Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tutorial: Using a Silhouette Cameo with a Sharpie pen to address cards

Last year for my birthday, B gave me a Silhouette Cameo. While I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog, this machine is amazing! I used it last June to make a "Classroom Jobs" board for Ryan's first grade teacher. We went with a board that looks like an iPhone, with each app being a pocket that holds the student's weekly job.
In order we have Line Leader, Door Holder, Calendar Reporter, Boys bathroom monitor, Teacher's assistant, line monitor, weatherman, girls bathroom monitor, substitute, caboose, classroom helper and the last "app" pocket holds the names of students who do not have jobs this week.
 I made every single app, cut every square, using the silhouette. This entire board, from idea in my head to laminated finished project, took less than two days to make, working when the kids were busy or after they went to bed.

I LOVE my Silhouette Cameo. And no, I'm not being paid to blog this. I seriously just love it.

My Cameo also came with some sketch pens. But I think they're less than stellar. They don't always write smoothly and I'm not a huge fan of the metallic choices. But I did realize that pretty much any pen would work, if the machine would just hold it. (The sketch pens are chubby!). So after brainstorming, I realized a small strip of electrical tape would make a regular fine point Sharpie or Sharpie pen, chubby enough. After successfully addressing over 50 Christmas cards, I took a quick iPhone video tutorial.

The video: It's not fancy, I'm pretty sure you can hear my dogs and kids in the background but I think it could really help others who are looking for a personalized yet quick way to address envelopes. The result is more thought out than just feeding an envelope through the printer. You can tell it was done with a pen/marker but people aren't going to know how your handwriting looks so neat!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm trying to catch up

I love blogging, I really do. I don't do it for money or an audience, I do it because I like to keep track of the little things. I'm pretty sure I don't even have an audience anymore and that's okay with me. I never started blogging to entertain people. I do like that family and friends have a way of checking in on us, if they want to. I like that someone else who is moving to Italy with four kids might stumble on my blog and feel a little more reassured that they can do it. (Hey it's happened before and we're still friends on facebook after moving. Hi Riann!). I'm happy that little tutorials of mine end up on Pintrest and help someone else out.

But the well-child check ups, the day trips, the cute little stories and funny things the kids say...I know it's just ''mom stuff'' and I like it. I like that I can, with the click of a button, immediately look back on everything we did November 2008. That I can see how much the kids have grown without having to pull out the external hard drive. That I can see when they hit milestones without a self-inflected guilt trip when I pull out a damn-near-empty baby book. I know when they took their first steps. I know when I cut their hair for the first time or any other trivial little fact....because I blogged. I frequently say "I don't know where that picture is" or "I'm not sure when we went there" but I can almost always answer with ''But I know I blogged about it." and with a small search, immediately whatever it was we were looking for, it's there.

So when I look at the archive on the left and see months that have just one post, it upsets me that I didn't take two seconds to post something. I know that I'm busy living life and not blogging about it but I also know that it's never going to happen if I don't make time for it. I was just as busy in 2010 and 2011. I had four kids, had just moved and still found time to blog. I blame my lack of blogging on myself, having an iPhone and social media. It is SO easy to upload a pic to Instagram or Facebook with a quick byline and be done. But six months later when I want to show someone, I can't find it. Or at least not easily. I downloaded an app for blogging (BlogPress) but it constantly has glitches, the pictures are either super tiny or super grainy and I end up usually quitting after I've written half a post.

So, my point (I do have one!) is that I am going to try to be better. I'm going to try to update more often. The funny little things that the kids say. The pictures from playing at the park. The embarrassing stories, the illnesses. These are things that I look back on (literally, I click on 2009 and just read) that make me go ''Man, Logan hasn't changed a bit" or "I can't believe Maggie is older now than Ryan was when Connor was born...Ryan seemed so big then and Maggie seems so little now''. It's the reminders of where we have been. The tiny two bedroom duplex that we all six once lived in. The anxiety over moving to Italy. It's the memories that I don't want to lose.

This morning, I spent a few hours updating the blog but I did it by back dating the posts. So that trip to Slovenia and Croatia that we went on in July but never blogged about? Yeah, it's posted in September now as a ''throwback''. Maggie's birthday party, Halloween, our trip to Kansas...are all posted now in the month it should have been posted. I'm going to still do ''throwbacks'' on trips we took because I think they're fun and I don't want all my posts to get buried in the past. But I am back-dating the ones that are time sensitive to when they happened (Holiday's, Birthday's, etc).

Friday, November 15, 2013

I was going through the pictures on my phone and it got me thinking....

how in the world do my kids do stuff like this?
I mean, really...How? In this instance, Maggie had been fully clothed and in her room. I went to start a load of laundry. I was gone MAYBE three minutes and came upstairs to find that she had removed her pajamas, undies and then somehow reached the container of lotion, opened it and covered her entire body. This is the same child that when we are on our way out the door, can't seem to put a pair of crocs on by herself and in a timely manner.

And it might not peak my curiosity so much if I hadn't already had this happen, to her oldest brother when he was the same age...
In this instance, he was suppose to be napping and I was washing the dishes. He wasn't quite two years old yet, he climbed up on top of the changing table, somehow unscrewed the cap off of a $10 container of Cetaphil cream and then proceeded to cover himself with it. I only raced in because he then began to cry because he was messy. Let's just say the overalls were a total loss and I had to wash his hair three times and it was still greasy for days. So when Maggie did the same thing, I wasn't as shocked as much as I probably should have been. I mean, at least she took her clothes off first.

This is still one of this families mysteries. How do they do it and why do they do it!?
**this post in being linked to Dropcam’s “Life’s Mysteries” Campaign!**

Friday, November 8, 2013

Maggie's 3rd Birthday party and a trip home!

We returned to Texas in August and was immediately busy getting settled. While it was wonderful to be back stateside, I was bummed that we didn't have the time to make it to Kansas and see family. So after working with the boys' school schedule, Ron's work schedule, my parent's work schedule and my brother's work schedule, we finally narrowed down a weekend that we could all meet in Kansas. This weekend was almost two weeks after Maggie's birthday but since she shares a birthday with my nephew (whom at this point I had yet to meet!) we opted to have a joint birthday party and weekend get-together. It was perfect!

The drive from Houston to Wichita went off without a hitch. Google said it was a 10 hour and 8 minute trip from our driveway to my Aunt's house and we made it in 11 hours and 12 minutes. Two adults, four kids, two dogs and we stopped three times.
They are awesome little travelers.

We actually got to Kansas a day before we had originally planned which worked out well because we had time to get situated in the hotel and an extra evening to visit family. Friday my parents came down with my grandma. It was so nice getting to see them and the kids didn't hesitate one bit (which I thought Maggie might).

We bundled up (it seriously started to snow in Wichita, in mid October when this gal only brought flip flops) and headed to lunch. We spent Friday relaxing with grandparents, hanging at my Aunt's house.

Saturday my brother made it over and we took family photos and had a party. I was VERY VERY excited to meet my nephew and see family that I hadn't gotten to see in two years. I cried several times, but they were tears of complete happiness and joy!
Some of the family photos we snagged:
Great Grandma Phyllis with all her great grandkids

 My parents with their kids and grandkids

Nanaw and Papa bought the kids' Halloween costumes for them this year...I sure have a lot of superheros protecting me! 

By 3:00pm everyone had made it to the house and we were ready to party.

 I think it's pretty neat that these two share a birth date and even though Abe is in Nebraska, and Mags is in Texas, they were able to celebrate together :)
So fortunate that we were all able to meet up and spend the weekend together. Now I can't wait for Christmas to do it all over again. This is what the holiday's are about, and this is what I missed the most while in Italy. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween was the first holiday that we celebrated in our new house. The kids were very excited to get to go trick or treating door to door! This year they all went as superheros which pleased this mama, because as much as I try to not be totally neurotic, I love to have their costumes match a theme. 

Connor went as Batman, Maggie was Batgirl, Logan was superman and Ryan was Spiderman.  


This mama was also really thrilled that I finally have a house to decorate! We did not carve pumpkins but we did decorate little pumpkins for the mantle and we got metal jack-o-lanterns for the front of the house.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Today was the day.

There have been moments since returning to Texas that it's hard to believe we cut our time in Italy short. These thoughts came more frequently while B was furloughed. I miss my friends in Italy, terribly. I miss seeing the mountains, I miss the wine and fresh milk, I miss grabbing dinner at Regina's. I miss my ''me'' time on Tuesday's and Thursday's while the kids were all in school. When B was furloughed while it Italy, it presented time to go to Slovenia or Croatia. To spend a day in Asiago eating cheese or wandering around Bassano del Grappa.

While B was furloughed here (which thankfully is over and he will receive back pay) it was worrisome. We just moved, we just bought a house and I think we both had a few ''what were we thinking'' thoughts fly through our heads. We weren't given a ''Furlough Friday'' it was a ''Furlough with no known end in sight''. We couldn't really enjoy the time here because we didn't know when it would end.

But after spending this past weekend with our families, after meeting my nephew for the first time, hugging my grandma who was diagnosed with Parkinson's while we were overseas and celebrating everyone being together, I feel good about our decision. Sure it's a ten hour drive, but it was completely manageable. We left at 6am and we were hugging family by 6pm...the same day, in the same time zone. Now that Ron has returned to a career that he enjoys, the boys are having fun with spirit week at school and I am decorating a house that we own...things feel good. Things feel really good.

The BIG "we did the right thing moment'' came on the walk home from school today. (Sidenote: the fact that the kids are able to WALK to school is ah-mazing. In Italy they rode a bus for close to an hour each way.) While walking home I asked how their day went. Logan told me about painting a cow at art. Ryan shared that he ran FIVE laps at school and when he added on the ''and I didn't even need my inhaler" it just reaffirmed what I already knew....We made the right choice.

We have been in Texas almost three months now. Three months without one of the kids needing a breathing treatment, without albuterol, without a single dose of an oral steroid or a doctor's appointment. Three months without having to run a vaporizer. Three months without taking a daily preventive inhaler. Three months without coughing. Three months of happy, healthy kids who are riding bikes outside, running laps at school and doing it without worry. While there was a downside to living in Italy with four kids, I can't find one for Texas.

Today was the day I realized that this is home. This is where we are meant to be. Where we NEED to be. Texas may not have amazing (and cheap!) Italian wine or views of the mountains but I guess I'll need to get used to sweet tea and views of the gulf. Something tells me it shouldn't be too hard.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Maggie turns THREE!

I haven't always been the best at sharing these monthly photos on the blog, but I have remembered to take one every single month. And Sissy, this month you are THREE YEARS OLD!

At three years old you:

  • are weighing in at 26.2lbs and 35.5 inches tall
  • are wearing 2T pants, 3T shirts and a size 7/8 shoe
  • are sleeping in a twin bed, with no rails/sides, in your room and sleeping straight through the night without waking. (which you've been doing for awhile now)
  • love to color, draw, cut and paint. 
  • are becoming obsessed with Lalaloopsies and My Little Pony, as well as Batgirl, Wonderwoman and Catwoman 
  • love the color pink, your favorite food is salad and you have to pick out your own shoes or an epic tantrum will follow. 
Happy Birthday Sissy! We spent the day at the boardwalk and went to dinner, then came home to eat cupcakes. You will have your party when we are in Kansas in two weeks!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Throwback: Slovenia on the 4th of July

As I posted before, we went to Slovenia and Croatia for the 4th of July. While I was originally going to do just one post as it was a day trip, I realized I took entirely too many photos and a video, so it's best split into two posts. 

So we spent the morning and early afternoon on the 4th of July in Porec, Croatia. After we left Porec, our destination was Koper. We had heard nothing about it, had recommendations from no one but we looked at the map, it looked like a good sized city and it wasn't far from the highway so we made a stop.

Best decision ever.

First of all, it wasn't touristy at all. Secondly, it was some sort of holiday or sagra and it was so amazing to experience this towns traditions without it being put on as a show for tourists.

So when we first took the Koper exit, the kids spotted a McDonald's. Now they have eaten at a McD's in America, Germany, Italy and France so it only seemed appropriate that they get to try it in Slovenia as well. Afterall, this was their vacation too. We try our hardest to make these vacations and trips fun for them as well and surprisingly, McDonald's really is different in every country. In Slovenia, the kid's happy meals came with the chicken nuggets, fries, a fresh fruit cup, a bottle of milk and then the toy (which was Skylander's).

So we ate dinner then pretty much followed everyone else. We ended up right by the water, near a town square. This area, right near the marina, was gorgeous. The lighting was amazing as it was dusk and everything was just so pretty. I took a ton of photos which I feel inclined to share here.

The thing that I really noticed and enjoyed about Koper was the mix of the old and the new. There are building that are (what I assume) hundreds of years old right next to a really modern park.

 There were vendors selling lemonade, modern art, funky stone chairs facing the water, skateboarders, old people walking holding hands, restaurants with walk up windows next to fine dining places with cloth tablecloths and twinkling lights. The atmosphere was amazing. Small town, summer nights, amazing.
 As we were walking we started to hear all this excitement and music so we went to check it out.
This is where people had be milling about dressed in historical costumes when we had first arrived. Turns out these different groups were competing in some sort of music/dance competition. Each had a flag or tapestry representing their group and they would get called on stage. I managed to take a short video on my phone, but the quality isn't that good as we were at the outer edge of the crowd. Still it was fascinating to see/hear!
We had a wonderful evening in Slovenia. The people there were amazingly friendly and everyone we encountered spoke perfect English with the exception of a group of older people. They asked me, what I assume was ''Are they twins?" in Slovene.  I responded in Italian, that I spoke little Italian and did not understand. They then said "Gemelle?" and I knew that's what they asked and responded that no they were not twins and I listed their ages in Italian. This earned me a pat on my shoulder and an exclaimed ''Brava Mamma!' All in all, it was an amazing experience. While we were only there a short time, I'm glad we went.