Monday, December 12, 2011

Ivy's Sweet Shop Birthday

Anyone who knows Ivy, knows that she loves candy. So when I asked about a theme for her upcoming 4th birthday, it was no surprise to me that she asked for a "candy party". So we went with a candy/sweet shop theme and made all her dreams come true!

I had fun creating this little window display with window crayons, to welcome family as they arrived.

I borrowed the tissue-paper pom-poms from my sister-in-law, and I think they definitely completed the candy party look.

We had to make a special trip to a real candy shop beforehand, for inspiration and to purchase the giant lollipops and candy wands.

Mark had this great idea to do a write up in chalk. Love it.

And my oh-so-talented, jewelry-making sister-in-law (the same one who made the tissue-paper pom-poms), Katie, helped us make gumball necklaces for all the children.

Mark drilled holes in the gumballs before the party, then Katie strung ribbon through them, tying knots on either side of each gumball. Super adorable, but oh-so-sticky! (Especially when the sugar addicts started licking them!)

While the necklaces were being made, the kids decorated paper sacks that they later filled with candy to take home. We had a "candy cane" cake (also Ivy's idea) with ice cream and had a lovely time visiting with family and celebrating Ivy's birth. And the very best part of the whole event was that Ivy was on cloud 9 the entire time! Making this great memory for her was so worth it. Happy Birthday Ivy Jo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gifts that last . . . longer anyway

I read a statistic a while back stating that 99 percent of manufactured goods end up in the landfill. Ninety-nine percent! Now when I walk down the isles of our local box store I just imagine everything heaped up in a landfill and it's pretty sad. I wish I didn't contribute to such a travesty but as a materialistic American I just can't seem to get away from it; consuming goods is completely ingrained into my brain. However I am committed to doing better. I have determined to give gifts that last . . . and I'm not talking about plastic or Styrofoam that promises to never decompose in the landfill. I'm talking about meaningful, useful gifts that will get many, many years of use before they are ever considered being tossed. So no more plastic toys. There I said it. And I'm sticking to it! So what options does that leave me with when giving to children? I guess things like books, clothing, wooden toys are far more likely to be appreciated and not thrown out. More ideas would be greatly appreciated. But with my children in mind, here are a few things I'd like to get for them.

Oliver got excited just seeing a picture of this puppet. I think he'd be in love if it talk to him and tickled his tummy.

I think both my girls would get a kick out of this cube-bot toy, but their daddy would probably love it best of all.

Millie can leave a water bottle on her desk at school to sip throughout the day (what a great idea). One of these 12 oz. kanteens would be perfect for the job!

Ivy would totally love doing this puzzle (with some help). I'm trying to talk Mark into making one for her.

And this next item doesn't look that impressive but my girls would both experience countless hours of enjoyment. They LOVE straws and are always sad when they get too nasty for me and I chuck them in the trash. These glass straws come with a brush to clean them out and a life-time guarantee. They're not supposed to break but if they do, the company replaces them. Plus since they're glass they never release toxins and are 100% dishwasher safe. I think it is a must-have for us.

Unfortunately all of these things are more expensive than your regular run-of-the-mill, over-packaged plastic toys. But I keep telling myself that I'd rather pay more for a few high-quality items than pay any dollar amount for garbage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just for fun!

So with Christmas and my birthday just around the corner (. . . and Ivy's birthday . . . and Mark's birthday!). I am totally in consumer mode. And since I know I won't be purchasing the majority of the things on my shopping wish-list, I thought I'd post them here for all of you to enjoy. So even if I don't get the satisfaction of buying and owning them at least I'll get to pretend I did (sort of the feeling I get from "pinning" things to Pinterest but for a different audience). Since my b-day is first on the list of events, I'll start with me:
So, I have this fetish for pretty dishes, don't know why, but I do. And at the moment I am pining away for these mugs and bowls from West Elm.

Cute right? If I . . . I mean Mark, were to actually buy them for me I'm not sure if I'd go with a mix (as shown) or stick with one style. If I could only choose one I'd have to go with the yellow, but I think a mix is best. They're 20% off right now, with free shipping . . . so tempting!

I also want these bowls from Anthropologie.

I'm kind of hoping my mom will get them for me for Christmas to go with these bowls she gave me last year. What do you say mom? Pleeeeaaase.

Also if Santa is reading this, I'd love to find a new eyelash curler in my stocking along with some new mascara and non-toxic nailpolish. Thanks!

That's enough of what I want. My next post will be about my wish-list for Ivy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Grandma Nora Knew All Along

My paternal grandmother, Nora Rust Mickelson, passed away last week on November 3, just over a month shy of her 100th birthday. She was an amazing woman: honest, true, chaste, benevolent, hard-working and strictly obedient to the commandments of the Lord.
At her age one might think that her death was only to be expected, however I think it still came as a bit of a surprise to many of us who knew her. In fact, the family was busily planning a big celebration for her upcoming birthday. I suppose the reason her passing came as such a surprise is because of Nora's virtually unheard of good health! For the most part she was still active and vibrant until the day she died; even joking with the ER doctor that she felt so great she could beat him in a foot race.
I used to love to brag about my 90-year-old grandmother who still raised chickens, tended to a large vegetable garden, and diligently went to the temple several times a week. Oh, how I admired her! So of course I was flattered at her funeral when my uncle said in his talk that when it came to healthy living, Nora considered me her only disciple. To that I must say, "Oh Grandma! You're too sweet! But you entirely underestimate your influence . . . and your posterity." For I know that many of her descendants are actively seeking to follow her example of healthy living!
I can only assume my dear grandma thought of me because I had the privilege of staying with her in her home for several weeks last summer where she and I had the opportunity to talk at length on the topic of health. She was thrilled to learn that I don't use a microwave oven (ever!) and that I was planning to (and later did) have a home birth.
I know those things don't make me unique but as I have received a few inquires since the funeral I'll try to briefly explain some of my other ideas.
The subject of being "healthy" has always interested me, however for years I was only motivated by vanity. I wanted to be beautiful and I wanted to be thin! So as fashion magazines had the greatest number of beautiful thin people on their pages, I mistakenly believed that they were somehow experts on how to achieve such an appearance. So I followed their advice: I slathered on the sunscreen, I dieted, I counted calories, I ate Special K cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I did sit-ups and ran mile after mile on a treadmill - and yet I continued to be chubby, unhealthy and of course unhappy. Eventually I surrendered to the idea that I was probably never going to achieve my goal and gave up even trying. Years passed and by fate or by chance I was led to some amazing people who opened my eyes to what true health is really about. This has set me on a journey of discovery. And the more I discover the more I stand in awe at how much wisdom Grandma Nora had all along!
As a child I remember being instructed by grandma to go outside and get some vitamin from the sun and I thought to myself, "Vitamins are the Flintstones in a bottle . . . what is grandma talking about?" Then as a preteen I went to visit her whilst wearing some of my sister, Alexis' perfume. But after asking grandma to smell me, she quoted a verse from Isaiah about how in the last days the daughters of Zion would stink! I took another whiff of my scented wrist and couldn't figure out what she was talking about. And as a newly married adult, every summer she continued to ask Mark and me if we had planted a garden. To which I always wished I could answer yes, but only twice had the opportunity to do so.
As it turns out grandma was right about everything! The sun is amazing! It doesn't actually give you vitamins but after exposure to its rays, the body produces a steroid hormone called Vitamin D. And as it turns out, for every person who dies from skin cancer, 100 people die from a Vitamin D deficiency-related disease!
As for perfume, I no longer wear it. After learning what sort of dangerous chemicals are used to constitute the word "fragrance" on a label's list of ingredients and the devastating effects they can have on the human body, I find myself shying away from all things smelly. Now I truly think they stink.
And although I always agreed with grandma on the garden thing, I now have an increased appreciation for it. It's become apparent to me that the food supply in America is very polluted, not only literally but also morally. And when food is grown for the sole purpose of being sold at a profit, the food's integrity and nutritional value is undoubtedly compromised. Consequently we are all suffering a myriad of maladies. If we are what we eat it stands to reason that low-quality food equates with low-quality health and vice verse. Grandma's health was a prime example of this scenario. She raised her own cows, chickens and vegetable garden along with many fruit trees. Giving her control over how the majority of her food was produced, resulting in a safe and nutritionally dense diet -- contributing greatly to her good health (in addition to her devout committment to following the Word of Wisdom of course).
My diet is nowhere as pure as my grandmother's but I hope that someday it will be. And I'm glad to say that I am no longer motivated by vanity. I simply wish to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible so that I can continue to serve others and serve the Lord without becoming a burden on others (or at least have the peace of mind that I did my best to avoid becoming so). For now I am taking one step at a time to change my lifestyle to be more like Nora's - free of toxins, full of sunlight and high-quality, honest food. And when it comes to finding an expert on health and happiness, we would all be wise to skip what conventional media has to say and instead, remember what we've been told by Grandma Nora.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Tell Her It's Cute

We let Ivy's hair grow out for far too long. So when I couldn't stand it any longer I pulled out the scissors.

Here are the "before" shots:

And the "after" shots:

I think it turned out pretty well (considering I have NO idea what I'm doing). It turned out a little shorter than I planned so I was feeling terrible for a few hours, but now I'm over it. Now Ivy is complaining that she doesn't want to go out in public because everyone will say how cute her hair is! (And who wants that?!)

'Cuz We're Cousins

Oliver is one lucky kid! He has two boy cousins born within months of him.
Mandie, Colter, Oliver, and Me
My sister Mandie had her first baby back in June. And my sister-in-law Katie had her son back in May. (Oliver was born in March.) And I love that their names all end in "er". Oliver, Porter, Colter, so fun!

Me, Oliver, Porter, Katie
Remember this picture of me and Katie? I wish I had one with me and Mandie, but neither of us were up to much traveling during our pregnancies and we were never together for a picture. :(

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rock Star Birthday

I can hardly believe it, but my Millie is six years old (and has been for a month . . . I'm just a little behind on blogging about our summer). And to celebrate we had family over for a rock star birthday party. The invites (above) were supposed to resemble concert tickets (oh, how I wish I had photoshop . . . and knew how to use it).

The only children invited (two cousins) got sick right before the party! So the only guests were Millie's grandma and grandpa . . . but luckily she didn't mind. There was lots of dancing and singing.

And Mark cut out these wooden "electric" guitars before the party and put them together at the party. The tops are paint sticks from the hardware store with rubber bands strung through grooves Mark cut at the top and bottom. Then everyone decorated their own and gave them names! Millie named her guitar "Rose", Ivy named hers "Islafina" (pronounced: eye-la-FEE-nah) and Millie's grandma named hers "Bob" (after Bob Dylan I think). Then we rocked out and sang karaoke.

Of course we had cake and ice cream and opened presents.

Millie didn't even mind that there were only two gifts since one included MAKE-UP! All her birthday dreams came true in that moment. Later we went out for dinner at the conclusion of which Millie told her daddy "This was my best birthday every!" Super cute.

A few days later she received a gift from my mom. Lip gloss, press on nails and accessories and a hair clip. She looked every bit the glamour queen.

Right after the party Mark's mom took Millie to the craft store to pick out a pattern and fabric for her gift (Millie's idea). The completed project is absolutely adorable (dress and matching purse). Sorry I don't have a better picture. I'll have to get one.
Happy Birthday Millie!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

I love cloth!

Who knew diapering could be fun? Yes, I know I'm crazy but I love knowing that my choice creates less of an environmental burden than disposable diapering and saves us loads of money (between $1,000 and $2,000!!!). They really are not as difficult or icky as some might imagine. There's no pinning, no soaking and no need to shake anything out in the toilet. I also love this make-shift clothesline Mark put together for me. The sun truly is the best disinfectant! The diapers come off the line spotless and completely non-toxic (no chlorine bleach for my family thank you). Using the clothesline reminds me of my Grandma Nora and makes me look to simpler times when people weren't too busy to appreciate the little things in life.
Oh, and did I mention how cute the diaper covers are? And the cute onesie and burp cloth were a gift from Mark's talented sister Julia. I love the elephant.
I don't know what's come over me but I am just enjoying motherhood so much more these days. I guess I am finally starting to grasp how precious this time is with my children and that doing what's best for them is truly worth any amount of extra effort on my part.
Which is why we are also practicing natural infant hygiene (frequently referred to as elimination communication or ECing). I am just in awe of how intelligent little babies are! Even if our culture tells us otherwise.
I look horrible here (right after a workout) but this picture just reminds me how special it feels to share this experience with my baby. I only wish I would have started earlier . . . like six years earlier!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus

Millie and Ivy have been begging to ride on a train of late, but they settled for an LTD bus ride instead.
We caught the bus Saturday morning and rode out to Rockhill Creamery in Richmond. It was a long ride, but we all enjoyed the experience.
Luckily it was a nice sunny morning at the bus station.
On the bus Ivy couldn't believe there weren't any seat belts! And it was quite a long, bumpy ride. And yes, we did sing a verse or two of "The Wheels on the Bus".
We missed our stop in Richmond and ended up walking back from the next one, but no one complained (amazingly enough). Once there, we took a little tour of the farm and Millie fell in love with this Brown Swiss calf. She wanted to name him or her "Goldie". She also fell in love with two small dogs there, but they kept their distance from her loving attention.
Ivy on the other hand, was less than thrilled about all the animals and wanted her daddy to protect her.
And Oliver napped through all the excitement.
For lunch we headed to the farmstand for bread (from Crumb Brothers) and cheese from the creamery. Then we caught the bus back to Logan. And after a break at home we rallied for a visit to Summerfest for dinner and dessert (Forbidden Fruit caramel apples. Yum!). The perfect ending to a great Saturday.