Thursday, December 31, 2015

Homemade Wooden Baby Play Table (to fit a Bumbo)

Okay, last gift post, I promise.  Then we're on to other well planned out and deeply insightful topics and posts.  Or not.  You know I'm just winging it all here, right?  Like all those blogging advice sites say ;)

I just adore what the boys and Brian came up with to give to the Ben babe for his first Christmas.  This one was Brian's idea and it is just so sweet.  Over the last few years we've gotten rid of a lot of the excess baby equipment and gadgets and have happily made do without.  It's so freeing to not feel like you need to have this or that thing for this tiny portion of baby's life when it actually applies!  But sometimes those things really are so useful and handy to have!  We got our first Bumbo seat as a super thoughtful gift from Colleen and it's been a huge help!  We've been using it bunches the last few months.  For Christmas, Brian brainstormed the idea of making a little play table with the older boys that could fit around the seat as a gift for Ben.

 Isn't it awesome?
They all helped with building the actual base and then they were each in charge of making one of the toys on the table!

Michael made the wire track (that's a coat hanger wire) and Luke's job was the bead spinner in the back (obviously with help).

David had the triple bead spinner in the corner and Brian made the stand up spinny thing.

John Paul made the string of beads in the front.

The table base is leftover wood from house projects.  The other little pieces were from (safe) pallets well sanded.  He had to buy the dowel for the legs.  Everything is glued in rather than screwed.   It measures 25" wide, 15 1/2" deep, and 8" tall.  The individual boards are 5 1/2" x 3/4".  He just used the Bumbo to eye it and make sure it would fit.  The beads we had on hand in the craft cabinet and were rarely used.  Not sure how officially baby safe they are material wise but certainly not worse than most plastic or painted baby toys.  (And yes, we keep an eye on the security of the beads.)

It is just ridiculously cute to see him sitting at it and playing with it!

We call it his desk and he looks like a little business man sitting down to his work :)

While I have yet to capture that one perfect shot of him using it, 74 blurry and/or dark photos sitting on my flash drive will have to be enough to prove that he does, in fact, love his first big Christmas gift :) 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Handmade Christmas Gifts From the Boys

The past few Christmases we've really made an effort during the weeks of Advent to focus gift-wise on what the kids will be giving to other people rather than on what they expect to receive.  They get crazy excited for our celebrations and anticipate those for weeks but there isn't much talk of what they want to get or making of lists for themselves.  I've heard a few things here and there but I'd really love to keep it that the focus is on what we'll be giving rather than getting.

To help that along (as well as to nurture some -ahem- much needed sibling kindness) we brainstormed with each of the boys separately on what they could do or make for their brothers.  I absolutely LOVE what they came up with.  Brian spent a few hours in the work loft with each of them helping them bring their ideas to life in the weeks before Christmas.  (As well as manning the power tools needed.)  My heart just about melted when I saw how ridiculously excited they were to give them to each other on Christmas morning.  Plus, they're actually kind of cool!  They were way more excited to give what they had worked so hard on than to open any gifts themselves.  It was so so great.  These bigger gifts were accompanied by about a trazillion perler bead and cardboard ornaments and nativity scene drawings that were hastily made and wrapped in the last few days before Christmas and stashed about the house, most especially by David.  It was all pretty cute.

Here's what each of them came up with for their bigger gift...

John Paul:

 John Paul made a joint gift to the three middles of a pegboard ball track to go down in the basement.  It's modeled after something he saw in a local children's museum.  They've been absolutely loving it and have been coming up with all different track combinations.

Sorry for the photo harshness.  Florescent basement lighting, y'all.  I tried to make them not blinding to no success.

They bought the pegboard but I believe the rest of those pieces are from scrap and/or pallets.


Michael was crazy excited to give John Paul a rack to hang his sword.  When he told me his idea my suggestion was "can't you just put two nails in the wall?"  

Instead, he and Brian came up with this:
Aragorn's crown.  Which is decidedly much cooler than two nails in the wall.

John Paul clearly agreed.

Brian printed out a color picture of the crown and then they cut the wood exactly to fit and modpodged the printed crown onto it.  And then dowel pieces, I guess.

So now his little corner of the room looks this awesome.

Michael insisted that he had to make David and Luke bunk beds for their doll and bear.
So out of more pallet wood, this happened.
Hey, they're palleted pallets!
Ba dum ching!

They're very large.  


This idea I came up with and David loved it.  He and Brian built a little bean bag toss!  (Corn hole for you midwesterners?  Or is that a southern thing?)

The board is all out of pallets and the bean bags I sewed with scrap fabric.

FYI, I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to sewing so we'll see how long those last before there are beans all over the basement.

The "bean bags are NOT TO BE WHIPPED AT BROTHERS" rule has already been made and enforced. 


Each of the three older brothers got a new groovy piece of marble track from Luke!  Isn't that the best?

They've been doing a ton of track building lately and they genuinely loved the new pieces.  Luke was beaming.  It was so adorable.

Why, yes.  More pallet wood.

My absolute favorite (besides my gift which is pretty awesome, too) is what they all made together for the Ben babe.  It's the cutest thing ever.  But that's for tomorrow because I've got a quiet house, some gingerbread and Irish cream, and some Netflix calling my name.

Merry 6th, friends.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Basement Gym for the Boys

I come up with the ideas and he implements goes absolute nuts with them . 
That's how it usually goes and so it did with our gift for the boys this year.

My husband is an over the top sort of guy so my little idea for some gym equipment for Christmas to make our dungeon cellar a bit more usable became something a little bit...more.  Because that's how he does.  The last year or so these boys have been getting more and more insane active.  When the weather got cooler and the wrestling matches and running contests and furniture bouncing reached a peak (and repeatedly woke the baby), I decided we ALL needed somewhere for them to get out that energy that wasn't in our relatively small downstairs living space.  My thoughts were to get a mini trampoline, a climbing rope, a swing or bar with mats, a chin up bar and the punching bag my husband had from when he was a boy.  Nice and simple and a good outlet for all that testosterone flowing through our home.  I gave him the idea, bought a few of the items and asked him to figure out how to arrange it all down there.

Soooo, he did this:

It's like a real gym in our tiny and what I thought unusable cellar.  Maybe I can even call it a basement now.
The boys FLIPPED when they saw it. 

And guys...wait for it...almost everything he used for building came from scraps we had and pallets he had picked up free.  That makes my frugal heart so happy.  Leftover wood from house projects, pieces of old dropcloth, leftover paint, even the hinges and hardware he used was all stuff we had. He did have to pick up some extra 2x4s and rope.

They've been playing down there a ton the last few days.  The next morning John Paul said that when he woke up he couldn't remember if it was all a dream and that it didn't feel like it was really real.  I can definitely hear them from upstairs which is good and for the most part it's been all happy noises. So far, at least.

This past year we got the basement a little less dungeony by cleaning the walls, painting the floor and drying it all out with the dehumidifier.  And now we have this home built playspace that I never thought was possible but from what I've been able to tell so far will be SO well used.

Trap door!

The rope bridge is David's favorite.

People pay top dollar to workout in a gym with the exposed pipe ceilings and industrial decor.  We get it free ;) 

Tow line

The peg board cross is John Paul's favorite.  It's modeled off the one from American Ninja Warrior as are the ball grippy things (apparently the official name is cannonball alley) to the left.  Those are old bocce balls from the garage that were never once used for actual bocce.

Luke says the trampoline is his favorite.  I got this one (fyi, it was $60 when I bought it).  Only the littler ones are allowed on since the ceilings are so low!  A few weeks after I had already bought it David who has SO much energy declared one evening after being told (again) to stop jumping on the furniture "but but but...I just need to BOUNCE!"  So now I have a place when a boy needs to bounce :)

It makes a great Booper cage.

Getting his workout in.  He knows how it's done.

He flips every which way like a little monkey.

Trapeze bar I got here and the mats are these (free shipping at the time).  This is Michael's favorite.  (P.S.  Who knew gym mats were so expensive?  Nearly impossible and probably gross anyway to find used.  I tried.)  These were the best price but they are really thick and will last hopefully a long time.  We have some free weights that we picked up from the side of the road (!) in the corner.  I'm thinking as they get older the boys may want to use this are for weightlifting and such, too?

These boys are so crazy blessed to have a papa who goes nuts like this for them.  I have no doubt that the year they got the basement gym will be one of those awesome memories from childhood that stays with them forever.  And maaaybe it's a gift that will preserve a little bit of my sanity, too ;)  

Friday, December 25, 2015

May He Be Yours This Christmas

From our family to yours, an amazing, blessed, wonderful Christmas.  May you know the Love who came to give Himself for you this Christmas and always.  God is here, let us rejoice.

I'm truly grateful for every person who reads the words I put here and have shared themselves back.  May God richly bless you and yours this Christmas season. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Here

Merry Christmas Eve!
I wish I could have you all over to hang out at my house during Christmas.  Is that weird?  I just love making the house all cozy and Christmased and want to share it and welcome people in.  Maybe that's kinda what heaven is like.  No time or space restrictions and all.  But until then.  Blogging, I guess?

Outside my window
It'll be a green Christmas this year.  It's supposed to be cooler today but yesterday got to 60 degrees!  It's a little disappointing but if it means an easier winter than last year then I'll take it.  I have a little game I play in my head of seeing just how long we can make it without snow here and feel like we won the lottery this year.  We haven't had ANY snow at our home yet!  A white Christmas would sure be lovely but this is great in its own way and I'm so thankful after the way people suffered last year.

The hum of the monitor and I *think* some footsteps.  Because obviously mom started writing so it's time to get up ;) 

Thankful for…
These past weeks.  Advent has been quiet in my heart and while I've been doing lots, it hasn't been stressful and I feel...good.  Minus the nasty cold that took down all of the boys this past week.  That wasn't nice.  We're on the other side of it now and will hopefully will be well enough for Christmas celebrating beginning tonight!  It's Christmas Eve!

Thinking about…
Living in the moment.
The blessings.
A client due any day now.
The baby shower we're planning for my sister!

We're off of school this week and the next and probably the next :)  I budget the last two weeks of Advent and the twelve days of Christmas as break time.  I really appreciate it with all the other things that I have to do and it gives the boys a chance to work on their gifts and helping me bake and clean.  

Struggling with…
Being patient with sickness.  The first few days I feel all patient and nurse mom then I start to just be done with it.  Especially with two children who have been pretty miserable during it.

From the kitchen
Turkey is waiting in the fridge for tonight.  Sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce and cookies have all been made.  Mashed potatoes are nixed this year because my weirdo children don't like them so not worth the effort and last minutedness of them.  Baby Jesus' birthday cake is in the freezer (John Paul volunteered to be in charge of it this year!)  Even the veggies are pre-diced for stuffing and the filling and frosting for the cinnamon rolls are done.  The pantry and freezer are stocked with treats saved for Christmas.  I guess that's one of the beauties of traditions.  Each year they get honed and that makes everything run more smoothly and be so much more peaceful.  Making as much as possible ahead of time when the free moment strikes is a sanity saver.  And so is a freezer.

Just finished Come, Lord Jesus this morning and are working with some other women on Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Oh, I am so so excited to share with you the gifts we've put together this year!  Crocheting, building,'s been getting real crafty in these parts.  And it's actually been really fun.  For real.  Brian has been spending his free time taking turns with the boys to help them make a gift for their brothers and I just can't wait to see them all finished.  They're pretty great :)

Around the house
The Christmas decor is mostly up.  Other projects are waiting until after Christmas but I have my eye on our bedroom floor situation, our countertops and kitchen sink.  

For my sister and her little unborn baby girl.
For the conversion of abortionists and those who work in the abortion industry.
For the many women I know due with babies in the next weeks - Nicole, Jen, Amanda, Lori, Amanda, Bonnie...and more?  Who else is due soon?
For healing in our house.

Picture thoughts to share


Am I bokehing right??  (This was accidental on my phone but maybe I'm fancy and DON'T EVEN KNOW IT.)

 It kind of hit me after we hung the stockings this morning that we have a lot of kids.
Seriously.  Blink.

is setting the table early in the morning.

Clearly cranberries are one of my happy things.

And an almost finished Jesse Tree that was run by Brian and the boys this year.

I, uh, think my paper white is doing well.  I planted it the first week of Advent.

"No guys, seriously.  WHERE'S THE BABY???"

Clearly quite phased by the situation.

Real garland from Trader Joe's.  Crazy cheap and makin' our outside all Christmased.

Linking up with {phfr}
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, friends!

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