#microblogmonday 2

Well, I started #microblogmonday and then skipped a week…but that’s ok, right.

Back at it today.

We managed to get “Christmas” put away yesterday and now my house feels so much more open and roomy. I love the glow of the Christmas lights, but am always SO HAPPY to take it all down and reclaim my house.

Jon’s off work this week and so we are just taking it easy.

We went and saw Unbroken last night. I really didn’t want to go and see it because I assumed it would be a fairly intense movie and my life is fairly intense. I like to “escape” into movies with lighthearted and somewhat implausible story lines. But, the people I was with really wanted to see Unbroken and so I went. It was a good movie….just intense.

As far as the whole “Food Addiction” goes, I’ve managed to do really well throughout Christmas although it’s not been without some serious mental gymnastics. I find it SO interesting the games my mind will try to play on me……sugar is a drug. SO NOT COOL!!!! I’ll try to post part 3 of My Journey with Food Addiction soon.

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

How has your Christmas Holidays been, so far?

Christmas Day

I want to get these days recorded here before I forget details and moments.

I’m so thankful to have the pictures to look at and remember.

It’s long been a rule that no one is allowed to get their stockings until after 7am. You must stay in your bed until 7am and “woe be to you” if you wake any other person in the house up…..especially before then. The last few years….no one’s woken up before 7am….unless you count Xandra waking up in the middle of the night and going down to sleep on the couch until morning.

This year, the kids got up and even took Judah up to open his stocking. Sometimes, having the older ones who are able to take care of the little ones really turns out in your favor.

This is the first year EVER that I didn’t get up to see them open their stockings. I was TOO tired. In fact, I stayed in bed until after 8am…..until finally the kids could wait on longer and came down to wake me up.

This was my view as I walked up the stairs from the basement……the wreckage and aftermath of the stockings.

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We also make the kids eat breakfast first, before we open any presents….just drawing out the agony a little bit longer…..

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Normally, breakfast is a whole lot fancier than this, but this year……we rocked the cereal and I even let the older 4 kids have “normal” cereal.

After Breakfast, we moved over to the couches to open presents. I manned the camera and enjoyed my Christmas treat of coffee…..

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There were a few cuddles while we waited for everyone to get there.

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Jon passed out the presents and the unwrapping commenced….

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There was a lot of happy squeals and shouts as the presents were opened.

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After Christmas Eve, Judah had finally figured out what the whole deal with presents was.

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He was very excited to unwrap….

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….and unwrap….

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and to keep unwrapping…..he must have worked on that gift for about 10 minutes. It was pretty cute.

It was a great Christmas morning. It was a bit more subdued that usual, but even that was okay…

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After the presents were opened, there was a bit of a lull as the kids enjoyed their gifts…

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It was so good to just have a “normal, boring” Christmas. No Hospital visits or illness to bring stress to the day….just our family…..together. Perfect!

DSC_0291< The kids played nicely together while we got the dinner ready.

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Everyone got changed out of their jammies before we ate dinner. The girls were pretty excited to get new clothes and jewlery….how fun! It’s so nice to see Geli looking so healthy….last years photos are not as cheery!

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Daddy and his boys…

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After dinner, the excitement of the day was started to show and the little ones were wearing down…

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We played a few games….

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…..where did you go?….

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PEEK-A-BOO!

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And the big kids played games too….

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Finally, it was bedtime and we shooshed them all off to bed because we had one more day of fun still to go……

If you’d like to see the whole set of our Christmas Day Pictures, click here……

Christmas Eve

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over, but is it….

The weeks leading up to Christmas were a bit insane with trying to get all the presents made, but we did it. In fact, this year, I was actually ready for Christmas by the morning of the 24th. That’s the earliest that I’ve ever been ready. Now, to be honest, we did have to run out to the store to pick up one thing and trade out some pajamas that we bought for Judah. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I bought his original pajamas 2 sizes too small…..anyway….other than that, Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day.

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We started having a Christmas Eve Fondue with Jon’s parents a few years ago and it’s become a Tradition. As soon as we start to think about Christmas, decorate for Christmas, or start to think about making presents….the kids start to ask about Christmas Eve fondue.

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I love that we have these fun traditions with our family. It just seems to make things more exciting and special.

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Judah is especially excited because the entire fondue was Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free. So it was safe for all of us. YAH! What’s even better….it was FREAKING DELICIOUS!

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After we finished our meal, we decided to open presents first and then to come back to eat dessert – Chocolate Fondue – after we were finished opening presents.

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Siah was SO Excited! He could hardly wait to open his presents. Jeremy was also so VERY excited, but he just wanted to be able to give the presents that he had bought with his own money! It was very sweet.

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This is the first time that Judah has really “gotten” into opening presents and he had so much fun. He absolutely LOVED this present that his Nana & Papa bought for him.

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He has played with his car non-stop.

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After we opened our presents, we headed back for some Chocolate Fondue!

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Angelica was loving her some Chocolate Strawberries…

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And then her and Nana started to goof around a little….

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It was pretty funny!

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After the Chocolate Fondue, we sent the kids off to change into their Christmas Pajamas. Isn’t he cute?

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Nana and Geli….

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Xani….all three, so pretty!

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We started a game of Apples to Apples….

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I played about 2 rounds and then Judah couldn’t handle it any longer…..

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….and so I put him out out his misery.

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After the game, we sat down for our traditional Christmas Story. This year we choose to read, Humphrey the Christmas Camel.

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After all the kids were put to bed, and the stocking’s were stuffed and the house was closed down for the night……we headed off to bed….this is probably the earliest that we’ve been to bed on a Christmas Eve…only 1:45am. Not bad, eh?

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To see all of the pics from Christmas Eve click here….

Geli here

Hey everybody! I was thinking about selling some paintings for Christmas, and wondered if you had any ideas of what I could paint. I have one idea: a Cancer Ribbon Butterfly, (look up pictures on Google, I can’t do the hyperlink thing) and was wondering if anyone was interested in that??? They’ll be biggerish paintings, I have two 60x80cm canvases. So if you could give some examples of something you might like, I’ll see what I can do and put them up somewhere (still not sure where yet) and sell ’em.

I’m Dreaming of…..

So I’m sitting in front of my happy light crying…..how ironic is that?

I do believe that I’m about due for that whole monthly thing within the next week (I apologize if that’s TMI for ya) but even knowing that doesn’t really make me feel that much better.

I don’t feel Christmas-y AT ALL!  I’ve been going through the motions, trying to convince myself that “I’m SO EXCITED that its Christmas time”  because….well….because I typically LOVE Christmas and maybe, just maybe I can convince myself into being happy and excited about Christmas instead of just wishing it were over already!

This is a tough year.  We are still in the trenches of our fight against cancer, but the intensity of the situation has lifted just enough that we can look around a little and breathe.  In some ways, that feels just as bad as when we were in the thick of it all and all we could really concentrate on was just getting through the day.  At least then, we didn’t really have the time or energy to see what we “were” or “were not” doing.  We were just trying to do our best and to “exist” through a very tough time.  Not that I have a lot of time or energy right now, but I do have a little bit more than I did back then…..YAH for small victories….sorta!

I was listening to the radio as I drove the kids to school this morning and a story came on about a little boy who was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 4.  He’s now five and the the radio station was raising money to help make this an amazing Christmas for him and his family.  They mentioned the part where he’s been in treatment for the past year and that he has another 2 years of treatment to go…..My first throught was…..That’s horrible!  That’s such a long time. My second thought was…..Oh Yah!  That’s where we are at!

We don’t have to go through two more years of treatment, but we do have to go through another year of treatment and it’s tough.  I cried for that little boy’s family.  I know what they are feeling.  I know how tough it’s been for them.  I cried for our family.  It’s been a tough year and a half.

And so I cry.  I try to pull myself together.  I turn my Happy Light on and dream of sunshine and warm beaches…..

And then I’ve got to go and work on this……

Mount Laundry

Because it won’t fold itself, eh?

Gelica’s Christmas List – From Gel

Hey everybody, every year mum gets us to post our x-mas lists so grandparents and other family and friends can see what we want for Christmas, so here’s my list.

– Soft colored pencils
– Kneaded eraser
– 2nd + Narnia books
– 2nd + Percy Jackson and the Olympians books
– Themed Monopoly
(but not: M&M, Disney 3rd edition or Monopoly Deal)
– Subway, Starbucks, Chapters, House of James, iTunes and/or mall gift cards
– WHITE, 4TH GEN, 32 GB IPOD TOUCH
(OR BLACK)
– Nail polish: light brown, light green, blue, orange, yellow, purple, black, white, hot pink, red and/or other colors
– Stephanie Smith, Gungor, and/or Adventure in Odyssey CDs
– Eye shadow: soft, light colors                                                                                                – Laptop
(preferably Mac)

This and That and The Other Thing

I’m not sure why but the baby has started to take a nap on the couch. What I mean is that if I nurse him, he will fall asleep and then if I put him on the couch….he will stay asleep. If I put him into his crib….not so much. This makes no sense to me but if I can have a few minutes without someone whining and clinging to my pants legs…..then I’m just going to go with it.

Sleeping

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I’m EXHAUSTED. I’ve been on the go since November the 13th because I’ve had one thing or another planned. First I was trying to get ready for the Craft Fair, and then I needed to get ready for a Christmas Party/Cookie Swap and I also was feeling quite a bit of stress about doing the whole Hospital/Chemo thing by myself….

Today is more or less a down day except I have to pile ALL the kids into the car and take Geli and Jeremy to see our Family Dr. later this afternoon. It always feels stressful when I have to take all of the kids somewhere especially when there is a fairly good opportunity to act out or misbehave.

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I’m trying to figure out what we are going to do about Christmas this year. With Jon being laid off from work and the lag in getting his next paycheck, things are tight. I’m trying to figure out what I can make – as in homemade gifts – but there is always this guilt that the kids are going to be disappointed. I know that in the grand scheme of things that life and love and togetherness are the most important, but as parents we want to give our children special things, right? I have been talking with the kids about “giving” as opposed to receiving and I do know that things will work out okay. I just seem to do really well when I have a plan; when I know exactly what I’m going to do or what to expect….I’m still trying to figure things out and to be able to do it without feeling frazzled or stressed.

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I’m really trying to eliminate stressors from my life. I want to be able to enjoy life and to not be stressing about too many things on my plate or about all the things that I could or should be doing. It’s not so easy to find the balance and yet I’m really working on it. I’m trying to live within my capabilities and to be able to really enjoy “living” life and not just existing. I’m trying to be present for my family and with my kids. This is also not as easy as it sounds like it could be and yet…I believe it’s doable. I’m also trying to embrace the season that I’m in.

I’m a mom. I have two little boys. I remember how much work it was when I had three little ones (Geli, Xani and Jeremy) because I’m right back in the thick of those early days. Siah is 4 and Judah is 1 and it’s not an easy phase. What I have going for me is that I know that it won’t last forever and that I want to really enjoy this time with them. It’s tough. It’s exhausting. It’s messy. There is a lot of whining and diaper changing and wiping runny noses and cleaning and tidying and doing the same things (like rescuing a child from on top of the table, building block towers, or reading the same 2 books) over and over and over again. There is little sleep and even less “me” time, and yet, when I look at these little boys….at all of my kids, I’m so thrilled that they are mine and I’m awed with the responsibility of raising them. I believe in them and will try my best to raise them to be amazing men and women. It’s a lot of work, but they are worth every bit of time and energy.

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We had our day at the hospital yesterday and for whatever reason, the Oncology clinic was PACKED with kids and parents. At one point every seat was taken, inside and outside of the clinic and there were a TON of parents and kids standing. This meant that the 1 hour appt took 4 hours. Which SUCKS SO BAD! And, the whole deal with Angelica and the itching that she’s been experiencing…..nothing. They don’t believe that it has anything to do with the chemo or anything Oncology related and so we are just to Monitor it. That’s not so cool as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know what to do exactly and I’m just hoping that things will get better and not worse. I’m hoping that Geli will “test the waters” so to speak, tonight and we will see whether or not things are improving, holding steady or getting worse.

Aside from the itching, Angelica is doing okay. She is on the mend, but it taking longer than is normal or expected…..Normal is really not a good term for it….because really, what is normal?

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I’d love it if you’d check out my shop. There are some great products, in there.

Simple Choices

I think the favorite products right now are tied between:

the Lotion Bar – EVERYONE who has tried it has RAVED about it.
the Calm Room Spray – it can be sprayed in kids bedrooms to help settle them down
the Breathe Cream – to help with congestion, due to coughs and colds
the Refresh Cream – to help with headaches, digestive issues, sore muscles and for a general “pick-me-up”

And everyone seems to LOVE the lip balms….the peppermint seems to be the winner right now.

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I’m hoping to be able to make a gluten-free Gingerbread house with the kids in the next few weeks. We’ve been talking about making small ones. I hope it works out. You can get the MOST AMAZING gingerbread recipe over at Gluten-Free Girl’s website. I made a batch which makes around 72 cookies and my kids have DEVOURED them. I have less than 2 dozen left….they are just that good.

Gingerbread

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Do you have a favorite Christmas Cookie?

I love Whipped Shortbread, and those Gingerbread Cookies up above.

And, the baby just woke up and so I’m done for now…..

Siah’s Super Clips

Siah gave the babies those cute little hardwood teethers, and yes, to those who have asked. I would definitely be interested in selling some so talk to me if you’re interested.

When it came to the rest of the siblings and cousins, we didn’t figure that wooden teethers would be very much appreciated and so we needed to come up with a different idea.

I had seen these wooden clips before and I wondered if we could replicate them as well. They are basically a large wooden clothes peg…..sorta?!?

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They are perfect for creating tents and forts. The wooden clips are big enough that they attach to most furniture and the strength of the clasp can be adjusted using the elastics. I imagine that they could be useful for other things as well. We’ve already thought about adding a set of 4 or 8 to our camping gear as we figure they’d be really handy to keep the tablecloth ON the table and possibly useful for holding up wet towels or even tarps.

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He wanted to play, not do pictures

One of the nice things about them is that they are just made from regular lumber and can use up the offcuts that might be laying around; and even if the elastic breaks….you can just get another one and wind it around a bunch of times.

Jon made these up and once again, Siah helped to play with them and then wrap them up. We gave Siah a break this year……well, we gave ourselves a break, too. This year it was just easier to do it ourselves and to give his gifts to him to give, as opposed to recruiting his help….which wouldn’t have been very helpful at all. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for something that he can actually “do” mostly by himself for next year.

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I find them laying around my house all over the place, and while I dislike them laying around my house….I love that it means that my kids are playing with them.

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Enough already! I just want to play and finish whatever snack I have in my mouth!

Can you think of any other ideas that we could use these clips for?

In other non related newsJudah woke up early this morning with a fever. I believe that it’s just a virus, but I was particularly stressed because of the issues relating to his bowels. He had no other symptoms initially, but now he is quite stuffed up. His temperature is hovering in between 37.5 and 38 degrees Celsius and so it’s a low grade fever. He is nursing and eating and playing, but is definitely “off” and wants to be held and is quite clingy. I’ve been mostly awake since 3am this morning and hove done well up until now. Now…..the lack of sleep has caught up with me and I’m exhausted. He’s finally gone down in his own bed for a nap and has been sleeping for about 20 minutes. The longest he’s napped all day today.

I’m not sure what’s going on as Siah also has a runny nose, but no other symptoms. The stress of my family’s health wears on my heavy and so if you could pray that we’d be healthy and that I’d not stress so much, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

The Butterflies Flutterby

For Christmas, Jeremy gave one of his sisters and 3 of his cousins, a whole bunch of butterflies.

…Paper Butterflies, to be exact!

This is another inexpensive gift, and once you have the tools…..you can make this gift for any number of people that you know that might enjoy them….

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We had a small butterfly paper punch and I took another 40% off coupon to Michaels (Don’t go shopping there without one. You can google for one and print it out yourself.) and bought a large butterfly punch. I think that it was originally about $23 and with the coupon, I paid about $14. I had Scrap booking paper at home but in the pictures that you see here…..I actually used some paint chips from Home Depot that I got for free.

Angelica hasn’t put up the color co-ordinated butterflies that Jeremy gave her yet. (Disclaimer: I very quickly and with out too much thought threw these butterflies up on Xandra’s wall before Christmas time – this was actually the “idea” behind Jeremy giving the “wall decorating butterflies” as gifts. In the future, I would probably take a bit more time to place them better, but I was rushing and basically just threw them up therel.)

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I think that we need a little back story to go along with this post…..

Angelica and Alexandra were sharing the rec room in the basement as their bedroom when Angelica was diagnosed with Leukemia. After spending the month in the hospital with either her mom or her dad, Angelica was feeling the need to be closer to us. Jon and I and the boys have the rooms on the top floor. Xani had been staying up on the top floor with us while Geli and Jon were in the hospital and so it seemed like the right thing to do, to re-arrange the rooms so that Geli and Xani could be upstairs and close to us.

This was a very good move. Geli was SO sick and needed to be close to us and Xani really needed to be close to us as well. We got a bunk bed and moved the girls into the room that we had been using as the TV/office room. The boys stayed in their room and Jon and I stayed in our room with Judah. 7 people in 3 rooms. Hah! It was awesome.

Angelica has been feeling the need for some space recently and has been feeling independent and strong enough to want her own room. We finally moved her down stairs into one third of the rec room. The TV is in the middle third and Xani is behind some bookshelves in the final third. So, the 2 girls have their own spaces and they are loving it. We have placed a monitor down in the hallway close to the bathroom and the girls rooms and so if they need us in the middle of the night, they just have to call and we can come running.

Wouldn’t you know it that since we’ve moved the girls down there, we’ve not needed it…..until a couple of nights ago and for whatever reason, the receiver up in our room was turned off. Angelica was having a bad night coming off of the steroid and was in so much pain and we couldn’t even hear her to go to her to help her. Finally Xandra woke up and came up to get us. Now we make sure that it’s on before we go to sleep at night.

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We’ve moved Jeremy into the room that the girls had been in and now he finally has his own space which is HUGE thing for him right now. In the last while, he was getting quite frustrated sharing a room with his 3 year old brother who is struggling with the whole “respect your siblings property” concept. We are working with him on that one….it’s not exactly a quick learn. Not Fun!

We are still unsettled on what exactly we are going to do with Josiah and his big bedroom; and Judah is not quite ready to move into a room with Josiah and so for now…..Josiah has a HUGE room to himself, while Jon, Judah and I share the master bedroom, and……we’re all okay right now.

Okay….back to Xani’s space/room.

There is a horrible wall paper border down in the rec room (see photos above) AND the walls are painted a really nasty putty color AND….it’s kinda dark and icky down there.

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I went to Home Depot the other day because I was dreaming about painting different rooms in our house. I have absolutely no energy or time or ability to be painting rooms (at this point in our lives) and yet the fact that I was even dreaming about what I might like to do in the future…..pretty amazing. I picked up a bunch of paint chips to see how the different colors looked in the different rooms and to see which of the colors we all liked.

I sat down at the table one evening and punched a bunch of butterflies from the paint chips. I put a pop dot on the back of each butterfly and then took them down stairs and stuck them on Xani’s wall. I was just hoping to brighten up the drab-ness of her space a little. After I got the few that I had, punched out and stuck on the wall – I ran upstairs to punch butterflies out of the rest of the paint chips. It is just a hodge-podge of color.

Xani was away when I did this and was thrilled when I came back. One day when we do get the rec room done the way that we would like it to be, I’ll probably punch out a bunch more that are color co-ordinated to a color palette that she chooses, but for now….there’s just a little bit more color in an other wise very un-colorful corner.

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Depending on whether or not you had paper at home to use or had to buy some…or if you went and picked up some big paint chips….this is a fairly inexpensive gift and one that is easy to make and do, even for younger kids to help with.

To make this craft idea, you would need:

– Paper (card stock or heavy gauge paper works best)
– Pop dots (or some other raised double sided adhesive)
– Paper Punch (we went with butterflies but I saw a really cute elephant and I also think that different size circles as polka dots would be SO CUTE, too.)

Jeremy and I worked together punching out the butterflies and attaching the pop-dots. We put together sets of 120 small and big butterflies and packaged them as gifts. Jeremy even made origami boxes for them to be given in. I wish I had thought to take a picture. They were so cute and so very much, from Jeremy. He LOVES origami. Anyway, I think there are about 70-ish butterflies in those pictures (above) from Xani’s walls.

In all of my dreaming…..I was dreaming about painting my laundry room a bright cheery yellow color and I would LOVE to put a bunch of white butterflies on the wall to brighten up my teeny, tiny dismal little laundry room. It’s one of those things that I am looking forward to for the future, and knowing that I can just punch them out when I want them, is so much fun!

Do you have any craft ideas for decorating your house or place or work space or even just ideas that you are looking forward to using in the future? I’d love to hear some of our favorite ideas.

Siah’s Gifts for the Babies

Josiah received a bit of help with his gifts…

Well, honestly, I wanted to be able to give these to the babies and Jon and I worked on them together and in an effort to make things as easy as possible – we gave them to Siah to give to the babies.

He helped to play with them before hand and also to wrap them up and well……that counts doesn’t it?

This year, it counts! It just does.

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I bought a wooden teething toy for Josiah when he was a baby. I loved that it was all natural. These are made from Maple and are finished with Flaxseed Oil.

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There are tons of these wooden teethers available for purchase on the internet and I wondered if we would be able to re-create some for ourselves.

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We purchased a piece of hardwood and decided which designs that we wanted to create and Jon started cutting.

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I love this hippo. I think he’s absolutely adorable. I have been trying to come up with an elephant design as I LOVE elephants and I’d love to be able to design the cutest elephant. I just don’t want it to have too many small pointy or sharp(ish) edges.

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I also love these guitar’s.

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Which design is your favorite? They were so much fun to make and I will definitely be giving these out as gifts in the future.

I love that the babies get a kick out of sucking and chewing on these, but a bonus surprise has been that Xandra and her cousins have enjoyed playing with the camera & keys; and that Josiah has loved playing with these also. I love the fact that they are using their imaginations to play with these. I also love that they are being used my children from infancy through to 12 years old. I’m wanting to make more wooden toys to encourage them in creative and imaginative play.

This gift was a lot of fun to create and even more fun to give.