spontaneous home improvements

last week brandon and i decided it was time to rip up the carpet in our front room. i was ready to tackle this task the minute we moved in, so when he finally gave me the go ahead, i didn't have to be told twice to run downstairs for the toolbox.

you see, while house hunting, brandon and i both knew that our hearts were set on finding an older home. the charm...the character...the history. there's something about living in a home that holds a story. the memories that are housed within the walls of a home are priceless. i'm sort of a sentimental schmuck and brandon always pokes fun at me when i remind him of our first apartment together on sheldon and our memories shared as newlyweds. or the house rented on 6th street, where i learned that i was going to be a mommy. and then nine months later, i learned how to be a mommy. and we can't forget the house on ontario street where peyton took her first steps and blew out her first candle. yeesh, i'm getting teary just typing about it.

yep...i'm a schmuck:)

anyway, we wanted to find a cute, old house that had seen many, many memories being made and continue to fill up the memory glass.

and with old houses, you get original, hardwood floors. the previous owner had carpet laid down to cover the hardwood. our front room is part living area, part dining area, so you can imagine my fear of trying to keep white carpet clean with a toddler (and future toddlers) who tells me she's "done" by throwing her food on the floor. oy.

we had planned a weekend where brandon would rent a floor sander and we would go to work sanding and refinishing the floors. but brandon and i are both antsy and wanted to dig in. we knew there was hardwood beneath the carpet, but had no idea what condition they were in. much to our surprise, when we pried up that carpet, there were beautiful, shiny wood floor staring back at us. brandon and i yanked out staples for about an hour and voila! an entirely different room. (brandon also spent the better part of sunday afternoon ripping out the tack board and all the nails that outlined the perimeter of the room.....so don't get me wrong, it did take some work...but much less than we anticipated!)

all we have left to do is fill in all the little nail holes and do some buffing and polishing, and we're done. i couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. i have crushed on my friend's and family's hardwood floors for years and now i have my own. i am one happy lady:)
here are a few before and afters:

this was taken earlier in the year, right after we painted.

post carpet destruction

there's still a few things to be done with this room, but we are so excited and happy about the latest find!


Clarification on the contest below...

Hey all!
Just wanted to clarify that the Francine Rivers contest below is not our contest (we wish it was!!). Posting about the contest on a personal blog is one of the ways a person can enter the contest, but you need to go to this website in order to submit your entries:


We can see how it may have sounded, so sorry for any confusion guys!! Thanks for letting us know you were excited about the contest though!! :) We thought you might be, which is why we wanted to share, and hopefully someday in the future we will be able to hold some exciting contest of our own!

Thanks again for all of your support!!


Francine Rivers Giveaway!

Thought I would share with all of you about the Francine Rivers contest! I love her books and I know they have touched many people's lives. Here are the details:

The Francine Rivers Facebook page is well on its way to reaching 100,000 fans. To celebrate this milestone, we’re giving away some fantastic prizes!
Until April 4, you can get a free e-book of Leota’s Garden. You don’t even need to own an e-reader to take advantage of this special offer.
Visit one of these sites to download your free e-book:
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
We’ll also be holding a drawing with these prizes. (Each prize listed is for the regular, non-e-book edition.)
Grand Prize—complete Francine Rivers Library
Subsequent Prizes –
First Place Prize (1)—1 copy each of Her Mother’s Hope/Her Daughter’s Dream
Second Place Prize (2)—1 Mark of the Lion boxed set
Third Place Prize (3)—1 copy of A Lineage of Grace
Fourth Place Prize (4)—1 copy of Sons of Encouragement
Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
You must complete one or more of the following actions:
- “Like” the Francine Rivers Facebook page
- Invite at least 10 friends to “Like” the Francine Rivers Facebook page (using the “share” link of Facebook or through e-mail).
- Share this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.
Fill out the form below to let us know which actions you completed. Each action counts as one entry.
We’ll choose the winners at random and announce them after the Leota’s Garden e-book giveaway ends on April 4!
Any questions? Leave them as a comment on this blog post.
Thank you for participating!

Click here for the link!!

P.S. Please share with me if you enter the contest!!

A Little Less Wisdom and a Jaw Bra

So, Friday was the day I lost some wisdom...that is, my wisdom teeth! All four of them!!

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...I definitely had myself kinda worked up into a nervous wreck (hmm...maybe it's all that Grey's Anatomy I've been watching lately...), but before I knew it I was done and ready to go! It wasn't even an intimidating surgery room...more like a small doctor's room with a dentist chair! Again...I had myself all worked up thinking it was more intense that it was going to be.

Eric has been a wonderful husband taking care of me and when he had to go to work on Saturday my momma stepped in and did her fair share of mom/nurse duty. Along with all the great care, I had some of my favorite people in the world come and visit me on Saturday! Rachel and Maggie came by, complete with a carton of Blue Bunny Monster Cookie ice cream (!), as well as my sister, brother-in-law, and sweet nephews, complete with lots of snuggles, kisses, and smiles. Those kinds of things can make anyone feel better. Sully fell asleep in my arms, which you don't get that chance very often from him. It was like it was his gift to me...if anyone can sympathize with surgeries it would be Sully! And Hurley was very sweet...when I was laying on the couch he came and laid his head on my legs and just stayed there for a while...whimpering a little as if he knew I was in pain. So sweet.

Sorry to disappoint, but I have no pictures...I figured you could all do without a picture of my teeth (yes, I am one of those people that wanted to see them, but no I am not one of those people that will keep them or make it into a necklace as Eric suggested). And no lovely pictures of myself recovering, complete with my "jaw bra" as Rachel called it (lol...I guess that's what she was told it was). All I have to say is I love the jaw bra. I do however have some funny comments I wrote on facebook when I wasn't quite "with it" and there are a lot of misspelled words as my mother so humorously pointed out to me :) So if you're friends with me you can check it out to get a little laugh...(I talked about how the laughing "gass" was great....).

P.S. Have you had your wisdom teeth out? What was your experience?


Borders going out of business sale :(

I love Borders!! For some reason I have always liked it more than Barnes and Noble...but, sad to say that if you haven't heard already...the Borders in West Des Moines is closing.

BUT I guess what makes up for a store closing are the awesome sales!

Hurry in everyone to get first picks! I don't know for sure when it is officially closing (thought I heard someone say in May), but I do know for sure the sales have begun!!


feelings about the past week

-sinus infections are NOT. FUN. i have never in my life had such a headache or seen so much green snot. after a week and half of what i thought was the flu, i was able to get some antibiotics to punch this
infection in the face.

-allowing my child to watch entirely too much tv while laying on the couch and praying for relief. the girl who never sits still, will immediately sit on her bottom and watch the entire episode of "Calliou" without moving. not my finest week of parenting, that's for sure.

-the in-between weather that's been happening lately.  once the last bit of snow melts, i am ready for summer and i feel like it's taking forever to be warm again. 80 degrees, please hurry up....

-feeling thankful for peyton's grandparents:) they allow me to indulge in a little "me" time every once and a while. in this case, it was going to the doctor two times in one week, but i was alone, so that counts as "me" time, right? ALL of p's grandparents are always very willing to take her off our hands and we are so thankful!
-spending time outside and enjoying our football field of a backyard.

-watching a little girl fall in love with the outdoors. she's always asking to play outside and many times will cry when she has to come in. her favorite activity? following after birds, finding little rocks to sort and watching all the neighborhood dogs. i can't get enough.

-the first big rainstorm of the season. my husband was beside himself excited. while the rest of central iowa was hovering in their basements during the tornado warning, he was standing outside, looking around with a giddy smile on his face. he's got a thang for weather and i love that about him.

-i love logging into our bank account and seeing a much larger sum of money than there was yesterday. tax returns are wonderful:)

it's been a roller coaster of a week and i'm feeling happy about life. who's with me?



Hurley is my first baby. And he's a big baby! Take a look for yourself at how he's grown...


and now...

I need to fix his eyes in this picture!
He's currently around 80 lbs and is only 10 months!!

I always wanted a dog growing up, but a hamster was the closest I ever got. After meeting the dog that Eric grew up with, I fell in love with black labs. We played around with the idea of getting our own for a while, but it wasn't until this past summer when we happened to stumble upon labs for sale that we really considered the idea.

I was so excited to get our puppy. I couldn't wait for all the picture perfect moments such as going on walks, playing, snuggling...but it was that first weekend after getting him where I got a dose of reality and just a little glimpse of what it would be like to have a baby. Don't get me wrong...I loved the little guy but I had no idea what I was getting myself into! Puppies are hard work!! I found myself sleep deprived, exhausted, and overemotional. Seriously, I good reminder of how I'm ok with waiting to have a baby for now! It has definitely been a good first step toward preparing for having kids. That is something I want more than anything and am so excited for when the time comes...but for now, I am absolutely content with having it be our small little family of three. He's teaching me a lot about patience and selflessness.

Although it hasn't been the easiest road (and he's still a puppy with lots of energy!), it has been a fun ride and he is a blessing to us. Of course, the potty training and transitioning of now sleeping out of his kennel and in our room at night helps! He has provided us with so much joy, laughter, and love. He is our buddy and there is nothing better than always having someone that's excited to see you when you come home. He is loyal and has the best little personality. Ollie (our nephew) is in love...he made Hurley a valentine before anyone else! It's so much fun when our little guy provides joy for others too. My favorite moments are when he lets me just sit and kiss and kiss and kiss his soft and floppy ears.

I'm excited for the moments and memories to come. I am sure I will have lots of stories to tell you in the future. For now, thank you Hurley for helping me be a better person and for starting to groom me for motherhood :)

The day we got him!!
Hurley and mommy on my bday this year.

P.S. What special buddies do you have in your life? Tell me stories!! Any helpful tips are welcomed as well! :)


Febreeze for your hair.

One of my secret weapons as a mom, is that I don't wash my hair everyday.  It allows me to spend less time getting ready every other day and helps me accomplish other more important things. However, I recently cut myself some bangs and started noticing they end up getting greasy by day two of no wash.

About two weeks ago, I was watching TV and saw a commercial for Tresemme's dry shampoo that's specifically made for your hair on days you don't wash it.  It refreshes the locks and takes the grease out.  I picked it up for a few dollars at Target to try it out.

It is now one of my favorite new things!  I'm surprised at how well it works and how it keeps my bangs from looking greasy.  If I use too much, it can give my hair this powdered look but after a few days of testing out the product, I have figured out how to use it more.

So, just in case you're looking for a way to save time or look a little less greasy-- try this! And let me know if you like it! :)

P.S. Here's another post I did on a bunch of my other favorite hair products.  


apple crisp deliciousness

here's a yummy recipe to try if you have time....i had been craving apple crisp for a few weeks (since Brandon and i watched something about it on the food network channel), so i thought i would have a go at it. this is huge for me, because if i am going to spend time making homemade dessert, it's gotta have chocolate in it.

well not this time..

here the recipe i followed:

Carmel Apple Crisp


large granny smith apples; peeled, cored and sliced
cups brown sugar
Tbs. lemon juice
cups flour
cup sugar
cup instant oatmeal
cup flour
cup chopped walnuts
tsp. ground cinnamon
cup butter; melted
tsp. ground nutmeg

tsp. ground cloves

tsp. salt

(12 oz.) jar carmel sauce

In a buttered 12" Dutch oven add apples and lemon juice; stir to coat apples. In a separate dish combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt; stir to mix. Pour dry ingredients over apples and stir until apples are well coated. Spread out apples and pour carmel sauce over the top.
In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, and walnuts; stir to mix. Using a fork mix in melted butter to form coarse crumbs. Spread topping evenly over apples.
Cover Dutch oven and bake using 10-12 briquettes bottom and 16-18 briquettes top for 60 minutes.

 and now for the pictures....
happy wednesday!

this bad boy is my pampered chef apple peeler. saved  me at least 30 minutes of peeling and slicing!
right outta the oven. all the caramel had bubbled up and risen to the top.....uhg, SO GOOD.
add a little ice cream....and voila!


Winterfest Part 2!

Here are the pictures I promised were keepers...

The tubing crew!
Uncle Eric and Aunt Hannah with Ollie! We love this boy so much!!
Ollie shouted..."I like your beard mom!!!" It was hilarious!!
Ollie sunk into his tube but he loved every minute of it...and he looked so cute wearing Eric's goggles!
Mom and Heidi with "their beards".



So...when you're feeling like this and you have the winter blues...what do you do?! You have....Winterfest!!

For the last few years my family has wondered how the heck we were going to get through the dreadful Iowa winters. Last winter we decided we were going to have game night once a week...just one more thing to look forward to every week to help us get through. That's when we discovered the love for many of our games mentioned here. This year my sister wanted to do Winterfest (something she had conjured up to help get through the winter, and all of us were 100% in on the idea!) It included a whole weekend of sleepovers, tubing at Sleepy Hollow, snacks and endless amounts of good food, game playing, movie watching, nap taking, and most importantly...some much needed time with your loved ones to "escape" from the real snow-ridden world for a weekend. It was absolutely fabulous. We plan on making it a tradition!

Here are some pictures from our weekend of Winterfest this year:

Cute Sully boy!! He's doing such a good job learning to sit. Look at that drool!! :)

Sully is in love with all of Ollie's Toy Story toys. It's adorable.

Grandpa's famous breakfast!
The cook himself!!

Not sure what Ollie was doing, but you as you can see, PJs were the dress of choice for the weekend.

Big brother making Sully smile!!

We had an appetizer night where everyone made an appetizer in lieu of dinner. Here are some yummy ham, cream cheese, and pickle rolls!

These are from Costco and are awesome! They're called firecrackers or something like that....

A different version of the typical taco dip...Heidi made this and I fell in love with it! Yum!

Beer bread and dip...best.stuff.ever.
My mom's new buffalo chicken dip recipe she made...it was fabulous! I especially loved eating it with the celery option!

Collachies (I think that's how you spell it...) They are an awesome breakfast treat!

I will share all the recipes from this post on another date...be looking for it because this is good stuff folks!

We also had some fun pics from tubing but they are on my sister's camera...I will have to share them with you when I get them because they are definitely keepers!

A few things we didn't get to do this year that we thought would be fun next year would be to do some baking and some kind of craft. It will be fun to see how the tradition evolves over the years. Can anyone tell my family loves a good tradition?! :)

P.S. Any fun ideas you have that you think might be fun to add to our new tradition? Anyone do something similar?!


Reflections on the anniversary of becoming a mother...

Today is my son's first birthday and all I'm really thinking about is Judah.  I keep thinking about how blessed we are and how thankful I am to have a wonderful baby and husband.  I am thinking about what I was doing at this time 365 days ago...

Has it really been a year?  

I am such a different person than I was then.  Or really, maybe I just perceive myself differently now.  I have realized I am capable of much more love and patience than I ever thought I was.  At times, I remember being afraid to be a mom.  I thought I would only ever be able to handle 2 children until I had Judah.  He's made me realize how great a gift children are and that the Lord's grace sustains me.

Judah's life has helped me see how much God loves me.  How much He gives to me over and over.  There are times when Judah misbehaves and I have to get stern with him and then not two seconds later I scoop him up in my arms and kiss him all over. I don't even remember what it is that frustrated me just before that sweet moment. That's the kind of love Jesus has for me.  I get that more now.

I understand the yearning God must have for me.  How He sits and waits to talk to me all day long (and does many days) if He has to. How He forgives me completely with each mistake. I understand the love that never leaves, not fully, but I have a greater picture now.

I am so very blessed to have had 365 days to catch more of a glimpse of the infinite love God has for His children. My days are not perfect, but His blessings are.  Through Judah, I have learned so much and my heart has been filled to a greater capacity than I ever thought possible.

Happy Birthday, Judah!  You are God's blessings in the flesh.


no ever tells you being a mom is confusing...

there are many things that i have yet to understand about my child...over the past few days i have found myself making a mental list of the things that confuse me the most. i will give you the short list,as the long one seems to grow by the hour. here goes:

Confusion #5: Why would you want to sit in your own poo longer than you have to?? as of lately, diaper changes have become a struggle. and i mean this very literally. like, it takes both my hands, feet and elbows to keep her and her stinky bottom from squirming away. i have to make every kind of animal noise imaginable or sing a ridiculous song to keep her from remembering the reason why she's laying on the floor. i can't wait for the days when diapers are a distant memory.

Confusion #4: Why beg to go outside when it's 20 degrees and raining? i consider myself more of an "indoor" type of gal, but peyton has taken an interest in being outside (like her daddy...go figure, everything else is just like him). so she will find her hat, put it on all lopsided and crooked and stand by the door rubbing her belly (which is her way of signing "please"...hey, at least she's polite!). yes, i think it's adorable, but after the 47th time of saying "no, peyton....it's too cold to play outside today", i start to wonder what is so enticing about playing in freezing rain anyway?

Confusion #3: I don't understand the urge to climb EVERYTHING. she literally, climbs on the corner of the couch/chair, stands at the very edge and then will DIVE in one direction or another. most of the time she lands on a cushion, but it's a rare day where i don't hear a head conking on something.

Confusion #2: Why didn't God give me a snuggle baby????? the girl is a product of two snugglers. why, oh why will she not lay still long enough? it drives brandon and i crazy.....we're going to try to train our next baby (whenever that may be) to be a snuggle baby:) peyton has been on the go since day one.

Confusion #1: When you're sick, wouldn't you want MORE sleep?? oh no. not this munchkin. over the past few months, she has had her share of colds and fevers (in fact, she has been sick most of the week) and i have come to sadly realize, that in peyton's mind, feeling sick equals sleeping less. i tell myself every excuse under the sun (her schedule is off, she's teething, she can't breathe very well....) and all i want to do is rock her, pat her back and snuggle her. see confusion #2. no dice. on top of less sleep, she is more needy and whiny and i'm ready to call in a babysitter by 9 am. anybody know of any? oh wait...i AM the baby sitter:)

these quirks have grown on me and though i may question my parenting on a daily basis and frantically search for my sanity every 30 minutes, i adore my little girl. she is my heart beating outside of my body and i will happily live in confusion each day, as long as it's with my sweet Peyton girl.