Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: When Did She Grow Up?

Seriously.  When did this happen?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birthday Surprise: Honeymoon Hotel & The Civil Wars

If any of you remember, I happened to turn 30 earlier this month.  It wasn't emotional or anything and I survived turning an age that I remember my mother turning and thinking to myself at the time "Oh my gosh, she's SO old.  Almost, like, Grandma-old." 

Remember how I told you how I return gifts all.the.time so my husband had preemptively planned a birthday surprise for me that I wouldn't be able to return? 

Yeh.  He did an AH-MAZING job! 

He brought me to Minneapolis and sent me off to do whatever I wanted all day while he was at a workshop.  It was really fun to window shop for a couple of hours then spend the afternoon huddled in a small coffee shop reading blogs, studies and articles.  He thought I'd love several uninterrupted hours to get lost in the latest parenting and childbirth trends.  He was right!

Later that afternoon we went out to eat and he brought me to our hotel.  The hotel we stayed at happened to be the very same hotel we stayed at on our honeymoon the night we got married!  How romantical, right?  He scored a million points for that one!

He still refused to tell me what my surprise was (as if all that wasn't enough already).  As we drove downtown later that night, getting ready to go to my big surprise that anticipation was killing me!  I could hardly wait and was so nervous I was shaking!  I was SO excited to see what he had planned.  He let me take a couple of guesses. Cirque du Soleil?  Rock N' Roll Dueling Pianos?  But I was wrong on all those guesses.

As we approached our destination, lights and people EVERYWHERE, he made me close my eyes.  Not that I would've noticed.  I was too excited and giddy. 

We parked our car and walked amongst tons of Tyler Perry fans (Tyler Perry was in town - should've guessed that one, too).  As we approached my surprise, he made me look down and he guided me along.  Suddenly we stopped and he told me to look up and this is what I saw:

The Civil Wars in concert!
My husband had not only pulled off the impossible (surprising me) but the incredible, by taking me to The Civil Wars!!!  The Civil Wars are quite possibly our favorite band right now and have restored my hope that there are some out there with pure talent in a music industry.  A music industry that perpetuates perfect pitch and beats, all brought forth by a computer.  The Civil Wars are raw, harmonious folk vocals, accompanied by a guitar and the occasional jaunt on the keys.   Pause: if you aren't familiar with The Civil Wars listen to this song.

I got tears in my eyes as I held his hand (obviously, I don't get out much) and we went up at got our tickets scanned.  I just kept smiling while we got our drinks and were seated in the beautiful State Theatre. 

The beautiful State Theatre, waiting for The Civil Wars to start!

As we sat and waited for the concert to begin, Dallas explained it all to me; how he had to delete any messages he wrote to people while coordinating this whole thing, how he changed his passwords so I wouldn't know anything and even how he used a new credit card to pay for our room at the hotel.

As he talked I remembered that The Civil Wars tour had sold out and wondered how he got not only tickets, but tickets about 10 rows up in the center aisle.  He told me it really was a miracle.  :-)

Milo Greene opened for them, and they were quite impressive.  I look forward to hearing more of them.  The Civil Wars stole the show with every single song.  Their performance of "Barton Hollow" left the whole theatre in uproarious applause.

In the end, my husband succeeded at surprising me, getting me a gift I would love and there's no way I'd want to return it!  It's a gift I'll never forget!  Thank you, Dallas!

At The Civil Wars concert.  Ignore the flash blasting our eyes in the dim theatre.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Watercolor Artist

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simple Project: Repurposing an Old Sweater into a Children's Sweater Dress

The final project: my old sweater turned into a sweater dress for my daughter!

I had this sweater.

It was cute, but it made my stomach look poochy.  Not right away, though.  I would put it on and look cute in it for a couple of hours, but then it would make it look like I had a little belly.  Not appreciated.  I sure you may have a sweater or a shirt like that too.

So I put it in a bag for Goodwill. 

As I was bringing the bag to Goodwill, it dawned on me that this sweater was very cute and perhaps I could use it for something else.

Enter: the children's sweater dress!  Dun, dun, dun!

Here is my sweater, which made me look 4 months pregnant approximately 3 hours after putting it on:

The sweater that will soon be repurposed

See, it's pretty cute.

I decided I would just start slicing, taking an inch or two off around the outside.  After all, I just needed a much smaller version of it to fit my daughter.

Cutting away!

 Cutting the right amount off around the neck was quite difficult, but this sweater had buttons, so I knew I had some room to play with it.  I'm also hoping the buttons will come in handy and she can wear this next year as well.  It may be wishful thinking, but whatever.

Then I put the shirt inside out and sewed the opposite sides together. 

(I did use another dress as my template so I didn't have to make my 16 month old daughter put it on over and over again.)

I purposely left the sleeves a little longer so maybe, just maybe, we can get use out of this as she grows.

I then made a denim flower brooch and matching hair clip.  They match her cute, little jeggings.

And here's the final product (after taking laps outside for a bit):

Old sweater turned into a children's sweater dress

I love my daughter's re-purposed sweater dress!  Now I'm on the lookout for more sweaters to make more sweater dresses! 

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Escaping Facebook for Pinterest

I'm on Pinterest quite a bit.  You can follow me if you'd like.

When I first started on there, I was addicted.  But after so many newborn baby pictures, desserts, crafts with old clothes and outfits comprised of skinny jeans, a turquoise scarf, with a burnt orange cardigan with a dust-brown purse, you can get kind of sick of it. 

Still, I love to go there and dream and escape.  Mostly about crafts.  I just skip over the overdone crafts and the over-pinned outifts.

The other night, I realized it... 

I go to Pinterest when I'm sick of the bad grammar and drama on Facebook!  

So, I made this:

Yep.  That would about sum it up!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

5 Question Friday: 11/18

Five questions about me that are hopefully entertaining!  Be sure to link up at Five Crooked Halos and let me know that you did so I can read your 5QF!

Happy weekend!

1. Do you have a go to song that always puts you in a good mood?

I love Beyonce for booty-shakin' and Eminem for motivation.  Both of them always get me pretty pumped up.  Nothing slow or raunchy, just some of their stuff with dope beats.  My 'hippie' mix on Pandora always calms me too.  But only when I burn incense whilst listening to it.

2. Are you a real Christmas tree kinda person or do you go with a real fake one?
Love the real tree, but I do have a fake one.  I can't justify getting rid of mine and tossing it in a landfill.  So I will live with it for many more years. 

3. What are you thankful for?
What am I not thankful for would be a better question!  Really, my blessings are too numerous to count!  To name a few: my husband, baby, our health, jobs, and home.  Our ability to see and hear and take in the world.  Our past experiences.  Our families, our friends and our church.  And I'm thankful for my six-pack abs.

4. Which fashion fad from the past do you wish you could wear today?
Loved the grunge/flannel era so I wouldn't be sad if that made an emergence.  Ooh, wait, what about the headbands that you wear on your forehead?  What?  Those weren't cool?  Oh. Thanks for telling me now.

5. Do you wait until the "low fuel" light comes on before you fill up the gas tank?
Heck, no!  I freak out if my tank is less than a quarter full!  Gosh, I don't live that dangerously!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Baby's First Passport

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

dot dot Couture Play Pants Winner!

The winner of the dot dot Couture play pants is Christy!  Thanks to all who have participated and thanks to dot dot Couture for generously sponsoring this giveaway!


What it's like to have adopted siblings

I'm the oldest of 13 children.

Yes, 13.

We're not all blood-related, but we are siblings, whose love runs deep.  I've been asked a lot to share what it's like to have so many siblings, and so many siblings who are adopted.  In real life, I talk about my family all the time, but I guess it's so every day to me, that I haven't addressed it on my blog much.  But November is also National Adoption Month, so this is a perfect time to talk about adoption and my life.

Like I said, not only have my parents adopted, but my sister has also adopted as well. 

In certain areas of the United States, adoption may seem to be the trendy, happening thing.  Countless families that I know have signed up to add children to their families that don't share the same DNA as them.  It's a wonderful thing, not without its struggles or controversies, but full of blessings as well.

I grew up with one biological sister.  Vacations, private school, social events, going out to eat; a comfortable life.   When I was 20 years old and my younger sister had just graduated high school at 18, my parents adopted a sibling set of three sisters. 

My parents gave up the next-to-retirement life, to love and care for three beautiful girls.  My husband and I helped out taking my little sisters on dates, having sleepovers, and going shopping.  Within months, life became normal for me as I accepted that I now had four sisters.

A couple of years later, my parents, who realized they were in this for the long haul and had the means and love in their hearts, found room for another sibling set of six.  Two boys and four girls. 

Overnight, our family more than doubled.  Dallas and I were doing mission work at this time, so we only got to meet 'the new kids' on a trip home, but from what I've heard, this was a pretty chaotic time! 

Things slowly settled and life took a new groove for my family.  Grocery shopping now meant my Mom had to bring 9 kids, 8 of them under the age of 8, into the store with her.  It meant a new vehicle, with a special seat installed so everyone could fit.  Everything was done in mass quantities.  Trips to Sam's Club meant a trailer was pulled so they could fit everything in it.

What was weird to everyone else, became natural to them. 

A few years after that, my husband and I moved back to our home state of Minnesota and I felt that I was supposed to serve alongside my Mom, as she was busy homeschooling all the kids, cleaning house, making meals and juggling appointments and activities for the nine kids still at home.  My time working at my parent's house was amazing!  Not without its hair-pulling moments, but it was great to get to know my newest siblings.

Just when we all (and my parents as well) thought their family was complete, they began the adoption porcess again.  This path led them to two biological sisters who soon joined our family, making the number of children in my parent's brood grow to a baker's dozen. 

People ask me what it's like to have such an age gap between me, the oldest at 30, and my sister, the youngest at six.  I guess it's not too weird now because I'm used to it.  While I am their older sister, I did spend a lot of time working for my parents so my siblings know they must also respect and listen to me.  In that way, I'm kind of maybe looked at as a really close aunt.  With that, I'm highly protective of them.

Another question I've been asked is if I feel like they are my siblings and am I close to them.  Some would take offense to this question, but it's a logical question.  Yes, they are my siblings through and through.  I would do anything for them.  I CANNOT IMAGINE MY LIFE WITHOUT THEM!  Seriously.  I can barely remember what it was like with just one biological sister.  It seems like another life, another family, another person.  I can barely remember what it was like without the youngest two girls that joined our family about 18 months ago!   Sure, I am closer to my biological sister, but that's because we are not only experiencing the same things in life right now (marriage, family, age), but we've also spent years developing our relationship. 

Sometimes I see my friends out with their moms, getting massages or having lunch or shopping for clothes for their kids, and I get a little sad because my mom and I can't do that.   My mom can't just come to my house and watch my baby.  We can't just meet at Target and browse the aisles together.  We can't go on a cruise with my parents.  I can't always call my Mom whenever I want and chat for hours, because my younger sibling's attention span wouldn't last for more than 5 minutes. I can't have those "normal" things with my parents. But I'm not sad about it; its just how it is.

So yes, I don't get all the things that some of my friends get with their moms, but my friends don't get 12 brothers and sisters, of all races, size, age and personality to call their siblings.  No one else has sisters with the nicknames of Nena, Pita Pumpkin, MarMar, Maymer, Beaner, Squishy or Breahna-Jahna.  No one else has 10 kids race to their car when they arrive at their parents house, give you a huge hug and beg to take their daughter out of her car seat. 

No one else gets to watch 11 lives, all broken and hurt, be transformed and nourished in a Forever Family. 

I'll give up lunch dates and mindless house decorating talk and wasted monies spent on vacations with my parents for just a day where "these kids", my siblings, are safe, loved and taken care of.

Have you considered adoption?  Do you have any other questions for me?

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Return Every Gift I Receive

I turned 30 years old this weekend.  Kind of weird, because I remember my parents turning 30!  I don't feel 30 and the kids in our youth group about lost it when they heard I was going to be 30.  They guessed I was 24 or 26.  I made Dallas pause youth group then I told them they were all my best friends for life.  :-)

Moving on.... 

Dallas has a birthday surprise planned for me this week.  He refuses to tell me much about it.  It's not because he has to surprise me, it's because I normally say a big 'heck no' whenever he mentions getting me a gift.  All that I know is we're going away (I cried when he told me because I'm not ready to leave India again, but I got over it real fast) and I'm super excited and super nervous.


I don't want him spending lots of money on me. 

It's frivolous, ridiculous, unnecessary and our money should go a million other places before it's spent on me.  Besides, I've done and been a part of a lot of really amazing things in my life so I don't need any more cool things.

But he insists that we are doing this. 

I'm notorious for returning every gift I receive.  It's not that I'm not grateful, but I'm super practical, cheap and get easily convicted.  For Mother's Day this year, Dallas (bless his sweet heart) bought me an iPad and I fought with him for days to return it.  I didn't need it and there's no way I could justify spending that much money on myself! 

I finally won out and he returned it. 

I felt kind of bad, like maybe he felt I was rejecting him, but I just can't justify it. 

That's just one of many stories.  Poor guy.  He should know because I'm the girl who has never bought a kitchen table, a bed or spent more than $50 on a used couch from Goodwill.  Nearly everything I have is second hand and I don't mind a bit.

I just have such a hard time justifying new things when what I have is fine or I can find a secondhand replacement.  No judgment, as I have friends whose husbands buy them fancy jewelry, iPads, kitchen appliances, vacations and more for gifts, but

Don't get me wrong, I'm not Mother Teresa, I'm materialistic and covetous, and I still make purchases that seem pointless.  But I struggle with the lines of necessary, a blessing and these $35 boots that literally took me two years to buy and I still bought half of them with a gift card.  I struggled with that purchase.

I enter this week knowing that my husband is spending money on me.  I'm uneasy but yet so grateful that I have a husband who loves me and wants to do something extraordinary for me.  I guess this is a time for me to sit back, be blessed and enjoy.  After all, this is the first time in 10 years I've let him do anything like this and this is one gift, I can't return.

Do you and your spouse exchange gifts?  Does anyone else out there ever struggle with feeling like they have 'too much'?

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Friday, November 4, 2011


I'm celebrating my 30th birthday this weekend and here are 30 things that have helped formulate me.  Some of them were difficult, some breathtaking, all highly recommended!  Reading this list, I realized how blessed I have been to be able to do all of these things!

~Watched a sunset at the Taj Mahal
~Married the love of my life
~Ran a 5k
~Riden on elephants while on jungle safaris
~Taught myself how to sew
~Visited ancient Mayan ruins
~Taught myself how to garden and preserve food
~Saw the Himalayas
~Gave birth to my daughter and birthed her right into my own hands, in the water
~Sang and played piano in front of thousands of people at one time
~Studied a foreign language
~Manuveured a plane unassisted (take off and landing included)
~Gone on a spontaneous road trip
~Hidden from the Taliban
~Never lived with debt
~Seen the Mekong, the Ganges, the Thames, the Mississippi, the Yellow River, the Rio Grande, the Nile, the Colorado and the Yangtze rivers
~Swam with sting rays, held them and let them eat out of my hand
~Eaten weird foods - clotted duck blood takes the cake ;-)
~Publicly danced choreographed dances (twice. never again!)
~Riden camels, donkeys and elephants as means of transportation
~Got head lice from loving on some sick kids at an orphanage
~Water skiied, downhill skiied and cross country skiied
~Visited the Great Wall several times
~Ate koshari on the banks of the Nile
~Started a blog
~Visited and walked around an active volcano
~Touched the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans
~Hiked through jungles in Southeast Asia
~Visited pristine land on the plateus and mountains of Tibet
~Walked around the Pyramids at Giza

After a concert/performance in India.  We were bombarded with new friends!

For the next 30 years:
Put dreadlocks in my hair
Have another baby
Become a doula
Have another baby
Get back to Afghanistan with my whole family
Be in a musical
Get a tattoo for each child I have
Continue leading singing and leading others in worship
Change the world

That's not too much to ask, right? 

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review & Giveaway: Dot Dot Couture Play Pants CLOSED!

Do your kids constantly wear through the knees of their pants?  Does it drive you crazy like it does me?  It seems like my daughter India has a way of wearing through her pants and making them filthy at the knees as she scuddles around all over the floor. 

I recently heard of Play Pants by dot dot Couture and was extremely curious as to how these pants worked and if they worked.  You know those non-skid dots on the bottoms of toddler pajama feet that prevent the feet from skidding and getting worn down?  Genius, right?  They should be termed frustration and owie savers.  Well, the creators of Play Pants, took those little dots and placed them on the knees of pants in cute styles and patterns. 

dot dot Couture Play Pants

Yes.  Let me say that again. 

Cute patterns and styles on the knees of pants provide slip resistance, keep the dirt away from the actual fabric and keep the knees of pants from being worn down.

It's as amazing as it sounds! 

How I wish I would've had these when my daughter was learning to crawl!  It would've kept her from sliding and hurting herself while crawling on our wood and laminate floors. 

The crazy thing is, kids still spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor, playing with toys, pretending to be puppies and just exploring, so my daughter, at almost 16 months of age, can still get good use out of these pants.  In fact, dot dot Couture Play Pants not only come in infant sizes, but are also sized up to 6T! 

When I first received the Play Pants from dot dot Couture, I was worried that with such wide legs, my daughter may get tripped up in them, but that wasn't the case at all! The wide legs were unbelievably adorable and unique and provided her with ease of movement.

Wide leg of dot dot Couture Play Pants.  By the way, this picture was taken AFTER my daughter played outside while wearing these pants!

Besides being practical, they are cute, and most of all, my daughter can move freely in them.  Here she is in the wide leg design:

Cute and fashionable in dot dot Couture Play Pants

I let her play in them for a day, then I inspected them to make sure they held up.  And they did! 

Testing the durability of dot dot Couture Play Pants

I then washed them, and she wore them again! 

The bottom line: I'm very impressed not only with the style of the dot dot Couture Play Pants, but also their comfort and how easily my daughter moves around in them!  I wish they had them in my size!

Buy it:
Perfect for the upcoming holiday season, you can buy dot dot Couture Play Pants here
(Did I mention that they have FREE shipping??  Yes, free shipping.)

Win it:
One lucky Uniquely Normal Mom reader will win a pair of Play Pants of their choice from dot dot Couture!  Thank you to dot dot Couture for generously sponsoring this! (Open to US residents only)

Mandatory Entry:
'Like' dot dot Couture on FB (tell them Uniquely Normal Mom sent you) AND 'like' Uniquely Normal Mom on FB.  (Must 'like' both and comment on this post telling that you did so.  And don't forget to leave your e-mail address in your comments!)

Additional Entries (to be completed after the Mandatory Entry.  All worth one entry unless otherwise stated):

1. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Google Friend Connect.
2. Visit dot dot Couture and tell me which pants you would select if you won.
3. Sign up on Uniquely Normal Mom's e-mail list. (2 entries)
4. Follow dot dot Couture on Twitter.
5. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Twitter.
6. Share this giveaway on Facebook. 
7. Tweet the following or something similar (1 entry per day) and leave a link to the tweet in a comment below:

#Win some @dotdotCouture Play Pants on a #giveaway at @uniquelynormal1!

8. Visit dot dot Couture and tell me something you learned about the Play Pants.
9. Google Plus this giveaway.

The details: Giveaway ends November 15, 2011 at 11:59am CST.  Winner will be chosen via and has 48 hours to reply to their notification e-mail or else a new winner will be selected.  I was provided a pair of Play Pants in return for my honest opinion on them. 

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Honey Bee

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