March 12, 2011

Help The Cox Family

My sister-in-law's sister-in-law just lost a brave battle to small cell cancer. She left behind a loving husband (who is still in school) and six children.

Please take a minute to read about her fierce fight and, if you feel so inclined to help, please donate what you can so her family can get through school without worrying about anything else.

March 11, 2011

A Place To Sit


The living room has been finished-ish for quite some time now. I could still use a bench against the wall where the family portraits are, and of course I could always use some more portraits! And maybe a frame or something to keep the vase of tulips company. But otherwise, I am very happy with it.

The main attraction is obviously the baby grand Brad inherited from his grandmother.

Club chairs were hauled over the border from Target. We found them on clearance and thought it wise to pick them up. Can you believe that we somehow fit TWO of them in our Odyssey . . . with three kids in car seats and crossed the border without the guy even asking us if we need to declare anything? I guess when you wave so many passports in front of them they figure there is no way you are going over your limit!

The end table is from Home Sense. The vase we had, tulips are from PB.

The rug was from PB too, as are all the drapes. Seriously a deal at $138/panel for lined silk. But when you add up the double rod, the drapery rings, and sheers my budget quickly got devoured!

Frames are from Michaels and Ikea. Artwork is a print tha tI've loved for a while. I bought the print off and forked out some dough to get it custom framed. (Additional artwork supplied by Avery.)

Lamps are either one that we had and one that I found at Home Outfitters. They are not exactly what I would have picked, but the price was right and the look worked. If I could really have my pick, I might have gotten an architect lamp.

All in all, a pleasant place to sit and read or listen to Brad play the piano. Guillermo quite enjoys sitting in the chairs and keeping guard from passers-by.

Dinner Anyone?

The dining room is finally . . . finished-ish. (My appologies for the crummy pictures . . . I was using a point and shoot, at night . . . maybe I'll have time and energy to do proper ones during the daylight!)

Dining room before:

What an ordeal it was . . . all those trips to the mall, kids in tow. And the whole tire scaffufle on the last trip. But here it is, mostly all done.

Yes, I need more rocks and moss in the vases, maybe even some more flowers. I have one napkin ring right now . . . after carting all the vases back and forth and exchanges I made, I thought it wise to only buy three different rings and then choose my favourite. . . but it still might be a while before 12 of them show up on my table!

The runner and napkins were on sale at PB and worked perfectly with the drapes and artwork, already in place.

The drapes (from RH) need some kind of brown cording. I'll have to keep searching for something.

We already had the table, china, and crystal (thank goodness! the rest of the accessories really add up . . . FAST). The console (probably my favourite piece) was a relative bargain from RH. I got it during a friends and family sale and they even delivered it to Canada, free of charge. (That was such good news since it's 6 ft long, 2 ft wide and weighs 163 lbs!!)

The leather chairs are from RH too, a fantastic bargain when compared to the ones I was drooling over from Ethan Allen. Side chairs were from PB . . . and one day they will be slipcovered. I hope. :)

Vases from C&B . . . maybe I could have found these cheaper at Home Sense, but I didn't have the patience to sift through their stuff weekly for a year, three kids in tow. However, the artwork was from Home Sense and was a fantastic find.

Drapes were from RH again . . . I think I'm starting to disprove my brother's theory, "If it's not from Pottery Barn, it's not for Mel."

Chandelier is from PB.

But in the mean time, I think it looks great and definitely welcoming for a crowd of guests. Now to just plan something . . . Dinner anyone?

Winter Quotes

I am working on a book with some wintery portraits in it and stumbled across this quote:

Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." ~Robert Byrne

Yup. I can definitely see that as being true this year. Everyone up here is talking about moving to Florida . . . Cuba . . . anywhere sunny and warm where the only thing you shovel is sand.

March 9, 2011

I'm Ready

I've got my front doors decked out with the promise of spring.

My rubber boots are waiting patiently.

And so is my bike.

And on our little landing we have a pink-pick-me-up surprise for the eyes. (Pink blossoms with eggs calling out Easter tidings--not all the little furry creatures.)

And yet, we are having another snow storm!!!

Ugh! Seriously, enough already!! I cannot mentally fathom any more winter.

And neither can the kids.

As we were out driving today at the beginning of the storm . . . or "light snow/rain mix" as the forcasters like to refer to it here . . . the following conversation was had:

Jackson: Snow, again?? When is it going to end? Mom, I bet I know what will make you happy.

Mom: What's that?

Jackson: If we only had snow for Christmas and then it was spring again.

Mom: Yes, that would be nice. I would even settle for it to last through January. I just can't handle it past February.

Avery: I can't either. I'm just so sick of all that shovelling.

Mom (chuckling): Really? How much shovelling have you done this year?

(I don't remember her doing any.)

Avery: Oh, you know. Shovelling. All those times. It's just too much.

I firmly believe that the second ice age has come. And global warming is a complete hoax. (As is the notion that a ground hog could ever predict seasons.)

Finished. Ish.

My new mantra.

Since the addition of the sectional my budget has shrunk.

Actually, disappeared. Maybe even forever.

So, I am using my birthday funds to finish off whatever else I can in the house to make it feel "finished." Ish.

Every room seems to have something else that is needed, or should be added . . . but after over a year in the house, I am anxious to just call something complete. And stop thinking about it.

I have an ambitious goal to have everything that can be done with little to no money be finished(ish) by the end of March.

You can look forward to seeing photos, room by room, of my finished-ish house in the upcoming weeks.

March Madness

Of another sort.

While most (men) are gearing up for the biggest basketball tournament of the year, I am gearing up for the second biggest "mothers' tournament" of the year.

March Break. It comes a close second to "Summer Vacation" in the ultimate tests and challenges that a mother can have.

Rambunctious kids? Yup. Whiny kids? You bet! Some ultimate fighting (hopefully only between siblings)? Uh-huh. And the ultimate challenge? Endless days. Five of them.

This time around I am going in with a game plan. . . . As soon as I think of one.

I have ideas of setting themes for each day of the week: reading day, science day, cooking day, haircut day . . . movie day. But how to come up with something fun . . . and kid entrancing (read: time consuming) for five days of the week?

Any one out there win the gold medal for March Breaks? Any great ideas to share?

I have three days to prep and am looking forward to winning the gold with four calm, happy, and entertained kids on the podium with me.

March 8, 2011

The New Addition

It's been a long time coming.

I think since last May I've been talking about it. And whining. And begging. And hunting.

Hunting for the best deal. The best quality. The best looking. And the most practical. (Let's face it, with four young kids and a dog, even the most beautiful couch isn't worth a penny if it can't withstand the odd jump on it when a parent's back is turned. Nor is an uncomfortable TV watching couch.)

So, I finally found one . . . and convinced Brad to purchase it.

Now it is sitting in our family room and I am thrilled.

We have a family of six, so we can't do with a tiny couch. But this one is quite large. Insomuch that two days before delivery I started really staring at the measurements in our room. (Crazy, I know, but there was a bit of a mix up with the pieces that were ordered.)

Anyway, I panicked. To the store I went to see if they could help me determine if it would be a good fit or not.

My stomach was still in knots upon delivery day. Our room was large, but I didn't want people to notice the couch and while squeezing around it see that there were walls in the room too. Brad's voice echoed in my head, "If there are any problems with this "amazing" couch, your purchasing decisions will be on probation for a very long time."

But, I am so pleased that not only does it fit, but it fits perfectly. And, without changing anything else in the room, the whole house almost seems finished.

A very wonderful, and sublimely comfy, purchase.

(More photos will come when I finish off the room with curtains and finish dressing the couch with pillows.)

Life After the Funeral

Eight years ago I was fed up.

I had been finding couches on curbs, in local consignment stores and used my horrible sewing skills to sew on some kind of covering. The fabric usually came from table cloths found on sale or (when my fabric budget went from $30 -75) upholstery fabric on clearance. While it suited our student needs, and meager budget, it was horribly time consuming. And it didn't even produce a really great seating option.

So, after Brad bought a big screen TV and we still hadn't bought a decent couch, I made a stink.

A stink so bad that we drove 8 hours from Provo to LA (camping in our car, newborn in tow) . . . just to go to Ikea and purchase a sectional.

Was it amazing? Well, almost. For the price of a regular sectional in a local department store we could get a sectional, ugly coffee table, TV wall unit, two dressers, and some book shelves from Ikea. (For a young student couple, that was a lot of bang for our buck. And the sectional didn't look that bad.)

However, even upon moving it in, it didn't take long to realize Ikea's poor quality when the pieces never lined up completely. Or when the underside of the slip cover was made from paper.

But, it served our purpose and was actually pretty good to us.

Flash forward eight years, three moves, and two slipcovers later.

Our couch has been used and abused. Slept on, spit up on, peed on, used for forts, used as a trampoline, and even a balance beam. And for the past two years I have cursed every time I needed to rearrange the flattened pillows onto the broken springs . . . or taken the slipcover (hanging by threads) off to wash.

But last Saturday I did it with a smile.

I wish I could say it was because of all the wonderful memories surrounding our couch. But no. It was merely because it was the last time I would have to do it with this couch!! What a liberating feeling!

I did, however, offer some dignity for our old couch. I tenderly washed what was left of its slipcover and dressed it up nicely . . . getting it ready for its funernal . . . and new life in the "underworld." The "underworld" is the place where everything I deem to be unfit to remain in our house goes . . . The Brad Cave.

If it's any consolation for the sectional, it was at the very least reunited with the ugly coffee table (which I can't explain why we still have . . . I thought we kicked it to the curb years ago . . . but maybe it was too heavy?? or maybe Brad brought it back in the house when I turned my head?) and our old big screen TV, wall unit, an broken microwave.

The big guy can't feel too lonely. The kids have been playing more with him in the basement than upstairs. Great fortresses have been built with it since I don't let anyone near the new baby upstairs.
So long, old friend. Thanks for serving us well . . . but I'm so glad I won't have to be worrying about whether you will hold up another month.

March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday,

To me.

Ten years ago I couldn't believe I was turning 22.

Yikes! It seemed old. No longer 18, or 19. Not even 21.

And now I laugh. And yearn for 22.

Not that life is really that bad at 32. (I keep reminding myself that in a few years I will will gratefully take 32 as my age.) It just reminds me that I'm trucking along to 40 sooner, rather than later.

But 32 still seems okay. Especially with the wonderful birthday present that came to my door.

A sectional! An amazing sectional.

I have been waiting over ten years for a real couch and now we've finally got one. (I'll write more about it in another post.)

Birthday celebrations were great this year . . . Friday we went to the mall for dinner with the kids and let me do a bit of shopping. Saturday we went to our favourite in-town restaurant with the Templeman clan. And Sunday, the roads were icy so we stayed in and relaxed . . . breaking in our new sectional. The day ended with a birthday dinner with my dad and then some movie viewings . . . to further break in the sectional! ;) I didn't even have to put the kids to bed. Well, maybe I put Liv to bed.

32 should be a great year. I'm looking forward to not being pregnant, not nursing a baby (for much longer), and getting some sleep at nights.

Liv is super excited here. I think she had trouble realizing that it wasn't a continuation of her birthday . . . and that her chocolate-caramel-brownie cheesecake wasn't about to appear again.

March 2, 2011

Ha ha. Very Funny.

The joke is O-VER.

Why is it so frigid???

Gah! You'd think that one winter escape would be enough in a year!!

Maybe it's time to move south . . . .

March 1, 2011

It Was a Hoot!

Liv's first birthday was an owl theme . . . and it went off perfectly.

I had learned a thing or two after the mad dash to prep all of Jayden's party the day before, and inviting way too many people to Avery's . . . Liv's was well prepared and well attended. (Of course, it was only family . . . and just inviting family makes it a huge gathering!)

We played two games: Whoo Do I Look Like? And Whoo Will I Become?

As guests came in, they voted on who they thought she looked like (from the six baby pictures I put up . . . only parents and her grandparents . . . I think she probably resembles more some distant uncle or cousin somewhere deep in the family tree though) and they voted on which item she would reach for first in the Korean fortune telling game.

Most of the votes said she looked like Grandma Struk . . . for the most part I'd agree. Liv resembles my brother/maternal grandpa and even shows a likeness to my brother's daughter. However, I still see a lot of Brad's paternal grandma in her . . . and some of Brad's uncle too.

As far as which item she picked, she reached for food! (I really thought she'd reach for the phone first, it did come a close second though.) Uncle Justin and Zac were right for the item. According to Korean folklore, reaching for food (or a grain of rice) means they will never go hungry, and will be wealthy.

Brad thought it was set up because the tennis ball was on the end and not directly infront of Liv. So we did a repeat. (I mean, really, ONE of our kids has to win Wimbledon!)

Again, food ranked first, followed by the phone (good communicator). We took those options away to see what would be next . . . it was the computer mouse (tech savvy).

The rest of the party was pretty simple. We had gourmet sandwiches on hand, veggies and dip, an AWESOME Mexican cheese fondue, gummy worms, owl cupcakes, and of course, an owl caramel-chocolate-brownie cheesecake.

I had noticed at her uncle's birthday that she LOVED the cheesecake they had. Even though there was a good chance Liv loved it just because it was the first real sugar infused thing she had eaten, I had a hunch she might take after her mother and have a thing for cheesecake.

Well, we gave her a cupcake to destroy, and while she did enjoy the oreos, she didn't care much for the cake part. Once she saw the adults eating the cheesecake she got a little excited and wanted some. And she devoured a very large slice.

Presents were probably not her highlight. Not that she didn't get nice stuff. But as my dad put it, "(Getting clothing) happens when you are the last of four kids. There isn't a toy left to get her that you don't already have." So, mostly she got clothing and a few books.

We bought her a ride-on dragon to help encourage walking. Or even using your legs so they can build up some strength to think about walking. Or even standing. That's good too. :)

It was a hit. We had to beat the other kids off with sticks so Liv could use it. She loves to sit on it and play the music and dance to it. The other day she figured out how to push herself backwards on it too.

I don't have all the photos ready for this post, but since I looked through my unfinished posts prior to writing this I realized that I haven't even finished Jackson's birthday post . . .from last May (or Jayden's or Avery's!!). I think it has something to do with the copious amounts of photos to go through and edit. After Liv's, I think I will post just one or two photos and leave it at that so I can keep up better!!

One Year

One year.

It's hard to believe that a mere 12 months ago Brad and I brought a tiny baby into the world. In Avery's room. All by ourselves. (And some direction from Meg and some paramedics.)

A teensy, little ray of sunshine in a blizzard.

Such a sweet, little thing who obviously wanted to earn mom's love by coming two weeks early, and a week before mom's birthday. (A largly pregnant lady couldn't have asked for more.)

And she has won our love and adoration a thousand times over this past year.

My heart warms at the memories of Liv over the past year.

Those first few weeks (always my favourite with any baby) were particularly wonderful. After having two babies born at almost 9 lbs it was so refreshing to have a "newborn" who was really newborn size. (Or smaller, since we had to do an emergency run for clothing when she dropped from 6 lbs 2oz to 5 lbs 8 oz.) Carting a light blanket around with a baby in it was really delightful . . . considering Jackson and Avery felt like bowling balls I had to hoist around from day one. In fact, I think the car seat carrier felt lighter with Liv it than without.

But it didn't take too long for her to fill out. With in a month we were starting to lose sight of her body parts. She was most certainly our chubbiest baby since her elbows, knuckles, and backs of her ankles all disappeared to an acute case of the rolls.

Liv's personality has always been sunny, easy going, and (more so now) vivacious. Always happy, always wanting to laugh, and always wanting to be in on the action . . . unless it involved Avery (unsupervised) coming close. In this case, the screaming sirens would go off until an adult came to the rescue.

A true entertainer at heart, Liv loves applause. Learning how to roll over was really exciting, and she was so proud of herself . . . but applause from mom made it all the better. Even today she looks to others for applause when she demonstrates a new trick. And if she can get a laugh out of someone, oh how her eyes sparkle and her mouth turns up in delight!

Of all my children, she is the most content. I could place her in one spot and be gone doing things around the house, come back an hour later and there she would be. Happy and quiet. Perhaps with all the craziness around her, she enjoys a bit of solitude? Or maybe there are so many people catering to her needs that she doesn't feel she needs to move herself anywhere? It makes life so much easier for me, not having to worry about another moving body, but it seems to have made her a later bloomer for rolling, crawling, and walking (which we are still no where close yet).

She really has been an easy baby. Even her love of canned baby food (which only recently waned) made my life so much easier!! None of the other kids would touch the stuff forcing me to do so much extra prep work to the table food. Now she has discovered how gross baby food really is and demands whatever I am eating. Even if I cut it up for her and put it on her plate, she is not satisfied. It needs to come from my plate. Just in case I was trying to slip something by her.

Her current favourite foods are: yops, cheerios, ice cream (which she will scream for), and flavored baby pablem. Oh, we cannot forget cheesecake. The caramel brownie one.

It's hard to believe a year has passed by already. It seems I didn't take enough pictures to freeze her baby days long enough. (Fortunately, she isn't walking and at the last weigh in was 25% in both height and weight so I can still pretend she is a baby.) But I am also excited to share in all the wonderful new experiences that await her this year as she explores more of her world . . . eventually on foot!

Happy Birthday, Little Livvie! Every body loves you so much . . . and we know you know it!

Tonight . . . On the National News

The anchor finished the leading story of the happenings in Libya and then went on to say that the only problem Canada is the weather.

You think??

He continued to say that "even groundhogs can be wrong sometimes" . . . and this was the year.

According to environment Canada, we have THREE more months of freezing to look forward to. (Anyone keeping track, three months takes us through May. MAY!)