Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Cherished Gift

My Mother passed away when I was a child long before she got to meet any of her grandchildren. I think about her often and wonder how life would be if she were still here, or what she might think about her daughter getting ready to have her 4th child.... but also know how much missing her has shaped me, grown me and taught me how short this life really is.

Daniel and I agreed that if we were ever blessed with a little girl (which we honestly didn't think would happen) we would give her the middle name Susan after my Mother. When I found out a couple months ago that my Mother's wedding gown was still around, I was thrilled and knew it needed a purpose other than sitting in a box and set out to make Evelyn a little something with some pieces.  

This is Evelyn's dedication gown. The dress and bonnet itself is a gift to Evelyn from my Step Mother and my Dad. And I chose to embellish it with lace trim from my Mom's gown. A perfect blend of both old and new, and a cherished gift because of each of the hands that took part in it-- the dress my Mother wore 35+ years ago, that was kept by my Granny for so many years, the hands of my Dad and Step Mother for gifting us with something new specifically for this precious little girl on the way. And my own hands that sewed it all together. It isn't perfect sewing. And after being stored for so many years, while the lace brightened a lot, it isn't perfectly white as it once was.... BUT, it's the perfect gift for Evelyn. And I foresee that it will be a cherished gift for many years to come.

With lots of lace and embellishments left in the wedding gown, I'm still brainstorming other ways to use it to make keepsakes for my sister and I and even a little something for my teenage niece.... but for now, I'm just completely smitten with this dress that is so small, and yet so big too!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Train Table Makeover

Well, I have no idea why it took us 3 boys to get there, but it seems we have one "choo choo" obsessed little man on our hands these days.  I have no doubt there will be a Thomas birthday party post coming in the next couple months!  When a used train table popped up on one of the local buy/sell/trade pages on Facebook recently at a decent price, we decided that we would hop on it knowing that it would make all of Joel's dreams come true.  (And of course the big boys would be thrilled too.... they just aren't quite obsessive as the little guy currently is.)

The table came to us in used condition and was priced as such, so naturally I wanted to give it a little facelift before we brought it into our living room.  Here's what it looked like before--

More off white than white, and several scuffs along the tops and the sides, but nothing that a little paint couldn't correct.  I had the man of the house sand it all down for me so that I could get to work.  We already had some no VOC white paint that we have used on some previous projects so we stuck with keeping the table itself white.  Then after he sanded down the table top, I used some acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby to paint a more traditional train table "scene" on top.

Once the scene was set, I passed the baton to the man for the poly coat.  The only downside to pregnancy is feeling a little helpless in situations such as these when I'm not "allowed" to complete the project that I want to do.  I have this little bit of impatience about me and I like for things to be checked off of my list.  Surely I'm not alone?  .... Once the poly had a couple days to set and dry in this NC humidity, we brought the table in for the big reveal.  The big kids knew that we had the table, knew what it was and knew that we had painted it.  HOWEVER, Joel was clueless as to what this large piece of furniture hanging in our garage was, AND the big boys had no idea that I snagged some really awesome train tracks, trains and accessories at a great price from a friend to complete the package.  Here's a peek of it all moved in--

Look, no large scuffs all over the sides anymore!  And of course a drawer full of trains because the trains overfloweth. 

And the reveal to the kiddos will put a smile on your face today-- 
.... That sweet tiny voice saying "choo choo" and taking it all in.  That's what we hear most of the day whether it's begging for Thomas to be played on the TV, telling us to "rea" one of his Thomas books to him, or it's just lining up cars, boxes or buckets to make them a choo choo.  I think I have a feeling of how the boys will spend their day today and it's been fun watching them liven up and imagine together around the table this morning. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

End of the School Year

Another school year has come, and has gone as quickly as it came.  We are super proud of our two biggest boys and all of the hard work they have put in this year-- the biggest kid, Leeland has completed first grade, and Hayden preschool including his first Classical Conversations experience.  

We wrapped up our year of Classical Conversations with our community in April doing end of year presentations and receiving certificates. 

Leeland's class taught us about the different biomes for their end of year presentation and specifically he had a little blurb about the grasslands.  Hayden's class sang us one of their history sentences about the crusades!

Here's just a little snapshot of some of what they have learned this past year in cycle 2 of CC.

We've spent May wrapping up the last of our first grade math lessons, doing our very first standardized test to meet state homeschool requirements, and having a few fun days here and there to get excited for Summer.  (PS.  Have to brag a moment-- I am blown away by how well the big kid did on his first test!  I'm almost ashamed to admit how anxious I was about this test after seeing his scores.)

I still remember when this homeschooling idea was just a thought and had so many fears attached to it, and now here we are doing it.  Do I still have fears and failures?  Absolutely!  No hesitating in that answer.  I'm no super human, but it brings me so much joy to be alongside these kiddos watching them grow and watching them learn.  And I've said it before, and will say it again, I often feel like the Lord is teaching me SO much more than them. 

Here's a little peek at the biggest on his first day of first grade...

.... and now Leeland's last day of first grade. 

And Hayden on his first day of preschool (k4)....

... And last day.  Next year he'll be a big kindergartner! Eek!

It hasn't all been smooth sailing.  We've had some amazing days, we've had some really hard days, and we've had a whole lot of in between days but I still wouldn't change a thing.  These two kiddos are pretty amazing.  We are proud and we are blessed!  Can't wait to see what next year holds for our now 2nd grader and kindergartner, but for now we are celebrating with cake at the big kid's request!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Baby Evelyn's Nursery

You had to know that when we broke down our school room a few weeks ago that a nursery post would be coming soon.   It never fails that I turn into a little bit of a crazy lady when I'm pregnant and frantically insist on checking items off of my list that I  have made up and convinced myself that I "need" to do.  The odd part of all of the shenanigans is that this is my 4th child and the realist in me knows that she doesn't actually need anything and that if she is anything like her bigger brothers, there's a very real possibility that she won't even use a nursery for the first year.  BUT, the nursery is so fun to put together.  AND it's a great place to store all of her sweet little clothes, and diapers we have been given..... and I mean, if we are really honest, this is my first time bringing girly things into our home so that was just plain fun.

Here's just a few shots since we are pretty much done-- no theme.  Just pink, and lace and flowers and girly things.

Hard to see in photos, but the curtains have little white polka dots and a lace trim to them.  I enjoyed making those. 

The desk above has been around for YEARS.  But sand it and put a fresh coat of paint and it looks new.  For now it serves as a changing table, but I have visions of it becoming a place where she can sit and read or journal.  Or maybe throw in a shabby chic fuzzy topped stool and call it a little make-up vanity.  

For some reason her room just didn't seem complete to me without adding in some sort of floral, so the grapevine wreath was put together and added in very recently.  

You might notice that we are missing a major piece of furniture in her room.... the crib.  That's because Joel is still using it.  For now her rock & play sits in it's place.  You can check out my post of  Joel's nursery here to see what the crib looks like.  It's a hand-me-down crib we received from a friend that we painted mint green, so once it's in, it will tie in the mint green to all of the pink.  

I have never had one of these fancy rock & plays with any of the kids but I hear people love them.  Amazon had a great deal back in January which is how we ended up with the self rocking one.  I hope she likes it!

Letters were purchased at Hobby Lobby along with the two hangers with knobs that they are hanging from.  I covered the letters in mismatched scrapbook paper with mod podge.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this print that we ordered from All Good Things Collective  and to be quite honest the pictures taken in her room on a cloudy, rainy day don't do it justice.  It really ties in a lot of the colors in her room and it's just really pretty to me.  They had a great sale code back when they launched their new site and I scooped it up then.  I made the poster holder with some pine wood and magnets.  There's two pieces of wood at the top sandwiching magnets and two pieces at the bottom sandwiching magnets to hold it straight and then all tied up with some lace ribbon. 

This is my spot!  I go in her room and sit and rock often.  This chair has stains and isn't necessarily the right color for the space, but this is the same chair that I have rocked 3 precious boys with.  And in fact, Joel often comes back to her room to find me and still likes to rock in it.  I can't wait to rock and nurse this sweet baby girl.  I've got my Boppy and basket of burp rags at the ready already! Haha!    11 or so weeks to go. 

Sweet little jackets on hooks by the door, and the rack I purchased at Micheals.  I've got some crocheted hats and bonnets ready for her on the bottom and some bows up top, just need to get the little gal some headbands to throw in that middle spot. 

Finished crocheting her baby blanket yesterday.  I've crocheted a blanket for each of our babies and I really like how this one turned out-- a shell stitch of light pink, pink, mint, and ivory and then a ruffly  light pink border all around.  I still have the blanket that my Granny crocheted for me when I was a baby and I hope each of our kids keeps theirs for years to come. 

Large decorative sign hanging over the rocker,  I purchased at Hobby Lobby for our little gal. 

That's all there is to it.  Nothing extravagant, but I love it.  The hope is that it is decor that will grow with her for a little while.  And now that this big item is checked off of my list, I can relax, right?  Probably not-- my next big to-do to check off of my list is stocking the freezer with meals for postpartum life and that will mean a few days on my feet in the kitchen.  But for now, it's a rainy, gloomy day and I might just grab a book, and prop my feet up in that rocking chair because it just looks too cozy.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

4-H Butterfly Emergence Project: Part 3

If you happen to be curious, you can head over to this link for Part 1, and to this link for Part 2 of our Butterfly emergence project.

Today, we pick up on day 21 as we continue to just wait and watch.

Day 21 Photo--

FOUR chrysalis now!  Caterpillars number 12 and number 11 were added to the others who had already formed their chrysalis.  A few more should be coming soon.  Thanks to a smart friend who is also doing this project, you can see in the photo that we have fashioned some Chrysalis hammocks.  Haha!  We were given glue dots to fashion the lid tops to our mesh bag (the chrysalis themselves are attached to the lids with the caterpillars silk) and the glue dots did not work.  After our first one fell more than once, I moved onto duck tape which also didn't work and then my friend said that she found needle and thread to be tedious but it held them up.  Chrysalis safety is of utmost importance around here.

In other news, we have officially declared caterpillar number 7 dead.  Certainly sad, but it is part of the life cycle indeed.  

Day 28 Photos--

We FINALLY have our first two butterflies who have emerged from their chrysalis.  This has been a whole lot more waiting and watching than anyone anticipated.  Still waiting on the rest, and with our supplies due back to 4-H in only a few days, I'm a little nervous that they will not be out in time.  

You can sort of see the broken chrysalis in the left of this photo that one of the butterflies emerged from.

Some banana and sliced strawberry was put in for them to munch on.  And as you can see, the wings of the "Painted Lady butterflies" are orange with black spots. 


Out of 12 caterpillars, we ended up with 8 painted lady butterflies.  We released 4 of them into the wild on Sunday April 30th, and then see below that we released the last 4 on Saturday May 6th.

Lost count of the days (haha!):  Butterfly release video

Having caterpillars was definitely a fun learning experience for the kids.  Leeland says "seeing the chrysalis" was his favorite part of watching the cycle and Hayden says "releasing the butterflies" was his favorite part.  I have to say that they took WAY longer to transform and go through the cycle than I ever anticipated, and for that reason, I'm not sure that I would keep them again.  Or if we ever decided to watch and release them again, maybe I would wait until further into Summer in hopes that the heat would be better for them.  Remember from my first post, their ideal temperature is 85 degrees so I sort of wonder if the wonky NC weather made the cycle longer.  Regardless, still fun to learn about them and watch them for sure!  Hope you all enjoyed learning and watching right along with us.