Saturday, April 30, 2011

Questions Saturday

Before we get started be sure to get entered for the Mother's Day Gift Give Away...see the post entitled "Mother's Day Gift Giveaway" at the entered to win!

So, last week I invited questions...I got some good ones. I've picked two to get us started. Here we go...

Q: How often do you shave your legs when it's not summertime?

A: Honestly? Not that often! I like to wear tights, when it gets difficult to put on tights I make time to shave! How about YOU?!

Q: What are some of your family's go-to meals?

A: I think our collective favorite is Orange Chicken and's SUPER easy.

You take your chicken breasts and cut them into small pieces and cook them in a frying pan...adding a tad of water if needed to keep them from scorching. Then you add a 18 oz. jar of orange marmalade and about 3/4 of a 16 oz. bottle of Western Dressing. Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture bubble, mixing and turning the chicken so that it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan occasionally. When the mixture has carmelized (turned a nice browny-orange color) you serve it over a bed of rice. We like roasted broccoli on the side. (Some of my kids don't care for the sauce, so I set aside chicken pieces for them and sprinkle lightly with lemon pepper seasoning.)

FUN Questions...keep 'em coming by asking below or emailing me at stacyathope(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother's Day Gift Give Away

We've been talking a bit about Mother's I want to show you a fun project I've been working on AND offer you a chance to win a free Mother's Day gift (whether you give it to your Mom or keep it for yourself is up to you...we're not here to judge!).

So this all started when a dear gal from my past did an article about metal stamping (check out Sarah here) I was I took a little Birthday money and bought myself a little treat...a metal stamp set. SO FUN. So far I've done a few gifts for people. One of my favorites are the garden markers like Sarah's my take on it...

Want one? Here's how...
1. You must be a "follower" of the do that click "follow" to the right and complete the sign up as directed.
2. Leave a comment below no later than 11 p.m. (Central Time) on Saturday April 30, 2011 telling me which one you'd like if you were a winner.

Winners will be announced on Sunday, May 1st and prizes sent out just after that so that you have them in time for Mother's Day on the 8th.

Don't feel lucky? No problem...I'd be happy to make you one. Contact me at stacyathope(at)yahoo(dot)com or via Facebook for pricing...I'm happy to make whatever wording you'd like on your markers. ;)

Ready? Set? GO!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Costumes on a Whim

So a few Wednesdays ago the kids and I were invited to a Birthday party...costumes could be worn. Unfortunately I had already packed the kids' dress up clothes when we were planning the house closing March 1st so we headed to the storage dice. Found a few of the other things we needed, but the costumes were MIA.

One of the kids was NOT okay with it at all...tears flowed, a fit was on the horizon...grasping at straws I suggested we make our own costumes. This happened at about 1 p.m....the party was at 4:30 p.m. Great idea, Mom. Not.

The kids latched onto the WAS going to happen. So, we set to work. We determined that Leve should be Lemon Meringue (obvious!) and Kiki would be Blueberry Muffin....Finn assured me he'd come up with something on his own (whew!). So we set to work...first, we needed inspiration we used these two figurines to help us.

I worked on Lemon Meringue first because it dawned on me that down in the basement NOT packed in the storage unit was the perfect base dress.

It needed some blue on the bottom so I added a band of blue. I cut a strip, sewed it into a circle, then attached the circle to the base of the skirt. Simple.

Next it needed a blue bow. I used some scrap of the band to fashion a bow. I then secured the bow to the center of the dress.

Next Lemon Merigue needed her hairdo....this was going to be tricky. NO yellow fabric to be I took white polar fleece, cut the lemon wedge, and colored it yellow with a Mr. Sketch get it to 'set' I put the piece of fabric in the microwave....I needed to dry it out as the yellow was getting worked like a charm! I then used black thread to backstitch the sections of the lemon onto the white/now yellow fabric. I added the leaves and attached the entire thing to a barrette with a few hand stitches.

Finally, I took a white pair of tights and used the Mr. Sketch Marker to make her yellow stripes on the tights. I also "set" these in the microwave.

Here is Lemon Meringue at the party...of course she's CARRYING her Lemon Meringue.

Now, Blueberry Muffin was MUCH simpler....we dug through Kiki's clothes in the basement and found this blue dress. She had several ideas of how we should dress it up. Most involved sequins and ribbon...after concluding there REALLY wasn't time for that we decided to just make a bunch of blueberries and stick them on the dress AND do a hair do. Basically its all just done with Wonder=Under. On the dress I also stitched around freehand with my machine. She chose the green leggings so she could match the doll and assured me she still looked like Blueberry Muffin even if she didn't dye her hair blue....whew!

All in all it was a little stressful, but mostly fun. Fun in that we worked together to make it happen and I could see the girls' wheels turning as they tried to think of HOW to make it happen with limited time and resources. It was also fun to see their joy as they put on their outfits and had a BLAST at the party. Finally, it was fun for Mama to spend time in creative mode! I'm looking forward to more costume making on the fly in the future!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mother's Day is A-Comin'

So, as a kid Mother's Day was the BEST...we'd buy my Mom a corsage that she'd wear to church, then after church we'd have a big dinner at our house with all of our family, we head to Bergeson's (an amazing family owned nursery) to buy all of our plants for the summer, and finish it all off with dessert before everyone went home. I especially liked that day because, as the only daughter, I was allowed to go with her and my aunts/Grandma to buy the brothers and "the men" stayed home. It was AWESOME to have her "to myself". As I got older we added a piano recital to that day; making it even more fun (but kind of hectic!).

Since Easter is over it's time to focus on Mother's is the first thing I've done; made Photo cards for each of the kids to send to their well as a photo card for us to send to Grandma's, Aunties, and other special nurturers in our lives. Super easy to do...I did mine on Picnik (

Stay tuned for some more fun Mother's Day ideas and musings. :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Make a List Monday**April 25, 2011

Good Monday, Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter...what an occasion to celebrate! The sound of trumpets and the singing of "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" chokes me up EVERY is humbling to think of what Jesus did for me, you know?

So, to kick off this week let's look at our list from last week. MAJOR kudos to Ms. Randi for commenting guessed a thank you she gets a Mommy Treat! Her list was clear and to the point...and somewhat quantitative which was inspiring to me. The question was:
Five Things you Want to Do/Experience This Summer?

Here are my five:
1. Sell our home.
2. Move to our new town.
3. Make myself exercise a minimum of 3 times a week (30 min. each time).
4. Explore nature with my children...hikes, bike rides, swimming, etc. no less than three times a week.
5. Connect with at least three old friends.

#1 I don't have a ton of control over...but I will pray and trust God's timing.
#2 I will have when #1 comes through...GO, God, Go!!! (Maybe He likes it when I do cheer leading moves for Him?!?!)
#3 Yikes. I WANT to exercise...some exercise I even like (don't tell, okay?!) My challenges is MAKING time to do the exercise...with four kids something else always takes precedence. I will work on this.
#4 Woohooo! I cannot we were at a cool park and Finn BEGGED to go on a hike...the impractical shoes we were wearing did not make it a possibility, but I am planning VERY practical footwear for this summer so we never have to miss another opportunity!
#5 A DOUBLE Woohoooo!!! I have been blessed to know so many amazing, awe-inspiring people in my life...I wish that I kept in closer contact with most of them and am excited about connecting more this summer.

So, hopefully you've made your list of things you'd like to do this summer...after all, summer goes SO quote Ferris Bueller "Life goes pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in awhile you just might miss it."

In honor of my favorite season I would like us to do the following list:

1. Pick your favorite season.
2. Name 5 things you ADORE about that season.

Please comment below, or if we're "friends" on Facebook you can comment there. ;)
Let's have a GREAT week...this week you can look forward to a few tutorials, a few musings, and some answers to those GREAT questions posed on Saturday (AGAIN, thanks to Ms. Randi for loads of material...that girl REALLY earned her Mommy Treat!)

See you soon!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is RISEN!

Today is a day for family, for celebrating our Risen no blog!
I pray you enjoy this day completely and feel blessed that your Savior died on the cross to forgive your sins, then overcame death and rose to ever-lasting life...the life that we are promised as believers in Him...Christ is Risen, Indeed!
See you tomorrow for Make-A-List Monday!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ask a Question Saturday

Okay, so when we worked at Bible camp I used to get a TOTAL kick out of the activity entitled, "From the Box"...basically we invited the kids to write any question they wanted on a sheet of paper, put it in a box, and the counselors would take out questions and answer them the best they could. Let's face it, asking questions is fun...why do you think my three year old loves saying, "Why?" every time I tell her something?!?!

So, here's what I propose...ask me a question...and I will do my best to answer it. (It might be helpful if we kept the questions to motherhood since that's what the blog is about, but if you want to ask me about something else, I"m up for it....if it's about quantum engineering, however, I'm not promising that the answer is going to be accurate!)

Ready? Set....Go!
Please post your questions below or message me at stacyathope(at sign)yahoo(dot)com.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Silk Tie-dyed Easter Eggs Tutorial

Few things scream "EASTER" as much as dyeing Easter eggs....let's face it...what other time in the year do you care what color the outside of an egg is?!?! In the event that you want to mix up your dyeing process this year (or you're like me and don't want to have to run out to get colored tablets) try this fun way to spruce up your eggs.

You'll need some pretty simple things:
Eggs, silk pieces (ours are an old tie that we cut up), twist ties or short pieces of wire, and plain cotton simply has to be undyed.

You also need a pot of water with 3 tbps vinegar added.

Next you take your silk piece and wrap the egg with it. Secure the ends with the twist ties.

Do the same thing with the cotton pieces, placing over the silk piece.

Place the eggs into the pot of water/vinegar.

Then place on the stove. Bring to boiling.

Once you hit boiling turn it down to simmer. Let simmer for 40 can go longer if you want.

Then use the scraps to play. :)

When they've been in the allotted time unwrap and enjoy!

Rub with vegetable oil to get them to shine!

Easter blessings to you and your family may you know without a doubt that Jesus died and rose again for YOU. Alleluia!


Natural Consequences

So, it's April...kind of spring/kinda winter...last week my kids decided that it was SUMMER. Here's how it went down...

Directly after naps/rest time they all decided that they should play outside. Perfect..I ADORE that my children enjoy playing outside...there's so much to learn out there! So out they go. About 30 minutes into it Leve comes inside...she 'sneaks' back to the bedrooms and comes out holding swimsuits behind her back...she had one for her, one for Finn, and (because I assume she couldn't find Kiki's) an extra bottom of Finns and a white tank top. Precious. I don't say anything...I just quietly followed after her. Peering around the corner of the house I could see that they had pulled out our boat pool. I could also see that Finn and Kiki were hauling water to the pool using sand-buckets from the beach...obviously the meager amount of water in the pool was the fruit of their 1/2 hour's work. Leve passed out the swimsuits and they all three went behind the shed to change. Kiki was a little put out about the 'suit' she was given, but got over it saying, "Well, at least you tried."

Now, it was maybe 60 degrees out...sunny, definitely. But NOT pool weather...not to mention that that water was COLD...I decided to just let it go. I remembered when I was a kid and the deliciousness of thinking it WAS warm enough to swim. Sometimes my Mom would let us try, others she wouldn't. I decided it was better to just let them have at it. What would it hurt? Sure, they'd freeze. They'd figure it out.

I went back in the house and could hear them continue to play, and play, and play...then the sound ended. I was curious. I went out and found this as I came around the corner. Only in Minnesota!

They had decided that the water was WAY too cold...but that it would be good to get the extra snow off the they were moving it to the pool. I took a few photos and headed was COLD, afterall!

In a short while the kids were there on the deck; shivering. BEGGING for me to make them hot cocoa and build a fire! I refused to do the fire, but as they drank their hot cocoa I asked them what they learned today...I think it was Kiki that said, "If it's too cold for all the snow to melt it's probably too cold to go swimming." I couldn't have taught that better lesson if I had tried! Some lessons are best learned on our own, aren't they?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Alright, this might be the last of my Meal-time ideas! Maybe....

Again, simple, but well loved.

First, I get a blanket...usually its one that needs to be washed anyhow because by the end of the picnic it DEFINITELY needs to be washed!

I have the kids work together as a team to lay it out.

(This is usually the point where they've caught on that we're doing Picnic and they go and put on bathing suits...I don't know why. We've NEVER gone on an out of doors picnic in our swimsuits, but for some reason in-door picnics require a costume change. (shrug))

We eat.

When its over I have them haul their dishes to the sink and I take the blanket and shake it outside, then send it down to the laundry.

Done and done. Super fun!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Snacks for Supper

In the trend of Fun meals I share the following:

Back when I was going to ECFE with Finn and Kiki the Moms shared recipes. This idea came from our simple, yet she shared with us it was one of her kids' favorites. Guess what? My kids like it too! (It's no Movie Night, but its tough to compete with cheesy sticks! Tee hee!)

Basically, it's just as it sounds...foods you would normally snack on become your meal. You might have to think a bit to make sure you cover your food groups, but here is what we had the last time...

Carrot sticks
String cheese
Hardboiled Egg

Some other popular items are:
Orange Slices
Garlic Bread
Ham slices
Chicken Breast (cut into bite-sized chunks)
Yogurt covered pretzels

We've had fun going to the grocery store and letting the kids each pick their favorite snack and putting them together for the meal....or picking out the oddest thing we could think of and somehow coming up with a way to serve it snack-size. (mini toastie-doggies, anyone?!) Regardless... we enjoy breaks up the monotony of the regular menus, and gives Mom a chance to clean out the fridge. ;)
The other bonus is that this is a meal that your kids could easily fun for THEM and YOU! ;)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Movie Night

In the spirit of fun things to do at meal time I'll share another one my kids LOVE. (When I was taking their picture at Dinner Theater they said, "Aren't you going to tell them about Movie Night?!!?")

So, here's Movie Night...
TRUE Movie Night is when the following things occur:
1)Parents pick a movie for the kids...I don't know why it is, but my kids INSIST that the parent picks.
2)For the meal we eat some of their favorite things: "cheesy sticks" (mozzarella sticks), chicken nuggets or pizza nuggets, and french fries.
3)Everyone gets ONE sippy cup worth of soda...after it's gone they have water. Sometimes we'll even take a trip to the grocery store and they'll chose their own can of Shasta...I'm telling you, Movie Night is a BIG deal at our house!
4)The meal is eaten in front of the t.v.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I KNOW the food is not the most nutritious. I KNOW we're making meal time about television. I KNOW that no one talks to each other during the meal except to ask for more food. These are all negatives that exist and things you must consider if you should ever decide to implement Movie Night at your house.

Let me also say this...
The smiles and excitement on my kids' faces when I announce a Movie Night? Totally worth it.
The fact that when they go to sleep at night they share that Movie Night was the BEST part of their day? Also worth it.
The fact that they BEGGED me to tell my 'friends' on my blog about Movie Night because, "IT is the most fun thing we do." Again, worth it.

As with most things I think the 'most fun' things are the things that are totally out of the ordinary...things that we don't get to do all the time...things that are a TREAT...and the irregularity trumps the negatives, at least in our opinion. ;)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make a List Monday**April 18, 2011

Welcome to the week!

To re-cap here's where we've been doing the last two Mondays. The first Monday we asked:
Five things you hope your children will say when they are grown and are asked to recall their childhood.

The next Monday we said we'd:
**Pick ONE of your statements.
**Make a list of five concrete things you could do this week (or in a day) that would help make that goal a reality

How did you do? Tricky? No problem?
I have to admit that my biggest challenge was to pick ONE of the things to focus in on...I wanted them all so much!

In the end I picked:

That love was abundant...our parents loved each other, us, and others whole heartedly...the love was completely unconditional and shown not just in word, but in action.

The five concrete ways I could think of to make it a reality were:
1. Be sure to speak kindly to (and about) my spouse in front of my children....even when I don't think they are listening!
2. Hug and kiss my spouse and kids as often as appropriate.
3. Speak as gently to my spouse and children as I do to people outside my home...particulary when I am frustrated with their behavior.
4. Include my children in the decisions to help other people and explain that this is done out of love and the desire to treat them with care.
5. Do things out of service to my children and spouse. Specifically: refill batteries promptly when asked by my children, do laundry without complaining, cheerfully provide meals for them.

How did I do on these this week? Well, it's easy to be happy with your spouse when they live 2.5 hours away, but I didn't do too badly on the other things, either...having only five helped a lot! I do have to say that I continue to need to work on speaking tongue gets sharp when I'm over-tired, stressed, or frustrated...and I want desperately to bridle that in!

The 'new' list is:
Five Things you Want to Do/Experience This Summer?
Share below!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


TWO weeks, guys! TWO WEEKS that I've been doing this blog. It has gone by so quickly!
Someone asked me the other is it possible that you have TIME for a BLOG? Great's helps me keep my sanity so I MAKE time! Without Chad here, the blog gives me an outlet to get rid of some of my gives me a reason to monitor what I'm doing each day...afterall, it could become a blog post! ;) It has been a blessing to me and I am humbled by those of you who have shared that it has made your day more enjoyable too.
Thus far we've had 884 "views" of the 16 posts on the blog.
The one with the most views is my very first post..."Surviving Motherhood" with 106 views.
The bulk of the views come from Facebook (Hi, friends!) with the second largest hits coming from the Hubert Happenings blog (thanks, Randi!).
I plan to keep rolling right along with this blog...thanks for joining me on the ride!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dinner Theater

As you've probably guessed I'm all about fun things to do with my kids.
You've probably also noticed that it has to be EASY to do!
I don't have a lot of extra time (who does?!).
I don't have a lot of extra money (who does?!)
I DO want our time together to be fun (who doesn't?!)

So, today I'm sharing with you one of our fun 'traditions'...Dinner Theater.
(Some people would argue that this is just how you eat meals...for us this is a special depends on the traditions at your house, I guess.)
Basically all you do is set up the table and chairs near the television and eat while you watch a movie. Simple, right? Doesn't cost anything extra, but at our house it makes it a special and fun meal. Here are a few photos of my kids at our last Dinner theater...just a simple breakfast-for-supper meal and an ondemand netflix...perfect.(Sinbad looks pretty mad on the t.v., but it wasn't as bad as it looks!)

Hopefully and idea to help you enjoy meal time. ;)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

I think we all want to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in our our selves, even! To be grateful for all we have and to see the bright side in any situation is a wonderful value for anyone.

I also believe that our children's attitude of gratitude doesn't come from a one-time event or simply MAKING them do something...but it comes in the every-day conversations and pointing out to our kids that a gift from a friend is not a GIVEN...its a GIFT that's GIVEN. Pointing out those times when someone does something kind for us, modeling gratitude ourselves by letting them hear us thank others for what they've done, and letting our kids hear us as we thank God for His gifts is key to helping them learn this attitude.

That being said our actions must also mirror our further instill those conversations we ask our kids to write thank you notes. We don't always get them sent in a timely manner and not everyone may receive one every time...our kids are young, after all...we're working on it! Here is a simple way I've come up with to help our kids with thank you notes.

First, I make up a photo of the child...I adore, but that's just me...I like being able to add text to the front of the postcard since most of our kids cannot write extensively. Here are the examples of the ones I made for the kids' birthdays this year.

For TJ I obviously do all the writing. ;)
For Leve I let her decorate the back with a crayon or other lighter colored pencil so that if I do a dark marker over it shows up just fine.
For Kiki and Finn I divide the backs like this

Kiki writes things she knows like, "I (heart) you."
Finn is a little more involved...
I ask him what he's like to say and I write it on a post it. I've found that post its keep him focused on what he's supposed to be doing and let me go and do other things while he works.

Then he has at it!

How does your family cultivate an attitude of gratitude? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh, Lolli-lolli-lolli-Lollipop!

We used to sing a version of this song to our Leve...I had forgotten and Kiki reminded me the other day when she was trying to cheer up Leve...which led me to thinking of Lollipops...which led me to thinking about how we should make some...we're working on measurements in math so it was a total win-win.

I posted a message on FB asking if anyone had molds and a gal at church graciously offered fun! She also gave me her recipe. It is a GREAT recipe...sure, it has tons of sugar and corn syrup, but lollipops are a TREAT so I used it despite those factors. I am told there lots of recipes where you might use brown rice syrup instead.

So, one afternoon we made them. Here's what you need:

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

1 tsp. of flavoring (if you're doing cinnamon, clove, or peppermint you'll want to use less as that would make them SUPER overpowering)...we did Strawberry

Powdered sugar (optional)

Sucker bags (we used plastic wrap)

Twist ties (I used a little left over ribbon I had on hand)

Have all ingredients and tools assembled and within easy reach of the stove. The use of metal spoons and measuring utensils is recommended. Lightly spray cookie sheet or the cavities of clean, dry candy molds with cooking spray. Insert sucker sticks. If using molds you may also want to spray a piece of foil with cooking spray. If after pouring the candy into the molds you have excess candy, you can pour it onto the foil. (This is what we did.)

In a 2-quart kettle or large saucepan, mix sugar,

corn syrup,

and water. (In case you're wondering...there WAS a little bickering over the fact that Leve got to put TWO things in!)

Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Insert candy thermometer if using, making certain it does not touch bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, without stirring. Early in the cooking process, you can "wash down" any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.

Remove from heat at precisely 300 degrees F (temperature will continue rising), or until drops of syrup form hard, brittle threads in cold water. After boiling action has ceased, add flavor and stir. USE CAUTION WHEN ADDING FLAVORING TO AVOID RISING STEAM.

Pour syrup into the molds or onto the aluminum foil.


Cool completely. For lollipops lightly dust with powdered sugar on both sides. Shake of excess, then put them in plastic wrap.

For the 'extra' on the aluminum foil: break into small pieces. Store in airtight container. I put powdered sugar in there to keep them from sticking. You could also put it between waxed paper.

You can find the entire info recipe and additional tips here.