Sunday, October 31, 2010

HaPpY hAlLoWeEn!

Trick or Treat!

 "It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn't so much wilderness around you couldn't see the town. But on the other hand there wasn't so much town you couldn't see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of... 


Boys. 

And it was the afternoon of Halloween. 

And all the houses shut against a cool wind. 

And the town was full of cold sunlight. 

But suddenly, the day was gone. 

Night came out from under each tree and spread...." 


...."Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked." 

-Ray Bradbury "The Halloween Tree."

I don't care who are, THAT is some good prose right there! Whew, Mr. Bradbury. I adore your novel and have since I was a kid. Thank you for writing it. :)

Did you know that vintage Halloween cards are a hot collectors item? Hmm...you don't say!

So! Happy Halloween, everyone! I trust that you all have special plans on this festive Fall day. No matter how you choose to celebrate (or not) you cannot deny that by this time in the season there is something magical in the air... and I just love it. From the howling breezes to the skittering leaves making their way across sidewalks and streets and walking trails...from the smell and sounds of crackling bonfires to the warm glow of a hollowed-out Halloween pumpkin - oh yes, we are in the heart of autumn. Breathe deep. Enjoy it. Because it surely won't last for long!

Like most things in American culture, Halloween is actually a hodge-podge of all sorts of traditions from many different times and places. (Check out Mr. Bradbury's book for a fun synopsis of the history of Halloween!) Actually, Halloween as WE know it is almost exclusively an American tradition. There are varying opinions as to the origins of "trick or treating" but did you know that it wasn't until the 1940's that kids started going door to door? Prior to that time, Halloween was more like Thanksgiving or Christmas in that friends and family gathered in each other's homes to have parties where they bobbed for apples and played other parlor type games. 



Unfortunately, the 1920's and 30's saw a lot of mischief making on this particular night of the year. Gangs of youth and organizations like the KKK saw this day as an excuse to stir up trouble, and so community members looked for a way to divert attention away from the negative and to find positive activities for young people to participate in. The idea of "trick or treat" was encouraged by schools and communities, and while this idea was thought of as extortion by some, by the end of the 1930's the bad behavior had mostly subsided and by the mid '40's it was replaced with trick or treating as we know it today. 

It's hard to believe that a tradition I grew up with was only established about 40 years before I was born! Turns out this "spooky" activity is as American as apple pie. No matter what your beliefs on it's "true" origins, trick or treating was established in this culture as a family friendly alternative to vandalism and running amuck, and so I say... "Trick or treat! Don't even think about stealing my yard sign, kid." Haha.

I hope that no matter what activities you choose to participate in with your family today that you have a great time doing them. As for us, I see some pumpkin pie and a cute little peacock costume in our future. :) And someone, anyone, remind us to replace the bulb in our porch light this afternoon so we don't look like old scrooges this evening. I can just picture it now. "Hey, honey, have you noticed we haven't gotten a single trick or treater all night...?" Hehe, have a great day, and:




*I read several articles for my information today, including "A Brief History of Halloween in America" 2007, and "Halloween" at www.history.com/topics/halloween.  

Friday, October 29, 2010

Confession Friday 10-29!

Evelyn looking at the "pretty lights." Only after we got the camera out did we realize how strange it was to be taking pictures when the renters next door thought their house was on fire. Uh, whoops! We very quickly put the camera away! (And there was no fire; don't worry...haha.)

We've made it! We have arrived at another Friday. I love Fridays! I hope you have a good one, and if not, maybe one of these will make you feel better about yourself. 



I confess that while I realize this qualifies me about as mature as a 12 year old schoolboy, THIS underwear label makes me giggle every time I see it. I had to take a picture before I tossed it in the garbage. A money back guarantee if you get a wedgie?? And I'm loving that this company actually used the word "wedgie" in their marketing. Whose idea was that? I'd like to meet them.

I confess that I JUST ran my fingers through my hair and felt several crunchy, stiff strands. Grace must have spit up without my knowing at some point today. Yummy. The joys of being a mother!

I confess that I HATE cold weather, and I felt personally offended when I walked outside in shorts to get something out of the car last night and about froze my tushy off.  I'm not joking; I don't think I'll leave the house until sometime in late March.

I confess that I honestly have been forgetting to take a shower every day. I just have so much else going on that I only realize I stink when it's time for bed. I will not turn into a slob, I will not turn into a slob....


I confess that my post-pregnant belly looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid face right now. Seriously, I crack myself up every time I look down. My bellybutton sticks out between two round blobs of fat that look just like the cheeks and nose of this popular doll. I'd take a picture to prove it to you...but, no. :)

I confess that I'm always griping at Evie to stop scratching me with her fingernails...but who is the one responsible for trimming her nails? Hehe. I HATE using the clippers! I'm so paranoid that I'm going to make my baby bleed. 

I confess that I purposely look up articles on why tanning is bad for you when I get the urge to hit the beds...but now that I'm not pregnant, BOY am I getting the itch to start tanning again. If nothing else, it's fifteen minutes of peace and quiet to myself every other day, haha, and oh how I miss that. A little bit of tanning won't hurt, right? Right? *Sigh* 

A confession from Gracie:

"I confess that I pooped no less than TEN time yesterday, and my mommy changed every single diaper. I vow to be more strategic next time and fill my diaper when only daddy's around."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Election Parties and Pom Poms


I have ten imaginary dollars for the first person who can tell me what next Tuesday is. Hint: The title of this post is a dead giveaway. :) That's right, it's election day! The day that you, and you, and YOU, are going to get out and vote...right?

Seriously, friends, don't break my heart. I don't care who you vote for yes I actually do I just want you to vote. And after you vote on Tuesday, I know you're going to hang on the TV all night long to see the election results come in. Haha. Okay, so I realize not everyone is as into politics as our family is. But, I'm outing us: We are into being proactive about who makes important decisions on our family's behalf. However, I made a vow to myself, and my husband, that I would NEVER use this blog as a platform for politics, which is why I'm not going to divulge who I'm voting for. Even though I really want to tell you. :)

But...we ARE using this as an excuse to throw a little shindig. Every election year one of our friends plays host to get everyone in one place to watch the numbers come in, and this year it's our turn. No, we are not all on the same side of the political aisle. But we do like each other, and no matter who "wins" it's a cordial affair. :)

So today I'm giving you a little sneak peak of some of our party preparations, including a tutorial on how to make one of my all-time favorite party decorations! Trust me, I'm not going overboard on this one...I do have a new baby at home! And some of these things were actually done before Gracie got here. I am sooo sneaky, bwahaha.


First, check out these cuties that I cut on my Cricut machine. Love them! I may have to whip up some more of these to hang around just because they make me smile. Who could get into a heated political argument with faces like these staring at you? Not me!

I love making my own party invitations, and this time I kept it simple. I took this:


And turned it into this:



I love that I can even cut my own envelopes with the Cricut machine. Fabulous! And no, I am not a spokesperson for Provocraft, I just adore my darn Cricut. These invites are not done yet! They still need all of the info put inside, and I'm thinking they need a little more bling. Might have to bust out the Stickles and add some sparkle to these babies! We'll see.  (Yes, I realize the party is less than a week away, and no the invites have not been sent. That's because the majority of these will be handed to friends that already know about it at church on Sunday, haha. I just had a baby, what can you expect?)


Ah, here it is. My favorite party decoration: The Martha Stewart Pom Pom. I made a bunch of these frilly beauties for Evie's first birthday party (yes, I even hung them outside):



There were more, trust me!  What I love about these pom poms is that they are so easy to make and so ridiculously cheap, yet they add a lot of color to your decor. And since you choose the colors, you can customize them to go with any theme. They're just so much fun! So let's make some, shall we?

Meet my crafting assistant, Gracie. Say hello, Grace!
I am training her early. :)

 Alright, so all you need is tissue paper, ribbon and scissors. 


First, take 8-10 sheets of tissue paper and place them on top of each other, lined up as closely as you can make them. The more tissue paper you use, the fuller your pom pom will be. You can use all one color, or alternate colors if you prefer. 

Next, you'll fold your tissue paper accordion style (like when you made paper fans as a kid) until all of the paper is folded up. I try to keep my folds as close to one inch as possible. 



Now, cut your ribbon to your desired length for hanging. You can never have too much, but you can have too little, so overshoot it if you're unsure of what you'll need. Flip your folded tissue paper onto it's side and tie one end of the ribbon around the middle, as close as you can get it, like this:

I promise it's centered, even though it totally doesn't look like it in this picture! 

The closer to the middle your knot is is, the more even the pom pom will hang for you later. Now, the next step is super important, and I'm only emphasizing it because I nearly forget to do it every.single.time. Take your scissors, and round both ends of your folded tissue paper:


Trust me, if you don't do this you're pom pom will look funky. I've definitely forgotten this step before and ended up with a really not-so-pretty pom. So frustrating!

The next step is to carefully begin pulling apart each layer. This stuff is more delicate than you'll be prepared for, and every sound of the ripping tissue paper will make you suck air through your teeth and scrunch your face in horror. Haha. Can you tell I've done a lot of face scrunching while making these?


Once you've done a little fluffing, you should have something that looks like this:


Pretty cool, I'd say! The one on the left was made with 8 sheets of tissue paper, and the one on the right was made with 10. I think I'll be using 10 from now on. :)

I also like to make mini-versions of the pom poms by using 6 sheets of tissue paper cut into fourths. Instead of forming a complete ball with the paper I'll fluff it to have one flat side, and I'll use them for centerpieces and table decorations. You'll still need to tie ribbon around the middle, but you don't need to make a long "tail" since these won't be hanging. Super easy!

So there is your "taste" of what will be going down in the Robert Household this Tuesday evening. :) I can't give it all away, or it'll spoil my blog post for next Wednesday, haha. Remember, that's Tuesday, November 2nd...the day all of the cool kids will be voting. Wink, wink, hint, hint. Take your kids or grandkids trick-or-treating on Sunday, recover from sugar shock on Monday, and head to the voting booth on Tuesday. Sounds like a plan to me! And don't forget to check back here next Wednesday to see the final election party product! I hope it's good. Haha. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family Pumpkin Carving 2010

When life gives you lemons, then by golly, pull a frosty mug out of the freezer, squeeze those lemons, sugar coat that rim, and make a glass of lemonade that puts even Mrs. Cleaver to shame. That is what we do in the Robert household, and that is exactly what I'm doing right now... because let me tell you, I've had to jump through some hoops to make this post happen. I'll spare you the details, but just know that instead of my normal blog post today, you're getting a video! Blogger won't let me upload pictures? Fine. I'll work around your rules, blogger. Neener, neener!

*Don't worry...we've rectified the picture problem, and within 24 hours all should be well with the world again.* Whew...I know you were twisted up inside about that one. :D

Alright, to the topic at hand! It is time for family traditions Part II. Where there's a pumpkin picking, there's a pumpkin carving! If you missed the choosing of our family pumpkin this year, you can check it out here.

We began our pumpkin carving tradition as a family last year. Evelyn was just four months old, and she had more fun trying to kick our pumpkin off of the kitchen table than participating in actually cleaning out our great orange gourd! Here is one photo I managed to sneak in before I maxed out my picture usage. My first baby's first Halloween pumpkin. *Sigh*

Last year we decided to stray away from the traditonal jack-o-lantern face, and we carved a monogram "R" into our family pumpkin. 

I was so excited to get this year's carving underway. Evelyn enjoys getting into everything these days, and I just knew that this project would be right up her alley. Poor Gracie was awoken from her perpetual newborn slumber every so often for a photo op. Sorry, kid. You were born into the Robert family, what can I say? You'll notice how absolutely thrilled she was about this...or maybe it was the fact that mommy dressed her in an outfit with a tutu? (Which I think is oh-so-cute, by the way. Thanks, aunt Amy!) 

In our family, it is always mommy's job to trace the pattern onto the pumpkin, and daddy's job to carve it out. We weren't sure which design we were going to use this year. It was down to three choices, and in the end we decided on...well...let's see if you can guess what it is! Okay, okay, the suspense is over. YOU watch the video. I'M going to go grab that glass of lemonade! (For real, I'm a lemonadaholic - figuratively and literally!)


So...could you tell what it is was? If you guessed a roaring, majestic, fall fire then you are absolutely correct! Haha. Well, we tried...and I for one think it's cutie. :) I had wanted so badly for Evelyn to dig right into that pumpkin and make a right good mess of things. But, she didn't. Apparently those veiny, orange guts were a little too much for my ordinarily curious kid. She did love the seeds though, and tried to eat every single slimy specimen she could find. 

Sick. :) 

Can I just tell you how much it makes my heart flutter to know that we now have another family member to share our traditions with? And, oh my goodness, we are entering into the SEASON of family traditions. EEK! They need to invent a pill for people like me to pop this time of year so we can simmer down a bit. The tricks and treats, the gobble gobble, the cookie baking, the shopping, the Christmas tree, the first gift of Christmas, the parties, the, the, the.... Heeelp meee....

Hehe. FYI, we did roast the seeds...which were delish. Set your oven to 325 degrees, rinse your seeds, toss in oil and salt, and bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Home Made from the Heart

Do you know how many times I've gotten to about 10:00 at night with no blog post for the next day? It's a lot of times. A lot, a lot. But now that I'm a new mommy of two it's getting a little harder to pull that off, haha. Grace may be one of the easiest babies in the history of babies, but I still feel twice as tired at the end of the day. And it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that I'm recovering from giving birth. :)

A cute sign and pictures made by our friends the Fletcher's and the Chapman's kids. 
A-dor-a-ble.

Eric and I have some things cooking for today that we'll be sharing with you soon, but in the meantime I want to highlight someone else's blog for a change! A while back I blogged about how simple and rewarding showing hospitality can be, and we've certainly been shown a lot since Gracie has been born. So many of you have sent cards or messages, left comments or given gifts...and it's been just wonderful. A few of you have even made HAND MADE items...which you know I l.o.v.e.  From signs, to blankets, to books...Gracie is one lucky girl!

Today we received a gift from our friend Joy, and I wanted to share it with you! A couple of months ago I saw a project that Joy had made for a friend, and I loved it. It's a cute memory book that's kind of like a scrapbook ready for you to put your own pictures in. Little did I know that Joy would make one for Gracie, and even a big sister book for Evelyn, too! Joy has her own blog that you should definitely check out. Unlike my often novel long blogposts (hehe...I can't help myself, sometimes) Joy highlights her crafting projects in quick cute posts. So if your internet time is limited and you're looking for a creative fun read, I definitely recommend subscribing to her blog!

First, the big sister book:


Each page has a letter attached, so as you turn the pages the letters go with them!



Too cute!

Evelyn discovered her book this afternoon and it freaked me out. She's into the whole "destroy everything in sight" phase, and I thought for sure she would try tearing the pages of this cute little scrapbook. Surprisingly, she didn't. I watched her carefully turn each page in very concentrated interest until she reached the very last one. I think she likes it, Joy!

And now for Gracie's scrapbook:

I love the sparkly monogram on the cover!

Here are the layouts inside:


Love the fairies!


In paper crafting the fun is in the details, and Joy is great with details!




There are even more than this, but I think you get the idea. Thank you so much, Joy! I absolutely adore both of the girls' books, and I can't wait to fill them with pictures!

So if you like what you see, make sure to stop by Joy's blog to check out some more of her awesome paper crafting projects! And don't forget to find a way to pay it forward sometime this week. Hospitality never goes out of style! 

I'll leave you with a couple more projects that people worked on for our baby girl...I just love them all!

I showed you before the sign that my mom and sister made, but here it is again for your viewing pleasure:

And if you look closely, you'll see the embroidery done on Grace's blanket here. Evelyn received a name embroidered blanket at her baby shower, and I was kind of sad that I didn't have the skills to make Gracie one, too. Turns out the same friend that made Evie's made one for Grace. I was so surprised and I am very happy that Grace now has a similar blanket of her very own!

Hehe...look at those pursed lips!

Hope you all have a happy Monday! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Baby Evolution

I sometimes find myself staring at Gracie, trying to ingrain every inch of her itty bitty newborn body into my memory. Every little wrinkle and crinkle and fold of her tiny hands and forehead...I know that I have weeks, literally weeks, before those wrinkles are filled in with plump little fat rolls, and those tiny birdie-eyed features of her face will be replaced with twinkling eyes and dimples. Right now she's so small and helpless, and she depends on someone else to decide when and where she gets from point A to point B. Stand still time, please, stand still!


All of this staring and mind engraving has caused me to scroll through pictures of Evelyn as we experienced her first year of life. I am in NO HURRY whatsoever for Gracie to get an inch longer or a pound heavier any time soon, but it's still fun to see about how big she'll be during certain points over the next year. So today, we're taking a look at the evolution of a baby over the course of their first year. Thanks to Evelyn for being our guinea pig. Get used to it girlfriend, you're the firstborn. :)

One Week
Oh, dear. First of all, this is practically the same face I'm staring at right now resting in my arms. I still can't get over how much my girls look alike. But what I'm really noticing is that by a week old Evelyn's wrinkles were already fading. Noooo...! :) She was just a flimsy little noodle here, but oh so cute and cuddly. Gracie will be a week old on Tuesday. 

One Month
Here's Evelyn at exactly one month old, and I believe we have officially reached "chunk." It did not take Evelyn long at all to pack on the baby pounds (she was in the 95% percentile for height and weight her first few months) and I have a feeling that Gracie will be just the same. I would know, I see and experience just how much these kids eat each day! Gracie will look something like this the week of Thanksgiving this year. 

Two Months 
I know you can't really tell here, but Evelyn definitely has a DOUBLE CHIN, bwahaha. And clearly, she is a smiley expressive baby. Still not mobile, but oh my gosh, so BIG already. Grace will be this size the week of Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!

Three Months
Evelyn was a busy bumbo sitter by three months! No hint of a newborn left, she was a full blown baby's baby with perfect head control, and check out those chubby wiggly piggies! Gracie will be this size about mid-January... around the time that I'll surely be going stir-crazy and ready for spring already! 

Four Months
Continuing to grow; I remember that by this time I was really enjoying Evelyn for her little budding personality. I have always said that as my baby grew every new stage was my favorite! Grace will be four months just after Valentine's Day.

Five Months
Wow, I can't believe how much Evelyn was filling out her pumpkin seat already! It's hard to believe how much they grow in just five short months. I think Evie had reached her chubby peak by now, and would soon be mobile enough to start working off those fat rolls. :) This will be Gracie in March!

Six Months
Sitting propped up with just a little help. I can clearly remember this fun time, because I know by now Evelyn was definitely playing with her toys and becoming super social! We'll have another sixth month old around Easter next year!

Seven Months
Don't let the Bumbo seat fool you, Evelyn was sitting up all on her own by now! I'm pretty sure I had to pry her out of this chair after this shot. It's really hard for me to believe that this picture was taken right around the time little Gracie girl was coming on the scene, but we wouldn't know it just yet. May flowers will be blooming when Gracie is seven months old. 

Eight Months
It would be about two weeks after this picture was taken that we would discover our little Gracie surprise! Evelyn was busy scooting around the floor to move around by now. Our late bloomer hadn't even cut a single tooth yet...but she was getting so big! Gracie will be almost eight months old as Evelyn is celebrating her 2nd birthday next June.

Nine Months
When we reached the nine month marker I remember being amazed (once again) at how much Evelyn had grown. She had now been with us for as long as I had carried her in my tummy - crazy! And anything she could get her hands on went straight into her mouth...including tasty sidewalk chalk. We'll be swimming and eating popsicles in mid-July when Gracie reaches nine months!

Ten Months
Look at those CHEEKS! Haha. By ten months I'm pretty sure we began referring to Evie less and less as our baby, and more as our "big girl." She was an old pro at drinking from a sippy cup, and our child had finally decided that it was cool to crawl. Still no teeth! I wonder if Grace will still be toothless next August when she turns 10 months. 

11 months
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a stander! Evelyn was still hesitant to take those first steps, but she was busy crawling, pulling up, and standing just about anywhere. And this all seemed to happen overnight. Now I really felt like my baby was growing up! Grace will be baking apple pies with mommy next September when she reaches this stage. 

12 Months
Just call Evie our little entertainer! By 12 months old Evelyn had definitely established her own spunky personality. Though she wasn't quite walking when this picture was taken, by the end of her 12th month Evelyn was teetering around the house and getting into everything! My mind cannot even wrap itself around next October when we'll be celebrating Grace's 1st birthday. 

Can you believe it? From this to this in only 365 days:

 

Any parent can tell you that it all goes by way too fast. I think this is especially true of a baby's first year. There is just so much growing and learning taking place that each month is like a new little adventure all unto itself. Seems like only yesterday we were celebrating Evelyn's first birthday (well...it was only four months ago!), but I can't believe we're starting this journey all over again with another one! 

There are some things I look back on and cringe about...like the sleepless nights, issues with going anywhere public and not causing a scene, and feeling home bound by exclusive nursing, for example...and I wonder if those things will be an issue this time around. But there are so many more things to smile about, and I just can't wait. 

Being a parent is so so so rewarding, I can't express it enough. Even nights like tonight, when I had a huge headache and Evelyn was driving me batty with her hyperactive crazy kicking legs flailing around her little sister, I can look back on and smile. Someday Evie's hyperactive crazy kicking legs will be too busy walking around with friends to hang out with mom and dad on a Saturday night. So for now, I'm just busy soaking it all in. Every little wrinkle. Every little crazy kick. 


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