Monday, January 31, 2011

5 Years Old

Happy Birthday Maya!
5 years old

We had fun celebrating Maya's birthday last week on a snow day.  
Hurray!  Play, play, play!

It's a family-only party on odd years for the highlights were...
-French toast and chocolate milk for breakfast
-McDonalds with Grammy 
-zu-zu pets all day 
-play in the snow
-Ikea for dinner and playing with the whole family plus Grandma
(it's what she most wanted to do to celebrate!)
-Cake and Ice cream back at home

Maya has grown up so much just in the last 6 months!  I feel like she's finally feeling more comfortable in her own life and less defensive and scared of everything.  She's so smart and seems to understand way more than she should at her age.  I'm sure going to miss my little shadow when she heads off to school this fall but I'm so happy to see her spread her delicate wings and dream of a life beyond the safety net of her home!

Interview with Maya

What's your favorite color?
every color

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I don't want to be a farmer anymore...I want to be a mom

What's your favorite thing to do with Mom?
play Clue

What do you like to do with Dad?
play Chess

What do you like to play with Alice?
play school

What do you like to play with Hayley?
Play Mouse trap

Favorite book?
Pretty Pink Purse, Magic Tree house books

Favorite movie?

What do you want to do most this year?
I want to find out what it's like to be as tall as a parent

What's your favorite breakfast?
French toast

favorite lunch?
"Pioneer Sweet Sandwiches" (= PB with jam and honey)

What's your favorite dinner?
Burritos with chips

What's your favorite dessert?
Cake and brownies

What are you good at?
I'm good at loving people, cooking with mom, reading Jack and Annie chapter books

Deep thoughts in the back of the van...
"Mom, I can’t have kids when I grow up until I find a man to love because then Jesus wouldn't know what color to make the kids' eyes”

“…and we have to get married first because it’s important that moms and dads love each other lots and lots first.”

That's right kiddo!  
(Gotta get that eye color right!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Look!

We finished the last of the BIG redecorating projects that I'm blaming on "nesting" (even though they've been on my to do list forever!)  Apparently while I'm surviving pregnancies....Ryan is surviving my nesting urges!  I don't even come close to feeling sorry for him but I really do appreciate how dang hard I ask him to work!

Old front room

Our front room is one room that we haven't repainted since we bought our home 6 1/2 years ago.  Above is an old picture of the front room (I always forget to take "before" I had to dig a little).  It had a thick white chair rail half way up the wall with a dark color below and light color above.  I used to really like it, but it needs to be repainted and might as well be updated too....

See the old wall....not the kissing hands going on in the foreground!

We were so excited to successfully recruit some awesome family members that helped us work double time and made it possible to complete everything in just over 24 hours!
Somehow the kids were angels...not sure what they were doing the whole time but they stayed out of the way, scavenged for food and must have not been fighting too much!

Me, Joyce (Ryan's mom) and Ryan
We decided to take the chair rail off, mud the evidence, sand and paint the whole wall one color.
Problem was I didn't decide on a color until they were almost ready to start painting...we just crossed our fingers that we were going to like it!

Ryan & Benj
(My mom came too but I don't have a picture!)

And the "after" pics...

 A big part of this redecorating project was that we had to move the 75 gallon saltwater tank twice!
Once to get it out from the wall...then refill while painting...then empty and move to new spot.
That is no small job and creates just a little bit of stress. 
I know that Ryan really loves me when he agrees to risk his beloved tank for my whims of redecorating!
I'm happy to say that all the fish and corals survived!

It's so amazing what a difference it makes!  
I love it and am so glad to cross one more thing off the list!!!

Now to suffice myself with the less-physically demanding things of my list for the last 7 weeks...not that I'm counting....

Fun Blogs!

I have one last Christmas decoration that is still decking my halls...

I've had a blank wall for years and always thought I would eventually fill it with a cool clock.  But then last fall I saw this awesome idea.  Some great creative person creates a "subway art" print with a seasonal theme--then posts in on their blog.  I print it and put it in a frame.  Change it with the holidays and seasons.  Easy!  I'm loving it.  Craftily-Ever-After has my favorite ones so far.  Here's the one that I want to put up this week because Christmas is really over and I'm ready for Valentines day!  She also had a great Thanksgiving one that is hiding in the frame waiting to cycle through again next year.

My sister has been sharing all kinds of fun subway art ideas and big print word art for walls around the home.  Here's another if you're interested.  I think it's a great, budget-friendly way to fill in the gaps that I've had for years!  Send me your links if you have any favorites.  I'm interested in finding some literary quotes right now.


Another blog that I've been having fun with recently is Simply Fresh Designs.  She's got some great ready-to-print things for kids and families.  I love that these people share their talents!  She made several sets of "quiet books" for church.  I had them printed as 4x6 pictures then laminated them and put them on rings.  My kids are loving reading them during church.  We're also using the set of scripture ones to talk about scripture stories during dinner.  So go get printing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

September-December 2010

Nothing like a good ol' binge blogging session to get caught up.  Apparently, my camera tells me that we actually did keep pretty busy this fall even if I felt like my feet were moving through mud!

Enjoy it or skip's a few things you missed!

#3 Potty-trained!
September 2010
Alice made the big leap into the world of the potty-trained.  She had been begging all through the worst of morning sickness so as soon as I could function a little I owed it to her!  It was a rough 3 or 4 days when I was grateful for wood floors but we survived and she's now my most independent 2 year old pott-ier!  Way to go big girl!

When I named this blog "In between diapers" I had 2 kids in diapers and felt like that was my life!  We're truly enjoying the loooong "in between diapers" that we are currently experiencing!


Maya successfully adjusted to preschool and we are so grateful for how this big step has helped her in so many other areas of her life!  She even goes to primary at church most weeks and in general just doesn't freak out so much when I leave her.  Oh sweet relief!



My cousin and his wife (my good friend, Kathy) came to visit DC and we were lucky enough to meet up with them for a couple hours!


 Apple Season

One of my favorite fall activities since we moved to Virginia is visiting the apple orchards in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley!  We made it this fall (although we picked the apples out of bushels instead of trees this time!)

Really, we just go so that we can stop at the Apple House to buy these amazing hot apple-cinnamon donuts!  It makes my mouth water just to see this yummy!

And this year we decided the kids were old enough to have fun in a corn maze...

Victory!  We finally made it to the end after some tricky scheming!

We were all nice and tired for the hay ride after the corn maze.  What beautiful country side and blue skies!



Alice spent most of the fall building train tracks!  Girls play so differently than boys (I have 6 brothers so I'm qualified to make that observation!)--this is all about beauty and construction and doesn't involve loud crashes or other such dramatic destruction.  Although the other girls have enjoyed the trains, Alice took it to new levels for us.  She loved to make long straight tracks (tricky when you have mostly curved pieces!) and tried to reach them from one end of the house to the other.  We have sure loved spending days hopping over train tracks as we move from one room to the next.  Love my Alice!



My cute little candy corn witch wanted me to be a witch with her so I finally got to wear the cool, stripy tights that I've always been so jealous of!

 This year we had a cow-girl, 2 witches and a princess.
Cute kids

Uncle Paul

My sister's husband, Paul, had a business trip in DC and so we were lucky enough to hang out (even though we're sad that Nancy and the kids didn't come!).  We even roped him into helping Ryan lay new carpet in the kids rooms!

Paul hooked us City-folk up with a whole day farm excursion.  He has good friends that live in the country side out here with a huge farm.  It's really quite the treat for us city-dwellers and we loved every minute!  Here's all the Virginia cousins on a tour of the farm in an awesome little 4-wheeler



How do you fit another baby into 2 small rooms?  This became my quest this fall.  I love to organize and get to fully explore my talents in our home by finding the perfect shelving, arrangements and other ideas!

The answer to our problem came for me when I realized that we didn't have space for dressers anymore.  I can fit 2 beds with play space in each room (one is a bunk bed) if there aren't also 2 dressers in each room.  So....have I thrown out all the clothes in favor of the no-laundry idea???  Tempting!  But no, there are 2 good size closets in each room (not walk in or anything) but the doors on the closets are really wide so it feels like in order to open them they have to swing into about 1/2 the room--eliminating space for beds, etc.  So I took off the closet doors.  Why hadn't I thought of this before?!  We found some great tote-style drawer bins at Ikea (courtesy of Craigslist).  Raised the bars higher to hang dresses and put the drawers underneath.

Maybe we'll ad a cute curtain in front of the
door-less closet someday?

While we were rearranging we painted everything neutral colors (I'm just tired of the crayon-box feel!) and laid brand new carpet that a kind family member didn't need.  Then everyone conveniently got new bedding and curtains for Christmas to spruce up the new minimalist look!  Loving it!

Imagine the dresser that they are sitting on in the closet under
the other one...just need to move it!
The canvas boards above them--they each chose colors to spray
paint on them.  Then we're going to modge podge pictures
of their choice on them...another project to complete!


We have a darling little tiny library about 10 minutes from our house.  In healthy seasons of life we go at least once a week.  We have made good friends with one of the ladies that works there, Ms. Judy.  I want to say she's been our substitute Grandma for several years now.  When we are going to the library usually the question I pose to the kids is "should we go see Ms. Judy?" not "should we go to the library?"  They love to tell her their latest updates, show her their ouchies, and she and I enjoy chatting!  I love how "at home" they are in the library.  Ms. Judy happens to love McDonalds happy meals so often times has a little store of toys waiting for the girls.

Anyways, Ms. Judy moved in November!  So sad.  We already miss her so much.  The library will never be the same fact I'm really going to have to start motivating myself to become a regular again.  But we're so happy that she gets to enjoy living closer to her family and a new exciting life.

Maya is a little natural when it comes to reading.  At 4 1/2, with more than a year to go until Kindergarten starts, she started devouring chapter books.  It's so fun for her and Hayley to share favorite books with each other.

Nothing quite like a hard wood floor and a bottom stair as a pillow!  
When a girl's got to read a girl's got to read!


Daddy's Girls

Nothing makes me happier than the fact that I have a bunch of little daddy's girls!  They sure love their dad and hate to see him leave, whatever the reason.

They are all very familiar with the book "Kissing Hand" and cope with their separation by making sure that dad give them all lots of kisses on their hands before he leaves.  Then they can apply the kisses to their cheeks whenever they miss him!

Of course after the hands are filled with kisses we always have to check to make sure they work before the source of those kisses leaves the building!


Aunt Tammy & Uncle Hugh

Ryan's youngest sister, Tammy has been living in the DC area for several years now.  So has Hugh!  We're so happy that they got hitched so that we could stop slipping up and calling him "Uncle Hugh" by accident.  Now it's official and legal...he's an uncle!

So many cute nieces!  Such a beautiful day!



We were lucky enough to host thanksgiving this year.  My brother's family (5 kids) and a cousin of ours and his 4 kids came over.  It was packed and crazy and fun.  We decided to feed the kids all first....such a great idea.  The adults actually got to sit and enjoy eating while the kids watched a movie.

What a crowd!

Pony Tails & 'Lip 'Lops

Alice should live in California!  She loves her old hand-me-down flip flops no matter the weather (I actually "lost" them a couple weeks ago because it was killing me to watch her go out in icy cold weather with those bare toes!)

She also loves her pony tail.  "Mom, I need a hairstyle" simply means a pony tail...after all what other hairstyle even exists???  Luckily she's not my first girl so I don't often try to talk her into fancy-dos.  I'm just fine with a simple pony tail these days!


Family, Family, Family

Okay this is definitely something I should have devoted a blog post to...

26 years ago (when I was 6 years old) my parents moved to England on a 3 year contract for an international  experience that they had always dreamed of.  They loved it and happily extended their time again and again and again and again.  I eventually gave up hope of them ever returning and said I'd believe it when I saw it.  Well...the day finally came...and I was here to witness it.

On December 6th, Dad, Mom and 3 teenage kids that are still at home arrived back in the USA to make their new home in Virginia.  Did you get that?!?!  Not only have they moved back to the states....they live 30 minutes away from us!

Let's be's wonderful, crazy, and a huge adjustment for all involved.  I can't even say how excited I am that my kids will actually know their grandparents.  I'm getting to know my teenage siblings one on one for the first time in my life.  Before we were more like distant cousins and it was tough to really develop a relationship.  My parents and I have to figure out the ins and outs of doing our own parenting side by side.  I expect that we will have some bumps as we all figure out how to live near family but we're excited for all the benefits that it is sure to bring!  One of which will be a big house to congregate it....they've been living in a hotel for almost 2 months now but are closing on a home soon.  Yipee!!!

England was definitely home for all of us and it's been interesting to exchange emails with siblings as we mourn the loss of that home and relive memories.  But, I take the stance that I'd rather my kids know their grandparents than have them get to see the home of my childhood once!  I'm sure we will always keep in touch with many loved friends that will stay on the other side of the ocean.


Gingerbread Houses

Hayley, Grandma Messick, Alayna (my sister)

Grandma Messick also lives 30 minutes away!  Ryan's mom moved out here last spring.  See what I mean?  When we moved to Virginia 7 years ago, it was just us and my brother's family.  Ryan also has 2 sisters and their families here now and I have the same brother and his family here...but we're working on talking more siblings into moving out here!

Funny side note: our kids have had to figure out which family members are Mom's and which are Dad's so that they understand which cousins will be there, etc when we get together.  One time when my parents came over to Ryan's mom's house for New Years Eve the comment they made as we drove up was, "So we're mixing families?!?!"  I thought it was funny that just as they figured it out we mixed it up on them.  So fun!

...I digress...Grandma brought all the makings for Gingerbread houses over.  I love making them each Christmas time but it is one of those fun traditions that is a lot of work so I was so excited that it just magically happened!

Dress up & Baby dolls

Alice is at that magical age when dress ups are just part of daily life.  I couldn't pass up this innocent picture in front of the Christmas tree.  She loves her baby doll!

Winter Park Time!

Sometimes you've got to hit the park even if it's FREEZING!

Hayley, Alice, Benj (my brother), Maya


Christmas Eve PJs with some silly and excited girls!

Christmas morning...waiting to go downstairs!

Love the look on Maya's face....I think she just saw something!

Dreams come true!
Hayley & Maya have both been really into the American girl book series.  I have to write a quick disclaimer to say that I never thought I'd be one of "those" moms that would pay an outrageous amount of money for a doll!  But....For the past 2 months it is all Hayley has talked about.  She saves every penny.  Has tried to convince us that she should sell all her other toys to come up with more money since she knows that they are too expensive for a Christmas present, and been generally cute about her desire to own a Julie doll.  In the end, it was all she really wanted and so after much debate we decided we could spend the money on several other things that she wasn't so excited about or...just bite the bullet.

Unfortunately, part of the difficulty is that we don't just have one little girl that loves these dolls.  Alice got a Target version and is none the wiser.

But Maya also got her heart's desire even though I don't know that she fully appreciates it like Hayley.  I guess there's some benefits to having a big sister!

Playing dolls

And other awesome toys!

Love our Christmas days!  We let anyone who wants to, stay in their PJs all day and generally have a lazy day just having fun together.  This year we got the bonus of a visit from Grandpa and Grammy in the evening.

DC Temple Lights

We didn't make it until a couple days after Christmas this year, but you have to love the beauty of the lights at the DC temple and the amazing free concerts and performances!