Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Bit of a Hiatus

Hey Lovely blog readers :)

I'm so sorry for the complete lack of blog posts for the past, well...three weeks.  If you read this post, you can catch a glimpse of why I haven't been posting anything.  Honestly, I just haven't had the TIME.  It's been an eye opening adventure to say the least to have six children full time for the summer.  There have been some big challenges, and I haven't been able to maintain any sort of posting schedule, or be able to do any projects since completing my front porch planters or the end of the year teacher's gifts.  I'm not abandoning my blog, however!  I am going to switch to a different type of posting for the summer, though.  I'm just going to post here and there, and primarily journal style.  Things that I just feel like talking about, as opposed to diy projects.  If I get any projects completed this summer, then of course I will share, but it doesn't seem like I'm going to have the time.  I was really stressed about this, at first, but you know what....the blog will always be here, and I can always just pick up right where I left off.  I decided that I'm just going to take it easy and not try to monetize (which is what I was working towards) or anything like that until after school starts....when I will only have one child home with me during the day....as opposed to 6...

So far this summer, we have done some fun things.  I went on a beach trip with a few of my girlfriends.  That was a lot of fun.  I got really sun burnt...which wasn't so fun.


We had a pizza movie night for my boy and some of his friends.  


We have gone to several parks and pools and splash pads


We've been to the movies....I don't have a shot of that...but, yes, I took six kids to the movies, and afterwards they all played in the water fountain out front until they were soaking wet :) 

We have baked a lot....and made a lot of messes while doing so.


I have done approximately 10,000 loads of dishes and 5,000 loads of laundry.  

We had an awesome Fourth of July with our extended family.


...and celebrated my husband's birthday with friends as well.  

So that's what has been going on with us!  How about you?  Wish me luck for the rest of the summer.  We have roller skating, blueberry picking, carousel rides, the zoo, and another beach trip left on the itinerary.  I'll try to not stay away so long next time.  Wishing you all a happy summer :) 

xoxo
Anna  






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

13th Anniversary

You know I've been married a long time when I am sitting here at 11:00 at night on my 13th wedding anniversary writing a blog post about said anniversary, while my husband is sitting across from me belly laughing while watching old episodes of Frazier.  We are lively aren't we....lol...

This is one of my all time favorite shots of my husband and I.  
I love it so much :)


Well, we do have a big date planned for Friday night, so I guess that is something.  We got take out and milkshakes tonight to celebrate and posted lovey dovey things to each other on Facebook.   I still can't believe it has been 13 years since we were married and 17 years since we met.  Here is a shot of us when we were first dating.  


We met when I was halfway through my sophmore year in high school and he had already graduated the previous year (I was always after the older guys, I guess).  We lived 100 miles apart and he just happened to tag along for a road trip with a friend of his who was going to attend my best friend in high school's sweet 16 party.  He didn't even know my friend (who's party it was).  It was the most improbable meeting ever. Below is a shot of the very first moment I took notice of him at that party.  He was asked to sing (he has an amazing voice) a song that he and a friend had written.  This picture is of him in the back ground singing and me looking at the camera with a huge smile on my face, turning to complete mush, because I was SMITTEN!

Can you tell this was from a high school girl's birthday album...haha!  I am the one all the way to the left in the foreground and my husband is the one all the way to the right in the background. 
This is one of the most precious pictures to me.  Not many people have the very moment they met captured this way. 


We both formed crushes on each other this night, but we both thought we'd never see each other again...until I bumped into him a few weeks later on a trip to Columbia, SC (I was from Charleston, SC) to attend the circus.  He got my number, we went on a few dates....and it was LOVE.  We only dated for a few short months (6) before he headed off to serve a 2 year mission in northern California for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We promised to meet back up once he came home.  I dated other boys while he was gone, graduated high school and when he came home, we basically picked right back up where we left off.  

This is us the very day he came home in 1999.


We did one year commuting back and forth 100 miles to see each other every week.  I drove up to see him once a week and he drove down to see me once a week.  When my little sister passed away that very same year (pictured above sitting on the floor in front of me), I moved up to Columbia to have a fresh start and to live near him.  We were married one year later.  I was 19, he was 22 (almost 23).  He saw me through the hardest thing that ever happened in my life, and I knew that he was it for me :)  

Our Wedding



We have seen each other through the hardest of times and the happiest of times.  I love this man more than anything in the world.  He is the best man I know.  He is always the most hilarious person in the room, always has everybody in stitches....he is usually the smartest person in the room...he talks to me every day, tells me everything he thinks and does, he is my very best friend.  He always finds me attractive no matter how much of a mess I am, and how many pounds I may have gained.   I've never met another person who is more genuine than this man.  He is fiercely loyal and does not ever compromise what is right, no matter what.  I have never met anyone who is more sure of them-self.  He is full of integrity and does not follow the crowd.  At the same time, he is also wonderful with people.  He is able to always stand his ground and buck the trends and people always love him for it.  I am always in awe of him, every day....even after all of these years.  He is an incredible example to those around him and most of all to our children.  I could not say enough good about this man.  Here are some pictures, of us over the years.  

2006






2007



2008
Easter with just two little boys 



Pregnant with our first daughter here on my birthday in December of 2008


2009


Love this one...it shows his real smile...and I am clearly cracking up at something he did


2010

The birth of our fourth child...an emergency C-section....super scary


2011 

Easter 

2012
the beard (in case you can't tell, it goes down to his chest).....  You can't say I'm not a supportive wife.  Oh, the beard....

2013
so glad the beard is gone


Easter this year.  Not sure why I look so much larger than him here...


And this was my tribute to my husband on our Anniversary.  Love you Babe! With all my heart :) 


xoxo
Anna



























Friday, June 6, 2014

A Day in The Life. My Summer Schedule for Six Kids

What a summer this is going to be!  I am going to be babysitting all summer, which means I now have two extra kids for the summer....that makes SIX y'all.  They are, as follows: 11, 8, 7, 5, 3 and 2.  I love having an extra child to babysit during the school year.  I only had 1 child home with me during the day this year and this gave her someone to play with and it helped with the cash flow.  Part of the deal, though, is to also watch her big sister during the summer.  I didn't really think that through, I think...ha!  I wasn't remembering that I'd have all of MY kids home too.  Oh well, it is what it is and I'm not about to go back on my promise to anybody.  Six kids it is!

I had to take everybody to Walmart the other day and I really didn't have any choice.  I took a picture because, well, I had six kids in Walmart....we made it out alive though :) My oldest son is too funny in this picture, he is hitting that pre-teen age where everything embarrasses him.  I had the three little girls in the first shopping cart, and the three older kids walking, with my oldest pushing a second cart full of groceries.  It was nuts. I was constantly fussing at the little ones to sit down and to not fight, while the 7 and 8 year-olds chased each other in circles around my shopping cart. 

I am taking the opportunity this summer to really crack down on our whole family.  I HAVE to.  We will not make it through this if I don't.  

We have instituted new rules.  It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally enforcing the "only eating in the kitchen" rule.  Everything in my living room area is wipeable, so I've always let them eat on the couch and watch TV for lunch and snacks (not dinner)....the problem with that is they always manage to sneak off with food into the bedrooms and we all know what kind of problem that creates.  It just adds to the chaos as well.  I am being super hard core about chores.  My boys have to do a whole bunch of chores each day in order to have one precious hour on their beloved Xbox.  I am also really working hard to not repeat myself when I am dealing with my little girls.  It's hard, but I'm trying to make sure I punish them immediately if they don't listen to me the first time. We are going to be working hard on consistent exercise and diet as a family....stuff like that.  

I also have a pretty tight schedule that we are going to follow.  I thought I would share it with you guys.  

It starts at 7:00 am (I'm still working on getting up this early...I'm still sort of rolling out of bed at 7:30 when the kids I watch get here).  Ideally, I would get up at 7:00, start a load of laundry, do my morning walk through (mentioned here), make breakfast and get dressed before they get here.
  
7:30:   Kids arrive and I get all of the kids to sit down to breakfast, (I usually make mine at this point too).  Unload the dishwasher and wipe the counters down after breakfast....maybe start laundry at some point in the day (gotta get better about this!)

8:30:   Get the kids ready and head out the door! (the gym is 5 minutes away...it takes the rest of the time just getting in the car)

9:00: We all go to the gym....ahhhh, time to myself :)  My gym allows me to bring kids I babysit, so this helps a lot.  They also have a pool, so we are going to rotate one kid per day getting to come swim with me for a little one on one pool time/swim lesson. 

11:00:  Head home, kids do chores and play while I make lunch. I'm going to make up a big chore chart soon...but for now, they just do what I tell them to do. We also make sure to pick up all toys that have been pulled out before lunch at this time too. 

12:30:  Eat lunch, clean up after lunch...do some dinner prep (crock pot) or maybe make cookies or granola bars with the kids. 

1:00:  Quiet time.  The only child I have that takes a nap is the youngest.  I lucked out and she is a super heavy sleeper....so I just put her down on the couch and have the rest of the kids line up and sit on the couch with her.  I put her to sleep with the TV blaring, so the other kids don't wake her up with their inevitable noises.  It works like a charm! The older kids don't need a nap anymore, but they definitely require some down time.  I put the little girls on the couch with a movie and I let the older boys go up to their bedroom and play on the Xbox (because they worked so hard to earn this time earlier doing all those chores) The boys each get 1 hour on the Xbox and the girls have to sit quietly for at least an hour, and then they can play quietly until the little one gets up.  I use this time to sweep the floors, do any other small chores that need to be done and then log some computer time.  

Quiet time :)

2:30:  Quiet time is essentially over at this time and the kids just play until 3:00 when the girls I babysits' mom comes to get them. (that was an awkward sentence to write) 

3:00:  Take a huge sigh of relief because we have gone from 6 kids back to four.  There is nothing like adding two more kids all day to make it seem like the ones you have aren't that much work.  We usually just do whatever we want for a little bit.  The kids get snacks.  I will blog, or work on projects.  The kids play or watch TV.  I will have my oldest watch the little girls and I will go take a shower (at this point, I'm still all sweaty from the gym).  Sometimes we will run errands or play outside....whatever...it all seems like a break at this point. 

5:00:  Start preparing dinner

6:00: Sit down to dinner. 

After dinner, the little girls clear the table and scrape food into the trash, my oldest scrubs all of the dinner dishes and loads the dishwasher and my second oldest does a walk through of the main living areas and picks up toys, etc.  Everybody makes sure their bedrooms are clean.

7:00: The boys go off to take showers, we give the girls a bath (realistically, we usually alternate boys one night, girls the next, unless someone is exceptionally dirty).  

7:30:  Read scriptures as a family, family prayers, kids brush teeth, put little girls in bed. 

8:00:  Little girls are asleep by now and we send the boys off to their room.  

8:30:  Start dishwasher, Collapse on the couch and have a nightly chat session with the hubby and watch our TV shows.  

11:00:  If I haven't sacked out on the couch already, we go to bed!  

If I can stick to this schedule, I can handle everything.  If I veer away, things fall apart and I become an overwhelmed crazy person. 
We also have lots of fun things planned for this summer as well.  I started a play group with a bunch of friends, so we will be doing a different fun thing with friends every Tuesday (instead of the gym), and I figured we make sure to plan at least one other outing per week as well.  We have plans to go to the beach a few times and for my older boys to have "movie nights" with their friends and we just took a bunch of them to the arcade last night.  I think it will be a good summer.  Funny thing is, the fact that I have so many kids to watch is what is going to force me to make sure this will be a fun summer instead of years past where we would spend day after day in our jammies.  

Well, guys, wish me luck!  

What kind of summer will you be having? 

xoxo

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teacher's Gifts: DIY Monogrammed Clip Board

Good Morning Friends!

Today is the last day of school for my kids.  My oldest had his graduation from elementary school yesterday (I can not believe it!!!) and they are all having parties and lots of fun today.  I am going to be spending my whole day running between classes at the elementary school (with three little girls in tow) delivering teacher's gifts and bringing class party supplies, etc.  Should be crazy.  I'll let you know how that goes....

I thought I would share with you what we made for teacher's gifts this year.  I have seen this idea all over the blogisphere, but I didn't really copy anything I've seen out there.  The best thing about this project is that it is super cheap, but it comes across as something really special and personal.  I bought 6 plain clip boards, a big pack of really cute scrap book paper, pulled out my Modge Podge and went to town!

I had a friend of mine cut out the letters on her Silhouette, but you could easily do this by printing out the letters on printer paper, cutting them out and then tracing on the scrap book paper (would be a pain, but it's doable)....or even put your scrap book paper into the printer and print the letters directly onto the scrap book paper, you just have to make sure you remove all of the printed letter while you are cutting it out.  If you aren't familiar with the Modge Podge process....here's how it goes...really simple:

  • paint it on
  • stick the paper on
  • paint it over the paper
  • repeat if you want to add more layers of paper
  • let it dry


Here are the first two we made for my daughter's preschool teachers.  The kids call these teachers by their first names, so we used first names for them
.
#1.Front 


#1. Back


#2. Front


#2. Back


I tried to choose papers that seemed to go along with their personalities.  Not sure how well I did, but they both seemed to like them! 

The next four are for the elementary school teachers.  I went with initials only for these, since the kids don't call these teachers by their first names.  

#3. Front


#3. Back


#4. Front



#4. Back


#5. Front


#5. Back


#6. Front


#6. Back

I thought they were all so fun!  I can't wait to see what the teachers think of them :)  

After letting them all dry for 24 hours, I sprayed them down with a clear coat poly (in a spray paint).  It helps keep them from being tacky.  They didn't feel tacky, but in my experience, things finished with Modge Podge will stick together if something is left against it for a long time....and clip boards will probably have papers stuck to them for more than five minutes.  I'd hate for the papers to stick to the modge podge...so better safe than sorry.  

Hope you all have a great day!  
xoxo
Anna 

linked up at 
liz marie blog












Saturday, May 31, 2014

DIY Front Porch Planter With Gold Dipped Legs

Hello!  I hope everyone is having a good day.  Things around here have been pretty crazy.  It was the last week of school for my preschooler (Kindergarten here we come) and this coming week is the last week for my elementary school kids.  My oldest is starting middle school, then I'll have a third grader, my oldest daughter is starting Kindergarten and my baby is starting preschool. This new school year will bring a lot of changes for us.  It will be the first time I won't have any of my own kids at home with me full time.  I am still babysitting, so I'm not throwing a party or anything, but even so....it's surreal.  I've been super busy making teacher's gifts and attending end of school parties and events like graduations...*tear*.  I have actually had this planter, that I've mentioned a few times, finished for a little while.  I'm completely in love with how it turned out.

 Here she is!  Drumroll pleeeaaaase....


Here is my supply list:

3 8ft lengths of 2x2s
3 to 4 8ft lengths of 1x4s
4 cedar fence pickets
outdoor paint or stain 
sandpaper
nail gun and compressor
Measuring tape 
Miter saw (or circular saw) 
newspaper
soil
flowers
Gold spray paint for the legs


I started by cutting the wood on my miter saw.  In the picture below, you see enough pieces for two planters.  I made two of them at once.  One for either side of my front door.  
For one planter, you need to cut 4 2x2s to 30 inches long.  These are each of your legs.   You can customize how long the legs are on yours, or how tall you want it to be.  This is just what I did.  Then you need 8 1x4s cut to 15 inches long.  These will make up your basic frame. 


I used an envelope as my marker and marked off the same distance down from the top on all four legs.  I wanted to have a little bit of the side sticking up above the top edge, just because I like the way it looks.  


I used my nail gun and nailed in through the side of the 2x2 into the end of the 1x4 at the marked spot, so they would both be equidistant from the top.  Check for level and make sure all of your angles are square. 


I measured down 14.5 inches on each piece and added a second 1x4 in the same way with my nailer.
Let me tell you....you really want a right angle clamp.  It was a pain trying to get these nailed together while keeping it all square.  My technique (without a fancy clamp) is always to shoot in one nail so it's held together, but can still wiggle around....then get it in the right place, and then add another nail to secure it....and then add in 15 more nails because I always over do it with the nails.  Make two of these "frames."  (or four if you are making two planters like you see below).  Also, make sure you check for square on each right angle, but also check by making sure the measurements from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner match each other on each side.  That way you know you have a perfect square.  


Now add two more 1x4s to each side in the same manner as before.  


It was major over-kill with the nails.  


Use the 1x4s to connect the two square pieces you made at both the top and bottom.  Make sure you check for square again. 


You will get a piece that looks like this.  Now, at this point mine was a bit wobbly.  It's because we used nails and not screws.  If you want this thing to be super crazy sturdy, use screws...but screws take a lot of effort and I'm building a planter, not a playground for my children to play on....so I used nails!  I did, however sure it up a lot on the inside, so it is in fact very sturdy....you'll see below...


Next I cut my cedar fence planks.  These are cut at 20 inches long.  I did three for each side of my box. You really could just go for a solid plywood for this part.  I think it would be a little more streamline, but these babies were less than a dollar for one long plank, and I was going for inexpensive.  


Laying them out, so you can see how they fit.  


I held the plank underneath the 1x4 (which is what I'm nailing into in this picture) and secured it in place behind the 1x4 on the inside of the box.  


One side done.  


I continued around until all sides were done.  


Looks kind of pretty already....but won't hold any dirt like this...


Here's a problem to deal with....your nails will be waaay too long, so they will be sticking out all over the place on the inside.  To keep myself from becoming impaled,  I just went through and bent them all flat with a hammer.  When I finished the entire thing, I went ahead and removed the ones you could see by bending it back and forth until they snapped with some needle nose pliers.....but there was no point in doing that for all of them, especially not the ones way down on the bottom that you'll never see.  


Here is where we sure it up.  Hold up a 2x2 against the inside corner of your planter and measure to fit the length from the top to the bottom.  Go cut four equal pieces.  


nail it in from the front on both sides.  I nailed it through the top and bottom 1x4s and also all along the cedar planks on both sides as well.  


Repeat for all four sides.  This makes it much more sturdy. 


Now you want to add something for your plants to sit on.  I went ahead and made mine very shallow.  I knew that I was going to put some small flowers in here, so I didn't make it very deep.  I do have plans, however, to put some shrubs in here in the future, so when I do that, I'll add a lower tier, so I can have the option of switching depths.  

Measure the gap between 2x2s and cut a piece of scrap wood to fit.  I had some 1x2s laying around, so I used those.  Nail it in from the front.  


Go all the way around, making sure it is the same distance from the top all the way around.  



Next I used some leftovers from my cedar fence pickets to make slats to go across for the plants to sit on.  You want it to be slats and not a solid piece of wood, so that water can get through easily. 


Next we have to cover up the gaps on the sides.  I cut more pieces of 1x4 into 14.5 lengths (measure the distance on your piece).  I needed 8 pieces.  


This was a little tricky.  The 1x4s just barely covered the gap, so I had to nail them in at an angle (outward angle...the picture is misleading...looks like I'm going inward.  I was pretending to nail, since I was holding a camera in my hand)  and I had to stay at the very edge.  


Again...you have to bend all of the nails that poked through down with a hammer.    


And she's done!  Now she just needs some make up and a pretty dress ;) 


I sanded it down all over first and then I gave it a quick coat of Color Place outdoor white paint in a gloss finish before doing any repairing of holes or anything.  I always throw on a coat of paint first.  I tend to skip the priming step unless I really really need to, because who wants to buy another material if you don't have to.  I always start out with a coat of paint because paint will actually cover a lot of the little tiny nail holes and things.  It really does save me some time when I do paint first.  


I filled all of my holes with this Dry Dex wood filler.  It is for indoor or outdoor use and I love how it goes on pink and dries white.  Super useful for those of us who are impatient and want things to dry as fast as possible.  (and yes, I used a butter knife...I have no excuse, I have putty knives....I'm just slack)


Next I used regular latex caulk along all of the cracks and then I sanded it all down again and added a second coat of paint.  

The final thing, which I took pictures of, but have since LOST (boo!) was painting the ends of the legs gold.  This was a last second decision, so in hind-sight, I would have spray painted the tips of the legs gold first, then taped off the edge of the gold while I was painting it white....if you do this project, do it that way.  What I ended up doing was putting the entire thing upside down into a contractor garbage bag and taping off one leg at a time with garbage bag protecting all of the rest of it and spraying it that way.  It was a ridiculous mess...but it worked.  I would just totally recommend doing it the other way, though....way easier.  

Here she is....All finished!  












To plant the flowers, I stapled several layers of newspaper on top of the slats and then filled with dirt.  The newspaper will probably only last about as long as these flowers, and we'll most likely replace it with gardening fabric, but it worked in a pinch.  The water drains through very well....as you can see in the picture above.  

The price breakdown is as follows: 
3 2x2s = $3
4 1x4s = $4
4 cedar fence pickets 1.50
paint, spackle, sandpaper, caulk, nail gun, nails, gold spraypaint = already owned
Total spent = 8.50 (boo-ya!)

I also got a great deal on the flowers I paid 9 bucks for all of it!  I'd say it was totally worth all of the work for a gorgeous planter with flowers for under 20 bucks!  It makes me so happy just walking up to my front porch now.  I'm ready for summer now.  

This is the first step of a complete front porch makeover, so stay tuned for that coming up!  

xoxo! 
Anna 



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