Friday, December 20, 2013

Oliver's new digs

We have three bedrooms here at the mansion, including the master.  We did have Georgi and Oliver sharing a room, and Margot doing what she does best- living independently.  Though the bundle of baby boy joy will be sharing our 10x12' space (aka master suite) for a couple of months, we're moving kids and getting the nursery ready.  The girls are sharing the bigger room, jr. jr. will be taking over Marg's room, and Oliver has been booted to the landing area (it's actually pretty comfy cozy, and all the necessities fit not quite as tight as sardines in a can).  It's hard to be resting when I want to be nesting, but by Sunday the bed rest will be lifted and I'll be full-throttle. Until then, Andrew and Oliver are in charge of most changes...I do things like arrange shelves and pull up blankets and fluff pillows (the super crucial stuff).

This post is about Oliver's territory, but let me paint you a picture of how Margot is doing in the twin bed/new room. The first night, right to sleep- no protests or demonstrations.  I was like, hey are we the awesome parents with the perfect kids or what?  The next day for nap, a little negotiation required.  The second night, minimal fuss- not bad.  Okay, the past two nights?  Hell.  Two nights ago we heard little feet scrambling (there arose such a clatter, very seasonally appropriate I guess).  Andrew went up to lay down the law, ended up laying down in G's bed because she was upset about Marg.  Homeboy fell asleep and an hour later came down to report Marg was still awake but seemed tired enough to stay in bed. Congratulations on being the most attentive parents in the world? Thank you.  Plus I'm pretty sure that's the night she fell out of bed too.  Yesterday I didn't even try to have her nap in the bed, I put her back in her crib.  Perfect peace and quiet for 3 hours.  That brings us screeching to last night.  Baby girl seemed real tired (crabbier than a wet hen), so we thought she'd go right to sleep in that cozy little twin bed made for someone 5x bigger than her.  Wrong.  Again.  Ten minutes after being tucked in- shuffling, clunking, more shuffling.  I went up to her room where she had all the lights on (with the exception of the night light, which she had unplugged), and Georgi was sleeping like a hound dog.  Put M in bed, sang 14 rounds of Silent Night, and tiptoed back downstairs while holding my breath.  Ten minutes later this scene was repeated.  I Silent Nighted her to sleep, but she was up before 7 this morning to get a jump on her over-tired five hour crying session that led right up to her nap.  Sheesh.  I'll give you one guess where angel baby will be dreaming of sugarplums tonight.

Back to Oliver...

At the top of the stairs we have a pretty big landing (as far as landings go...not a gymnasium).  We set up a twin bed we got off Craigslist last summer, packed as much of Olive's treasures in as possible, and now it's a bedroom.
Andrew painted the bed BM's Stampede.  The quilt was my first quilting project I made for Andrew when I was in high school.  Glad I married the guy and got it back. ;)

I had picked up six of these heavy brass brackets at a garage sale last summer just because.  Because I like junk and like collecting it.  In this case, the junk wasn't actually junk and I had a use for it within the decade.  We also have barn wood, garage wood, chicken coop wood at the ready for things like this.  Things to talk about on these shelves: the plastic hangers in Oliver's basket o' specialties- those are bows for shooting presharpened pencils.  Also pheasant feathers from a fall hunt, a book on how to train hunting dogs...too bad Hector's such an old dog, I don't think he'll be learning any new tricks.  There's a magnetic flashlight hanging on his tackle box, binoculars at the ready just in case, a picture of his beloved hound.  I guess we're raising a little sportsman.

Thanks to the DNR and county fair, Oliver now stops aquatic hitchhikers.  We don't have a boat.  
I won the bid for this bulletin board at my great aunt and uncle's auction a few years ago- most stressful 30 seconds of my life.  Okay, that's not true.  Anyway I love the saying.  Also in this picture you can sort of see the edge of the window. There is indeed a window in this space, I just crop it out because it's framed by the unsightly raw edges of pink foam insulation and sheet rock.  'Trim windows' is on the to-do list.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Merry

Raise your hand if you're sick of my house at Christmas--  to all who raised they hand I'm sorry.  But this is what I'm looking at all day e'r day (except on the days when I have a dr. appt., when I step outside of these four walls for 1-1.5 hours), and I get excited when I change things around a little tiny bit.  

If you're ever wondering why we put a tree in front of a door- that entrance/exit rarely gets used and not at all in the winter. Right now there's a hoaky set of steps leaning up against the house outside and it's a use-at-your-own-risk kind of deal.  We would like to eventually put a deck out there or- my pie in the sky idea- a den.  Wouldn't it be nice.

I was going to claim this Robert Frost book as one of our favorite Christmas books, but since the kids never ask me to read it, I think it's MY favorite that I make them listen to.  But I love it.  Other Christmas reads in heavy circulation at our house are Who is Coming to Our House?, Bear Stays Up for Christmas, The Legend of the Candy Cane, I Spy Christmas Book, The Animals' Christmas Eve (one of my childhood favorites)...and a bunch more.  In adult Christmas fiction- have you read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham?  It's from a few years ago and was made into a movie called Christmas With the Kranks which was completely underwhelming.  But the book is so stinking funny.  I read it aloud to Andrew on our way to Chicago the year our nephew Caleb was born.  We were LOLing.  A lot.  

More trees made of paper.  This was Oliver's and my project from last year.

The stockings are hung on the banister with care.

I don't know if I've ever talked about the awesomeness of this little contraption.  We used to do themed gifting on the Toftness side, and one Christmas the theme was 'thrift'.  My brother in law took apart this old intercom speaker, removed the guts, put in mp3 speakers, and now my iPhone is pumping Pandora Christmas to beat the band.  How neat is that?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Georgianna Lynn

When Oliver was younger I was pretty good at documenting all the nutty stuff he said (homeboy be cray cray).  But if I don't write it down as soon as it leaves the horse's mouth, I'm probably going to forget it.  So once our second and third cherubs came along, keeping track of their childish speak was all but out the door.  Until recently when George started saying the darnedest things.

When I told Gmeister that Megan and Mike were coming for lunch, "There's a microphone coming over?"  [I would call this 'classic' if she was 100 years old.]

About post-it notes, "It dicky on da back."

Looking at a picture of a man in a book, "Is him his chiwdwen's daddy?"

Andrew told G not to let him forget wrapping paper when they went to Target
G: Why?
A: So we can wrap the presents and put them under the tree.
G: So Santa doesn't have to?
*side note: we don't tell our kids there's a Santa Claus.  Not because we think it's bad, we just don't.  But this girl George?  She's a born believer.  Even when she asks if Santa's real or not and we say it's just a fun thing to pretend, she'll talk and talk about him bringing us presents and how he'll manage without a chimney.

'Red Handed Jill'

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An ode to the versatility of a cardboard box

We've had an astronomical number of refrigerator sized boxes in our basement for a while.  When Oliver asked Anj to bring some boxes home from work, the man took it pretty seriously.  Olives used  them for forts and drawing boards for a few weeks, but then they got folded and stacked and that's how they've been.  

I hadn't cut anything with scissors in about 24 hours (which is a long time for me), and had an idea.  I sketched some letters, employed my cutters, and here's a new life for the boxes.  Talk about sustainability. This cardboard just keeps on giving.   

I wanted to amp up the glam that naturally radiates from corrugated cardboard by brushing on some gold acrylic paint.  Turns out all I had was silver, which was basically transparent or otherwise dirty looking.  Whatever.  I punched 3 holes wherever it seemed to make sense to attach the letters, then threaded some fine wire through.  The 'A' looks like it's ready to jump rope or something exciting.  

And now I'm off to calmly make Christmas cookies with two little girls.  Heaven help me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Paper + Scissor

Okay, so as I try to chill on the couch (boring and making me heftier by the minute), I roam Pinterest and blogland looking for inspiration for..well..anything.  On my internet adventures I have found a couple of relatively easy paper folding/cutting projects that reel you in and make you want to be a better person.  Um, that last part may or may not be true.  They definitely make me want to be better at making paper things.  Which will hopefully make me a better person.  Or a worse person because now I'm addicted to making paper things.  Try not to over analyze it.

First up- the paper snowflake.  I really thought these would be so simple.  I mean, aren't the kids coming home from preschool with them?  After looking at lots of tutorials and much trial and error, I am convinced that preschoolers are geniuses.  My hangup has always been with the folding- like how in the heck do you get a 6 pointed flake instead of 4?  I wish I understood it well enough to explain it.  I'm still pleasantly surprised every time it works.  I ended up loosely following these instructions  [Confession- reading instructions puts me to sleep, so I looked at the pictures (which was not super helpful), and kept telling Oliver, "I think I got it now!"  Only to open up a third of a snowflake.]  But I know you are so good at reading and comprehending instructions.  Go.

Easy Paper Snowflakes

What you will make:
In this project, learn an easy way to make snowflakes from tissue paper. With this technique, you can make a whole flurry of snowflakes in a hurry, and no two snowflakes will be the same! Using tissue paper makes cutting through many layers easier, but you can use any lightweight paper you like.
This project is great for family, classroom or group craft time. It requires no patterns and uses simple materials.
Related projects: See another way to make snowflakes and learn more about snowflakes in the Symmetry in Snowflakes craft project.
Here's what you need:
  • Tissue paper (white or colored)
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Craft knife, ruler and cutting mat, hole punches

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Paper Snowflakes, the Easy Way

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Project Preparation
Pre-cut 5" to 10" strips of tissue paper along the width or length of the tissue paper sheet. The width of the strip determines the size of the final snowflakes. Use any colors of tissue paper you like. Straight sides and square corners are important!
Step 2: Cut Squares
Cutting paper snowflakes depends upon starting with a perfect square. Starting at one end of the strip, fold the top corner over to meet the opposite side. This forms a folded triangle and is the first fold for your snowflake. Cut it away from the strip along its vertical edge. If you open the folded triangle, a perfect square is revealed.
Continue cutting squares from the strip until you reach the end.
Tip: Any extra tissue paper at the end of the strip can be saved to use in other crafts.
Step 3: Fold
Start with the square folded in a triangle. Fold the triangle in half again, then fold it in thirds. To fold in thirds, fold one side over, then fold the other side over on top of it. The edges should match.
Tip: Folding in thirds is a bit of trial and error. That is: adjust the first fold, as needed, to get even thirds.
Tip: If folding thirds is too much trouble, just fold the triangle in half again, and then in half again. You'll get 16-point snowflakes instead of 12-point snowflakes. Not quite like Mother Nature, but still plenty of fun!
Step 4: Cut Snowflakes
Cut the uneven points off the top. Now you'll make V-shaped snips to create your snowflake.
Cut a V-shape in the top. Cut from the top corners or from along one side or the other
Cut the tip away at any angle you like.
Cut more V-shapes along the folded sides.
Carefully unfold the tissue paper to reveal your snowflake!
Tip: Make the V-shaped snips any size and shape you like—make them big or small, shallow or deep, even or lopsided.
That's it! Now make a whole flurry of paper snowflakes!
Disclosure: I used white printer paper and I didn't follow their cutting pattern.  So basically I took from this how to get 6 points.  Tha's it and tha's all.

Next up- the trees.  Actually much easier than the flakey flakes.  Here you go:
Хартиена елхичка с нагъване
1You need a square base folded by the middle and the diagonals (see how on the picture).Fold a fir tree
The difficult part is at the beginning, steps (1) and (4), (5) and (6), where the folded part has to be opened and folded inside. This is repeated three more times. When you are ready with the one side, turn the form and repeat the steps again.Fold a fir treeFold a fir tree
Cut the lower part with scissors.Fold a fir tree
Make 5 symmetrical cuts at the two sides and start folding one after another, and your fir tree is ready.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

O Tannenbaum

Andrew and the kids put up and decorated the Christmas tree while I supervised from the couch.  Ask Andrew if he appreciated the input concerning the exact placement of the lights.  Actually, maybe don't ask him...
While dad strung the lights, the kids watched White Christmas, and were of course mesmerized by the tap dancing.  
The annual untangling.
Eager trimmers.
G with her glitter pickle ornament.
Here the tree is still only wearing a fraction of its Christmas outfit.
I waited until the next day to take a picture of the completed holiday wonderment- and wow...all the pictures of the tree solo were blurry.  Then the kids wanted to jump in, so I thought what the heck?  Exactly.  What.  The.  Heck.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making Merry

Christmas.  That's what we're celebrating.  The birth of Jesus.  The Savior of the world.  Amen.

And now some pictures of our preparations...

Advent.  I really wanted to follow this whole Advent idea from one of my favorite blogs.  But since I can't really just run to Target for supplies (bed rest, you know), and only want to burden Andrew with essentials, I had to dig around in my craft stash.  And here's what we came up with: 

Supplies needed to make the amazing Toftness Advent candles. ;)

Oh, you also need two stooges to ease the work load.  My third stooge would have been working counterproduction, but was *thankfully* nestled all snug in her bed.

Christmas came to town in the living room too.  I made this string of tassels with some white fabric, then started thinking they looked kind of like ghosts.  Wrong holiday..not that I would decorate for Halloween, but after accidentally being an expert Halloween decor fashonista, next year better watch it.  Them's jokes.  Anyway, I asked Andrew if he thought the tassels looked like ghosts and  he says, "I thought they were supposed to be angels."  I give up.  But they're not coming down. 

A peek inside my bookcases.

I had a bad habit of collecting Reader's Digest books at rummage sales for a while because they're usually free.  Would I pass up an old and free book?  There was a time when I would not.  Anyway, the tops of the pages just happen to be so festively gold, I tipped them all and there you go.  The frame holds a vintage Christmas postcard from Andrew's aunt Linda.  Now before you get too excited for me and my creativity concerning the Christmas tree o' books, let me tell you I saw this in an Anthropology display.  Mediocre copy of another man's genius.   

Here you can sort of see my little antique candles in the windows.  I actually have an outlet ON A SWITCH behind that stable and by golly it's the slickest thing.  Turn off the ceiling lights, turn on the orange candle lights.  Zappo presto.

Kitchen shelf got a little snazzy.

You may remember the two large chalkboards Andrew made for this amazing wedding?  One resides in Marg's room (soon to be mr. mr.'s nursery), and now this one proclaims the names of Jesus in the dining room.  Oliver illustrated.
Back to Advent-- we've been doing a couple of Advent readings each day-not because we're super holy, but because they're both so great and straightforward.  In the mornings I read to the kids from this book:

There's a door to open each day with a Bible verse or two telling a new part of the great story.  It's short and sweet which captivates little minds, and teaches well.  Plus the pictures are glorious.

At supper time we light one of the candles and read from the Jesus Storybook Bible following this reading plan.  You guys.  This version of a children's Bible is amazing.  The pictures are incredible, which is one of my number one requirements in an illustrated book.  Seriously, why do so many people think they're artists?  Anyway, the CONTENT of this book is so beautiful, too.  It really gives a fresh perspective on things that we've heard since we were young, you know?  God's love is so vast and His plan so brilliant and His power so magnificent.

So we're just keeping it simple, but hopefully still focused.  

Tomorrow, the tree. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Family photo

Greetings from my new command center- the sofa.  I've been put on 'modified bed rest' by my dear MD.  I'm not very good at it- there's so much to do!- and get scolded weekly at my check ups.  I did happen to get a good share of Christmas decorating done before my lecture appointment yesterday, and I'm feeling a little better about sitting on my derriere for the next however long.  I'm 32.5 weeks, and starting to dilate (dilated to 2- weren't you wondering?)  The number of people in our lives who have brought us food and encouragement through this smidgen of time is overwhelming.  I feel a little stupid accepting help because I feel good (well, that's sort of relative at this point in pregnancy..good enough is maybe a better term.  I once heard a guy say, "I feel better than I look."  Nailed it.)  But I'm learning to gratefully accept the generosity offered.  I'm also trying to be okay with a messier-than-I-prefer house.  These poor children and husband of mine...  

Mom took this photo on Thanksgiving at their house.  We're sitting in front of the newly completed fireplace, props to Dad for the masonry and Anj for the woodwork (I'll share pictures of it without people as soon as I get some..).  After the photo shoot of our family, I told Andrew he's got to try to appear bigger in pictures.  I mean, I'm pretty good at it and I don't even try.  Looks like a whale married a flounder if you get my drift.  I'm the whale.  I know I'm great with child, but doesn't help my attitude to be pictured next to these munchkins.  Oo, but they sure are cute!  Thanks for editing this picture, Mom!  But next time could you shave a little off the sides?


Friday, November 15, 2013

On halogen light bulbs

My.  Dad.

He's a bit of an energy saving freak.  Like oh my word.  He's been conserving (buzzword: going green) since before it was cool, know what I mean?  His ears perk up when he hears words like fuel and efficient in the same sentence.  He recently drove his 1993 Ford Festiva to Duluth and back going a mere 45mph just to see how good his gas mileage would be.  Yeah, it was like 73mpg.  Move over, Prius.

Tonight when the kids and I were visiting my parents, Dad was changing some light bulbs in their bathroom, getting just ticked about the short life of these bulbs.  They were halogen, which seems up his ally, but he said that once you factored in the energy it took to manufacture the bulbs and the rate at which they had to be replaced, it was no longer a savings.  He was pretty fired up.  When I told him to calm down, he didn't need to be mad at me about it he said, "Yeah, but you're the one who's gonna blog about it."  I was LOLing.  He's a funny guy, that Bob.

The thing about dad's conservation, is that his motivation is being a good steward of the resources Creator God has blessed him with.  It's not about a trend or about an effort to "give back" (whatever that means).  It's about good, old-fashioned don't take more than you need and use every drop of what you've got.

This was last winter- helping dad install storm doors on their house making it more energy efficient.  Classic.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ten years... a long time with the same man.  That was a funny joke.  The other day I heard a very godly woman say that in reference to the 50+ years she's been married to her husband.  Cracked me up!

Anywho, Andrew and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary last month.  It seems like that's a topic- epic as it is- that I should be blogging about.  I mean, I want to.  I just have no words...or maybe it's more like I have thousands of words.  Either way, doesn't make for a great read.

I will say that these have been my favorite years of life.

This is a picture of a picture, taken with my iPhone.  Digital cameras/photos were a thing of the future in 2003.
AT + LT = LUV...and lotsa kids.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Carving and painting pumpkins.  

The funnest/easiest pumpkin craft that the kids actually got a kick out of for more than .3 seconds, and didn't involve Elmer's.  Perf.

The band of pirates...I don't know if two is technically considered a 'band', but I can attest to the damage these scalawags can do.  It's significant.  And Marg is actually part of their party, just wearing a very clever/innocent disguise.  

Our Halloween tradition involves the kids dressing up, piling in the van, and visiting neighbors and a few relatives in the area.  It's not my favorite holiday, but it is fun to roam the neighborhood on a chilly fall night and visit with sweet folks we don't often see.