Friday, November 28, 2008

table for 16

Yesterday was our big Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house. I love holidays with my family and it was a wonderful way to spend my birthday. The table was set for 16. Mom has a beautiful dining room, but we decided to make a long table in the sun room so everyone could sit together instead of being divided up. We were missing my brother and his family, and my cousin Audrey and her fiance Bernie. We could have had a table for 22!

Aunt Clara & Hannah making the deviled eggs

Mamo & Aunt Clara making Mamo's (the BEST) dressing

We always have so much fun preparing the meal together. It doesn't seem like a lot of work when everyone is in the kitchen together. Mamo sits at the table, so she's ready to offer advice on her special recipes when needed. We have the Thanksgiving parades on TV while we work, and we always have cocktails! This year we had Mudslides and White Russians!! Yummy!

Waiting for everyone to gather around the table, so Mom could say the blessing

Uncle Doug pouring the wine

Uncle Doug was also in charge of opening the wine.
I have no idea how he did it, but the cork ended up INSIDE the bottle, in one piece.

After dinner, sitting around visiting

Our family tradition-Men do the dishes!
(it's been going on for about four years)
I'm not sure how it started exactly...the men do the dishes, while the women relax in the other room. We have some great men in our family, huh?!?

We had PLENTY of food, as always. But the best part of Thanksgiving for our family is eating again six or seven hours later; after the dishes are done, some take naps, some play catch outside, the ladies sit and visit for hours, and we all watch football games. Then we get all the leftovers back out. Cold stuff goes on one side of the sink, stuff to be heated on the other. We fill our paper plates and stand in line to use the microwave. There is always someone trying to cut in the microwave line! We all sit back down at the table, eat again and visit for a couple more hours. I love just sitting at the table with everyone, long after we're done eating. Last night our conversations turned to reminiscing about our great-grandparent's houses and the times we all spent there. Everyone had different memories. For my parents and aunts and uncles, they had stories from before we were around. For me, my little brother and my cousins, we shared stories from all the times we played together at our great-grandparents houses.

Barrett was so happy his Uncle Bobby came home for Thanksgiving.
We've missed him bunches!

Hannah Jean & Barrett

Jake & Barrett

Barrett had a wonderful FIRST THANKSGIVING! He was such a good boy at the dinner table and enjoyed his thanksgiving meal: Aunt Deb's mashed potatoes & noodles, Mamo' dressing, Gigi's blueberry salad, carrots and a few cheerios! It was another perfect Thanksgiving...great time with family, great food, and much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving!!
I am so thankful to be able to spend Thanksgiving day (also my 29th birthday) with family. 2008 has been a wonderful year for us, and we have much to be grateful for. The biggest joy of our life...Barrett Russell! We are so thankful for every second we have with our 'little turkey.'

Just last night, Justin and I sat on the couch just watching him. He was contently wobbling around the family room. Playing with his toys, reading his books, not even paying attention to us. I was in awe just watching his little mind at work while he played. He has a mini K-State basketball his 'Ol Uncle Emily gave him. We quietly watched as he discovered he could make it bounce. He loves rolling balls back and forth, but this was the first time we'd seen him bounce. You could just see his excitement that he'd discovered something new. We also had the Alvin & the Chipmunks movie on, and every time he would hear them start to sing "Christmas, Christmas time is near..." he would stop and look up at the TV and start to rock, bounce and wave his hands! It was the first time we'd seen him dance, and it was priceless! I say it a million times a day...we love him so much and we are having so much fun with him.

Pastor Dave used the lyrics from this Simon & Garfunkel song in his sermon on Sunday. I'd never heard it before, but the words touched my heart Especially during this time when funds are tight, and we are learning to sacrifice, and what is really important for happiness. I'll share them with you today. Read them and think of all the things you have to be grateful for.

I've got a roof over my head
I've got a warm place to sleep
Some nights I lie awake counting gifts
Instead of counting sheep

I've got a heart that can hold love
I've got a mind that can think
There may be times when I lose the light
And let my spirits sink
But I can't stay depressed
When I remember how I'm blessed

Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed
And duly grateful

blessings to you and your families!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter Swap!

I'd tossed around the idea of having a Christmas Swap a few times, but I've been so busy with weddings and custom Christmas card orders, I decided I didn't have time to host one this year. So, I was thrilled when a nice lady (Brenna) emailed me for advice on hosting a swap! I was happy to give her my unofficial "instructions for hosting a swap," and I even designed this Mr. linky swap button (that's my technical term for it) for her.

I met Brenna's cousin, Leslie, through the Fall Swap I hosted. I've enjoyed reading her blog Cow Pies & Mud Pies ever since. Leslie actually lives in the same town as I do. We've never met in person before, but it's been fun getting to know her through her blog.

If you're in the mood for a fun Winter & Holiday themed swap, click on the swap button and go check out Brenna's blog! All the details and instructions are there. You just have to email her to sign up. Good luck with your first swap Brenna!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Letters to my Little Bear~ 15th Edition

Happy TEN MONTHS, Little Bear!!

Today is Saturday, November 22nd. On Tuesday, November 18th, you were ten months old! That day was also your cousin Kylie's 10th birthday. We went over to her house for dinner and cake to celebrate.

Your sweet little monkey just keeps shrinking and shrinking!!

You love him SO MUCH! He always gets big hugs and kisses from you!

You have been a busy boy so far this month. On November first, you spent your first night away from Mommy and Daddy while we were out of town. You stayed with Grandma and Grandpa and you were such a good boy. We missed you BUNCHES and couldn't wait to get back home to you.

November 4th was election day, so you went with Mommy to the polls to vote. The line was very long, and I forgot to bring in any toys to keep you busy. Luckily one of Mommy's friends was ahead of us in line and she had a little book in her purse. That made you very happy and kept you entertained for the rest of the time we had to wait. Right before it was my turn to vote, another friend (Grandma Jenny and Grandpa Rabbit's neighbor) came and said she would hold you. After we were all done, you got a sticker!

Yes, sweetie, your vote did count...unfortunately it wasn't enough.

Here you are as we watch the election coverage.
The numbers were coming in and you started to look a little worried!

And, here you are after Mommy told you the news.

Sorry sugar. We were disappointed too, but we must move on.
So, I gave you some puffs and you were happy again.

You've had lots of new food firsts this month. Baby food with meat-you were not a fan, but we tried it again yesterday and you seemed to like it a bit more. Real banana-not a fan. You made some really funny faces and usually took it out of your mouth, but we'll keep trying. Mashed potatoes-seemed to like them. You'll get to try Aunt Debbie's at Thanksgiving next week. They're much better! Potato salad-We were eating at Rib Crib with Gigi and Papa and you seemed to like these. You also got some dribbles of water out of Mommy's straw for the first time while we were here. You loved that! I would hold one end of the straw with my finger and you would open your mouth like a little birdie, ready for a drink.

This month you've really starting taking lots of steps and doing lots of standing. You are so cute when you walk. By Christmas, you should be crusin' along! On November 10th you had your first high temperature- 101.9 degrees. It was very scary for Mommy and Daddy, but we got it down and took you to the doctor the next day.

Your friend, Lydia turned ONE on Sunday, November 16th. We went out to her house for lunch and birthday cupcakes. You were the only little boy there, but you had fun playing with Norah Kate, Lydia, Hadley and Kennedy.

Here you are with one of your favorite books. You still love books! You got this one from Norah Kate's Grandma Carol and Papa Dave on Halloween! It was your favorite treat.

The rest of this month will be busy too. Thanksgiving is next week and you'll get to see you great aunts and uncles, and cousins. You'll get to see Mamo. AND Uncle Bobby will be home for the first time since he moved to Nebraska for his new job! We have missed him bunches. Thanksgiving day is also Mommy's 29th birthday! I'm so lucky I get to celebrate my birthday with all of our family! The weekend after Thanksgiving is when Daddy and I usually put up the outside Christmas lights! This year if it's not too cold out, you can help too!

You have been so much fun his month. Giving kisses and hugs, waving bye-bye. You've got such a sweet little personality. Happy ten months little bear! I LOVE YOU!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Barrett's been standing up and taking steps off and on for the last several weeks. I don't want my baby growing up, so I'm trying not to encourage it too much. BUT he's just so adorable when he weeble-wobbles around the room! He has mastered crawling and can get around really fast, so I'm surprised he tries standing and walking as much as he does. He'll just be sitting on the floor reading a book and decide to stand up with it. He plops down on his bum, and it doesn't even seem to phase him. He'll just keep reading his book, or stand right back up again. He's a funny and determined little mister!

I haven't really gotten many of his steps on video, so tonight I tried to capture a few. They make me *smile*

He still LOVES books more than ever too. I get such a kick out of watching him"read." When we're riding in the car, I always give him a book to look at. I watch him in the rear-view mirror...he has it open in his lap, looking at it so intently as he turns the pages. Here he is checking out his tiger book.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

designing with damask

I've been working on a lot of custom Christmas card orders in the last week. I'm having a blast designing special layouts for my clients. Last night I thought I'd work on a few ideas for our own card. I'm a traditional girl. I tend to use a lot of classic design. Right now, I'm loving the damask pattern. I tried it out in a couple different color schemes and layouts. What do you think?

If you're interested in a custom card design for
Christmas or any occasion, email me!

These press cards are printed front and back on beautiful art paper, and come with white envelopes. They're great for invites and birth announcements too.
I'd love to design something unique just for YOU!

(followers, commenters & lurkers)
If you refer friends and family members to my business, and they place an order with me during the month of will get a $5 credit (for each family/friend order) towards your own Christmas card order.
Be sure to have them mention your name when they email me!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

they finally arrived!

You might have heard me mention these BABY LEGS a few times on here. I started searching for a pair I liked on Etsy over a month before Halloween. I thought we might be able to incorporate them into Barrett's costume.

Well, I found these and thought the reds and black would go with his Baby Outlaw onesie. I ordered them on October 2nd and had NO IDEA that shipping from Canada would take 41 days! They're adorable and the lady I ordered them from on Etsy was super sweet. I told her thanks so much and that I loved them, but I didn't think I'd order anything from Canada ever again!

These came in the mail the other day, and since I'd been waiting SO LONG for them to arrive, we tried them out right away! I love those chunky little piggies sticking out! I took these pictures just a few hours before Barrett spiked a 101.8 temperature. It came on so you can tell from these shots, he was his happy self.

I had to skip my spinning class, because minutes before I was supposed to leave he started getting really warm. It was our first high temp scare and we handled it like any first-time parents would. Panicked, called my mommy to come over (I love having her just across town), and paced around the house. We put him in the bath to try and bring the fever down. It seemed to work a bit, but he was still hot. We ended up calling our doctor. He is so great about calling him at home. He tells me every time I'm in his office "When it comes to babies, there is never a stupid can call me at home at any hour." He had us give him some Children's Tylenol and Motrin so he could get rid of the fever and sleep through the night, and wanted to see us first thing the next morning. Everything looked fine the next day. His runny nose cleared up, and he was mostly back to his happy self. I just wanted to make sure his little cough wasn't in his lungs, and he didn't have an ear infection starting. Our Dr. confirmed it was all clear. Just congestion in his head. Hopefully we can shake this in the next couple days. Having a sick baby is no fun! Every time we hear him cough, from his crib down the hall, Justin and I look at each other with a sad frown and say "awww, poor baby."

Get better soon, Little Bear! We love you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am consumed by them...

Well...happy day to ME! Ready for some random rambling? If you have some time to kill, read on.

We had a gift card to Lowe's, so we went shopping Friday night and purchased a little space heater for Barrett's room and a *shiny* new toy for us! I'm probably a little bit more excited than Justin, since I'm pretty sure he doesn't lay awake in bed at night stressing about leaves. Yes, that's right. LEAVES!

Fall is still my favorite time of year, but it's about this time {Late October, early November} that I begin to get a little annoyed at the gathering leaves. I am consumed by them. Ahh...soft, leathery, yellow, red, green leaves floating down from the trees like feathers. Sounds beautiful, huh?!? Well, those kind of leaves are beautiful! It's the crunchy brown ones that end up in MY yard that tend to drive me bananas! They find a home right by my front and back doors. They are like massive snowdrifts, piled up at the front and back porches. And when the wind blows, which it does quite a bit here in Kansas, they really pile up high against the doors. Our front porch seems to be a magnet for all the leaves in the neighborhood! I guess it's the price you pay for living in a older neighborhood, verses one of those new additions with scrawny, little, just planted trees. Only five leaves on them each year! This past week, the wind was blowin' CRAZY around here, so by the weekend, we had leaves packed into every nook and cranny around the parameter of our house.

Our house is covered by a canopy of huge, probably hundred year-old trees. We love them in the summer, because they keep our whole house shaded all day, and it stays so cool.

Here is the back porch, front porch and driveway just before the leaf-extravaganza began

So, back to those snow drifts. Sometimes they gather there so fast, I actually have to exert force when trying to push the front door open. We came home from the grocery store Thursday night, and Justin had to shovel leaves away from the back door so we could get in. They'd blown in and drifted there in the hour we were away. And don't even get me started about when people come to visit during Fall, and come in the front door. I always have to say "don't mind my leaves" or "you can take those home with you when you leave." Sometimes it's like a game. See how fast you can open the door, rush inside, close the door and not bring more than 20 leaves IN with you!

The leaves don't only stress me out by taking over my front and back porches. They take over my entry and kitchen. Once they blow in or are tracked in. They get tracked around and stepped on and crunch into tiny little pieces everywhere. I'm constantly sweeping to keep the 'leaf crumbs' under control. This Fall it's even more important to stay on top of it...Mr. Barrett seems to think 'leaf crumbs' look mighty delicious! He can spot one on the wood floor in the entry from clear across the house, and will make a b-line over to try and snack on it.

Have I painted the picture well enough?!? Are you exhausted from all the leaves too? If so, you'll be just as excited about my new toy!

A sparkly new leaf blower/vacuumer/mulcher We had one of these we bought at a garage sale for $1 when we were first married, but it died a few years ago. I love these things!! They vacuum up the leaves so fast and can mulch up to 10+ bags of leaves into ONE! We spent the afternoon Sunday vacuuming the carport, driveway, sidewalk and entry; blowing leaves out of the shrubs and flower beds; and giving the yard one last mow for the season, to mulch up the leaves. This, mowing, was my favorite part! You see, in six years of marriage and owning this house...I have NEVER mowed the yard, never even touched the mower! My hubby is great at it, and I'm usually doing other things (pulling weeds, planting, trimming) when he mows. So yesterday afternoon, in the middle of the front yard, Justin gave me a mowing lesson! Then I went to town. The grass wasn't really that long, it was seeing the piles of leaves disappear that really excited me!

Well, I've rambled/vented about nothing long enough! If you're still reading at this point...treat yourself to a cookie, or two or three! I'll go treat myself to some payday mix. YES, I'm still eating that stuff! It might be a small addiction!

So, if you drive by my house in the next couple months, you just might see me out vacuuming the lawn :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Ahh, such sweet kisses"

As if I wasn’t already completely confident and content with my decision to stay at home, yesterday confirmed I am in the right place. I am thankful for everyday I have to be at home with my baby boy, but yesterday was the best day yet!

After lunch, Barrett and I were sitting in the middle of the family room floor. We spend most of our day there together, playing with toys and reading books. It's the prefect, cozy spot! I laid my head down on his Boppy pillow and closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep. He was sitting right beside me and leaned over and gave me a baby kiss right on my forehead! I opened my eyes and looked at him and said “ahh, such sweet kisses.” He just smiled, looking at me like he knew exactly what he’d done. It made me giggle, and then he started giggling. I couldn’t resist, so I closed my eyes again, and sure enough, he leaned over and gave me another kiss! Again, I said “ahh, such sweet kisses,” and we just laid there giggling back and forth at each other.

It was one of the sweetest moments yet with my Little Bear.

He started giving kisses a few weeks ago when we were in Branson. You just pucker up your lips and make smooch sounds and say “give kisses,” and he’ll lean at you with an open mouth and warm baby breath and push his lips against yours. They are the most precious things! We are so blessed.

It was one year ago (November 4, 2007) that we had maternity pictures taken. My pregnancy started out very rough, but after the first few months, it was smooth sailing and I loved being pregnant. I wanted to be sure I had something to look back on and remember those days. I am so glad I have belly was HUGE!I can’t believe it was one year ago that we took these and had our baby boy all warm and cozy growing inside. We wondered what he would look like, if he would have hair, what kind of personality he would have…Now, one year later, he’s nine months old. He’s such a little man, developing his own personality, and giving me kisses!

*Amazing* God is good!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christmas is coming...

Hard to believe it's already November...
Christmas will be here before we know it!

So, I'm thinking about Christmas cards and would like to advertise Elephant Juice Designs custom card services! If you have a photo/photos you would like incorporated, that is great. If not, I can design something fun without a photo too. These are a few might want to click on the card images for a more detailed view.

The process is very easy, just email me at and we will start the design process. I'll have you send me the pictures you would like to use (high quality jpegs), as well as your preferences for colors and wording. That back of the cards is a great place for a little "letter" to your friends and family. Let them know what your family is up to. You will receive a maximum of two digital proofs of your design. Once we finalize everything, you will have your cards within two weeks.

All cards are printed on front and back, and include white envelopes with your return address printed on the back flap in a coordinating ink color.
Priced in packages of 24...please contact me for pricing on quantities over 24

4" x 5.5" flat card
*smooth, linen or watercolor stock $36.00
*pearl stock $46.00

5" x 7" flat card
*smooth, linen or watercolor stock $46.00
*pearl stock $56.00

I would love to work with you and design something perfect and unique for your family Christmas card. If you interested in cards, and have any questions about how this works, please feel free to email me!
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