Friday, February 24, 2012

Cabin Fever Fighters!

Who feels like a cabin fever fighter these days? I know we do.

I have a whole pin board full of ideas on pinterest for things to do with Michael but doing those things really only exists in some sort of fantasy version of my world.

However, lots of fun has been had with a little tub of playdough from our Valentine's day goodies and a new four pack of finger paint. We have spent a big chunk of time on most days doing one or the other and it has been great!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Winter finally presented us with a day that included both snow and nice temperatures.

Michael had a blast playing outside with everything covered in snow. I even convinced him to put his gloves on (seriously....dressing children for winter weather is the worst).

Winter makes such a good background for pictures....a big contrast from my summer landscaping for sure.

With February on it's way out....I think we might be seeing the end of winter. Please come soon, spring!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quad Cities Weekend

To be honest, when my husband proposed us spending a weekend in the Quad Cities filled with a hockey tournament for him I was not exactly thrilled. A road trip with a toddler, packing, sitting through games, entertaining a boy who was supposed to be behaving himself...did not sound like a fun weekend to me. But my bad attitude diminished as the weekend unfolded and I had a really great time. I hate it when my own bad attitude gets in the way of life sometimes. Thank you, world, for showing me that this doesn't always have to be the case.

Our first stop of the weekend was in LeClaire, Iowa to visit the Mississippi River Distilling Co. We had heard a blip about them on the local news and it turns out Scott had a connection to one of the owners. We knew a stop in to the distillery was a must and we were not disappointed. The owners gave a short tour and talked about their products and process and then we all got to sample the spirits. In their tasting room decked out with barn boards, I got to try the aptly named River Rose Gin. Blooming with notes of lavender and flowers, it was good!

Michael entertained himself with a sucker and running around. After the stop at the distillery we did a little shopping and then headed over to the arena for Scott's hockey games. A sleepy boy in the car made me miss the first two periods of the first game but we were up and at them for the rest of the first game and the second.

I was worried about Michael behaving during the hockey game because so far our record is not that great during sporting events. But with his two great cousins there to play with, Michael did a great job. The Zamboni even came out two times....he was over the moon!

Pizza at grandma's house ended the day and we had a good time chatting and watching basketball. Michael was tired and went right to sleep and so did I!

It turned out to be a really great little trip and I'm glad I went and had a good time. The only disappointment was we weren't able to stop by Antique Archaeology to visit the home of American Pickers but we'll have to save that for the next trip. Mike and Frank, we'll see you soon!

(any watchers of the show??? I love it!)

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's making me happy this week

Hi folks. I'm so sorry that yes, infact, it is another Friday without my awesome iphone instagram pictures. I looked through my collection from this week and all the ones I had taken were for my February photo a day challenge which is indeed proving to be quite the challenge. It is stressful! I really want to do them all and so even though some days I do a couple, I am trying to get them all done. I will surprise you with them at the end of the month which we are thankfully quickly approaching.

So instead I will treat you to my own version of "what's making me happy this week" which is a spin off of my favorite podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. I've been listening to it while I workout and it is so entertaining. So here's mine:

1. Chocolate, roses, and a dinner out with my husband.
Yay for Valentine's Day! We had a late dinner reservation and it was so funny to go to a restaurant with exclusive couple-only dining. As the night went on, the couples got younger and younger. Who eats dinner at 9pm??

2. Bravo TV

Need I say more? Scott was out of town this past weekend with his annual guys ski weekend and I took the opportunity to mainline some shows from my favorite channel. It was perfect timing as at one point there were episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Real Housewives of Orange County all DVRed on my TV. So, so trashy but yet so, so awesome.

2. A new book

I must have lots of free time when I don't have a husband to take care of because I also started and finished a whole book the weekend Scott was gone. I read Tina Fey's Bossypants and I loved it. I am a big fan of her from SNL and 30 Rock so this fit right in. Her writing is just like her and I hope she writes more books in the future.

3. Game of Thrones

Speaking of reading, I am also making my way slowly through the 2nd book in George R.R. Martin's series that the HBO show Game of Thrones is based on. I listened to the first book in audio form after I watched the first season on HBO and it was a game changer. I'm totally hooked now and HBO has been sneakily re-airing episodes of the first season. I've been catching up while waiting for the 2nd season to start which I think is right around the corner in April. I love how I can pick up all kinds of dorky knowledge from the books that I would have never gotten in the show. Its lots of fun.

What's making you happy this week? Does all this make me seem like a super dork? I hope not....have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michael's Valentines

Is everyone over all the Valentine's Day hoopla yet? All the Target aisles of stuff, commercials, and crafty pins seem a bit too much sometimes for such a little holiday but isn't it still a fun holiday to celebrate?

I had done my super fun little photo shoot with Michael and knew I wanted to use the photos to make his Valentines. I've seen so many cute Valentines done with photos but afterwards I wondered if it was weird I made my son hand out cards with his face plastered all over them. What do you think?

Anyway, the point of the story is I made a little collage on Picasa and printed it on 4x8 cardstock from Persnickety Prints. I then cut them apart into little Valentine's Day card sized cards for Michael to hand out. I thought they were super cute. Persnickety prints has good prices on their prints and I have been so happy with them lately. I only wish I had made more so I could have handed them out to everyone I know!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope love and sweetness surround you all today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


This week I've been having some Trace kinds of days, ones where little reminders of him have popped up unexpectedly.

Tuesday was the day which started it all. I've been taking a class with my small group at church and every week we have daily homework we are supposed to do. Daily homework=doing a little bit every day BUT I usually cram mine all in during naptime on the day of the class. It ends up being a lot to process and usually bears a heavy weight on my heart as I try and sort through my own thoughts in my head and what I've read in the Bible and homework materials.

This week the material was on the battles you are fighting in your life and well you all know I am fighting a big one. I'm not sure I will ever know why sweet Trace left us so early but I don't want to believe it was God's "plan". I really even hate talking about what God's plan is for our lives because at this point in my life, I don't even want to know what is in store for the future. Are more bad things just going to keep happening to me and my loved ones? Every day I hear about bad things happening like babies dying and loved ones getting sick. I realize that sad things happen every day and no one knows why. It is a question as old as time itself. I hope I am not coming off as cynical or angry because I do believe God is still here to love me and to give me faith in him but I am not prepared at all to think about the future and his future plans for my life. If everyone in my family wakes up in the morning, I consider it a good day. I don't breathe a sigh of relief until I wake Michael up for the day and realize he is still here with me.

Anyway, the point of all this is lately I have been feeling a little negative. But then in the midst of my Debbie-downer-ness, some things started to happen that made me feel like maybe someone was watching out for me after all and things are going to be okay.

On Wednesday there were two moments at school where I got a little glimpse of Trace. The first was a little conversation I had with a student at her lesson when I was telling a story about Michael. She asked me how many kids I had and I said I had just one (sometimes I say that just because I don't know how to answer if I don't want to get into it) and she said, "No, you have two sons. Remember you had the baby who died and that is why you were gone for so long?"......Wow, huh?
The way she said it was so sweet and innocent it really touched my heart. I told her I was so happy she remembered "my baby" and gave her an A+ for her lesson (kidding on the last part!). Later that day we were talking at a meeting about nicknames and one of the teachers said people used to call her "Tray" and sometimes we used to call Trace "tray-tray" (or at least I did). It is really silly but also it just brought a smile to my face.

After school I stopped and got the mail. In the pile of junk mail and bed bath and beyond coupons was a flier from Sears that said it was time for my baby's 9 month portraits. What? Craziness. Later in the evening I got a message from a friend saying every time she hears a Trace Adkins song on the radio she thinks of Trace. And finally, I had been seeing these crazy rainbows at least every day in my house. Always in a different spot. I'm sure they have always been around and I've just never noticed them.

They make me happy.

The point of all this is that I'm not trying to make you sad or make you feel sorry for me or say how strong I'm being (even though I'm not, really). I just wanted a spot to write it all down and see it come together and maybe put all the pieces together to create a picture that Trace's spirit is still here in little ways. Most importantly, I just want to remember that even though I am having some bad days that I also have good days where I realize even though Trace is not physically with me I can still love him and think of him often.

Today, Trace has been in heaven four months.


Real quick before I let you go, I signed up to serve a meal at the Ronald McDonald house for something to do and a way to honor Trace's memory. Last night we prepared the meal and served it up at the house and I just thought I would post my menu in case anyone was curious (we also had jello fruit salad and valentine's gift bags for the kids). The kitchen was super fun to work in and everything I made turned out well one came to eat at dinnertime!! The volunteer coordinator said it might happen since parents often don't want to leave their children's bedsides until late at night so obviously it is understandable. Now I know what it is like so I think in the future I will definitely make something that can wrap up individually so families can just grab it and go. It was a super easy way to volunteer a few hours of my time and I would encourage you consider it sometime!

If you've made it this far...have a great Friday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Organizing My Photos

Organizing my photos has been something I have struggled with for a while. It is no secret that I love taking photos but I've had some roadblocks when it comes to actually getting them printed out and organized.

You all know that I love doing photo books and have several, including my most recent one of Trace that I love. However, I was struggling with what I would do for the future. Was I going to have a photo book for each year, for each boy? That seemed like a lot. What about little things like programs and certificates that I want to just stick into the pages? Also hard to do in a printed yearly photo book.

With the inspiration of a blog post on Clover Lane, I started designing 12x12 layouts on Picasa and finally got them printed through Persnickety Prints. To say they are awesome is an understatement. I love them and they are absolutely perfect.

(see my friday iphone photo collage? yay!)

I love that you can put a ton of photos on one page and they look as great printed as they do on my computer. I also love how flat the pages lie in the album because they are just one sheet of photo paper, not a huge stack of paper and stickers all stuck together. I also love it because I can just do a page or two at a time and not try to do a whole year at a time. Originally I would do design a page for an event (like the State Fair) and I did one page for Micheal and then I did one page for Trace. I wanted each boy to have their own book full of pictures of mostly just them so that when they grew up they could have it forever.

I grew up looking through my "baby book" photo album and I probably have each page memorized. I loved looking at it as a kid and still do (thanks mom, for letting me have it!!). Traditional post bound books (like the ones I am using) are great because the pages are covered in plastic and I'm not worried at all about Michael ruining it when he is looking at it. And boy...does he like looking at his scrapbook. His favorite pictures are the ones where he is eating cookies (go figure).

My new method of organizing is also a good fit for me because I can tuck things into the pockets that I want to scrapbook later-things like cards or prints I had made already that I don't need to do on my computer.

Trace has his own special traditional scrapbook in addition to his big photo book. I needed somewhere to put away all the little things we accumulated during his funeral and memory service. I tried to add some photos to the pages so it would seem happier but it is still just really sad. I don't look through it often but it is nice to know everything is in one spot.

While I'm on the subject of scrap booking and before I bore you all until your eyeballs fall out, I just wanted to share with you my little scrapbook pile:

The two fat ones on the right are Scott's books his mom made him while he was growing up. When she dug them out for me to look through I loved them. As someone who didn't know him or his family growing up, flipping through the pages of his scrapbooks was a great way to fill in some of the missing pieces and it is an inspiration to me to carry on the same tradition with my very own family.

My favorite part is that she saved her Christmas newsletter from each year and tucked it into his scrapbook. I feel like nothing can quite wrap up a whole year like the family newsletter. I hope I can carry on that tradition also through the years for myself and Michael.

And one last funny....yes, my husband had almost nearly every school function in the Corn Palace. He is that cool. :o)

I hope this post was helpful to you about scrap booking if it is something you are interested in. I was struggling for a while on what to do and I'm happy I've found my stride. As much as I love all things digital, there is just something great about holding a photo album full of love and goodness in your hands.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Party time

Scott wanted to have some friends over to watch the big game on Sunday so we had a little get together. I was getting things ready and I kept telling Michael we were having a party. He would say, "A party! Eat cake!". As you all know, the most important part of a party, of course, is eating cake.

Sometimes he would even say we were having a party, eating cake and it would specifically be birthday cake. And then he would ask, "Santa Claus coming?". I love that in Michael's mind every celebration is some combination of a birthday, cake, party and Christmas. What could be better, right?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday phone dump

Happy Friday!

I love doing these weekly photo collages from my iphone photos (plus a few extras to fill in the spaces...I like it with 16 photos the best). I've been saving them and printing them as 12x12 prints to go into Michael's scrapbook and I like how I have a little weekly account of our daily happenings around here. I'm also doing the February photoaday challenge so if you are doing it also you'll see some stuck in there but I will hopefully compile a big collage of just the photo challenge photos at the month's end.

We had a good week with good weather, friends and playtime. In case you are wondering...yes, Michael did wear a red shirt every day this week. :o)

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Can I get a woo-hoo for a new month?

Woo hoo!

I am so happy January is over. A new month and fresh calendar pages means we are 31 days closer to SPRING and SUMMER and SUNSHINE and (every mom's dream) PLAYING OUTSIDE!!

I get excited and sad when a new months turns over because it is one more month that we've been without Trace. I get excited because I made it through a whole month (where at the beginning I feel like I couldn't even make it through an hour) but my heart hurts because it means we've been without him for just that much longer. We are closing in on the date where we will have
not had him for longer than we actually had him. My mind barely wraps around it.


Switching gears now....

Micheal loves all things Cars and so when this little set popped up at the consignment store I knew the price was right. At $4.50 it has exceeded its expectations for an afternoon of entertainment and become one of Michael's favorites.

McQueen is a favorite around here for sure and he seems to always be in Michael's hand. He even sleeps with him and kisses him's bad. You know what is really bad? When we lose McQueen. We had an episode yesterday where he was left in Scott's car and we couldn't find him. I think I need backups!!

I love, love, love watching Michael play. The gears are turning away in his head and I would love to jump in there and see whats going on. He is such a sweet boy and I am so thankful every day that I have him in my life. It is such a hard thing to be faced with two of the most powerful emotions every day of my life- joy and anguish. Joy that I have Michael and got to have Trace but anguish that my family is not complete here on Earth.

A person would easily think there could only be one of those emotions at a time but in my life they are both ever present. How can I not be joyful when I am surrounded by my family? But how can I not be anguished knowing that my family isn't complete? It is exhausting.

I'm trying to find a little good in every day to pull me through this crazy things called life and most days it is my sweet Michael....playing with his cars and being his curious self.

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