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Our Home: The Girls’ Room

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This room has been really fun to work on!

Its just so much fun to have a room in your house that just screams “girl”! London really wanted pink walls, but since I knew that everything else she and Brooklyn would want would be pink or purple, I decided to go with an aqua color called Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore. It is puuuurrrfect in person…the perfect robin’s egg blue. From there I just added special touches I knew they would love.

I found these adorable frames at IKEA for $5 each, which is awesome!

Their bedside table holds a cute picture of the two of them and a great little print I found!

Moving toys into their bedroom was a new thing that came with this house. We lost the playroom, so most of the toys are now located in their rooms and in the living room (well hidden behind the couch). While having toys in their room has proven to be a distraction at bedtime and nap time, I think they are getting used to it. Their room is much smaller than the room at the old house, so they are also learning to put toys away as soon as they are done. I’ve actually liked it this way; having a playroom meant that at some points, ALL the toys were out and clean up was a huge task. Now that the toys are split up between 3 different rooms, the mess never becomes crazy.

These prints are one of my favorite parts of their room! I ordered them from a shop in Etsy; they are vintage-esque prints of the cities London and New York (Brooklyn). I think its fun to have something that speaks to their names but isn’t glaringly obvious.

All their hair bows are stored neatly behind their door!

And that’s their room! They share a very tiny closet, but that’s probably a good thing. I can go a little crazy when it comes to little girl clothes. The reading lamps above their beds have been wonderful at night; they love to read silently to themselves before I turn out the lights, and I love that there isn’t a lamp they can knock over! The only thing I really have left to do in here is hang the tissue paper balls on the ceiling above the print (I Smile Because You Are My Sister) and the lamps to fill that space in a bit. London picked out the curtains, which aren’t my favorite (they are a cream base and I think a white base would work much better), but I couldn’t say no to her design. πŸ˜‰ Perhaps I’ll suggest an alternative at some point, lol! For now, I’m calling it good. πŸ™‚

Our Home: The School Room

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I’m a perfectionist. Shocking, I know. I’ve been dying to post pictures of the house, but I’ve been caught up in the idea that I wanted rooms finished before I gave the grand tour. Well, about a month in, I realize that it would be a very, very, very long time before you saw the house at all if I did that. So, I’m getting over myself and giving you tours of the house before rooms are finished.

*audible gasp from me*

The one room in the house that HAS to be as complete as possible is our school room. Its the heart of the house, currently. We spend most of our time there, or thinking about being there (since lately school has been on a back burner while we try and get everything back together). We moved into our house very fast, and I had most of the boxes unpacked in the first week…but thats all it was. Unpacked, but not organized. Finally, this morning, I finished most of the organizing in that room. So, I present our School Room.

Can I tell you how nice it is having a whole room completely devoted to this? In our old house, it was the very first room you saw as you walked in (we used the formal dining/living room). It always had to be clean because it was always seen. It was strange welcoming people into my home and the first thing they would say was “do you run a preschool?”. In this home, our school room is located at the end of a hallway. It has a door. I can shut that door whenever I want. Awesome. πŸ™‚

Now, my original idea was to paint that entire wall in chalkboard paint. After doing a bit of research, I realized that would be quite an undertaking. Chalk paint requires multiple coats, isn’t low VOC (which means that room would reek for months!), and isn’t cheap. So, we found these chalkboard sheets at Home Depot for $10 a sheet. I used two of them and hung them up. We are going to install moulding around it to make it look more finished. I LOVE having a chalkboard. Way more fun than a whiteboard, and easier to maintain with children. With the whiteboard, whenever they wanted to draw on it, I’d always end up with marker on the wall. Chalk washes off much easier!

This little section has worked out perfectly for the girls. The metal buckets and rod are from IKEA and hold crayons, colored pencils, and chalk. The picture makes the rod look crooked (lol!) but its not. I promise. Above the rod I have a wire system to install that will hold all of their works of art for display.

This shelf holds most of the things I use for preschool/kindergarten. We have a rocking chair and a stack of pillows to relax in while reading, and music is easily accessible. I keep all our construction paper organized by color so we can get to it easily for projects.

I got a label maker. I’m in love. It just makes finding things (and putting them away!) so much easier!

This is one of my favorite parts of the room. We removed the closet doors and put shelving in the closet. Having this has made a world of difference! I can keep things up high and out of reach (like markers, glue, scissors, office supplies, etc) and keep all our curriculum and books organized. I am going to get more containers for the bottom four rows for all our preschool things and curriculum I haven’t bought yet for next year. We have a place to hang our library book bags, store extra pillows for times we read on the floor, and extra supplies like shoeboxes for science experiments and art projects.

I was *this* close to getting rid of this bad boy, but I’m so glad my husband talked me into keeping it. I tried to do a workbox system with the kids, but it just didn’t work out. So, instead, its become a sort of spare organizer AND place for extra work. Two of the boxes will have things Jackson can work on to earn extra technology time, like math worksheets and language arts activities. If he wants to play a game, he has to pick something out of one of those boxes and complete it first (that was Greg’s brilliant idea!).

I also made four of the bins “tot tray” bins, which I can’t wait to use. I’ll put one activity in each box, and when we are doing school and the girls need something extra to do while I work with Jackson, they can just pull out a Tot Tray and work on that!

So that’s the room so far! I still need to hang up our calendar, the magnetic sheet for magnet play, bookshelves in the pillow corner for our library books, the art display wire, watercolor drawings I did of the kids, our think pad (big pad of paper we use to flesh out ideas and introduce concepts), and finish the chalkboard, but its so close to being done!

I promise to get over myself and post the rest of the house. BUT! We have been working on a big project that has to be finished before I introduce my living room, which is a handmade dining room table! Here’s a little tease…

My husband wants to be a carpenter when he grows up. πŸ™‚ Its soooo close to being done as we speak…I just have to stain and poly it!

The Young Scientist: Eruptions!

 

Science has been one of our favorite subjects this year. We started off with Human Anatomy and loved it, but after 14 weeks of that we decided we wanted to take a break and learn about other things. So, I’ve just been doing unit studies of various things he is interested in, or things I knew he would be learning around his grade level according to state standards.

Last year for his birthday, he received a Young Scientist Club kit from Gramma and Papa. These kits are AWESOME! Each kit contains three separate units and experiments to go along with them. So, the past few weeks we have been studying the states of matter, weather stations, and volcanoes. Can you guess what his favorite was? πŸ˜‰

First, we had to build our volcano from paper mache. I haven’t used paper mache since the fourth grade, and as we were doing the project I realized why. Messy. Sticky. Takes forever to dry.

Jackson wasn’t too thrilled with it (it is kind of hard to keep the newspaper from ripping apart when soaked in the mixture), so you can guess who had to build it. It took 3 days to fully dry.

So after waiting and waiting, then painting, we were finally ready. Now, this is what is great about the kit: part of the assignment was for Jackson to figure out the best combination of ingredients to produce the best explosion. He had to play “chemist” and experiment with 4 different recipes.

The first three recipes didn’t produce results you would expect from an explosion. He had to chart his findings and keep moving forward!

Then, finally…


The winning combination!

Now that he knew the best formula, he moved on to the main event!

The suspense is palpable…

Success!

He had a lot of fun with this kit. So much fun, that we went ahead and ordered the next one to finish out our school year. I already have a unit on Rocks that we will be studying for the next two weeks, and then Set 3 will come with units on Minerals, Crystals (he gets to make his own rock candy!), and Fossils.

I highly recommend the Young Scientist Club kits. They come ready to go with almost everything you need to complete your experiments (minus simple items you have readily available at home) and teach the lesson. I just found out that they even have science kits for preschoolers, which I’m going to order for the girls to do next year! The kits can be used again and again (you may have to replace some of the items if they aren’t meant to be used more than once). Even if you aren’t homeschooling, these kits are great to have around for hot summer days when you are trapped inside! Hours of entertainment!

We can’t wait for our next one!

How to Eat a Cupcake {featuring London}

Step 1: Shove it in your trapper. Preferably, lightning fast. Don’t worry about choking or even enjoying it…just get.it.in.there.
Step 2: Go for the clean up, using the tongue God gave you alllllllllllll over them fingers.
Step 3: Still some tidbits remaining? Not enough frosting on just one finger? What the hay…just shove them all in.
Step 4: The thumb! Make sure you get the thumb in there, and get to the very bottom of the fingers. You never know where frosting might be hiding!

Right? I love kids. They do what we wish we could. I’d do the same thing if it was socially acceptable in my 30’s. Maybe one day I won’t care.

My sweetie pie also surprised me with a sweet photo. We were leaned in, ready to take a photo together, and she turns her head and kisses my cheek. Maybe all these years of a camera in her face are paying off…I have a model, lol!

And in this one, Brooklyn and I didn’t get the memo that it was a funny face picture. Oops.

02-Joes

Jackson, looking grown up and…big. Gosh, he is almost 7.

02-Jackson at Joes

London, practicing her model skills. You know, cause crazy faces are so the rage right now.

02-London at Joes

And Brooklyn. Looking sweet. Don’t let that fool you…she is fierce. She’s like a ninja. All peaceful, sweet, and calm and then BAM! A 30 minute tantrum over not being able to play with the broom. Ah, my sweet Little. You can almost sense her plotting her next move in this photo…

02-Brooklyn at Joes

Those dimples and curls…I can hardly stand it.

Happy Sunday!

The Excitement Builds!

 

The house is almost done!

It’s almost a kind of torture at this point. It looks like a house. Everything is built; we have a driveway and a walkways, and locks on our doors.

We have cabinets and countertops! The only thing missing is the appliances (and the drawers?)! I cannot believe how much cabinet space I have. 23 of them. Plus a walk-in pantry.

View from the guest bath down the hallway. Schoolroom is at the end of the hallway.

Bedrooms are finished and awaiting their tenants!

View from back door in great room

View from back door in great room

Walls are painted and trim is installed…all we need is carpet!

Breakfast nook

Breakfast nook

Light fixtures are installed, including the can lights and the bathroom lights. The bathrooms are still missing their mirrors, which I’m super excited to see. One of my upgrades I chose was to have my mirrors framed out so I didn’t have to get all Pinterest-y right away. πŸ˜‰

So, to say that we are excited is a bit of an understatement. We are sooooo close! The air conditioning/heating has been installed, so all we are waiting on at this point is:
-touch up paint
-bathroom mirrors
-carpet
-shower in the master bathroom
-landscaping in the front yard

Maybe another week or two and it will be done! Finished! Woo-hoo!!! Of course, we still have to actually sign on the dotted line after the house is finished, and that process can take a few weeks, so we are looking at a mid-late March move in. We have been so blessed these past few weeks; we went ahead and listed our current home on the rental market and had renters within 2 days! Crazy-town! Also, these particular renters have their own washer and dryer, so I can take mine and not have to get new ones right away (even though I was kind of excited to get new fancy washers, lol!).

Its getting so hard to make the drive all the way back to our old house. We are in major packing mode and this point, which I love, because I adore purging my stuff. I am not a pack rat, so I’m am really enjoying the process of donating/trashing things we no longer need and organizing them more appropriately. I love to pack! Unpacking? Not so much.

The next pictures I post of our building project will be of our FINISHED house!!! Hooray!!!

Long time, no see.

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I know, I know.

I’ve been horrible about taking pictures, and even worse about blogging the ones I have.

But, as I’m going through my years of photos putting together our digital books, I’m realizing what a valuable resource my blog has been to look back on. Everything is documented here for me. So even if no one reads it, its my memory book.

So, time to catch up.

First, how about this little lady?

She is FOUR!

I really can’t believe it. She had grown up so much over the past year. I forget how big the jump between 3 and 4 is developmentally. Her personality is edible. Like, she is the best person I know. She is just so compassionate; maybe I’m awed over it because I lack it, so to see it so clearly in such a wee lass is astounding to me. She doesn’t have to work to be kind; she just IS kind. She is sweet and sincere and everything good. She has a flair for drama which rounds out her perfection and gets her feelings hurt easily, which I’m trying to teach her to protect. She is my “easiest” child, but the one I fear the most for. She is so quick to do whatever it takes to make peace, to please others. Teaching her to strive to please only God will be a tough one.

She loves My Little Pony. She pretty much got everything you could ask for in that department.

01-London Birthday 9

I think she had a great time!

Best friends. Seriously. They’ve hit this period where all they do is just play with one another. They don’t even ask me to join in. Hours and hours will be spent together by their dollhouse, pony castle, or drawing. In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t seen them in a bit…

As for the house, we have bathroom cabinets!

And kitchen cabinets!

It is alllllllmost done! All that is left is painting the outside of the house, installing countertops, laying carpet (the tile is finished), and then all the lights/sinks/fixtures. We should be able to move in by mid-late March! One month! So, needless to say, I’m very busy around here packing up and getting ready to move out. Goodwill is my friend right now.

School is going really well! I’ll need to write a whole different post on that, but its been great. Jackson, at 6, has almost completed memorizing his times tables (he only has the 8’s left). Crazy. I can’t believe how quickly he breezes through math; he says its his least favorite subject, but he does so well with it. London is ready to start reading, and has been practicing writing letters.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to. Packing, learning, packing, cleaning. Then more packing. πŸ™‚

The Ultimate Christmas Post

 

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope your holiday was as joyful as ours was, all things considering. Grampy passing put a somber mood over things (even now, writing one of the first posts he won’t see is very strange and sad), but we forged ahead and continued on as best we could. Lots of photos ahead, so grab a cuppa tea and settle in!

This year we started a new tradition with the kids called “The Christmas Express”. I printed up these tickets and hide them under their pillows before bed. While Greg was tucking them all in upstairs, I was busy popping popcorn, making hot cocoa, and putting Christmas music on in the van. Earlier, without the kids knowing, we strung Christmas lights inside the van! Right after story time as the kids were crawling in their beds, Greg told them to check under their pillows and explained that it wasn’t bedtime and that we were going to drive around and look at Christmas lights! They were ECSTATIC! They came running down the stairs full of excitement!

photo-8 copy

They opened up the front door, made their way to the now festive van, and had their tickets punched to climb aboard the Christmas Express! Days later, London still talks about her “hot cocoa chocolate at night”. This will be a yearly tradition from now on, and I can’t wait until next year to surprise them with tickets under their pillows again!

Christmas morning was so fun this year!

Her one wish...a My Little Pony!

Her one wish…a My Little Pony!

Her one wish...a Furreal puppy!

Her one wish…a Furreal puppy!

His one wish...an iPad mini!

His one wish…an iPad mini!

A lightsaber and the Jedi cloak I made him

A lightsaber and the Jedi cloak I made him

Two of everything!

Two of everything!

A happy Jedi!

A happy Jedi!


We decided to head to the Strachan’s for Christmas dinner that afternoon. We had SO much fun! I have an amazing brother and sister-in-law who are so giving, kind, and compassionate. Creativity is also one of their strong suits, and they decided to put on a play of the Christmas Story. Jackson was Joseph and the girls were shepherds.

It was hysterical, to say the least! I need to figure out a way to upload the video of the “production” on here. It was awesome!

The Grandparents and their Crew! {minus one…Bethany had to work!}

Our beautiful family!

Our beautiful family!

Β The girls got sparkly pink Toms from Nana and Jerry for Christmas. I’m really not sure if they’ve taken them off since except at bedtime. They are ALWAYS on their feet. This morning London and Brooklyn both wanted to praise God for their pink Toms in their prayers, lol! It was a hit, Nana!

This year was the first year in 10 years that I haven’t gone down to Tucson to spend Christmas Eve with my family. It was really hard for me. It’s just become really difficult with the kids because its usually close to 11pm by the time we get home that night, and then Christmas the next day…its a lot. So, my awesome parents decided that they would come to US the day after Christmas! I was THRILLED!

Papa and Jackson battling...Battleship style!

Papa and Jackson battling…Battleship style!

Auntie Melynda!

Auntie Melynda!

My stepsister was visiting from New York and it was awesome to get to see her! I can’t wait to make it to New York…perhaps in the fall? {“Don’t you just love New York in the Fall?”…name that movie!}

We had a wonderful Christmas full of blessings. I’m excited to start 2013 and see all that it hold for us! See you in the New Year!

To Grampy, with love.

 

 

 

Massachusetts, 1945

Massachusetts, 1945

Dear Grampy,

Almost 7 years ago, this blog was started for you and Nana.

Being so far away, we wanted you two to feel, as best as you could, close to us. We wanted you to see your great-grandchildren more than just times you’d get pictures in the mail, but rather weekly, or even daily (if I was that consistent!). It was our way of sharing our stories with you, hoping that you’d feel like you were there with us, even though 3,000 miles kept us apart.

You were my first reader. I am so very saddened that you aren’t reading this now, that you won’t see what’s to come, but I’m so thankful that this little place on the internet has been a place for you to see us.

I can’t remember if I ever told you how much it meant to me that you would print out every single blog post and save them in a binder. How I hope that I did. It meant so much to me.

I’m also thankful that there were times when we didn’t need the blog, that you were here or we were there, and you could hold and squeeze the little boy who carries your name. Kiss the little lady who was so tiny the last time you saw her.

Phoenix, 2008

Florida, 2007

Sedona, 2008

Phoenix, 2008

Florida, 2007

Grampy and Greg, 1977

Grampy and Greg, 1977

Grampy and Greg, 1981

Grampy and Greg, 1981

I knew every time that I published something here that at least one person would see it, that at least one person was checking daily for our random little stories about our lives.

Thank you, Grampy, for all the ways you blessed us. You were so kind to us, and quick to offer assistance whenever we needed it. You made sure that Jackson had a carseat and London had a crib. You even made sure, at one point, that I had a camera to keep on taking pictures!

We miss you. I miss knowing that you are here, reading this.

A thousand hugs and kisses from your grandchildren and great grandchildren,

Greg, Becki, Jackson, London, and Brooklyn

William Malloy1922-2012

William Malloy
1922-2012

A girl grown up. {plus some recipes!}

Clinging to my leg while I make lunch. This one is a Mama’s girl, for sure.

 

Guess who’s potty trained?

I really can’t believe it. She’s been interested for about six months or so, but would never actually do her business anywhere but her trusty diapers. Then on Friday I randomly got the idea to have her watch London go potty. She watched, asked to go, and that was the end of the story. No joke, she took one day to train! It took her until today to get, um, #2 all figured out. She’s only had a few accidents, and will sometimes even tell me when she needs to go (I have to remind her about 75% of the time, but she’ll get the hang of it). I’ve been changing diapers for almost seven years. It feels good to give Pampers the brush off, lol!

So, the binky is our last “baby” thing to let go. I’m waiting until the girls get more used to sharing a room before I let that one go. Which, by the way, is going awesome! They talk at night until they fall asleep, and will talk when they wake up in the morning. Every night London acts as though the dream might end. “Can I puh-leeeeeeease sleep with Brooklyn tonight?” as if I might move her out at any moment. πŸ™‚

Now for a recipe! For the past two years we’ve made Peppermint Popcorn, and it is just too good not to share. I found the original recipe on Pinterest, but I’ve changed it to suit our needs.

Peppermint Popcorn
2 bags popped popcorn (can be microwave or air popped; we like Homestyle by Pop Secret)
6 candy canes, crushed
6 squares of white chocolate, melted (I use Bakers brand)

All you do is pop the popcorn, sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the popcorn, and then stir in the white chocolate. It is SO good! You can find the original recipe here, which calls for almond bark instead of white chocolate, uses more candy canes, and also uses peppermint extract. I’ve found that to be *too* peppermint-y, but experiment and find what works right!

And this. Oh my heavens, this is by far my favorite recipe I’ve ever found online. Its called Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin {click on the picture for the recipe}. I am not kidding, it is DELICIOUS, and it must make it to your dinner table soon. It’s crockpot, which makes it even better. It literally just falls apart when its done. I’ve made it several times and it is fool-proof. My only warning is to make sure that you buy porkΒ loin,Β not porkΒ roast. I made that mistake once, and while it was still good, it wasn’t the ‘melt in your mouth’ experience of the pork loin. I haven’t changed a single thing about this recipe, and that says a lot because I almost always change recipes, lol!

Other than all that, we are just gearing up for Christmas! The kids are SO excited this year. Jackson is really into Star Wars, so I found a tutorial online to make him a Jedi robe. I am less than stellar when it comes to sewing projects, so my awesome friend Jeannie let me come over and helped me make it. I can’t wait to give it to him (and show off my handiwork, lol!). It’s 1,000 times better than what I would buy and only cost $10 to make!

Off to finish up the popcorn. I ate it for breakfast today. And lunch. And midday snack. And…

Roommates

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We decided that this weekend would be a great time to move the girls into the same room. We knew that it would be an adjustment, and since they are sharing a room in the new house, we figured that we better have them comfortable with it now rather than throw it on them the night we move into a strange place.

To say I was anxious was a little bit of an understatement. None of our kids have ever shared a room with someone else. The girls are playmates to the ninth degree, so I imagined a slumber party going to the wee hours of the morning. I imagined them waking at the break of dawn after only falling asleep a few hours before. I went to friends who’s kids share a room, and all of them told me to calm down. Luckily for me, they were right! They did great! I mean, it did take them almost an hour to fall asleep last night, but they slept all night long without a problem. London even woke up at 7 crying, but Brooklyn didn’t even stir and kept on sleeping until 8:30 (probably from her late night chat session with her sister). We pushed our luck and tried to actually have them nap in the same room today. That was a complete disaster, so I’m going to have to figure out something for that. London is allllmost done with naps, but Brooklyn still needs them (and Mommy needs quiet time).

I love their little room. Their new room will be smaller than this, but its fun to see the bones of what it will look like. Gramma is making them beautiful throws for the bottom of their beds (they get them for Christmas! woo-hoo!) and I have to get their bookshelves for the wall, new reading lamps, these amazing prints I found, and the tissue poms for above their beds.

London loves sharing a room. She has been looking forward to it for a long time and has been practicing getting up quietly as to not wake her sleeping sister. Brooklyn hasn’t decided yet; yesterday I had moved the bedside table into her room before I moved London’s bed and she vehemently declared, “I don’t like THAT!”. So, obviously, Brooklyn is the one who is going to have the largest degree of adjustment, but she will get it.

London loves taking pictures. Brooklyn, not so much.

I’m praying that each night gets easier for them, and for some sort of solution to the nap debacle. Currently I can just lay London down in her old room, but that won’t work when we move.

Reason #389 why having a sister rocks: you don’t have to sleep alone.