Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knowing Me, Knowing You - Dec '10

The Fairy Blogmother is home to Knowing Me, Knowing You but she has been extremely busy this month. More busy than you and I. See, she has a job (other than being wife and mom) and there was all the usual Christmas stuff but on top of that, she kicked her Old Village Bakery gig up a notch. The Blogmother was swamped with baking and decorating orders! So she didn't have time to do Knowing Me, Knowing You this month. And it's almost a whole new year! I copied most of her questions from last year. They were good. Enoy!

1. Are you a fruit cake fan?
Nooooo. I hate it. Not sure who invented it but it's just wrong. Torture.

2. What is your favorite at Christmas meal?
This year, we purchased a Honey Baked Ham. J made asparagus, rosemary roasted potatoes, fresh rolls, and a pineapple thing with cranberry thing on top. It was all so yummy! New tradition!

3. How is your tree decorated? A theme? Does it have a more eclectic slant?
Our loft was redecorated and is now Mid-Century/Modern. J felt the tree should follow suit. He went old school with light bulbs, over 100 antique ornaments from a dead woman whose family sold them all, those lights that have water in them and bubble up, and even tinsel!!!
Every year, we buy the kids an ornament. The tree has all of their personal ornaments and a few from their trees as we did not put up trees in each of their rooms this year. (Too much work!)

4. What's youir favorite Christmas movie?
I honestly don't like watching Christmas movies. But I'll say Polar Express. I do enjoy going to the movie theatre with my siblings, which became a tradition for a few years when we were all single.

5. New jammies on Christmas Eve?
It would not be Christmas without new PJs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loft Redecorating Update

J had some downtime creatively this summer/fall so the next thing I knew, we were redecorating our loft! It was long overdue. We finally feel as though the inside of our home matches our urban environment. It's not done - a work in progress.

Chicago skyline painting by J, 2008
When it was given to us, this 6ft frame was white and had an ugly painting of Jesus in it. We've had it for 8-9 yrs and were going to put a mirror in it. This was a much better use.

This mirror was gold and hung in our guest bath in Tulsa.
J painted the mirror black, hung the shelf and added hooks to hold the kids' backpacks and coats.

Gallery of our kids' photos
8x10 b&w

Reading/work area
J collects crosses

We were driving down a street in J's home town 10 years ago when I saw this frame. I had him stop the car. It was gold. We had a mirror put in it and it hung in our guest bedroom in Tulsa. This fall, J took the mirror out and painted it gray.

View from the hallway.
J painted that canvas on the wall

Living Room Right View

Our new style is 'Mid-Century/Modern'
The lamp was a thrift store find

Living Room Left View

See the bookshelf going up the wall on the left?
That is a one-of-a-kind J Widney original.
I'll tell you the evolutionary story of the shelves another time.

J hung 6 lights over the living space.
Ceilings are 15-ft tall and hard to photograph it all.

 New sofa
 We downsized to just our 2 love seats and gave away our sofa when we moved to Chicago. We could never really stretch out or watch movies together. Now we can all 4 fit on our sofa! Love it.

I'm in the process of setting up the bookcases.
I'm adding storage solutions and will 'style' the books.

Isn't this the coolest table ever?!

Dining Room
We did 4 different chairs because we could.

Below is the console table that started it all. 
J found this on Craigslist and the redecorating began. 
It no longer matches anything and will likely be donated!

The light fixture on the table was a gift from a dear friend. 
It is an original from the '50's. 
Please tell me you notice my binoculars near the window...

And now, inside our home matches the city outside.

Monday, December 27, 2010

History in the Making!

This photo represents the 1st time ever, all of my brothers' kids and my kids have been in the same room. It was the first time my niece, Shak (far left), met Mini Me. Crazy, right?!

All of the kids are from my oldest brother, Donuts, except for my 2 and my other brother's daughter (the little cutie on the far right).

Fun Facts:
Ages range from 3 to 21
Tallest boy is 6'3"
Tallest girl is 5'11"
2 of them got their drivers' license the same day
3 have the same middle and last names
6 have the same last name
I have changed all of their diapers

Friday, December 17, 2010

I am at peace

Today is the deadline for applying to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). I have received e-mails and verbal confirmation saying that due to recent changes in CPS policy, Motor Mouth would gain entry into Mini Me's magnet school next fall. That this time, he really will get in.

Mini Me attends a public Montessori school that is EXCELLENT. Montessori schools of this caliber typically run $15-20K/year. I am extremely pleased with her school. It is one of the best public schools in Chicago and it is one of the best public schools in the country. Plus, it is tuition FREE.

That said, I want both kids to attend Motor Mouth's private school. It's that good. Not free. In fact, the kids' combined tuition is more than many people's vehicles (per year). I'm not being an elitist who wants her kids at a private school at all cost. If both kids were in public school, I could be a full-time stay @home mom and we could live closer to their school and J's work in a great neighborhood. And I could write more blog posts.

We are making lifestyle choices to ensure our children are in a learning environment that we believe will strengthen their character, sense of self, and sense of community and provide them with a true Christian worldview where they learn about other faiths. When I look at the 8th grade graduates from Motor Mouth's school, I see the kind of character development I want to see in my children.

Motor Mouth's k-8 curriculum is outstanding but where I make the differentiation between the two schools is in middle school. I believe that the resources, experiences, materials and methods used at Motor Mouth's school will better prepare our children to excel at a high school and at a college level.

So now, on the deadline to apply to Mini Me's school for Motor Mouth to get in, I am at peace. I know we have chosen the best educational option for our children. I know that whatever happens, we will make sure our kids get to be educated at Motor Mouth's school through 8th grade. And, I don't feel like I have to apply to Mini Me's school 'just in case'. I am at peace.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2006 Christopher Radko Adoption Ornament

I've been searching for this 2006 Christopher Radko adoption ornament for 4 years.

Radko and the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation team up yearly to create an ornament in honor of adoption. Naturally, I wanted to get one for Mini Me.

But I couldn't find it in Tulsa when we lived there and it went for oodles of money on eBay. Finally, this year, I waited until the last 50 seconds of the auction to enter my max bid. I won it for less than half the price of the original $40. Whoooooohoooooooo!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Discontinued Dishes - A Gift to Myself

When we got married, my mother-in-law gave all 3 of us girls a full set of 10 place dinner settings in the color of our choice from Gerald Henn Workshops. J and I chose the cream colored dishes. We have a few Longaberger pieces mixed in and serving dishes as well.

These are my every day dishes even though they are not cheap. The quality is amazing and they are extremely durable. My white Ikea dishes are the cheap ones that I use on special occasions.

Henn Workshops went out of business! AND, our Longaberger creamware dishes have been discontinued! I just found this out recently.

I've been trying to come to terms with not being able to replace my dishes in the future. Deep breath in. I tell myself that I have a set of 10 now. If 2 break, that's okay. Breathe out. We can still have 8 people eat on the good dishes. Deep cleansing breath in. Really, there are only 4 of us so we only need 4. And breathe out.
For that last few weeks, I have been buying replacements like crazy! Off eBay. does not have our creamware dishes.

I got very excited when I found a set of 2 Henn dinner plates for only $16. Normally, I would have paid at least $25 each. Score!

Just snagged a set of 3 Henn bowls for $13.
That's almost stealing!

And I found a replacement Longaberger cereal bowl for $12.

I even got creative and picked up these herb pots to hold knives, forks and spoons at the end of the buffet bar. J doesn't care for them.

Do you have extras of your good dishes?
If not, check out, the manufactorer's site, and

Be sure to use your good dishes. Life is too unpredictable!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Blogosphere Is Real

Today, I will meet A2eatwrite, a blogosphere friend. I emailed her to let her know I would be in her town and it works with her schedule too. Whoohooo!!! A couple people are concerned that A2eatwrite will kill me. Or have me killed or raped. Or something horrible. Maybe she is really a he. Yikes!

While I jest,  I do appreciate their love and concern. I will agree that there are crazy people floating around the world wide web. But there are also some really incredible people and I think I'm a fairly good judge of character. A2eatwrite is one of those wonderful people.

Some of my bloggy friends have become closer to me than I ever would have imagined. There are some, like Whittaker Woman and Lit and Laundry, that I must remind myself I have never met in person. I've sent Whittaker Woman tortilla shells and I could swear I've been to every performance of Lit and Laundry's children, yelling 'Bravo! Bravo!' at least as loud as Lit.

A couple years ago, I met The Fairy Blogmother and her family. I knew she was shy and meeting new people is one of her crippling fears (she said so on her blog) so I enticed her with a surprise and ice cream for her kids.

The blogosphere has brought some pretty incredible people back in my life like Mommy Project, Serenity Now, Rare Rocks, The Road Not Chosen, and others. We are closer now than we were when we lived nearby and saw each other daily. There are a few like Outnumbered and Beauty for Ashes that I love dearly and want to meet some day.

I owe the blogosphere a whole heap of gratitude for bringing MAM to me. I can't tell you how much I love MAM without tearing up. She really is one of the kindest, most generous, honest, smart, caring, loving, talented people I've ever had the honor of meeting. LoriRD will agree with me. I met MAM in her home! She could have killed me!!!!!

Do you remember my family themed nights? I stole that idea from Whittaker Woman. There's a bunch of stuff I stole from her - like um....Widney Woman - Whittaker Woman...Sound familiar? I never in a million years thought she would ever know about me, much less become a friend. Ragamuffin Soul is Whittaker Woman's husband. Him and J have met several times and hung out (but that's a story for another kind of blog).

Moo Moo the Christmas Cow is in our lives primarily because Lit and Laundry had a naughty elf. I was so confused at first. Then I got it. And I promised myself we would have a naughty elf the following Christmas. Only I remembered late and all that was left was one naughty cow. Lit and Laundry is the mom I want to be one day. I read her blog and learn. She is the master. I am the student. When her hips are fixed she will come to Chicago with the family and we will meet.

All this to say that while there is a lot of scary bad stuff on the web, there is a lot of good too. I'm a better mother and a better person for 'knowing' my blogosphere. They cheer me and my kids on. They cry with me when I'm sad. They give great advice and have wonderful ideas.

I've taken a lot of chances and risks in my life. Some calculated, some I stumbled into. Some were good and some weren't. But I've learned that most people are good and we need to approach life as if there is good in this world or the evil will win.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ornaments of Life

This tree makes me cry. Every time I went to our friends' home, I would sneak away to the sunroom and stand in front of this tree trying not to tear up and not to let anyone see me tear up.

It's hard to tell in this photo, but there are hundreds of ornaments on this tree. Many of the ornaments on tree are 30-50 years old.

Our friend Neon Signtist's mom, Merry, purchased most of these ornaments. I never got to meet Merry (stupid cancer). Among the many beautiful and unique items she left her son were these precious ornaments. It's their love and history that make me tear up.

If you live in Tulsa, you might know of the home these ornaments came from. For about 30 years, there was a Christmas light display home in mid-town that backed onto a lake. J and his family would drive past this home when J was a kid. Imagine J's full circle experience when he became best friends with Neon Signtist and his lovely wife, Starr and we both got to help put up those lights a few years!

We are creating Christmas ornament memories for our children. A few years ago, we began to give each child a special ornament. They used to have their own trees in their bedrooms setup but it's a lot of work...

Mini Me 2010
 Mini Me 2008
 Mini Me 2006 from her birth grandparents
on her birth father's side
 Mini Me made this at Mom's Day Out 2007
 Mini Me 2006
 Motor Mouth 2009
 Mini Me 2009
 Motor Mouth 2004
 Mini me 2006 from J's mom
 Mini Me 2006 from me and a copy from J's mom
 Motor Mouth Adoption Ornament 2003
 Motor Mouth 2006 from birth grandparents
on Mini Me's birth father's side
 Motor Mouth made this at school 2007
Motor Mouth 2010
 Mini Me from Mom's Day Out 2007
 Motor Mouth 2006
I found 6 of these!
 And we have 1 of these...

Moo Moo Day 5

Moo Moo 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Moo Moo Day 4

Moo Moo was nice and naughty on Day 4.

Moo Moo ate some of the chocolate in each of the kids' Christmas Countdown Calendar. Interestingly, if J or I had snagged a piece of chocolate, the kids would have thrown a fit! Moo Moo does it and it's fine.

Moo Moo gave the children gingerbread house kits. How nice! Extra nice was that Moo Moo managed to find the pre-fab houses. This was good so we didn't have to put them together. 

Moo Moo is officially part of the family.
We put up our stockings and Motor Mouth asked where Moo Moo's stocking was...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yet Another Adoption Update

Mini Me's birth mom is BACK in our lives!
We lost touch at the end of September when TT moved back to Tulsa.

Tonight, TT was telling her oldest daughter that she couldn't find our phone number. Her daughter told TT to 'Google them'. So she googled J and found us.

We are now connected on Twitter and Facebook. 
J tagged TT in about 20 pics of Mini Me. 

Oh, I almost forgot! 
TT talked to Mini Me and Motor Mouth on the phone. TT said it was the first time she really had a conversation with Mini Me on the phone. It helps that Mini Me's speech has improved tremendously in the last year and a half since she started school and speech therapy. TT and I have talked on the phone a number of times but Mini Me must have been in school or sleeping.

Moo Moo Day 3

Moo Moo was soooooo naughty yesterday. 
Remember this?

This morning, Motor Mouth asked what we were going to do with Moo Moo. I suggested we put Moo Moo in Mini Me's room and close the door so he couldn't get to the toys and the kitchen. Motor Mouth suggested I take Moo Moo to work with me in my purse. So I did.

Moo Moo was naughty again!
He got on my iPhone and called J before we even left our parking garage!

While at work, Moo Moo kept jumping out of my purse and on to the desk when someone came in the office. To top it off, Moo Moo called Motor Mouth's teacher and left a voice message with him singing.

Moo Moo in time out in my office.