Monday, December 15, 2008


If you ask Dan, he'll be the first to tell you how much I love traditions. I love that William will eat his birthday cake on the same plate every year, I eat one black eyed pea on New Year's - every year, I love that we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus every Christmas Eve, I love my birthday picture of me holding up my age on my fingers every year, I love pictures with holiday characters (Santa, Easter Bunny, etc.), and the list goes on and on.

So I decided that our family needs to not only continue some "old" family traditions from when Dan and I were children, but also encourage new traditions that William and his siblings can enjoy through the years.

I love to needlepoint. It is my most favorite thing to do for myself (besides getting facials). I love how relaxing it feels, I love how quiet my surroundings become, I love the unlimited creativity of the fibers and textiles at my fingertips, I love how I can stitch on the go - anywhere, anytime, and I love that my Nana shared the same passion for needlepoint that I do. She's not with me anymore, but the needlepoint is my connection to her. I know she loves everything I have made over the years and for that, my hobby is priceless.

So back to traditions. I decided that since I love to stitch, I would make ornaments each year for Dan, William and my future kids. Each ornament can be a token of something they accomplished during the year, perhaps a favorite toy, sport or even a design that might prompt a memory from the current year. Who knows, it might just be an ornament that's in my bag of tricks and has nothing to do with anything! Point is, these ornaments are for each person and a labor of love from mom. I hope that someday, my kids will have their very own collection of ornaments that tell the story of their life. And in turn, they will keep the tradition alive by hanging their ornaments on their own family trees someday. TRADITION! Man I love it!

Here are my ornaments for Dan and William this year. Dan gets a fisherman and William gets a snowman on a sled. Last year, William got a "My First Christmas" ornament and Dan, well he got his huge stocking for the mantel:

Here is William's mantel stocking with the nutcrackers and Dan's mantel stocking with the wildlife:

Most people ask me if I ever sell my needlepoint or if I can make them something too. If you are a needlepointer, you know the answer is most likely NO! It takes hours and hours of my time to complete the largest projects (such as stockings) and each one is an expensive labor of love. I make everything for me, or for my family. I want my creations to be my little mark on the world that my children will love and like tradition, keep my artwork within their families for years to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Jolly Happy Soul

I saw a picture of these bad boys in a magazine and decided to give it a shot. I happened to have all the supplies on hand so it was a great project on a rainy day! I decided to make one for each child in William's preschool class, so I used candy appropriate for a 2 year old. However, you can run wild with ideas and use any candy you want.

I especially think the hats would be super cute with any candies you can dream up, such as taffy, peppermints, DOTS, and even a Hershey kiss. I thought about using the Hershey kiss as the hat and keeping on the red and green paper. However, like I said, this batch is for toddlers, and I certainly did not want them to eat the wrapper on the kiss! I think my gum drops were a good solution. If you have pretzel sticks, you can poke them in the sides for hands!

What you need:

Solid cookie for the base (I used oreos)
Large marshmellows

Black icing

White icing

1 orange slice or 1 orange Swedish Fish cut into thin strips
1 match or 1 wooden skewer

You stack 2 mellows together and secure with white icing. Secure that form to the Oreo with the white icing. Then take another big mellow and cut 1/4 slice off. Tear that piece in two and easily shape the tiny torn piece into a circle. Secure that little circle to the top mellow. Poke a hole in the face with the end of a match or skewer. Gently slide the orange nose candy piece into the hole. It should stick. Then top with any candies for the hat.
Again, you can add pretzel hands or even licorice whips for a scarf.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday (I am learning how to do collages)

Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gaylord National Harbour Christmas

Sunday night we headed over to the Gaylord National Harbour and Hotel to see the Christmas exhibits. There are several things going on inside the hotel though out the month of December, but we were there just to walk around and see the decorations. There were Christmas lights everywhere, a huge glass tree in the foyer and a Christmas marketplace. It was quite dark inside so that the lights would really glow (very cool), so it didn't make it easy to take good pictures. William's favorite part of the entire event was of course, the enormous and VERY elaborate train display. He was glued to the tracks for about 20 minutes!

Just as we were walking up to the fountain, a water show started! It was GREAT. The water in the fountain changed colors and danced up and down to the tune of different Christmas songs. It was really beautiful to watch up close.

After about 1.5 hours of looking around, William was pooped and ready for bed. The trip across the Potomac was a huge success!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What A Hoot!

I found a program for toddlers at the Arlington Nature Center, so William and I went to check it out today. The class had 8 toddlers who were all around William's age. We started out looking at the turtles and snakes inside their cages and William really loved the bubbles coming from the aquarium pump system. He chuckled every time a few bubbles popped up in the water - "mama, bubbles, wow!" We then headed outside for a toddler nature hike. This was basically an 8 minute outdoor walk around the parking lot and over a bridge to explore pine cones, leaves, and an Owl nest. We returned to the nature center and read a story about Owls along with a visit from a REAL OWL named Mr. Owl of course. Mr. Owl has a broken wing so he lives in a cage inside the nature center where he can have 24 hour care. Mr. Owl was a little shy at first and then spread his wing wide and hooted once! William was intrigued. Once Mr. Owl left the scene, William did an art project with the other kids. I was in charge of the glue, but he did everything else himself. I was really impressed!

We had a great time and I plan on signing him up for each class throughout the winter. Not only will it get us out of the house, but we'll both learn a little something about our friends in nature.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Santa's got my back...

I went in to Babies R Us to buy this:

And I came out with this:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A little trip into Downtown D.C.

Last week, William and I made the trek into D.C. to visit the Air and Space Smithsonian and the Union Station Holiday Train display. Dan only had to work a half day so the plan was to meet up with him around noon for a ride home.

William and I started out on the metro and headed towards the Smithsonian stop. We walked along the mall and stopped for a few tourist photos among the monuments.
We strolled up to Air and Space right on time and were probably two of the first 20 customers that morning - the place was empty (must have been the holiday weekend or something). Having so much room to run and explore made William super excited. He LOVES the Air and Space Smithsonian and knew exactly where we were when we entered the building. So much so, that HE lead ME to the helicopter display which was down the hall and hidden from the entry way. We ran around the museum, checked out the jet engines, played with a gravity display toy and watched a World War II video on fighter jets...what 22 month old will sit still for that!

Next stop was Union Station. Every December the folks at Union Station put up a very elaborate train track with bridges, hills, tunnels, and a town. William was captivated. He watched those trains like a hawk and when they would disappear into a tunnel or around the corner, he'd say, " wer, o wer, o wer, tu-tu!" which means, "where, oh where, oh where is the choo choo?" Pretty cute. We had so much fun last weekend, that we went back today (Sunday) to see the train one more time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Give Thanks. Feel Blessed.

Aunt Ann and the cousins!

Me and my sweetest joy!

One happy family!

Cousin Jake - We are 4 months apart!

My Gram is great. She's lots of fun!

Here's my Grandpa and my Dad.

For the 5 years Dan and I have been married, we've spent Thanksgiving with Dan's side of the family. We are usually with Gram, Grandpa, Uncle John and cousin Sophie. However, this year we had the added bonus of Dan's sister, Ann and her family: husband, Darien and kiddos, Luke and Jake. They live near us in Virginia but are usually out of town visiting Darien's family at Thanksgiving. We were excited to ALL be together this year, and I know Gram and Grandpa were thrilled to have 4 of their grandkids under one roof not to mention 3 of their children along for the celebration.

I know it must be hard on parents when their kids and grandchildren are spread across the country. My in-laws have 4 kids who are all over, and their greatest joy in life is "state hopping" to see everyone and revel in grandkid bliss. They wouldn't have it any other way.

I think about my own family all the time. Even though I talk with my parents everyday once or twice, I still miss them every second. I miss my brother and my sister and I miss being the 5 of us under one roof on Guilford Lane. For me, my parents are more incredible than I could ever describe, and one thing that I find so amazing is that they have always encouraged me for as long as I have been away, or shall I say "out of the nest." Just as I do, I know they wish I was right there in their city so we could be closer, but I am so thankful that they don't let the distance get in the way. They have always been proud of where life takes me, thankful for my husband and in love with their grandchild. Just knowing that I "can always go home" makes being so far away, a little easier but still, not permanent enough.

As a kid, you don't see moments like Thanksgiving in any other way than just a nice meal at a long table with family and friends and a football game to top off the pumpkin pie. Don't get me wrong, I know the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but I don't think it really hits home until you grow up, move away and with every ounce of your heart hope that you will return to that safe, familiar place once again. Only when you grow up do you realize what you took for granted as a child: you want to be in familiar surroundings with your own family, your own children and you want to give them every second of every day with their grandparents. You want them to have deeply rooted memories of precious moments spent together with friends and loved ones so that when your child looks back at the holidays, they see tradition. They see how lucky they are to have a mom, a dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who know time is precious.

Happy Thanksgiving family! We love you and miss you guys!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Where's our turkey?

Here he is!

Gobble! Gobble!

-We Give Thanks-

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live
as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

- Harry Jewell

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everybody Knows That the Bird Is The Word!

Friday is William's Thanksgiving Feast at Mother's Day Out preschool. Each parent could sign up to bring a part of the lunch and guess which part had our name all over it....yes, I signed up to bring the chicken nuggets. I am sure the pilgrims would applaud such a protein.

I also thought the kids deserved an added bonus, so I made the traditional Johnston/Brown turkey cookies. The icing was a little messy, but I think the birds turned out pretty turkey-rific in the eyes of a one year old. I certainly hope the other parents will appreciate the idea rather than the sugar intake.

As I was gluing on the gobblers, I remembered a song from my elementary school years called Albuquerque Turkey. I am pretty sure I learned this song back in kindergarten. I know, I know. Why do I remember the lyrics to songs from lower school and I don't remember the pythagoras theorem....I am pretty sure that the answer lies buried in the trenches of my soul as a Lady Bug in the 2nd grade production of Goin' Buggie, Glinda the Good Witch in 3rd grade and Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun in the 5th grade. Side note, I was very upset when I didn't get to be a doll in Santa's Workshop performance (5th grade) and to this day, I know every word of the doll's solo performance.

Anyways back to what I was saying before...I find myself humming this tune every Fall and I even taught it to the kids I grew up babysitting. They thought it was hilarious. Now, I post it for you to enjoy.

Albuquerque Turkey
(to the tune of "Clementine")

Albuquerque is a turkey
And he's feathered and he's fine
And he wobbles and he gobbles
And he's absolutely mine.

He's the best pet that you can get...

Better than a dog or cat.

He's my Albuquerque turkey
And I'm awfully proud of that.

He once told me, very frankly

He preferred to be my pet,

Not the main course at my dinner,
And I told him not to fret.
And my Albuquerque turkey
Is so happy in his bed,
'Cause for our Thanksgiving dinner...

We had egg foo yong instead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Just because I love you

Monday, November 17, 2008

We'll muddle through whatever we do, together wherever we go!


A little tribute to sweet Ava -

Ava is the happy little lady you may have seen in several pictures throughout the Barron blog. Ava is our neighbor and William's "sister." She's been a part of William's life since he was 2 months old, and he doesn't know life without her. She's is William's best buddy and I have witnessed many a moment when sweet Ava has gone to bat to protect him. She'll tell another toddler to give back a toy, she'll kiss William when he falls, she'll pat his back when he's upset, she holds his hand on walks (or at least tries too), she'll make sure he has a goldfish cracker when all the other kids are tearing into the bag like a pinata, and she is always the first person William goes to in a room of other children. The sound of her saying, "here you go Wilam!" is as gentle as any friend you could possibly have in your life. She's William's den mother in a sea of little people.

The friendship these two share cannot easily be put into words. In many ways they are like brother and sister. William and Ava are so comfortable with each other that at times, it's like they just know what the other one is about to do. They've weathered many of life's "firsts" hand in hand including haircuts, allergies, metro rides, and most recently, Ava's potty training. They talk in a language I don't always understand and today, they had a clear discussion about an Einstein video that was playing during their picnic (see pictures). It went something like:

William: "waz hat?"
Ava: "a baby stroller"
William: "wheels!"
Ava: "hat right Wilam, wheels!"
William: "wow" - points to the tv
Ava: "yeah!" - hollers with delight

Then Ava stole a fruit bite off William's tray and he handed her another one. True pals.
Simply Yours Designs Cute Blogger Templates