Archive | January, 2012

potty talk, airbeds and other random tidbits

You know when you have a brain full of cluttered subjects and you just need to get them out … that is me today.

Let’s start with the most pressing issue that I’m hoping you can give some mommy-wisdom about.

Potty talk.

See this sweet four-year-old face? He looks innocent enough.

But each morning, without fail, I’ll say “Good morning #3!” and this is his response:

Seriously. If its not fart, its a phrase that includes some combination of poop, pee, head or eyeball.

He’s got a potty mouth.

I know it may be normal – especially for four-year-old boys – but I’m not a big fan. The older boys were never this bad and so we are at a loss for how to deal with it. Half the time we laugh {because he seriously is funny and just so cute} and half the time he sits in time out. But neither are very effective.

So, any tips for banishing potty talk? I’d love your advice. I wish there was a chapter in Mrs Piggle Wiggle about the topic and I would give her cure a try.

I’ve been wanting to make these apple chips for a while and finally gave them a try this weekend.

They were very easy to make, taste great and I would definitely make them again.

Are you a Bachelor watcher? I am. Pure smut, but I love it. I’m behind a week, so don’t tell me who is off.

Want to know how I justify my Bachelor enjoyment? I say it is Biblical. Have you read the story of Queen Esther? King Xerxes was the Bachelor and Queen Esther received the final rose after he dated lots and lots of eligible bachelorettes. Read the story for yourself here. And if you want a more in depth study of the story of Esther, the Beth Moore study is pretty much amazing.

P.S. I’m kidding … I don’t think dating 25 women at once is biblical. It just does sort of happen in the Bible. Not saying its how it should be done and clearly the results aren’t all that great since nearly every couple breaks up in the end.

Carnations were buy one get one free at the grocery store last week, so I grabbed two bunches.

Even carnations can be so beautiful when clustered tightly together. For $4.99 I have pretty flowers on my coffee table that will last at least a week {another benefit of cheap flowers – they last forever}.

The winner of the JANUARY GIVEAWAY is …

Congratulations! Please send me a note with your address and I’ll pop your package full of kiddie delights in the mail.

The February Giveaway is coming soon …

For those of you who use Mac computers and are not quite sure how to use the symbols on the new Fancy font or the Emily font, I have created a short video sharing how to find and use them.

I hope this is helpful.

If you need help installing the font to your computer, I did a short tutorial at the end of this post: 25 Favorite Fonts

And if you are using a PC, there is a photo tutorial for how to install fonts at the end of this post: My Handwriting Font


You know you need a new mattress when you willingly choose a queen size blow-up bed on the floor of the guest room over your own king size bed in your own room.  Maybe we’re just getting old but our backs were hurting and my arms and hands were going numb which were not enjoyable ways to wake up each day.  One night we decided to try out the airbed that was still inflated from Christmas house guests and we’ve been sleeping on it since.  Its actually surprisingly comfortable. And no sore backs or numb limbs. However, it would be nice to move back into our room and sleep on our own big bed, so we’re now in the market for a new mattress. Any suggestions?

Are you bored of my randomness yet?

Hmmm … what else do I have for you …

I read this book and loved it. I mean, really loved it.

My best friend and I are starting this new bible study. Very excited about it.

I’ve been on a pin-fest. You can see my pinterest boards here.

This song is really good.  Sometimes I just listen to it on repeat really loud. It drowns out the kids in the back. You should try it sometime.

My brain feels better. Thanks for letting me ramble about these very random tidbits.

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how to create fake calligraphy

I have always loved beautiful calligraphy.


{ 1 . 2 }

Years ago, my former boss brought me back a calligraphy pen and ink from her trip to Italy. I was so excited to try it out and figured it would be super easy to turn my handwriting into calligraphy with just the flick of a nib {that’s the technical term for the metal pieces that go in the pens – not to be confused with my go-to treat, the twizzler nib}.

It didn’t go so well.

Then I met Lindsay {of Lindsay Letters – who created that fabulous O Holy Night print } and figured since she is a pro, she could surely give some pointers and it wouldn’t be too hard.

Again, the pen and ink proved too complicated for my impatient hands {have you ever tried it? the ink sure does splatter!}

I have yet to learn how to use a real calligraphy pen {although it is on my list of skills to master someday} and have just stuck with my fake calligraphy technique. I thought I’d share it with you today. Here’s how to create fake calligraphy:

First, choose a good fine tip ink pen.

I usually like these pilot precise extra fine pens the best, but just bought the foray stylemark at the office store and it’s a good one too.

Now, write your letter. You can do it in pencil first if you prefer, or just freehand.

To give your letter the calligraphy look, you will need to make all of the down strokes thicker and filled in {as if you were writing with an angled calligraphy pen}.

Every time your pen stroke goes downward {as seen with the arrows above}, just draw a close line and fill it in.

See how easy it is?

Here’s another example.  I wrote the word love in cursive:

then filled in the down strokes:

Doesn’t it look fancy?  You can transform your handwriting to make it look like calligraphy very simply and easily with just a few extra pen strokes.

If you would like a faster way to make fancy handwriting, I have created a new font for you using my own fake calligraphy.


Isn’t it cute?!! You get a full alphabet with lots of extra symbols, doodles and words.

Now its even easier to fake calligraphy.

You will get the font for free {previously $4.99} by joining our exclusive freebies page called the Archive. Click the image above to join and download the fancy font.

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{almost} all the colors of the rainbow {what I wore}

Without even trying, I wore almost every color of the rainbow this week. And jeans all but once.

So here I am, in all my colorful glory:

#1   cardigan: old navy   shirt: old navy    jeans: seven flare    flats: old navy {p.s. I should have put on makeup}

#2   sweatshirt: banana republic   long-sleeve: marshalls   jeans: seven dojo   flats: old navy

cute flower in my hair: allora handmade tulle fluff {click here to shop}

#3   shirt: ann taylor loft   jeans: banana republic wide leg   slippers: oldies from target   ring: stella & dot

#4   shirt: target   long-sleeve: target   jeans: seven a-pocket   boots: even older oldies from nordstrom

#5   puffy vest: gap   long sleeve: marshalls   jeans: seven dojo   hat: my son’s {i’ve always had a pretty small head …}

#6   I am a walking advertisement for target – all but the boots were purchased there.  boots: dsw {civico 10 remmington riding boots}

One good perk of taking photos of my outfits is being able to see what I look like through different eyes. And now that I know, I will never again wear outfit #5.

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share the love

There is something so sweet about taking a day {or month, really!} to celebrate something as wonderful as love.

Valentine’s Day is commercial … yes, I agree … but it is special, too.

It gives us an excuse to bake a cherry pie

 to serve our kids pink milk and pie crust cookies for an after school snack

to sip hot cocoa with heart-shaped marshmallows out of a dainty teacups

and indulge in frosting covered cupcakes.

It encourages us to send our loved ones handwritten notes

and deliver prettily packaged treats to our friends.

I like that Valentine’s Day has turned February into the month of sharing the love.

I was inspired by Valentine’s Day when creating the JDC | monthly february collection.

It is full of red, pink, whimsical flowers and fancy writing.

And is available now.

To receive these printable goodies, and new ones each month, you are invited to join JDC | monthly. It is just $9.99 per month {your first month is free!}.

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We don’t often get snow in the Seattle area and so when it comes, it is a big deal. School gets canceled. People stay home from work. Roads are closed. It is actually really fun.

For a day or two.

And it was.

Then the temperatures rose and fell and we woke to this:

The most spectacular icicles I have ever seen.

Each tiny branch, each little leaf was covered in ice. Frozen solid.

It was so beautiful, this ice storm.

But equally destructive.

Many trees could not hold the weight of the ice and they split. Branches fell on houses, roads and power lines. Which meant major power outages for hundreds of thousands of us around here. It was a crazy week.

. . .

I had a lot of work to do. I had a list of things I wanted to do. And a list of things I needed to do. Pretty much all of those went out the window.

School was canceled and the roads weren’t very safe, so we were home bound for the entire week – which is not normal for me. I like to get out. I like running errands. I like when the kids go to school.

On Thursday morning we woke to no power. I think this was the first time the boys can remember not having power and it was fun to see their excitement and curiosity about it.

When I explained what it meant to be without electricity, No. 2 said excitedly, “so that means you can’t use your computer?!!”.


So we played Uno and drank hot cocoa warmed on the gas stove and waited for daddy to make it home from work.  Then we spent the next two days with friends who have generators and made a party out of it.

We painted our nails. We read magazines. We collected icicles. We played with flashlights. We gathered for meals.

It was a really nice vacation right in our own neighborhood. With amazing friends who take care of each other.

It was not the week I had planned. I am behind on work projects. I didn’t get to do the errands I wanted to run or the tasks I needed to accomplish.

But I’m pretty sure this week was just what my kids needed.

And probably me too.

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my favorite shoes for girls {with a discount!}

It has been a crazy winter weather week … more on that later.  But since I now have power and I am up before the kids I wanted to share a great discount with you {as was promised for yesterday’s post}.  Just a side note: I don’t really like when plans change {like a two day power outage} and I have no control and then I’m behind on schedule.  Please forgive me … art prints, JDC|Monthly, emails … they will come. I promise. They will just be a few days later than I’d like.

Okay, so my favorite shoes for girls. I’ve shared this company before, but I just can’t get enough of Joyfolie‘s most beautiful products.

First a preview of a few of the styles in the upcoming spring collection:


So pretty! Those gray stripes will be making their way into our life soon.

Because a new collection is about to debut, Jessica {the creator of Joyfolie} is offering a generous discount to JDC readers on the current collection in her shop.

Like the shimmery red julie shoe:

Love the bright print of the sabrina

The saidi is the style Audrey receive for Christmas {she loves them and so do I}

Funny how I’m not really a shoe girl myself, but I can’t get enough of cute ones for my little one.

To receive  30% off any item on the shoe page that is currently in stock use the code


at checkout. The discount code is good until next friday {1/27} so start shopping!

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our mudroom

We bought our house 5 years ago based off a floor plan we found online.  One of our favorite features was this mudroom. It connects the garage to the rest of the house and is such a great dumping ground for our busy family.  The only negative about the space is that there is no window. Which means it is pretty dark. We painted it a dark chocolaty-green-gray color a few years ago and it became even darker {that’s what you get when you use a can of paint you have laying around}. Last summer Ryan added white bead board paneling and a row of hooks on all four walls and that made things a bit lighter and much more functional. But it still needed some freshening up.  I finally finished putting the space together and I’m excited to share it with you today.

The walls are now Revere Pewter {Benjamin Moore} and it feels so much brighter!

I moved the woven pinboard in here to put some favorite family photos, art work and mementos – it sure adds a personal touch and some much needed color and cheerfulness to an otherwise boring room.

We bought these numbers at the hardware store to identify hooks for each backpack.

Above the hooks is a new print that I just adore.

This is the wall with the door that goes out to the garage. Its nice to have a little bench in here.

And the back wall …

I painted stripes on the ceiling just for fun. I like it. Ryan –  not so much.  We also switched out the light with this industrial one from the hardware store {$25!}.

One of my very favorite features of the mudroom is the automatic light Ryan so brilliantly installed. It has a movement sensor so it comes on when you walk in the room and turns off after a minute or two. We have a few of these throughout our house in places where its easy to forget to turn off the light {the pantry, under-stairs closet, master closet}.

Now let me share with you another genius tip I got from The Nester.

I buy one brand of socks – two lines for the older boys {is it weird that they share socks?} and one line for No. 3. Audrey gets her own girly socks but shares a basket with #3. AND I don’t match and fold them. Just throw them in the basket. It saves on time when folding laundry, makes it easy for the boys to find their socks and best of all, there are no more mismatched socks in our house. Thanks Miss Nester.

Each kid also has their own bin of shoes.

Can you tell who already has a shoe-obsession? Naturally, she gets the bigger bin.

Speaking of shoes … these are her current favorites {and mine too}.

They are from my favorite shoe designer Joyfolie. Come back tomorrow for a generous discount for JDC readers.

A few details:

So that is our mudroom. I love how it turned out. Bright, cheerful, useful, organized and personal.

And it will never again look as nice as it does in the photos.


paint color: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

light: warehouse pendant from Home Depot

be filled with joy print: The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy

black numbers: Home Depot in the mailbox and house number section

galvanized wall organizer: PotteryBarn – no longer available

sock baskets & shoe bins: IKEA

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what i wore {new year edition}

What I Wore … a fun idea I borrowed from the darling Lindsey.  I’ve done lots of what I wore posts, but it has been a while, so I thought I’d go for it again.

The purpose of WiW is to keep us accountable for getting dressed each day. I know that sounds strange, but if you are a stay-home-mom or work-at-home lady, you understand the problem. Sometimes it is much easier to stay in pj’s all day {see day 4}. But then you end up feeling slumpy and somehow that translates into less productive days.

I am generally pretty good about getting dressed, so this is less for that purpose and more for the purpose of being creative with my outfits. I am a plain-jane dresser. Solids. Cotton. Jeans. That’s about it. But when I know I have to take photos, I try a little harder with accessories.

So here is what I wore this week:

1. green striped sweater {target}, brown blouse {target}, jeans {banana republic}, belt {target}, shoes {nordstrom rack}

2. sweater {nordstrom}, tshirt {target}, jeans {seven for all mankind flare}, flower headband {me}

3. shirt {target}, cardigan {martin + osa}, jeans {seven flare}

4. Oops. It was a jammie day for all. And I should probably clean the mirror.  Not that you want sources, but the sweatshirt is my cheerleading sweatshirt from 1997 {oldie but goodie} and the sweats are from martin + osa – a store that is no longer in business and I’m really bummed about it. Audrey’s cute pjs are from Hanna Andersson.

5. A cold and snowy day in the Pacific Northwest. Jacket {old navy}, sweater {nordstrom}, scarf {nordstrom}, jeans {target}, boots {DSW}. I tried a new braided messy bun I learned on this video tutorial {cutest girl ever}.

A few notes:

Clearly I buy a lot of my clothes from Target. Its one of the few clothing stores in my town.

The only thing new enough to still be available in a store is the green striped sweater. They have a yellow one I want too.

I bought the puffy coat on Black Friday and love it. I don’t see any more of the blue ones, but there are a few more white {click here}.

I am linking with Lindsey.

pleated poppy

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on a cold winter’s day

The perfect antidote to a chilly, trying-to-snow, wintery day …

homemade chicken noodle soup.

It’s a favorite around here and so simple to make.

I use Ina Garten’s recipe {found here} but add in extra noodles and use a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead of roasting my own.

And for dessert …

My favorite tea and not-too-sweet ginger cookies made by my mom {using another Ina recipe found here}.

Delish.  The perfect thing to keep you cozy on a cold winter’s day.

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flower mobile {again}

Before my little sweetness was born {nearly two years ago, I can hardly believe it}, I made this flower mobile to hang over her crib. It was one of the first tutorials seen on JDC and a pretty project that I was proud of. But somewhere along the line, the photos went missing from the post. And missing from my computer. And so the tutorial is now gone. Boo.

{photos by Jennifer Tai as featured on On To Baby}

Since posting the embroidered wallhanging, many of you asked for details about the mobile. I am here to deliver.

I do not have a full tutorial, but I will explain how it is made.

Here’s what you need:

:: a styrofoam wreath form – mine is 12 inches, but you could do smaller or larger

:: ribbon

:: lots of silk flowers {I spent about $35 at the craft store on full white blooms}

:: straight pins

STEP ONE: wrap the wreath form with ribbon, securing with straight pins

STEP TWO: cut blooms off their stems and pin into wreath form, filling in all the way around the wreath. You could use hot glue instead, but I found that pinning was easier.

STEP THREE: once the flowers are in place, cut two long pieces of ribbon for hanging. You will fold each piece in half and attach the ends to the wreath opposite from eachother {think north, south, east and west}. Make sure your ribbon is long enough that when folded your mobile will hang at the height you want. I sure hope that makes sense.

I screwed in an eye hook to the ceiling and looped each ribbon over it.

From below, this is what the baby sees:

So pretty!

I know this is not the best tutorial, but I hope it helps explain the project a bit better. Please let me know if you make one of your own … I’d love to see how it turns out!

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embroidered wallhanging {tutorial}

For nearly two years I’ve had this tutorial in a file on my desktop just waiting to be posted. I have no idea what took me so long, but I thought it would be good to finally share it.

I selected a scripture for Audrey {you can read the story here} and wanted to hang it over her crib. Coming up with a solution for a lightweight, non-permanent solution was the challenge. I didn’t want something heavy that could fall on the baby and while vinyl or handpainted letters would have worked, it wasn’t exactly the look I was hoping for.

So I invented this very thrown together wall hanging.

Here’s what you need to make one of your own:

:: a piece of heavy fabric slightly larger than your desired finished size {I used a piece of IKEA lenda curtains – a nice cotton canvas}

:: embroidery or crochet thread

:: embroidery hoop & embroidery needle

:: scissors and pencil

STEP ONE: lightly write the verse, name or other wording on the fabric with a pencil. Be sure to center it.

STEP TWO: secure embroidery hoop where you would like to begin your stitches.

STEP THREE: thread the needle and make a knot in the end. Now make your first stitch from the back. We are using a back stitch {here is a good tutorial}

STEP FOUR: make a stitch in the desired length {approximately 1/8 – 1/4 inch} and push the needle back down through the fabric.

STEP FIVE: To continue the backstitch, push your needle back up 1/8 – 1/4 inch from where you finished the first stitch

STEP SIX: make a stitch pushing the needle back down just above the first stitch mark

STEP SEVEN: pull the thread tight and make another stitch in the same backstitch manner

Once you have finished each letter, you will have a beautifully {and painstakingly} embroidered piece of fabric.

This is where you can finish your piece as you wish … and where mine became a total hodgepodge of a project.

I had a piece of foam core that I cut to size and wrapped the fabric around it, securing with packing tape {remember I was going for light weight}.

Then I poked in upholstery tacks for a fun border. Because the tacks are not completely secure, once Audrey was old enough to stand in her crib, I removed the verse from over her crib and it is now on a different wall in her room where she can not reach it.

Want more embroidery inspiration? Here are a few great projects {click on image for source}:


And sources for embroidery help:

the purl bee

thirty handmade days

wild olive

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highs & lows

high: we took a quick family vacation to a little mountain resort this weekend with some friends to celebrate a birthday.

low: it was too quick – I could have stayed way longer.

high: packing up the six of us with all of our snow gear, clothes, blankies, snacks, waterbottles and gadgets {laptop, ipad, ipod, phones, video camera and regular camera – geesh!} went smoothly and relatively quickly on saturday morning.

low: while this packing was taking place, Audrey found a pair of scissors and gave her hair a trim. Two chunks of her beautiful blonde hair right from the front – now gone. Boo.

high: on the way up the mountain we ran into longtime friends who just had a baby. I got to meet {and hold} sweet Memphis. She has the most amazing thick head of hair. I hope she never finds scissors.

low: we don’t get to see those friends often enough.

high: hotel-stays are super fun for kids. And parents. Walking into a clean hotel room with crisp sheets knowing you don’t have to do a thing to clean it is the best.

low: we made a real mess of the place within minutes with our snow gear, clothes, blankies, snacks, waterbottles and gadgets. P.S. we didn’t even use half of the gadgets.

high: I ordered a salad from room service because I was so hungry and wanted something other than a granola bar or fruit leather.

low: it cost a small fortune.

high: it was really good.

low: i missed out on iceskating with the group to put a cranky almost two year old to bed.

high: I really love hanging out with that almost two year old.

low: she never went to sleep

high: the boys came back from skating and we ended up hanging out in our friends’ room until 11:00 and the kids were champs. I also love hanging out with our friends.

low: ate too much pizza + birthday treats and went to bed feeling blah.

high: best husband ever got up with the kids, took them to the lobby to drink coffee and play chess while I slept in until TEN O’CLOCK! Amazing.

low: I missed out on coffee and chess in the lobby

high: went sledding

low: we’re having a crazy winter here and there was barely any snow. What we had was crusty and slippery, but it was snow.

high: very few things are funnier than watching grown men throw themselves down a slippery, crusty hill on a small bright blue plastic saucer.

low: our lunch took a long time to make it to our table and we were a hungry group.

high: I had grilled flatbread, fancy cheese and a whole head of roasted garlic and it was worth the wait. Yum.

low: the 11:00 bedtime caught up with my littlest ones and so we had to take a distraction walks to keep from major restaurant meltdowns

high: we finished off our weekend with a quick swim in the pool {with a few runs down the water slides and mostly chilling in the hot tub}

low: we had to leave this dreamy place.

Family getaways are great. We should really do it more often.

And because a post is always better with a photo, here are a few of my favorites from our sledding extravaganza.

{do you see that chunk of super short hair right there in the front? Yep. That’s one of the chunks now missing}

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celebrate childhood

{ Giveaway has now ended… thanks!}

Typically my monthly giveaways have something to do with the current month {birds in april, cozy in november}. One of the things I love most about putting the collections together is coming up with a theme without being too obvious.

But the January Giveaway collection has nothing to do with January. In fact, it is sort of crazy to do one with a bunch of fun kid stuff since we just got over a season of gifts galore.  But I just couldn’t resist the cuteness that makes up this collection.

{from left to right}

ROW ONE: floor puzzle from Land of Nod, three little buckets, my favorite reusable snack bags from Armommy

ROW TWO: Kiki & Coco in Paris {such a cute book}, play art print, set of 12 stipe straws

ROW THREE: tootsie pops, handmade bunny, sweet wintry mittens from Something from Nothing

ROW FOUR: etch a sketch {a classic}, set of 24 lunch box note cards, uno game {another classic}

I want to mention a few of the items included.

First, these darling mittens.

Karen makes mittens for men, women, children & babies using felted wool from old sweaters. Her selection is great and truly one of a kind.

{click the image above to visit her etsy shop}

Second, let’s talk about snack bags.

Do you go through ziplocks like there’s no tomorrow? We do. They store legos, rock collections, money and of course snacks.

But these snack bags are quickly taking over for our family. I love the cute patterns, love that they are washable and reusable.

I may not let me kids keep their rock collections in them, but I do keep one in my purse with lipsticks!

And finally, this delightful children’s book that doubles as a coffee table book in our house.

This charming book shares the adventure of a girl and her dolly in Paris. It was photographed by the talented Stephanie Rausser, the doll is by Jess Brown and was written by my real life friend Nina Gruener.  The book in the giveaway is signed by all three!

You can purchase a copy here.

This giveaway has now ended. Thank you for entering!

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One thing that drives my husband crazy about me is my lack of goal-setting, vision-casting and forward-thinking. I am a very much an in the present and maybe a little bit of planning for the next day kind of girl. Part of me doesn’t want to be pinned down. I like to be flexible with my schedule and I find it hard to make plans for three months out when I really don’t know what I’ll be wanting to do three months from now.

That being said, I do realize that there is something good about setting goals. I have heard that if you write your goals down and post it somewhere visible, you are more likely to achieve them. I can buy that.

So in an attempt to increase my chances of achieving some resolutions, here I am writing them down, for all the world to see.

1. here’s the obvious one that probably falls on the top of everyone’s list: be healthy/eat less sugar/drink more water/work out.  I want these things just in general, but this year, I mostly want them because of no. 2.

2. wear a bikini in Maui. In three months. And look decent. Let’s hope writing this one down does wonders for me.

3. say yes more to my kids. They complain that I always say no {candy for an after school snack? No. Invite a friend over right as I’m starting dinner. No. Play pillow fight with my best pillows. No. I see their point}.  I want to be a little more relaxed this year, turn things that I would normally say no to into yeses {maybe offering good alternatives rather than just obliging – I still need to be practical!}.

4. close my office doors at 3:30pm when the kids get home from school. At least until they are in bed. I love working/designing/emailing/writing posts/reading blogs and sometimes it gets in the way of just being a mom. I want to do better at balancing this year.

5. take ballet. I think this is the year of living out my dreams of being a ballerina. Even if it is just in a little local ballet studio.

And that is all I can come up with for now.

Are you a resolution maker? Any good ones this year?

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