visual highlights

My heart is full.  Here are a few reasons why:

My quartet getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service.  The pics with a flash look too bright and cold, this pic is fuzzy, but sparkling.

The girls were troopers to wear their super warm wool dresses for our not-so-cold Christmas.  They are truly all I want for every holiday from now until forever.  Who can resist this sweetness?
all I want for Christmas is my FIRST TOOTH!  (number 2 pushing through as I type)
As for the excitement of PRESENTS... WOW!  The ripple effect from over stimulation is still rockin' our boat.  It was actually upsetting to Hazel to receive so many wonderful presents because all she wanted to do was PLAY!  It took us an entire day to get through the gifts from Santa, parents, and one set of grandparents.

However, as you can see, the annoyance of having to focus on opening presents was minor compared to her complete glee over every new thing (though I have to admit, the whoopie cushion in her dad's stocking is Hazel's most played with gift).  Heidi also really enjoyed all the fun!  She's still having a blast crawling around the house exploring and picking out which toys to play with.  Currently she's neck deep in a basket full of all her new books!

As for me, I've enjoyed hosting Jake's mom and stepdad, his brother who made a super cool gift I'll feature later, three of my cousins and FINALLY... my sister, bro-in-law and NIECE from Alaska!  BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!
Hazel @ 29 months, Annie @ 15 months, Heidi @ 9 months
matching outfits compliments of their Grandma Llama.  I get my love of matchy-matchy honestly :)  Heidi was NOT enjoying this frosty photo shoot!

in general, I don't think my girls look much like their cousin... until I saw  this picture!  WOW!
This weekend, we'll share some Christmas and New Year celebrations with Jake's dad and stepmom.  I love stretching out holidays so the flame of excitement gets lots of time to warm our hearts.

oh, one more pic 'cause I just love these girls so SO SO much!


it's the most wonderful time

I'm a bit behind on my to-do list, but DESPITE THE FACT THAT I'VE BEEN UP SINCE 4:30 (oh Hazel, I can't wait to return these favors someday), I'm going to have an uber productive day and then get to relax and enjoy the next few days.  Sounds like a tall order, but it's achieveable.

Hubby begged and pleaded with me to take a nap today since our kids will be napping at their grandparents house.  Seems he thinks I might push myself too hard and then be a bit cranky tonight.  BA HUM BUG.  Oh, that proves him correct... Well, I arranged these kid-free hours to get things done and done will be done (that makes sense to me)!

My goals for today are:  clean the entire house, prep Christmas day foods & wrap presents.  I should have no problem doing all of that in about 3-4 hours if I have no "helpers" in the house!  This evening, we will finally decorate our tree (twice as tall as any tree we've ever had and the local stores are all out of lights already!  oops!).

Then tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow!  CHRISTMAS EVE... my favorite!  Christmas Eve continues to have an aura of wonder and excitement for me.  Deeply feeling the humanness of my Lord's birth, singing Silent Night in a candle lit church with those I love most dearly, sharing gifts with loved ones, eating decadent foods and most of all, watching Hazel enjoy it all.  Ok, Heidi too, but she's really to young for it all. Still, she'll bob her body in rhythm to Silent Night and chew wrapping paper and have a wonderful time.

But Hazel, wow!  This morning (at 4:30 am... did I mention that yet?), she said to me:  "Hadel got tree for YOU!".  She had!  And as for presents... oh how she LOVES them!  Check out this montage from her Grandma Llama's birthday 2 weeks ago.  She knows just how to react after a man gives you a small gold box ;)

*notice the picture behind my dad's head.  Hazel wanted to decorate with balloons for Llama's birthday party and I didn't have any.  So, she drew lots and lots of colorful circles on paper and we hung them on the windows.  It's the first time she "drew" something specific.  I was SO surprised!

and Christmas Eve is just the tip of the iceberg!  Christmas morning with Jake's mom and stepdad, Christmas dinner with his brother, 3 of my cousins visit for a few laughter filled days... and then MY SISTER, CHRISTOPH and ANNIE have a 3-day layover as they fly from Germany to Alaska.  Sorry, but no present can compare to getting to spend some time with them.  Last Christmas we said goodbye not knowing how much time would pass before we'd be together.  So, don't look for me online... I'll be snuggling with my 1-year-old niece and taking one bajillion photos.

p.s.  if you're a local friend who also wants to see my sister... SORRY!  We are locking them up in the Compound and are not sharing any of our time with them.  For reals :)


maintaining the Christmas balance (sneak peek pics added)

*addendum* OK OK... the mothers have spoken!  I snapped a few pics of the girls dresses and have added them.  They're not great, but it's the middle of the day and the babies will soon awake and the toddlers were very impatient to jump all over the camera frame :)

One of my homemade gifts this year... a tea wreath!  Sized to fit inside your cabinet door, much classier than laying boxes of teas on the counter for your guests to peruse!
My easy-peasy Christmas pillows!  The large one is simply a premade felt bag that I slipped over my pillow!  The green ones are my everyday pillows that I tacked small red stockings onto.
Hazel's PURPLE sweater dress and matching headband/ ear warmer!  Really poor picture, many more when she wears it!
Heidi's red & black snowflake sweater dress with matching bonnet.  

When I made and organized my holiday TO DO list, I forgot to add blogging.  So, my apologies for not have some awesome holiday preparation posts.  There's a lot going on that I want to share, I just don't have the time to share!  In my fantasy world, I'll start my holiday preparations a month in advance, have wonderful tutorials to share, stellar photographs of it all and still be vegging with a cup of hot cocoa by 9pm every night.

The reality is that I've been up past 11pm every night and up again before 6am every morning.  Definitely not a schedule I can maintain, but I'm truly having a blast!

I LOVE Christmas dresses for my girls.  It's the one time when I really put thought and attention into their attire.  Last year a saleswoman scolded me when I asked where the Christmas dresses were.  It was the week before Christmas and they were all sold out!  It turned out great for me since I was able to piece Hazel's ensemble together from their non-Christmas clearance racks.  Last year was black velvet with deep pink accents.  LOVED IT!

This year, I had an elaborate plan built around Hazel's red & black checkered flannel shirt.  Huh?  Yup!  The shirt DOES have ruffles and I was gonna made a gorgeous black skirt and a coordinating red & black jumper for Heidi.  I was at Goodwill a few weeks ago (since it's in our MALL!) and saw an awesome red & black wool sweater.  Immediately I thought, "I bet I could use that to make Heidi's jumper".

Well, that idea has taken on a life of it's own.  I'm elbow deep in felting wool sweaters (I picked up 4 more at Goodwill this weekend) and making things out of this thick, warm, gorgeous fabric.  It's SO fun to work with!  You simply shrink your sweaters until they don't unravel when cut.  I feel a little like the Grinch when he takes his scissors, quickly cuts out a Santa suit shape, throws a few stitches in and badda BING... he has an outfit!

I've now made 2 dresses (which take about 30 minutes start-to-finish!  well, they would if I ever did one thing at a time and/or was kid free for 30 minutes), 5 headband/ear muffs, a really warm bonnet for Heidi, a set of cashmere mittens, countless roses to decorate it all, and I've barely DENTED my stock pile!  Oh, why oh why didn't I start this before this week?

Photos to come, I promise!  In the meantime, blare some Christmas music and remind yourself that your TO DO list isn't nearly as important as your sanity :)


finding a balance

Today my lovely husband popped home for a nooner lunch because he was driving past the house and he thought it'd be nicer to eat at home than in his office.  Unfortunately for him, he didn't know that I'm setting some firm boundaries with the kids I hang-out with (today I'm "chillin" with 3 extras).

One of my 2-year-olds just does not like food.  She's a very happy & bright girl, but she needs to eat.  Her parents recently met with a panel of experts and one of the new rules is that food is only available when she is in her chair and only during a meal time or official snack time.  It makes total sense to me and I've started incorporating it the other 6 days a week when she's not here.  I've been really lax about snacks and allow goldfish/ etc to be constantly available (ie scattered across the couch).  Also, if the kids can't stuff themselves with processed carbs (the easiest type of snacks), they'll actually FEEL HUNGRY and EAT THEIR DINNER!

As you may know, Hazel LOVES food.  Her favorite foods are hummus and pb/honey sandwiches.  She tries everything and likes almost all of it.  However, often by meal times, she isn't hungry enough to eat much of the good stuff.  I do offer fruit and veggie snacks, but not as often as I should.

Back to today, the other part of the new rules for this sweet pea is that she must be in her chair for 15-min snacks and 30-minute meals.  Suffice to say, there's a lot of screaming and crying.  She thinks I'm torturing her.  (Though I did see her sneak in a few snacks between cries!)  Her crying was so loud that it woke up a slumbering infant who then also cried for a 1/2 hour since I wouldn't stop everything else and hold her.

I'm setting boundaries... did I mention that?  When an infant cries, I offer a quick hug, a snack, a diaper change &/or a toy.  If none of those work and the crying continues, OFF TO BED!

It all feels much meaner then it's sounding.  However, there's a reason I mentioned that my sanity has been precarious lately (in a previous post).  I have a grad degree that pretty much can be summarized into empathy skills, active listening skills, and understanding the devastating effect indulging OR neglecting children can have.  Yet, there are days when if I were a fly on the wall in my own home... boy would I have some scolding and lecturing to do with myself (not with neglect though... hope you didn't wonder about that!).

So, yeah, dear hubby did not get the peaceful lunch he was hoping for.  In fact, he immediately began calculating how much extra work he'd need to pick-up so that this wouldn't happen to me every day (of course, that was one the most difficult 1/2 hours I've had).

I'm positive that things will soon improve as I hold my boundaries and the kids adjust.  However, this article that I read this morning really says it all.  The title is:  How much childcare do you DESERVE?  Wow, me deserve childcare?  Aren't I mother-of-the-year for choosing to spend 90% of my waking hours with my children?  Aren't I the most generous friend ever to welcome in 3 of my friends' sweet children?  Actually, I feel GUILTY (a chronic problem of mine) that my friends pay me for my time and that I don't give them evenings free to do their shopping/ housework/ pursue their own interests.

It's true.  All mothers DESERVE childcare.  If I forced myself to ask for/ accept just a few hours a week, perhaps I'd write that book I'm constantly dreaming about.  Perhaps I'd go on a walk all alone.  Perhaps I'd have energy to be a loving wife and not just the mother-of-his-kids...

FYI:  I typed this with a kitchen counter overflowing with dirty dishes, juice containers, soup pots, things screaming to be returned to the fridge & while 3 toddlers and 1 infant nap... and one infant climbs back and forth over my lap (I rarely sit on chairs anymore).


youngster proof Christmas tree

If you spend any time on Pinterest, you have seen this idea, but for those of you that haven't... prepare to be amazed.  Ok, maybe I'm overselling this, but amazed was my reaction.  I love finding simple ideas that are so OBVIOUS, yet I never would have thought of it without inspiration.  Here's a link to the original inspiration.

My homemade felt on felt Christmas tree.  Two of my favorite weekly visitors are testing it out for me... they approve!

Since most days I have 2 toddlers and 2 crawlers (holla holla Heidi just started cruising Friday evening!), I was not excited about the prospect of spending most of my days saving the tree from curious hands and pine needles from infants' digestive tracts.  Here is the answer to my dilemma!  I made my tree about 5 feet tall, gave it a Grinch-y twist and made a few ornaments.  SO EASY!  

Jake's Aunt Lou recently gave me a bin stuffed full of ribbons, rick rack & lace.  So I spent about a 1/2 hour cutting and hot gluing and whadda-bing-whadda-boom... A toddler proof tree just asking to be redecorated (note:  felt sticks to felt!).  So thanks Aunt Lou!  You saved me lots of time and money and made our tree look WAY cuter than the plain ornaments I would've come up with.  I plan to make a lot more ornaments in the future!

I do LOVE a real Christmas tree, but I'm gonna wait until the week of Christmas.  My sanity is precarious enough as it is :)


Careful what you wish for!

This holiday season has been full of PURE JOY!  The excitement and magic are tangible in my 2.5 year old.  For example, IF she's good (for most of the day... she is a toddler after all), Santa turns on Christmas lights that are in a tree outside her bedroom window.  Each time she sees them she yells "Merry Christmas".  We have no idea where she learned to say that, but it certainly makes this Scrooge feel merry.  The first time she saw it, she ran to her Santa nightlight and said "Thank you"!

On Monday, we decided to take the girls to meet SANTA!  SO exciting!  I'll share that picture another day.  Today, I want to share the video I made of our first rehearsal.  As you will see, I had to help her edit her wish list:

Ha Ha Ha!  So glad I caught that on tape!  Not to ruin the awesomeness of that video, but I should mention that she had just discovered a Christmas mouse that "poops" (not sure why I put quotations there, but I'm keepin 'em) candy.  The POOP (love that word) reservoir quickly emptied and Hazel had been asking all day for me to fill it.

For the record, she ended up asking Santa for BOOKS and PURPLE TOYS for Heidi.  I have a feeling that Santa is so gonna nail it this year!


Heidi Rose @ 8 months

photo by Whitney Lehman Killinger during our Thanksgiving photo shoot.  We had fun playing around with some Christmas card ideas.  Since the computer I upload my photos on to is still injured.... I'm using these adorable photos from Whit for her 8-month post.  Since, the 7-month photos are still ON my camera and not on the blog :(
Heidi-loo-who, how I love you...  Sweet Heidi hears many versions of that verse.  I can't help but sing it to her ALLDAYLONG, pausing only to nuzzle into her folds of fat neck!  Hazel truly thinks here name is "Heidiwho".

At 8 months, Heidi is often found on her hands and knees, rocking front and back, experimenting with drawing one knee forward, one hand forward, rock rock rock, face plant on the ground, CRY...  It's been WEEKS since she's mastered getting into the crawl position and though she certainly has gone forward a few times, she doesn't understand how it works.  It's a frustrating life for her!

She checks in at 18.1 pounds!  Wow!  That's a lot of sweetness.  She's wearing 6-9 month clothing and growing steadily.

Her favorite foods are any fruits, followed up by veggies (as long as they're super purred... so she pretty much refuses to eat my homemade foods), and the newest addition, HAM!  However, she really doesn't like cereal, but I keep trying and mixing it with fruit so that she gets some iron.  I'm using a lot of store bought baby food, something I only used when I traveled with Hazel.  I really really hope that she doesn't develop some bad food habits, like only eating processed foods.

The other trademark move of 8-months is her CLAW!  I trim her nails almost daily because she is a grabber/scratcher/kneader.  Seriously, some days my neck looks like I lost a fight with a cat.  Given the chance, she grabs my lip, neck or chest and rapid-fire-clasps.  Suffice to say, I've learned to feed her while pinning one of her hands under my arm and holding the other hand.

Another bad habit that she's started... well with her dad's encouragement (ahem):  About an hour after bedtime (8:30pm-ish), she awakes and cries until we (he) retrieves her and allows her to snuggle on his chest until his bedtime (midnight-ish).  Her snuggles are life's greatest joy and her babyness is so fleeting.  However, some nights... I curse at glare at them both.  Take right now, it's 9:40pm and Heidi just started screaming and now... she is on my lap, sucking her two fingers, looking as innocent as...uhhh...is there a phrase to finish that sentence?  YOU GET MY POINT!  So instead of some much needed ALONE time tonight, I will be snuggling this sweet smelling ball of goo.  Ok, I no longer feel sorry for myself.  Wait, if I zerbert her neck, she'll wake up enough to giggle.  Ahhh... that's the stuff...  Ok, back to sleep Heidi.  I mean it!  I'm your mama!  You should listen to me!  I'll give you the stink eye... WHY IS MY STINK EYE SO INEFFECTIVE?

Wow, guess what kind of day I had at home with 3 two-year-olds and 2 eight-month-olds?  Time to back away from the computer... very slowly...

Another sneak peek:
there's just gotta be a clever caption for this one!

How babies are made...

This brought a smile to my face.  Happy Friday to all!

News from Don Rob on Vimeo.


sparkle eyed and bushy (reindeer) tailed

I got a 5-hour stretch of sleep last night!  My mega sleeper has been cluster feeding at night.  Like a clock:  10, 1, 4, 7.  She and I can both sleep while she feeds, but I still have to wake-up to bring her to my bed and to return her.  My REMs have been suffering.

It might have something to do with the fact that on a whim, I fed her real food at 8pm.  She slept through dinner and wasn't fussy, so there was no way to know that she was hungry.  However, she ate and ENTIRE JAR of ham!  She never eats that much!  It was her first meat too!

I'm also feeling much better about my Christmas receiving concerns (though I'm still hoping to hear about your experiences and thoughts).  My husband pointed out that I simply can't imagine a Christmas different from what I experienced as a child.  He told me how cool it was that Santa left presents for him at his grandparents' house.  HO HO HA! 

So, I'll simply ask the grandparents to allow Santa to give one or two of the bigger gifts they have!  AWESOME!  

And because I hate to leave you wishing for more tangents (oh, the wonder of my brain)... let me tell you that if you think you've ever seen someone's eyes sparkle... YOU HAVEN'T!  Last night, it was time for bed, but Hazel was having a little "I WANT TO WATCH CALLIOU" meltdown.  Super dad solved that problem-o by suggesting that they pretend to BE Calliou!  He told Hazel that she would be Caillou, he would be Grandpa (because Caillou and Grandpa sleep in a tent in one episode) and Heidi Rose would be little sister, Rosie.  OH MY GOODNESS!  She ran around the house saying, "Hadel be Caillou, Dadda Granpa.  Hadel be Caillou, Dadda Granpa".  Sparkle sparkle sparkle.  Hello imagination, so nice to play with you!


keeping the Christmas spirit

So, I'm stressed about Christmas.  Not over-the-top stressed, just stressed enough to make my hubby a little crazy as I constantly talk about... GIFT RECEIVING.

My kids are so lucky to have 3 sets of loving/doting/generous grandparents.  They really do a great job of checking in with us to buy things we like and/or the kids would like (since those two things are often different.  exhibits A-Z:  any toy that makes noise!).  So what could I possibly worry about?  I admit, it's RIDICULOUS!

With that disclaimer being said, here they are:

1.  Will my kids grow up feeling less excited for our family Christmas morning since we can't do as much?
2.  Will my kids appreciate their gifts?  I wish I could just give them one gift a day for a month (or three) instead of overloading them all at once.
3.  WHAT ABOUT SANTA?  What makes Santa's gifts exciting if, as they say, the best is yet to come?  We plan to "let" Santa give each girl one big gift and possibly a stocking.

Ho Ho Hum... I know I'm not alone in these concerns, ridiculous as they may be.  What are your thoughts?  How do you handle the Christmas receiving in your family?

*Note to my mom, smother-in-law & mother-in-law:  Thanks for always checking in with me about gifts.  You couldn't be more understanding and receptive to our concerns!  So, this post is by no means a complaint... just a young mama trying to sort out her feelings.  Love you!

*What about the true meaning of Christmas?  I feel like we've got that pretty well covered!  On Saint Nicholas Day, the girls will be boxing up their under-used toys to give to kids who will appreciate them.  We will also attend Christmas Eve church and be throwing a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day!


wicks and red jumpsuits

Yesterday was the first day of Advent.  A season of preparation and anticipation for Jesus' birth.  Each Sunday, the choir sings, "Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, the time is drawing nigh."   Such a perfect song to keep our perspective focused on the exciting reason for the season!  Here's the song on YouTube, but in all sincerity, my choir does it so much better... with more energy, excitement and definitely more soulful drumming!

Today I will hang my Advent calendar, place our nativity candle (that we use as our Advent candle) on our table to light daily during our family dinner, and best of all... this year I've made a 5 foot felt Christmas tree to hang on the wall!  Crazy?  Perhaps... but a nice compromise between a mama who wants her Christmas tree up all season and a woman that wants to stay sane and not spend the next 25+ days saving ornaments from toddler hands and pine needles from baby mouths!  I intend to spend my day making lots of felt ornaments that will self stick to the tree... perfect for unlimited toddler entertainment/ decorating.  If you'd like more insight/ ideas for Advent, HERE is a great article!  And whether you personally celebrate Advent or not, please give me two more minutes and watch this great video... the better you understand this season, the better you understand your neighbors :)

As for the red jumpsuit, well Hazel has begun to get Santa Claus fever and I can literally SEE the wheels turning as she begins to learn about Santa and presents :)  However, the real reason I'm thinking about a red jumpsuit is because I spent a few minutes checking some of my favorite online retailers (Gap & Old Navy) in hopes of finding fleece lined overalls (they don't.  they are saving me from myself.).  STYLISH!  I remember when they carried that article years and years ago and now that I'm a stay-at-home-mom/  babysitter... I TOTALLY get why Caillou's teacher wears a red jumpsuit (drat, can't find an image online for you.  Caillou is Hazel's favorite/ only TV show and his teacher wears a red jumpsuit everyday!  Gasp!  Ok, it's just a cartoon, but STILL!).

(time to wrap up my tangents:)  I encourage you to join me on this rainy 1st day of hunting (if you live in rural PA... this day is an actual HOLIDAY!) and pull out a few (or all) of your holiday decorations... and keep those lamps trimmed and burning... the time is drawing nigh!



It's 7am... are you snuggled in your bed or just returning home after a morning of sales?  Me, it's my morning to get up with the girls.

As usual, I use this time to allow a little TV watching for Hazel as I drink my coffee and plug-in to my favorite websites.  Oh internet, you really help this stay-at-home mom survive!

I've never ever ever shopped on Black Friday before.  That's not about to change, but somehow my fingers have a mind of their own this morning... luckily, they're just curious and haven't memorized my credit card numbers!  The first website I went to:  store.apple.com .  Shameless :)  Yesterday, I saw/ played with an iPad... for the first time EVER!  Crazy, I know!  I've been hearing about those gizmos for over a year and slowly they seem to be more and more popular, but I had never seen one, nor did I understand their allure.  Until yesterday!  WOW!  They're $50 off today...

How about you?  Do you shop on Black Friday?  I intend to use this gorgeous day for family time and crafting time... if I can control these fingers....


makin me smile and feelin grateful

It's 6:30 am and I've been awake for way too long.  Little Heidi-loo-who seems to be quite the morning person. And yet, despite losing a precious hour or so of sleep, watching her wiggle on the floor, practicing her crawling moves (though they are not coordinated enough yet to help her move very far), play with her toys, and make silly baby noises, how can I be anything but happy?

Yesterday I made one of my quickest craft projects yet.  A simple burlap pennant banner that says "give thanks".

I'm oh-so-tempted to write/start a thankfulness post 'cause it is that time of year.  Many of the bloggers I read have done this and each time they mention something so simple that it makes me smile and my heart fill with gratitude.

However, I'm not composing a list because that's kind of what my entire blog is to me, a place to record the moments I'm most thankful for.

Soon Hazel will wake up with a massive case of bedhead.  I may or may not attempt to control it before 3 of our littlest friends arrive to spend the day with us.  My day will be nonstop action with diapers, tears (not my own...hopefully), snacks, toy mayhem, songs, activities, s.l.o.w. walks through the woods, forced naps (not my own... bummer), and lots of hugs and cuddles.

It's certainly not the life I imagined nor the life that required enormous sums of money to give my brain lots of wrinkles, but it's the life I've chosen, the life I love and certainly, the life I am grateful for.

Since I still haven't fixed my old laptop and therefore can't share my own pictures, take a moment to enjoy this sweet song.  My mom, the music teacher, bought this childrens' book a few years ago and despite the teasing she endures from her son-in-law, she plays this song for us every year as we all gather round to look at the beautiful illustrations.  A beautiful reminder that life is a gift... complete with it's snags, pains and warts.


Toadally Tutus (gift idea for a girly girl)

A sweet gal I know from my Oregon days has started a new business, TOADALLY TUTUS.  She is a crafter to the nth degree.  Where does she finds time to make so many crafts, refinish furniture, start businesses, decorate her house to magazine-level-eye-candiness and still do all the things a SAHM (stay at home mom) needs to do?  I'm humbled... and glad to know such an inspirational mama (which is something that can only truly be said by a SAHM who bought pink tulling 6 months ago to make a tutu and never did)!  (incidentally:  she is one who made my flower baby/toddler sling that EVERYONE compliments me on!)

Her newest venture is making adorable tutus and for every one she sells, she donates one to a children's hospital in time for Christmas!  WOW!  She'll custom make your tutu to any colors you can imagine.  I know one Oregon baby who would LOVE a purple tutu...  (just in case any Koskereaders need a Christmas idea for Hazelnut.  While you're shopping, check out those awesome Cowgirl Canteens!).

picture taken from Toadally Tutus
*Dop!  I forgot to add the link yesterday!  Here's the site:  http://toadallytutus.blogspot.com/


life's ups and downs

My sister just discussed how sometimes life is a breeze... and sometimes life is a STORM.  I've been feeling that this week.

I have a lot of wonderful acquaintances and a few very wonderful close friends.  My husband recently had to reassure some loved ones that I enjoy my time with them, but after 24-hours... I begin to get the itch for solitude.   My sister can fill every hour of the day with visits/chats/activities with friends.  I cannot.

I think I'm more like my Grandma Orris.  She passed away when I was 13-ish, and I remember her as a fun, kind, gentle woman.  She was, but I've also learned that she tended towards the loner and had very few close friends.  In high school, I thought that was a horrible way to be.  I wanted my friends around me constantly (especially if they were male).  By my 20's, I began turning down social offers in order to get to bed early.  Kinda lame, but true to myself.  I even went to bed early on my 21st birthday in order to be chipper for my morning yoga class!

This week I've been thinking a lot about my friends.  I love them so dearly.

This weekend I am so excited to celebrate the engagement of two very dear friends.  In fact, I'm so excited about their engagement, that I'm celebrating with them on Saturday at a big party AND on Sunday with an intimate dinner at my house.  Ty, the bridegroom,  has grown up with me.  6 days a week from Kindergarten to 12th grade (school and church).  Feel kinda bad for him don't you?  Now our friendship has evolved...err.. maybe not... word on the street is that I can be a bit bratty (or HILARIOUS) when I tease him.  We share many of the same interests and without my permission, he fell in love with one of my Lutherlyn friends, Amanda.  WORLDS COLLIDED and I had nothing to do with it!  I am so happy for them!

This week I get to spend time with my Thanksgiving family.  Not biological family, but family just the same.  The adults stay with my parents and their daughter stays with me.  She and I have spent almost every Thanksgiving together whispering secrets into the wee hours of the night.  This year will be much the same, except with real grown-up problems, pain and tears.  However, no matter what horrible things we face in life, we will face them together and we will still find time for laughter (and over eating) simply because we love spending time together.

Sometimes life throws curve balls, but through it all we are blessed with our friends.  The sisters and brothers we were not born with, but that we've chosen to share our lives with.


the season of WHY

After a jam-packed, fun and family filled weekend away... we are back in our nest!  I'm tickled pink to mention that my computer problems are almost solved... still have to get a new power cord for my old computer so I still can't post Heidi's 7-month photo.  Last night Jake and I were wide-eyed shocked to encounter THE RETURN OF THE CRASH.  What's that you ask?  That's what happens after a certain toddler spends the weekend visiting with relatives and then suddenly finds herself back to normal life.  Wow.  Apparently, 7-month olds aren't immune to the CRASH either.  Wow.

Speaking of a certain golden haired toddler, her language grows exponentially every week.  A few months ago I noticed that she wasn't talking as much as other kids her age.  I wasn't concerned, but it was noticeable.  However, now she is way more verbal than most toddlers.  She speaks in complex sentences that amaze us with their complex thinking and understanding.  Mostly it's the "why" question that surprises me.  I didn't realize this would happen at such a young age.  She cocks her head, furrows her brows, pauses at each word while carefully creating her sentences.  Currently I am being frequently interrupted as she asks WHY she can't color with crayon on various surfaces.  "Because crayons are just for paper."

I'm thankful for a nice weekend away... and now I'm thankful to be home (where just this morning we saw 50+ turkeys out our window!).


What a very pretty hat!

Last night Hazel spent the night with her Grandma Orris ("Llama").  This morning Jake left for his new part-time job at 7am (I have the greatest hubby on the planet!).  What did Heidi and I do?  We SLEPT... 'cause that's what we do best!  She is DEFINITELY my daughter :)

Now I am sitting at my parents house, drinking their coffee and waiting for my Pop Tart to POP (they have OREO pop tarts!  No wonder Hazel wants to live here!).  Guess what we're watching on TV?

MARY POPPINS!  I had completely forgotten how my sister and I would race to quote "What a very pretty hat" at exactly the right time at the beginning of the movie when they nanny left.  Wonder what other gems I'll rediscover?  Just wish my dad was here to watch it with us... it is his favorite movie (didn't see that one coming, did ya?)

p.s. my computer is still broken so I won't be around much!



Our laptop power cord has died and so we are truly offline!  Currently I'm using my father's swanky laptop.  It runs so smoothly and quickly... wonder if he's senile enough not to notice if I try to switch him laptops?  I mean, they are both black and have buttons (the computers, not my father)!  HA!  Speaking of senile, I'm thrilled to publicly announce that my dad officially retired on Tuesday!

Wow!  Can't believe my parents are old enough to be retired.  In true old person form, they're planning a roadtrip to Florida this winter :)  Ok, they're not old and they'll most likely spend their vacation biking, hiking, exploring, and sipping!  Regardless, this time of leisure is well deserved!  I'm so happy for them!

My dad kicked off his retirement with a major surgery on Tuesday.  That guy can party!  Now we're praying for a speedy recovery and a dozen (plus) healthy years to enjoy their retirement together.

While I'm powerless to make my dad feel better right now, I do have 2 secret weapons that bring him joy.  Off to make some Get Well cards with the cutest Candy Stripers in town (wait... or is it Candy Strippers?  I'm trying to refer to the young people who bring cheer to people in the hospital... not some girl named "Candy" who takes her clothes off!)


Trick or Treat!

Jake nailed it the other day when I was wishing I could remember the play-filled (bill free) days of my youth.  He said, "that's why people have kids".  Ok, that's not the ONLY reason, but boy is it fun to be reminded of the pure joy of the little things.

This was the first year that Hazel "got" Halloween.  I found her fairy dress at Goodwill and since I wasn't quite sure what it was, I decided it is Abbie Cadabbie's dress (a fairy on Sesame Street.  I probably spelled it wrong, but I lack the oomph to look it up.).  Over the past few weeks we've watched a few segments of "Abbie Abbie" (as Hazel calls her) and talked about her attire.  Wings, a wand, eye shadow, pigtails... we got this!

May I present  ABBIE ABBIE

This is the pic from my cell phone.  Now I just won the "Lame Mama Award" since I'm not even bothering to edit it or turn it.  However, look at the PURE JOY on her sparkly face!  I didn't buy play make-up, but I let her dip her fingers in my sparkly nude eye shadow, used green concealer ('cause let's face it... green concealer just makes me look like I have green zits) for her bold eye shadow, and pink eye shadow for blush.  We had fun playing, but she definitely is prettier WITHOUT make-up!

I'll be posting more pics of Hazel's BEST NIGHT OF HER LIFE soon... and maybe a pic or two of a mama tree with a baby owl in a nest :)  For now, this is the only pic I have readily available on the computer and I'm very tired and am anxious not to blow a whole nap time by being on the computer.  This tree needs some rest before partying the night away... AGAIN (oh, life is sooo rough!).

The point I wanted to make today is how wonderful it is to live vicariously through my growing daughters.  Hazel couldn't believe that people kept putting candy in her bag... and maybe more surprising, I WAS LETTING THEM!  When we got home from the church Halloween party (Trunk or Treat is such a great idea for country folks who don't have neighbors!), Hazel dumped her candy on the floor and was truly spellbound (or maybe that's what sugar shock looks like)!  I remember doing the same thing after my sister and I would go Trick-or-Treating with our friends Megan and Jarod (hmm... and now I don't even remember which spelling of his name is correct...).  We'd return to their house in the city and then take over the parlor, each making a separate pile of our candy gold, sampling a few, trying to trade for more Reese's cups and simply feeling richer than a King!

Perhaps Halloween isn't about (being old enough to know better) attempting to dress slutty after all!  WHO KNEW?



The other day, I commented to Jake that it's so wonderful to know who our kids are.  I'd always wondered.  I feel that my girls are destined for greatness and that these early years are their spring board.  I'm so lucky to get to be the one to raise and love them.  For 18ish years, I get to see them everyday, know their every activity, soothe every nightmare.

Hazel's language continues to flourish.  A few months ago we were excited about her first sentence:  "Baby cry".  This morning she said "Dadda gave me apple juice.".  Wow (and he had).

Then she went to the refrigerator and played with her Princess magnets.  She brought the crown to the couch and said "King".  I had no idea that she knew what a crown or a King was!  I explained that Kings are boys and Queens are girls.  She responded with "Hadel Keen SOMEDAY!".

Yup, someday she might be a Queen... or teacher or plumber or baker or...  (secretly pulling for the plumber!).  Regardless I will be one proud mama!  And if she does become a Queen, I hope her loyal subjects are prepared for a ruler who wears hiking boots :)

During the photo shoot of the girls in their early Christmas present (Snug Organics PJs), Hazel ran into the house, grabbed this book and started to "read".



So, it probably breaks all kinds of rules, but I'm making up an award and giving it to... MYSELF :)

The FRUGAL & GREEN MAMA AWARD goes to ME because I just made two mega batches of baby food.  That is cool in and of itself, but not the reason I won this award.  No, I won this prestigious award because I made FIVE POUNDS OF ORGANIC CARROTS into baby food!  Not sure I deserve the award?  How 'bout this... I got those carrots for ONE DOLLAR!  (my local Giant Eagle marks down produce that needs to be eaten pronto and I happened to be walking by right when they were resupplying the clearance section.  Clearance fruit and veggies... sounds kinda gross when I put it that way.)

Let's review:  5 pounds of organic carrot baby food for $1.  Boo Yah!

I baked the carrots instead of steaming them.  Worked great!  I almost awarded myself "THE WEIRDEST PICTURE AWARD" today.... hmmm... day is not over....

The 2nd batch of baby food?  Oh my.  One of those: WHAT WAS I THINKING moments? Our local farm stand closed last Tuesday and I panicked!  I drove down on Monday and bought THREE ENORMOUS cauliflowers ($2.50 each).  Oh my.  There was a lot of chopping, steaming, blender breaking/ food processor breaking/ falling in love with my mom's Vita-Mix 3600 (which she might have to sneak into my house and steal back 'cause I have no intention of returning it ;).  And then I discovered that you shouldn't feed cauliflower to your baby until they are 10 months old (Heidi hits 7 months this week).  Oh my.

I strongly believe that every mother needs the book:  Super Baby Foods.  I didn't make all of Hazel's food and don't intend to make all of Heidi's, but I make a lot of it and I feel so good about it!  Now that I babysit 3 toddlers throughout the week (not all at the same time!), I've seen that Hazel's diet is much more diverse than the average toddlers.  I'm sure I can't give complete credit to that book... I'd like some credit too... however, she is a great eater and I followed the recommendations of what to feed/ how to prepare/ when to introduce which foods/ etc. from Super Baby Foods.  Can't be all coincidence!

And so, to you I say "have a green day".


Hazel and the dinner time prayer

This little snippet is mostly for family... and for me to prove that I'm smart enough to actually post videos online (I got a flip video for my birthday!).

A few weeks ago Hazel and I were eating alone and I decided to leave out some of the words from the dinner time prayer that we say everyday.  Much to my surprise, she filled in every blank!  Guess she does pay attention :)  Phew, I'm doing something right!

We've been wanting to capture this sweetness on video and I finally did it today during today's dinner with my parents and grandparents.

Sunday morning lessons

It's only 7:30, but my sweet toddler has taught me so much already this morning.

I've grimaced about 10 times... no probably more like 30 times... when she has instructed me to do something NOW.  While redressing her baby doll (which happened 2 minutes after getting out of bed.  what else would I be doing at 6:06 AM?!?):  "shirt off NOW!"  "socks on NOW!".  And then after a glance at the couch:  "Caillou NOW!", "TV NOW!".  And most recently "peena bute ted bea NOW"  (peanut butter with honey from the teddy bear bottle on bread).

Each time, I make her rephrase the question nicely and she does it easily "peena bute ted bea PEESE mama".  However, I hang my head in shame each time she orders me around because there's only one way she's learning to talk like that:  "Hazel, come here NOW!", "Hazel, get off your sister NOW!", "Hazel, stop pushing your friends NOW!", etc.  Oops.

However, as she began to eat her first breakfast (the sandwich is merely the 1st course for my growing girl), I reminded her that today we'll go to Sunday School and Church.  She looked at me and said "Bible love ME!".  Ahh, now THAT I didn't teach her.  That is the result of her sweet Sunday School teacher who has now taught her to name "Jesus", "Cross" and "Bible".  And that my friends is why joining a religious community is so important.  We can all use a little help when it comes to learning and living life's lessons!

So to all my bloggy friends, I say to you this morning:  "do something nice NOW" and I remind you that the Bible loves you... or something like that ;)


Daring to be different

Yesterday was a beautiful Indian Summer Day in my corner of this planet.  The leaves are just about at their peak of fall vibrancy, the weather is warm enough for tees and flip flops and everyone is outside.

Well, except yesterday afternoon during the Steelers Game!

Guess what:  my Kosker quartet does NOT WATCH FOOTBALL!  Shocking isn't it?  I couldn't believe that the majority of people in my neck of the woods were indoors yesterday afternoon... come December when they are beginning to get cabin fever... I will remind them of this particular wasted day.

In the afternoon (after they watched some of the game), my parents joined me and the girls for a bike ride.  I was super excited because after a solid start to my goal of biking often with the girls this summer, I had to take a long break because a certain older sister couldn't keep her hands off of a certain little sister.
their 1st bike ride.  picture taken with cell phone camera.  doesn't Heidi look super comfy?

While we were biking, my mom chuckled and mentioned how she was thinking about how many people were on the bike trail and how it was such a great... NORMAL... thing to do.  Until she realized that my father was the ONLY one riding a recumbent bike and I'm the ONLY one pulling babies behind me in a trailer (which we got for a song at an REI sale because a nonessential part was broken!  It was our first ever baby/kid purchase.  Practical?  nope!).  For a split second, she thought that she was as normal as everyone else on the trail... until she remembered that she has the funniest bike seat ever invented (sorry, no pics, but the seat consists of two mini seats side-by-side... one for each butt cheek!).
hehe...this is from an image search for recumbent bikes.  NOT my father!  My dad's bike HAS a steering wheel and OF COURSE he wears special bike shoes that clip into the pedals.

In high school I had many conversations with a friend about how I was the epitome of normal.  He vehemently disagreed.  However I truly saw nothing about myself as different.  I have no desire to express myself through my clothes or hair or tattoos.  I have no unusual habits.  Completely normal.  DON'T YOU AGREE?

I now realize that I am different.  It has a lot to do with only having cable TV for one year of my entire life, preferring books over bars and rarely shopping (due to a combination of frugality and hatred of shopping).  I don't conform, but I don't strive not to conform.  I'm just me... and I've realized, that I'm ok with that... even if you think I'm a bit of an odd duck :)

p.s. I had a tee shirt in Junior High that said "Dare 2 B Different" and some bible verses on it.  It was during my style phase where I wore oversized tee shirts that were either religious or had nature motifs.  Yup, awesome style has always been my thing.


a comparison @ 6 months

*please note that I've posted TWO separate things today, so please scroll down for Heidi's 6 month photo shoot.
**please note that if you read my blog, I assume that you are equally as fascinated in pics of my babies as I am.

I wanted to compare the girls cheek-to-cheek.  
So here are the best comparison shots I have of each girl at 6 months:

The lighting is different so Hazel's eye color pops a bit more.  In real life, Heidi's are equally as stunning.  Yes, they definitely look like sisters!  Though they are distinctly different in many ways, another way they are similar is in their middle-of-the-night cries!  There have been many many times during the past few weeks when one or both of them wakes up during the night due to stuffed noses and/or coughs and/or the fact that we keep a very chilly house at night.  By the time I get my weary body into their room, they're both sleeping peacefully and I truly have no idea which one of them was fussing.  Yup, mama of the year :)

An honest shot

Yes, I gave this photo shoot an honest try.  It's been raining the past few days, but I didn't succumb to the peer pressure (mother/sister pressure) and just snap some pics!  No, I was risking a few days of her growth (when you take monthly pics, a few days can be quite a big difference) and waiting for the sun.  Mr. Golden Sun... please come to play!

Today I accomplished great things.  By great, I'm referring to a few golden minutes in which I had THREE SLEEPING TODDLERS and the sun peeked out AND Heidi was awake AND I had the clarity of mind to realize the photo shoot opportunity.  If you've ever tried to put one toddler down for a nap, you'll bow to my greatness.  Am I right?  Granted, it was short lived and now, an hour later, I have one toddler staring at me and Heidi has fallen asleep.

I quickly sneak around the house, grabbing the photo props.  I arrange the sheep skin, infant scale & fuzzy blanket.  I tuck Heidi into the basket, balance her on the scale and while she happily reached for her feet... I begin to snap pics.  EXCEPT... my camera batter is dead.  You've go to be kidding me!

I charged the camera for a few minutes and headed outside again, already cursing the sun which was now a distant memory.  Oh well, at least it's not raining, right?  This time, I plopped Heidi into the basket... in too much of a hurry... this will be the LAST scale picture (without a spotter near by).  Here's the only pic I got (look closely and you see that the basket is starting to tip).
BAD MAMA!  Not only did I not take the time to find a larger basket, I didn't arrange it so that IF she fell, she'd land on her soft sheep skin.  She now has one ugly bruise on her forehead.  In fact, I just glanced at it and unconsciously my hand went to my heart and I gasped.  BAD MAMA!

I knew that the bruising would only look worse with time, so as soon as Heidi was soothed, I continued my work.  I've never been accused of being overly sympathetic ;)

So here she is, the lady of the hour.  She can use these pics in her "Wanted: New Mama" advertisement.  Notice that she's not smiling.  I also just noticed that I forgot to include the number 6 in the photo shoot.  Drat!  Maybe I'll take a few more pics later... maybe...

The sleeping photo was just a whim after the official photo shoot.  I laid her on her sheep skin under her play gym so that she could enjoy a little free time after her strenuous modeling schedule.  She promptly wiggled herself around and fell asleep.  I happen to love the way her lips and chin look when she's sleeping so I decided to take a few more pictures.

And simply because I always like it when other bloggers show the unstaged part of the photo shoot... here's what the shot would have looked like if I hadn't hung a cream blanket up behind her:
*I keep cloth diapers folded and prepped in the green laundry basket.  Today is laundry day and so I dumped a pile of clean diapers that need to be folded on the floor.  Attractive, no?
**Do you find it wonderfully amusing that I hang her baby doll by the head in her play gym?  I rotate out various toys to spice things up... but hanging the baby doll by the head is my all-time fav!


1/2 year of Heidi-loo-who

True to form, I didn't look at the calendar for a few days, so I had no idea that yesterday was the 30th.  Oh, the glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom!  Also, true to form, on the day I have the time and desire to do a photo shoot... it's dreary and raining outside.  Ho hum.  I'm gonna get a few thoughts/ highlights written down and posted and will post a pic as soon as the sun peeks out.

Heidi's personality is blooming!  Every time her dad gives her the tiniest bit of attention, she begins wiggling in delight.  It's hilarious.  All he has to do is glance at her!  He likes to sit her on top of the table in her bumbo during meal times to include her in our chatting.  She watches us eat and tries to eat the gourds and/or monkey balls that I have on the table as fall decoration.  Seriously... those things are ridiculously huge for her baby hands and yet she loves to hold/drop/gum them.

She continues to find her older sister captivating.  She spends her time watching her bounce around the house and giggling each time Hazel gets down on the floor to interact with her.  Any time Heidi cries, Hazel runs to find Heidi a toy.  She's still perfecting the art of actually getting the toy in Heidi's hands and not just sitting the toy somewhere near Heidi.

She's had a cold for about a week, so I fear that right now her reaction to me is not as pleasant as each time I pick her up or sit on her play mat, I wipe her nose.  Boy does she hate that!  Oh wait, I just peered around the couch to look at her and got a huge smile.  Sigh.  She is generous with her smiles, it's just hard to see it around the two fingers that are ALWAYS in her mouth (the pointer and middle fingers of her left hand).

She can sit for a few seconds before toppling and there have been a few times when we think she's about ready to push onto her knees.  OH NO!  Come back here baby!

She is a cuddle bunny who loves to snuggle into arms, have her toes kissed and rub cheeks.  She continues to take wonderful naps throughout the day.  Now that I am babysitting some other kids, I am learning how unique my wonderful nappers are.  I'm so lucky that my girls love their nap times!  Grow brains grow!

FYI:  I'm typing this while enjoying my 2nd cup of coffee on this 3-cup dreary morning.  Hazel is next to me on the couch watching Calliou (I allow TV until my coffee is consumed).  She is captivated by the TV, her lips are blue from her lollipop (her current addiction is lollipops.  I do make sure she eats breakfast first.  Her other favorite snack...  pbut ted bears {peanut butter and teddy bear honey sandwich} and TOMATO SLICES!), and she is putting her toes in her mouth.  What a weirdo ;)


Givin' myself the BOOT

The ebb and flow of my posting has been seriously ebbing.  However, the ebb and flow of this house has been flowing like the Nile!  (I'm shaking my head in confusion at myself for those sentences...)

Through it all, we're delighting in the creeping in of FALL!  Though I've yet to give up my flip flops, I'm enjoying sweaters and jeans... and cuddly clothes on my cuddle bunnies!

Last week Hazel came down with a nasty fever and spent two whole days cuddled on my lap.  She perked up just in time to get hit with a bad cold... which she gave to me... and now to Heidi.  Heidi is one sweet lump of miserable.  Yesterday she tried oh-so-hard to smile at us, but though we could tell she was trying, her red watery eyes just looked pitiful and sad.

Fortunately, her temperature has been normal all morning and she's FINALLY sleeping soundly.

We've also enjoyed a nice visit with Jake's dad and smom, a fall picnic with our church and some major crafting :)  Again I ask:  WHO AM I?

I can't yet show you a pic of my big project... 'cause it still doesn't look AT ALL like my vision.  I painted our front door RED and am making a wreath.  Hmmm... the paint color is perfect, the paintER was not.  And that wreath...hmmm... still tweaking it.

However, I've had a few crafty successes this weekend.  One simple project that I've been wanting to make for over a month:  another tee-shirt reconstruction.  This one was for Kenzlee, the sister of the boy who raises money each year for JDRF (juvenile diabetes research foundation).  I also made her a hair clip, though it looks pretty great as a corsage.  The discoloration around the waist is because I had just finished wetting and ironing the shirring and simply couldn't wait to get the picture taken and pass it off to Kenzlee's Grandma (Jake's smom, aka "Hadel's Gammy").
Side note to all who comment on Hazel's cute clothes:  90% of them are hand-me-downs from Kenzlee!  The furry boots in the top picture are one prime example.  Oh how we love our Kenzlee!


I seem to always have a problem with infant socks.  They are always the wrong size.  This problem is made worse by the fact that I refuse to buy socks because it's impossible to know if they'll fit.  Now that the air has a nip to it, poor Heidi has had some cold tootsies.

Awhile back, I pinned this pattern:
I'm not the only one pinning these boots.  Practically every time I look at the current pins (sorry if you have no idea what I'm talking about.  You "pin" pics of the things you like/ intend to buy or make.), these boots are featured.

However, the pattern costs $4!  With all the free tutorials and patterns online, I'm spoiled and really hesitant to spend a whole FOUR dollars on a pattern!  But then I got to thinking, "if I wait to make those baby boots and end up loving them, I'm really going to kick myself for not making them sooner".  And you know what?  I WAS RIGHT!  The pattern comes in sizes 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 & 9-12.  I made the 6-9 month size as my first trial and they seem a little tight on my 5.5 month old!  It took me about 4 hours to make the first set and I followed the instructions exactly.  Then I immediately began making another set with my own edits:  having a full liner in the shoe 'caused for lots of bunching inside and since the baby won't walk in them, seemed like overkill.  Also, my babies have chubby feet and the toe section could use more height.

So here they are:  the button pair are the original design, the flower pair was made with some adaptations.

*Partly due to my thrifty nature, but mostly due to my green nature, I intend to reuse clothing/fabrics instead of buying new when sewing items for my girls.  For these boots, I bought a suit jacket at Goodwill for $2.50 for the exterior (plenty left for future boots!).  The liner was made out of an orange fleece vest we've had in our sewing pile for years because its zipper was broken.  I splurged and bought 6 new buttons ($.60 total) for the original design... next time I will think ahead and buy something at Goodwill that has buttons on it!  I went to bed thinking that though I LOVED the boots, they are a tad boyish.  Then in that sweetened state of creativity right before sleep, it occurred to me that I could use more of the fleece scraps to make flowers as the decoration on the velcro flap!

**I enjoyed making these so much, I'm starting to dream about having a booth at our local craft fair next year.  AMANDA JANE.... robots and boots... has a ring to it doesn't it?  Applefest 2012?


the allure of the word "hibernation" and being a feathered friend

This morning Hazel pulled me out of bed at 5:30.  This is after about an hour of lying in my bed together, lying in her bed together, lying in my bed listening for sounds that she is not going to stay in her bed.  As I snuggled into the couch on this very chilly morning, I cat napped to the sounds of Caillou and then Sesame Street.

The episode on Sesame Street was teaching the word "hibernation".  A big word for a little tyke.  Hazel's speech has been snowballing and words that I never expect her to know continue to pour out of her mouth.  So tomorrow, she'll probably point tell me NO HIBERNATION when she pulls me out of bed before the sunrise.

Hibernation: 5 months of uninterrupted sleep.  I think we can all agree that that idea holds some major allure!

However, then I look over to my 5 month old who is one sweet pile of goo and giggles, I hardly want to sleep for 5 hours for fear of wasting precious time.  Until this week, I've been confident in my "NO MORE BABIES" mantra.  I've loved each minute of Heidi, but don't feel sad at the prospect of being past the newborn stage in life.  Now that she is responding to us, craning her neck and body to be a part of our conversations, begging for attention, smelling of milk/saliva/baby/soap... I am fighting back the desire to freeze time.  Last night Jake pulled out the tissues in preparation of the big 6 month milestone which is rapidly approaching.  That is when I introduce solids (probably)... that is when my baby ceases to be made up entirely of me (I'm aware of the selfish nature of that sentence).
To wrap up with a totally unrelated subject:  Yesterday was the first day I've had a really sick baby.  Hazel had a high fever and spent the entire day napping on the couch.  Watching her frolic around the house as I write this, it seems unbelievable that she in fact spent an entire day resting!  While I spent wasted a lot of time reading blogs and dreaming/project idea gathering on pinterest, I also put my sedentary day to use.  Hazel whimpered each time I left the couch, so what's a lazy mama to do but simply stay on the couch and cuddle her sick baby?  While I was sitting, I was inspired to FINALLY create a mobile for the nursery.

I've been wanting to make an owl or bird mobile for about 3 years now.  Hazel played with her mobiles, but not like Heidi.  Heidi squirms in delight and spends huge chunks of time swinging her hands into mobiles.

Inspiration and FREE pattern here.  This weekend I will glue the birds to sticks, balance them, and hang it above her crib in such a way as it can be raised and lowered.  I love getting stuff done... and love these easy hand-sewn birds!

One of the smartest things I've ever done was choose nursery FABRICS instead of a true theme.  I picked out three coordinating Amy Butler prints and gave swatches to anyone who asked.  As a result, I have TWO gorgeous baby quilts, a diaper bag backpack, curtains, a footstool, and cushions for my rocking chair ALL made out of this fabric!  I still have a bag of scraps of each fabric and barely dented the stack to make these tiny birds.  Perhaps I'll make 50 more... or save the fabric for another inspired day!

and that my feathered friends, is how you write a tangent-filled blog post off the cuff.


it's hip to be square

Phenomenal.  I've decided to turn 30 every year from now on ;)  Actually I'm going to work really hard to age gracefully and not try to hide my age.  We'll check back in on that goal in about 10 years :)

My SQUARE DANCE birthday party was my all-time favorite birthday party.  70-plus people joined us for an evening of food, drink, laughter and of course... dancing.  

Here are some visual highlights:

The attire:
The Kosker quartet decked out in homemade attire.
The decor:

All of the party printables were made by Snowcones & Lollipops (missing a pic of the birthday banner hung over the buffet).  They certainly made the whole event seem more pulled together.  One friend even asked me to plan/design her next birthday bash.  I say "sure, as long as it has a western theme"... you know... so I can wear my sweet Stetson boots!  The cupcakes are on the "pie tree" that my father made for my sister's wedding reception.  The cupcakes were made by Sweet Malu. If you live north of Pittsburgh (Butler-ish) and need some baked goods... ask me for SM's info.  Seriously.  Never have I ever heard people gush about cupcakes before.  Sooo tasty.  Hubby and I are still in a debate on whether the chocolate/chocolate or the spice/cream cheese were the best (def the spice/cream cheese.  hands down!).

The shenangians:

We didn't capture nearly enough photos of the crowd or the dancing.  That's what happens when you're having TOO MUCH FUN!  I did get a FlipVideo camera for my birthday... so there may be a video posted in the near future... once I figure out how to do that.  We fumbled our way through 4 dances... worked off any extra calories we ate that night!  As you can see, as the evening progressed... the hootenannies (it's a word if I write it!) took off!  Who knew one can do a strip dance with a skinny tie?  Or that saddles on a wooden saw horse can actually hold grown men?  Or for that manner... that Ron Jeremy (according to the name on his cup) can ride a toddler's pink rocking horse?

Oh man.  It was awesome.  Thanks to all of those who shared the special day with me.  I felt loved.  I feel happy.  



30!  Hip Hip Hooray!  Today is my birthday :)

Tonight we are throwing a party in celebration of life.  At 30 I am blissfully content.  I have met all my goals/dreams for this stage of life (married good man, successful (albeit short) career, settled down/own a home, have 2 healthy babies...).  I have A LOT to celebrate!
I won a blog contest to have all my paper goods designed!   Invites, cupcake flags, birthday banner, thank you tags, welcome sign.... This party is SOOO coordinated!  More on all that in the next post.
This morning at 6:30 on the dot, my little blond bombshell woke me up by bouncing into my room and crawling up on bed for a brief cuddle before she simply couldn't wait one more second to watch Elmo.  If you think there's a better way to be woken up on my birthday, I surely don't agree!  Heidi also conspired to give me a birthday present... 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I'll be posting lots of pictures of our SQUARE DANCE tonight.  Wish you could come!  In fact, if you live near-by, you're invited!  I always struggle with who to invite.  So, we've limited it to the people we rub elbows with regularly.  However, I was really haphazard with my evites... so there've been quite a few "hmm... didn't get an RSVP from so-and-so... oh no... I never emailed them the invite!".  Oops!  Still, we're expecting about 70 people to join us!  YEE HAW!!


name in print... CHECK!

There are 3 types of people reading this post:

1.  Someone who typed "Breech Birth" or something similar into their search engine.  I've had over 1000 people read the birth story I posted on this blog last April.  That post has been removed until November out of respect to a wonderful publication.  Why?  Keep reading!

2.  Someone who read my Birth story in Natural Child Magazine and followed my bio to this blog.  WELCOME!  I'd love to hear from you so please leave a comment or send me an email.

3.  My loyal readers.  I never made a Bucket List of things to do before 30.  If I had, I would have thought it too ambitious to admit that I've always wanted to make a dress (CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK.  I've made four this week!).  And I would have thought it too impossible to even dream of seeing my name in print (CHECK).  I have 10 days left... what other ambitious goals should I set out to achieve?

"A Breech Home Birth"... sound familiar?
I'm thrilled to be included in the Sept/Oct issue of Natural Child Magazine!  It's $19.50 US for a digital subscription.  Or if you know me personally, I'm sure I'll be shoving the printed version in your face :)

the zen of organized

I am not a naturally tidy person.  I'm not naturally messy either.  I fall right smack in the middle.  Often, I suffer from being a "placer"... a term my husband made up to describe my tendency to place something and then leave it there indefinitely.  Oops!

My Aunt Laney lives in a perpetually tidy house.  Her philosophy is to minimize work by putting things away the first time.  So instead of carrying it into the house, placing it on the counter, moving it onto the stairs, finally carrying it upstairs, sitting it on the landing and weeks later, putting it away... she carries it into the house and puts it away.  ROCKET SCIENCE!

The past week has been one of those weeks when I am energized and am getting things done (as you well know from my prolific posts).

One of my goals for this week (my last week before I begin babysitting an extra babe or two each day), is to get the house reorganized.  It seems that organization is a never ending cycle:  Organize guest room... move on to play area... move on to kids room... move on to bedroom... YIKES what happened to the guest room?

So far this week I've purged the upstairs of my house (our bedrooms and playroom/balcony) of all the things that don't belong there.  Goodbye Encyclopedia Britannicas... did I really think I was going to make you into a tall lamp?  Goodbye box of maternity clothes.  Goodbye box of newborn clothes (sob)... you certainly don't belong in my bedroom!  Goodbye typewriter that was left from the previous owners and never moved out of my kids room.  Goodbye cool wooden wine crate box that just collects odds and ends of crap.  And this is only the beginning!  I haven't mentioned the 2 bookshelves I moved out of the girls room... or the gazillions of old magazines and books... or the bassinet... or the box of toys that was packed up to wait until they're interesting/novel again...

This sweet lamp was my inspiration:

One of my mom's friends (the one with the pool and copious amounts of wine) was cleaning out her garage and getting rid of her daughter's (who is 40ish) things.  She asked if I'd like this lamp.  LIKE it... I LOVE IT!  The little zookeeper cart is a nightlight. The front clown is a music box.  Hazel sits at this desk completely enchanted with the music box.  It's magical to her.  Soon... I'm going to raid mom's trusty sewing box in hopes of finding some rick rack to decorate the plain lamp shade I stuck on top.  This lamp has been sitting on my woodstove for about 3 weeks... just waiting to find a home!  GUILTY.

As you can see, there is still a stack of vintage books and a set of children's encyclopedias that I can't bring myself to get rid of.  However, this is what I see when I walk up my stairs.  That poor desk top hasn't seen the light of day since we moved in.  I vow to keep it decluttered!

The play area while always looking a little crazy is also organized enough to make it easy for Hazel to clean-up as she goes.  This is something that is stressed in the Montessori book I just read.  So each day, when something is left out, IT goes into time-out for the rest of the day.  It's unbelievable how quickly this is working!  Granted, I still have some clean-up to do throughout the day and after Hazel's bedtime, but it's getting exponentially better each day!

Here's her playroom/ the balcony.  I had the telephoto lens on and it's a small space... so it's just a small peek.  Like how we've repurposed milk crates?

Lot's of brightly colored plastic toys and noise makers... clearly we're not following Montessori to a T :)

At night I leave the nightlight in the lamp on and it's the perfect amount of light to light the short hallway (to the left of the desk) that leads to our bedrooms and bathroom.  Each time I leave my tidy room to answer the calls of one of my girls, I don't need to turn a bright light on.  I must admit, I pause in each space:  my bedroom, the girls room and the balcony to appreciate the zen of organized.  Even at 3 in the morning, it brings me a sense of calm and satisfaction.

Last on my list is to clear-off the top of my dresser and organize the hallway medicine/bathroom closet.  Funny that those were the top two priorities... I get so much done when I procrastinate!  However, last night Hazel awoke with her first ever tummy ache.  So at 1am, I was neck/elbow/rumpus deep in bathroom products trying to find the natural tummy aide I had bought on sale last year.  That did not give me a sense of zen.  Nope, I was extremely ticked at myself!  My toddler was crying in pain for her mommy and mommy's lazy organization habits made her stay in pain for about 4 extra minutes :(

*Not sure if the natural stuff would really work so I also gave her some infant acetaminophen.  Not sure if that worked either 'cause ten minutes after I went back to bed, she called for Daddy!  She often lets me know that her Daddy can fix things that I struggle with.  "Daddy do" is what I hear anytime I struggle with a household chore.  GEESH!

**As I finished this, Hazel was hitting buttons on her toy laptop.  She accidentally hit the "off" button and noticed that there was no more sound coming from the 'puter.  She looked at me and said "Dada fix".  FINE... this incompetent Mama will let you believe that it's broken just so I don't have to hear the crappy music coming from the 'puter anymore.  HA!