Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I can't believe I haven't written in 3 months.  Wow.  This summer has been CRAZY, but at the same time it doesn't seem like we've done much!  Let me see if I can sum up our last 3 months... trips to the waterpark at Kings Island, speech therapy for Claire (she has made AMAZING progress this summer), VBS, a family reunion, summer ballet class, soccer practices ending and then starting again for the fall, and preparations for both girls to start school.  In less than 3 weeks, Kate will start Kindergarten (how in the heck is that happening?!?!) and Claire will start preschool!  I am not one to lament the passing of time, but somehow realizing that both my girls will be in school this year and that Kate starts riding the bus does make me nostalgic.  At church, Kate moved up to the Kindergarten "class" in early June, and somehow the realization that I'm now the parent of an elementary aged child makes me feel old.

Claire has been taking weekly private speech therapy this summer and has been making amazing progress. She is now linking up to 5 words together (with some prompting), using 2-3 words consistently with no prompting, and is articulating much more clearly.  The past two weeks at speech, she's even said "cake" and "cook" instead of "take" and "took".  She has been able to get the K sound on the ends of words for a while, but the beginning has been a challenge.  Miss Susan is a miracle worker, however, and we're now getting Ks on the front of the words, at least some of the time.

Kate took a 2 week summer dance sampler and has discovered tap.  She loves it.  She's taking a ballet/tap combo class this year (during Claire's preschool on  Tues mornings, so I will have approx 1 hour to grocery shop in peace every week during Kate's class.  I am more excited about this than Kate is about dance class, I think!).  She's also playing SAY soccer again this fall.  This is the first season Mark has not helped coach her team.  I may have to force him to go back to coaching after this.  I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Her coach is coaching 3 teams in 2 leagues this fall and practice times have been a nightmare. However, Kate's playing on the same team as one of the girls from her preschool class last year, so that's fun.

I'll sign off with a few pictures from our family reunion last month.  By most people's standards, it would hardly count as a family reunion (there were only 19 people at it, and that includes all he cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas & grandpas and even my great aunt!), but we get together every summer with my mom's family and it's so much fun.  

Kate & Max checking out Alex's DS... they were enthralled.

Kate showing off her slip n slide skills

Love this photo of Kate - I crouched right at the end of the slide and snapped it at eye level.

More mad slip n' slide skills...

My cousin Michael getting in on the action.  He's about 6'4".  It was hilarious.

Nice expression, Alex.  :)

Claire's version of the slip n' slide consisted of her crawling the length of the slide.

Claire's dismount

Alex torturing his sister Maggie

These girls walked down the path to the community park in my aunt's backyard.  All conversation stopped for a good 3 minutes while we gawked at their outfits in disbelief.  This was taken in 2010, not 1986.  But were it not for me telling you, you'd never have known that.

Alex getting crazy with the younger cousins....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The weekend's activities

This weekend was rather busy for Kate.  Saturday morning she had a soccer game, which Grandma and Grandpa Louagie came down to see.  She was super excited, and she scored her 4th goal of the season.  There was much rejoicing.  There are a couple of kids on her team (on in particular) who probably score 4 goals per game, but while Kate tries hard, she's not quite as fast or aggressive as a couple of the other kids.

Kate really seems to like soccer, so I'm often torn on what to do.  Around here in Cincinnati, you kind of have to commit to soccer early (like now for Kate) if you want to play in high school.  I always think I would have been pretty good at soccer had my parents started me playing early.  I grew up in Cleveland and it's just like Cincinnati - you have to start soccer early.  My parents were both from rural Illinois and soccer never crossed their radar when I was little.  No blame, just curiosity of what might have been, I guess.

This is Kate's 2nd year playing (spring only), and the second year that she's had the same coaches - her friend's dad is head coach and Mark is assistant coach.  I love it because I don't have to hang out at practice the whole time since Mark is there anyway!  But I have a feeling this is the end of Mark's coaching career, should Kate move on.

What I did do for many years growing up was dance.  I started at about 7 or 8 and danced all the way until I graduated.  I LOVED it.  Now, God did not grant me a professional dancer's body.  I'm way to, um, top heavy.  But I still enjoy dancing pretty much any way I can.  And of course I married a man who doesn't dance.  Go figure.

We enrolled Kate in a ballet/jazz combo class this year.  It was her first dance experience and she loved it.  The studio is run by a woman who used to volunteer in the kids ministry at our church, so I loved supporting someone I know.  It's a "ballet-focused" studio - all dancers are required to take a ballet class, which I kind of like.  I think ballet is the backbone of good dancing.

This Sunday was Kate's "recital".  At her studio the youngest 2 levels don't participate in the large on-stage recital.  It's actually rather nice since the recital would be quite long for them to sit through and some kids (not Kate, I'm sure, Ms. Shy-as-a-Mac-Truck) might freeze up on stage.  They have several "mini-recitals" at the studio and 2-3 classes perform their dances for the parents.  It was CROWDED, but fun.  The only bummer was buying a $60 cheaply made costume for a recital at the studio.  Apparently some parents get upset if they can't pay $60 for a terribly made costume for their child (I'd love to know who they are so I can smack some sense into them).  I really wish they could have just had a simple skirt to go over their leotard or something that was more affordable.

Next year Kate is going to try a Ballet/Tap combo - can't wait for "tappy shoes" all over the kitchen for the first couple of weeks...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gatlinburg Retreat

This past weekend, we went on a retreat with other leaders from our church to Gatlinburg.  We LOVE our church - Four Corners Church - and this was a really fun weekend.  I lead the early childhood area of our kids ministry, and this was an opportunity for people to just hang out and relax and get to know each other better.  We stayed in a 14 bedroom cabin on the side of a hill, with the steepest driveway known to man - we have a manual transmission and the first time made the mistake of stopping at the bottom of the drive.  I kid you not it took us 3 attempts to get up the bottom part of the driveway and you could smell our clutch for at least a day afterwards.  Wow.

The other fun part to the trip is that on the 13th, Mark and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary.  We spent our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, and so coming back for the first time almost 10 years to the day with the family was pretty fun, and a reminder of just how much things have changed (for the good) in 10 years.  Mark even took Kate miniature golfing at the same place he and I went on our honeymoon. :)

Here are some highlights from the trip....

The view from the cabin balcony

The view inside the cabin - a.k.a the "Lodge-ball" arena.  Lodge-ball claimed the saddle on the cross beam, several lampshades from the chandelier and at least one chandelier light bulb.  All was back to normal when we left on Sat.

Kate playing one of many games of air hockey.

Claire just being her adorable self, sitting in a window.

Sunset from the cabin balcony on Thurs. night

Kate "swimming" in the hot tub (we turned it way down and a bunch of the kids had a blast in it).

"Bouldering" in the Greenbrier area of Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park

Kate at the TN/NC border sign - I took a picture of Mark at this sign almost 10 years to the day before this picture was taken, while we were in Gatlinburg on our honeymoon.  My how times have changed in 10 years.

My awesome family posed on "the biggest rock in the whole world" according to Kate.

Claire chowing down on some bread before we headed home on Sat.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Catching Up

Wow, this has been a busy spring.  Really busy.  Here are some of the things we've been up to:

Claire has discovered nail polish, and if I don't have the time to paint her nails then she'll do it herself using marker.  Sigh.  I should have been suspicious when she was quiet in the car for way to long....

We had to put a childproof knob on the pantry because about 5 times a day Claire would come hand me either the oatmeal jar or the peanuts from the pantry and say "eat".  I am happy she has a word, but I began to wonder how much oatmeal a 2 year old could eat.  I guess it keeps her regular...

As I write this post, Kate is proudly helping Daddy fold laundry (have I mentioned how awesome my husband is?  He does over half of the laundry around here!).  This is one of the first times that I have not had to put quotation marks around help.  She's even folding shirts with only a little help straightening from her a bit too Type A Daddy.  Here she is very proudly holding up a shirt she folded.

And of course, if big sister is doing something, Claire has to do it too... after these photos she stood up and said "Dah!" (her version of Ta-da) and then "All Done!"

This morning is Kate's Mother's Day program at preschool, which she is super excited about.  I'm sure I will have many more pictures from it...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Minnie Mouse pillowcase dress

I made this Minnie Mouse pillowcase dress for my daughter.  Sometime I'll put up a tutorial on pillowcase dresses, but I'm really bad at taking pictures through the whole process!!

The red & white fabric is from JoAnn's and is only $4.99 regular price, and I managed to get it for half price.  Gotta love it!

The circle for Minnie Mouses' head is from one of the play dishes from my daughter's kitchen, and the ears are a jumbo size plastic Easter egg.  I traced both onto Wonder-Under, then ironed the Wonder-Under to black fabric and cut around it.  Then, I removed the backing and ironed the circles onto the polka dot fabric so that they looked like Minnie Mouse.  I put a mid-weight stabilizer fabric behind the polka dot fabric and then did a "satin stitch" (a zig-zag with a very short stitch length) over the edges of the circles.  Then, I cut away the extra stabilizer fabric from the back.

The bow is held on with fabric glue (Heat & Bond is not strong enough, you need liquid fabric glue) and I hand-stitched it about 5-6 times as well to make sure it stayed.

For my pillowcase dresses, I sew elastic into the neck and then sew the ribbon to the top of each of the corners of the dress.  I think it looks a bit more polished, and I like that there is less of a strangulation hazard from the elastic than there is from a true drawstring neck.

Now - if only we had the funds to plan a trip to Disney.... :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kitchen Stool Makeover

I finally re-did our kitchen stools.  They have been living in the garage for the past 9 months or so, ever since Mark turned his back on Claire in the kitchen for 2 minutes and returned to find her standing on top of our kitchen island.  However, I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, we are mostly past that stage with Claire and I can now keep the stools at the island.

Here is a "before" shot of the stools - functional, but certainly not pretty.  I got them at a church rummage sale for $1.00 each.

I have been wanting to paint them for a while, but have been slightly challenged by the wicker type seat.

I ended up painting the wooden part of the stool (and some of the wicker seat as well) black.

Then I made a cover for the wicker part out of some old muslin I had.  Here is the final product:

Much better, isn't it?

For the cover, I cut a piece of muslin about 5-6" larger than the dimensions of the top of the seat.  I then cut a 4" square out of each corner of the muslin to accommodate the corners of the stool that stick out.  I did the same thing out of Pellon Fusible Fleece (978F) and then ironed the fusible fleece to the muslin, just to give the muslin a little padding and to make sure none of the black on the seat showed through the muslin.

I searched Google Images for a bird silhouette and found this one that I liked, then printed it onto iron on transfer paper and ironed it onto the face of the muslin.  It was a bit tricky getting the entire image to adhere to the muslin, unfortunately.  Thank God for Sharpie marker to fill in a few missing spots!

I then used a package of extra wide double fold bias tape.  I first sewed 8.5" pieces into each "corner" that was cut out, making a fold where it came to the corner.  Then, I sewed approx. a 22" piece of bias tape over each long straight edge, leaving the ends to serve as ties for the cover.

Here is a close-up of the corner of the cover once it is tied on the stool:

Voila - tie it on.  I had all the materials for this project, so it was free to me, but if you are attempting it from scratch you need the following things to cover 2 stools:

1/2 yard muslin, any width (over 36")
1/2 yard Pellon Fusible Fleece (Pellon 978F or any similar fusible padding)
1 package iron-on transfer paper (can get this at almost any hobby, craft, fabric or even large mass merchandiser in their craft section)
1 package extra wide double fold bias tape in the color of your choice
sewing machine

I did not take pictures of the steps of making the cover, I will try to take them when I make the 2nd cover and then post a more detailed tutorial.  They certainly aren't perfect, but they're much better than the original stools with the flaking white paint!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Favorite Time of Day

I love it when my husband walks in the door from work each day.  I'm always glad to see him, and I'm often very glad to have him entertain the girls for a while while I make dinner or get a little break.  Some days I am VERY glad, if you know what I mean (i.e. - here are YOUR children I am disowning them for the time being).  Today was one of those days.  Sigh.

Both girls generally love it when Mark gets home (Claire's a little more hit-or-miss on that subject than Kate is, since she is more of a "Momma's girl") and situations such as this often arise:

This was the take down and tackle of the Daddy tickle robot.

First Claire's turn.

Then Kate.

Then Claire goes in for the assist.

Just another reason why my husband rocks - I'm sure after a long day at work being attacked by two young children isn't necessarily the most "relaxing" time, but he does it with a smile. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

StudioDelve Rocks

I have to share my friend Lisa's amazing ceramic work.  Lisa and I were good friends my senior year of high school, which is longer ago than I care to admit. Let's just say that my 5 year old daughter is closer to being a senior in high school than I am.  Wow.  That's a scary thought.

Since high school, Lisa has started StudioDelve and makes completely awesome ceramic pieces like this:

And this:

And this light fixture. Seriously.  I want this.  My husband does not. Go figure.

And this plaque for just $8. Love.

So stop by and check out Lisa's website, Etsy shop or Facebook fan page!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Make your own Sports Headband Tutorial

If you have a daughter who plays on sports teams or if you like to work out and you wear the "sports style" headbands with a ponytail - this tutorial is for you!  Don't want to pay $8-$18 for a headband?  Make one yourself for cheap!

You need:

  • A sewing machine (or patience and good eyesight for hand sewing)
  • 7/8" wide grosgrain ribbon of your choice (background color) ($1.97 or less - look for coupons)
  • 5/8" wide grosgrain ribbon of your choice (top color) ($1.97 or less)
  • 3/8" wide grosgrain ribbon that matches either of the two previous colors ($1.97 or less)
  • 7/8" wide velvet ribbon (this is the hardest to find - check Hobby Lobby for $1.99 spools of 6 ft of ribbon that are often half price or check other fabric stores in the "by the yard" ribbon - black or brown work well, white is good for lighter colors)
  • Fabric glue ($4 or so a bottle) - hot glue does NOT work for this, sorry, it is too stiff
  • Invisible thread or thread that matches both of your ribbon colors
  • Two "adult" size "no metal" thick ponytail holders
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape

Step 1
Cut the 7/8" wide and 5/8" wide grosgrain ribbons to 15 1/2" long for a child's size headband or 16 1/2" long for a teen or adult headband.

Step 2
Cut the 7/8" wide velvet ribbon to 14" (kids) or 15" (adult) - you could cut it the same length as the grosgrain, but depending on your spool of ribbon you may be able to get an extra headband out of the spool if you cut it a bit shorter.

Step 3
Use the fabric glue and run a small line of fabric glue down each long edge of the 5/8" grosgrain ribbon. If this ribbon is a dark color, you could put one line down the middle, but lighter colors will show the glue line if you put it in the middle. Glue the 5/8" ribbon to the middle of the 7/8" ribbon - putting the ribbon down carefully so that the edges are even.

Step 4
Using invisible thread (or thread that matches the color of the 5/8" ribbon) sew down the edge of the 5/8" ribbon.

Step 5
Run a line of glue down the velvet ribbon.  Glue this to the back of the 7/8" grosgrain ribbon.  There will be a gap at each end of the ribbon where it is not covered by velvet - this is okay, it won't show.

Step 6
Using invisible thread (or thread that matches the color of the 7/8" grosgrain ribbon) carefully and slowly (especially if you are using invisible thread) sew down the edge of the velvet ribbon to attach it securely to the grosgrain ribbon.

Step 7
Take the two ponytail holders and knot them together.  This is slightly difficult to explain, but I don't have a internet-compatible video camera, so I'm going to have to do the best I can.  You're going to find the spot on each ponytail holder where they have been stuck together. Lay the two ponytail holders on top of each other with the connection spots on opposite sides of the circle from each other.  Loop one side of one ponytail holder around the other and pull taught.  Hopefully the pictures below help explain this.

Step 8
Fold the end of the ribbon from Step 6 over one side of the ponytail holder.  Sew in place, going back-and-forth several times over the end to make sure it doesn't pull out.  Repeat with the other side.

Step 9
Cut two pieces of 3/8" grosgrain ribbon to 2 1/2" long.  Heat seal the ends (run a lighter or match quickly and carefully across the cut end of the ribbon and it will melt together slightly and prevent fraying).  Put a line of fabric glue on each 2 1/2" piece.

Step 10
Fold these short pieces over the sewn part of the headband for a nicer looking finish.  Allow to dry before putting in anyone's hair.

You can replace the "team colors" with a patterned 7/8" grosgrain ribbon like I did below, and you omit steps 3 & 4.  (See photo of Kate below with the zebra print headband on.) Or you can move up a size and use 1 1/2" grosgrain ribbon and velvet ribbon, and 7/8" for the top piece (or again use a patterned ribbon).

Here in Cincinnati I've found both Ohio State and Kentucky printed ribbons at WalMart (which I normally hate to shop at, but it's the only place I've found the ribbon) so you could make "game day" headbands for you and your friends.

For about the cost of a headband you could buy, you'll have enough materials to make 10+ headbands of your own.  Offer to make them for the rest of the team to help cover your initial expenses.


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