Monday, August 25, 2008

End of Summer!

Every year we have a big party the weekend before Labor Day. We invite just about anyone we know who wants to come and visit, eat great food, enjoy fabulous company and play some fun games. This year was a huge success, just like every other. I did a count in my head of how many people were here (I couldn't fall asleep last night) and I came up with over 70. But 50 of those were 10 and under. Okay, so maybe not, but it seemed like it.

Here's Alayna holding little McKenna. Isn't she a doll? She's getting so big and seriously has more hair than Mikayla. *sigh* My girls have all been near bald until about 2, then the hair grows in feet, not inches.

A few party shots from the backyard. I just love having all our friends and family together like this, enjoying the beautiful day and each others' company.

The winners of the Walla-Walla Ball tournament was Amanda and Marge/Amy (Marge had to leave before they were done) The winners of the Bean Bag toss tournament were Bill and Beth! Congrats guys!

And just because she's so darn cute, here's a pic of little Clara, our friends' little girl. She's a riot and was having fun making faces at me through the peep hole! Hi Clara!

**I posted twice before, so check it out!

I Heart The Nester

Do you all know who The Nester is? She's an incredibly talented and funny lady who has a blog called The Nesting Place. Yup, the one over there on my sidebar. Her blog is all about how to find great deals and apply them in your home with minimal money or experience needed. Her entire motto is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Seriously, if you need some ideas for your house or office, check this chick out. She's fantastical.

Since I've been visiting her blog regularly for a few months, I've been getting ideas. This past week I finally put them into action (hence some of the blog hiatus this past week...Sorry!) One of The Nester's biggest things is doing "mistreatments" on windows. We all know how expensive window treatments can get. She shows her readers how to do the treatments themselves for little money. So here's what I've done...

See these?

Yeah, I know the picture's hard to see in detail. The curtains are beige with brown and maroon stripes in them. Not bad, but not what I wanted to stay in this room. They work, but aren't the best. So I put them here:

They work and are MUCH better than these:

Please don't look at the mess. This is from over a year ago and I still had a small infant then. Look at the arrow. Those verticals were cursed every day. They were stained, smelly, stiff and broken. Seriously, that's the most they would close and some of the slats were missing. Ugh. They were awful. So I replaced them with the curtains from upstairs. I would have liked something new, but when you have 2 huge 7' windows in your house, you re-purpose when you can. Unless you are made of millions.

So what did I do in the living room? So glad you asked! I made me up some mistreatments!

I just bought some fabric and cut it to size, hot-glued a fancy fringe to the inside edges, hung them with ring clips and put them to the window. No sewing, no lining, no nothing. It was incredibly easy and I think as a whole, the room has a lot more personality. And it helps tremendously that when Andy saw them, he got The Look on his face and said "How much did those cost?" Made my day.

I also did a mistreatment above my kitchen window. I was sick of the stiff lace curtain that was there when we moved in. I don't have a Before picture in this post, but you can see what I'm talking about in the post below this one. Here's what I did:

I bought the fabric, folded it in half and put it up with thumb tacks. Yup, that's right. No curtain rod, no clips, just a few thumb tacks. As for the fabric, I have a slight chicken/rooster theme in my kitchen. It's nothing too imposing...a set of framed pictures near the kitchen table, another cute pic above the sink, a canister set and now this curtain. I don't like when people go overboard and have their entire kitchen covered in something. But that's just me and this is my house. And for the record, I don't like chickens except to eat. And help decorate my kitchen.

The Nester has helped me with one other thing, too. I have always wanted a buffet table or something similar to help fill a wall in my living room. It's a big white wall that had a picture of my horse hanging on it (a friend painted it for me years ago) and I couldn't find the right piece to go under the picture. I called and e-mailed friends, I combed garage sale and auction ads, I searched on CraigsList. Finally, I found the table that would be perfect...but it was yellow. I don't think there is anything more than a tiny stripe or patch of yellow anywhere in my house. But thanks to The Nester, I thought, "I could paint it!" Never before has painting furniture even crossed my mind. If something wasn't right the way it was, it was all wrong. Not any more! So here's how the table was when I bought it.

Pretty on it's own accord, but not right for my house. I actually thought of my friend Jill because that's the perfect shade of yellow for HER house. But then I remembered paint. So I bought the table, headed to Home Depot for advice and drove home to get down to business. Here it is now:

I likey. I likey a lot. And if you want or need to, please ignore the deer skull on the bottom shelf. My husband lives here, too, and his friend did this for him from the buck Andy shot a few years ago. It's not my favorite thing by any means, but I can tolerate it and Andy wanted it displayed somehow. I thought this was better than hanging it on the wall.

So just for fun, here are some pictures of the living room, since I've done so much to it lately and it's my blog, so I can put what I want on here.

**I posted again, so look below...


When we bought our house 3 1/2 yrs ago, we bought it for several reasons. We liked the location, we liked that we got land with the house, and most importantly, we loved the house. It wasn't a cookie-cutter like so many other people had, but a unique house that was interesting and different. What we didn't love, was the decor. It was still very much the year it was built...1979. There was fabric-like wall-paper in the family room, 2 different flowered wall-papers in the master bedroom, thatched wall-paper in the living room and hallway, and the best of all...burnt orange shag carpet in the living room. I'm telling you, it was like walking back in time.

The first thing we did when we bought the house was strip wall-paper and paint. Every room needed something new. We went from dingy wall-paper or pastel colors to bright, dark and colorful. The bathroom went from peach to sage green, the other bathroom from duck and plant wall-paper to a turquoise-ish blue with colorful stripes. The living room got a bright maroon wall that continued into the entry. The bedrooms went from green, blue and flowered awll-paper to white and pink, purple and shades of blue.

The biggest improvements have probably been in the kitchen. We have stripped wall-paper, repainted, replaced the floors, and now have replaced all the appliances. The fridge was easy. There wasn't one. That was the first thing we bought for the kitchen. Then this past May, Andy finally let me buy a new oven. I was so excited, but that was supposed to be it for awhile. Then a few weeks ago the dishwasher started leaving puddles on the floor. Big puddles. Like leave-a-dish-towel-soaking-and-then-some puddles. So I got a new dishwasher, too! It's heavenly and washes the first time and we don't have to turn up the radio or tv when it's running.

We've now replaced every appliance in the kitchen and it's all like new. We want to replace the exhaust hood, too, but that's not a priority. I also still have some wall-paper to strip between the cupboards and counters, and I want to paint a stripe above the counters to tie in the accent wall by the table. And someday, I want new countertops. These yellow things are so ugly and stain VERY easily. Notice my mistreatment?

So what do you think? We are thrilled and it really makes being in the kitchen that much more enjoyable. And did you notice that you can't even hear the dishwasher? That's right, when I took this pic it was running. Can't hear it, can you?

Friday, August 15, 2008


In honor of last night's post, I am sharing this adorable picture. The innocence is just too much. It was taken about a year ago, on a hot and tiring day for a then 9-month-old Mikayla. She took her Baby Joe and her thumb, laid on the floor and went to sleep. Too cute.
Join us for Candid Carrie's Friday Foto Fiesta!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do you hear that?

Shhhh, do you hear that? Yeah, that. I hear it, too. Wanna know what it is? I'm told it's quiet and I think it's on the endangered species list, because we don't see too much of that around here. It's got to be at least a threatened species.

That's right, it's quiet here and it's only 7:30. We have been going non-stop for the last umpteen days and the girls have been showing it. I don't know how many times we've done time-outs today, I lost count on how many times I had to "remind" them to clean up and the number of unexplained melt-downs from the younger two is more than one hand-full of fingers. So I paraded them all upstairs and into the bathroom a full hour earlier than on a normal night with nothing going on. They fussed a bit, especially Alayna, since she's the only one that can tell time. She demanded to know why she was ready and climbing into bed at only 7:15 instead of 8:15. I reminded her of their behavior today and her own comment after supper that she was tired.

Now, only 15 minutes later, there's not a peep. All 3 girls are sound asleep. Andy's at a church council meeting. I am watching the olympics and catching up on my blog reading. All is good. I've even paused the tv a little just to enjoy that strange noise that's coming (or not) from my house.

I recommend you all get some. It's great.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Family Olympics

Yesterday was one of those summer days where you just wanted to be outside with a lemonade and soak it all in. Seriously. The high temp ended up being only 79 and it was sunny with a light breeze. Perfection. So what did we do? So glad you asked!

We had been to a wedding reception on Saturday night, so we slept in a little too late for church. Since we couldn't make it to church, we got up and went for a family bike ride. I wish I had pics, but I don't. You just have to visualize it--Andy pulled the little girls, Alayna rode her own bike, I took up the back of the pack and our Sunny, never to be left behind, jogged along with us. We rode to the lake about 2 miles away and skipped rocks, looked at snail shells and let the dog swim to cool down. Then we came home and got ready for the Olympics. Oh no, we didn't watch them. We had our own!

Event #1: The Relay Race. It was Daddy and Lilly vs Mommy and Alayna, while Mikayla cheered from the stands (swings) She also got her own turn later (video in post below) It was a dead heat and we weren't able to determine a winner.

Event #2: Obstacle Course. The girls were each timed while they went down the slide, ran around the outdoor play-pen twice, went through the playset and down the slide, and rode a Flintstone-style bike to Daddy. The one who took the least amount of time won. Alayna got held up in the tunnel (She's a bit too tall) so the winner was...Lilly!

Event #3: Long Jump. The best of 3 jumps would win it all in this competition. I think the video speaks for itself (video in post below)...

Event #4: Equestrian. Each of the girls had their stick-horse and took turns running the course, which consisted of a swing-jump and 3 stick-jumps. They ran the course 2 times each and the winner was...Mikayla! She never did the full course, but it was so cute to see her running around and hear her neighing the whole time! I wish I had it on video.

Event #5: Bike Races. The starting line was near the garage. The girls were timed on how long it would take them to ride to the end of the driveway, go around the planter in the yard and come back to the finish line. The winner in this event was...Alayna!

Mikayla's Race

Long Jump Competition

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Winter in Wisconsin

Welcome, Camp Candid Carrie's travelers! I know that it's August and the middle of a hot, humid summer. But what does everyone do in summer? Everyone tries to cool off. And how better to cool off than with some WINTER? Especially a good old Wisconsin Winter.

If you live in Wisconsin, you have to come to terms with snow and ice and below zero temperatures. But I know people who have never seen snow in person, let alone experienced those wonderful -20 temps that freeze your nose shut when you take too deep of a breath outside. Seriously. It freezes tight shut. And the cold makes your eyes water, then freezes the tears to your eyelashes and cheeks. It's great. Going anywhere with your children takes 30 minutes of pre-planning so you can put on snow pants, mittens, hats, scarves, boots, and jackets--in my case, times 3. Your vehicle now has a stash of granola bars, blankets, extra hats and mittens, and hand warmers. You need these things in case you slide off the road, into the ditch and can't get out. Survival mode, people.

Speaking of sliding off the roads, let's talk about driving in the winter. You have 2 primary kinds of drivers--the morons and the meatballs, as I like to call them. The morons are the people who still go Mach 500 and fishtail all over the place. They have no regard for the other people on the roads because they need to get somewhere and aren't going to let 5" of new snow and ice stop them. The meatballs are the people who go 10 mph because of said 5" of snow and ice. They are so overly cautious that they end up causing accidents because people going more than 10 mph can't stop on the ice and snow in time to avoid them. Of course, there are the normal people who drive for the conditions, not too extreme in either way. And yes, if you learn how to drive in Wisconsin, you learn how to properly brake, steer and accelerate on slippery, wintry roads. It is different than driving on bare roads. Trust me.

So why do we put up with these winters, year after year after year? Because it's magical. There is nothing like sitting in your comfy chair or on the couch, cuddled up under a blanket with a good book and some hot chocolate (sometimes with a little peppermint schnapps or Baileys in it...) and watching the snow fall. Or the silence that envelopes everything while it snows or right after. The snow-covered trees and buildings are beautiful and look just like a Courier & Ives painting. And the excitement in the kids' eyes is enough to make it all worthwhile, even if you just got them all bundled up to go out to play and then they say they have to go to the bathroom.

There's also plenty to do outside, as long as you are bundled up warm enough. There are endless trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing. Resorts are scattered over the hills for down-hill skiing, snow tubing and sledding. And if you aren't near any of those things, there's always a good old snowball fight or constructing a snowman. Snow angels are always fun, but make sure someone can help you get up. Otherwise, you get a hand print and foot prints in the middle of your angel and that's not cool.

I love this picture. Andy picked up the girls and just threw them into the snow!

So if you've never experienced a Wisconsin winter, give yourself a few months and then come on over. It's great, even if it gets irritating and really old after 5 months of cold and snow. And in case you can't make it, I hope these pictures helped to cool you off.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Made in China

My girls have chores to help out around the house. Alayna is responsible for unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen floor, putting her clothes away, and keeping her room clean. Lilly is in charge of putting the silverware away, helping to keep the shoes in order in the entryway and putting her clothes away, as well as helping me keep her room tidy. All the girls are responsible for keeping their toys, games, and books cleaned up and put away. Yes, even Mikayla gets into it and sings The Clean Up song while carrying one toy at a time to her older sisters.

So where am I going with this? The truth, sadly. Alayna was unloading the dishwasher (the last load to be washed in our old, inefficient, leaky washer, mind you...) and this conversation ensued.

Alayna: Mom, can I ask you something?

Me (checking e-mail while all the daycare kids were napping): Hmmm, sure honey, what's up?

A: Why is everything made in China?

M: What?

A: Why is everything made in China? Almost everything has "Made in China" on the bottom of it. Why don't we make stuff here in the US?

M: Well, because it's cheaper to make things in China, unfortunately. But hopefully more things will start being made in the US again. It will help the country make more money.

A: Yeah, that'd be cool. So China makes like 200 things a year and the US only, like, 50?

M: Yeah, something like that.

Remember, she is only 7, so to her 200 is a heck of a lot. I just didn't have the heart to tell her it was probably more like 200,000 or 200,000,000 things a year. Sometimes, kids say and ask the questions that us adults just won't ask. So next time you're at the store, think like Alayna and ask yourself "Why is everything made in China?" Then look for the Made in America symbol, if you can find one. Sometimes they simply aren't there...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let Me Just Say One Thing

I HATE skunks. Gross. Smelly. Disgusting. Ick. Ick. Ick.

I have an abnormally sensitive nose. It's a good thing when I can smell things like smoke before anyone else, or sniff out chocolate from a good distance away. It's a not-so-good thing when it comes to horrible smells like those that sometimes come from my family members or things laying on the side of the road.

This morning, I woke up at 1:30 am with a raging headache and about ready to vomit. Why? Oh you guessed it. A skunk apparently either visited us during the night and got upset, or was hit on the road right near our house. The entire house just reeks and I'm about sick. We ran around frantically closing windows and checking for rooms that stink. The smell is stuck inside, but it's outside, too. So I chugged some Tylenol and am spraying Febreze everywhere. Please wish us luck, I really need it.

*I've posted a few times, so be sure to check below!

The Playground

We live in the boonies and the closest big retail store we have is Wal-Mart. Actually, there are 2 of them about the same distance -35 miles away - in opposite directions. Sometimes we go to one, sometimes we go to the other. When we go to the one, the girls always ask to go to The Playground that's only a few blocks away. It's actually how they distinguish between the Wal-Marts. "The one with the The Playground or the other one?" The Playground is a park that is a lot of fun and very cool, even for adults. It's a huge wooden structure that's built something like a castle with tunnels, slides, ramps, climbing columns, etc. It is pretty neat.

So imagine our surprise when we went there for the first time this summer and found it gone! Replaced! The girls were so upset, until they got a good look at what took it's place. The new one is just as cool as the old one, if only because it's almost completely different. The only bad thing that I found? All of the slides are very steep. Like so steep that Mikayla couldn't do them by herself and Lilly was even a little scared on them. But all in all, we approve and we'll be back.

Today is Candid Carrie's Friday Foto Finish Fiesta!

The Olympics

I have something to confess...I'm a HUGE fan of the Olympics. I love watching all the different sports and how so many countries are represented and can come together, hopefully putting aside their differences, for these 16 days or however long it is.

My favorite event in the Summer Olympics is Equestrian, of course. There is nothing like watching a gorgeous horse at the absolute peak of physical and mental condition, working through difficult dressage routine or jumping insanely high fences. It's just amazing. Unfortunately, these events aren't as widely appreciated as most, so I need to find them on obscure channels at odd times. But that's fine by me. I make do.

I also love to watch the gymnastics, swimming, diving, track and field...I'll watch any and/or all of it. I really don't care what the event is that's on at the time. And I'm as equally unprejudiced during the Winter Olympics, too. There's just something about the games in general that I really enjoy. I know it's not for everyone, but for is.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rainy Day Fun

When we get a lot of rain pretty quickly, we get this puddle under an oak tree in the front yard. The girls love to throw on their rubber boots and splash, stomp and play in the water. Even though it was still raining lightly, the girls couldn't wait to get out and play. And it was a nice day, so why not?