Dreaming Big

Posted February 14th, 2014 by Sally and filed in Family, Holidays

Two weeks from today I’ll work my last full-time day at Sinclair. This is a change that’s been hanging on our hearts and our minds for months and months and we finally took the plunge just before Christmas.  All that said, it couldn’t really be more fitting that my two-weeks day comes on another significant day, Valentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate such a turning point than with a day consumed with honoring the love our family shares together? Really, love of family is the driving force behind the choices we’re making now.

In November, Ava put together a playlist of songs for her dance party birthday party and one of the songs on the list was OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.” Its driving beat and upbeat message have made it a family favorite and it was on heavy rotation as Matt and I were making choices about how we wanted to live our life going forward. For me, this song became an anthem of sorts…a reminder of all of the options we are lucky enough to have and of the freedom that comes from truly dreaming big.

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

-OneRepublic, Counting Stars

So often, I’ve lost sleep thinking about all the little moments we were missing at home and with our kids and rather than taking time to count the stars, we’ve been counting up the wrong things. Little moments are, in fact, our big dream.  It’s the whole thing. To live them, notice them, collect them, treasure them. When I search my heart for what I truly want in life, I have found that I only really want to have done good work. To get to do good work for a family I love? That is a big dream, indeed.

To capture this dream in a tangible way, I took the moments we’ve collected this year on Instagram and made a video. These little moments…these snapshots in time…these are our big dream realized. It is truly beautiful.

And, hey, Matt? This video is your Valentine’s Day gift, as are all the moments I know are ours to share in the future. Thank you for making our dream possible by doing the work you do. LYS.

Fourth of July 2012

Posted July 5th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Family, Holidays

Our 4th of July was decidedly more low-key this year as were mere days away from a PCS.  So, we traded in a day of fixing food and exciting desserts for a day in the pool and some sparklers.  Worked just fine for us.

We did do a little celebrating in the form of a parade at the kids’ school, though, and that was definitely a highlight.

We did have a few sparklers hoarded from years past that we had to get rid of before the movers came, so we made sure to light them all.

When in Hendertucky, right?

Turns out sparklers and poppers are the perfect fireworks for little kids, so we had a great time.

While we watched the neighbor’s larger fireworks display, the idea settled in that this would be our last Las Vegas 4th of July and was the last holiday before our move. A big adventure was looming and it was time to start getting ready!

Easter 2012

Posted May 3rd, 2012 by Sally and filed in Doozy, Family, Holidays, Kiddos, Whoozy

We had a very busy Easter weekend with three egg hunts, church and a picnic.  We had a lot of fun, though, so all the busyness ended up being worth it.

The weekend started with the annual AF Family picnic and egg hunt in the park.  We missed last year’s since we were in San Antonio, so we were excited to get to join in the fun this time.  Photos from the first year are here and the second year are here. The picnic is a potluck adventure, so it’s super easy for everyone to participate.  We’re grateful to the Hoffmans for always getting it organized! After lunch, the kiddos do an egg hunt but, before we turn them loose, they all have to smile pretty for the camera.  This is always hysterical to watch – when you turn around and look at the adults acting like fools trying to get all the kids to stay still, together, and happy.

But, once the paparazzi gets its fill, then it’s off to the races to find those eggs and eat that candy!

After we got home from the picnic and everyone slept off our sugar crash, it was time to color some Easter eggs.  Ava is still quite a color mix-master and Noah even got in on the action a bit this year.  (Excuse the semi-nude babies.  We weren’t interested in dying clothes, so this was easier than micromanaging.)

Since all the prep was done the day before, Easter morning dawned with a visit from the Easter bunny and a mini-egg hunt at home in the backyard.

Waiting patiently for the camera lady to be ready to document their trip downstairs in the morning.  :)

Found one!

We headed for church a little early on Easter because we wanted to do a little photo shoot with Noah.  We took about 300 frames and I think we got one shot for the wall.  Still have to sort that out.  But, while we were all dressed up with a green background, we grabbed a couple family shots as well.

Obviously everyone was thrilled with that idea. ;)

What we were all thrilled with was the (third!) egg hunt of the weekend.  And, wow, does St. Christopher’s know how to do an egg hunt.  There were easily 200 eggs for the kiddos to find.  Our own two came home with enough plastic eggs to last a lifetime.

The kiddos last year on Easter.

All in all, it was a joyful weekend full of family, friends, and renewed faith.  It was extra special that, this year, Ava understood the real meaning of Easter and celebrated that with as much enthusiasm as she gave the candy.  Surely, she’s setting a fantastic example for Noah, who watches her every move. As the Easter season continues, we celebrate new beginnings and familiar tradition.  Happy Spring!

Waldorf Dolls – A Labor of Love

Posted March 8th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Family, Holidays, Kiddos, Projects

For some reason, I got a bee in my bonnet about making the kids Waldorf Dolls.  Since there’s nothing in the world that I hate more than bees, I had to get that thing out of my bonnet.  Therefore, I proceeded with all haste to acquire supplies for these incredibly intimidating things and get to work.  Of course, with Valentine’s Day only a couple of weeks away from my original urge to create, I put into place a completely unnecessary and extreme timeline for getting them done.  Plus, I hate having projects hanging over my head (or buzzing near my ears) so Valentine gifts were as good a motivator as anything.

Having no idea where to begin, I turned to the internets.  Via Pinterest (pin 1, 2, & 3), I determined that I could make this happen.  But, then, thanks again to the internet, I found that it’s absolutely impossible to buy products in stores anymore.  I did manage to find a source for wool bat (bizzaro sheets of carded wool that I’d never heard of before) locally, but had to order a kit for the other stuff from a Waldorf doll supply store online.  That was ok, though, because I traced the sewn doll body I received and now I have a pattern!

Anyway, the hardest part about making these dolls is the head.  So, after dinner on the day my stuff arrived, I got started.  I followed a couple of great tutorials online, so the internet and I became friends again in spite of the way it had demolished craft supply stores.

Once you’re done rolling and stuffing and stitching, the head looks something like this.

Since I had purchased pre-sewn bodies, all of the sewing I did on these dolls was by hand.  So, after some more stuffing and stitching, I ended up with a nakey, bald Waldorf baby looking like this:

Of course, that’s when the Facebook comments about voodoo dolls started rolling in.  Not one to be deterred, I moved on to the next most intimidating part of this project, the hair! I found a couple of great tutorials online and used two different ones – one for the boy’s hair and one for the girl’s.  Without a doubt, the tutorial for the boy’s hair was better and it’s the one I’ll use if I ever make another doll (even if it did take me four hours to complete).  Noah’s doll’s hair is about fifteen kinds of awesome whereas Ava’s often suffers from a “balding baby” look.  Noah’s doll turned out better overall, but I spent longer on it and was more careful since I did it first.  I also ended up having to make the dolls’ clothes because I couldn’t find any simple clothing for dolls this size to buy.  So, the dolls and kids all got new pajama pants to wear, which was a fun exercise anyway (Noah got three new pairs!).  I still need some practice and they’re not perfect, but these were fun to make.

10 days after I started working on them, it was time for these little friends to be gifted to their new owners!

Big sister got in the way and it’s blurry, but that’s the sweetest baby boy hug ever for his new buddy.

And, here they are all dressed to match!

Neither doll has a name really (Ava calls hers “Ava” and Noah calls his “Baby”) but both get lots of love.  Noah’s baby comes in the van every day to school and Ava sleeps with hers every night.

I’m so glad I got to make them something to love and pick up some new skills in the process.  These dolls are proof that you don’t have to be perfect to be well-loved!

Christmas 2011

Posted January 25th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Family, Holidays

Before it’s time to blog Valentine’s day, I realized that I’d better finish blogging Christmas!  I was on such a roll that I posted Christmas Eve on Christmas Eve, but then got swept up in the Christmas fun and never shared about the actual day.  I have about a billion photos to share, so bear with me.

Just like last year, Noah was up first and we got to hang out with him for a while before Ava joined us.

After everyone wiped the sleep from their eyes and combed their hair (sidenote: always hated this when I was a kid, the getting all dolled up before heading in to tear into gifts, but now as a mom who needs just a bit of time to be presentable for all the pictures, I totally get it!), we headed downstairs to see if Santa had been to visit!  Clearly, he had.

We opened stockings first and then moved on to the gifts from Santa.

Ava asked Santa for a “Bambi toy” and a panda bear. Noah was less specific, but lucked out anyway with a favorite book and some cars.

Santa also brought the kiddos a toy to share – a tunnel!  So much fun!

We took a break for breakfast at this point – breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, and mimosas are officially a tradition now.   After we filled our tummies (and Mommy & Daddy scored some coffee), it was back to the presents!

Gifts were unintentionally sort of themed this year.  Ava received lots of great books (perfect for a pre-reader) and Noah is now the proud owner of lots of “things that go.”

Ava’s new “typer,” a vintage Craigslist find that she LOVES.
 Every quiet time she spends quite a while typing her manifesto in her room.

One funny story from the day, that I want to be sure gets recorded, is that John P. Casey basically saved Christmas.  While each of the kiddos received lovely gifts, we usually stay away from character toys, etc.  Since Ava received so many books (mainly from us) most of her early present opening was of the “not a toy” category.  She and Noah were both delighted to open up Woody and Jessie dolls from John.  Commercialization for the win!

Of course, the packaging of the gifts was also one of the hits of the day!

Both kids got just a little something handmade/homemade for the holiday.  Even though it’s a time consuming thing for Matt & I, it’s really important to us that they know that we invested some time and effort (not just money) into making this a special holiday for them.  Noah’s gift was pretty simple – a soft bucket for all the new matchbox cars he received.  It’s sitting in front of him in this picture (where you can also see his new car mat – that thing has gotten a workout so far!).

Ava’s homemade gift was a little more complicated – a dollhouse made from to cabinet drawers purchased at the Habitat Restore.  It’s perfect for her growing Playmobil collection.

Artwork and windows that she can rearrange to her heart’s content!

The kids were wiped out and ready for lunch by the time we opened all their gifts, so Matt and I set ours aside for later and got them fed and down for naps.  We spent naptime opening our own gifts (Matt scored a new cooking thermometer and I got an iPhone 4s!) and finishing putting together new toys in advance of an afternoon of playtime.

When the kids woke up, we spent time just playing with the new toys and taking some new wheels out for a spin around the block.

Thanks, Mahgie & Poppie, for the new wagon and scooter!  They are a huge hit!

Matt roasted us a turkey for dinner (perfectly done with the new thermometer) and we brought the day to a very lovely end with a delicious family dinner.

In the end, Christmas 2011 was just was we always wanted – lovely, fun, and relaxing.  We spent the next week just playing and enjoying time at home before returning to work/school and it turns out that was the very best gift of them all!