Wednesday, May 30, 2012

you're not gonna believe this

I want it to be known to the world that I, Maria Watkins, finished a project this weekend.

Complete, DONE. Not, done until I can get to the store to pick up some finishing touches. Not done until I have more time/energy/motivation. Not done because I'm tired of working on it and I'm just gonna call it good enough because I don't care anymore. (Well, maybe a little of that last one..)

We moved into our house 3 years ago. Two years ago we decided to build a deck. And of course we needed furniture to go along with our new deck, but buying what I wanted was waaaaaayyy too expensive. So I thought to my stubborn, stingy self, "I don't need to buy those.. I can easily build my own. It can't be that hard. I mean, if HGTV can do it in like, a half an hour, so can I."

So right away before I lost motivation and moved on to another thought, I went and bought all the boards and started working away. Two years ago...

The first summer I actually completed the table and benches. But as I was pregnant with Ella I didn't want to stain or varnish with anything that could be toxic. And Hitler my husband wouldn't allow me to start the sectional until the table was completely done. So they sat for a whole year. Somberly waiting to be used and loved.

Last summer since I wasn't pregnant, nor busy at all with 3 little kids, I decided to get the table and benches stained, thereby giving me freewill to start the sectional. After learning that you really do need to stir the stain like the can says (not just shake it up a little) they turned out great!

The sectional shackles broke free and I was released to begin cutting again  I started out with a bang, working diligently all weekend, vowing to have it done by the 4th of July, and got so much done. And that night the same wind storm that blew our barn over, also blew my hard-worked chairs off the deck, through the yard, and across the road.. busting them to pieces.

Minor setback.. ha!

As there was barnwoon strewn across our yard, branches littering the grass, and every kind of toy, ball, trash imaginable everywhere in between, the chairs had to get the backburner for awhile.

Eventually I must have finished building them, but not in time for much use before the cold weather came. So away they went again to the unoccupied chicken coop for another year.

But THIS summer... things are different around here.

Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow 
nor heat of day nor dark of night 
shall keep this builder 
from the swift completion of her appointed chairs. 

I present to you... my FINISHED sectional

with cushions (and palete coffee table)

and the table and benches too (and kids picnic table)!

Just don't look too close.. these are so so far from perfect it's not even funny. (maybe a little...) The corner's aren't square, the legs aren't the same length (nor straight), there's blobs of polyeurothane where I didn't get it smoothed out, there's screw holes where I had to make them sturdier after already staining them.. but they're done.

I'm just happy they didn't fall apart when we sat on them this weekend. 

I will certainly not be posting a tutorial on how to do this because I am no expert, but thankfully there's someone who is. My all time favorite building website is Ana White. She is AMAZING and I want to build every single thing on her site, but I think I will take a little much needed, 2 years in the making break for now...

Oohhhh... except as I went to link her blog I just saw a few more things I need to NOW. including.. what is THAT?  Captains chairs to go along with the exact table I built???.... Whaaaaattt.....


side note: This sectional was classified as a "weekend project." HA! I love Ana White, but she really needs to redefine those classifications. Like, maybe 0 kids-weekend project. 1 kid-month-long project. 2 kids-6 months. 3 kids-2 years.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

summa time

Wordless Wednesday

lovin summa time!!!

Speed Dating

Happy Monday Tuesday Everyone!

Today I am joining in a Speed-Dating Blog link up! Super excited to "meet" some new bloggers and share some embarrassing things about myself.

So here goes... all about me.

1. I will be celebrating my 7th wedding anniversary in June. (right dear...? 7th? I mistakenly thought last year was our 5th anniversary. Apparently it was our 6th. I will NEVER live that one down..

2. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children-2 crazy boys and a sweet little girl. I love being able to stay home with them and am especially excited for all the fighting and whining fun we'll have this summer before Nolan starts 1st grade and Charlie begins Preschool.

3. We live in a 100+ year old farmhouse which we remodeled ourselves about 3 years ago. It is on a small acreage and we LOVE LOVE LOVE having so much room for the kids to run around naked, yell and scream at each other, pee outside...

4. I hate cleaning my house. It's not that I hate it I guess.. it's just that I would much rather be doing other things. Like reading/painting/sleeping/eating/baking/pullingoutmytoenailsonebyone/anythingelseintheworld.. Conveniently, when my husband gets upset guess what he does? Cleans. My secret "Operation Annoy Hubby At Least Weekly" manages to at least keep CPS at bay.

5. I started this blog only about a month ago. I wanted to be able to share the story of our daughter Ella who has Cornelia De Lange Syndrome (CdLS).

6. I am honest to a fault. Seriously.. do NOT ask me if those jeans make you look fat.. I might try to spare your feelings, but my face will give me away every.single.time. Yup.. Me and Honest Abe.

7. My dream is to be able to use that honesty curse blessing to give hope to others struggling with accepting a special needs diagnosis, or anything in life, really. I make it no secret that I have struggled and still struggle with it. My curse is your blessing?

8. I am passionate about graphic design, photography, painting, building, sewing, recycling, upcycling, motherhood....creating! my husband teases me about my collections of "treasures" i acquire--corks, pallets, old windows and doors, buttons, ribbon, wrapping paper, jeans, wood, beads, thread, paint, fabric, patterns, tutorials, books, photos, paper....

9. I'm awesome at starting projects. Finishing?? Not so much...

10. I'm a bit of a craft floozie. I see something I want to do, love it,, collect 1,000,000 of them, then burn out and move on to the next thing. But that's another post for another day....

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I am excited to learn more about this whole new BlogWorld I have entered.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

cheesey puffs

Yo. Whacha got for lunch, mama?

Cheesey Puffs.. Really?

Let me try 1. or 2. or 3 at a time.

Ahem... My tray appears to be empty.

It's ok, just don't let it happen again.

Seriously. Ever.

I'm watching you.
It's a tough life, but someone's gotta do it...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Great Clothing War

This morning my father-in-law approached me with a predicament he had... Apparently his house was way too full of Mac-n-Cheese with not enough people to eat it. And he had a few too many brand new movies he hadn't gotten to watch yet, but sadly no one to watch them with. So could someone please come over to play?

It just so happened I had 2 boys more than willing to help out.

I joyfully leaped at this wonderful opportunity agreed to the idea.

Soon after that phone call, the wheels in my head finally began to spin (the 6 cups of coffee were a little slow at making their way to my brain cells this morning)... Ella was due to take a nap soon and the boys would be gone for hours... what ever would I do with myself?

I could work on craft projects, paint, take a bubble bath, put my clothes away (does anyone else hate doing this?), clean the house, go shopping, make freezer meals,  pay bills (if I could only find the checkbook..), write a blog, edit pictures, read a book, read a magazine ....

Oh the possibilities...

After daydreaming far too long about what I could do, I immediately set to work making a list of things I should do. You know, just a few items that I really thought could be completed in the time they were gone.

There were 12 things on my list (15 if you count the "extras"that I did, then wrote on the list just for the satisfaction of crossing them off). I made sure to be just vague enough to ensure some success on my behalf. I included things such as "pick up" that are truly based on opinion, so if I run out of time, but feel like I made some effort, I had to leeway to cross it off. Smart, huh? Yup, I'm a pro at working my own system.

I included some small-ish items such as mop the floor, sweep stairs, etc. And also some bigger-ish items, such as finish mudding the wall we started renovating 6 months ago and was supposed to be done by Christmas... and the boys' birthday parties.. and this summer... but is still left plaster-white, untextured, with pieces of wood flooring missing.. don't worry-no hard feelings there. It's FINE!

*deep breath...*

I may have overdid it on the list. But I was really excited at the prospect of getting some things done around here! I completely forgot how much more of a mess 3 kids make compared to 2..

Anyways, after the boys left and Ella went down for her nap, I started tackling that list. (I may have squeezed in a little Facebook and got distracted by a few blogs along the way..). But after that I was focused and ready to go. What to do first... Hmmm.. what can't I do while Ella is awake? Which, in her constant state of fussiness this week is... well.. pretty much everything. I did a few smaller things like empty and reload the dishwasher, just to boost my confidence that I could do this.

And then I ventured upstairs. The one (of many) things I'd been struggling with this week was finishing the nightmare of sorting through the boys' summer and next-size-up clothing. Please tell me I'm not the only one who dreads this.. I thought it wouldn't take that long, considering I had spent 2 hours in the attic last weekend, sorting, folding, putting away. I figured the hard part was done. ha!

I began with Nolan's clothes, since I knew he probably had some in his dresser that could go immediately into Charlie's. I was right. He is 6. Not a huge 6, but 6 nonetheless. The problem is, some of his 4's still fit. Charlie is 4. Rightfully, the 4's should be his. But really, he still fits in most of his 3's. So should he get the 4's or be forced to wait until next year, when the possibility exists that he may outgrow them? After too many minutes of contemplation, I unloaded the 4's from Nolan's dresser and put them into Charlie's.

I moved on to the size 5's. Many of them still fit. I was willing to keep the size 5 t-shirts in his drawer for this summer, but what about the long sleeve shirts? Am I going to store them all summer, taking up precious dresser storage room, making it so difficult to open to over-filled drawers that when one of the boys tries to pull on the knob, the entire things tips over on top of him, only to find out in the fall that he's now too big for most of them, thus having to sort through them yet again? Same thing with the jeans.

Then I started looking at the box of size 6 clothes. Last weekend I had sorted the 6's into 2 boxes. The winter-ish clothes stayed in the attic, leaving me only the summer-ish clothes. This shouldn't be too bad. But then I started looking closer. Why do clothing companies assume when your child turns 6 they instantly blow up like a big fat balloon? Are our school lunch programs that unhealthy that as soon as a child starts Kindergarten, society accepts the fact that they will triply in width?? Seriously... These shirts are GINORMOUS! (yes too that is a word, spell checker...)

Check this out. The shirt on top is a 5. The shirt on bottom is a 6.
HUGE difference!

But that's not the worst of it. It would be ok if ALL the size 6 shirts were this way. I mean, really easy. I would just throw them all back in the attic until next summer and succumb to the fact that I have shrimpy kids. But nooooo.... some of the size 6 shirts are actually wearable. So that leaves me sorting through every.single.shirt. just to try to guess which ones might fit Nolan and which ones I could potentially wear... I mean, if I were into dinosaurs and monster trucks and that sort of thing. Hmmm... That's actually not a bad idea. Might be an option on those weeks laundry doesn't get done and I run out of clean t-shirts.

To make matters even worse, at this age clothing companies seem to develop decision-making phobias.. Instead of the typical 2T, 3T... all of a sudden I see 5, 6, 6-7.. Wait.. what? What the heck does 6-7 mean?? Is it a SIX or a SEVEN??? Make a decision!! Those seemed to be slightly bigger, so should I just throw them back in the attic with the 7's? Because, really, who are you kidding.. that's what they really are. But then the 7-8's should be in the 8 box? And are there 8-9's that should go in a 9 box? How long does this nonsense go on???

I finally gave up and moved over to Charlie's dresser. There, I was confronted with many too many 2T shirts. He is FOUR!! I sorted through each and every one. I even embarrassingly found a few 18-24 month shirts... They were BIG 18-24 month ones though!! They were... I swear.

So, checking every tag I filled his dresser with the 4T's that were so recently unknowingly "gifted" to him by his brother. I also had to look closely at the 3T shirts. There were some 3T shirts that still fit great, some that are still too big, and some that are the size of those 18-24 month shirts I found... Each and every shirt had to be unfolded, studied, folded again, and put into the appropriate pile. Some I actually took into account what the tag said "Oh, it says 3T, so it must go in the 3T box." But others made it so glaringly obvious that what was labeled a 4T was really more like a 2T, so the rebel in me took delight in putting it in the "wrong" box.

And I had to decide what to do with the 4T long sleeve shirts.. Do I fill his dresser now because by next winter he'll be wearing them? But what if he still fits in the 3T ones? I could get one more year out of them. I don't want to put them away in the attic, because what if I forget about them?? We might miss out on a whole size of clothes, with him being forced to wear too small 18-24 month clothes because I forgot we had more!!

Oh, the heartache..

And then there were the shorts.. and the tank tops.. and the swimming trunks.

They weren't any better.

Example #2. These shorts are the same size!!
There is at least a 4 inch difference there... Can you feel my agony??

The piles of clothes were beginning to accumulate around me. I realized they were towering over me, taking the form of giant mountains.. no wait! volcanoes.. And there were about to erupt all over me. I was going to be buried alive. I began to fear suffocation. How long would I lay here in misery? Who would find me?

Those fears forced me to dig deep, channel my inner strength, and triumph out of this great depth of clothing despair I was in. It was a very similar situation to the man who had to cut his own arm off after falling on a climb, just to survive. Believe me.. it was.

I was frantically searching... Is this a 6 or a 6-7? Is it a "fat" 6 or a "regular" 6? Is it a 6 that will fit my 6 year old or a 6 that might fit when he graduates high school? And this 4... Is it a 4 like a 6? or a 4 like a 2? Or a... 4 like a... *gasp.. 4??? And here is the pile of 5's that still fit Nolan. And the pile of 5's that are too small that might fit Charlie, the pile of 5's that are too small for Nolan yet too big for Charlie, and the pile of 5's that might fit Nolan right now, but I'm not sure if they still will this winter, so do I put them away in the abyss of the attic, or do I keep them out, knowing I will have to sort them again if I do..

I am currently proposing legislation to standardize children's clothing sizes. One pattern shall be used by all.

Can you imagine for a moment what a serene place this world would be if we mothers didn't have to suffer through the troubling torture of dishonest clothing tags? We would clearly have more time to spend with our children, more energy to do crafts and bake cookies. Our children would be happier, not only because their mothers were not walking around in a frazzled tizzy muttering things like "Why call it a 5 if it fits like a 4..." but also because for once in their lives their clothing fits. Don't you get crabby when your jeans are too tight? I do. Maybe that's the real reason Charlie threw a huge temper tantrum when I asked him to clear his plate from the table today... His jeans were too tight!

I truly believe this could solve so many world problems.

On a side note: I do realize that the sheer volume of the boys' clothing adds to my drama. Just for fun I counted Nolan's t-shirts (the ones that fit). There were 52 of them. 52!!! And that's not even counting the ones in the dirty clothes basket. I also counted Charlie's shorts... 37 pairs of shorts.

Do you realize the enormity of what this means??? I only have to wash their clothes once this entire summer!!!!! whohoo!

If 'anyone' would like to point out the fact that I could save myself some misery by cutting back on rummaging, I do believe that someone could be sleeping on the couch tonight. Yes, I think you know who you are. 

And no, I still did not get that wall mudded. *sigh...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I am so happy I finally found time to work in my weed patch garden!

But I am so embarrassed to admit that after only 2 hours of pulling weeds, I am exhausted...

And pathetic.


I think I actually fell asleep this afternoon while reading the boys the longest and most boring book ever

So no witty words of wisdom until this feeble body regains some strength. (and maybe not even after that..or before that... what??? nevermind--I told you I'm tired...)

Allow me to make up for your sure-disappointment with these classic pictures from this week

move over little dog..

"No, mom, we don't need to change out of our nice clothes. We're just going to walk by the mud."
Famous last words...

Safety first: those sharp little fingernails will get you if you're not careful.

Apparently he took the "safety first" a little more seriously... I guess we really should clip those nails...

no idea..... ha!

total look of confusion as to why she is surrounded by crazy people. 

That was our week so far in a nutshell.. Maybe the weed patch garden isn't the only reason I'm so tired... Hmmm... I'll think about it in the morning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TGFP - Thank Goodness For Photoshop

After too many long, time-consuming, energy-sucking hours spent exchanging heads, switching smiles, deleting body parts, adjusting lighting, desaturating, changing leggings colors, removing tags, cropping, picking, contemplating, debating... the results are finally in.

I think I got a few good ones.

They might even be good enough to advance out of the "Decent" folder they're been subjected to the past week.
I'll think about it.

If you didn't happen to see the beautiful pre-edited photos of my children in all their glory, feel free to go here
You won't regret it. maybe..

To recap... here is what we started with.


the results

I actually meant for the kids to be semi-blurry in this one.. 

the lighting isn't great here, but at least they're looking 


brothers are the best

I think this was the only picture of all three I didn't switch any heads. 

 had to crop Charlie out of this adorable one of the other two.. sorry kid-that's life....

can't tell they're related, can you? 

they really wanted to be watching the beaver in the crick beneath them, but I coaxed this out first 


 cheeseball x 100

how did he get so grown up??? 

you would never know she hated this, would you? 

laughing at daddy dancing behind me :)

and my fave..

I'm hoping when these kids are all grown up, 
I'm just senile enough to think I "remember" us all having a really good time taking these pictures..

For now? I guess they are pretty cute. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

moral dilemna

Is it ever okay to use a contractor your boys are obsessed with watching work as a form of babysitter?

To just let them follow his shadow around all morning, asking a bagillion questions while I am conveniently MIA?

What if said contractor is your brother?

Because I could really use a nap right about now..

Friday, May 18, 2012

a trip to remember

Yesterday I did something incredibly amazing.

I drove to Omaha all by myself, found my location (only having to turn around twice and calling my sister-in-law in a panic once), and found my way home again.

Now to some of you, most of you, probably all of you this isn't a big deal, but since it's something I've never done before I am pretty darn proud of myself. :)

Now, I had detailed Google directions plus instructions from the Children's Hospital and was so overly confident in my abilities, I had prematurely started to write this blog in my head. I was going to say that this was the very first time I had driven in Omaha. (Even though technically it was the second, but since I try to block out the memories of the actual first time when I took the wrong exit, got lost, was rudely honked at, and came very close to a nervous breakdown... I was going to declare it the first).

As I was writing this mental blog, I realized it was Exit time. My directions clearly stated "Take Exit 3" and then the next step was "Turn Right at the Stoplight." Well, I took Exit 3, but could someone please tell me why in the world Omaha has sub-exits upon exits?? You take the exit, and then all of a sudden you have to make a split second decision about which way to veer in the middle of the exit, while trying to read both signs, and potentially swerve across 4 lanes of traffic??

Google-you failed me. You said nothing about this. I had absolutely no warning.

As you might guess, in the .025 seconds I had to make a decision, I made the wrong one and ended up on what is called the "Expressway." As I had never before driven on an "Expressway," I didn't realize that the definition included 600 lanes of traffic traveling at warp speed upon towering heights....


Since there were no stoplights (how could there be when you're driving 10,000 miles/hour??) I knew I was in the wrong place. Thankfully my lovely sister-in-law was home from work and was able to guide me safely and semi-calmly back to my destination.

I found the Hospital, but then proceeded to follow Google's directions instead of the Hospital's as to where to park (mistake #2), so ended up turning around a few times to get to the right parking garage. Yes, I am that U-turn-in-the-middle-of-the-road car you savvy-driving Omaha citizens love to loathe.

Next, I went to the wrong floor and checked in at the wrong place.. details....

The actual appointment was rather uneventful. The ENT specialist Ella saw confirmed what we already suspected. She has fluid in her ears and we will try to put tubes in, but it may be difficult with her tiny ear canals. No big surprises there (but that's a good thing.)

After the appointment was over, my sister-in-law picked me up and we went out for a lovely lunch at Jones Bros. Cupcakes. One word: YUM.

And the most wonderful thing happened there. Even more wonderful than my Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cupcake... I know, right?? Mmmmmmm.....

There were some younger-ish middle-age ladies a few tables over that I noticed looking over at our table. It was fairly obvious and went on for some time. I, in all my glorious insecurities, wondered what they were thinking?? Did they notice Ella's eyes didn't quite open all the way? That her eyebrows are more arched than most other babies? Did they somehow know she is 15 months old, but looks and acts more like a 9 month old? Did they think she looked funny? Were they wondering what was "wrong?"

They soon got up to refill their waters and simultaneously Ella squirmed on my lap, kicked her little size-1 foot out, and sent our splendor-filled cupcakes flying in slow-motion through the air, landing with a loud clattering of the plate. On the floor.

Which was devastating, of course, but conveniently opened up a conversation with these gawking ladies. One of them said, "Well, I'll bet they'll just give you a new one because she's so cute!" I smiled and of course agreed, but it didn't stop there. The ladies suddenly surrounded us and were all oodling over Ella. They were saying how she was the cutest thing they're ever seen, how she's just a doll baby, they loved her hair, and I must just hear this all the time... They were just in awe. At one point I wondered if they were ever going to leave!

It's a truly wonderful feeling when someone tells you your children are cute. But it is something else entirely when your baby, who you have fought so hard to even keep in this world, and who you worry about how she will be accepted by society every single day, is something that is adored, loved by complete strangers... amazing. (And we did get free replacement cupcakes.) :)

After that, my sister-in-law and I decided to drive out to World Market to spend ridiculous amounts of imaginary money. And feed Ella her bottle, of course. This is where the 2nd drama of the day began. After realizing World Market had closed (sad!) she backed her brand-new Rainier into a pole at Children's. And mere minutes later, immediately upon arrival at the strip mall, I accidentally creeped a little too far ahead in my parking spot and nudged into her hitch.... This vehicle is so new it doesn't even have license plates on yet! I should have known to call it quits right then.

Instead, I made possibly one of the worst decisions of my life. Ella had fallen asleep in the car, and since she hadn't eaten a bottle yet that day, I thought it was important to try and sneak her out of her car seat, feed her a bottle while she was half-asleep, then quietly slip her back in and continue blissfully on our way home.

Well, we decided to sit at Pier 1 to spend the imaginary money we had left over from not being able to go to World Market, and also because they would have comfy, fabulous-looking couches to sit on..

Everything was going as planned. Ella was still asleep so I carefully lifted her out of her car seat and tried to sneak the bottle in. Well, she woke up. And flat-out refused to eat.

What a waste of a bottle and a nap. I decided we'd just head home and hope she would play quietly for awhile, then fall back asleep.  HA!

Normally Ella really likes riding in the car... Well, not this time. She was fussing and screaming and since we all know she absolutely cannot in any circumstances be allowed to cry, I was driving with one hand, frantically searching for the pacifier with the other hand, and trying to assume a contortionist position to try to hold the bottle in her mouth behind me with another hand (Don't think too hard about that).. Be thankful I wasn't texting.

But I could.not.find.the.pacifier. I was mortified. My mind raced. Where could it be??

The unthinkable must have happened.

We left it at Pier 1.

And since no one in their right mind brings small children to Pier 1, I just knew our dear paci, who is like a beloved family member to us, was destined to be thrown into the abyss of all things that do not belong in a store like that. I could envision it joining with the ranks of large bouncy balls, river stones, sledgehammers, and red-eyed stampeding bulls.

I didn't know what to do.

I saw a sign. It said Sioux City: 73 miles.

I wept.

It had to be a full 2 hours of misery later that I saw another sign. Sioux City: 65 miles.

This was the trip that never ends.

As I rolled into Fremont, I smelled the familiar aroma of what I thought was a slaughterhouse.. or a sale barn.. or a hog confinement.

And then I realized that the odor was not coming from cattle. But instead was wafting up from the precious child I carried in my backseat.

Thank goodness for Sapp Bros. They sell everything! Do you think they might have a pacifier??

I went to remove said odorific child from her car seat and behold! There was the pacifier. ALLELULIA!!

We went in to get all cleaned up and I noticed their bathrooms were newly remodeled and beautiful. There was new tile, bright lighting, and individual sinks in every single stall.

And there was no changing table.

I did find out after the fact that there is a separate "family" bathroom, equipped with a shower for the truckers that the changing table is discretely hidden in. Do truckers often haul babies??? Just wondering..

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. Ella slept, I drank Diet Coke. And we mercifully made it home.

I have never been so relieved to hear the crunch of gravel beneath my tires in all my life.

Unfortunately I will have to venture back into the big city in a few weeks for our tubes appointment.

Wanted: Driver. Able to get one anxious adult and one ridiculously cute, small child safely to Omaha and back. Must be able to quickly decipher misleading exit signs, make split second decisions (preferably the right ones), steer clear of ramming into family member's brand-new vehicles, and deliver us to the hospital without looking like a frazzled, shaky, pit-stained mess. (Not at all saying that's what I looked like...) :)

Any takers???

Thursday, May 17, 2012

'School's Out For The Summer!!"

Dear Nolan,

Today I am going to get a little sentimental-sappy-mommy-cliche on you. I hope you'll forgive me.. but how is it possible you are already done with Kindergarten?? 

It really does seem like just yesterday I watched you, my sweet baby boy, walk down our lane to get on the bus for your very first day. 

I watched with tears in my eyes and wondered if the day would ever come that I could watch you walk away and not feel as if my heart was ripping out of my chest.

I will admit that throughout the year, our mornings have slightly evolved to include "Come on... It's time to get up... NOW" And often include me shouting out the door "Hurry up!!! You're going to miss the bus!!!" as I wrestle a new diaper on a squirmy Ella while trying to distract a sullen, playmate-less Charlie.

But I do still feel a little tug every time I watch you walk away. Every time you climb on that big yellow school bus that I still have a hard time believing you're old enough to ride.. I don't think that 'tug' will ever go away.

I remember the night before Kindergarten started last fall you looked at me with your big hazel eyes and whispered "But Mom... I don't know how to read." And that night you prayed that you wouldn't have to go to school the next day. 

My heart broke for your fears.

But you faced them. And you conquered them. One by one.

Tonight you cried because you didn't want school to be over... :)

I am so proud of everything you've done this year. I am so proud of your good report card, that you went from not even knowing all your letters at the beginning of the year, to now reading books on your own. I am so proud that you seem to be a natural math whiz. That you work hard in everything you do.

But I think I am the most proud of the new friendships you've made. Of the kids you've seen left out on the playground and tried to include. I am so proud of your character and your "Citizen Award" you received today. 

And I am soooo excited that... "School's Out For The Summer!" 

I am so excited for all the fun times we'll have and the memories we'll make. I know some days will be filled with splashes in the pool, giggles, and popsicles. And I know some days will be filled with whining, fighting, and crying.

But know that every single day I love you. And every single day I'm proud of you.

Love, Mom

I wonder what 1st grade will bring...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

M&M Monster

The other day Ella wasn't eating much for lunch, so I took it upon myself to go that extra mothering mile to get some extra calories in her by cracking open a little bag on mini M&M's.. She nibbled on a few and after awhile turned away, so I stuffed the bag on the shelf under the coffee table for future bribing use.

And I kindof forgot about it.

This afternoon Ella was playing on the floor, happy as a pig-talked lark, and I was wasting time on Facebook doing very important work on the computer when I heard a familiar clinking noise.

I looked down to see this.
"Caught ya red-handed"

And then this. 
"Hey! Innocent until proven guilty.."

And then this. 
"Quite condemning evidence I'd say.."

And finally this.
"Good thing I'm cute!"

She was so proud of herself!
I think I've created a monster. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

picture this

So I've been meaning to take "nice" pictures of my kids for a long loooong time... so long, in fact, that I am very much ashamed to admit that I don't have ANY "nice" pictures of all 3 kids, or even Ella at all!

It seemed like I was always waiting for something--waiting for Ella to sit up on her own, waiting for bad haircuts to grow out, waiting for a nice day, waiting for the feeding tube to come out.... and then it seemed like whenever I would try to plan it, something would randomly occur.. thunderstorms, multiple black eyes, swollen-shut eyes from bug bites, salmonella poisoning... it just wasn't in the cards for us..

Until this weekend.

I was SO excited!! The weather was perfect, all eyes were clear, noses were tube-free, AND they all had naps. At the SAME time!! Clearly this was some sort of miraculous sign from above... YES! This was the weekend...

So I spent too many hours carefully picking out their cute little matching outfits, dreaming up photo locations, clearing my memory card, charging my camera battery... And Saturday night we finally set out to take the highly anticipated pictures I'd been dreaming of for months.

Everything really came together.

The kids were clearly thrilled to be there.

The lighting was perfect.

They did a exceptional job of looking at the camera,

and charmed me with their bright eyes.

Their outfits really looked nice,

and my camera focused amazingly well.


The kids did an admirable job of listening.. 

They payed attention,

showcased their adorable faces,

and brilliant smiles.

Ella was in a fabulous mood.

the entire time...

and sat up all by herself, with no help what-so-ever from the large hand and dark blob oddly situated behind her.

Did I mention everyone was in a great mood?

Anyways, I was so happy to get those "nice" pictures of all 3 kids my heart has been so desperately longing for.

When I got home I sorted the pictures into 2 folders.
 They were labeled: 'Decent' and 'So Awful They're Funny.'

I'll let you guess which folder has waaaaaay more...

How did people do this before Photoshop??
I am hoping to scrap together bits and pieces from all 331 photos I took, 
in an attempt to get one decent one...

I'll let you know how it goes.