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the sky is pink

The Life of a Maryland Mom of Six.

Updated: 2016-01-10T15:10:38.019-05:00


Teachers' Gifts 2012


This year's edition of Teachers Gifts are adorable nest necklaces.  I made one for myself a few months ago. (I was procrastinating cleaning the house and decided, instead, to sit on my kitchen floor and make a necklace.)

In the past few months, I have gotten a lot of compliments on my necklace, so I decided to make them in bulk. A friend's birthday, Mother's Day, and birthday gifts for my three sisters. So far they are a huge hit. (I personalized theirs using pink and blue pearls reflecting their children and families.)

So it was no surprise when I decided to make them for the teachers this year. I saved up all my 40% Michaels coupons (and made Joe load the Michaels app onto his phone for more savings -- he must really love me).
I made twelve necklaces in all.  I was able to make four necklaces from each pack of wire and each pack of chain.


To package them, I put them in small, fushcia organza bags (from Michaels) and placed them in zebra-striped bags (from the gift bag section at Michaels) with some paper shred (from the dollar store) and a few Hershey's Kisses.

Can I tell you that I received the loveliest of thank you notes from the teachers? And, better yet, the teachers wore them to school and to Jackson's 5th grade promotion on Thursday night.

(In July we will be teaching a class at church for these necklaces. I think I've finally mastered them!)

My Little Graduate


My little graduate.
Today Sawyer graduated from preschool.
I. did. not. cry.
But will someone tell him he needs to stop growing up?

It was a bittersweet day today. Sawyer graduated from preschool. The same preschool all of my children attended and graduated from. When I pulled out the cap and gown last night, I noticed the inscription inside of the hat read that Taylor graduated on Friday, June 1, 2001, exactly 11 years ago to the day. I felt a little nostalgic and I thought back to his graduation and how young he was.

Six children. Eleven years of paid preschool and one year of "joy school" later. It's hard to believe this chapter of my life is over. No more tuition bills. (Can I get a "woot!" ?) I will only have children in three schools next year, instead of four.

At graduation this morning, I received an honorary diploma. I was not expecting it. When we walked into the auditorium (it was held at a local private college), the director/owner of the preschool greeted us as the "famous family." After handing out all the children's diplomas, the director said she had an honorary diploma to award. She said that a family had six children who graduated from preschool and that it was a new record. And then she called my name. I had to walk up on stage and receive my preschool diploma. I finally graduated from preschool! I almost cried.

Taylor at the Zombie 5K


Taylor dodges his first zombies.

Taylor crosses finish line with both flags.

Taylor receiving his medal.

Taylor - the Ultimate Survivor

Better Than White Chocolate Chips


The younger children had a half-day of school today. I was trying to think of something to do to make it special. (Since Taylor and Carter had a full day.) I thought some one-on-one time with my girl would be just what we needed.

I had been eyeing a cookie recipe for some time. And, oooh, I could almost taste those white chocolate chips melting in my mouth.

As I pulled the ingredients out of the cupboard, a look of dismay appeared on Spenser's face and she adamantly stated that she hates white chocolate.

What?!? But I could almost taste those cookies.

At first, I am ashamed to say, I bargained with her. I tried to convince her that she really would like them, if she just tried them. And, it didn't work. I begged her. And, just as soon as she gave in, it hit me like a bullet.

It wasn't about the white chocolate chips. It was about spending time together. It was our special time together. And Spenser is better than white chocolate chips.

And then my attitude changed gears. We added milk chocolate chips instead.

One day I hope she realizes my love for her. It may not be until she has children of her own. And she may, or may not, remember that she is always better than white chocolate chips.

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Sisters' Gifts 2011


Here is the 2011 edition of homemade "Sisters' Gifts." Crocheted snowflakes. I made snowflake #20 from 99 Snowflakes. While the priority is to make them for my mother, three sisters, three sisters-in-law and my sister-in-law's sister (who has no other family in the area), I always make enough to spread the love to teachers and close friends.

I think I made 30. Or 30 was my goal. I may have made more. Once I memorized the pattern, they were flying off the hook. I took my hook, crochet thread and scissors everywhere I went. I crocheted at the boys' basketball games, track meets, in the car while waiting for preschool to let out. Every.where. I'm almost sad I've finished. (Not quite sad enough to continue making them, though. The very worst part was pinning and starching those suckers. The pins killed my fingertips and the starch dried out my hands beyond recognition.)

Of course I added a bar of my handmade chocolate-mint soap with each gift.

Merry Christmas + Happy New Year


This year's Christmas card photo. We had it taken in October, right after Joe retired. (It's been hard to keep in secret since then.)

The Man I Married


The man I married unofficially retired from the U.S. Army on September 30, 2011.

The man I married will officially retire from the U.S. Army on January 1, 2012.

The man I married is currently on "leave" from the U.S. Army and is still considered active duty.

The man I married served more than 25 years for the U.S. military. (He had a few years of National Guard duty while earning his undergrad.)

The man I married started a new job today at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The man I married is also celebrating his birthday today.

Happy birthday, Joe. Thank you for serving our country, our family, and the Lord.

My Day


From Carter. I love that boy. He's offered his services to organize my coupons. Bless him. He has a chore.

(image) From Jackson. I love that boy. Hangman that spells out "I love you." And he hid behind me when I opened it. Funny guy. Always the prankster.

(image) From Mason. Seriously. How could I love this sweet gesture more? I know not. It states, "I hope you like your man made of 2 dollars. Now you are 2 dollars richer than you were a few minutes ago!" (Don't tell the others, but I think I enjoyed this gift the most.) I love that boy.

(image) From Spenser. I'm the "nicksis (nicest)" mom she ever had. Again, the cuteness is unbearable.(image)

And yet more from the girl. She worked so hard. She gave me a sandwich bag full of more drawings, in a gift bag with a Christmas tag with cherubs.

It certainly is MY day.

The Birthday Party


So, where was I? Oh, right. The memorable birthday party.The party was starting to disassemble and my side of the family (the early attenders) were leaving. Joe's family (who arrived later) were still hanging around. During the party we had a huge downpour (which has been typical of life in Maryland the past month or so). After things cleared up a bit, the kids went out to play.One of the kids ran in the house to report one of our hens in the neighbor's yard, so I quickly put on my shoes and went to retrieve the hen. She was hiding from us and it took three of us to get her out of the brush. As soon as I grabbed her, I tossed her over the fence into our yard and walked home. I kicked off my shoes and was about to relax.Moments later one of the kids ran into the house screaming there was a dog in our yard. We do not own a dog. I ran around the house looking for shoes I could wear out in the wet grass. By the time I got outside, the dog was gone.But I was out there in time for the chaos that ensued. As I walked near the smokehouse, I saw a hen with feathers everywhere. I screamed to Joe, "It killed a chicken!" At that point I saw the hen was still breathing and screamed back, in a panicked state, "It's still alive!" As we frantically ran around the yard, children running everywhere, chickens clucking and freaking out and heading for safety (under the deck), I noticed another injured hen right near the children's playground.My niece was calling my name from across the street. A freaked out hen had gotten out of our fenced yard, crossed the street, and was trying to take up residence on my neighbor's front porch.It was so chaotic and crazy. I walked across the street to get the freaked out hen, I tried to gather my flock and get them back into their coop, and Joe was putting the injured hens to rest.After a head count, we realized we were missing a hen. I felt terrible. I let them out to snack and this terrible attack happened and now one was missing. I could just imagine she was still clutched in the jaws of the dog. Joe and the kids walked around the neighborhood looking for the hen and/or the dog. We found neither. At first.Long story short, Animal Control said that they could not do anything about the dog because an adult did not witness it, only children. Joe hopped in his car with his cell phone, found the dog still running the streets of the town, and video-taped what he saw. Another call was placed to Animal Control and the dog was found and picked up.We found our missing hen hiding in the (front yard) pumpkin patch. As I stood on our sidewalk, talking to neighbors and Joe's family, I kept hearing a familiar sound. I finally brought it to the attention of the others and Carter found the hen who was hiding for her life.Sadly, because the owner of the dog was irresponsible, the dog was put to sleep by Animal Control. The same dog had attacked, killed and dismembered four chickens in town just a few weeks earlier and a neighbor also reported the dog for trying to knock over his rabbit hutch.To think that all of this could have been prevented. If the dog had been fixed ... If the dog had been on a leash ... If the dog had been properly trained ... Knowing that my chickens are now safe does not make up for the fact that a dog was just being a dog and the owner was being irresponsible.Yes. It was a memorable birthday party. Despite the events, Sawyer still claimed it was the best birthday party ever. (And there are still two presents I forgot to wrap and give to him ... which is probably another story in and of itself.)[...]

This Little Man of Mine


It seems like yesterday that this little man of mine was born into this world. The baby that seemed like he was in no hurry to come out of me. The baby that has grown so much over the years. Years. As in five years.

Five years. Oh my. Where has the time gone? (So many of my bloggy friends have been around for five years. And a little longer. It's a milestone, I tell ya.)

I'm lucky enough to have Sawyer home with me for one more year. His September birthday was just a little too late for him to start Kindergarten. But, seriously, I don't mind it a bit. I always say to him, after the kids leave for school, "It's just you and me, kid." At one point (last school year) he asked me to stop saying it, and so I obliged. I started it again this year and he has started to say it to me.

He often asks me during the day to cuddle with him. Usually it's when I'm busy cleaning the house, doing dishes, etc. I have learned to stop what I'm doing and cuddle with him on the sofa. It's not going to last forever, even though I wish it would. And he really is the best cuddler in the world. He's so good that he nearly puts me to sleep every time we cuddle. (And it's not just because I'm waking every morning before 5:30 to take Taylor to Seminary before school ;-)

And my little man loves his preschool homework. He is so proud of himself. He is eager to learn and willing to do the work the minute he finishes his lunch.

He's really one of my best friends. I spend the most time with him. He's a good listener. He's a good talker. He's a great hugger and cuddler. And he's so obedient. He is wiser than his five years of experience in so many ways. Oh, the things he says. And asks. And figures out. His mind must never rest. Always busy, busy, busy.

I bought him the Cootie game recently. I remembered that we had that game many years ago. I used to play it with Taylor (and Carter ?) until we lost all the pieces in a move. I have deja vu when I play with Sawyer. He is so much like his eldest brother. Even down to picking the red cootie body and head, cowboy hat and googly eyes. It just resonates with me that we were always destined to be a family from the very beginning. He was always meant to be mine and I was always meant to be his. And I could. not. love. him. more. I'm so happy he's here.

To celebrate Sawyer's 5th birthday, we had family over for a little get-together on Sunday after church. Really nothing elaborate. Just brownies + ice cream, chips + salsa, and carrots + dip. Just some cousins (of all ages), grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Somehow, I managed to throw a memorable party, but you'll have to come back tomorrow to read about it. (I mean, why taint such a nice post about my boy with birthday party stuff?) Really, you don't want to miss it. We'll see you tomorrow then?

Cleaning the Slate


I guess it's time to wipe the slate clean with "Trips to the School Nurse" and "Soccer Goals."

Trips to the School Nurse 2010 - 11
Taylor: 2
Carter: 2
Jackson: 0
Mason: 6 (4 in one day!)
Spenser: 7

Soccer Goals Fall 2010
Taylor: 0
Carter: 0
Jackson: 2
Mason: 0

And, for the record, Mason has already visited Nurse Maureen. And so the love affair continues ...

Edited to add: Spenser just came home with a slip that she visited Nurse Maureen today.

Nine Years


(image) (image) Nine years ago today, my sister, Kristen, died. In following family tradition, we met for breakfast. Today is also my parents' 44th wedding anniversary, so my parents, three sisters and I met at a local, family-owned restaurant.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I looked around to see if I recognized any cars. I saw my parents' car, so I hopped out and walked toward the restaurant. I thought I heard my sisters talking, so I stopped and looked around. I didn't see anyone, so I continued walking. Then, very distinctly, I heard my sister, Kate say (in a sing-songy voice) "Laurie." (No one calls me Laurie, except family. I do not like to be called Laurie.) Again, I stopped, looked around and said (out loud), "I hear you. I just don't see you." And nothing. No sisters in sight. No other voices. I walked into the glass vestibule at the restaurant and a police officer was standing there smiling at me. (I'm hoping he didn't think I was too loony.)

I walked into the restaurant and only my parents were there. My sisters arrived five minutes later. They were not in the parking lot. They did not call my name. But I heard it. Kate's voice is similar to Kristen's voice. We all joked that Krissy was playing a game with me and said to our grandmother, "Hey, Mom-Mom, watch this ..." and then called my name.

Whatever it was, it was a tender mercy of the Lord. And it is surely something I never want to forget.



So, things are getting expensive. Gas. Groceries. Life with six children. We just learned that our water rates are going up 9% across the county.

While I've always cut coupons (if and when I get a Sunday paper), I wasn't very diligent. I only cut the coupons of the things I regularly buy. And then I'd still buy generic. However, a co-worker of Joe's is really into couponing and has been getting Joe all pumped up about it.

I thought I'd show you my deals.

Um. Yeah. A cardigan and shoes. I'm pretty sure that when Joe was pumped about saving money, he thought I'd actually save the money instead of turning around and spending my savings. (But I got excellent deals on both!)

(Sorry for the dark photo. If it would ever stop raining here, I might have some decent sunlight. And it would help my severe vitamin-D deficiency.)

Lace Belt


(image) I actually had a different idea for the (crocheted) lace, but when I thought of a lace-only belt, I threw my original idea out the window.

(image) This belt is so springy. Light. Airy. Breezy. Feminine.

Spring, indeed.

I wore this exact outfit (plus jean capris) to here with Sawyer (and friends), here (to buy a few things for the garden), and out to tend the chickens. Pearls. To tend to chickens.

Ruffly Yellow Belt


(image) You know, the yellow belt was going to be another tuxedo belt, but when I linked over to the original tuxedo belt, I spied another belt that I liked.

(image) I made a little yellow bow for the front, but I have mixed feelings about it. I want it to be removable, yet look like it's actually a part of the belt.

I'm loving that vintage yellow button. It is perfect for this belt so I want to show that, too.

Sash Belt


(image) I'm still on belts. One belt I wanted to make was a sash belt. I found a very quick and easy tutorial, although it's so simple you really don't need a tutorial.

(image) It's a little floppy, but that's okay with me.

(image) I made the belt with some polka-dotted polyester that I found on clearance at the fabric store.

The Tuxedo Belt


It all started with the above belt. Isn't it the cutest? I had received a catalog in the mail and thought the belt was definitely something I could wear. (Specifically for the upcoming MML Convention I have in June.) The main problem? It has not been in stock online at all. And it was March's catalog.

I had to take matters into my own hands.

(image) In the winter I bought a few yards of gray fabric to make another dress. And, well, it just didn't happen. (In fact, I thought I would wear said dress to Taylor's Court of Honor.)


I decided to delve into the gray because, hey! I can always buy more fabric. I also used gray because I've been on a real gray (+ yellow) kick lately. Oh, and it was colder then and didn't feel like spring with her 85-degree days with humidity. So gray was totally acceptable.

(image) But then spring finally reared her pretty face and brought some warm (and hot) weather our way, so a change was needed. I got my tail to the fabric store and bought some pink. And yellow.

(image) I think I might change things up and put a ribbon tie on the yellow one. ::wink::

Ribbon-Tied Belts


One of my boys received a brown suede ugly hand-me-down coat. To put it mildly, I despised the coat. But, said son liked the coat and wore it. Luckily he outgrew the coat. It was placed in the donate pile without hesitation of passing it on to a younger boy.It sat there and I pondered the coat's purpose in life and decided it would be happy to be repurposed into a more useful item. I thought about a bag, but then I knew it had to be a belt.Afraid to "waste" the body of the coat, I cut apart the sleeves to experiment. And, lucky for me, it turns out that I love the experiment!I made the belt reversible with a bit of Alexander Henry fabric.It's versatile, too. I can dress it up or dress it down. (The design on this belt is what prompted me to go to the ribbon outlet in the first place.) I then decided I'd like at least another belt in this style, so I whipped up this one.I used a solid gray fabric and sewed a piece of lace down the middle.The reverse is solid black.I like this belt, but somehow it turned out two inches longer than the brown one and it's actually too big for my waist. (I cinched it in the back for the photos.)(I used a medium-weight, iron-on interfacing to give the belt some stability.)[...]



Let's talk belts.Lately I've been loving belts. However, I can never find the perfect one. Thrift stores are a bust (although I've found some belt buckles I can re-use). Target either doesn't have my size or I can't imagine paying $20 for a belt. I've seen a few in Marshalls, but the selection was small and the one I liked the most was damaged. So what's a crafter to do?After another recent trip to the ribbon outlet, I decided I was going to make a rainbow belt. And then it turned into a rainBOW belt because, well, it has a bow.Ribbon belts are probably the most simple (and inexpensive) ones to make. It only requires a little bit of ribbon and a set of D-rings. Even though it's easy to figure it out, I thought I'd show you just how easy it is. So you can stop procrastinating.First, gather your supplies. For this belt, I used 1/2"-, 1"-, and 1 1/2"-wide ribbon. Ribbon width is flexible. Use whatever you have or whatever you like. Just make sure the D-rings are the same size as the ribbon that is going around your waist. I'm using 1" D-rings.Measure your waist and add about 8-10". Using your 1"-wide ribbon (or your ribbon size of choice), cut that length. With D-rings together, sew them into a double-rolled loop to secure. On the opposite side of the ribbon, double-fold the raw edges and sew to create a "hem." Cut your widest ribbon approximately 10" long. Again, this is flexible. If you want your bow larger, cut your ribbon longer.Cut your thinnest ribbon 2 1/2 - 3" long.Sew both ribbons into a loop (with right sides together if your ribbon has "sides"). With the seam of the wider ribbon centered in the back, slide the thinner ribbon loop onto the wider loop (with seams in the back).Make sure the D-rings are hidden behind the bow and ... hand-sew the bow to the belt.I like to wear my belt with a white shirt that has "lettuce-edge" around the neck and sleeves. I also wore this with a red cardigan (and jeans) recently.I have some rainbow ribbon left. If you'd like to make a RainBOW Belt, leave a comment and I'll pick one winner later in the week. The winner will receive enough ribbon to make a belt and a set of D-rings.Oh, and stay tuned. I have a couple of more belts to show you later in the week. I'm saving the best for last.[...]

New Church Tote


(image) I needed a new springy tote for church. I really should call it the Mom-do-you-have-a-pen tote. Or maybe the Mom-do-you-have-a-tissue tote. Or even the Mom-do-you-have-any-lotion tote. Or perhaps the Mom-can-I-have-a-piece-of-gum tote. Oh, and Mom-can-I-stick-my-trash-in-your-bag tote. Because that's what my tote holds. It holds the pens. And crayons. And small activity books. The lotion. The tissues. The trash. And two of my church books.

(image) I subscribe to a sewing blog that rounds up tutorials and I saw this one the other day. I realized I had everything on hand, so I whipped one up.

(image) I do wish I would have used the wide eyelet lace on the bottom. And I wish I had enough to go completely around the bag, instead of piecing it together with eyelet lace of a different width. Oh well. I'll use it for a few months and move on anyway.

Curlers in Your Hair ... Shame on You


(image) So Spenser always wants curly hair. Why is it that you really covet something that you just don't have?


I keep telling Spenser that her hair will be plenty curly after she has babies, but, at six, she is too impatient for that day to come.

So, for now, we will put (foam) curlers in her hair. And wait until the next morning to see if it works.

And, after it worked for church yesterday, she wanted to try it again. So ...


we did it again. This time she wore her mob cap to help keep the curlers in place.


And it worked like a charm!

(Does anyone remember the 1970's jingle Curlers in your hair, shame on you? I don't remember the jingle, but I remember my mother saying it to us when we put the hard, plastic curlers in our hair when we were little. And, just for the heck of it, I said to to Spenser when I put them in her hair.)

Circle of Giving


(image) Nearly four years ago, Taylor helped Jackson learn how to ride a bicycle.

(image) This week Jackson helped Spenser learn to ride a bicycle.

(image) She still needs a little more confidence, but she has one of the best (and most patient and loving) teachers.

Lace "Butterfly" Shirt


(image) So I saw this cute tutorial the other day and I could totally see myself wearing something like that. So I bought a tee at Target and knew I had lace at home.
(image) I totally wish I had checked my lace before assuming I had the "right" one. When I got home, I didn't have the same style lace (flat, double-sided), but I found a bunch of this ruffly lace and decided to use that.

When Spenser saw it, she said it looked like a butterfly. And she is in. love. (I need to buy her a tee.)

(image) It's alright. I wish I would have just waited to buy some lace. (Or hunt in my stash for more. There's gotta be more lace somewhere amongst my stuff!)

But, as of right now, I'm wearing it with jeans (+ cardi). Or, in this case, a jean skirt.

The Girl and Her Ribbon


(image) Well, the girl and I stopped at the ribbon outlet again. I realized that the hotel is extremely close to the outlet and it would be a crime not to just drop in ...

They had a sale going on that you could fill a plastic bag of ribbon for 99 cents. I told Spenser she could pick out her own ribbon. That girl. (She is so much like her mother.) As we walked around, she kept asking if she still had room in her bag for ribbon. I kept telling her she did, so she continued to fill it.

At the register Spenser picked a plastic egg that gave us an additional 30% off our purchase.

And the girl and her ribbon? Well, she crammed 76 rolls of ribbon into her bag.

Weekend Getaway


Joe was going to be out of town this past weekend for an Army training conference he was planning. And since he was going to our favorite hotel (near my favorite thrift store and ribbon outlet), I told him we were coming. All of us. It was so nice to spend two nights away. The Army paid for one room and the hotel gave us an adjoining room for free. (See why it's our favorite?) The kids went swimming after breakfast, after lunch and before bedtime.And then they ran straight into our bathroom to the jetted tub. (The indoor pool is just steps away from our sliding glass door.) And while we were in the area (after Joe's Army conference was over), we took the children on a tour of Antietam. I love the rich history in our area. And, while I certainly didn't love it when I was younger, I'm hoping the children will learn and appreciate where they live.Part of the tour had us visit the Mumma Cemetery. Joe has ancestors buried here. These four headstones represent the Ecker family. (Joe's mother is an Ecker.) And then we visited the tower. And climbed up it. It wasn't bad until the last couple of flights of steps. Then my thighs started to burn. It was steep. Joe took the four oldest boys to see Burnside Bridge. We were all walking down the steep, paved hill, when Sawyer fell head first. As I stopped to help him, Spenser fell ... I had to take her back to the car for some first aid. Poor thing cried for 20 minutes.[...]