Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Little Bag That's Stolen My Heart

I know it's wrong, but I'm coveting this bag. I'll just have to make another. This was a Christmas gift, so I knew all along it wasn't for me and that I just needed to get over it....but I just haven't...I'm having bag envy. I can just see myself, bopping around Fish Creek....Door County that is...little bag under my arm, looking cute. And I suppose it should have a "J" instead of an "A". ;-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There Should be a Law

I think we should petition Congress. Little kids should not be made to suffer through the flu. Our poor Marshall Ames started his descent into flu-dom yesterday morning with a cruel wakeup call....pook in his bed. I think by the end of the day he had counted 9 separate places he had pooked in the house. And that wasn't the only end that suffered. Luckily he has convinced himself that drinking lots of water will keep the pook down....so we're not getting dehydrated.

Today brought better hope....no pooking until late in the day. Poor guy...he begs not to do it before the reflex takes over. It makes me cry. Please God, let him feel better or at least give him the strength to believe he WILL feel better.

Ode to My Mom

This little box means so much to me. Weird to be so connected to cardboard? Not really. This little box represents how hard my mom worked for us everyday we were growing up. I didn't realize until I had my own children how hard her job was. She commuted 2 hours a day to work, did all the housework, cooking, cleaning, etc (you know what I'm talking about moms.) Then she always made holidays and birthdays so special for us. Not by spending tons of money (although she and my dad would have spent the last dime they had to make us happy), but by creating an atmosphere that made us feel special and loved and like an important person in the universe.

Enter the little box. This is the box that for over 30 years has held all the little frosting tips she used to decorate our very special birthday cakes. We could come up with ANYTHING to put on a cake and she would miraculouslly recreate it in frosting and sugar. The little box makes me remember that everytime I use it...now it's mine and I cherish it.

My mom. Superwoman.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No, He's Not a Girl

We've had this problem for a while....just a month shy of five years actually. Literally EVERY time we would take Marshall out when he was a little guy of Clancey's size we would receive the following comment from some kind person. "Your little girl is so pretty." We'd grin and say thank you, not wanting to embarrass the compliment giver for mistaking our beautiful, long eye-lashed, blue-eyed male babe for a beautiful, long eye-lashed, blue-eyed female. But alas, in our efforts to save the feelings of many a stranger we felt like maybe we needed to dress him a little butchier or (gasp) cut his long silky curls (which I did do and made me cry).

Well here we are with beautiful, long eye-lashed, hazel-eyed male number two, Clancey Dylan. Frankly, yes he's picture perfect, I won't lie ;-). However, I think he looks pretty much BOY. Nope, we are having issues once again. Just the other day at the doctor's office the nurse said "this is HER second flu shot, correct?" Yep, is all I said to defend my gender-bending off-spring. The nurse came back into the room with the shot and said "I'm so sorry I called him a girl, he's just so beatuiful that I thought he was a she."

Now, regarding the outfit shown....even Marshall said "Mommy that makes him look like a girl." Then Levi "Jen that makes him look like a girl." Okay it does. Check this one off the list to wear in public.

Sorry boys, you're just too pretty. My little heartbreakers in the making.

Marshall, The Photo Journalist

I think the time has come...Marsh needs a camera of his own. A couple nights ago he shot a small photo montage of our evening during the supper rush. He finds the best shots...I think he's got "the eye" like his Uncle Mike. Very interesting perspective of the world. More to come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa~
I've been a very good girl this year and I hear you have a pretty roomy sleigh, so I would like to ask for a very special china hutch, constructed in the 1880's to be delivered to my dining room.
I'll put out extra cookies.
Thank you,

Christmas Cheer, Far From Here

The Christmas cheer is flowing like the river that runs through downtown in Stoughton, Wisconsin. My dear husband and I were lucky enough to spend the entire Victorian Holiday Weekend there. (thanks mom and dad for watching the boys!!) We enjoyed time with my brother and sister-in-law, soaked in the atmosphere and contemplated how we could finagle moving here permanently! If any of you are fans of the Gilmore Girls you'll understand this reference.....we stepped into Stars Hollow for three days. Seriously. The town is full of interesting people, BEAUTIFUL architecture, a bustling historic downtown and loaded to the gills with charm. Shopowners greet you with a warm welcome, are more than attentive and made me want to return time after time. (Especially to the Catfish River Arts & Antiques where I am SERIOUSLY coveting an 1880's china hutch) Lots of towns could learn a lesson or two by visiting this place...it is incredible, summer or winter, spring or fall. We attended a cookie walk put on the local United Methodist ladies....and were told they had already taken down SIX tables of cookies (there were four left) by the time we got there!! We're going early next year. Took a wonderful, snowy horsedrawn wagon ride through the beautiful neighborhoods and downtown. Enjoyed pizza and a movie (at the same time!!) at the Cinema Cafe. Watched the bed races, what a sight. Listened to the Stoughton Chamber Singers in their enchanting Victorian Holiday Concert, given at the restored Opera House (another beauty to behold). I forgot to mention the firetruck parade...area trucks decked out in lights, music, reindeer, snowmen....all after dark. It was dazzling.
I'm seriously addicted to Stoughton.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Now This is Talent

A couple months ago we had our family photos taken...as was necessary because by the looks of the photos around our house one would think we had only one child! Somehow that second babe seems to really rile things up and not much in the way of "extras" get done, IE no professional photos of him. SOO....in an effort to remedy his absence from our wall-o-family we scheduled a date with a wonderfully talented photographer in Madison, Jen Roh....the very same who took the very lovely photos at my brother and sister-in-law's wedding....GORGEOUS photos.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ying and Yang

It's so funny really....I always thought when I had a second baby that he would be pretty much like the first one...I mean they have the same genes, right?
I was wrong.
Frankly on any given topic they are polar opposites...but in a good way. Clancey is our little ham, always laughing, always trying to make us laugh...ie the wet towel on his head. Marsh is the consumate gentleman, always offering to help, serious, polite, well mannered. And they fit. They fit each other like cinnamon and sugar...the perfect compliments. I really couldn't have asked for sweeter boys. Boys that worship the ground the other walks on. I hope it's always that way. Nothing more special than brothers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Goody Parade

One of the benefits (of the countless many) of staying at Mema and Papa's (my mom and dad) is that you get to inhale an endless stream of goodies. The goody goodness began this time with a batch of cookies Marsh insisted on making. Sugar cookies with chocolate chips and sprinkles. I think it's fair to say we were all a little standoffish at first....sugar cookies with chocolate chips? Boy, the kid was right....they were DELICIOUS!! Then the goodies continued....homemade cinnamon rolls, frozen banana split dessert, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie....oh my. I apologize thighs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yum Yum Yummy Felt

I have something to admit. My name is Jen and I am addicted to making felt food. ;-) I think the felt food production will stretch far beyond Christmas now....there's just so much to make....I CAN'T STOP! I hope the boys will enjoy playing with it as much as I enjoy crafting it. There is a set of cinnamon rolls about to be debuted here as well!

Beautiful Beautiful

Our Christmas Wonderland is coming to fruition....the "fancy" tree in the foyer is bedecked with shiny, glittery ornaments and twinkly white lights and greets all who come through the front door. The banister is wrapped in garland and ribbons and looking welcoming. Beautiful. Magical. It all gives me a warm glow in my soul.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Preserving Every Last Drop

Having a family is more fun than I ever imagined it would be....there are days I wish we had a video of every last morsel of the day and every tidbit of what my boys have to say. I admit, there are other days when I'm pooped out and thinking I just need a nap.....but the fun days far out number the nap-needing days. In an effort to capture just a whisp of the fun we have together I decided last year to start doing a scrapbook for each year. These are nowhere near the artistic creation they could be but they get the job done of reminding us of the fun times we have shared. Lots of photos, lots of momentos and lots of notes about how we were feeling, what we were doing, what our favorite things were, etc. After I finished 2007 I promised myself I would update the book quarterly, as to spread the project out over more time....well here we are almost to December and I have yet to begin....but it's time to start as my "scrapbook drawer" is getting a little difficult to close!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Famous Cedar Rapidians

My aunt and uncle are now famous movie stars....or at least regionally once-in-a-while- recognized. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clancey and the Little Lady Friend

Ever since discovering her a few months ago, Clancey has become smitten with a little lady friend. Unfortunately we can't seem to locate the clothes for his lady friend and therefore she remains a little light on coverage, but we're still looking. When Clancey celebrated his birthday a few weeks ago a special little package arrived from his Uncle Mike and Aunt Chell....a custom made t-shirt with a little embroidered chick and the words "Chick Magnet"....that's Clancey...our little ladies' man.

What a good guy....he offers senstive hugs, footrubs, hair checks and thoughtful listening to his little lady friend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Felt Food is Arriving at the Market!

I am having so much fun making felt food for Marsh and Clancey. I'm going to keep stitching and stitching until I have to wrap the gift, as there is SOOO much food to make! Apparently ANYTHING can be recreated in felt and I'm going to make as much as I can before I have to put it under the tree. I'm working on a pizza right now, which I'll unveil when finished....hopefully Marsh doesn't figure out how to check my blog before Christmas!

Celebrate Early! Celebrate Often!

Marshall and I can't be held back....we're going to celebrate the holidays for as long as we possibly can. Box by box we're getting all the decorations out, putting them up, stepping back and breathing in the holiday spirit. It's so fun this year, as Marsh is a FABULOUS little helper and he gets just as excited about these projects as I do. We decorated the banister from top to bottom yesterday, as well as heading outside to put up some more garland and ribbons on the porch. The house will be lovely this year and we are going to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our Christmas Pledge

The crafting has now begun! Since I was very small I LOVED to make gifts for my family...I loved the anticipation of waiting for them to open their gift and was always excited to see their response, which, because I have a wonderful loving family, has always been positive.
After last Christmas, my dear husband and I decided that NEXT year (a short month and a half away now) we were going to stick to a Christmas pledge in our gift giving. The following is our pledge (although we may fudge a little).
Jen & Levi's Christmas Pledge:
We will give only gifts that are
1) CONSUMABLE (ie a nice tray of baked goodies, an Amana ham, a case of yummy
Millstream Cream Soda, etc).
2) LOCALLY MADE (ie local crafters, local meat producers, etc)
3) HANDMADE BY US (ie the many creations that are now in the works in Jen's crafting extravaganza! ;-)
We want to get back to the true meaning of Christmas and teach our kids the same. It's not about running out at the last minute and grabbing the last pair of pine scented Santa underwear off the shelf and waiting in line to purchase said undergarments behind a dozen other cranky people...it's about spending time with those we love...and if gift giving is a part of that, then show them you thought about them all year and came up with a very special token of that.e

The Secret of the Red Ear

I don't know what it is....genetics I suppose. The Red Ear Syndrome...it's like a blinking beacon telling all those around oneself that I AM TIRED!!! My dad has it, I have it and now Marshall has it as well. The funny thing is, it's only one ear....one ear turns bright red and is burning hot...but only when we get REALLY tired. There was never any tricking my parents about my need to go to bed, nor will Marsh ever have that capability. ;-)

Friday, November 14, 2008


Today, with two little helpers in tow we made our way to the basement to do some laundry. Just as soon as I put Clancey down to waddle around Marshall descended faster than I have ever seen him move! He said "NO MOMMY, CLANCEY MIGHT GO BY THE SCARY THING!!!" (aka the water heater). It was last year some time that he noticed this very scary label on the water heater (frankly it makes me a little nervous to be honest!). So Marsh herded Clancey toward the other side of the basement like he was trying out for a guard position on the LA Lakers. We all made it back upstairs safe and sound...

Bono Tries to Pull a Fast One

This morning, as I'm showering Bono comes in (okay, it wasn't Bono, but his pint-sized lookalike) and is trying to tell me something over the rushing water and fan noise. The conversation went something like this....
Bono: Mommy....ghouoiseh..horeuone...coiuoisue....couoeuoe?
Mommy: What was that Marsh?
Bono: Shous...hosue ruouie ouercoe ouseowe?
Mommy: I can't hear you Marsh, what was that?
Mommy: Okay.
The rest of the story.....last night Marsh found a stash of patterns I have been accumulating for his felt food grocery store gift and wanted to know what they were for. I told him you don't ask questions at this time of the year because it might involve a gift for you. SO....he wants it to be Christmas YESTERDAY now! :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The VanOort Men Get Jiggy

I love my pile of boys. :-) They make me laugh.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

As we wandered around the house today, I thought I'd share a few of my very favorite things....places that make me happy "to just be". When the light streams in midday into our bedroom it is the coziest spot on earth....there are days I could just cuddle under the covers, bask in the sunlight and be still...I just have to convince two squirmy little boys that they would also enjoy that. ;-)
The paint by number lighthouse is one I picked up in a secondhand store...it shouted to me as I walked by and said "you CANNOT leave me here, I belong on your wall!" I think it is beautiful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Cake Heist of 2008

Daddy requested pumpkin bars this weekend and I obliged...but it sort of turned into pumpkin cake....delicious nonetheless, just loftier. Daddy promptly dug in and finished off approximately 3/4 of the cake in two days....until Marsh caught wind that the cake was being vacuumed by his father. ;-) He VERY much enjoyed the cake as well and wanted to be sure he got his fair share. Today the last piece sat waiting for a VanOort male to pounce. And the medium sized one did...much to his father's chagrin. ;-)

That's Not My Snowman, His Scarf is Too Fluffy

Clancey is a full on booklover these days....the Usborne feely books are his fave. It's so cute to watch him....he'll bring them to me and we'll read, then he'll take the book and go page by page..."Ba, ba ba", page 2, "Ba, ba ba", page 3, "Ba ba ba" and so on and so on. My second little sponge soaking up his world.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bad Morning All Around

This morning started out like any other....everyone happy, cheerful, feeling good for the Sunday ahead....then it hit. I don't know what I did, what I ate or if I caught a whif of flu....but we'll just say it was bad....REAL BAD for about four hours. The worst of it was I missed Marshy singing in church. I was SOOOO looking forward to hearing him sing. I really do love to go to church service, hear the sermon, and especially hear the children sing when they do. I don't make it there every Sunday, as little ones make it particularly difficult sometimes...especially young ones who like to yell like Howler Monkies at the most inopportune times, but I digress. THIS morning I was looking forward to it and I missed it.

Marsh came home from Sunday School and had more bad news to report. As the story goes, per Marsh....."Mommy, one thing. Did you know this morning there were two Caitlins at Sunday School? Well, the Caitlins bumped into each other and a Caitlin started bleeding out her nose!! The blood got out her nose. The blood got to her mouth. THEN the blood got to her chin!!"

So I and the Caitlins are hoping the rest of the day perks up. ;-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Loopy

DECK THE HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF HOLLY, FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAA!!!! The neighborhood probably thinks I've lost my mind (maybe I have ;-). I am looking SOOO forward to the holidays, that last week during our last stint of 70 degree weather I couldn't help but put up the garland on the porch, with the help of my pint sized assistant. I still have to finish with the bows, etc, but this was nice to get done before finger chilling weather sets in. Yesterday we had our first big snowflakes so it made me anticipate the holiday season even more. I suggested to my dear husband this morning that we should put up our fancy foyer Christmas tree today....I think he thought I've gone a little kooky too! Can't wait for the weekend after Thanksgiving when we visit Kelly Tree Farm and bring home that beautiful aromatic tree. This weekend also kicks off my crafting extravaganza....lots of homemade gifts this year...my favorite.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The "Died" Owl at Story Hour

Today was the start of the Fall Story Hour season at the library. Marsh LOVES to attend and listen to the stories, assemble the craft and nibble on the treats. He was a little disturbed by today's program however...given by the Cedar County conservationist and her "died" owl, as Marsh put it. As you can see in the pic he was not thrilled with the dearly departed winged assistant. He said "I knew it was died, but it was still freaky." He's a man after his father's heart....not a great lover of the Wild Kingdom. ;-)
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