Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Terrarium Update - March

Party Hats

**Warning: If your child is coming to Katie Anne's birthday party, do not let them read this post! It will ruin the surprise! Thank you. :) **

This afternoon, Katie Anne and I made a project for her birthday party (which, she will clearly tell you, is on Saturday, April "foowrth"... it is a very Southern fourth). We made her favors for her friends, which are visors for them to wear outside at the party. Last week at Hobby Lobby, she picked out the supplies... brightly colored visors and foam stickers- bugs, stars, flowers, and polka dots. I swear that she picked these on her own from the vast variety of choices. Bugs, I'm not so fond of, but stars, flowers, and polka dots? That's a girl after my own heart.

Tonight, she assembled her hats. Katie Anne loved doing it and did a great job... her attention lasted a lot longer than I expected, and she completed each and every hat herself. The only thing I did was write the names on each hat, peel the backs off the foam stickers, and put the teeny tiny polka dots on ... but she told me exactly where to put them, and I followed directions. I resisted the urge to encourage her to color-coordinate or put stickers where I thought they'd look best, and I really think she did a good job overall. She put a lot of thought into each hat, and she thinks all her friends will love them! Here are some pictures of her work.

Picking out the proper hat for each person... I wrote the names as she told me who got what.
Choosing the perfect sticker for Brodie
Bear gets a green turtle
Giving Lily a butterfly
This isn't easy, people!Our final products!
Wearing her finished visorJust giving Ella's a little trial run...Back in her own hat - she loves it and wore it all through dinner!

Monday, March 30, 2009

It is an Easter Miracle!

Katie Anne's Easter dress is finished!

Whew! What a relief! While I was working on it at 4:30 am this morning (no, not a typo), I pondered for a moment ... only a moment ... is this worth it?

Why did I have to work on this dress in the wee hours, you ask? Good question. I made a sad, but quite logical, planning error. I mistakenly thought - "Easter dress... hmm, I won't need that until Easter. So, I can totally forget about this project until after Katie Anne's birthday. Then, I'll have the whole week of Spring Break to work on it."


I got a call last Tuesday, when the dress you see here ...
was still two long pieces of fabric straight off the bolt, to tell me that I'd almost missed the Easter Bunny pictures at Tonsmeire this year. Did I want to make an appointment? Absolutely. Guess when the last day for pictures was? That's right... today. So, I said, "Give me the last appointment time on the last day." The deadline was set - Monday at 4:45 pm.

The bad thing was that we had lots of things planned to do already, so I couldn't just sew like a mad person for the five days in between the phone call and the picture time. So, I had to sew late at night or early in the mornings these last few days.

This was a very complicated project, without a doubt the most difficult I've ever sewn. The bloomers were nice and easy, but that blue bottom dress (which is a full dress, with a pleated skirt, heirloom stitching, four buttons in back, and a horribly confusing collar that I had to pick out once and start over) - it was so tough! The pinafore was not too bad, but in the middle of the night, even relatively easy projects become increasingly complicated.

I loved trying something challenging, and I do think the whole look turned out great. She looked just precious today at Tonsmeire's with the white baby bunny. The best part is that Katie Anne loves the dresses! When she woke up this morning, she saw them hanging in the doorway and clapped her little hands together. She cried to wear them to school this morning. But, I'm going to take a little break before I try something that complicated again.

Here are some more detailed pictures of the dress. Tune in later for the professional pictures of her in the outfit!

Close up of front

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Working Hard in the Yard

Today was a tough day, but also a fun day... we spent almost all day out the yard, working. We had fifty bales of pinestraw delivered today, so we worked on those. I spread about 40 bales myself - all the front yard and most of the back. Saunders pulled a ton of weeds that were weak, but not totally dead, after my major spray-a-thon last week, and he helped me spread some pinestraw, and he cut the front yard with a pushmower. We discovered this morning that our pushmower, which had been retired for about three years, has a gas leak. So, we had to borrow my parents'. We're going to try to repair it, but we may have to buy a new one. :(

We did a lot of work during Katie Anne's naptime, but she came out to help after she woke up. She had a BLAST helping us, and she really did a great job... she stayed outside all the way through the project and worked for almost two hours outside. She loved helping me spread pinestraw and helping Saunders pull weeds, and of course she loved running the dogs all around. She is such a little task master... she kept screaming words of encouragement, like "Get more pinestraw, Mommy - get more now!" and "Pull more weeds, Daddy - pull MORE!" Not only is she a great boss, but she does really work. We're thinking about hiring her out as manual labor for spreading pinestraw... let us know if you need a tiny pinestraw spreader.

Here are some pictures of all the fun!

Happy Birthday, Papaw!

(Or, as Katie Anne calls him, Pepaw!) Yesterday, we went to Acworth to celebrate my grandfather Papaw's 80th birthday. We had a fun time hanging out with him and Granny Nelle, eating cake - and Granny Nelle's famous cookie cake - and visiting. I wish I had remembered my camera, but we had so much going on yesterday that I totally forgot it. I'm sure I'll take plenty of Papaw pictures next weekend at Katie Anne's birthday party. This is a picture from Easter last year, and I think it is a great one of him.

After Papaw's, we went to Barrett Parkway to shop and eat. My dad and Saunders went to K & G, and Saunders got two really nice new suits for a great price. My mom, KA, and I went to The Decorating Mart, which was supposed to have really great deals, but we really didn't find anything we liked. Then, we got back together for dinner at RuSan's. Afterwards, we all went to Toys R Us to look for stuff for Katie Anne's birthday. This was the first time Katie Anne had ever been in a big toy store, and she was overwhelmed and overjoyed! She loved it, and we stayed until closing time! I think she dreamed of Toys R Us last night... she woke me up about five times calling out in her sleep. When I'd go in, she would be sound asleep, but saying stuff like, "My want it!" or "My ride that bike." So funny!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

As some of you know already, I'm a member (a "Founding Mother", to be precise) of a book club that Erin Jolly started last fall. I love being a member of a book club! We've read so many great books, many of which I would've probably never come across on my own. Plus, whenever I read a good book, I always pressure someone I know to read it because I'm just desperate to discuss it. So, this book club is something I look forward to every month! I've been waiting to make this post until we met on Thursday night, because I didn't want to give anything away before the club had talked about our latest selection.

This month's choice was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and I'll have to say I can't remember the last time I've been so moved by a book. Without giving too much away, it is the story of Mariam and Laila, two strong women living in Afghanistan. Their stories are so powerful... I cried more over this book than I've cried over a book in a long, long time. Heck, more than I've cried in a long time period, because most of you know I'm not much of a crier! I think Saunders thought I was going crazy... he begged me to quit reading it because it just possessed my mind for several weeks. Even Katie Anne said, "Mommy book sad. Mommy cries." So, I did quit reading and sobbing over it during her bathtime... I didn't want to scar her for life. :)

Beyond just the amazing story, Hosseini is a beautiful writer. To use a Writer's Workshop word, he has amazing author's craft... the personification, the play of his words... there are so many sentences from the book that just stand out as so well crafted that I'm just in awe of the way he puts words together. So, those two things -the powerful writing and story - coming together just completely mesmerized me, and it has completely changed the way I see my own life. Sometimes, the stress of a busy work day can get overwhelming, or the state of the economy in our country can get depressing, or the challenges of taking care of a husband, toddler, and home can feel like too much... but truly, our life is so amazingly charmed compared to the women trying to raise their children in these situtations. In fact, any woman or girl living in America has been born with such birthrights. I remember Oprah saying once that little girls born in America, regardless of their socioeconomic status, are princesses of the world, and they don't even know it. After reading this book, I completely agree. The things we take for granted ... walking alone down the street, chosing our own outfit for the day based on our personal preferences, driving a car, shopping for our own groceries, owning things that we bought with our money, having a job and a paycheck that's our own ... even just being able to speak to our own husbands, fathers, and sons as an equal human being are rights that many women and girls will never have. I've always been very proud to be an American, but I feel even more so after reading this story. Proud, lucky, blessed ... ah, this book is a life-changer!

Luckily, Erin and Gina feel the same way, and we all want to do something to help the refugees like the ones in the book. I've been researching things on the internet, and we've been tossing around ideas, and I'm so excited about the opportunity to do something. Even though anything I can do will be a drop in a very, very big bucket, a lot of drops do come together to make enough water for a rainstorm - just ask my first graders all about the water cycle! Even if I can just make life easier for one women like me with a little girl like Katie Anne, that will just make my day.

So, I encourage you to read this book if you haven't ... and if you can. Prepare yourself, because it is a journey, but I think you will be changed at the end, and you'll learn a lot. And, get ready to see lots of things on the blog about what I'm working on, because I've got lots of ideas rolling around in this crazy head!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Easter Bloomers

Last night, I made some major headway on the Easter dress project. (And tonight, with the help of a grande vanilla latte from Starbucks at 5:00 pm, I hope to make more progress.) I've got to get all three pieces done by Monday afternoon (so really, Sunday night) because Katie Anne is having her Easter bunny portraits made then.

The bloomers to go under Katie Anne's dress are finished! Of course, I realize that this part is both the easiest and least important part of the outfit, but I thought a little immediate gratification might help me stay motivated. These bloomers are long, and they're supposed to hit just below the knee so the bottom shows under the dresses. Hopefully, they'll work right when she tries them on!

This pattern is probably the easiest bloomer/ pant pattern I've sewn. It is just two pieces, which eliminates two major sections of sewing and makes for quicker pattern cutting. It also has an interesting way of putting in the elastic that I'd never tried before... you just stretch the elastic very tightly and sew it in a zigzag stitch instead of creating a casing, and that was quick and easy. So, expect to see more of these bloomers (and without elastic as capris) for a while!

I also tried a little heirloom stitch that my sewing machine has, and I absolutely love it! It is a little hard to see on these bloomers because it is white-on-white. I'll probably sew it in a contrast thread color on the color of the blue dress for Easter, too. My sewing machine has one-touch stitching options, with about 30 different stitches, and this is the first time I've ever tried one... so I should really try them out more often.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Could this be the day?

Katie Anne has never been a television watcher. Sure, she loves the Sesame Street characters and has a passion for Caillou, but she has never set down and watched a tv show. She'll watch maybe five minutes, and then she's up and (literally) running. I'm glad that she's not a regular television watcher and that she'd much prefer to run, play, dance, or read. However, it would be nice if - on occasion - she would sit down and watch a show for even fifteen minutes.

Well, on Monday afternoon, she wanted to "Watch Barney on big tv." So, we brought Barney in from the car and turned it on. As usual, she watched her favorite song and then was done. So, we went into the kitchen and started dinner. A few minutes later, I noticed that my little sous chef was MIA. I walked into the living room to find her, and this is what I saw...

This relaxing, Goldfish-snacking, tv viewing lasted almost ten minutes!
Could this large, annoying, purple dinosaur be the mesmerizing answer to getting ten or fifteen minutes of peace and quiet for Mommy?

Or is he just a gateway drug to hours and hours of mindless tv watching with only "Huh?" as an answer when Mommy calls? To be continued...

Consignment Goodies & Outlet Finds!

Last week, one of my student's mothers told me in car rider line that she had a preview pass to a consignment sale. She was going, but her kids were all almost to old to shop for there (her youngest is in my class). So, she asked if I wanted her to look for some things for Katie Anne. I told her sure!

I asked her to stay within the $75-$100 range, and she got close ... $102. :) But, she was able to get a ton of stuff for that price, so it was okay. With the exception of one outfit that's pretty worn out (but fine for daycare wear), she got lots of new (several dresses still had original tags on them) or nearly new things. She bought 15 outfits/dresses for that price, so that comes out to $6.80 per outfit. Not bad!

Plus, a lot of the outfits are "boutique brands" like Kelly's Kids. I don't know much about boutique brands because we don't buy that stuff. Katie Anne enjoys the Garanimals couture. :) However, I did get some perspective when I bought one way too expensive, much-regretted outfit for Katie Anne to wear to this year's birthday party from Kelly's Kids. I don't want to even put how much it cost, and it was totally not worth it when I saw the outfit. Don't get me wrong, it is cute... just not that cute. So, I get it that $6.80 is not bad too pay for those clothes, so I didn't complain about the $102 total.

Here's the whole haul laid out...

My favorite... little smocked Ralph Lauren dress with tags still on! Originally $49!

Katie Anne's favorite... strawberry halter top and skirt from Kelly's Kids.

When you combine this with the good deals I got when Vanessa and I had a girls' afternoon out at the outlet malls last Sunday, I got a lot of cute stuff for not too much $$$! Vanessa and I had a great time out shopping for the kids. I didn't spend too much because we've got all the expenses of Katie Anne's birthday coming up. I don't have pictures - although I could take some - but the best deals I got on Sunday were flip flops from The Children's Place for $2.50 a pair and these cute little skirts from Osh Kosh for $6.60 that were originally $22. I also got her a cute shirt that says "Birthday Girl" to wear to daycare the day of her school party. At only $5.80 (originally $18), I don't care if she ruins it on the playground! Deals, deals, deals!

Friday, March 20, 2009

What a Busy Week!

I haven't had much time for blogging this week because we've had a fun and busy week!

On Monday, I went to check out a potential birthday gift for Katie Anne. I've been searching for a good deal on a certain birthday gift for several weeks, and I had a disappointing Craig's List experience a few weeks ago. Although I'm not going to reveal the gift until her birthday, I was very pleased with what I saw, and I did buy the present. I got an amazing deal - the "mystery gift" retails for around $300, and I got it for $100 flat! Then, Katie Anne and I had about a million errands to run in the rain... including picking up another good deal - a mirror I bought from a middle school teacher for the basement bathroom. It is a big, heavy mirror with a nice square frame - that only cost me fifteen bucks!

On St. Patrick's Day, we went to my parents' house to celebrate my dad's birthday. My mom decked out the house - and all of us! - in St. Patty's day stuff, and we had a big time. We had yummy food- stuffed pork loin, chicken and dumplings, corn casserole, potatoes, rice, peas, and ice cream cake for dessert! My dad got a new shirt, two movies, and the Rascall Flatts greatest hits CD set. Here is a slideshow of our St. Patrick's Day birthday fun!

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The next night, Carlton came to Atlanta for a job interview, and we went out to eat with Carlton, the Joneses, and Carlton's in-laws at Hearth and Harvest. We had a big dinner - Katie Anne discovered a love for fried pickles - and it was great to catch up with Carlton. Katie Anne had a blast talking to everyone, and she was really good at the restaurant for two hours - especially considering it was her second night in a row to be up until 9:00!

Yesterday, my toes got infected... they were hurting all day and getting progressively redder, but I was trying to ignore them. My room mother (who's a nurse) came in during the afternoon and saw them, and she said I had to get an antibiotic asap. :( So, I took by my just-in-case prescription from Dr. Sidlow for a z-pack. It made my stomach hurt terribly, so my night was spent with heating pads on my stomach and my toes soaking in saltwater! I was a complete whiner about it and made Saunders wait on me. :)

Tonight, Saunders's bosses have taken him out for celebratory drinks. The bank got a good review from the FDIC after their big two-week review, which means Saunders must've done a good job getting all the loans prepared for the inspection. So, he's out being toasted! Katie Anne and I are watching Sesame Street and playing blocks... I hope to get some work done on her Easter dress once I get her in bed. We've got major yardwork planned for tomorrow, and then I'm hitting the outlets for a shopping excursion with Natalie and Vanessa on Sunday! Fun fun!

Monday, March 16, 2009

They're Magically Delicious!

Following in the long family tradition of Gigi and Mommy ... Katie Anne loves her Lucky Charms!

They're magically delicious!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wet 'n Wellies

Today was a rainy, gray day... the perfect day for wearing wellies! (That's what our friends in Jolly Old England call rain boots.) Katie Anne got these yellow striped wellies from Doc and VJ for Christmas, and they definitely brightened up the gloomy day. She got a lot of compliments on them when we met Gigi and Granddad for breakfast and when we were shopping in Target. She loves them!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Floral Sundress

I finished another smocked sundress yesterday for Katie Anne... it is a pink, blue, and green one with blue ribbon ties. I must confess that this fabric is pre-smocked with elastic thread, so these two dresses have been so super simple to make! You can make one in literally under an hour. Now that I've studied how the elastic thread is used to gather the fabric, I think I can try to do it myself... but that's a project for after the Easter dress is completed. Here's some modeling shots.Checking herself out in the mirror

I made one for a doll from the leftover fabric, too ... but again, we don't have a doll that's really thin enough for it. So, I forced KA's bear into it (which was actually a bear Saunders gave me when we were dating), and the poor thing's stuffed into it! But, that was just for me to see how it worked... Emma had two Groovy Girls, and I think they'll be perfect for these dresses, so maybe she'll get one for her birthday!

Play Date with Emma & Lily

This morning, we met Lily and Emma and their moms at Emma's house for a play date! Katie Anne was looking forward to it for two days... she thought it was yesterday and was so disappointed when we couldn't go on Friday! Well, this morning, she was so excited about getting to play with her friends!

I thought we'd bring some crafts for the girls to do in addition to just playing together. We made three different things... a shamrock collage, a marshmallow rainbow, and leprechaun painting. The girls had a great time painting, gluing, and glittering! They also played in Emma's kitchen, jumped in her bouncy house, took care of her baby dolls, and had a tea party. They had a great few hours playing together! Katie Anne was so tired that she came home and took a three hour nap. Natalie, Vanessa, and I had a good time hanging out and talking, too... it was fun to have a girls' morning out! We're going to try to start doing these once a month.

Here are some pictures from today!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lucky Green Shamrocks

Tomorrow morning, Katie Anne is having a playdate with Emma and Lily. I thought we'd make some snacks for the girls to enjoy while they hang out together, and I've been wanting to make St. Patrick's Day Rice Krispie treats with Katie Anne since I saw this idea on No Time for Flash Cards. In fact, we'll be making a lot of St. Patrick's Day crafts from that site- she's got great ideas!

Anyway, Katie Anne and I made our treats this afternoon, and she had a great time doing it. Although we had a good time, Rice Krispie treats are a lot of mom-work and there's not too much a toddler can help with... she couldn't help with any of the stove parts (obviously), and it is hard for even an adult to mix the marshmellow/cereal mix and spread it! So, we'll probably stick to cupcakes and cookies for a while longer.

Measuring marshmellows... one for her friends......one for herself!
Sugar rush!
Buttering the dish
Looks like a blarney stone!
Stirring isn't for the faint of heart!
Classic KA cooking ... sprinkle time!
I know these next two pictures are so similar...
but how could I decide between this much cuteness?
This cookie cutter stuff is serious work!
Yes, Daddy, we left some for you...
Finished shamrocks firming up on wax paper
Hard work, but cute!
Katie Anne wraps up the treats for her friends.
All wrapped up for tomorrow morning!

By the way, for anyone who may want to try it ... It was really hard to cut the treats with the cookie cutter, so bring your muscles!