Friday, September 23, 2011


I finished my curtains, and I am in love with them. I slept on the couch the night after I put them up just to be with them and peek at them if I woke up.

I wanted to move the rods up higher, but since we're renters and leaving in a few months I just hemmed them a little shorter. I'm working on some really fun pillows too. I can't take credit for the fabric choice, my favorite design blog was my inspiration.

I also touched up the piano and am really happy with the color. I won't be painting this guy again for a while!
Working on a few more things for the room and then I promised myself I would stop decorating and move on with my life!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Faye's abilities.

Untitled a video by page.otto on Flickr.

Our Faye is proficient at crawling, waving, and standing up. She is intermediate at clapping and wrestling with her brothers. And she is above proficient at making everyone around her smile.

Carson's surgery.

Now that our special out of town guest (aka Daddy) is gone again, it's back to projects and blogging! 

While Rick was here, Carson had a little surgery, an orchiopexy. He did great and was running around that evening.
On their way to the hospital. (They walked!) Interesting to think that Rick could be performing this same surgery in the near future.
I got to go pick him up after the surgery. It took a bit to wake him up. It helped when I whispered the promise of Chick-Fil-A in his ear.
When he woke up and was given a popsicle, it was pretty funny to watch him try and get it into his mouth.

We're glad he did so well (didn't wake up freaking out like his mother does), and that the chance of him producing some grandchildren for us someday has increased!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 29: Par-tay!

The last of the countdown chain.

The first thing Everett said (in his cute little voice) was, "Dad... can we play 'you can't get away'?" So they played "you can't get away." We're happy campers over here!

Day 28: the fridge.

Today's accomplishment included cleaning out the fridge, really cleaning the fridge (like taking the racks out and wiping it all down with vinegar, not just the usual cheating clean-where-you-can-see job that I normally do!), and putting in a new rack on the door that had broken. 

We also planned a killer welcome home Daddy party for tomorrow. We're having this for dinner and this for dessert, and Carson is in charge of the games so it should be a great time!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 27: making a list.

I wanted to finish out this little "Survive and Thrive" challenge with a bang. For the past two straight days I feel like I've done nothing but sand, prime, paint, keep the kids from touching the paint, paint some more, wash paintbrushes and rollers, and paint even more. But when a friend put the piano back together for me tonight, instead of being thrilled with the result,  I saw all the spots I had missed. And all the places where I applied the paint too thick. And where I got paint where it wasn't supposed to go. I will admit that I cried a little. I wanted to surprise Rick with a perfectly painted piece, and I have a splotchy, bumpy, but certainly turquoise piano.

Then I looked over at the wall where I had filled in all the nail holes and tried to fix the paint that had peeled off and realized that there, too, there are noticeable splotches. And then I started thinking about the past month's goals and how it all went: the car I cleaned that is a disaster again, the bow tie I made that everyone refused to wear, the cake stands that are a little crooked, how awfully unbalanced our meals have been over the past month (I think bread + cheese has been the base of 90% of our dinners: grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, cheese pizza, pasta with cheese...), the budget I'm not keeping up with, the awful times when I lost my patience with Carson, the stack of papers I never went through, the scrapbooks I never even started, the closets I didn't organize, oh yeah and that time a few days ago when I backed out of the driveway with a car door open, totally smashing it against a concrete wall. Etc., etc., etc.

It's times like this when I go back and remember the night I knew I should marry Rick Otto. I was overwhelmed and discouraged by college-related responsibilities. I'm sure I was crying, although I don't really remember. But what Rick did was perfect. He didn't try to flatter me with compliments and reassure me that I was doing great. He didn't fix me a bowl of ice cream and tell me to forget about it all. He made me sit down and get out a paper and a pen. And we made a list. He would ask me to name all the reasons I felt like I was failing or things I was worried about. Then we would think up what we needed to do to overcome each challenge. When the list was done, suddenly I felt in control again. I probably didn't 100 per cent fulfill everything on that list, but it kept me going.

So, tonight I will make a list, and I'll quit thinking about all my failures. (The first thing on the list will be: have Rick help me fix the piano paint job!) I think the point is that we just keep going. It doesn't matter that my kids' shirts have permanent stains on them; I just keep washing them. It doesn't matter that my house is a mess again; I just keep cleaning it. It doesn't matter that my kids misbehave every day; I just keep loving and mothering them. I think God wants us to just keep going, and to have faith and hope that in the process my family and I will overcome challenges and become something great.

New haircut + messy room. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 26: writing in the kids' journals.

It's been way too long, so I made myself sit down and write in the kids' journals tonight. 

Here's what they were up to today:

While big brother was at school, Everett had a friend over, and we did a couple of activities. Ev helped me make some simple alphabet cards, and we played games where he had to run to the letters and hop on them, or touch them with his head, etc.

This kid totally surprised me by knowing almost all the letters and their sounds/words that start with the letters. The funny thing is, when Carson came home and we tried to play again, Everett gave wrong answers and acted silly. It's pretty obvious that when Mr. I-know-all-the-answers Carson is around, Everett looks for other ways to get attention. This is why Carson is going to pre school: so Everett can have some time to shine!
Faye is eating like a big girl these days. She already wants what we're eating instead of her mush, which is fine by me. I do not like these days of cooking and pureeing and all that mess!
Today she finally grabbed that bowl right out of my hands. She was very happy with that accomplishment.
Look at those legs go!
I couldn't choose just one picture of her, obviously.
Our neighbor/adopted grandma Barbara found this great water toy on clearance, and Carson of course didn't forget my promise that we'd try it out today. Made me miss my class at the gym, but they had lots of fun!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 25: the craft table.

I'm working on a couple of big projects, but nothing ready to post about yet. So for today's "extra," Carson and I organized the playroom craft table. I feel like so many nights I tidy this area by just shoving workbooks on the shelves and sweeping all the tiny pieces of paper Carson has cut up into some container. (Because you know he would freak out if I threw them away.)

So now everything has a place. It was Carson's idea to group some of the supplies by the first letter of their names. Pencils, pens and paintbrushes go together. 

Pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks make another "P" container. And then there's the "S" jar with scissors, a stapler, and sticks. When I looked in there just now I saw that he'd also stuffed in a couple of seashells for good measure.
In other news, Carson started pre-school yesterday. He'll go just two days a week, and we hope he has lots of fun! Doesn't he look handsome???

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 24: sending a package.

Sending cards and packages to family is another one of those things where I usually have great intentions but never actually follow through. So, to thrive today, we put together a package for those crazy girl cousins up in Virginia. The twins' birthday is coming up, and Adriel wanted to try out a few headbands I've made. Carson and Everett had a great time making cards: they cut out a bunch of pictures from magazines and glued them on to make collages. Maybe from now on I can be better about remembering birthdays and sending little things sometimes.

Day 23: finishing touches for Faye.

I started working on Faye's nursery long before she was born. Finally, today I hung the last picture or two, fixed a flower that had fallen down, repaired a hole in the wall, and pronounced it finished! This is my favorite room in our house. It is peaceful and every piece has  a special meaning behind it. It is also my favorite because it belongs to such a sweet little girl.

The crib was purchased for $20 at a church rummage sale for baby Everett. (The same church where Carson will go to pre-school.) The crib sheet was made by me and was the first time I bought cute pink fabric for a girl! The rocker was a Craigslist purchase, and the pillow on it is from Faye's great-Gram. The fabric for the flowers was a baby shower gift from our good friend Carrie, and putting those up was one of my favorite projects.
The desk-turned-changing-table belonged to Rick's parents. It was supposed to be for Rick to use for a medical school study desk, but has always been used for babies instead. The mirror was a $10 yard sale fine, spray painted by me and Faye's Grandmama. The lamp and all baskets in the room are from one of my favorite stores, World Market. Aunts Jeanel and Suzette babysat newborn Faye while we searched for the perfect baskets to fit under the desk.

The very day I told my mom I wanted a couch in the new baby's room, she had started to try to sell this one. It was lovingly donated to the nursery. The pictures above show the important men in Faye's life. (All right, the nursery is actually not finished. I should make a couple more pillows for the couch!)

The big letter "f" is from local store Re-Tale, spray painted of course. The other "F" just from a A.C. Moore. I went to that store 3 times to get that thing! For some reason they had every letter except F.
Curtains made by me, with help from Grandmama. We made them while she was visiting over Christmas break, before we knew that the baby would be a girl! The pink desk is from our neighbor's yard sale. The elderly neighbor said he remembers picking out that desk and painting it pink for his little girl (30 plus years ago).

An etsy print. I just love this little peacock. Can't you tell it's Faye??

Ikea chandelier hung by Pappy, and we still love to look for his fingerprint up on the ceiling.  The soft fluffy rug was a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I love the memories that came about from creating this nursery both before Faye was born, and then adding her personal touches afterwards. Oh how we love this girl!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 22: recipes.

I don't know how many times I've started baking something with my trusty, ever-present assistant Everett perched next to me on his ladder and had to be like, "HOLD ON EVERETT. DON'T TOUCH THAT HOT PAN. I'VE GOT TO RUN TO THE COMPUTER TO SEE WHAT THE RECIPE SAYS NEXT." The demise of my old laptop may be party due to me dragging it back and forth from the kitchen to look at recipes while I cook or bake.

So, today I wrote up some of the recipes I most frequently find myself looking up and posted them in a very accessible place: inside a cupboard door.

It is pretty fun to collect all your favorite recipes in one place and remember where they came from or the first time you made them.

What are your go-to recipes? Maybe I will add them to my collection!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 21: piano painting.

Not sure how Rick is going to feel about this one. So, I started painting the piano today. Well, actually I should say RE-painting, since we painted it red a couple of years ago. And by that I mean Rick painted it red while I watched. We used oil-based paint that time, which was a MAJOR PAIN. You did a great job, sweetie, it was just time for a little change.

Lately I can't stop thinking about the color turquoise. I get that way with colors sometimes. I start liking a certain color combination and before you know it, I looked down today and my shoes are turquoise and my shirt is too.

So, since I decided my living room is totally blah and took down everything hanging on the walls, it was time to bring in some... turquoise! I even brought my shoe into Sherwin Williams to compare the color. I am actually going to use that deep turquoise for some accents and got a way lighter color for the piano.

I sanded, primed and painted the top part of the piano. Aaaand that's where it stopped. Try as I might, I cannot figure out how to remove other pieces from the piano. And the thing takes about 6 strong men to move, so there's no way I can move it out from the wall to paint it there.

So, Rick, how about a piano painting date when you come home in only 8 more days???

The playroom right now.
Swirled the extra paint inside of a mason jar. Isn't that what everyone does with their leftover paint??

Everett's idea of fun today. He could have done this all afternoon. Carson put up with playing in the mud for about 5 minutes and wanted specific instruction on how to make a mud pie.

Day 20: mending.

I have a lot of clothes with holes in them. Maybe it's because my kids tug on them all the time. Maybe it's because I buy cheap clothes. Or maybe both. So tonight I took out anything that had a tear or rip in it and went to town with the old sewing machine. It was so easy! I officially have six items of clothing I can wear again.

My favorite fix was the blue skirt with the fun floral print. This was actually a dress I bought in Chile. One of the straps of the dress tore off, but instead of fixing it I decided it would be cuter as a skirt. So I cut the top off and hemmed the top of the new skirt! I don't even know if that's the right way to do it, but it fits and I love it.

I'm excited that I actually had fun sewing tonight! Usually I dread all the ironing, pinning, winding that dang bobbin, etc. But this was an instantly gratifying way to sew.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 19: yogurt.

I made yogurt!

This is really so exciting to me. I have been meaning to try making yogurt for a while and hadn't gotten around to it. It was much easier than I thought, once I figured out how to read my thermometer. I can't tell you how exciting it was to unwrap the towels off the crock pot, open it up and see the whole thing full of thick, creamy yogurt! It totally felt like magic.

If you're curious about making your own, I just did a search and read a bunch of tutorials. Basically all of them have you heat milk (I did a half gallon) to 180 degrees to kill the bacteria you don't want. This took mine an hour or so on low in the crock pot. Then you cool it down to 110 and stir in your starter. I took my crock pot out of the warmer and let it sit for a while to cool. For your first time you use store bought plain yogurt as the starter. I was supposed to add a half cup of the starter but accidentally added 6 oz. Maybe this helped it turn out so nice and thick? (Actually, I had to have my friend Erin add the starter since she was babysitting at the time. Hey Erin, you made yogurt!) Then you want to keep it at 110 degrees for several hours to grow all the good bacteria. You can do this by wrapping the crock pot in towels and putting it in the oven. (With the oven off.) You can leave it for 6 to 12 hours. The tutorials I read say that the longer you leave it the more tart it gets.

The funny thing about mine is that it turned out that my 6 hour mark was going to be at 2 a.m.! I went to bed and thought, "oh well, I'll get it in the morning and it'll be tart this time." Well, I woke up randomly last night and looked at the clock: exactly 2 a.m.! I do think I have a talent of telling myself exactly what time to wake up. So I got up and stuck the crock pot in the fridge. I woke up to this! We all enjoyed delicious fruit and yogurt and granola this morning. We'll keep making yogurt for sure!

*A few more notes: I used whole milk, mostly because Faye will be eating it. You can use low fat milk for sure, but it might not be as thick. You can also stir in some nonfat dry milk to help it thicken. You can also blend in fruit and even make it vanilla. We'll probably try that next time.