Sometimes in the darkness of winter

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the dreariness of the gray, and the shortness of the days can be a bit much sometimes.

And sometimes I just need a reminder of sunnier times and when my yard is more colorful, because right now it is dead and brown and looking blech!   My daffodils are starting to poke their heads up through the ground--but we still have a LONG way to go! 

I love the Fall!!


I won! I won! I won!

Ooops!  I mean "WE" won! 

Our neighborhood was holding a "Best Decorated House" contest for outdoor Christmas decor.  A challenge I was secretly hoping to win, but not holding my breath. We have 180 homes in this neighborhood!  That's a lot..and we have one house that REALLLLY puts Clarke W. Griswold to shame.  Seriously! 

Plus, Rookie somehow managed to accidentally forget to help me decorate the outside of the house this year, which meant no lights around the upper windows. 

However, the kids helped me and they are TERRIFIC and enthusiastic helpers! 

Truly!!  Pretty soon--they can be the one on the ladder and not me. 

I love Christmas, and take my decorating seriously--I firmly believe it must look good in the light of day and at night!!!  

Anyway--back to my winning.  So, I never heard anything, and based on what I saw around the neighborhood I assumed I'm wasn't going to.  But a week after New Years, I got a knock and the door and a $50.00 gift card to the Home Depot was delivered to me! 

I know!  Wow! Awesome!  Yippee!

 I never really got a good picture of the front of the house, but this is of the porch...and not even very good.  But I do think it looked good.
However, I am going to have to step it up for next year.  The pressure is ON!  And I am determined to stretch my winning streak to two!  However...my stuff is old...I need some added life.....I might have to get ALL NEW STUFF to really wow! 

What'd think honey?  Are you with me?!?!


I love chalk board paint

Let me rephrase that!!!  I L.O.V.E chalkboard paint. 

First of all--it's is SOOO forgiving!  No perfection in its application needed (score for me!)
Second of all--you can do so many cool things with it!
Third of all--you can do SOOOO many cool things with it! 

My friend Jenny @ jennyonthespot.com did this:

   Happy 40th!

And last Spring, Rookie and I made a chalk board for the kitchen (....it's a cruddy photo from my phone)


However--this post is about my recent project!!!

My friend Stacey, who recently moved to Portland last summer, (I think it's finally sinking in that she has moved.  She was my one mom friend who'd I go have coffee with in the middle of the day for no reason and before you know it, we'd have pissed away 3.5 hours gossiping about everyone talking about world matters and crucial topics!  I miss that!  And, yes, part of it is now I have 3.5 extra hours to try and figure out what to do so that I don't have to do all my stupid household chores--curse you never-ending laundry/dishes/dusting jobs!)

Anyway, back to my friend Stacey--because she was moving, she had some PURGING to do.  One of the items I scored was an old fashion style snow sled.  I think it might have been Jason's (her honey) and he would probably not appreciate what I've done with it (because he's from Maine and he probably had to ride it to and from school or the grocery store full of fur pelts and supplies in the dead of winter in freezing, frigid Maine).  But maybe not. 

I knew exactly what I was going to do with it once I got it! 

You guessed it, use chalkboard paint and turn it into a message board for the front porch!!! 

Cool right???

First my honey had to do some minor repairs (...damage probably accrued while lugging fur pelts and lamp oil in Maine in the olden days).  
 I can do repairs, but sometimes I just don't like dealing with having to get out (and WORSE, putting away) tools.  I wish i could have a HUGE warehouse where everything could be left out ALL the time.  If I want a hammer and nail--I would walk over there--and it would just being laying there for me--if I wanted to sand some wood--it would be in another area.  If I needed a drill--it would be laying out ready for my use in another area.  And the best part would be that I never have to put them away!!!  What a dream!

I digress. 

Here's my finished project.  I LOVE how it turned out.  I wish I had better penmanship--but you get the idea.
 My "Winter" Porch! 


Totally Barfy--or Science--however you look at it!

Any of my close friends will tell you that I do NOT DO BARF!  Seriously--at all.  It is the worst.  I can barely tolerate my children getting sick, but because I love them more than life itself I do.  But if anyone else:  if you barf around me--I'm outta there--i don't care what you need.  If you chopped off your arm, I could probably pick it up and give it to you, but if you start barfing, I will throw it at you. 

One time we had a MOMS Club field trip to a dentist office...and this other mom, who was pregnant, was overcome by morning sickness and lost her breakfast...well, instead of being a concerned, kind and motherly friend, I snatched my kids and bolted. I have no idea what happened after that. I mean bolted, like stepped over, through and practically knocked other people over to get out of that place.  (I am a horrible human--I know!)

This is also why we don't own a cat!  Hairballs = barf!

HOWEVER--I love science!  And I thought it would be NEAT-O to get the kids Owl Pellet kits for Christmas.   Trey got to dissect owl pellets in the 2nd grade---but due to budget cuts and probably a number of other reasons, Ry's class never got to do that.  So, I wanted him to experience dissecting an owl pellet looking for mice/vole/mole bones!!!   

One brilliant morning over Christmas break, I set the table up so we could break into these fascinating kits! 

At first it was just Ryan and I digging into the pellets, Rookie and Trey were in the middle of an epic battle of Mario Chess!  The kits come with ....well, you can read in the picture above what it comes with.  I kind of liked it--I was neat to bust into the compact little fur balls...and literally--that's what they were--fur balls. 
You had to pick-pick-pick, use the tweezers to separate and sure enough...very distinguishable bones...jaws, femurs, ribs.  Lots and lots of little bones.  Ry was totally into it.
I kind of was too.



My mind starting really thinking about WHAT I was doing.

I don't care what you call it--owl pellets are really owl barf...and here I am with my nose 3" from it!!!!

I started to feel really grossed out.  But trying to be the "cool-isn't-this-a-neat-learning-experience-mom", I stifled my heebie-jeebies and gracefully called for a substitution!
Rookie and Treyson came to join the "party" and I got to take pictures!   The bones weren't all white and clean and perfect like I was expecting them to be.  I think that was part of my problem.  Having to poke hair out of the eye-socket of a vole kind of got to me!
HOWEVER, it really is a fascinating thing. 

The kids and Rookie really liked it.  Ryan was REALLY digging it...which is exactly the point.  

If you haven't done it, you should.  It's cool...and if I can do it--ANYONE can do it. For a fun Christmas break activity, I'd give this a 9.5 out of 10!


Reindeer Games

Weeks before Christmas (before Thanksgiving even) I came across this website that made me want to host Christmas Dinner at my house and invite BOTH sides of the family.  (Plus it saves us from having to be in the car for 5 hours on a Christmas day when the kids--and we--just want to be at home)
Her blog filled my head with grandiose ideas and visions of fun and awesome-ness about family holidays, much the way a good movie does.  You know where you say to yourself, "why can't my family be that way?"  Well, because it's Hollywood and it's all fake.  But this website I stumbled across, because of Pintrest--by the way--gave me ideas and hope of the perfect Christmas Holiday!
So---here it goes! 

I got Rookie on board with my ideas of Reindeer Games--we had all kinds of games planned (all stolen ideas from above mentioned website) and we were EXCITED!  Between both sides of the family--extended and everything--we would have 21 people--8 kids, 13 adults!  Sweet!  We could do this. 

However, once Christmas got closer, it all fell apart.  :-(   
I know--right? 

Heavy sigh.  
Rookie's Mom was pretty excited about it (actually super excited, like trying to get out of me what the games were going to be so she could practice them)...and his sister and her kids were excited about it--but the excitement petered out in all other branches of the family.  Then other peoples plans changed, people were sick and the day did not have the Hollywood ending I was envisioning. 

Rookie says I always do this to myself--have these expectations in my head, and then if they don't come through to fruition exactly the way i see them happening, then I'm disappointed. 

Whatever, Dr. Phil!


It's Christmas--I tried to salvage it for the kids--my boys were excited for the Reindeer games...so we did a mini-version.   However, with half the people watching basketball games in the other room and  half the kids playing upstairs,  it was a jumble of ho-hum! 

We tried a few anyway!! 

The Nut-Stacker!
Using only one hand and a candy cane, stack the nuts on top of one another:  3 stacks of 5! 

 They all had different techniques  It was pretty funny to watch!  The grandma's even did--as did one of the aunts--NONE of the Uncles or Grandpa's.  Geez--party-poopers!

Next game: 

Jingle Ball Balance:

Get as many ornaments on the balancing yard stick as you can in one minute!   We only had one ornament break!  It was surprisingly really easy. 

OK--and that's the last of it, that's all we did--1 1/2 games! 
I know--all these games planned and prepped and none of the fun-havers.  
The Cookie Dance: getting a cookie from your forehead to your mouth with no hands. 
The Tree Builder:  stacking cups in a pyramid with one hand.
The Kistle-Toe game:  getting an ornament on the string with the use of a partner and no hands! 
Rudolph's Nose: pom-pom glued to a string, vaseline on the nose, string in the mouth and get the pom-pom on the nose.  

So much fun to be had!!!!
I am determined to do the complete round of Reindeer Games and get great pictures full of people (related or not) smiling and having fun and competing in these awesome games. 



GIANT Gingerbread men!

For as long as I can remember, the boys and I (sometimes, but rarely, Rookie) decorate a Gingerbread House(s) at Christmas.  It is always fun, and they are always *beautiful* and they always sit around my house tempting little boys to naw on them and break their teeth off on petrified candy pieces.  Last year was special doing it with our friends the Denney's and the Lovett's.  But this year (again, the Hawaii trip screwed everything up) we didn't have time to do them!
We did, however, find these bad boys at Trader Joe's!  AWESOME! 

Giant Gingerbread men...complete with all the things you need to decorate them!

Are you kidding me?!?!  14" in Gingerbread awesome-ness!

Trey did have to sample the goods (thus the missing limbs) but Ry wanted to SAVE his, so it was PERFECT for the Reindeer!  How sweet of him!! 
And as always, we leave them out for Santa's Reindeer on Christmas Eve with some Carrots and love!  Several years ago, Santa's reindeer's had a helper in the form of a HUGE Raccoon who came up on our porch...oggly - moogly!