Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The making of our Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine's Day is something I love. Because it's about just that...love. Showing love to those we love. And MCP Actions did just that! They're showing the love by offering free card templates. They're so very cute, check them out:

Go here to download your very own free mini card templates! I love freebies!

As does Florabella, who is also offering free Valentine's templates...

The designs are all so adorable and I immediately fell in love with the bookmarks. Here's Chloe's Valentine bookmarks she will give out this year...

As much as I love all the free Valentine designs, I didn't find one that worked very well for the boys. They were all a little too girly. And I love girly, but not so much for the boys. {On a side note, I actually showed the cards to Gabe and he said, "There is no way I'm handing out cards that have hearts all over them. What would the boys think???" Made me laugh, so I just had to share.}

But, I have been craving a little art project, and with the boys help, we made their cards for this year.

First, I drew out a 5x7 box and sketched a robot...

Added a background graph design to add some depth...

I then printed one out for Gabe and Cooper and let them color their Valentines. I did make a color chart so they wouldn't get too carried away with the colors. (Cooper has this thing with coloring everything black lately. Trust me, a color chart was necessary!) And then, I also 'helped' their coloring a bit in photoshop too! ha! It's amazing how you can erase what is outside the lines, and blend a bit here and there.

After they colored them, I then scanned them back into the computer and added the 'UR Gr8' and the heart on the robot's chest with computer drawn squares, and also added the boy's faces to the Valentines...

And then the boys cut them out.

Voila! Robot Valentines!

And in case you're thinking that I'm insanely organized already having Valentines done and ready to go, think again. We're leaving on our annual ski trip in a few short weeks and will be back just in time for Valentine's Day parties at school, so I had no other choice!

Don't you just Love Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She reminds me of the princess from Enchanted...

Does the blog post title have you curious?

Do you know the movie, Enchanted?

If not, first of all, you need to see it. I know it's probably considered a kid's movie, but it's one of my favorites.

Enchanted is about a fairytale princess who is sent to our world {the real world} by an evil queen. Soon after her arrival in New York City, Princess Giselle begins to change her views on life and love after meeting a handsome lawyer. The movie poses the question, 'can a storybook view of life survive in the real world?'

{A photo of Giselle, below..}

Well, in the eyes of my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Chloe, every day is a storybook view of life!

Chloe is princess through and through. Maybe with a bit more down and dirty than the average princess thanks to her three brothers, but still a princess. She is very animated, loves to dress up, loves to have her hair & nails done and loves to sing & dance. After all, what princess doesn't sing and dance?

Chloe is also a 'glass-half-full' kind of girl. She is almost always happy, almost always cheery and spreading that happiness to others with her sunny disposition.

Even at the dentist where some little girls may be timid or frightened, Chloe goes into the dentist chair with a smile, singing her favorite 'brush, brush, brush your teeth' song with her high pitched little voice. Which is why soon after meeting Chloe, the dental hygienist turns to me and says, "You know who she reminds me of? The princess from Enchanted."

I smiled, and said, "Yes, we've heard that before!" And we have! Giselle, the princess from Enchanted, shares Chloe's sunny disposition and glass-half-full outlook. Maybe that's why Chloe loves the movie so much! She can often be heard singing one of the movie's main songs "That's how you know."

Chloe, meant to be a princess.

And maybe thinks she really is one...

You experienced princess moms may notice something not quite right in the photo below. Cinderella is wearing Ariel's dress, Ariel is wearing Belle's dress, and Belle is wearing Cinderella's dress. I overheard Chloe telling the princesses that they were being taught a lesson in sharing with their wardrobes today...

Chloe, gotta love her!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Puppies are like toddlers...cute, but naughty

You've met Charlotte before on the blog. Cute, sweet, innocent Charlotte...

Innocent? Really?

I think the toilet paper trail from the bathroom to where she sits in the living room isn't so innocent...

And come to think of it, neither is the toilet paper in her mouth...

As if there isn't enough chaos in my house of four kiddos as it is.

On the bright side, there's never a dull moment!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We are the Champions...

Disclaimer: Yes, this is one of those bragging mom blog posts. But to my defense, this is not Gabe's first win of the year. He has had an awesome season so far! I just hate to sound like a bragging mom, so haven't blogged about Gabe's previous wins. I couldn't help but blog about this, with both boys winning in the same tourney! I hope it's not too obnoxious of a post, ha! So read on, with the risk of me sounding like a mom who needs to trade my Yukon in for a mini van with a bumper sticker that says: My kid is an honor student ;)

Gabe & Cooper can sing the above blog post title after today's home tournament. That's right, they both won their brackets!

And I have once again discovered that I am NOT made to be a wrestling mom. Either I'd better toughen up, or hopefully the boys will lose interest! ha! But keeping in mind how much they both love the sport, I think I'd better just toughen up.

It's not that I'm a complete wimp and can't handle watching my kids play sports. I can watch them play football or baseball just fine. It's just wrestling one-on-one, boy versus boy, and it's completely nerve-wracking to me!

And then there's the crazy parents. Yes, I said it...CrAzY! I've witnessed parents yelling at the refs, yelling at their child, making their child cry, making the refs almost cry, telling their son NOT to shake their opponents hand because they should have won, etc., etc. It's disgusting, really. No wonder there's so many poor sports out there.

But I digress. Back to the nerve-wracking part...

Gabe's last match today was against a boy who we knew would be a tough competitor. He placed second at state last year, or so we heard. If you recall, Gabe wasn't able to compete at state wrestling last year due to a broken arm. Anyway, the match went back and forth and back and forth. Gabe was almost stuck on his back twice, but he powered through. There's nothing that makes me more proud than to see my child working hard, trying his best and not giving up. Win or lose, that's all Jason and I ask as parents, that they don't give up and they try their best. And today, that was enough! Gabe ended up pinning him for the championship! Yay!

I did videotape the match, but I'm scared to watch it for fear of embarrassment. I am not normally a loud person. But something about watching my kids wrestle brings out the 'loud' in me. I cheer loudly {for me, anyway} trying to yell out moves that I don't even understand. "Put in the half, turn him, dig deep, chest to chest, on your toes." These wrestling terms just start spewing out of my mouth as I excitedly jerk the video camera around, trying to steady myself but to no avail. Then I'll stop watching the match through the camera and a few seconds later realize that I'm pointing the camera at the ground. The results are not pretty. I'll try and sift through the footage and see what I got, maybe posting a portion later.

But for now, I am proud of both my boys!

This is Cooper's first year of wrestling, and has he ever surprised us all! You see, Cooper has never shown much interest in sports. I don't know if it's because he would rather not compete with his naturally athletic older brother, or if it's just his laid back personality. But before this year, we had thought Cooper would not be a wrestler. He's not overly aggressive, and can tend to be a bit sensitive. Cooper is also a bit of a clown, always joking about something. We had thought he'd never desire to step foot on a wrestling mat. And if he did get out there, we were fairly certain he would either giggle or cry his way through the match.

Knowing we would never want to pressure our kids to do anything they didn't want to do, we presented Cooper with the choice to wrestle at the beginning of the season. Cooper is five, and that's the age you can start practice at our school. As I said, there was no pressure, we just asked. And to our surprise, he said yes! So Cooper started practice and really enjoyed it, but he still wasn't sure about wrestling in a tournament. The first tournament we took Gabe to this season, we gave Coop the choice to wrestle or watch. He chose to watch. The next tournament, he chose to watch again. We thought that maybe he wouldn't ever want to compete. But finally, he told us he was ready. We waited in anticipation to see how he'd react to a real live match. And we quickly learned that this boy is meant to wrestle.

When he gets out on that mat, it's as if a switch has been flipped and he's all business, ready to get a win. He has picked up the moves so easily, and uses those moves with assertiveness, confidence and focus. But he hasn't lost that smile, grinning ear to ear as his hand is raised up in the air in victory. It's glorious, really. Today marks Cooper's second tournament, first championship and first two pins!

So although wrestling may not be this mom's first choice of sport, I certainly see the hard work ethic it has helped encourage in my boys. And I certainly enjoy the rewards...two little boys with a humble confidence and good sportsmanship to boot!

Tiny Coop, at a whopping 41 pounds...
{excuse the poor photo. I had my fixed lens on and could not zoom out. And since I had to get back so far to get all the boys in, I had a head in the way! ha! Despite the poor photo, I do love their faces. Click on the photo to see it larger. The boy on the left almost in tears. The boy on the inside right, with crossed arms & giving the evil eye. And the boy on the far right in last place, but looking the happiest of all. Then there's my Coop on top, looking a bit overwhelmed!}

And Gabe, wrestling at 58 pounds...
{This time the head I got in the shot was purposeful, because it's Cooper cheering on Gabe. Isn't that sweet!}

Way to go boys! We really couldn't be more proud of your great attitudes, win or lose.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh My Darling, Clementine.

My kids love these...

We keep a constant supply of clementines this time of year and go through at least one box a week. The best thing about them is how easy it is for the kids to peel them all by themselves, unlike oranges which still requires mom's help. Believe me, any task I can make simpler and less time consuming with four kids is treasured!

I thought most kids would conquer the clementines themselves, but I discovered that is not the case when Cooper brought them to school for his snack choice. I guess I took our experienced clementine eating for granted. The teacher said a few of the kids tried to eat them with the peel. {Yuck!} And some needed the teacher's help to peel them, which I'm sure would cause even the nicest of teachers to grumble silently at me a bit. {Note to self: No more clementines to school for snack!}

Regardless, we love clementines. They always bring a smile to my kids' faces...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

He did it!

Just look at the photo above. Doesn't, 'He did it,' pretty much say it all?!?

Chloe, so quick to point the finger of blame.

But what you don't know is that Chloe was the one who got out the box of Cheerios and brought them into Gabe and Cooper's room where she knows she isn't suppose to have food. Chloe is the one who had just asked mom if she could have another snack {what would have been her fourth snack by 9:30 a.m.} and mom had just declined. And Chloe is the one who then proceeded to sneak upstairs, get into the cabinets, get out the Cheerios and escape to Gabe and Cooper's room to eat in hiding.

But to Chloe's dismay, Gavin joined her and foiled her plan. When I came upstairs from the basement looking for where Gavin had run off to, I heard Chloe whispering, "No, Gavin, no! No spilling the Cheerios." I knew I had to grab my camera and be ready for what I was about to see. My four children have given me way too much experience with these incidences to miss out on a photo op!

Oh Chloe, looking so guilty as she says 'uh oh' and covers her mouth...

Gavin, on the other hand, didn't know what the problem was. He was enjoying his Cheerios buffet all over the rug. And afterall, how upset can you get at a boy wearing his 'I {heart} mom' pj's.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And He shall direct my path

Yesterday my kids ventured back to school after two wonderful weeks of Christmas break.

Two wonderful weeks, filled with lots of game playing...

cookie making...
{in my new kitchen, might I add!}

movie watching...
{Chloe with her new Rapunzel doll excited to go see 'Tangled'}

and Christmas blessings...

...all spent with these four goofy and wonderful kids I am blessed to call mine.

Mine, on loan from God of course. Because as much as they are mine, they are given to me by the Lord, who calls me to raise them up in His ways. To train them to be servants for Him. To ultimately surrender them to Him, for whatever He calls them to do.

How humbling is that! And yet, so reassuring at the same time.

Because I am
so not capable of raising these kids up to be servants of Christ. Not on my own, anyway. And even with the help of my wonderful, God-fearing husband, together we are not capable of raising them up in His ways. No, if we tried to go it alone, we would fail miserably. Because how are we to raise them up in His ways without Him.

I've been thinking about how many times I try to do things on my own. I don't mean completely forsaking or denying God and going at it alone. No, I mean the little ways my own selfish desires creep in. How many times do I wake up in the morning and start my morning routine, get the kids breakfast, send them off to school, clean the house, do a little photography work, squeeze in some daily quiet time with the Lord, only to go on to the next task as if I'm crossing God off my to-do list along with everything else that day.

That is NOT God's plan for my life, to have Him be an item I cross off my to-do list. Because it's not about crossing off prayer time or Bible reading everyday. He is not a mere thought that should be given a little attention each day. He is a way of life. It's about
living each and every day, all day, for Him.

In theory would I say I do this? Yes. But do I
really do this? I mean, really live all day long for Him? I'm sad to say the answer is no. Way too much of me gets in the way instead. What I think I should be filling my time with. What I see as important tasks I need to get done on any given day. What I want to do, not what the Lord would have me be doing, or thinking, or living. Afterall, with my jam-packed, pre-planned schedule, how do I allow room for God to change things up? How do I allow Him room to work and to live in me in everything I do?

So to start this year off right, I am not making a resolution. I'm not much for resolutions. I'm just re-evaluating my life and my offerings to the Lord and realizing that I want more. More of Him and less of me. I want my life to SCREAM Him, with the whisperings of my wants and desires to grow ever quieter in the light of God's will for my life, each and every day.

Less judging others, more loving them. Less frustration with my four kiddos, and more patience for them. Less focus on me, more on others and more on Christ.


And the
more prayers I can get from you out there who may desire the same thing in 2011, the better! After all, not only can we not go it alone without Christ's help in all we do, but we also need fellow brothers and sisters to walk beside us, lift us up and keep us accountable. Because we should all desire more for our lives than anything this bleek world can offer. And in turn, our children will desire more too.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3: 5-6