience Causes Accidents, Just Relax!

I think the good Lord himself slapped it right on that truck just for me.
In fact I was not even as irritated by everything as I probably would have been.
I was just truly happy to finally be making an appointment I had canceled 5 times before,
and really wanting to find out more info on Liam.

What resonated, was not impatience causing an accident while driving,
although that in itself is incredibly true, and I shamefully plead guilty!!!

It was how My Impatience Causes Those I Love to Stumble.


When I am impatient with my boys, my husband, or myself for that matter it doesn't build confidence, create trust, encourage or love, it just says
move on out of the way because I can so do this better and faster or whatever the case may be.

Patience is probably my number one struggle, to this mom who is always multi-tasking and thinking 10 steps ahead, but until today I often thought of it as something I need to change, thought about the effects, but did not really comprehend FULLY the "accidents" it could cause.

For one, my children thinking my impatience is caused by them.  Really it's not.  It's my mindset and I find myself at the height of impatience when something is not going my way, when I am tired, sick, exhausted, financially trying to make things work, it's hard to keep it all in check every day when this is the reality of my every day {for many of us}. But the fallout of me not doing so is far too great.

I do pray for more patience, but I chuckle when I add in not to give me situations to grow my patience.
Just throw it down on a silver platter Lord! 

What honestly works best for me is stopping, focusing, and separating.  
I am usually not impatient about one thing but from a culmination of things.
If I can do this, I usually can tap into my reserves.
Especially trying to get out the door and get E to school or get dinner on with 5 little helpers.  
Knowing these times will be hectic, preparing as best I can for them {and believe me I do all I can do ahead of time} but also realizing they are going to be crazy and to go with it, releases me somehow.  

Listen, I will lose my patience at 8:32am tomorrow, I am no saint, but before I do
I hope that bumper sticker flashes in my head again and reminds me of 
the damage and collateral my impatience can cause.  

Also, Liam's eyes are great {praise God!}
According to his eye doctor it is only an illusion caused by his wide-set eyes {thanks to his mommy} for it to seem as though his eyes are not looking at something together {one wandering}.

Hoping your week is full of patience, and if you have an abundance, 
send some my way!
{God Bless You!}

Until soon,
{michelle}

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