The cutest kid

Preface: excuse the absurd number of pictures here, my mom asked for more!

We had a fun end of the week and weekend around our house this past weekend with no big plans, which are typically my favorite days.  The hunt has begun for the containers we want for the laundry room, but no final decision yet, so I'll post after pictures once we have found them and put them up!  Fun event #1 for the end of last week was another fire with s'mores.  The weather here has been gorgeous and we are enjoying every outside minute we can get!  As you can tell, Emerson loves it, and continues to be such a ham and source of constant humor and fun at our house.  The only s'more that I ate was all the leftovers off her sweet cheeks as you'll see below:

This next picture kills me, I think it is a glimpse into what she looks like as a 'grown up' kid.  She looks so old and so precious here but it breaks my heart a little at the thought of her growing up.

Friday night, after we finished dinner together, we all stayed at the island for some Pinterest inspired arts & crafts.  I had seen this on Pinterest recently and knew Emerson would love it as we have talked about Valentine's Day coming up and she loves anything that involves baking and being in the kitchen with me.  The same week that I saw this on Pinterest, I also found these silicone ice cube trays at Target in the $1 section, aka, my favorite section in Target.  We have also used these to make OJ ice cubes and put 2 in Emerson's cup of water to spice up her life a little bit.  I know, I'm living on the edge.  So, here's how the arts and crafts project went:

Step #1: Have a brilliant husband who realizes that Crayola has made it really tricky to get the paper off of their crayons.  The Pinterest sites that inspired this craft did not mention this, but don't waste your time trying to peel the paper off the crayons like I did, just use a kinfe to slice down the lenght of the paper and it pops right off - you can see the difference in our attempts in our scraps pile.  Tiny little pieces by me, perfectly shaped wrappers by Terry.

Step #2: Other sites show cutting the crayons, but we wanted everyone to get to do this together, so we just broke them, even Emerson got the hang of it after a few tries - and put them in the silicone trays.

Step #3: Fill each heart up, stick them in the oven at 230 degrees for 15 minutes, carefully take out and cool until solid.

Step #4: Admire your handiwork!  These turned out great and they came with us several places over the rest of the weekend and kept Emerson very entertained!  I will have to keep my eyes out for other fun shapes to keep doing these.  Great for little hands!

The fun isn't over yet!  Terry had been craving chocolate chip cookies, so Saturday we spent some more time in the kitchen and finally got around to making some and to using my Christmas present from my mom - as you can see, mom, the stand mixer was a hit with everyone!  This recipe is from a friend, and I think it is from Cooks Illustrated?  It makes huge thin cookies that are a little crunchy with just the right amount of chewiness.  They are delicious.  Let's just let these pictures speak for themselves.  I couldn't choose to take any out, because the progression of Emerson realizing I would let her take a lick of this cookie dough straight off the mixer was priceless:

"Hmm...that was pretty good, please God let my next choice go over well..."

 "Yep.  Lip lickin' good!"

It's amazing that I am the one laying in bed recovering from a violent stomach bug that knocked me off my feet last night, considering the amount of cookie dough I let our family eat as we baked these...Here's Terry teaching Emerson the art of eating raw cookie dough.  He would rather eat the whole bowl raw than eat one  fresh cookie out of the oven.  True story.

 Emerson was a quick learner.  I think Terry's eyes are closed in euphoria here.

The finished product in all their crispy, chewy glory.  Recipe below, go make them.

2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly (approx 5 minutes)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk (hmm, oops, I definitely forgot this part!)
2 tsp vanilla
1-2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325
Mix flour, baking soda & salt.  Set aside.  Mix butter and sugars until well-incorporated.  add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add flour in 2-3 batches until just mixed.  Stir in chips. 
Cover baking sheets with parchment or silpat.  Drop 1/4 cup scoops (Seriously, that is huge.  I use a heaping Tbs) of dough onto sheets, space 2 inches apart.  Bake 15-18 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack (they are very fragile and thin)!



Friday Funnies & The Before

You know your child is hilarious when you find this in your bed...oh, hello Elmo - I see you brought some of your favorite books to bed.  And turned on some reading light.  And oh, what is that?  The Pottery Barn magazine for me?  Really, you shouldn't have.  Alright fine, you can have a sleepover.  But that's my side of the bed, so move on over.  (Don't worry, Elmo didn't really sleep in the bed with us.)

Declutter 2012 has gone alright this week with getting the laundry room tackled.  It isn't finished yet (and shouldn't be, 2 more days of decluttering!) but I do have before pictures to show.  Sorry all the pictures today are from my phone.  I'll do what everyone does and make the before pictures poor quality and poor lighting, and be sure my after pictures are taken with my camera and in great lighting!  Then you'll really be impressed with my decluttering skills!  Too bad I can't just use photoshop to declutter my laundry room. That would be nice.  Our laundry room is tricky to me because it is our only 'storage' space other than the attic space - which is also small - and under our bed - which is already decluttered.

So here is how it looks now, and some of my thoughts for what I hope it looks like by the end of the weekend include:
1. Something new to put dog food in that can 
go on the floor beside the washer
2. A 'tabletop' of some sort
(painted plywood?) to go on top of the washer/dryer
3. Some sort of bins for that shelf (wicker baskets? galvanized buckets? votes?)

What?  Keeping Emerson's arts & craft supplies in a Victoria's Secret bag isn't a good idea?

The door idea, of course, came from here, but of course mine didn't turn out quite as well as hoped/envisioned, so it also will be included on the declutter plan for this room for round 2.  Here was the inspiration:

Come back next week hopefully for the hopefully organized and beautiful after-pictures that will be so great I will be inspired to pin something from my own house! 


Highlight or Preview

12 days of Code Orange Revival wrapped up last night and they were all amazing.  It was amazing to see the work that all of the staff and volunteers of our church poured in to make this happen, to read crazy tweets of how long people (ourselves included) stood in line to get to experience this.  Last night when our Pastor introduced this video [sorry I don't know why I haven't been able to embed videos recently], he challenged us to see it not as a highlight reel of what had happened over the past 12 days, but as a preview of what was to come for the next 12 months (and beyond).  Live vicariously through the video for now, and I will let you know when all of the podcasts are available to be watched again!  I will watch TD Jakes several times over, but it will not touch how awesome it was to be there in person.  Emerson has been asking all week to go to "Elevation Blakeney" since it is not our regular campus, but I think she had a blast in the eKids rooms there.

And for good measure, since I have no pictures to include in this post, which is why most of you read this blog anyway, here is Emerson this weekend killing time out of the rain at Target while dad waited in line for T.D. Jakes.  We went on every aisle - this is her heaven.

We are getting back in the routine of our normal-ish life this week, and I am glad to say I am still going strong on Declutter 2012.  Last week while cleaning out the top shelf of my closet which just had old purses on it, I found my class ring from UNC, which I actually really like; and more importantly, my pearl earrings that Terry got me that I thought I lost shortly after Emerson was born.  They were in a pocket of an old purse!  I think so far they win the award for best result of decluttering.  Mostly so far I have learned that decluttering really isn't so hard or overwhelming as it feels when you do it one day at a time.  Example: At our house, the toothpaste lives in Terry's drawer in the bathroom.  Don't know why, it just always has.  Also living in this drawer are a multitude of other not so well organized things: old razors, deodorant, face lotion, fingernail clippers, a mirror, old packets of Benadryl, Nyquil, Claritin, chapstick, and the buzzers used to shave his head from which tiny little hairs escape.  It bothers me everytime I take the toothpaste out of the drawer, worrying that tiny little hair particles are going to sneak into my toothpaste.  It was so difficult to take the dust buster and clean the drawer and put the buzzers in a container so the tiny leftover hairs don't escape into my toothpaste.  Seriously, Ellen?  How could I have let that bother me two times a day (most days at least if we're being honest, some nights I am just too tired - I know, gasp!) for this long when the solution was that easy? It's because I thought if I cleaned out that bathroom drawer, I also needed to clean out under  the bathroom sink, and then I needed to replace cleaning supplies, and clean the bathroom, and that would lead me to think we needed a new shower curtain liner, and it just snowballs.  But no, it was just one drawer.  And it was easy.  And I have really enjoyed opening that drawer to get my toothpaste out now!  The rest of the week is storage piles and storage shelves.  That's going to be the laundry room and it does feel a little daunting because I don't have good storage, and I don't know how else to store it and organize it.  Wish me luck.  I'll try to do before/after pictures.


In the Fireplace?!

Several of you have emailed me laughing about Emerson's 'in the fireplace' comment - here is the video, nevermind how ADD she appears is in this video, it was early morning!


Merry Christmas. Yes, really.

Most of you have probably already seen this; but Emerson and I had a great time learning the Christmas story this year by playing with several of the nativity sets around the house.  Here is a pretty good rendition of her telling the story that 'Uncle Jak' took at dinner after our Christmas service at church when we had some friends over for dinner.  Merry Christmas.  Better late than never.

(*You have to click on the link above where you see the word this because the video is private so I can't upload it to the blog directly)


Code Orange Revival & What Lives Under My Bed

How's that for a post title?

First things first.  Well, actually, no let's go with second things first because they are less important and quicker. Quicker?  More quick?  Hmm...either way.  The second (first) thing is just a quick declutter update.  When I looked at this week's activities, I was already dreading today's - clean out under the bed.  Not so much because I store so much under my bed, but it is a king size bed, so technically I could store a lot under that bed.  There were, and are mostly suitcases, hanging bags, and backpacks.  Plus the TV stand for our TV before we mounted it on that wall [maybe more on that later how I always said I would never have a TV in my bedroom and now have a huge one - don't worry, one month's challenge this year is no TV in the bedroom for a month at night].  But I digress.  Back to what other things are under our bed.  That TV stand, a guitar case, and some nun-chucks.  Yes.  Nun-chucks.  You should all rest better now knowing how safe I am with my husband beside me and those nun-chucks within constant reach - see?
Haha.  Oh my husband, how could you not love him?  
(He got them at a flea market for $2 in Asheville with this crazy crew and is proficient with them - my protector!)

All that to say, there isn't much under my bed, so it wasn't that terrible - though there was dust, lots of dust.  So, it wasn't what was under my bed that was making me anticipate this task...rather, what has been under my bed.  Don't know what has been under my bed?  Go ahead and amuse yourself with my trauma by catching up on the following links:  here, here,and here. (Sorry those are sort of in backwards order and don't give the whole story - but you'll get the gist when you read these and find out that that THING was actually living in the boxsprings of our bed.)  Thankfully there was none of that under the bed tonight when I cleaned out. That, and I haven't been missing any underwear recently.  But I did feel anxiety when I flashed the flashlight around under there.  

Now for thing number two, which is really thing number one.  Our church is doing an amazing 12 day revival called Code Orange Revival.  For more info on the revival and why it is called Code Orange, etc go here.  Tonight was the kick off night, and it was awesome.  I didn't get to go but it is all being streamed live online, so I hooked the computer up to the TV and enjoyed it all from my sofa.  It was awesome to have the worship streamed online and get to be a part of it that way.  It starts online every night at 6:12, and then re-broadcasts online for the next 24 hours at 10:12pm, 3:12am, and 12:12pm before the next one begins.  There are amazing speakers lined up, and we can't wait to be a part of it for the next 12 nights.  Now, go be a part of it also and get online and watch tonight's, and tomorrow nights, and the next.  You get the point. d


Life with Two

For the past week, we have gotten to 'try on' life with two kids as full time working parents.  A little skewed because it was our nephew and he and Emerson are close in age and Luke is so easy...but then again so is Emerson, so here's hoping that we'll do it right and God doesn't have other plans for us with our own #2 also and we can keep saying that the next time around.  I didn't know what Emerson would think of having someone  else in her house and playing with her things from Monday - Sunday, but they really played so well together and especially for the last 3 days had a total blast together.  I think she was sad to see him leave tonight!  Here are some quick snippits of our week together.

After several fun picnic meals on our front porch because the weather was so amazing this weekend, we braved going out to dinner one night and the kids had a great time chowing down at the new Chipotle close to our house.  This could be dangerous because we love Chipotle and now it is even closer to home - yum. It cooled off for the rest of the weekend, and in celebration of Luke's parents being in Colorado skiing, we had s'mores in the backyard over the firepit.  This was a first for both kids and they both loved it.  And yes, I did put a pair of Emerson's pajamas on Luke since I knew their pjs would smell like campfire so I could throw them in the laundry and put on new ones before bed!  Emerson loved them, as you can tell by the pictures below.

 (Oh dear...we need to manage these curls a little better...this is why there's always a bow or pigtails keeping this curls out of her eyes - especially this big one right in the front!)

Emerson has been getting more sugar in the past few weeks than she has ever had before. We potty trained a few weeks ago, and she has done amazing with very few accidents only in the early days.  She gets 1 jelly bean or one Reeses pieces when she pees and well, we tried lots of different high value prizes for pooping (sorry, TMI?) but she just wasn't motivated. "No fanks!, Hold me mommy," was always the response. It has been no big deal because she regularly goes during nap or right before bed when she has her diaper on - but I don't want her to be a kid that always just goes in her diaper.  So we bought these individual ice cream containers at the grocery store and those have been the new prize.  And today, it worked.  And...well, let's just say she probably lost a few pounds when she went to the bathroom so I didn't mind that she ate the whole little container of icecream!  Actually it was frozen yogurt...maybe a little better?  Here she is enjoying herself in bed with her icecream (oh yeah, the prize was ice cream and a video - which is a big prize and not the norm at our house).  Here's to hoping that this was a breakthrough and we can just keep going from here!

In other January news, Declutter 2012 has been going well - probably because the first week's activities have been pretty simple and not ones that I dread or avoid - for example, dust the top of your cabinets, clear off a storage shelf, clean out old food from the freezer, throw out expired spices, organize canned food.  Well, I don't have many cabinets, definitely don't have many storage shelves, did throw out some things from the freezer, use my spices too frequently to have expired ones, and have 1/4 of one shelf in one cabinet dedicated to cans - sigh, no pantry.  So far so good.  And I think that if this is how my house looks before I go to bed Sunday night from just normal clean up after a week with two 2 year olds and 30 people at my house Friday night for John's 30th birthday, I think I'm off to a good start! (Sorry, these are cell phone pictures and pretty dark)
 And yeah, maybe the side of my refrigerator needs to be on the declutter list.  But here, you can see (from left to right, top to bottom): Terry's brothers and sister-in-laws after our rehearsal dinner, [on the magnet clip:] pictures from a photo booth at a recent wedding, things Em has made from church and who knows what else), side by side pictures of my mom and I at Easter as 3 year olds where we look incredibly alike, Terry and I in highschool before I knew how much I would love this man, me with Salem as puppy, one corner of Emerson's head in a picture from her dedication, the Walgreens clip holds the declutter calendar that I have been marking out, Beth's family, the group at Emerson's dedication including: Beth & Dean, Molly & Bella, us, Laura, Mom & Rebecca; a picture of me kissing Terry on the cheek after my grad school graduation covered by some recent cut and paste crafts Emerson has made, and Terry and I in January 2005 (or was it 2004?) before we were dating but probably the trip that I thought the most about maybe dating him :)  See - who would want to declutter any of that?!


Declutter 2012

Happy New Year - are you surprised to find me here?  After a weekend spent with my dad, brother, sister-in-law and precious nephew, I spent a really exciting New Year's Eve...alone in my bed, asleep before the ball dropped.  And, I didn't care one bit.  I am officially old.  Our family loved all of our time together over the holidays even though we didn't have that much actual time off work.  It was sad to think of coming back this week with no big holidays or short work weeks to look forward to.  Thankfully, there is plenty to look forward to this year!

I know some of you have laughed that one of the things I am looking forward to and I am excited about is this calendar that I found on Pinterest.

I know that my house is clean.  Relatively.   Cleaner than most.  Yes.  More organized than many.  Maybe.  But that doesn't mean that there isn't clutter.  It doesn't mean that I don't have 3 junk drawers that I have no idea what is in.  It certainly doesn't mean that my attic space doesn't have things thrown in there - like a laundry basket full of shoes that are never worn and should be given away.  Most dreadfully, it unfortunately doesn't mean that the inside of my refrigerator doesn't have sticky goo inside the drawers and little pieces of old parsley, cilantro, kale, and other green things flaked off in the vegetable drawer.  Because my house does have all of those things.  And dog hair.  Lots and lots of dog hair.  And, just ask my poor husband - as clean as my house may be, I always want it to be cleaner and more organized.  But when I think of decluttering, I want to do it all and then it is overwhelming for everyone and I get stressed...and maybe a little grumpy.  Maybe even a lot grumpy.  So I am decluttering little by little thanks to this calendar.  I hope it feels manageable, and I hope I can keep up with it.  I need accountability and someone to commiserate with, so thankfully, Kristi says she is going to do it with me.  Anyone else want to join in?

A client's mom told me that instead of New Year's resolutions last year, she picked one thing a month and tried to stick with it every day of that month.  Six months were things to remove from her life and six were things to add to it.  If it stuck by the end of the month then it got added into her regular routine, and if it didn't, then it didn't and at least she could say she tried.  For example, when she told me about this it was October, and she walked their dog everyday in February.  She also said she felt pretty sure the poor dog hadn't been walked again since then.  I loved this idea (not the not walking the dog for 8 month idea) - the one thing a month idea.  So I'm going to give it a try this year - I have a list...but only 9 things on it so far. I need one more thing to add to my life and two more things to remove - it's a work in progress.  But I am starting with January - remove clutter - and I hope that it will stick and I can keep with this calendar!

I hope that one of the tasks on this calendar includes: buy yourself a new wardrobe for all of the clothes I will have decluttered.  And another has a magic wand attached to make my dog stop shedding.  And another one is definitely going to say something about throwing away all of those pictures in my attic from highschool that I thought I would definitely want to keep...and now can't declutter fast enough!