Monday, June 25, 2012

Choosing {a Mom-day post}

Monday, June 25, 2012
So what do you do when you look out your front door and you see this?
I knew there was a fire on the mountain near us, but this was much, much worse than I was expecting to see.  I logged onto the computer to see what was going on and learned that they were evacuating about 200 homes near us.  Winds were blowing strong from the south pushing the fire directly toward our city.  It was right about now that I started to worry.  It was time to start making some choices.  Do I start packing up some clothes, do we wait it out?  Honestly it was nerve-wracking.  And the kids started getting nervous too.  At one point three of the four of them were in tears worried about leaving the house, worried about the fire, worried about their stuff.  I had to sit them all down, talk about why they were evacuating, what would happen if we were asked to leave, what were the chances of something happening to our home (I explained that this was very, VERY small) but they were worried and upset.  Not the most fun place for a mom to be.  It was a balance between being prepared and calming the fears of the children.  I decided to let the need to be prepared act as a way for the kids to feel like they were in some control of what was going on.  It turns out it worked.  I had each of them pack up a few changes of clothes and a few of their favorite things.  This seemed to calm them down.  We went out to lunch (my husband had come home from work- just in case) and drove around to see what was going on with the fire.  Things were looking pretty good for us, but we decided to load up the car just in case.  Especially after we saw this:
This was a flare-up, much closer to our house, and on the opposite end of the fire they were focusing on.  This was really the first time I seriously thought our home might be in trouble.  When that thought comes into your mind, you really wonder about what things you want to save and what things can be replaced.  Honestly, I was sick about the amount of supplies and fabric that would be lost.  But, we really don't have very much that can't simply be replaced.  I did pull out a couple of oil paintings my grandmother painted of her parents years ago before she passed away, but other than that, we mostly grabbed what we would need for a  few days away from home, our laptops and the wedding album.  That was pretty much it.  It was really interesting to me what we chose and really how easy it was to let go of almost everything we have spent so much time working for.  I'm sure if we were ever really officially evacuated, we probably would have run back and pulled out a few more things.
We ended up staying the night at my in-laws house.  They live pretty close to us, but across a street and far enough away from the fire that the kids felt much better about it.  This is the view from their porch.  The hill in front is the hill our neighborhood backs onto.  You can't see our house in the picture, but it's just to the right at the bottom of that hill.  If I wasn't worried before, after seeing this I certainly was.
At about 11 my husband and I decided to go for a drive and see if we could see what was going on with the fire.  This picture is driving past the kids' school which is just barely to the west of our house.  We walk up in these hills all the time.
This is the same hill from the previous picture- at about midnight.  They never did evacuate our neighborhood, so the fire was never as close as we were afraid it was, especially after watching this for a few hours Friday night.
After about 12:30 I was exhausted from the worry and wondering and decided it was time to go to bed.  I woke up about 2 hours later and all I can say is a miracle happened.  In that short amount of time the wind died and it was like someone put a big lid over the fire- it simply wasn't there anymore.  You couldn't make out the hill at all, all you could see were a few glowing spots on the mountain a considerable distance away.
It was astounding to me.  I went back to bed and slept peacefully until the morning. (well, a few more hours anyway.)  And that was pretty much it.  Even when the heat of the day came on Saturday and the winds picked up, we never had any reason to worry about our home again.
And now, Monday, the fire is 100% contained, there were no structures lost and everyone got to go back home.
I love where we live, and even with the proximity to the mountain and the concerns about fires and the wildlife that goes with it, I wouldn't change it for anything.  I'm grateful that even though we had a pretty good scare, everything turned out just fine. But, I'm also grateful to know that if the worst had happened, and we lost our home, we would have been just fine because we were all safe and together and our stuff is just that, stuff.
It makes me wonder why we put so much energy into "getting" when it can all be taken away in an instant.  After a weekend filled with choices and realizing what really matters and what doesn't, I'm holding my kids a bit closer, letting go of the rat race a little bit more and choosing family and choosing happiness (or at least really trying to) every day.
Hope your Monday feels just as blessed as mine does.  And since we're on the subject- please send your prayers for all those who are still in harms' way- as there are many major fires still burning in our state.  And any time you have the chance to thank a firefighter, or police officer or anyone else who sacrifices their time and safety for the well-being of others- please take it.  We are so lucky to have them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June Point of View Reveal- Patriotic

Friday, June 22, 2012


It's time once again for our Monthly Point of View Reveal and Link party!  I love the summer, no schedules, barbeques, spending oodles of time outside.  And I really love July- especially the 4th of July.  So I was really happy when we decided to make Patriotic our theme for our June reveal.  I can't wait to try all of these projects and make our 4th of July celebration really special this year.

First we want to welcome our guest this month- Sarah at Renewed upon a Dream
Leanne- with her Patriotic party decor
Ashlee's amazing firework cupcakes
Jonie made some Darling patriotic Bows
And if you want to see how I made my 3D paper stars, just scroll down one post.

But- I want even more great 4th of July ideas- or any ways you celebrate your country (even if that country is something other than America).  We'd love to know what you do to show your love for your country.  Dig up all those great ideas and link them up here:

Folded Paper Star Tutorial

With the summer holiday season upon us, what could be more handy than some inexpensive, cute decorations?
I am here to help.  I saw this idea in a magazine while waiting for a Dr. appointment.  I'm really sorry that I don't remember which one, but I was sitting there for over an hour, so I saw a lot of magazines. :)  My best guess is a Family Fun magazine or a Parents magazine, but I couldn't find anything online that showed this craft.  If you know where it can be found, please let me know.
However, the pictures in the magazine left a little to be desired, so in true blogger fashion, I have my own tutorial complete with LOADS of pictures.
You will need 2 pieces of paper, cut in squares that are the same size.  For this star I used the full 12X12 sheet.  The smaller ones were cut down to 6X6 squares.

First we are going to start by folding our paper.  We need to make 4 folds, 2 on the diagonal and the other 2 creating quarters of the paper.  Are you with me so far?
The first picture shows where all your folds are.  Ready to move on?  Make a cut on each of the quarter lines, just under half way to the center.  (in this example I would cut about 2 1/2 inches along the fold)  Do this on all 4 sides.  Fold the cut sides into the center, lining up the paper with the diagonal fold we created at first to create four points.  Using a glue stick, put glue on one side of the point.  Bring the other side over, lining up the cut line with the outer folded edge- overlapping the two sides.  Repeat for the other 3 points.  You may need to push the creases back down in the center on the "outside" of the star to create the sharp edges.
Do all the steps again for the second piece of paper.
We're almost done.  Now to take the 2 halves to make an awesome 3D whole.  First you will want to put a drop of tacky glue just inside one of the stars, where two points meet.  Put your ribbon, string or whatever you're going to use to hang it here.  Now place the two stars flat sides together.  You may need to borrow another set of hands, or find something (like the pink bucket I used) to hold the bottom star flat so you can see where the two stars meet.  Use tacky glue to hold them together at these points.  Now the hard part- waiting for the glue to dry before you hang them up. :)
I am loving how they dress up the opening between my kitchen and family room.
Let me know if you have any questions- I'd love to help.

Monday, June 18, 2012

On Kids and the Woods {Monday is Mom-day}

Monday, June 18, 2012
Last week I returned from a week in the woods with my sister and our kids.  My grandparents have a cabin that was built when I was 1.  Recently they added on a new wing which includes a sleeping loft and a new master bedroom as well as an extra 1 1/2 bathrooms.  With the new space, I thought it would be fun to take my kids up for a week and enjoy being up in the mountains.  I invited my sisters and sisters-in-law but only my older sister took me up on it.  We planned menus and shopped and got ready.  Unfortunately I got sick right before we left so I didn't get as much stuff done as I would have liked, but ready or not it was time to go.
Now, you'll remember that this cabin has been around my whole life.  We spent many weekends during the summers up here, with our parents, cousins and grandparents.  It is a large part of my memories as a child.  I guess we assumed that those memories would be passed onto our kids through osmosis or something.  That they would immediately know how to do the things we did as children to spend our time and enjoy the trip up there.  We were sorely mistaken. ;)
One child, after two days of hikes and trips to the creek said, "I don't WANT ANY MORE ADVENTURES!!!!"
Another child, when tired of dodging bees and bugs said, "I hate the outdoors!  I don't know why we have to be outside, anything I want to do I can do INSIDE!"
Granted, we made a few mistakes.  We allowed the kids to bring up an XBOX and DSs.  Which means we were constantly negotiating and debating when they could play and for how long.  We didn't set those boundaries at the beginning which would also have helped.  And we went for a few too many days- we should have quit at 5 days (at the VERY longest).
We did have a great time.  The kids eventually learned how to play outside for longer periods of time and everyone pretty much got along. (a miracle with 8 kids up there)  But I learned some things.  We (by we I mean I) are handicapping our kids by holding them so close.  Today's media has us so freaked out about safety that we are afraid to let our kids just be kids.  My mom told me she read an article that said the statistics about children's safety show that even today, there is such a small risk of something happening to our kids, but the media makes such a big deal out of every time things happen, we think they are more common than they are.
So, I've been doing some thinking.  I don't want my kids to be video game experts.  I want them to be well-rounded, active people who enjoy many different things, especially the beauty of the world around them.  But, I'm not sure how to go about it.  This probably isn't the best year to instill in them a love of hiking. (baby #5 is due in about 5 weeks)  But there has to be something I can do to encourage them to explore the world around them.  So, I'm asking for your help.  What do you do to facilitate your children stretching their abilities, to keep them active and entertained without resorting to a glowing box in front of them all the time?  How do you help them learn to entertain themselves independently?  I mean, I don't mind doing things with them, but I also have orders to fill, things to do and I really don't want to be the entertainment committee. 
I am starting with limiting game and t.v. time, but honestly, when they ask me what they can do- I'm not sure how to answer.  A box of craft supplies sounds like a great idea, but how do you contain the mess, and make sure you're not left with a disaster that takes you longer to clean than it did for them to make?  I am not super mom.  I have no intention of being one either.  I want my kids to learn how to make their own fun and then clean it up afterwards.  I hope that's not asking too much, but honestly I'm not really sure how to start.  I'd love to know what you're doing, what you have done, what worked, what didn't, what your mom/sister/grandmother did.  Anything.  Ready? GO!
XOXO and Thank You in advance!! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

POV Feature- Summer/ Vacation

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Wow- this link  party was fun.  Lots and lots of great ideas.  Countdown calendars are always fun, and I just love how Stacey from Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy made this one.  You'll have to go over there and see what brilliant item she used for the pouches.  Such a fun idea.

Want to know what the other Point of View ladies featured?  You can find Gwen's, Jonie's and Ashlee's by clicking on their names.  Maybe it was you. :)

Our theme for June is Patriotic- so pull out your red, white and blue and get ready for some fun. 
We'll see you soon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Last Day of School Party

Monday, June 4, 2012
I'm not always the most fun mom on the street, but once in a while, I do manage to pull something together that's pretty fun. :)  This year I wanted to do something for my kids' last day of school.  They only go for 1 1/2 hours (I have no idea, don't ask) and get out for the day at 9:30, so a brunch-type of party was in order.
Now, budget is always a consideration.  Ours was not large for this event, but I thought that by combining some purchases I was going to make anyway, I could increase the impact of the party, without spending money we didn't have.  So, the main focal point of the set-up became the new wading pool I saved for the party.  I added in 2 $.97 beach balls and the Summer banner I made last year, and Instant backdrop. :)  I have been collecting some brightly colored serving pieces for a while so that I would have them on hand for birthday parties and such.  I used the summer quilt I made last year as the table cloth, so I didn't spend anything on the rest of the set-up.  One thing I have realized is that cute party supplies really add a lot to a party without adding a lot of expense.  I got most of the ones I used for this party from Bake it Pretty.  I met Brittany at a blogging retreat and she was kind enough to let me try out some of the supplies from her darling shop, but it would have been less than $20 for everything I got and I will definitely be spending money there in the future. :)
Here's a big pic so you can see all the details.  The favors included water shooters from the dollar store and packs of sidewalk chalk.  As soon as the food was consumed, the kids were out with buckets of water having a water fight- the perfect end to a great party. :)
And these baskets were ready for the kids when they woke up first thing in the morning.  Again, they were things I would have purchased anyway for entertaining the kids during the summer, but this way they were presented in a fun way and the kids had a blast going through them.

I'm not sure how we're going to make it through this summer between finishing the basement, getting ready for the baby and actually having the baby- but I know we started things off in style. :)

How do you guys plan on surviving the summer?  I'd love any tips and ideas.
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