1.31.2012

A wild 10 months

Wow, this FOXY lady is BEARing down on a year!  I look at all her babyness and can't believe she'll be walking and talking soon.

Heidi is super quick at standing up and starting to take tentative steps from one piece of furniture to the next.  She's a super fast crawler and sprints down the hall almost as fast as I walk.  She LOVES following me around, however only one direction.  So, for example (30 times a day) she'll follow me to the bathroom/laundry room.  However once I'm ready to leave that end of the hall, if I walk PAST her, she HOWLS.  I think she's a tad lazy :)  Her 2nd favorite thing to do is hold on to both of my legs while I work in the kitchen.  It's as close to being chained down as I care to experience.  However, I kinda love the feeling of those chubby hands on my calves...and love how happy it makes her when I grace her with a glance.

She continues to have a pleasant demeanor, though we are constantly sleep training each other.  Having both girls in one room has caused us a lot of lost sleep.  This week, poor Heidi is sleeping in a different area of the house... so that she relearns how to sleep without mama.  Last night, she went to bed at a normal baby time (7pm versus the norm 10pm) and only woke up ONCE (and is still sleeping now at 7am).  Go Heidi!

However, she makes us WORK hard for her smiles.  It takes a few peek a boos before she starts to smile and then giggle.  We've started calling her SCRUNCY FACE because she loves to entertain us by scrunching up all her features.  It looks so ridiculous and we immediately laugh.  Of course, like her smile... she hides these expressions as soon as the camera appears.  Humph!

Let's see... she's a great eater and enjoys all the solid foods I place on her plate to entertain her.  Yesterday she ate covered her head in rice noodles, peas and kiwi.  It's such a treat to get to eat my dinner while it's warm and then top her off with babyfood later.

Finally, I've just got to brag... this girl is MUSICAL!  At 10-months Hazel began to wave her arms to direct the church choir.  Heidi takes this to a new level.  She begins swaying when the first note plays and gets more and more violent as the piece continues.  Last week I was holding her in my arms as we practiced a beautiful, calm hymn... she was body banging the whole time.  I could barely stand and hold her.  When I pull out her sister's sit-n-spin that has an Abby Cadabby button, Heidi spends hours standing over the button, pushing it, and rocking back and forth.

Ok, who has noticed the trick I'm playing?

1.29.2012

opinion seeking counter

Hello friends.  There's always lots of exciting things happening here at the Kosker farm.  Currently, I have a huge gaping HOLE IN MY KITCHEN CEILING!  Doesn't that sound fun?

Our kitchen is NEXT ON OUR TO DO LIST.  I've been thinking about this project for about 2 years, so why oh why am I not ready?

Here's what we're going to do (a true kitchen overhaul on a DIME!)

  • fix water leak stain on ceiling.  We've decided to get rid of drywall since that ceiling has leaked multiple times in it's 30-year life.  We fixed the leak by putting heat tape on the roof (melting snow was the culprit), but better safe than sorry.  This week, my dad and hubby got the saw out and cut into the ceiling to finally answer my question about why the kitchen ceiling is a foot lower than the other ceilings in the house (answer:  duct work).  We're gonna use nice wood paneling for our tiny ceiling.
from asastanford.com
  • Since I have a strong aversion to mixing wood colors, the wood ceiling is going to be as light as possible to compliment the dark wood beam that runs between the kitchen and dining room.
  • Currently, the kitchen cabinets are a nice maple.  Much to all wood lovers chagrin, I am absolutely sure that I want to paint my cabinets.  It's gonna brighten up our tiny kitchen.  Something like this:
source
That's a similar size to my kitchen, though my counter extends past the stove (that might be the same stove too, though mine is black... I'm not into stainless appliances...REBEL!).  My plan is to paint the lower cabinets a medium gray and the upper cabinets white.
  • Here's another kitchen in my color scheme.  Which reminds me, one of the only changes I've made thus far was to take the doors off of some of my cabinets.  However, the interior of my cabinets are unfinished.  I need to do something with them... something YELLOW.  Any ideas?
source
  • Next comes the new cabinet hardware.  We chose a rustic hand-forged iron look that compliments the style of our chalet-inspired house.
source
  • Perhaps my biggest head thumping decision will be the new countertops.  We have butcher block wanna-be laminate counters.  I'm not opposed to laminate, but there are some really cool options out there for those of us in the anti-granite camp (I could never be on HGTV with my aversion to stainless appliances and granite counters!).
Should I choose:
BUTCHER BLOCK
source

CONCRETE

source

 COPPER (this would be the most challenging DIY for us, but I know we could do it!  I love the idea of the ever changing patina.  It would be so warm looking... and copper is the most antimicrobial surface!)



What's your vote?  Butcher block, concrete or copper?

Finally, I need to find an affordable single basin farmhouse sink...  Eegads, guess we're not quite ready for this reno!

1.27.2012

Dear me

I'm tempted to Title this post "Dead girl walking".  Not because I'm dead, but because I do often feel like the walking dead!  If I met the me of 5 years ago, I would've given/ received a HUGE lecture.  You see 5 years ago, when not working 1.2 jobs (a full-time job as a School Counselor and very part-time job as a Crisis Counselor), I was sitting ON MY BUM!

At the time, I was very wise and would often tell myself, within the next few years I'm gonna have kids, so I'd better rest NOW.  And rest I DID!  I stayed in bed late, only to get up to land on the couch and catch-up on internet tv... finish in time to join my night-shift husband for dinner... and then play on the internet all evening.

If I knew then what I knew now... it wasn't just a time to rest, I could've been SO PRODUCTIVE!  With kids, productive is making the time to eat 3 meals myself... and that happens rarely.  With kids, rest is squeezing out my own internet time at 6:30 am while cartoons entertain the toddler and the baby climbs across the keyboard (I typically have to write posts/emails 2-3 times before I can send it off without her "help").

I'm glad I vegged and rested, I might hate that version of me if I met me today, but I enjoyed it and relished it.  However, I sigh when I think of all the awesome crafts I could've made.  I sigh when I think of all the writing-for-hire I could've done.  And I cry when I realize that I could've written my book.

Instead, I will continue to try to whittle an hour here, an hour there for myself...   Damn I'm tired!

1.23.2012

sooo glad that's over!

This was supposed to be a fun weekend.  My friend, Shannon, was coming to spend Saturday-Sunday.  I haven't seen her since September and we had LOTS to catch-up on!  Then on Sunday, Jake was looking forward to taking a coworker/friend and his kids hiking in our woods and then serving a nice dinner.

Soon after Shannon arrived, I began to feel queasy.  It continued to worsen and after about 2 hours of chatting, I ran upstairs never to return again.  I'm SO thankful that Shannon and Jake are also friends so that it wasn't super awkward.  Also, Shannon was awesome and dove right in as Hazel's playmate.  Seriously, she put in overtime as Hazel's pseudo-Aunt.  THANK YOU SHANNON!  Shannon has a great memory and was referencing all these funny things that have happened to us in the past... things I had completely forgotten about.  I'm not likely to forget this weekend though :)

Hazel is old enough to understand that "Mama sick".  She was very concerned and would quietly peek in periodically.  Sunday morning I was feeling good enough to smile and let her lay in my bed.  She was so happy... and calm... how can I harness that calm when I'm not sick?

Apart from being in labor, I've never felt worse.  Thankfully, it was a 24-hour bug and now I'm feeling like my old self and ready to start the week!  What a waste of a perfect weekend!

Hazel had a milder form of the bug on Thursday and though her activity level is back to normal, her appetite and sleep are still off.  She went to bed 2 HOURS early last night!?  Jake and Heidi started suffering yesterday.  Heidi just needed to spend the day cuddling on the couch (oh, if I must :) , eating little and keeping even less down, and Mr. Health seems to be bypassing the worst of it... hope that continues!

Off to disinfect every surface I've touched the past 48 hours!

1.21.2012

more right than wrong

Early morning reflections can be a good thing.  I'm not tired, I'm not cranky, the house is still tidy and peaceful.

Here's what I've done right this week:

  • Finished organizing the upstairs medicine/bathroom storage cabinet.  For 7 years, I've moved boxes and boxes of toiletries.  Free samples, mostly empty tubes, non-exciting smells, etc.  I am unable to throw these perfectly useful items away, but I don't use them!  I prefer the new products!  For the past YEAR, I've whittled away at these products.... mostly because my budget doesn't allow for such needless purchases.  So, after a year of using up bath & beauty products and a year of feeling stressed every time I opened that closet... it is zen!  I can't tell you how many times I've opened the door just to look at the organization in there!
  • Organized the 2 turn-around shelves in my kitchen.  I can now find lids to storage bowls and ...uh... actually turn the shelf w/o things falling off!  This also entailed cleaning off a corner of my countertop that I've allowed to become a collection zone.  Convinicng myself that guests wouldn't notice.  Seriously, it took a mere 5 minutes to put those misc items back where they belong!
  • Organized the kitchen junk drawer.  OMG... I refused to even take a before picture it was so unreal.  It was my grandparents junk drawer, and clearly we didn't clean it and just added to it.  There was the most ridiculous stuff in there!  So much that I wouldn't be able to get it all to fit back in there if I tried!  YUCK!  
  • UNPACKED some random boxes of random junk that have been sitting in the basement for about 2 years!  I even found some things that I've sworn were missing... go figure!
  • ART & MUSIC & READING!  While my house does scream "KIDS LIVE HERE", I (try) keep all the plastic, noisy toys tucked away in the play room/balcony.  In our main living areas I keep only ART SUPPLIES (play dough, colored pencils, crayons, paper, stickers), MUSIC SUPPLIES (an array of professional drums designed for kids, maracas, bells, tambourines...), a basket of books, a cloth IKEA BARN stuffed full of cloth animals, and a fair-trade basket stuffed with baby toys and a few toys that weren't put away upstairs.  So our main living area still has plenty of goodies around for the kids, but hubby and I can stand the sight of our own house!  (ok, our leather storage ottoman is also used as a toy box, but I rarely open it so that the toys inside are exciting to the kids)
  • Speaking of ART, Hazel LOVES to paint!  My parents, our neighbors & Hazel's playmates, have been on vacation for about 2 weeks.  This week while talking on the phone to Hazel, Junko/Grandpa asked her to make him a snowflake and Llama/Grandma asked her to make her a balloon.  I hope they get home SOON... she's been in production for days :)  This morning (it's only 8:30am), she's painted a snowflake, a balloon and 3 hearts (the hearts are for mama, daddy & our soon-to-arrive guest, Shannon).  Each time she finished one, she tells me who it's for and says "This make ___ sooo happy!". 
Well, it's time to start the day... feeling good about all the things I've done right and forgiving myself for all the things I've done wrong (notice how I didn't share those :)  It's silly how long I've let these LITTLE projects hang over my head.  10 minutes of organizing to free myself from a monkey on my back... WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?

1.18.2012

handmade Christmas 2012

Hi all!  I am so inspired this year to continue my surprising new-found-love of crafting!  I think about crafting with felt and wool all.the.time!  This morning, I thought of a brilliant idea:  start a blog group that preps for Christmas 2012 by making ONE GIFT A MONTH.  Of course, I'd have to make a new blog for this so that I could hide it from all the people I'll be making gifts for.  Lucky for me, I googled the idea first, and Sew Like My Mom has already pitched the idea (and I think she already knows how to throw linky parties each month... one less thing I need to learn/ squeeze into my limited computer time).  So, I'll be joining her each month... and attempting to hide my gifts from my nosy family :)

So, who is gonna join us?  If we make ONE THING A MONTH, we'll have 12 awesome handmade gifts!  Now, we just need to give ourselves credit and give ONLY the handmade gift!  My sister and I always intend to do this but then feel guilty that we didn't spend money, so we pair the handmade gift with something.  NO MORE I SAY!  My thought, time & talents are the best gifts that I can give my loved ones!

Need some inspiration (or want to request something specific?), here is my Pinterest craft idea board :)

1.13.2012

EASY diy silhouette ornament


Silhouettes are incredibly beautiful... and popular!  I don't own Photoshop and have not been able to turn a picture into a digital silhouette via Picassa.  Ho hum... I really really wanted on that bandwagon!

After lots of time looking online for ideas and inspiration, I combined a few and created my own EASY DIY SILHOUETTE ORNAMENTS.

I didn't take pics of the process, because it's really so easy that once I tell you my little secret, you'll completely be able to replicate this idea!  The hardest part was getting nice silhouette pictures of babies and toddlers.  I made these for 6 of my favorite babes.  Some silhouettes were better than others.  Hazel's, pictured above, is my favorite.  A crisp profile, slim neck, and curled ponytail!

TIPS for getting a good profile pic:

  • Take lots and lots of pictures while the kids are playing.  I started this in October so I could take the pics while the kids were playing outside.  I was so glad to have these pictures when it came time to make Christmas ornaments.
  • If your best profile pic is of the child looking over his/her shoulder, you need to FAKE A NECK when you cut it out.  I neglected to do that for one and a silhouette is not nearly as nice if it ends at the chin!
  • If the child has long hair, pony tails look best.  Hair that hangs past the neck gets lost in a silhouette and the child will look bald or simply odd.
  • Encourage fly away hairs!  Crazy, I know, but boy and baby silhouettes look better if you can cut a few hairs sticking up.
How to turn your pic into a silhouette:
  • crop it so that it fills a 4x6 frame.  Be sure not to crop the top of the head or neck.
  • Print it on thick paper (black and white printing is fine!)
  • Simply CUT OUT around the face, hair AND NECK (seriously, don't forget the neck!)
  • Using a foam brush, paint the entire silhouette (the secret!).  I used black for the pic above... then I ran out of black paint.  So I used brown, which was blah, so I sprayed some adhesive on it and added gold glitter.  I feel like the glitter took away from the details of the profile.  So, in the future (or when I finish the sets for the grandparents... hopefully before next Christmas... there's no excuse for my extreme procrastination, this project is fast and easy... I just like to self-sabotage.. but that's a whole separate post)... IN THE FUTURE, I will stick to solid colors, but not brown.
  • Allow the paint to dry (duh).  My pics seriously curled and some of the paint got marred.  So, perhaps tack your pics down with putty first.  I had to do about 3 coats because I printed my pics on glossy photo paper.
  • For the ornament, you can use cardboard, felt, or foam board.  I opted for foam board because it holds its shape and easy to write on!  I used a drinking glass to make the circle, and added a small tab. I used a hole punch to make the hole look clean and nice. 
  • Hot glue the silhouette onto the ornament.
  • On the reverse of the ornaments, I put an outline of the child's hand, their name, and the date.  
    • note:  for babies or impatient toddlers, paint their hand with nontoxic paint and have them make a lot of hand prints on a piece of scrap paper.  Cut-out one of those hand prints and trace that onto the ornament.
  • Using a small piece of pipe cleaner, make a hook and attach it through the ornament's hole.  

1.06.2012

a lifetime of firsts

One of the gifts of motherhood is getting the chance to observe growth.  I'm positive that I could blog about a FIRST everyday.  It's simply incredible.

Today, I noticed how Heidi has mastered a monkey cling with her arms, feet, hands, and head anytime I get near her crib.  She used to love sleeping there and now fights it with her whole being.  Oh how it pulls at my heart strings to pry her off me and set her down.  The looks of sadness and betrayal cuts right through me.

Today, I noticed how perfectly Hazel and Logan (her playmate) enter into each yoga pose.  It's an activity that I've only done a few times, and today in my sleep-deprived state (ahem Miss Heidi!), it seemed like a great thing to do.  Their little toddler bodies move so gracefully and though they don't always do the pose I'm leading, they often end up in perfectly formed poses.  Proof that yoga is the perfect, natural movement for our bodies.

Today, I heard a small scuffle and a high-pitched squeal.  A noise I hear often when the toddlers are having problems sharing.  I was (and am) sitting in my favorite chair at the base of the steps.  I have a perfect view of our living space AND the playroom loft above.  In my best "mom" voice, I said "you both need to share or that toy will go in time-out for the rest of the day".  This happens A LOT.  As I started up the stairs, I heard absolute silence.  Two guilty eyes were peering at me from around the couch.  For the first time ever I heard "mama, no come up here!".  I've always been wanted for playtime and thought it was amusing that they never associated mama-the-playmate with mama-the-dictator.

Today, I helped Heidi walk a foot or two as I held onto her hands.  Then I watched Raegan, her playmate, walk a whole 3 steps unassisted!

The times...they are a-changing...

1.04.2012

tabernacle coup

If you were lucky enough to spent any time with me this past holiday, I probably engaged you in a discussion on how a disproportionate of bloggers are mormon.  Almost without fail, if I find a blog that is trendy, happy, encouraging, inspiring, filled with pics of beautiful people and to-die-for homes, that blog will have a little LDS button somewhere.

Over the holiday, one of my favorite bloggers used some language that leads me to believe that she is also mormon.  UGH.  While I respect their beliefs, this kinda pisses me off... in a jealous kind of way.

They've got a few things figured out and I'm racking my brains trying to think of how I can catch my ELCA religion up (that's the cool Lutherans.  in a nut shell:  we (you too) are saved by God's grace and faith is a gift).

I did a little googling and I'm not the first nonLDS blogger to notice this phenomenon.  Some of the reasons this is occuring is/may be because mormon women marry young, have husbands who hold down solid jobs, have their adorable kids while still young and energetic and need a creative outlet while staying home.  Also, they are encouraged to focus on beauty, in a non-shallow way.  So, having an Anthropologie catalog home, stylish clothes, and whipping up cool crafts is actually a manifestation of their religion.  It seems that journaling is an important aspect of their daily life, so I guess I'm not the only one who views this as their personal journal.  Finally, their church elders have ENCOURAGED them to be into social media... BRILLIANT!

There are a few Lutheran bloggers out there.  Though I've only discovered ONE who I don't rub shoulders with in real life.  I'm frustrated by this fact.  To make matters worse, of the cool, hip mama Lutherans I know, many of them are attending nonLutheran churches.  While on one level, I respect that and encourage people to connect with God in whatever way works for them.  On another level, this ticks me off (I'm fiesty this morning).  Being a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is SO much more than attending my local church every week.  Nope, we're conquering world hunger, sending in aid workers where they are needed, teaching tolerance and hope, taking care of our neighbors (though they rarely know where we worship), etc.  It's not just one building, it's a network around the globe that is making a huge difference.

So, when people leave this network because another church has better musicians or a better youth program, I get it.  I'd love more guitars in my church.  I'd love a larger youth group.  However, I believe in the mission of the ELCA church too much to ditch.

We need to buckle down and make these things happen.  We need our church leaders to encourage social media.  Not to evangelize... we suck at that... because we're so respectful of other's faiths.  However, we need to be more visible.  We need to support each other more so that we can be stay-at-home-moms-who-blog, instead of a network of young families too busy to take the time to enjoy each other.  We need to RECOMMIT TO OUR CHURCHES and build them into the type of facility that attracts others.  What we have is so awesome, but if we don't share and grow, we will wither and die.

I was raised in my church, it is my home, my family.  However, if I was a newbie, what would entice me to stay?  Sure, people smile at me and shake my hand, but would I stick around long enough to understand the beauty and simplicity (and complexity) of the Lutheran faith?  Would I be excited about the money I give knowing how it will be used at home and abroad?  How long would I have to attend until I understood the richness of the liturgy and didn't think everyone was being robotic and/or wierd?  Though, I'm sure I would sample the fair trade chocolates and coffees we Lutherans are so addicted to (yup, most Lutheran churches have it for sale at cost).

*personal note to my mormon and non-Lutheran-church-attending-Lutheran friends:  I hope hope hope I haven't upset you.  I'd love to hear your point-of-view on all I've said.  Above all, we each need to do what is best for us and for our families.  I love you and value your friendships!

1.03.2012

viva la resolution

I don't do resolutions, but I do step back and evaluate.  Last year I had a baby, managed to not ignore my 2-year-old, enjoyed some good times with the hubby and shared many meals with friends & family.

It was a great year, but exhausting!

Now that my family is complete, it's time to nurture.  Making memories is something that can't be ignored.  Sure, my kids will be happy, loved and healthy if we just go through the motions every day... but each day will melt away in memory.  So this year, we are going to seek out new (free or cheap) adventures!  When my girls ask about the year they turned 1 & 3, I want to have some solid memories for them!

I am also looking into the future and though we're still a few years away from when I will return to work and they will start school, I need to keep myself "current".  If I go back to School Counseling, I can't simply coast for a few years and expect to be hired.  Nope, I need to join some professional organizations, read scholarly literature, seek relevant volunteer opportunities.  If I want the option of being a work-at-home writer instead, I need to TRY some real writing and seek publication.

Baby steps.  Twice a month, I will be leaving my comfy home filled with giggly girls and I will spend my Saturdays working on the above.  Luckily for me, my parents have an empty, beautiful, calming apartment with internet!  Yet another perk of living next door!

WISH ME LUCK (and wild success)!

1.02.2012

a rosey 9 months


Dearest Heidi,

I'm sorry that I never post these on time (which would have been December 30th).  At 9 months, you're a mix of pure baby and pure personality.  You still LOVE to nap on our chests in that way that only babies can do (ie flopped, spread limbed, sweaty).  You also have a baby's sad face and cry which happens often as you tend to crawl toward hazardous walls and furniture and hit your head (repeatedly... learn to go in reverse little one).

However, you're also shedding a lot of your babyness (*sniff*).  Your 2nd tooth just poked through, you crawl EVERYWHERE, you LOVE to giggle (peek-a-boo and tickles are your favorite games), you no longer cry yourself to sleep within a few minutes... nope, now you cry and move around trying to pull yourself up to standing (which you are doing more often.  even in the bathtub!  Yowser! ).

Due to your teeth, the coldness of your room (windows are being replaced ASAP), your need for some alone time with your parents, or something else, suddenly you're demanding on sleeping in our bed.  You've been out of our bed since you were a newborn, so this was quite unexpected!  Though I LOVE smelling you and cuddling you in the wee hours of the night, you sleep like a STARFISH and take up a disproportionate amount of the bed.  We want to let you cry it out and break this bad habit, but since you share a room with your sister, it's a bit hard to let you scream for extended periods of time.  Hopefully you fix this on your own!

Your first Christmas was wonderful.  You've left the tree alone and thoroughly enjoyed playing with piles of crinkly paper on Christmas morning.  You also are enjoying choosing which toys to play with and when.


Heidi-who, we sure do love you (even if you put EVERYTHING in your mouth and crawl towards the camera faster than I can click)!