Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Valentine's Day Extravaganza

This was the card Ava made for Rob & I at daycare... very well done!

Generally, Valentine's Day is really just another day here at Home Sweet Kolkman. Yes, there is the usual exchanging of cards and maybe some sweets and takeout for dinner. BUT... this year it was a real EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

Here is a cute ballerina pose of my Valentine Ava Elise...

Ava and I began getting ready for this day by creating heart shaped crayons out of her old crayons which was an idea we found on Pinterest. It is a pretty easy process and they turned out great.

Here are our cut up crayons in the heart tray.

Then I melted them in the oven at 275 Degrees for 15 minutes.

Then they cooled and we took them out of the mold.
The tops were shiny and the bottoms looked marbled!

Then Ava prepared her "DORA" Valentine's Day cards.

We put two heart crayons and candy inside little takeout boxes.

Then we attached her DORA card's for her special delivery to daycare since we spent the day home together. She was very animated in her delivery and I wish I had my camera to catch her in action. She was so affectionate with her teacher that it made my heart melt... She loves Ms. Chris!

We also made Neapolitan Cupcakes for all of the teacher's at AppleTree. They had brownie on the bottom, strawberry cake in the middle, and cream cheese frosting on top!

Since Ava was busy making Valentine's for all of her family and friends this year and really expressing her love of others... Rob and I decided to go overboard and spoil her rotten with all our love and affection. I picked out a new stuffed ballerina frog for her which looks exactly like her lovey Lily Mae. She named her new frog Charlotte and she is a new favorite in her stuffed animal collection! Rob picked out a new Tervis Princess cup for her which has Disney characters Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty on it. We recently became Disney Club members and our first seven movies arrived the day before Valentine's Day. So we let her open them as gifts to sweeten the day even more.

Here is Ava and her Valentine's Day gifts. She was a very happy camper!

Ava also was spoiled by Aunt Dee & Uncle Kee. They sent her a very special Valentine's Day gift in the mail. She was soooo excited to open her box from Dee & Kee.

Rob treated me on Valentine's Day as well. He bought me a Keurig which is a huge HIT!

Then he bought me a drawer to store all of my coffee, hot chocolate, and cider treats!

A week before Valentine's Day we treated Rob to new waterproof boots!

Valentine's Day this year was quite something! Very lavish and we all feel very LOVED!!! Since I had to work the evening of the fourteenth we had to continue celebrating our Valentine's Day on the fifteenth. We took a trip to my moms to see Jack, Emma, and Uncle Todd. 

Ava loved to give her cousin's her Valentine's!

Then I also had a Valentine's Day gift for Jack and Emma...

Here we all are with new Peepers I made for them, markers, and heart notepads.

Uncle Todd treated Ava to a gift of chocolate candy! He calls her Louise and she calls him Uncle Tawd... they really seem to share a special connection!

Finally, we visited Elise at the cemetery. We brought her flowers and a pink bear.

We have two bears like this pink one. One is Elise's which was in the cemetery last season and it is slightly faded. The other is Ava's which is brand new. She had a hard time giving Elise her bear back even though she has the same bear at home. We tied it to her vase and sent some kisses to heaven for her. Ava could hardly stand the idea of leaving this bear behind so she cried and cried and cried over it.

Crocodile Tears...

So we talked about sharing and what would be the nice thing to do... which would be leaving the bear in the cemetery. Ava thought about this for a while and she was still not wanting to leave this bear for Elise. So I said it would be sad to leave Elise with nothing. Ava thought about this again. With a snotty nose and tears in her eyes she said, "But Elise doesn't have nothin'... She has her flowers." How do you argue with that? So we cut the bear off the vase and left the flowers. Ey-Ey-Ey Kid! So on an ending note... We hope you all had as happy of a Valentine's Day as we did!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goals for 2012

The list of things I would like to accomplish in 2012 seems to be never-ending but do-able all the same. Here are my top 10...

1.) Get my family photos in order. My printed family photos are in a giant creative memories box labeled inside of Meijer photo envelops. I also have five full SD cards that need to be transferred onto photo cds and deleted off of the cards. I would like them to be organized by events and years. I would like one for every year of Ava's life. I would like to create Snapfish style photo books of all of the year's highlights. I am about half way though Ava's 1st year of life. Terrible I know but since my photo box is not organized and I have no idea at this point where to start with five full SD cards this is a bigger task than you may think. I am in the process of transferring pictures off of my SD chips onto Meijer photo cds. Once this is done I will put them into online albums to be printed. My goal is to have this project done by early April and to keep up with it from there on out.

Finished Result... I can't wait to have organized photo cds and albums!

2.) Sew something for each member of my family and give it to them as a surprise throughout the year. I started out this year by making a rag quilt and new re-purposed peepers for Ava. I have several project ideas and I am currently working on something for Todd that should be finished by his birthday! I'd tell you my ideas for each family member but that would kill the surprise part since some of my readers are family. You will all have to wait and see how I did completing this goal by the end of the year. I hope my family members will love my creations sewn with love flaws and all!

Ava's Rag Quilt... It's still not finished because she hasn't parted ways with it long enough for me to snip all the squares. I will re-post it when it's completed.

 This is the last square and it's my favorite!

30 re-purposed peepers generated a happy kid... worth all the work!

3.) Read two books a month. I read more than usual last year and this year I hope to reach my very do-able goal. My top three books for last year were: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay. I would love to read more but time is a factor and it seems like there is never enough of it!

4.) Plan meas ahead of time and make something new each week. I have been doing this since January and it really helps having a game plan for the week. I have been busy making new meals off of Pinterest and just trying things by word of mouth. I have even been creative with leftovers to boot. I am not sure if it has been noticed yet by my family but I have noticed a little more ease in the coming up with meal ideas thanks to several on line food blogs. I will post some of my latest favorites.

5.) De-clutter. I have so many drawers that need to be organized. I have lots of ideas to re-vamp my drawers, cupboards, and closets! I have been cleaning something out each week. Somethings are small and some are bigger projects. I just came across my old college binders filled with lecture notes from my nursing classes. Ten years of holding onto them seems long enough... So, OUT they went!

6.) Maintain my weight loss from the fall. I lost a total of 15 pounds using MyFitnessPal just by tracking my intake and my exercise. It is easy enough and I am also using some Weight Watchers tricks. Rob just made a room in the basement for all of our exercise equipment so I have zero excuses not to keep up with my fitness goals. I hope to exercise three to four times a week. I would like to incorporate some more weights into my routine to tone up some of my trouble areas.

The Kolkman Fitness Room!

7. Get Ava's Big Girl Room in Order. The poor girl is turning three in April and she is still sleeping in the crib. I was sort of thinking that a new baby would eventually give her the boot but since we are still waiting for our third we may need to move her before a baby would ever arrive. I have several wishes and wants for her big girl room and I am logging some of them on Pinterest. I would like a storage bed first and foremost for her. She will be moving to the guest bedroom and with lack of wall space I think this is a must have. I would love to have a window seat with shelving for all of her toys and books. I can't wait to see this room come together. 

Storage Bed idea...

A fancy headboard...

 A custom wall built around her future big window complete with a reading nook and storage!

 If Rob builds her bed and this seating area I would love something like this cute dollhouse book shelf for some of her favorite things to go between the door and closet.

I would also love to find an old dresser like this one and paint it a fun color to match her bedding and give her room a finished look.

8.) Update some of our home decor'. I have had the vast majority of my home decor' for nine years. I am ready to switch some things up. I have put a lot of thought into some of the things I would like to change. I plan to start on new curtains for the living room and dining room. I am going to use the curtain fabric I have picked out as a template for updating the throws, pillows, and wall art. I am planning on removing the shelving in my hallway and just hanging picture frames to display our family members. I would like an area for Ava's art pieces. I would like to sell some of my current home decor' pieces like my giraffe and zebra statues, safari wall art, African nic-nacs, and my current zebra curtains and throw pillows to help pay for some of these ideas. I have several ideas and a lot of work to do before the end of the year!

Here is the fabric for my new curtains. I also used this fabric to make my niece a craft apron. I just really loved the colors and had to make something out of it for myself!

For my entryway, I would like to make a communication area like this one on the little wall that my refrigerator sits in.

I would like a play area for magnets and flashcards for Ava underneath the communication center similar to this example.

I'd like to organize my pantry like this one with cork-boards and more unfriendly shelves.

I'd like a family photo collage of frames like this one in my back hallway.

I'd like to do canvas photos like this over my staircase.

I'd like to make the wall area by Ava's craft table to display her art pieces.

9.) Make more time for date nights with Rob. I'm not sure if it is the stage of life we are in with little kids and not as much fun money but we definitely don't hang out one on one with each other like we used to do. It seems like we get caught up in trying to fit in work, hobbies, friends, and never ending kid and house duties that we haven't been doing much together. I think we need to dedicate time each week for the two of us to hang out like the old days. I know with kids it's harder to just take off and go go go but surely this is something that we can creatively work on. Maybe we need to budget our money to make sure we go out together once a month. Then carve out some time for fun things we can do together that doesn't include watching TV in the same room during the week. No regular TV, no texting friends and family, and no household duties being done... Just time to spend together either talking, playing board games, cards, exercising , or renting a movie. Anything is better than nothing!

10.) Take more time for myself. Seems easy enough right? Well it hasn't been happening that frequent. I really need to make time for me. I take on a lot of household duties. Like I clean everything, do all the dishes, do all the laundry, do all the bills and banking, do all of the shopping, and I cook over half of our meals. I also have Ava a lot on my own. Some-days I feel like a house slave and a walking napkin for Ava's sticky fingers. I just really need to treat myself more to life's simple pleasures to keep my own battery charged. I am going to 12 hour work days shortly and we will have more income than we have had in our budget. So, I am thinking once a month I could treat myself to something like a pedi-cure, manicure, massage, going alone anywhere like the mall to shop, Barnes & Nobles to read, or Starbucks for a coffee and blogging time. There are several sewing classes I'd like to take. I'd like to go out with friends for a lunch or dinner without kids. Maybe a massage at Douglas J. Aveada once in a blue moon. Or here is a crazy idea... A weekend away?!?!?!

Now that I am done making my top 10 list of goals and things I'd like to get done it seems like a lot. I will be sure to keep you posted on all of my progress in the year to come. I really need to get a move on!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 6th Anniversary!

Rob and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on Jan 7, 2011. We opted to celebrate by going to Ruth's Chris Steak House for a nice dinner. All I can say is... DELISH! Since we do not treat ourselves to time out alone nearly enough this was a real treat. We really enjoyed the experience from beginning to end and I could truly get used to a fancy meal more often than once a year!!! Just sayin'...

Since I know I have shared our story here before I am going to spare you the re-telling of it it from beginning to end. But... Fourteen total years together and six married years together seems to be both a blink and an eternity. We have had our ups and downs over the years but through it all we are still stuck in this relationship for the long haul. I am thankful to have Rob as my partner in crime and feel blessed knowing that we love each other wholeheartedly.

This is the first picture taken of us in May of 1998...  I know it dates us a little but it's one of my favorites and a good reminder of how new our love once was. Cute don't you think?


I think it's important to make time on these special nights to really remind each other how much we enjoy each others company and that we still have fun together. I'd like to thank Aunt Dawn and Uncle Keith for watching Ava so we could spend this night together out on the town carefree and childless! Since Ava did not want to come home with us I am guessing she had an excellent time with her favorites "Kee & Dee!"

After dropping Ava off we headed downtown and used valet parking. I know it seems simple enough but having someone park our truck just added a special touch that I was thankful for on a cold winter's night. We had a nice table and great service. The wait staff really knows how to make your night one to remember. We started with beer and wine as we looked the menu over. We ordered and chatted it up while enjoying our salad and bread. Then piping hot 500 degree plates came out with the best steak I have ever consumed. Yum-O-La! We split the sweet potato casserole and had to laugh when Rob told our waitress he could have eaten it over ice-cream and she said they do serve it a la mode. It had the best pecan crust ever!!! Then we enjoyed coffee and a espresso which helped kill the overstuffed feeling growing in our bellies. We decided to explore the dessert menu even though we were on the verge of unbuttoning our pants. We went with the cheese cake and while we waited our server brought us an anniversary dessert because we clearly hadn't already eaten enough! It was some sort of chocolate torte with fresh berries and a cream sauce. TO DIE FOR!!! I know we will not be back anytime soon but I am already looking forward to next time.

We headed back to Grandville and wandered through Cost-Co. We found a few deals and decided to call it a night and relieve Aunt Dawn and Uncle Keith from Ava. It was really a nice night out and although it may not seem like much it was just what we needed. On a side note though... I am going to make it a plan to budget an anniversary get-away for next year if possible. One of these years we really owe it to ourselves to take a winter trip for just the two of us. It's so easy to get lost in the day to day and in all the stuff we have to do that it's easy to forget to take time for each other. Sometimes it seems the sweetness and tenderness is lost in the shuffle of work and kids and balancing hobbies. In general, marriage is hard work and "we" owe it to each other to make time for each other and splurge more often on date nights both simple and extravagant. Just sayin'! Cheers to a lifetime of love!