11.

Dear Gracie Girl.

Oh, my Peanut. Today you turn 11. I’m not quite sure why, but this year seems so much harder to accept than last year when you hit those double digits.

Maybe it is because last year you were our sweet little girl…DSC_0472

…and now all we see is this crazy beautiful young lady.DSC_6004

Or maybe it is because if you keep sprouting you are going to be the tallest tree in our family. I used to carry you everywhere and now if I tried to give you a piggyback ride, your long legs would probably drag on the floor.

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I remember when you were born and Daddy and I would just sit and stare at you for hours. We couldn’t believe that you were ours and we marveled how every little piece of you was so, so perfect. My favorite bits of you were your fingers and your toes. I couldn’t get enough of them. And now…you don’t have enough of them. You happily told me last night, “After tomorrow I can’t hold up how old I am on my fingers, Mama, I’ll have to just hold a one and a one.”

One and a one. 1-1. 11.
Even if you live to be 111 – it will never be enough of you, Gracie Girl. You are one of the greatest loves of my life, sweet girl. And I hope you have the best year yet.

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Happy Birthday, Gracie!
Love,
Mama

Crafty Tuesday

There has been a minimal amount of crafting going on over here, unfortunately I have been too overwhelmed to post much about it. A quick little project that I’ve wanted to tackle for a year or two (has it been that long since we finished our kitchen??), I finally attempted and am pretty happy with.

A lone can of paint had been sitting in this cupboard (Sorry I didn’t take a before-I-emptied-our-life-out-of-here photo, but believe me, it wasn’t pretty.) along with a whole bunch of odds and ends. I really wanted to move my cookbooks back in here, so I unloaded it and got to work.
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I might have mentioned that I wanted to bring a little color into our kitchen, specifically the blue from this tile we have been working around.

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So I matched the blue as best I could (Behr’s Blueberry Hill, if you’re curious) and got to painting. I just wiped it all down with TSP and Liquid Sander and then painted. The Behr paint has a primer built in. Two coats later we got this…

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So it is a little…um…bright, as in “POW punch of BLUE!” but once the doors are closed it is much more understated and gives a cheery little bit of color to our corner.

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Addie just said that it looked “very boring when it was just brown,” so I’m going to put this project in the success column, I think.

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Perspective.

Ouch. Clearly the blog, (and keeping a running tally of our life for the future me to look back and reminisce on) isn’t high on my priority list this first part of 2014! I can’t believe we are already nearly a quarter into the year…it just doesn’t seem to ever slow down.

I wanted to hop on here, if for nothing else to post a few pictures and remind myself of this crazy, busy time in our life. I know for certain I am going to miss this one of these days. At least that is what I keep trying to tell myself when I feel like I cannot get up and out of bed one.more.day.

I’m going to miss the bickering girls and the non-stop Tuesdays that never seem to end. I’m going to miss the all day volleyball tournaments and entire weekends spent at ballet performances. I’m going to miss helping kindergartners learn how to use a mouse and not pick their nose, while simultaneously fixing a teacher’s printer for the 1,000th time. (Believe it or not – I’d take the kindergartners ANY day over some of the teachers!) I’m going to miss cleaning up Cooper’s accidents that seem to land just millimeters from the easier-to-clean-up hardwood floors, and on the carpet instead.

Wait…I don’t think I’ll EVER miss that last one. Potty training a dog is harder than a human…kinda want to buy those doggy diapers some days! Just kidding. (No…I’m really not – do you think they work??)

So we have pretty much been charging full speed ahead around here. Addie is continuing to do well in 3rd grade – surprising everyone, including herself. She told me the other day that she feels like she has learned more than she really needs to know to be a third grader. She thinks she is ready for 4th grade, apparently. I can’t believe how very grown up she is all of a sudden. When we pull up to the dance studio she has started telling me, “you can just drop me at the curb, you don’t have to come in, Mama!” A little bit of my heart broke the first time she told me that, but I notice she still stops when she gets to the door and blows me a kiss…not quite all little Miss Independence. (But she ia a great babysitter in the making. She and Amelia are two peas in a pod…CAT LOVERS…here they are watching the cats.)

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And over in the other corner is Ems who I have to remind myself DAILY – “is only 10 years old.” It is hard to not expect a lot more out of her when she looks, and acts, like she should be driving a car next year. She and her “girls” are rockin’ 5th grade. They went to JMS last week to tour the middle school. She also reminds me constantly how she is going to middle school. “Next year when I’m in middle school….” “Did you know that middle schoolers….” She just loves to drop that little bomb in wherever she can and give Mama just a bit more anxiety.

Where her sister is all about dance, Em has fallen in love with volleyball. Her skills keep improving weekly, almost as quickly as she is sprouting UP. The girl is going to be as tall as me next week, I’m pretty sure. She put her jeans on that I got her for Christmas the other day and they are – I’m not kidding – two inches too short. Her coach is loving her growth spurt(s). I guess I should just be happy she has a birthday coming up and the hot weather looks like it is here to stay…we are going to be needing a new wardrobe. And SHOES…we are going to be able to share shoes next year if her feet keep up at this rate! (I didn’t say it was ALL bad!)

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J just returned tonight from Rome, for work and he has been working like crazy these past few months. His team’s big project finally launched. (Disney Movies Anywhere – download it from iTunes!! It’s wicked cool.) But that only means more work. We are trying to figure out a summer vacation because we all could really use a week of doing no-to-the-thing.

And me. As I might have indicated, I feel a wee bit overwhelmed most days. I woke up last week and realized that I’m not really in love with this crazy lady I’ve become, in fact, I don’t really even like her. I’m impatient and crabby and just plain grumpy. The things I love doing, the people I love hanging out with, all of those things that are important to me….just don’t seem to be happening. I’m frustrated and not quite sure how to get it all back to that sweet spot.

But then I get a kick (or two) to the head. I have a dear friend who is fighting cancer. She started chemotherapy again. One of our families from school had a house fire last week and lost almost all of their belongings. Another couple is struggling just to have a baby. And I see so many people in our community that need some sort of job and would LOVE to have mine to go to each day.

So, I’ve decided I am going to attempt to struggle over here with these so-called “problems” with optimism and a little bit of grace and thankfulness. And I’m going to go away this weekend to a lovely yoga and contemplation retreat and get some perspective.

Because really? Isn’t it all just about having a little perspective.

 

Happy Birthday Daddy (& Uncle Hef!)

Ahem. I nearly forgot how to login to this here ‘ol blog. But today was the perfect day to brush off the dust and wish our favorite-boy-in-the-whole-world a Happy Birthday! (And our second fave boy, too!)

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You are the very best thing that has ever happened to me, J. I love you (and our beautiful life that we’ve built together) more than you’ll ever know. So very happy that 41 years ago you were born (and just a little less happy that we get to be the same age for a few months, too!)  ;)

Happy Birthday and here is to a GREAT year.
Love you, Daddy!
~ Your Girls (and boys!)

Speaking of boys, we tried desperately to get all of the furry family into the pic. Some kinda funny outtakes, before the kitties made a break for it…

We’re all in the photo….

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Oh, all looking sort of towards the camera….

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And the cats have had enough. Addie is resigned to having no kittens in the photo and Cooper is so embarrassed that he can barely show his face…

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Puppy Day.

At last…we have a puppy.

I thought that Addie was going to spontaneously self-combust just waiting for our puppy pick-up time this afternoon – even if she did wear her favorite kitty shirt to pick up our puppy!

And how are the real kitties liking the new addition?

Pepper was first out of the gate to come and investigate, and I *think* kind-of might even “like” the new puppy.

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Jack, on the other hand, was NOT so enthused. There was some growling, some hissing, and a lot of puffy tail-ness going on.

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Seriously? What is this?!

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But, I think all are settling in just fine. We are all in the same room right now, just hanging out. Puppy is crashed out at my feet, Pepper is on my lap purring happily, and Jack is in the laundry basket where he can keep a close eye on Puppy!

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But I mean, come on! He’s so super sweet….it’s hard to not just sit here staring at him. Look at that face!

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He’s even cute when he sleeps…

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Crafty Tuesday

Whoa. Did you think I totally left you over here? Nah…just trying to keep up with life. We have been doing a little crafting and I haven’t posted a thing in a long, long while so I thought I’d throw a few pics up and call it Crafty Tuesday!

First, a few months ago I decided that those old shutters that have been taking up space in our basement needed to be put to good use…or at least some sort of use. I need a little pop of color in our kitchen and also need a place to stick notes, photos, reminders, etc. So I took the hardware off of the shutter and spray painted it up. I love the result.

DSC_4249DSC_4242Which got me to thinking…I needed a board/organizational something or other for Christmas cards. And…still had this nice, long shutter sitting around…

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This time I pulled out the Christmas red spray paint…and divvied up the shutters so I had a present to send over to Birdie #2′s house and voila! Cool way to display all the cards I’m hoping to receive!

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Yes. It is looking a little sparse so far, isn’t it? And one of those cards is OURS! I didn’t design/craft our card this year. Something had to give, and these cards from Minted were so, so beautiful. Our photos totally fit into one, I ordered them and they have already been mailed. So worth the extra $ for some extra time! Except…I saved the $10 and 2 days extra time by not proofing it. Might have cut some words on the back of the card if I realized the font was going to be so tiny! Break out your spectacles if you want to read what we’ve been up to!

Anyhow, for these shutters I did use smaller clothespins and covered each of them with a bit of wasabi tape to make them just a little more festive.

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Oh, Addie and I also made an advent calendar. Well, again…found a great download from Mr. Printables  and then we added it to our frame. So it was sort of 1/2 crafted by us. But we also made one for the other Voris household and the lil’ noodle’s first Christmas. So 1/2 crafted x 2 = a full craft, right? ;)

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We have a more crafts planned for the next few weeks. Might not get back to report on them, but we’ll be back soon. Happy last two weeks before Christmas!

K5 Learning Review

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So with my new job I’ve been on a hunt to find new and fun online educational activities for the kiddos – both mine and the 400 kids at school! I saw this opportunity on my friend Colleen’s blog and jumped on the boat. We get to play on K5 Learning’s site for 6 weeks and you can bet that I’ll keep you updated with what I find and what the girls think of the site, too! Stay tuned…

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K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Thankful November: Week 4

Only one more week of November left! So it went by fairly quickly, right? Okay…who are we kidding!? – November went ridiculously warp-speed fast. But I had many things to be so thankful for this week again.

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Thankful #18: for California “Fall” weather. The crisp, chilly mornings and that golden “autumn” afternoon light – makes me so happy to pull out my sweaters.

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Thankful #19: Tuesday night date nights. A little red, er…white carpet action. (@ Disney’s new movie Frozen…world premiere in Hollywood)

Okay, just a little sidenote here…in case you haven’t heard my all-out gush about how amazing the Frozen movie is. It is going to become an instant Disney classic. It is so, so SO fantastic. The music gave me (gives me) goosebumps – it is full on “Wicked/Broadway quality.” And the animation is really so beautiful. The story is contemporary and current with such a great girl-power message. I just can’t stop thinking about how much I loved it – the whole movie is really just breathtaking. I can’t wait to hear how you all like it as well. And I can’t wait to go see it this coming weekend with the girls!

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Thankful #20: for our home. No place I’d rather be at the end of the day.

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Thankful #21: for rainy days. They are so far and few between here that it feels a little special to pull out the boots and umbrellas! Of course they are much better from my warm sofa curled up with a book!

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So, thankful #22 just didn’t happen. Not sure what was going on – but I’m sure whatever it was I was very thankful for it. So instead…I’ll just pop this a-DOR-able pic of my sweet niece in there…because…I can!

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Thankful #23: thankful for a free Saturday today. Got to spend time with Grandpa Mike and visit our fave chili place on west side. And tonite (Saturday) got a date night with our good friends. So thankful for a “free” Saturday – at least free of “have to do” things.

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Thankful #24: for a little time to craft today. Getting a few projects crossed off the list and a few gifts too. Felt so good to get my sewing machine and paintbrush out and busy! Hope i can keep it rolling this week….

And that is what I fully intend to do. Keep the projects, crafting, thankful days rolling this week. We are off of school/work so we will be working hard at….working hard! Have a blessed week.

 

 

 

Thankful: Week 3

Well, we had another busy, crazy week but we had so much to be thankful for as always. The big things and small…

Thankful #12: That we have girly girls (most of the time) who love a good mani/pedi even more than me! Lovely way to spend part of our day “off!”
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Thankful #13: For this little cutie. So lucky to share a birthday with her; to live close to her for my baby fixes; and for precious moments between my babies and Amelia. We are all smitten with her.

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Thankful #14: For the other girls in my life. Birdie 2 and Cyn – you have the best shoulders and I can’t imagine my life without you. And Greta – you give me such peace – you are the coolest nun, ever!! Love you, girls.

3Thankful #15: That the girls didn’t get my musical ability, or rather inability. They both inherited those good musical genes from their Daddy, or Papa or Aunt Meesh. And I’m so grateful. Getting ready for instrument recital tonite.
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(P.S. They did great, by the way! I didn’t realize the significance that night, but it was Em’s last recital at Coolidge. Awww….)

Thankful #16: Today I am thankful for having known Aunt Chris. It seems unreal that it has been a year since she left us here on Earth, but she will never leave our hearts. I’m also thankful that mom is able to be with her sisters this weekend. Love you all. #thankful

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Thankful #17: for Sunday afternoon solo grocery shops. Added bonus at Von’s – Sbux right inside door. Added, ADDED bonus today – buy one get one coffee free, and my sweet Cyndi was here to share a coffee treat with me!

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And, this wasn’t a thankful this week…but I sure do love having these two sweet kitties around, too.

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Have a thankful, blessed week!