Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

I have lots to tell you dear internets about my bunny, but for fear of turning my blog into a “Chanel’s bunny” blog, I will save it for later.  Just know that she is probably the cutest thing, the most expensive animal ever, and a cat bully.  This one though, is for all of those random visitors that come to my blog for the GI Joe house. 

Dave and I instituted an only “gifts of time” allowed for Christmas for a few years.  The kids all had to make everyone gifts.  Dave and I only gave the kids things that we either made or consisted mostly of our time.  We gave Mckayla (13 at the time) a new bedroom.  We helped her paint her room, replace the bedding, I think we even painted some furniture.  It was shockingly purple.  We made Marshall (10 at the time) a bike ramp.  Which was hilarious.  As dave was building it, I kept telling him, “This ramp is a baby ramp! Make it bigger!”  And being the amazing husband that he is, he did.  It was huge.  I think at the tallest it was 3 feet.  Marshall rode it once (on Christmas Day) and biffed it so amazingly hard that he never rode it again.  We moved it here, to the land of rain, but it was cannibalized for the treehouse.  I can’t remember what we gave the twins, but Mike got the most awesome present ever.

For all of you who don’t personally know my Mikey, it’s important that you know how much he loves anything to do with the army and war.  He has always loved G.I. Joes, little green army men, any type of gun.  He has dreams of enlisting.  I am trying hard to encourage the Army Corp of Engineers,  “But Mom, I don’t want to be a General or build things, I want to be in the front lines!”  When we moved here, the first time we went to the library, he said, “Oh mom!  I love this place!  They have a huge World War II section!”  He knows the call numbers for every war and whenever we visit another library, he immediately bee lines it to them.

For Christmas that year, I wanted to make him a GI Joe house.  Gi Joes are like barbies for boys except larger.  I think Jem was made for GI Joe, if he wanted to go on tour, hang out with short mini skirts, sparkly hair and groupies while he was on leave, then definitely a perfect match!  So, I was looking for an old beat up, FREE Barbie townhouse.  For a few months I searched high and low.  I went to garage sales, thrift stores, perused freecycle and craigslist.  There was none to be had.  I enlisted every one I knew to keep their eyes out for one.

My mother-in-law didn’t find the townhome, but she found something even more amazing.  She found me this beauty:


Oh, but it gets better.  It came with windows, curtains, wall paper and working doors.  It was priced something incredibly ridiculous like $5.  I needed it.  Who cares about GI Joe! I have a box full of my old doll house furniture that my Grandma had diligently saved for me.  I was mentally planning where I was going to put the fireplace and divan.  Yes!!  I now had a house for all this miniature furniture from the 1960s.

Dave:  This is even more awesome than the Barbie townhome!  We can camouflage it, board up the windows, put in some mortar damage.  Mike’s going to love this!

Me:  (absolutely horrified):  WHAT!??  We can NOT desecrate this!   I have a whole box full of miniature furniture.  This is too pretty for a boy.  Maybe one day we will have a baby girl who will love dollies.  This will be perfect.

Dave:  We are not saving this for a hypothetical child.  I promise, if we have for some reason have a baby girl, we can change it back.

And of course, we don’t have a baby girl.  But I still have a box full of dollhouse furniture without a small home…

So we began the sad, sad, job of destroying a perfectly good dollhouse.

We went to the hobby store and bought camouflage spray paint.  Incidentally, there are directions on the spray paint bottle on how to correctly camouflage something.  It’s an exact science.  Who knew?


I’m rather lucky to be married to a spray paint master.

gi joes house

Me:  Maybe we shouldn’t camouflage it, If we just paint it green and he doesn’t love it, I can always take it back and paint the trim white.  It won’t be the perfect yellow house, but sage green is nice.

Dave:  What are you talking about?  He’s gonna LOVE this!  This is awesome!!!

Please notice the beautiful bay windows.  Does GI Joe need bay windows?

gi joes new baseWe boarded up the windows with small sticks  Dave drilled small sniper holes in the windows.  We pulled off shingles, all the while I complained.

Me:  Shouldn’t we do a better job painting the trim?

Dave:  Do you think that GI Joe would be spending a great deal of time on the trim while he commanders this colonial era home as their new base of operation during the apocalypse or World War 3?  The bad paint job is realistic.

gi joe home

Dave really wanted to knock holes in the walls, splatter red paint around to mimic blood and gore, make gunshot holes in the walls.  I finally drew the line.  We stuck some army decals, American flag stickers and little army men on the walls.  I went through all of my doll house furniture and found a few pieces I was willing to part with.  We spray painted them boy colors and added them to the home.  And called it done.

It was by far the best present ever.  He absolutely loved it.  Actually, everyone loved it.  I think Mike convinced Marshall to play army with him for a few weeks.  Now, three years later, Mike has outgrown playing with army men.  He has moved on to staging full scale wars in the front yard with the little green men.  He has built a complicated trench system among my flowers. Yet,  sometimes I will find a full scale army staged in his room, complete with the home base command center but mostly the house is used as storage for the army vehicles and men that are too precious to part with.  Thankfully, it still sees much playtime among the twins.  Eventually, when it has been completely outgrown, I will move it into the attic to await my first grandson.  The girls will just have to wait.


Read Full Post »

I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing group of men who love and support me.

Like my Grandpa whose love shows no boundaries.  He’s the kind of guy who goes skydiving on his 70th birthday, because you’re never too old to enjoy the things you loved when you’re young.  He’s also shown me that when life is hard and doesn’t go like you’ve planned, you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work to make it better.  His great patience, compassion, tenderness, and steadfastness during the long years of taking care of my grandma as her health steadily declined, was such a huge testimony of his love that touched everyone that knows him.  (Phew that was a long run on sentence)

And this guy, my father-in-law.  I can not tell you, internets, how thankful I am for in-laws who love me and whom I love.  When Dave and I started dating we each had long checklists for the attributes we wanted in our spouse.  I’m not quite sure what was on his list.  Maybe something like “During our first conversation when I ask her where she sees herself in five years she’ll reply ‘Married, with more children and hopefully pregnant.’  (Thank God he didn’t hang up the phone and run!).  One of my top ten was that he would have a wonderful family.  The very first time I met Bill, he said “You are our Rachel.  We have been praying for you!”  How can you not love that?

And my Dad.  How do you sum up how much you love your Dad in one paragraph?  You don’t.  I could write forever about this amazing guy who will sit through the freezing rain for two hours to watch my kid play baseball and then move onto the next set of bleachers to watch his next grandkid play.  He’s the sort of guy who will fly up and build me a chicken coop because I have ambitions of being an urban farmer.  And then he’ll call me daily to check on his chickens.  He’s the guy who knows me so well that he understands exactly how I feel with just one word.

And then there’s Dave.  The guy who is my perfect match. When we were dating we were amazing gift givers.  I made him a quilt of our 9 first dates.  He hand carved me a picture frame.  I wrote him copious love letters.  He made me a scrap book complete with all the memorabilia of our first year together, including ticket stubs, street maps, and our first emails to one another.  But then we got married and moved in together.  All of our free time is spent together.  And we have 5 kids with very busy schedules.  Our amazing gift giving turned into plastic dolphins and Wine of the Month Club subscriptions.

This Father’s Day I decided to bring back the homemade gift.  I found an Eric Carlesque book that someone had made on pinterest and decided that I could totally do it. Of course I procrastinated and did this all the Friday before Father’s Day.  There were no directions so I winged it and here are my directions (unfortunately without pictures, so imagine the mess).

Step 1:  Plan what you’re going to write.  Be thankful that Eric Carl did all the hard work with “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see.”

Step 2:  Decide what you’re illustrations are going to look like.  Maybe even go so far as making a rough draft (which will totally remind you that you’re not an artist).  Think about buying him a gift instead.

Step 3:  Break out the paint and convince your 5-year-olds to paint sheets of paper.  Realize that no five-year old wants to paint a solid color on paper.  Bribe with candy.  Realize you have 12 more colors to paint.  Give them different household tools to create texture on the paint.  Wash paint off of everything.

Step 4:  Start cutting.  Prematurely think you could be the next Eric Carle. Realize that you will need glue.  Search for glue.  Find 14 glue sticks without lids.  Find 2 bottles of glue completely dried out.  Break out the craft glue. Peel a layer of skin off of the craft glue.  Mentally chastise yourself for not doing enough crafts with the kids.

Step 5: Decide to have the older children make their own portraits.  Realize that your teen’s apathy for the project will lead her to paint on her lips rather than look for the red paper.  Mentally bang your head against a wall and wish for wine at 2pm because your 9-year-old cries that this is too hard.  Think your 12-year-old may actually have a future in paper arts.

Step 6:  While the kids are bickering about their portraits decide you should look on the internet for someone who can print the photobook and express ship it to you in 2 days.  Learn that Walgreens will do same day printing for photobooks.  Do a quick coupon search and find a 40% coupon for Walgreens Photo.  Pat yourself on the back for being a procrastinator  Think about writing them a thank you note from procrastinators everywhere.  Decide to look on the internet for a procrastinator group.

Step 7:  Join the children in finishing up the artwork.  Decide that the work in making lots of different Dad’s is impossibly too much to finish before Dave gets home from work.  Instead cut off arms and reposition them.  Congratulate yourself on your mad scissors skills.

Step 8: Start to take pictures of the artwork and creating the photo book.  Realize it won’t be as quick as you thought.  Call Dave and hint he should stay at work late. He doesn’t bite.

Step 9:  Recruit the older two to make portraits of the  younger two.

Step 10:  Be awed with your daughter’s creativity when she gives her little brother highlights.  Realize that you must have never taught your teenager the saying “When using a glue, use a dot, not a lot”.  Break out the hairdryer because Daddy’s going to be home in 30 minutes and we need to hide the evidence of this massive project!  Wish you had used glue sticks which dry clear.  Break out the markers and color the glue.

Step 11:  Frantically  finish taking photos of all the artwork and run around like a crazy women trying to get the kids to help you clean up the huge mess.

Step 12:  Come up with a brilliant plan and have Dave stop at the grocery store on the way home.  Realize you need an actual photo of the kids to round out the book.  Coordinate them on the picnic bench.  Take 87 photos in which not everyone is smiling in all of them.  Abandon a sweet photo,  opt for a crazy face photo.  Realize this is more typical of these monkeys anyways.

Step 13:  Finish the photobook.  Open a bottle of wine.

Read Full Post »