Christmas in Preschool

If you need a little smile today, just imagine yourself as a 4-year-old playing here:



It's the North Pole!
See that big white post looking thing on the left, that's the "North Pole". The kids colored the red stripes on it with crayon. There's lots of snow and that castle in the corner is actually Santa's Workshop where the elves make all the toys.


These are the snow and ice blocks for building igloos and penguin houses... and sometimes they pose as presents for Santa to deliver.

And of course we need to have a place for Santa to bring those gifts - here's our cozy little fireplace and christmas tree... complete with a little friend sleeping on the couch, waiting for Santa to arrive.
I wish I could show you the pictures of the kids dressed up with reindeer antlers and elf hats. We even had a chain of reindeer holding hands and pulling Santa in a sleigh (a.k.a. little red wagon) across the classroom to deliver toys under the Christmas tree. Right now there are 12 little stockings hanging on that fireplace waiting for Santa to make a special trip to school tonight to fill them.
It has been a magical few weeks here in preschool. But as much fun as I've been having, I can't wait until it's finished tomorrow because that means I'm that much closer to sharing a magical Christmas with my beloved sisters, brothers(-in-law), nieces, parents, granmother, and uncle!
Only 12 more days!!!

Just for you

Sunday evening we finally took the double bed out of the guest room so it could officially become Lena's room. We put her in the crib for the first time last night and I think she liked it. Here's a taste of how much fun she had with her mobile (check out those baby leg kicks!):

video

Get your snuggling arms and baby voices ready, ladies. Only five more weeks until love reunites!


disclaimer: I promise to take the pillow and stuffed animal out of her bed before I leave her in there unsupervised.

Rewards

Since you both helped me so much emotionally as I prepared for my first craft fair,
I decided to give you a present.

The present is: you get to see me in this beautiful j.crew sweater at Christmas!

I ordered it online as my "coming home to warm weather and I don't know where my winter clothes are" consolation.

You're welcome!

Cooorn, double COOORN!!!

I know you ladies already know, but just to remind you...
This soup is so good it's ridiculous.


It's spicy, it's corny, it's spectacular.
Add a grilled cheese on the side and I'm in heaven--perfect for a cold fall/wintry afternoon.
Don't worry Em, as I'm assuming these aren't readily available on the island, 
I'll save a box or two for your stocking.

First Fire in the New House

The low tonight is 33.
The high tomorrow is 54.
Friday: 42 and rain.
Saturday: 44 and snow.

That's right. snow.

My wonderful husband knows just what to do in situations like these -
build a roaring fire in our beautiful fireplace and snuggle with his wife on the couch.

We had a fireplace in our rental house, but the one in our house is almost twice as big and makes waaaay better fires!

If you're in doubt, I present the following video as proof.

video

Winter, I have three words for you:

Bring it on.


a lil' secret

This is super crazy, but whenever I snuggle with Lena, and all is quiet,
I can't stop thinking that I want to have another baby.

WHAT??!!!

Not somewhere down the road, but right now.

WHAAAT??!!!

I mean, I actually miss being pregnant.

WHAAAAAT??!!!

This is when I need you to live closer so one of you can smack some sense into me.

Sigh.

Sisterly advice

Without your advice on what to wear to the World Creole Music Festival, I was left to my own devices.

That means I wore this out in public:


I need you in my life on a daily basis.

Miss you both so much.

Best Thing Ever

E-Mealz Praline Chicken.

D-Licious!!!



Thank you Sara for sending me the recipe!
Seth and I both loved it and I can't wait to try some of the other recipes this week.

Its just science

A recent article in the New York Times "Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier" states:

"...it’s true that talk is the reason having a sister makes you happier, but it needn’t be talk about emotions. When women told me they talk to their sisters more often, at greater length and about more personal topics, I suspect it’s that first element — more often — that is crucial rather than the last."

So here is proof, you both really do make me happier.  Even if our communication forms are dependent upon 21st Century technologies, you can't stop science.

Maybe I don't need a baby...

...maybe I'll just get a puppy instead.

Some friends of ours from church have these adorable puppies out at their house and we went out to see them today. They are so. stinkin'. cute.

Thankfully, they're all spoken for so we don't have to deal with the dilemma of whether or not to bring one home. Because they are cute enough to erase every trace of logic from your brain.


They were having so much fun just bounding around in the grass, growling and yelping at each other, and stumbling over their own paws.

If anyone ever calls us and tells us they have lab puppies that are actually available... we might be in big trouble. ;-)

Only the essentials

What are the necessary components of a Dominica care package? Cliff bars, crackers, craft supplies, magazines, batteries and chocolate... Yes, lots of chocolate.



Never mind that it cost about $65 to get it all there. Oh well. Some comforts apparently do come with a price.

love you, Em. Enjoy!

patchwork project

Since I am working hard on getting my sewing shop up, I finally made myself an honest woman.

Nathan has asked for a coaster since we moved to the island.  Because of the heat, our cold beverages seem to create a river of condensation.  A simple drink can destroy everything on your table, including the finishing.

And because I love him, I took some time away from the pressed peony workshop, and made him:


They even match our giant, plastic, yellow cups.  patchwork joy!

I was trying to remember if we ever used coasters when we were kids... I don't think we did. 
Am I remembering correctly, or did we destroy our parent's tables?

Another Before & After

THE GARAGE

Before:

Junk piled everywhere...


Boxes on top of boxes...


Junk stacked against walls... not pretty.


But after 7 hours of hard work
(isn't it amazing how much time can end up going into this kind of project???)
we ended up with this!

After:


nice and tidy
(I'm in lovvvve with our new chest freezer!)

Lots of fabulous shelves. And the extra fridge is actually against the wall now!

and things neatly stacked against the wall.

The biggest difference is the back wall where all the boxes had been.
Now most of them are in the basement, but at least now I can pull my car into the garage without running into the fridge. I never knew a clean garage could make me so happy!

Now I'm going to head over to Hillside Reflections to post pictures from the open house.
much love from a very clean garage in Iowa! :-)

Get excited...

You gals can look forward to a wonderful post tomorrow night filled with photos of our Harvest Open House!!!

I've got tons of yummy food prepared, several tubs of fall decorations on their way via my wonderful Mother-In-Law, and a soon to be spic-n-span house to show off!

I can't wait!

The price for... love

What would you pay for a little slice of home? 

Think: Sunday afternoon, you're 8 years old.  You just got home from church. Your mom is dressed in her prettiest red blouse and smells so fancy.  Your dad is smiling, enjoying the relaxation of a day off work.

Yours sisters are in a good mood, not teasing you at all - because they, too, are going to enjoy what is to come. 

The Sunday afternoon snack lunch.  A Ouellette staple.  A Sunday afternoon filled with only yummy snacks that mom lets us pile together to make a meal.  Grapes and chedder cheese.  Chips.  Tuna salad with apples...

...and ritz crackers.

How much would I pay for this slice of home?

$42.00 EC.  And I did.  (Thats about $16 US)

I really miss yall.

A Poor Imitation

Ever since Em's visit to Mom & Dad's back in August, I have been longing for the delicious taste of the delightful snack she was thoughtful enough to share with us: Go Ahead Crispy Slices


They were so yummy and different from other snacks that we have in the US that I just couldn't stop thinking about them! I searched the internet to see if there was a magical place that would ship them to me... but alas, it seems they are only available in the UK and Netherlands... oh, and Dominica of course!
Then, to my wonderful surprise, I came across these lovlies at the grocery store:

They aren't as good as Go Aheads, but I think they're as close as I'm going to get this side of the Carribean. I currently have two boxes in my desk at work, strawberry and blueberry. They are my new favorite snack.
And perhaps my favorite thing about them is that when I'm enjoying every bite of their crisp fruitiness... I always think of Em :-)

Not much

Today I am so exhausted and I don't have much to say except that I miss you two... A lot...
My girls miss you too...
And so does Curt...
But I miss you most...
That makes me the winner...
And today the winner gets...
wait for it...
a nap.

What I did at school today.


Shaving cream + liquid watercolors + ziploc bag...


+ a lot of squeezing and squishing...


= a lot of beautiful fun!!!

Look at all of our amazing colors!



I Y Preschool

:-)

She's Here!!!

After an extended time away from our beloved sister blog due to the fact that we were actually spending time together in person rather than communicating via blog, skype, and phone... I had to jump on to share with our readers that Sara had her baby!!!

Helena ("Lena") Marie Clayton
born August 20th, 5:30pm
8 lbs, 8 oz.
21 inches long

She is absolutely gorgeous! She has thick black hair, but otherwise looks just like Addie did when she was born. I'm sure that one of the three of us will post pictures of her at some point, but for now we're all just rejoicing in a safe delivery of little Lena!

:-D

Dad rocks too

OK ladies, can you believe we have totally slacked on here and it's been over two weeks since our last post? Not good. Of course, being able to reach Em at our convenience has probably played a bit of a roll, but still. Let's get back on track, shall we? Rant over... Moving on...

Back when I posted about seeing Addie and Mom together at the cabin, I fully planned to write a piece about Dad as well. Time ticked on, yada yada yada, and I didn't get right around to it. Well seeing as today is his 57th birthday, I can't think of a better time to dote on him.

It's always funny to me to think about how our relationship with Dad has evolved over the years. I would never have said growing up that I was "a Daddy's girl" but in hindsight, I think all three of us were. I have the greatest memories of him walking through the door after a long day of work and getting down on the floor to play our made-up games while Mom got dinner ready.

"Get you-get you" and "The Little Red Riding Hood" game are two of my absolute faves and when I think really hard, I can still hear us squealing as we ran down the hall to hide in Mom's legs as she stood at the stove. (I'm sure she loved that, by the way!)

With those times in mind, I think one of the greatest lessons Dad ever taught us, whether he knew it or not, was the importance of working hard and playing hard too. Dad has always had the most incredibly strong work ethic. I can never EVER remember him being late to work or neglecting anything having to do with work. He always stood by his responsibilities and he made sure that if he said he was going to do something, he did it. No matter what.

Sometimes we joke about him being a workaholic and while that may be true, I have nothing but admiration and respect for how he instilled this value in all of us. We have all done well in our careers in a huge part, because of him.

Then there's the flip side. I believe we can all agree that Dad is the most fun ever when he's in "vacation mode". That doesn't necessarily mean that he's actually on vacation, but it means he has totally checked out of everything that brings stress into his life and he's OURS. There is a sparkle in his eye that isn't there any other time. The muscles in his shoulders relax and he laughs a lot more. He tells a lot of jokes and stories. He isn't a pastor or a pilot or an engineer. He is just Dad--or in this case, Pepere.

My goodness, I loved seeing him unwind with his granddaughter in Michigan. The Last Resort kept its promise once again and gave us all the gift of watching deep bonds grow stronger. Imaginations ran wild and the freedom to relax and forget about the world took over. The second those magic cushions came out, they were in a land all their own.

They giggled together...

And made houses...


And Addie sandwiches...

And made us all laugh as we watched them in their fun...

I tell you what--if he was ever a sucker for us...

 We've got nothin' on her...

I love you, Dad and hope you find "vacation mode" on your birthday today!
**many kisses and hugs**

Nervous Nancy

Em is on her way back to the states as I type.
She has been really anxious and dramatic about the journey and I have tried
to be as comforting and reassuring as possible.
The truth is that I am worried and anxious for her as well
and now that she's away from the interwebs I can finally come out with it.
I mean, who is flying that tiny plane from Dominica to San Juan?
Did he or she get a good night's sleep?
And what about the pilots flying her the rest of the way...?
That's some pretty precious cargo they've got there.
I've said about 18 prayers in the past 24 hours for her safe arrival on home soil.
If anyone else wants to say some more,
I don't think a few extra would hurt.

I can fix that! or A lesson in the importance of correct posture

So Em, as much as I really REALLY want you to have a baby, I am also a true believer in the importance of full disclosure. Check out these pictures Kate took of me while we were Skyping yesterday. Please forgive the blurriness (especially since it mostly effects Addie's face)...

This is me standing next to my babe about 5 1/2 ft. from the camera.
I look fairly normal, except with a basketball under my shirt, right?

And then there's this...  Kate and Addie were playing a game of peek-a-boo and when I turned around to join in, I saw myself in the bottom of the screen and couldn't believe it. I told Kate to check out how fat I looked, and the expression on her face said it all.


Yes Kate, I'm going to post it. Here is the highly unflattering photo where I don't look pregnant, but rather like I've just gained 150 lbs. Sexy, huh?

WARNING: This photo has been modified to burn out the retinas of any viewer
who looks at it for more than five seconds. 

So go ahead, love. Get preggo! Have a baby! I want to be an Auntie!!! Just be sure to sit up straight and with your shoulders back. **smooch**

Got the fever

We've been talking about baby fever lately and I have to say, I go on a roller coaster of baby fever experiences when I spend time with the local kids at In.Light.In. 

Look at their sweet faces - uhh! sooo cute.

video

But then, they will throw something at one another - or start a fight moments later.  This is one of the few videos I had where kids didn't start choking each other out to get the spotlight.
Wooooahh - stop the baby train.  I need to get off.

But I'll get back on shortly.
Went to the county fair last night. It was pretty sweet.
Especially enjoyed the tractor pull. (Check out the video on Hillside Reflections!)


I tried to get Annie to climb into the tire with me, but she refused. Sadly, they don't let tractors this big participate in the pulling. I think this dude would win.

Tsk, tsk!

"I didn't go into the street without a hand. I stayed right here on the sidewalk." - Stephanie **, circa 1999

And now, as only a middle sister truly can:

"I didn't publish blog posts without tags. I used at least three on every post." - Kate, circa today


Sorry. Couldn't resist ;-) After Sara making a big stink about how we all need to make sure we're tagging our blogs, I was looking at all of our posts and noticed that *ahem* some of us have been slacking. You know I don't really care, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to use our favorite Stephanie quote! I think it may only be topped by "Tears or presents?" on my list of favorite one-liners that we love to give eachother. At some point one of us is going to have to write a post about that story...

Completely unrelated side note: Am currently sitting at my desk eating some Baker's (a.k.a. Kroger) sushi pretending that it's half as good as the food my hubs is enjoying down in NOLA this week. Monday's my only day at work next week so lets plan on some mid-day Skyping, shall we?

**A little back story for our readers: Stephanie is a little girl (or was anyway... She's got to be a teenager by now - Yikes!) at our dad's first church in western Kentucky. This quote comes from a scenario in which her younger sister was caught walking out into the street without holding an adult's hand after church one morning. As little sister was being scolded, Stephanie made sure to point out to her mommy what a good job she had done of following the rules. It's a classic sister moment that I'm sure anyone with a sibling can relate to.

Our awesome mom

I know you gals don't need me to tell you how fantastic our mom is. We would not be the women we are today if it wasn't for her and I feel like I'm still learning so much about who she is and how deep her layers go.

I can honestly say that I did not fully appreciate her true wonderfulness until I became pregnant. Suddenly she became this mecca of all knowledge to me and I still feel like I rely on her so much whenever I have a question about Addie. To me, when it comes to being a mom, she knows it all.

Seeing her shine in her role as Memere kicks everything up a notch as well. Witnessing the moments between her and our little bug make me so proud that she is our mom. The Cabin brings out the best in all of us, and last week was no exception! Between taking care of big ol' preggo me, Addie and our sweet 86-year-old Sweetie--I swear, she may just become the first Lutheran saint!

She took over for me in my enormous state and introduced Addie to the beach.

She reassured Little Miss. that while it's cold at first, 
the water really does feel good once you get used to it.

She showed Addie how to jump in with both feet and no fear.

And our girl figured it out in no time.

Just look at the two of them. Addie sure does love her Memere.

Me too.

Kids Say the Darndest Things


Sara, remember all those conversations about the funny and random things that young children say? Well here's a wonderful example from my friend Ingrid's blog, My Boys.
She has two boys with another mystery baby on the way (they're keeping it a surprise) and they're living in Japan while her husband is on assignment for the Marines.

Check out her recent adorable conversation with her oldest son, Maximus, here.

:-)

The Neverending Story

a.k.a. Kate & Seth's Kitchen! ...or the whole house really.

Tonight we painted the kitchen a lovely dusty teal (the actual name of the color is "Venus Teal") which I LOVE! We used Behr Premium Plus Ultra which is that fancy new stuff that has the primer and paint in one. For the most part it only took one coat - thanks to the fact that we weren't painting over white.

The sad news is that once we painted over the patches (remember all of those holes that the plumber made when he was fixing our multitude of leaks?) we realized that our patch job apparently wasn't very good. Our beginners' imperfections that we thought we get covered up by painting still stick out like a sore thumb so now we're going to have to go back and sand those spots down, re-spackle, re-sand, and re-paint. Boo!

Oh well... at least the rest of the kitchen looks fabulous!

Sara, I hope you're having fun in Michigan. #1: I'm totally jealous that we're not there with you, and #2: It's driving me crazy not to have new blog posts to read every day on Mommy Honesty!

Em, I was so sad to miss your Magic Jack call! It was so good to hear your voice, even if it was just via voicemail. My work schedule is crazy until the 20th when my "summer break" starts. We need to find a time to Skype soon!

I love you both and can't wait to talk to you... and only 4.5 weeks left till I get to see you!!!

Auntie Gifts

My first time becoming an Auntie, thanks to you Sara, I can't remember a visit going by without offering gifts and sentimental pieces of thecutestiestlil things.

My second time becoming an Auntie, I was worried I would loose the zeal. I was worried I would tell you to just share the same pieces that I offered in the past.

Nope. My mind is filled with little things that this girl must have. 

The first thing on my list:


I don't know your plans for the nursery, but can I please get her this? Or any other adorablecutie thing from Sarahjanestudios?

I heart irony

OK ladies, this is funny. As you both know, we are working on our first garden. Our cucumber plants have been going CRAZY and taking over nearly half of the space. About a week ago, we noticed that one of the plants was starting to turn yellow and wilt. Now the problem seems to be spreading.

I did a little research and we think it is Bacterial Wilt caused by the Cucumber Beetle. We were hoping to do this as organically as possible (i.e. we don't want to use pesticides) so I looked up alternative ways to handle the problem. This is what I found....

David H. Wise and co-workers in the department of entomology at the University of Kentucky thoroughly investigated spider predation of cucumber beetles (Snyder and Wise, 2000, Williams et al., 2001 and Williams and Wise, 2003). Wise found that both striped and spotted cucumber beetles reduce their feeding rate and emigrate from cucurbit plants in the presence of the large wolf spiders Hogna helluo and Rabidosa rabida.

Are you kidding me??? See Kate, there is a silver lining to every cloud! At least you know you can have disease-free cucumber plants on your property. I would say to ship a couple of those bad boys on down here to help our cause, but I suppose some yellow sticky tape applied to the inside of a plastic cup will just have to do the trick.

And... We're live!

Welcome to our special sister space!
Today is the first day of opening up our personal project for all to see.
Take some time to read and see what we've been up to.
Thanks for stopping by!!!
**hugs**

Baby brain

Today I wanted to make a sandwich for lunch. It needed roasted red peppers. I opened the fridge and for the life of me could not find them. I moved everything around and still nothing. I thought--did I lose my mind and put them back in the pantry instead of the fridge for some reason? Nope. Seriously. Where the F are my F-ing peppers?

Oh. There they are.


Right in front of my face. Good grief. 

I need to have this baby. Soon.

Last Day

Today was the last day of class at CALLS, the local school where I've been spending my time.  It is now summer vacation.  I'm going to miss seeing these girls every week.  But they promised we would go to the beach and do summery things.


Can't you tell they are the best of friends?  They are so funny to watch; they know each other so well, when one is in a bad mood, the other doesn't give them special treatment, they push each other.  And that is why they are more than friends. 

Sisterhood on the other side of the world is strong - all is very well.

Top That

To help make Sara feel better and brighten our day... Top That:



Love you!

Pity party

Today I really miss you two. Not just like the normal missing, but the I want to sit and cry because I'm by myself and I don't want to be kind of missing...

Kate, I'm sorry I was such a grump on the phone last night. Doing my nails makes me uber crabby these days but it saves us money and keeps my hands from looking like those of the crazy witch from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner circa 1991. Are you too young to remember that movie? When Alan Rickman was young and less wrinkled, but also less sexy...

Em, I can't stop thinking about the conversation we had on Saturday. It was so very real and I'm proud of us for being vulnerable and honest about such a personal and scary topic. One of these days I hope we get the courage to share it... maybe in this space. On another note--Where are you??? WTF is up with your internet connection??? I need to have a chat with whoever schedules these "tropical waves" and work something out... Hmmm... I guess that would be God. I don't think threats and ultimatums work so well with Him. Must find another way.

I think part of why I'm feeling sad is that we're desperately trying to figure out how to get to the cabin this year. Even though it will be fun, it won't be the same without either of you there. I keep thinking that Addie is going to be old enough to make a house out of the floor cushions and pretend that one of those wooden tables is a horsey... And you won't be there. She will probably try and reach the paddles on the paddle boat and climb the ladder on the raft only to immediately jump off the side, over and over and over again. And I will laugh my big preggo ass off and my heart will hurt all the same because you won't be there.

As I type these words I feel like I'm being so overdramatic and silly. It's just this one summer, right? It's not like we'll never have those times up at the lake all together. Of course we will. And we will take tons of pictures and videos and share the memories with you from afar. But damn, it would be sweet if we could all be there now.

Sigh. Alright, enough. Pity party over. Time to get up, belly first, and go knock a little Sense and Sensibility into myself. Maybe a pretend make-out session with Col. Brandon will be just the ticket to pull me out of my funk! Oh don't laugh... you know you've thought about it too.

Lets do the Wave

We had our first tropical storm last night!  A tropical "wave" to be precise.  I slept through it - Nathan said it sounded pretty bad.  We lost electricity and we don't have running water. 

Its a good thing we have 10 gals in saved water.  That will make plenty of coffee and lemonade until things get better.

And that's all a gal needs, right?

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

I don't know if you got the chance to read my latest blog post on Hillside Reflections about our adventures in bathroom renovation/redecorating, but here are a few photos to complete the story. Had to share them with my sisters...

The pile of glass shards.


The wall behind the mirror which has been [relatively] successfully spackled.


Seth's blood.
(He really wanted the mirror to come down.)

Tonight we tested paint colors and tomorrow morning I'm going to head out to Home Depot as early as I can manage to rouse myself to purchase the chosen color and then start painting! (Seth is helping out at the youth group garage sale from 7:30-noon.) Our goal is to have the whole thing finished by tomorrow night. I think it's possible as long as I don't run into any problems with sanding down the spackle... pray for me.