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Monday, December 16, 2013

Birthday Plaque

I've been so excited about posting this!  I had to wait until at least one gift recipient saw it, though.

Remember I blogged about the Lazy Susan covered in pennies?

Well continuing on with my penny theme, I made a birthday plaque for Ryan and Beth's engagement.  The plaque has all of their family member's birthdays.  I used a drawer face to make it.
This is Arden's old dresser that we have turned into a temporary craft/school/crap cabinet.  (I thought Jack's marker drawings on it was a nice touch to show how rickety it is.)  It's a very solid piece, but the drawers are broken.  So we are going to make it more useful for school stuff by pulling out the broken drawers and adding shelves. We are also going to paint the entire thing.  I've seen many projects done with drawers and couldn't wait to try something myself.  Hence, the middle missing drawer face is what I stole for this project! I love the etchings on the drawers.  I thought the design on it gives it a classic feel.

This is the birthday board....!!   I hung it up to show it off better.  It's been hanging on my wall for a few weeks and I've gotten a few ooohs and ahhhhs on it.  A conversation piece for sure!  :)
I removed the hardware of the drawer and painted the board.  I stenciled the letters and added hooks.  Each bottom letter corresponds with a month.  Hanging from the hooks are pennies.  Each penny has a family member's name metal-hand-stamped into it along with the date they were born.  (i.e.  My birthday is May 10.  My penny simply has "Bobbie" and the number "10" on it.  It is hung under May.)  I got a work out for sure hammering all of the letters and numbers into the pennies.  I also punched most of the top and bottom holes into the penny manually with a hammer and nail.   It made me feel very manly and buff!  :)  This is because originally we thought that the penny was too small for Brian's drill.  Turns out it's not, so once Brian started drilling holes, the project went by much faster.  The holes allow for the pennies to be connected by jump rings.  As family members are added into the family I can always add new pennies.

a close-up of October.  Eli with 15 since his bday is Oct.15.

Then I added one ,metal heart with Beth and Ryan and 24.  It's hung under May since that's their future wedding date!

Advent Wreath

For Christmas this year we have an advent wreath with 26 days.  There's one day for each letter of the alphabet.  I'm proud to say that I came up with the ABC idea on my own! 

Each number is attached with a clothespin.  The girls are pulling one number every day starting November 30th.

the back of the wreath.
Each day corresponds with a letter.  So, for example, Day 26 corresponds with A and Day 1 corresponds with Z.  For each day the girls 1) learn a Bible verse, 2)do an activity, and 3)learn a bible story that starts with the letter chosen for the day.  When they pull the number for the day they turn it over and place it on this black board.

This is a close-up of some of the days.  Ex.  D- we watched a video about Daniel in the lion's den.  We learned that bible verse that starts with D and we Donated food.
Sometimes we are so busy that we get behind and have to play catch-up.  We might do two or three at a time.  I know myself so I knew that would probably be the case and we'd get behind.  That's why some days are very basic like "Enjoy hot cocoa" and some days involve a little more like "Christmas cards to the military."

The girls are enjoying this!  They are doing well with memorizing the bible verses (so am I!)  Arden is doing the best out of all of us at the memorization.  Halle, my crafty one, loves the activities and Arden loves learning the stories.  I usually find a kid video on YouTube to teach the story.  For the biblical concepts that don't necessarily have a story (ex: Heaven, Bible) we just talk about  them.

Could He Be Any Cuter?

I've mentioned in a previous post that one of his favorite toys is the broom.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that he swept for an hour and a half.  He's got everything he can find in a pile.  He was busy cleaning, so I wasn't going to stop him.    
Wearing Dad's tennis shoes.  It took him a long while to get down the hallway in those.
and now in Dad's work shoes.
He also gets into my shoes, but for the sake of his future manhood

, I'll refrain from pics of those.  He's got nice legs in heels, though!
one of my new favorite pictures of him.  He's cheesing for the camera.  He looks wicked.  Any time we held up a camera, he would make this face.  "Cheeeeeee!"  I don't think he could get the last part of Cheese out because his face is so scrunched.
Some more cheesing....

He's working hard on repairing the toy box with the screwdriver
'There's so many things that he does that can't be captured on a camera.  This kid.  I love him.  And his sisters adore him and think he's the funniest thing ever.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December Photo Dump

my $1 wreath.  I used a pool noodle as the base.  I repurposed tulle from Halle's 2012 Halloween costume.  All I bought was the Santa hat.

Arden rockin' out with banjo Halle made for her.  Well.... as much as you can "rock out" with a banjo, anyway

doing some Christmas shopping at Wally World.  Jack found this fake banana in the craft aisle.  Speaking in his language, Jackanese:  "Hyum, hyum, hyum" for five minutes.  He was not happy when he tried to take a bite.

speaking of bananas, a pictures of how much fruit we consume in a week.  This photo doesn't do it justice.  Both the pink and clear bowls are fairly large.
Jack successfully on the see-saw for the first time without falling off.  This picture was taken at the beginning of December.  The next day they had to play outside in boots and jackets.  Houston weather....

baking cookies.  Should have seen the sugar rush after this cookie.  Imagine a bouncy ball.  But with long curly hair.

An angel we made.  She's a little scary looking but the girls insisted that she be our new tree topper.

Yummy-licious cookies from my cookie exchange party.

Arden singing in the Community Bible Study christmas program.  They were so cute.  She LOVES bible study and her teachers.

Jack and Arden playing with the CFBC kids nativity scene.  Arden loves to play Mary.  Jack loves to throw the plastic cow to see how loud of a sound it'll make.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Date Nights

If you have small kids then you know how hard it is to make alone time for you and your spouse.  Not only finding time, but finding a sitter.  Especially when you have multiple kids.  Because honestly, who wants to babysit a load of kiddos for the evening?  Thankfully we have family that graciously watched our kids so Brian and I had a few dates!

Ruby and my mom watched the kids one Saturday afternoon while Brian and I headed to the SHSU/SFA football game. Battle of the Piney Woods is what it's called.  This game is held at Reliant Stadium every year and is a big deal.  We had a really nice time even though we lost BAD!

Another night we went to the Toyota Center for a basketball game.  I love to go to Rockets games because they are very entertaining to me.  We hadn't been in a few years, so Brian bought tickets for us to go on Black Friday.  We went with friends, Chris and Janelle.  Mike and Christy kept the girls for the long Thanksgiving weekend so we were only down to one kid. (That feels really weird by the way.  Only having one kid when you're used to three....I kept feeling like I was forgetting something.)  Sarah and Adam watched Jack that night.  We had dinner before the game, and then hung out on our side of town afterward.  

I'm adding this picture of the Rockets Power Dancers.  They are wearing MC Hammer pants!  Nooooo!  Please tell me they're not coming back in style!
We also had a fancy night out for Chris and Janelle's wedding.  My next door neighbor and great friend, Jessica, watched the kids while we enjoyed ourselves to a lovely evening.  (oh, and Sarah and Adam watched the kids while we were at the rehearsal dinner)

It was a beautiful wedding!
Aren't we cute :)
Thanks to our family and friend for giving the hubster and I some time together!  Mucho Gracias!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I've got my hands full.

I bet you're wondering what those pics are of.  Well the top right and bottom picture are views of the bird's nest I detangled.  It took me half an hour to get those knots out of Arden's hair.  She is a wild sleeper and her hair suffers because of it.  I mean, look at that picture.  That's a doozy!

So here I am, working hard, doing my detangling magic in my room.  Meanwhile Jack is doing his Jack thing.  Walking all over the house finding trouble to get into.

If I'm busy then I listen for Jack.  He's usually talking to himself while he roams and plays.  I'm ok with him being in another part of the house as long as I can hear him.  This is my indicator that 1) he's not eating something he's not supposed to be eating and/or he's not choking on something, 2)he's not hurt because he's not crying, 3)I know what area of the house he's in by how far away his voice sounds, and  4)he's not marking himself (or the walls)with permanent markers (because he gets really quiet when he does that.)

I'm hearing him make car "vroom vroom" sounds so he's playing with his cars, right?  Nope.

I turn from what I'm doing to see Jack rolling a dishwasher rack down the hall into my room.  He's pulled it out of the dishwasher and turned it into a car.  So the upper left picture is the dishwasher rack propped up against my dresser.

Typical day at the Hargraves.

PB and J

As in peanut butter and Jack.

Some battles are not worth fighting.  I had just gotten back from the grocery store and the girls were helping me bring in groceries.  Jack always wants to help, too, since he sees us doing it.  Therefore, I will give him something small to take in like a box of crackers or a package of lunch meat.  He walks with purpose back and forth from the car to the kitchen, doing his part to help.  He gets in the way, though, because he toddles right in front of me as I'm trying to get through the door with 50+ bags on one arm.  Not really, but that's what I try to do.  (Does anyone else try to go for personal records on how many grocery bags they can carry at one time?)

This last time I gave him peanut butter jars to carry in.  This is how it went, I guess.  He walks to the pantry with the peanut butter jars because he knows that's where they go.  He attempts to put them on the shelf, but gets distracted with the other jar already sitting there.  He now has three peanut butter jars.  He plops himself down right in front of the pantry.  Meanwhile the girls and I are still bringing in groceries.  He opens the peanut butter and starts going to town.  He's in peanut butter heaven!

  I assess the situation.  My kid is covering himself in peanut butter and eating on the kitchen floor.  But......There Jack is, relatively out of the way, quiet, and eating lunch!  I mean, I was going to have to feed him anyway.  He is no longer on obstacle to hurdle trying to get in the door.  I just have to step over him every now and again to put something in the pantry.  Win/win situation in my book.  The peanut butter jar was almost empty anyway so he's finishing up to make room on the shelf for more groceries.  And I got to put up the groceries with ease.:)


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Penny Saving Project


Christy (Gigi) had her birthday and the girls wanted to make her something special. Handmade gifts don't always turn out great, but my girls and I like to do them anyway.  It gives us time to really think about the person we are giving it to and put thought and effort into a gift.

I've seen this project before made with pennies, and so it sparked an idea to make Gigi something with pennies!

and this...

I thought the girls would have fun with a penny project.  This project slowly evolved as we went along.  First we intended to just glue a bunch of pennies on a charger plate or something like that to be used as a decorative piece.  Then I thought it might be neat to replicate the design of her coffee table
Gigi's coffee table
 The plan was to have the heads facing up on one side and tails facing up on the other.  We scrounged up all the pennies we could muster out of our drawers, piggy banks, cars, and purses.  Many were disgustingly old and dirty.  Why not just go to the bank and get some rolls of brand new pennies, you ask.  Well, because I felt the need to turn this into a learning and laborious project.   ;)

I've heard that both coke and hot sauce clean pennies, but I had neither.So the first thing we did was stick them in some TSP that I had.  TSP is known to clean grime off of metal.  We soaked the pennies and scrubbed with an old toothbrush.  They got somewhat clean, but not great.  So then Halle started searching online for the best penny cleaners.  People said vinegar, salt and lemon juice, and baking soda solutions worked.  We went with what we had in the pantry.  Halle made the most acidic cleaner she could make:  a combo of tomato sauce, lemon juice, and orange juice.  It got the pennies cleaner than the TSP.  Then Halle saw a suggestion to use SOS pads.  That worked!  Really well.  We were excited at how great it worked, but I only had one left and it lasted about fifty pennies.  So then we tried a Magic Eraser.  That worked the best!  Voila!  We trialed and errored and discovered what we think is the best penny cleaner.  (we had two different magic erasers and one worked better than the other).  After a while the ones cleaned with the SOS pad started to change colors, so don't use that after all!  Unless you want blueish pennies.  

Before and After of cleaning a penny with a Magic Eraser.  Probably about 10 seconds of rubbing.

Halle learned what year the pennies changed from copper to zinc and how to tell the difference.  Which then went into a lesson as to why it was changed.  So we got science, history, and economics lessons out of this project.  :)

Through all of this trial and error, the girls labored hard at scrubbing pennies.  They spent several hours working on getting old pennies shiny.  I was proud of Arden's diligence. 

Brian came up with the idea of topping a trivet or lazy susan with pennies instead of a plate.   And my design wasn't standing out enough, so he also suggested painting one side.  

Halle and I went to the store and found this, a bamboo lazy susan.

We painted the base black, and Brian painted the penny heads a dark antique copper color.  We picked out the brightest pennies for the tails side to contrast against the dark ones.

After lots and lots of configuring and reconfiguring the design, we got the pennies lined up how we wanted them.  The girls and I glued them all down with Loctite G02 glue.  I chose that glue because it works well with metals, dries fairly quickly, but not so fast that it won't budge as soon as you use it.  Therefore, I was able to move the pennies a little if they weren't exactly where I wanted them.

this is before I sprayed a clear coat over the entire thing.

Well guess what happened once I sprayed the clear coat on it.  It ate the paint!!!!!  Ugggghhhhh.  Halle and I were soooooo upset because it looked horrible.  Not sure why it did that because I've never had that happen to me before.  My only guess is it was a reaction with either the chemicals we used to clean the pennies, or the penny itself.  

SOOOO WE MADE ANOTHER ONE!.  (This time just for kicks we made the tails dark and the heads stayed bright.)  We tried a water resistant decoupage sealer for the second one.  Which didn't work either!.  It was too thick and gooped between the pennies.  It was supposed to dry clear, but didn't.  The problem wasn't as catastrophic as the first one so we were able to fix it for the most part.  Whew!  I really knew Halle would be upset if the second one didn't turn out either.  

By and large this was a fun project.  Except for the clear coat catastrophies!  

 So Happy Birthday Gigi!  This project was made with lots of love from your girls.    

Friday, November 22, 2013

Musical Beds

This is a 3 a.m. picture.  Why was I up at 3 a.m. you ask.  Well as you can see my bed was inhabited by three very large sleeping bears.  Don't they look nice and comfortable and sweet?  Jack schmoozed his way into sleeping with us.  I had about six inches of mattress to call my own and was getting pushed off my own bed.  There were two miniature Flinstone feet jabbing my ribs for about an hour before I surrendered.  

Then I remembered that Arden's bed was vacant!  Just like my post from earlier this week, she'd taken up residence on Halle's floor for the night.  I decided to move my rejected self into Arden's twin bed- many times more space than I previously had.  So let's recap.  Arden moved into Halle's room, Jack moved into my room, and I moved into Arden's room.  Maybe we'll take it one step further next time and put Brian in the crib.  :)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dewberry Farms

The kids and I went to Dewberry Farms twice this year... once for a Mops fieldtrip and once for a homeschool field trip.  Dewberry Farms is in Brookshire, TX.  It's a fun place where the kids can enjoy being outdoors in the country.   

This is why the kids love it so much.

the bigger kids have different kinds of carts.  But the little ones have easier ones to maneuver and their own track.
2.  The bumpy butt slide.  It's a slide made out of rolling pvc pipes.  The heavier you are the faster it goes.

I can't count how many times Jack went on this thing
 3.  Feeding the animals
I gave Jack some feed to give the goat.  He promptly put it in his mouth and ate it!  Should have guessed that would happen.
4.  The cow train.  A set of drums painted like cows and pulled by a tractor.
Myleigh and Arden pretending they're on a roller coaster

5.  Ziplines

6.  Farmer Flinger
a set of bouncy balls rigged up on a swinging contraption

7. Rope swinging in the hay

8.  Getting lost in the maze

9. Web crawling

10. Slide mountain

11.  And just horsing around!
Crystal practicing her cow roping skills
This is only half the fun stuff!  There's a tractor ride, pig races, carved pumpkin stroll,  pony rides, big jumping pillows, Christmas tree farm, a huge play fort, and more.
this is one of my favorite pictures.  Alicia captured this sweet moment.  He's is soooo tired at this point because it's way past his naptime.  All he wants is his mama.  As soon as we got in the car he was out like a light.

We love Dewberry!