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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redecorating the Castle

My reported recent “creativity streak” put me in the mood for some redecorating around the house. We’ve lived in this house for over a year and a half, and there are still WAY too many walls without anything hanging on them. Which sorta bugs me from time to time. I remember living in apartments and rental houses and hating the bland white walls, wanting nothing more than to paint them! Then we moved into this house, which has plenty of white walls (with a few variations of darker white/cream/beige throughout). Pretty bland, but I don't mind.  I chose not to paint when we moved in, well, because quite frankly, I fricken HATE painting. Our house in SD came with these horrifying mauve bathroom, salmon bedroom, and barfy orange sponge-painted living/dining room walls which required a complete paint-job makeover. I despised every moment of it, and swore I’d never pick up a paintbrush again if I wasn’t forced to!

So when we moved into this lovely and freshly-painted home, I was SUPER happy to never give a second thought to it. My decorating style is "the simpler the better", function over form for me! But when the Little Man arrived I had a very clear idea of what I’d decorate his room like – trying to be in keeping with the family tradition, he would have a little cowboy room. More of a "retro cowboy", to be exact, which actually fit well with the buff wall color, one of the few rooms in the house that's not pure white.  I can see evidence of some nasty mint-green that must've existed in that room at one time, so I'm thankful for what surely was a realtor who knew that ugly doesn't sell!  It was SO fun rounding up (har har) all the things to decorate with, kindof a mix of new stuff that looks old, and old stuff with some history to it. About a month ago I did a slight change-up and got rid of the changing table (he kept trying to climb it and/or jump off) and replaced it with a toy organizer, as he’s actually getting to the age where he can put away a toy or 2 when asked!  Hallelujah!

The Lil' Buckaroo's Room
Testing out the door mechanisms, just to make sure it works and can sufficiently pinch little fingers in it...

Some fun 'artifacts' in this little display: That's Daddy on his horse as a little boy in the picture frame and his pony shirt from when he was a baby, and Grandpa's old spurs hanging from the shelf.  The lamp is an old 'repurposed' one, re-covered in the same fabric I used to make the curtains, diaper stacker & matching blanket.

His favorite little reading nook.  He takes after his Dad with his love for books! The pic on the right is Mommy as a little cowgirl at about 2 years, on the left is Uncle Seth & Mommy 'sunbathing' in our winter jackets!

Papa Chuck's rope, chaps & vest from his childhood. Papa made the cool horseshoe hanger too!
These retro photos are of Papa Chuck, Great-Aunt Donna, and Great-Uncle Bob back when they were little cowpokes! The wall decals are from Target (something old, something new?)
One of my favorite sayings by a great old cowboy hero (John Wayne) that I dressed up with a little Photoshop magic.

Hand-painted by Mommy (bought the letters from Hobby Lobby). The brands on the "A" are all family brands: from the 246 Ranch, Christman Herefords, and the Veeder ranch.
 But poor miss Asha’s room was another story. She’d had hand-me-down furniture, and the same bedding set that matched her crib set when she was born. It was a darling purple daisy set, but it was looking a little droopy and faded after a few years of ‘tough love’. So we sat down at the computer together one day and did a little online shopping for a new bedding set. She picked the cutest little ladybug quilt, so we ordered it and decorated the rest of the room around that theme! We also picked out some new (matching!) furniture from IKEA… oh, IKEA!! I totally fell in love with that store (read: obsession). I spent 4 hours there when we went to the cities in June, which is beyond ridiculous, but that’s how much I love that place. Anyway, we got her all set up with her new digs and here’s how it turned out!

The new (super-girly!) ladybug room
Aaah, the pink vanity, party to many makeup incidents, including one where she & her buddy Georgia washed their hair with orange soda during our New Year's Eve party.  Santa searched from hell to breakfast for that thing!  He said it was totally worth the look on her face when she opened it, though! ;)
Her Build-A-Bear is so "special", it gets its own shelf!
I'm really into the cube organizers! Cute and functional.  There are more Barbies and Polly Pockets tucked away in that sucker than I care to think about! 

One of my favorite pics of her is the one in the middle - Shar (daycare provider) took it for their parent's program when Ash was about 2 1/2.  It is just too cute!  The pic of Grama Deb & the kids is so sweet too, she looks at it every night and says, "aww, I miss my Gramma." *sniffle*. 

The easel is her favorite toy, well worth the $14 (thanks IKEA!) 
The shelf holds her new favorite ladybug dressup costume, and her art smock.

I painted these as well, Asha picked out the ladybug cutouts and ribbon.
I would also like to point out the that the childrens' rooms are both CLEAN.  This is the first, and likely last time this will ever be the case.  Which is why I took lots of pictures, lest I forget.  So next up is the BIG project:  we are getting new flooring in the entire upstairs level next week!  With the white carpet (UGH! not anymore - it's brownish-speckled now!) which was put in by the previous owners, it is very much time for a change.  I'll try to remember to post pics when it's all done.  Y'know, cuz it'll be clean and all.  CAN'T WAIT!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Road Warriors

This weekend we headed back to my hometown of Lemmon, SD, for my Grandma’s 95th birthday party (see last week’s TMT post!) Our family’s adventures in traveling are never dull and this trip was no exception. In spite of a sinus infection that kept me feeling good & crappy the whole week prior, and against my better judgment, we loaded the Fusion, packed up the kids, the dog, the luggage, and the McNuggets to go, and headed down that lonesome stretch of I-94 West.

While the trip out there was fairly uneventful, it does seem that Bam Bam would prefer that Grandma & Grandpa lived about one hour closer to us. He was a perfect angel for 4 ½ hours, then screamed bloody murder for the remaining 60 minutes of our trip. Despite watching “Elmo’s Potty Time” (funniest Sesame Street DVD EVER, btw – there is a segment about what little kids call their poop, and a catchy little ditty about toilet paper – AWESOME!!!) on an alternating loop with his sisters’ choice, Alvin & the Chipmunks The Squeakuel, he was exhausted beyond the point of consolation by the time we hit German Country. After throwing the worlds’ best car-seat-induced tantrum for a solid hour we arrived at G & G’s a full 3 hours after his usual bedtime, where he proceeded to bawl until the instant he saw my Dad… then we got a huge smile, and “Paaappaaaa!” and all was well. Until we actually tried to put him to bed. Our crew usually sleeps in Seth’s old room in my parent’s basement – a large room with a double bed, a single bed, and a crib – and all of us were ready to crash when we hit the pillow. But Bam Bam had other ideas as his refusal to sleep in the car carried over into the wee hours. Every time we laid him in the crib: “Mama. Mama? Mama!” or his father’s favorite, “ELMO!”, or the one that made his sister giggle sleepily, “Hi puppy!”. Mommy tried rocking him. Daddy subbed in. Mommy tried again, no go. 4th time was the charm, Daddy wins.

The next day arrived very early with a 6am wakeup call from two children who were super-anxious to go out with Papa and help with chores. They “helped” drive the 4-wheeler, pick apples, pet horses, and feed the butcher steers. It was a whopping 40 degrees out, so the two little rosy-cheeked moppets were good & ready for a big long nap.

Cruising the farm with Papa on the 4-wheeler, great fun!

Playing with Rudie, Queen of the Barnyard (she used to live with us until we moved to Fargo.  No one is sure how she is still alive, let alone ruling the roost.  Their dog who is easily 12x her size is terrified of her.)

The cutest little apple picker!  My favorite time of year is when we finally get to eat those yummy sour apples!

The big party was that afternoon. My Grandma looked fantastic and seemed to really enjoy visiting with all the well-wishers that came to her party. We chatted with friends and relatives. We had cake & ice cream. We had MORE cake & ice cream. I got to hang out with some of my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in 5 years. We took tons of pictures. We were ridiculously well-behaved, for us anyway (well, except for that end of the table, you know who you are…) We took over the local hotel lounge to do some serious catching up. And let’s be honest, some serious beer drinking too. We teased Peg for turning 50, we teased Shad for turning 21, we teased everyone in-between because, well, that’s how we roll. In short, we had a blast!

The kids with their Great-Grandma Blenda at her 95th birthday party
3 Generations
The Christman cousins - Jeff, Reed, Shanna, Shad, Carlie, Peg & Grandma.
"Not pictured": Mike, James, Jaci, Lindsey, & Seth
And all too soon, it was time to turn around and get back in the blasted car that seems to shrink by the minute, and head back east. By the time we left, I had a migraine to beat all hell, and the children were in no mood to travel. The Princess passed out about 5 miles outside of town (shortly after Mommy had to ask Daddy to stop the car so she could toss her cookies….ugh…all the while Bam Bam is laughing at her as he’s watching through the window. Mean baby.) but Bam Bam, true to form, wasn’t about to snooze. The rest of the 5 ½ hour trip was a blur of screaming, cranky children, me drifting in and out of consciousness, and frequent sound bites from The Hubs reminding me that “we are NEVER doing this again!” While I want to agree with him, I know the next time I’m feeling homesick, I’ll be loading up the Fusion again, guzzling some 5-hour energy with a Dr. Pepper chaser, and bracing myself for the inevitable sleepless night(s) ahead while away from home… because that’s also how we roll.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This Time Machine Tuesday is dedicated to a very special lady, who celebrated her 95th birthday today. 
How darling was she as a baby?!  No wonder we're all so good-looking (humble, too) with such great genetics!
Her story weaves in and out of time, over nearly a century. 95 years is difficult for most people to even begin to fathom. Born in 1915, she’s lived through times of war and peace, boom and bust economies.
Summer 1938 - with her brother Orel and some friends, stuck in the Grand River. She can still easily recount the events of this memorable day!
Stop and consider for a moment at all of the things she has seen, all the people who have come in and out of her life. She was married to my Grandfather for 50 years. She had the same best friend for over 80 years. 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and one brand-new great-great grandson!

My Grandpa John & Grandma Blenda in their wedding portrait (they eloped -- such rebels!)
Think of all the hairdos she’s gone through, all the fashion trends she has most certainly participated in (she’s always been a bit of a fashionista!) and all the incredible music her ears have heard in 95 years.

Modeling a fashionable getup, circa the 1940's
Marvel at all the amazing advances in technology she has seen --modern cars, planes, radio, television, telephones, the internet -- the woman who began her career as a telephone switchboard operator now has her very own blog post! 
Blenda at the switchboard
Imagine the countless tears shed, hugs given, meals cooked, card games won and lost, chocolate and coffee consumed and friendship shared. She has loved and she has lost, but she has lived her life with the kindness, strength, and dignity that we can all only hope to live by. We are all better people for knowing her!

Probably one of the first 'concerts' I ever performed for Grandma
Today, and every other day, we celebrate your amazing life. Happy Birthday, Grandma Blenda. You are an extraordinary woman.  I love you!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

TIME MACHINE TUESDAY: First Day of Preschool


Okay, I know I skipped TMT yesterday, but I just had to and really do have a good reason! I wanted to save my post for a much bigger and better event: today was Miss Asha’s first day of preschool! Well, okay, let me clarify: it was not her first day ever, as she attended this same school 2 days a week last year. But this year is “seriously preschool”, as she recently informed me. She’ll attend 3 days per week this year, and has been looking forward to going for months!

Mommy and Daddy have been ready for her to go back as well. She is not the type of kid who enjoys just “hanging out” so we are looking forward to getting her engaged and learning all kinds of new things and having to sit still and listen up for more than 30 seconds at a time! But at the same time, watching her run into that classroom gave me that little twinge in my stomach… and the realization that in ONE year, she will be skipping off to a Kindergarten classroom!

The old cliché “where did the time go” just echoes over and over in my mind. It honestly seems like I was holding this beautiful little bald baby girl one moment, then I blinked and now she’s four! While I very much enjoy watching this precocious little pumpkin blossom into a bright, funny, articulate, fiesty, but sweet little girl, my heart just hurts thinking about how soon it will really be that she will be off to a bigger and even more “serious” school in about 14 years. My baby girl is growing up way too quickly! I so badly want to tell her to enjoy being little for as long as she possibly can. To make sure she will relish the moments where her only cares are which Barbie to play with, or what crayon to select. To appreciate that most of her stress stems from getting put into timeout for sassing her parents, or from her little brother messing up her room. But like all of us, she has to learn these things on her own. These are the things that will make her the Asha she is destined to be. I love the person she is becoming, and can’t wait to be with her every step of the way, whether behind her or beside her.

So here’s to you, my lovely Miss Asha, and to the many milestones you will undoubtedly achieve in your life. I am so proud of you and love you more than you could ever imagine possible!
Love this one -- BTW, her shirt says "Nerdy Chicks Rule". 
She picked it just for Mommy (*melt*).
Miss Thang and her diva pose
Showing off her iCarly book bag. 
Apparently, backpacks are not cool anymore?  Guess
I need to brush up on what's "cool" these days.  Jeesh.
Daddy gets a smooch before we head out the door.  SUCH a Daddy's girl!
"Mooom! Enough pictures!"  (I can't help it,
it's genetically programmed - I blame Kerry!)
Brynn & Asha before school started. 
Best buddies!
Posing in front of the school, such big girls!
One more pose to appease her camera-happy Mom.
After preschool ended for the afternoon, we decided that we should start a "first-day-of-school" tradition:  we had us a little girls day out! We try to do this from time to time anyway, so this just seemed like the perfect excuse for it.  We headed to our favorite bakery near our house and picked out the biggest, prettiest cookies (shaped like a princess tiara of course!).  After our snack, we hit the nail salon for a mini mani-pedi for Ash (just a manicure for Mommy, I am not so much a fan of pedicures! They weird me out) and then had dinner together (Asha's choice, she picked the food court at the mall!  Ha!  How fancy!)  It was such a fun way to kindof celebrate a milestone, and spend some really great time together.

Ladies Night!
Showing off our pretty nails
Silly goober -- but aww, those gorgeous baby blues!
My best friend.  I love you Asha!