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'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'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 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 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 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. ;-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My View From the Backseat

My boys are getting older. I have a feeling this is the view I'm going to have from now on where Marsh is concerned. He's so independent, so thoughtful, so mature for 4. I can't wait to see what the world holds for him....look out world, he's got a lot for you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Changing the World

I am truly speechless, but I'll give it a shot. We are experiencing an awakening in this country, right now, that transcends politics. It moves beyond the differences of Repbublican v. Democrat. Our great country can be great again, we just couldn't get there from here until now...until we had someone who could move above and beyond what politics of late have represented. I feel that same swell of patriotism as I did after the devastating events of 9-11. At that time I wanted something to be asked of me....we were all ready to do whatever the goverment asked of us. We wanted to be able to do something. We are at that pinnacle again. Please President Obama, ask something of us. Energy conservation? Volunteerism? Rationing? Please, ask something of us. We will respond.

Watching the coverage of this amazing event last night, seeing people around the world cheering, crying and dancing in the streets....that says something doesnt it? To me it says, the citizens of the world are ready for change....we all want to move in a postive direction. They have just been waiting for us to make a change, so they can affectuate the change that they so desire for themselves.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, citizens of the United States of America for seeing this and seeing that President Elect Barack Obama represnts that. He is a president that has attracted EVERYONE to be engaged in this process. My husband and I have attended a number of Obama events in the past two years and were deeply moved to see the broad spectrum of people there to support his campaign. Young, old, black, white, Latino....the melting pot that this country truly is. HOPE, CHANGE..... THE FUTURE.

From the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We'll Make History Today

No matter who wins the presidential election today, history will be made. We all have a chance to be a part of this. I have been a legal voting adult for fourteen years and never have I been so inspired and awe-struck to have this opportunity. Today we have the opportunity to change the course of our battered country and the future of the world as we know it. America can once again be respected on the international stage. Barack Obama is to my generation what John Kennedy must have been to my parents'. We can respect government again and be INSPIRED by our president. Don't we all need a little inspiration right now? Vote today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Winter is Coming!

Sunday fun in the leaves. I think this year we have accomplished the most we EVER have for winter preparations. My dad helped us get all of our porch furniture stored away in the garage attic, we raked the ENTIRE front yard ( a very big deal for us, as we normally shovel leaves with the first snow ;-), cleaned off all the front flower beds, and raked up all the buckeye leaves (grass killers as my husband calls them). Wow, I guess we're actually becoming respectable homeowners.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First Shoes

Clancey's first shoes. How can he be this big already?

The Boy Genius Wants More Info

This morning before Sunday School I found Marsh in his room paging through this book. With a little sigh he held it up to me and said "Mommy, I can't find a sign of Barack Obama or McCain in this book." Keep in mind this is a four year old, who as a three old attended Obama's Cedar Rapids rally on the day he announced his run for the presidency. I hope everyone who CAN ACTUALLY VOTE engages themselves this much. I'm so proud of my little might have guessed. ;-)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Please vote on Tuesday, November 4. It is your duty as an American citizen....Marsh would vote if he could. We've made our choice, now make yours.
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