Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Ready to Partaaaaaay!

This is what I woke up to today. Willie, the family German Shepherd, getting ready to ring in the new year with his usual exuberance, donning a crown fit for the King of the New Year, made by Gracie.

Hannah, too, her crown made by Annelie (and I think stuck on with double stick tape - sorry, Hannah.)

Our three cats all have crowns, too, but I interfered with the partaaaay plans and forced the kids to decorate their dolls instead.

Besides, Little Orphan Ollie is already all partaaaaay'd out.

Happy New Year, from me to you, folks! Hope 2011 is the best year EVER!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Flashback: Santa Baby

Santa was looking a little questionable the year I sat on his lap for the traditional Santa/Kid lap sit photo. I'm sure he didn't even smell like Santa, but like beef and cheese instead. And he looks about as thrilled to be there as my brother and I do.

We've only taken Gracie to sit on Santa's lap once, when she was about 16 months old. It didn't go well. As it turned out, my kid was the terrified-of-Santa kid who screamed and screamed and screamed.

But the Santa at the mall in Austin (who looked EXACTLY LIKE SANTA, seriously!) was a pro, and while Gracie was distracted by bell jingling elves, he walked behind her chair and a little bit of Christmas magic was captured in this photo.

Aw, she was so cute when she was a toddler.

We have yet to take Annelie to see Santa, other than the "SANTA! HEY SANTA!" she shouted as his float rolled by us at the Christmas parade. But she did get a personalized video email from him this year (I'm addicted to the Portable North Pole, come Christmastime) and when he told her that she needed to stop her tantrums, she nodded and told him, "okay."

And for the last week and a half, we've been tantrum-free. That's the magic of Santa for ya.


Have a flashback of your own to share? Head over to Tia's blog and join in the fun!

For all you Christmas celebrators out there - MERRY CHRISTMAS TOMORROW!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Ho Ho Holiday Crafting With Kids

'Tis the season for holiday crafting, and me and the girls, especially three-year-old Annelie, have finally gotten into the holiday crafting spirit.

After tracing Annelie's hands onto some brown floral paper and cutting it out, along with some other shapes, Annelie made a collage portrait of Rudolph (and yes, we did sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the entire time we were crafting)

Anything involving glue and/or glitter is just the thing to bring cheer to all... and if you put the glue in a little cup and let your preschool-aged kiddo paint it on, the clean up is pretty quick and easy, as painting glue onto a project is a lot cleaner than squeezing the glue onto a project (you know what kids are like with a squeeze tube of glue, right? Frightening)

For the deer head, I just free hand cut out shapes from card stock and let Annelie do all the assembling. She did awesomely. I was expecting wonkier eyes and ears coming out of the side of the face, but my kiddo wow'd me by making the reindeer look like a reindeer and not a Christmas monster.

Cute. But the best part is, of course, her signature.

That's right. E L I N N E A

Hey, at least she got the letters right!

This collage was made for me by both of my girls.

Scrapbook paper for the trees and snowflake background, white card stock for the snow. And that is me standing next to a snowman, if you can't tell. Gracie did my portrait and Annelie made the snowman and together we assembled and glued.

A cute and easy family collaboration!

And last - a little unplanned graffiti art, compliments of my darling three-year-old.

I'm supposed to be mad, because we have a "ART AND STICKERS ON PAPER ONLY" rule, which I enforce in a militant style (and I can be scary, let me just say)...

But I had to snap a photo when Annelie wasn't looking because her happy-faced mermaid is pretty darned cute, even if it is on our kitchen table and NOT ON PAPER.

Do my kids seriously think I won't notice this stuff?

Anyway, happy holiday crafting to you and you and you!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Getting Engaged

Six years ago today, I said 'I do' to the love of my life.

No, I didn't have a mutant body with huge boobs and linebacker shoulders when it happened. And no, we didn't get married on the beach. The above picture is one of those souvenir photos which we had taken as a joke when we went to Vegas back in our dating days. The week before we got engaged, to be exact.

Will and I didn't plan on getting engaged, it just sort of happened. (That's how most things are when it comes to the two of us - ever since the night we sat next to each other in the Dublin airport and ended up two smitten kittens.) But we'd been happy together in the UK for four months and miserable during the two months between the end of my study abroad program and when he could visit me in America. We just missed each other too much.

When he came out to visit me, we both thought, Well, this is it. We'll either get married or break up. The long distance and expense of traveling between England and America every time we wanted to see each other was just too expensive and hard. We had the above picture taken while in Vegas, and though I think I look a little bit like a transvestite in the picture, we just thought it fit.

Ten minutes after taking the picture, we went looking for rings...

And found the perfect one.

Well let me just say, that scared the daylights out of both of us. We were young, still in college, living in separate countries, and to be honest, we didn't really know each other very well. Will and I are both impulsive and neither of us takes marriage vows lightly... so we hurriedly left the shop.

The next week, he was due to fly back to England and we didn't have a single doubt in our heads. My roommate and I threw a party on his last night in town, and after a few gulps of liquid courage for both of us, he got on his knee (yes, he really did!) and proposed.

(I'll never forget that this song was playing in the next room. I don't actually remember the words he said as he proposed, but I do remember the background music my roommate had playing, haha)

Of course I said yes. Our friends at the party must have thought we were a little bit crazy when we made the WE'RE GETTING MARRIED! announcement.

Taking Will to the airport the next morning, watching him leave, was one of the hardest things I've ever done - much like saying goodbye after my study abroad program ended. Will and I didn't see each other until a few months later, when he said goodbye to his home and flew back to mine, wedding suit in hand...

and the rest is history!

Happy anniversary to you, Will! I'm glad we're both impulsive and crazy, because these last six years have been amazing, and I look forward to a hundred more!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Flashback: No, Marisa, There Isn't a Santa Claus

Me and Santa. I was in 6th grade.
That isn't a smile of happiness on my face, but of humiliation
because my family made me sit on his lap
at a company party when I fancied myself an almost-grown-up.

How old were you when you were told that...




Wanna know how old I was?


Here's how it all went down.

Setting: Grocery store bustling with families doing their last minute holiday shopping. Me, with my mother, pushing shopping cart past displays of holiday gift baskets, all featuring St. Nick's jolly grin and joyful elves. Mom's eyes are moving over displays, then over at me, then back to displays, then back to me.

MOM: Marisa? You know how you get presents from Santa every year....

ME [warily]: Yeah.

MOM: Well you know that... well... that it's really...

ME [eyes darting around busy store, packed with families]: Mom, quiet! There are children here!

MOM [looking slightly anxious]: But you know it's me, right?

ME [wondering if she picked a public place to tell me so I wouldn't cause a scene, like a bad break up, or something]: Of course I know it's you. I'm seventeen!

MOM [relieved]: Oh. You've never said anything.

ME: Of course I've never said anything! Santa always brings the best presents!

MOM: Oh. [looking slightly anxious again]: So then... you know about the Easter Bunny, too?

Yeah, I knew about the Easter Bunny. But did I still get Easter baskets? You betcha. Good ones, too. I'm not sure when I figured it all out - the Santa thing. The Easter Bunny. Tooth Fairy. I know I was still in elementary school. Probably about seven or so.

But OF COURSE I never said anything! Santa gave the BEST presents!

So, what about you? What's your story?


Have a flashback of your own to share? Head over to Tia's blog and join in the flashback fun!

Happy Friday, folks! Hope you all have been having a mighty fine holiday season so far!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Make it: Handmade Note Card Set

Gracie wanted to make something super spiffy for her kindergarten teacher for Christmas, and we decided a handmade note card set would be the perfect gift.

So we pulled out some watercolors, scrapbook paper, tape, and a hole puncher and went to town!

This project is quick and easy (quick after the watercolors dry, of course) and we ended up with a super cute and colorful result!


  • Watercolor paper and paints (and salt for cool technique!)
  • Card stock (we used white for the blank note cards, colored for the note card mats, and one 12x12 inch piece for the card portfolio
  • Ribbon
  • Double stick tape
  • Hole punch
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Envelopes (you can buy these at office supply shops)

Step One: Paint!

Gracie mostly painted abstracts which were then sprinkled with salt for a cool effect.

Step Two: Make Note cards

After the paint is dry, cut the watercolors down to a size that can be used on the front of a note card.

Cut white card stock to fit into your envelopes. (ours were aprox 4in x 6 in)

Cut colored card stock or scrapbook paper to fit on front of white card.

Attach watercolor to front of colored paper.

To Make Portfolio

Step Three:
Fold Card Stock!

Begin with 12 x 12 inch card stock. Mine is double sided so the inside is colorful, too.

I also cut out a 12 x 1 inch strip from an alternating paper to embellish the front of the portfolio.

Fold the bottom about halfway to make what will be the pocket to hold the cards and envelopes.

Fold sides of card stock so that the edges meet in the middle.

Step Four: Tape!

Me and double stick tape are BFFs. I taped along the edges (follow the arrows) so that the pocket will stay nice and neat when folded up.

Step Five: Hole Punch and Lace Up!

I added the 1 inch strip to the outside of the portfolio, attaching with my BFF (double stick tape)

Then I punched the outside 8 times.

Like so....

Then I added the finished note cards and envelopes to the pocket....

.... and laced the portfolio up with my ribbon.

I had a cello sleeve handy, so I stuck the portfolio in it for a nicely packaged look... but seriously, the cello sleeve isn't necessary.

Happy crafting!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Make a Snowflake Princess Tiara

Annelie is sporting some holiday awesomeness which we shared over at The Mama Dramalogues today.

Have a Snowflake Princess of your own? Head on over to TMD and make a tiara with her!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coffee and the Morning Pages

During the summer, when my hectic life couldn't handle even one more thing (not to mention, I had mono and couldn't do much more than sleep and sit in front of the TV next to my 3-year-old in a Dora the Explorer-filled daze), I started reading Julia Cameron's The Artist Way and added yet one more item to my daily to-do - the morning pages.

Show of hands - who does the morning pages?

For those of you who don't know what they are, it's three pages of daily blathering. Whatever you want to write. Nothing creative. Don't even TRY to be creative. Just write three pages.

Since adding my daily three pages of blathering to my composition book, you'd think my hectic life would cause my brain to explode and I'd end up in a coma and then probably die. But truthfully, since starting my morning pages, my hectic life has become less hectic.

Why would adding yet another thing to my schedule - and THREE PAGES of writing, no less - help things become less hectic?

Because my morning pages are where I get rid of all the icky stuff that mucks up my day. If I need to whine about life, I do it in my morning pages. If I feel overwhelmed by my schedule, I talk about it in the morning pages. If I'm not sure what to do with myself, I give Marisa Hopkins a pep talk in the morning pages.

It's not a diary. It's not meant to be read by anyone, not even me. If someone were to pick up my morning pages and start to read, they'd probably think I am the whiniest, most dissatisfied person on the planet. And in between that, they'd wonder if I have multiple personalities, because the voices in my head (I like to call these the characters of my books, but if you want to call it schizophrenia, go ahead) sometimes interrupt my whining to say a thing or two before letting me get back to my whining in peace.

Like this piece of dialogue which ended up on my page like this:

September 6th

I've been out of town for Jenni's wedding so I haven't done any morning pages for days. I'd like to say I'm all settled and ready to start my week, except there's no milk for my coffee so things aren't getting off to the best start imaginable (note to self - vanilla yogurt doesn't do a great job replacing missing milk). On top of that, I'm hungry, but for what, I do not know. Things also not great: I have a cold, or something, coming on. And my stomach hurts.

"Do I have a sign on my forehead or a sticker on my shirt somewhere that says Hello, my name is Catherine and I'd like to be in a complicated relationship? I don't think so. Now go away."

Catherine Snowfield won't shut up again. Okay, so, yesterday I got an email from a friend on Etsy....

And I went on about that email, totally forgetting my bit of dialogue, which is fine, since it's not dialogue I'll use anytime in the next couple years, if at all.

Three pages of whining each day might not sound like a great thing, but in that whining, I usually have a revelation or two. Like this one, from just this week:

December 12th

(me blathering about my struggles with the revision of my book)

I need to set goals and then stick to them. If I set goals I'll then have expectations of when I'll be done, right? And I can hopefully hit those goals. Okay, so it's settled. I need to write down a set of goals.

Actually I have. Twice. But this time I'll MEAN it.

Haha, wow. What's wrong with me? I want to write! I want to finish SLEEP! Share it with my crit partners, make it better, then query so I can share it with the world! What is stopping me?

Oh. I spend all my free time on Facebook and Twitter. And blog reading.

Okay, why am I stopping me? There I go. The question I've been waiting for - why am I stopping myself from reaching my dreams? I want to make excuses for myself, say things like, "revision is not something I can rush and it will be better if I take my time anyway..."

But the truth is this - I haven't been spending more than minimal time on my book each day.

So there you have it. Thanks to the morning pages, I frequently slap myself in the face. And now above my desk is the sign WHY AM I STOPPING MYSELF FROM REACHING MY DREAMS?

Some days I don't have three pages of whining to do. This is when I write my weekly shopping list, plan a schedule, talk about my favorite books, or gush over Victorian poetry and the movie Splash.

But when those pages are done and my coffee cup is empty, I shut my composition book and get on with my life. My brain is usually calm, or else inspired to get moving, but my life doesn't seem so hectic when I work out the problems bugging me in my morning pages. And it's nice being able to close the book on them until another day.

If you're a person who loves to live life creatively, or would like to try, but are not sure where to start, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU to pick up The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. You won't be let down!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Outta the Mouths of Babes: I Spy Edition

We're big fans of the game I Spy and usually adapt it to fit whatever Gracie and Annelie are learning at the time (colors, numbers, letters of the alphabet, words to read, etc..).

Lately, with Gracie's reading, we've had some unexpectedly awesome results.


ME: I spy with my little eye something you don't see and it is spelled F-O-R-K.

GRACIE: Okay, Eff... Ahh... Kuh... Errr... Fah-ker? Is it a fahker? Fah-ker? Do you see a fahker?

ME [choking on laughter]: F-O-R-K

GRACIE: Eff... Ahh... Errr... Kuh. Oh. It's a fork?


WILL: I spy with my little eye something spelled B-O-X

GRACIE: Buh... ahh... ksss... Box?

WILL: Right. Now I spy with my little eye something spelled B-L-O-C-K-S

GRACIE: Buh... ahhh... luh... kssss... boll-ocks? You see bollocks?


Okay, that's all. Aren't kids fun?

Hope you're all having a fab weekend!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Blogging vs. Board Games

I was going to blog today. It was probably going to be the best post ever. But then Annelie said, "I love you, Mom," which usually means she's done something naughty, but this time meant, "Come play board games with me!"

And how can I resist this face?

Or this one?

Or this one? Seriously, how?

I can't! So, instead of blogging, my graham cracker-faced 3-year-old is instructing me on playing The Lady Bug Game. Apparently I get to move my game piece 6 times in a row, and she automatically wins. Good game.

Happy Friday, folks!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Move Your Clip - a Discipline Plan that Works!

I came up with a discipline plan that actually works with my girls...
and blogged about it over at The Mama Dramalogues!
Come on by and see what we've been up to!

Just click HERE!


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