Saturday, February 25, 2012

CONGRATULATIONS, Daddy, on your Promotin to FIRE CAPTAIN!

Today, my husband got the call that he's been waiting for over half of his career...

...the call that he has been promoted to FIRE CAPTAIN for the fire department where he works.

(I don't talk much about my husband on the blog...he prefers it that way...but I thought that this news called for celebration!)

Chris has been with the Lenexa Fire Department for nearly 24-years (24th anniversary is this coming April) and has repeatedly tested and interviewed for promotion within his department. In a suburban department of his size, promotions are hard to come by...virtually someone must retire or quit in order for slots to open up and when they do there is usually only 1 or 2 new positions available...and competition is stiff.

For Chris, the promotion is less about title and more about responsibility, career dedication, and personal growth.  For me, it is about seeing my husband validated and rewarded for dedicating his life to such a honorable profession

So, on behalf Mary, Ben, Luke and Mommy...


Chris' new fire helmet

New collar brass

New Brass Badge

Thursday, February 23, 2012

School Dismissal, Horse Farms, & "Mean"

One of my most very favorite times of day is when I am up at Mary and Benjamin's school for dismissal. My sweetie-girl comes bounding down the sidewalk toward our minivan bubbling with excitement about her day.

She's such a delightful child; truly. Folks tell me this all.the.time. so it's not just mommy-pride! :)

Anyway, here is just a snippet of a conversation we had this afternoon...

Mary: "Mama, I've got amazing news. Great news, really."

Me: "Oh, what's that?"

Mary: "I made it all the way across the monkey bars at school today. And...Ella and I have decided to open a horse farm together. It's going to be part ranch and part gift shop."

‎"Oh, and it will have a bar too. You know, for food and stuff. And Mrs. Gay said she wants to cook for us. If she's still young enough. Do you think she'll have kids by then? Oh, and kids of employees get to eat free. Only they only can have one meal...we do need to make money."


‎Mary: "Oh, and Ella's gonna dance at it, and I'm gonna sing and play guitar."

Me: "Just like Taylor Swift."

Mary: "Hey, yah. Only, maybe she'll come visit us and stuff."

Lots of "and stuff" flying around!

Anyway, we don't listen to a lot of contemporary music around our house...not as much as we used to, but Mary does love Taylor Swift. And for now, I'm comfortable with that.

As we watched the 54th Grammy's last week, I recorded Taylor Swift's performance of Mean for Mary.  She had long gone to bed, and I feel like it's an anthem of sorts to anti-bullying and a message to all those kiddos who do struggle with this. 

Anyway, the You Tube clip that I am attaching is from Taylor Swift's performance at the ACM awards in 2011.  I loved the set and costumes from her Grammy performance, but for some reason that You Tube clip has some crass language from an "ad" attached to it when you embed.  No thank you.


P.S.  Mary really does want to learn to play guitar...after she masters the violin.  Apparently, a classmate take violin lessons and now my girl is jonesing to take lessons too! Especially, after watching the video clip!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Summons

This morning, I listened to the words of one of my most very favorite songs often sung at Mass, The Summons.

Today, though, the words resonated more deeply with me...

possibly because of all that is going on in the world around us...

regardless of the reasons, as my children and I wear the sign of the cross in ashes on our foreheads today (Ash Wednesday) Verse 2 moved me.

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for CRUEL and kind and never be the same?
Will you RISK the HOSTILE stare Should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Wishing you a most blessed Lenten Journey over these next 40-days.  May you grow closer to Christ as you walk the way of the Cross.

Even Luke is excited about his walk with Christ!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sewing on Saturday: Project 2/52 (Table Runner Part 1)

This past Saturday, I literally spent sewing all morning long!

My sweet husband knows how much I enjoy sewing and how much I have to learn.  (I am especially interested in quilting.  I have always loved quilts (bed covers, pillowcases, throws, wall hangings, etc.), but even more so now that my husband's grandmother is getting up there in age.)

Grandma Kueter hand quilts the most beautiful creations...and she's soon to be 90 years young!  But, hers is a craft that none of her grandchildren have taken up...

...and that is a shame.

So, I have decided to carry on her tradition...

...I am, after all, a Kueter!

Anyway, for Valentine's Day my husband bought me an Introduction to Quilting course at our local fabric and embroidery shop.  Needless to say, I was so excited to spend four hours of blissful...uninterrupted sewing time with other "grown ups"!  :)

Our intro project is a table runner.  And while the fabrics were already decided upon and cut for us ahead of time, I think the finished project is going to be so sweet.  The colors were chosen for Valentine's Day, but I think this table runner will also display well for Flag Day and over the 4th of July!

Happy Sewing! 

Step 1:  We created a simple 9 patch block from three different fabrics.

Step 2:  After our nine patch block was sewn together, we cut it into fourths and then turned 2 of the 4 corners.  (I hope this makes can see from the photo below what I am talking about!)

That's as far as I got during my first class. I plan to finish my nine patch blocks at home and then I will go back for a private class on how to add borders and binding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sew, You Want to be my Valentine?

Since preschool, Mary Catherine and I have always made her Valentines.  (One year we made them AND purchased store-bought because she didn't want to feel left out...she quickly discovered how appreciated homemade Valentines really are!)

So this year was no exception.

And while I did see lots of cute ideas on Pinterest and even used one idea to make Benjamin's valentines, I really wanted to do something hand "sewn" with Mary Catherine.

Thus, we created these little heart pockets that we sewed together out of beautiful scrapbook papers.  They were so easy and only took us about an hour to create...including slicing paper, cutting handmade hearts, stitching together, and stuffing with conversation hearts...the SweeTarts variety!

We started with this...

transformed into this...

stitched together like this...

resulting in these...

Each one lovingly stitched together by mama...with a little help from Mary Catherine on the foot pedal...might be why a few are crooked!  

But that's the beauty of them, right?

My little one then painstakingly "assigned" each classmate, teacher, principal a valentine based on the color, design, personality... want to be Mary's Valentine?

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Make My Heart GLOW!

Thanks to Pinterest, I don't think that I will ever purchase store-bought Valentine's again!

This year, I discovered this cute idea from The Teacher Wife.  

I just loved her idea of using glow sticks...those things are a favorite of my kiddos!

Of course, I forgot to take a picture of Ben's finished pile...but they turned out pretty cute.  His hearts were taped a bit crooked to the card stock and a couple glow sticks had to be replaced because he "cracked" them while attaching to the backs, but otherwise this was an easy card to make.

And they were a huge hit with his pre-K class this morning!  That was one group of kiddos that was actually GLAD that a snow day wasn't called.

That First Magical Snowfall

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event."

Our first official one inch (1") of snow fell overnight in Kansas City.

And although my little ones were greatly disappointed to learn that they still had school, plans have already been made to sled, make snow angels and drink hot chocolate after dismissal!

I just love the beauty of fresh falling snow.

(Pictures of our home from street level on Kansas City's first official 1" snowfall of the Winter of 2011/2012.  Must take pictures is supposed to be in the 50s by this weekend!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"...small minds discuss people"

Recently, I've been a bit disheartened by comments that I have read while out and about in blog-land.

Enough already.

I think Eleanor Roosevelt sums it up nicely...

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

My hope is that whenever you visit here, you are left with a sense of

Mother Teresa said it so well...

"Words which do not increase the light of Christ, increase the darkness."

And might I just add...I truly feel blessed to be part of a community of bloggers who place their time and efforts on their faith, family, farms/homes.  

Thank you to all of you for the time you take to share your kind thoughts and words with me,

for sticking with me when life slows me down and I'm not able to blog regularly,

and for writing the type of posts on your own blogs that are often thoughtful, encouraging, and filled with beauty...both ideas and photography.

Yours are the types of blogs that fill me up and renew my spirit.
Thank You!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Luke Alexander 18-Months

Baby Luke is no longer a baby.

I suppose he hasn't been a baby for about 6-months now...

...and he's definitely ALL TODDLER!

He had a wonderful well-baby visit yesterday, despite being covered in tiny blisters over hands and feet. (Doc says he saw none in the mouth and doesn't believe it to be hand/foot/mouth disease. Rather, just a result of the gastro-virus we all had last week.)

Drum roll please...

Weight: 29 lbs! (80th %)

Do you recall that this was the baby whose chart was labeled "Failure to Thrive" because he was solely breastfed for the first 6-months and was only in the 3rd percentile for weight?!!! Funny how these things "correct" themselves!

Height: 34" (90th %)

Still not much of a talker, but my little man has great receptive vocabulary. He can follow most simple 1-step directions and can definitely gesture, point, slap, grunt, etc. to get his point across. :) We will revisit the talking issue at 24-months if he is still not using 2-word sentences, but for now the pediatrician is not concerned and finally, for the first time, neither am I. Seems Chris and I have kiddos that just aren't early talkers.

Enjoy the pics! So sad that Picnik is going away!!!

Brothers playing in the backyard together.
Edited in Picnik using AutoCorrect
Another version of same pic edited in Picnik

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's National Catholic Schools Week!

It's National Catholic Schools Week!

In addition to the stomach flu hitting our household...I had committed myself to creating the bulletin boards for Mary's school to celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2012.

Whew.  That was an undertaking to say the least!

The teachers have such limited access to art and paper supplies that I had little choice on what to work with.  I would have preferred any other paper color for the bulletin board backgrounds than orange, but you work with whatcha got!

Mary's principal asked only that the bulletin boards have a cohesive look to them and demonstrate the five principles that fulfill the school's mission statement.  These include:

Embracing Christ
Nurturing Relationships
Appreciating Diversity
Cultivating Knowledge
Recognizing Equality
Here's what I came up with using the official logo as a jumping off point.  (I need to go back up to school and take a few more pictures now that student artwork and classroom work have been added! The students have really created some beautiful classroom work.)

Embracing Christ 

Nurturing Relationships

Recognizing Equality

Appreciating Diversity

Cultivating Knowledge

These were a lot of work...not so much because of the time or skill required to put together...but rather because I had an 18-month old "helper"!    

I also had to hire a babysitter one afternoon because Benjamin was so sick with the flu and I couldn't take him to the school with me.  Needless to say, that afternoon I got quite a bit accomplished!

I have to say, I had truly forgotten how much I enjoyed this type of "creativity" for the classroom!  Creating thought-provoking, energizing, and sometimes even interactive bulletin boards for my students, while working as a 3rd grade teacher, was one of my favorite "job requirements" and something I was good at!  (You should have seen my classroom door display during "Dr. Seuss" Week!  My students won 1st Place in a classroom door decorating contest with our Fox in Socks interactive door display!!!  Love, love, love lamination and Velcro!)  

So, happy National Catholic Schools Week!  I love this year's motto...Faith.  Academics. Service.  

In our family that's what it's all about!

Only a life lived for others is worth living.
~Albert Einstein