Constantly counting my blessings

Debris in our yard included pieces of a telephone pole.
Will is wearing a T-shirt designed/sold by Maggie Crisler
of Florence, Ala. Proceeds were donated to tornado relief efforts.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tornado outbreak that chewed up a good portion of Alabama and spit it out. The number of deaths topped 200. The amount of destruction is still unimaginable to me. We were lucky. Others were not. From the safety of a neighbor's basement, we could see one of the more massive twisters pass through northern parts of Birmingham. Chris was downtown and could hear the storm.

I tried several times to blog about the storm, but never found the right words. Tornadoes are expected here just as hurricanes are expected in coastal areas and blizzards to the north but something about this storm ... it was nasty and mean and ugly.

My Facebook status on Thursday was "Today's mantra: If it blew away in a tornado, would I miss it?" Chris remarked that my status was insensitive considering the anniversary. Crap, it certainly could be read that way. The day after the outbreak, I was counting my blessings. A year later, I am still counting my blessings. Truth be told, we have too many "blessings" in our house. Call it clutter, call it stuff ... our house is too small to be holding anything that does not add real value to our lives. So yes, I look around my house and ask myself, "if that pile over there in the corner blew away in a tornado, would I miss it?" If not, out of the door it goes! Because life really IS too short. Life CAN change in a heart beat. A massive EF5 tornado CAN pick up everything you own and dump it miles and miles away.

My heart is heavy today. Please take a moment with me and count your blessings.


A berry patch of our own

As much as we would like one, we don't have a real garden — just a few tomato plants, some strawberries that won't die and a rather nice rosemary bush. I dream of having a big garden like my grandfather. It was something to see but then, he was raised on a farm. I'm now two generations removed from the farm and my thumb is more brown than green (except when it comes to African violets. Those I can keep those alive). 

But we do have a very pesky "weed" thriving (THRIVING!) and striving to take over one side of the house. One that provides us with the u-pick experience just steps away from the back door. The birds get most of our wild blackberry crop but that's okay with me ... these berries are tart! At some point, we'll have to tackle the brambles with some heavy-duty gloves but for now, it's fun to share nature's bounty with the boys.


Lego party for Will

Every year when I start planning Will's birthday party, I'm reminded that I didn't post about last year's party. So here is the big Lego party for Will turning five ...

Legos are quite the "toy de jour" for the 4 to 94 age group these days. Our house is not immune to the power the little bricks possess. I knew it was just a matter of time before we had a lego party.

Party breakdown: I kept the party small by inviting just five friends. Chris made a really cool invite with the words "come play" built out of legos. I'd share that with you but of course, I can't find the image now. We started off with some free play (it was suppose to be a game where one person builds, passes it on, the next person adds to the design, and so on but I think the boys were too young for the idea. Besides, free play with legos is always creative.) Next we went outside to hit destroy the piñata. Our lego store was kind enough to give me store bags for the boys to fill with candy. Back inside we sang happy birthday and ate cake. Will had a great time so that always makes the party a success for me.

To make the lego piñata, I taped empty cat food cans to a large diaper box and covered it with orange streamers. It was very sturdy ...

While the bat wouldn't break it, six determined little boys did!

Here's my attempt at a Lego cake. I kept some of the cupcakes home from the batch I sent to school to make the knobs. I ran out of time to hand write Lego made it easy on myself and printed out the Lego logo to put on top.

I decorated the wall with more Lego knobs. It was very colorful!

Chris loves legos too so I put him in charge of the favors. He used the pieces on our Lego store's pick a brick wall to design a cool van for the boys to take home. Added to their piñata candy and rounded out with Lego Club magazines and catalogs, free from our store, it made for a nice favor bag to take home. 

I intended to print this photo for the thank yous but didn't get it done. Oh well.
(He did send thank yous, just not this super "cool" one.)


Will moves closer to 10

My baby boy turned 6 this month. 


He gets an allowance of $2 a week for helping around the house. His main jobs are taking out the trash and recycling but he's also expected to clean up his toys and in general, behave. 

He can get his own drinks and snacks. He pretty much can take care of himself. 
He's smart and funny, sweet to everyone. Very energetic!

He's looking forward to having a ninja birthday party. 
Legos, in particular Ninjago legos, still rule his world. 

My baby is big enough to be losing teeth! 
When did he get so big?!


Work in progress

I've started to dismantle the nursery (sniff, sniff). With Joseph in his big boy bed, it's time to return the crib to Aunt Lenora. The plan right now* is for the nursery to be a computer room/playroom/whatever with the boys' room having a reading nook. Still not sure where the legos are going to end up. Or the art easel. But that's why it's a work in progress.

The train table got moved to the living room to act as a coffee table which freed up a lot of space in the boys' room. Next step was to move the little bookcase from the nursery into the boys' room. Yes, we have a lot of books. Yes, I know we have a lot of books. Books are awesome!

Now all this room is missing is some comfortable seating. How about this from the Land of Nod ...

Or (the real reason for this post) Hey Mom, let's make some Rollie Pollies ...

*I reserve the right to change the plan at anytime without prior notice.


Chicken bunny

We've got a new addition to the family ... introducing Chicken Bunny. 

(Wouldn't that photo be a lot cuter with a kid in it?! Joseph didn't agree.)

It's a little Cadbury bunny that says bock, bock, bock. I loved the commercials as a kid and I love Cadbury creme eggs. So while Joseph thinks this bunny is for him, I said to Chris, you know I got it for me ... he already knew that. 

So I turned to YouTube to introduce the kids to the Cadbury Bunny. One thing lead to another and now, the boys are big OK Go fans. Mommy is too. Their videos are awesome!