Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

"He has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!"
Psalms 126:3

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!

Wow! What a Christmas season it has been for our family!
It has been busy, and it takes a conscious effort to pause and reflect
on the true meaning of the season and why it is we are celebrating.
We're trying to teach our children that Christmas isn't about gifts,
but that it is about The Gift, Jesus Christ. It's hard in todays society
to keep the childish wonder in the season yet still impress on them
it is really about Jesus' birth.

Obviously, I'm way behind on way behind! I've missed it!
It's been too overwhelming to think about trying to catch I've decided
that I'll do this Christmas post and then I will do a 2009 re-cap.
Then I will be caught up! A fresh start in the new year! We'll see if things
go according to plan.
Our Christmas season began with a trip to cut down our Christmas tree!
It was a chilly Sunday afternoon, and after a little geocaching (our new hobby!)
we headed to Lost 40 Tree Farm and cut down this beauty.

Aaron, Harrison and, and I took a trip on The Polar Express
departing from Connersville and traveling 14,000 miles roundtrip in one night!
We had a wonderful time. Just like the movie, they served us Hot Chocolate,
Cookies, and read the story as we traveled. Santa boarded and gave Harrison
the first gift of Christmas, a bell from his sleigh. We weren't sure how lil' sis
would do, figuring she wouldn't be a huge fan of the jolly guy this year,
so we opted to make it a night for Harrison. Not sure we've done much
with just him since Hayden joined our family, so it was good.
We missed her though~ because there were other little cuties
on the train that made us think of her!

The next day, it was Warnock Christmas! One of my favorite Christmas celebrations!
There are now 13 little ones ages 10 and under and it is so much fun to all be together!
It always ends too soon! One highlight this year was the "dickies" that our cousin Jennifer
presented to us all. One year when we were teens, our dear Great Aunt Velma gave
each of us a dickie. We have joked about those things ever since and Jennifer found
a bunch at a garage sale and had to buy them for us. Thanks Aunt Velma for
the memories of "the dickies".

It's becoming tradition for the little ones to decorate gingerbread houses.
As you can see, both Harrison and Hayden took the project very seriously!
We made a visit as a family to see Santa. As I expected, Hayden wanted
nothing to do with him. So, I donated my $20.00 for a terrible picture
just so that I could take my own.
(Note to self for next year: do not visit Santa at Hamilton Town Center)

This is our Christmas mantle, with the stockings hung with care
I'll eventually post more of our remodel, but thought I'd throw
this in as a sneak preview of our new living area...which we are loving!

Next came my attempt -on the night of the 23rd, might I add- at Christmas card pictures.
This is the way the "session" began.....

Hayden wanted nothing to do with the cute hair clippie that I had
ordered from etsy specifically for her darling Christmas dress.
Not sure why I can't just get the hint that she is not into wearing
these things at this point...I just keep hoping, I suppose, that she'll
wake up one day and want to be a girly-girl!

After a little bit though, she decided to cooperate and I got some cute pictures!
It was so sweet. We would say "go sit by the tree" and she would plop down
right in front of a perfect angel. This continued through Christmas Day,
she followed our directions very well!

I just love these pictures below. They show how these two feel about each other.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our Michigan Beach Vacation

Just before school started, our family headed out for a quick getaway to South Haven, Michigan.
We had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect...sand and sun for me, but not too hot for Aaron. I'm afraid after this trip, I might never get to go to Florida ever again.

The kids had a great time playing in the sand.  It was Haydens' first trip to the beach.  At first, she wasn't sure about the sand between her toes, but she adjusted quickly.  She had fun picking up fistfuls of sand and dropping it on her head! She ate her share of sand too!

Harrison loved the water and being buried in the sand.   It was a little frustrating for him when Hayden would mess up his sand creations, but he managed.

We had lots of fun in the evenings. There were quaint shops that I enjoyed and of course Aaron and Harrison were bored to death with those! So many quaint beach cottages and a few large beautiful homes on the streets surrounding the shoreline.
I could live there...

It was beautiful!

We made great family memories and I have a feeling the Michigan coast will be a yearly getaway.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Show Us Where You Live- The Kitchen

What fun I'm going to have with this post! Kelly over at Kelly's Korner is hosting a new, fun "carnival" of sorts on her blog called and today is the inaugural post! It's called "Show Us Where You Live Friday" and each Friday she will choose a different room of the house to feature. Well, this week she is featuring Kitchens! What's that you say, since I'm a renowned kitchen designer who never makes mistakes and always has great decorating a girl who is learning the art of kitchen designing and making a career of it, well then this ought to be right up my alley, right?

That's what I thought too.

Until this happened.

YES that is a hole in my ceiling.

YES that is major water damage on my ceiling.

YES that is subfloor exposed due to wet carpet. (see below)

So, since I'm keepin in real here on this blog, as we
Cruise Through Life with the Collins' Family....

Please allow me to show you what my kitchen currently looks like!

Let me catch up a bit.

Last Thursday after picking up the kids, I came home and was locked thought I was locked out of the house. Aaron was turkey hunting 3 hours away. I said a quick prayer. "Please let the back door be unlocked"...and guess what- He answered my prayer and the door was unlocked.

I came in, feeling relieved, and saw this. (And please pretend my kitchen was clean when this happened- had it been, it would've made things much easier- work with me!)

Underneath, was very wet carpet. From the foyer, water was running down the walls onto the hardwood floor.

Our toilet in the upstairs hall ran over. All day long. Like for 9 hours!

I called hubby and he rushed home stayed and shot a record size turkey and thought I didn't figure out it took him way longer to get home!

So...after a long, hot weekend of water restoration fans and dehumidifiers, I present to you



I found it intriguing how many of the gals, and maybe some guys- (I didn't read them all)- that posted links to blog posts about their kitchens- had obviously tidied up before photographing their . Unless of course, their kitchens look like showhouses all the time, which some may- I mean mine has that potential seeing as it is not used much :)- anyway, I thought....

well ladies....and gentlemen, I can't make mine look good right now- it's just not possible, and not worth it right now! So, above is a picture looking in from our family room. I decided it could just be fun to be real!

How many of you can say that you have a duck call laying on your kitchen counter....and on the microwave...and on the refrigerator....and.....who knows where else in my house.

Looking closer at the top of the stove...we have a mismatched halloween sock, a spelling test (100%-go Harrison!), a CD, applesauce, and a cheap little whisk broom I found in my van!

In one corner you see my collection of cookbooks. There are more in a cabinet. Not sure why I have so many- as they are seldom used :) One day.....

This, as you can see, is my sink full of dirty dishes because the dishwasher is waiting to be unloaded. Oh, and my sink is dirty too!

And now we take a closer look at the far corner- the corner where lots of "stuff" gets stuffed. In this corner you are likely to find bread turning green and moldy. You also see a stack of baseball clothes. I was trying to be all prepared for the game tonight- which was cancelled because it's been raining now for 40 days and 40 nights. Lucky for all of us, the "cup" was not on the counter (and I'm not talking about a drinking cup if you get my drift) .

Below is a close-up of the outside of my refrigerator. I do enjoy these magnets that are given out at childrens church. They each have bibles verses on them. I usually try to keep Harrisons' spelling test up through the week. When company is coming...I clean off the refrigerator so it's nice and clear.

And this is the inside of my refrigerator. Let's take a look.

Oh wow! We have jello jigglers that I made April 8th and forgot about for Haydens' birthday party. There is a bowl of boiled eggs, boiled late on April 10th so that they could be colored for Easter....never got it done! Surely, my children will be scarred for life! And, you can't tell it- but the shelves really need cleaned! Am I the only one out there with a messy refrigerator???

This is the desk in my kitchen. We never should have put it there! I really need the cabinet space. I'm seriously considering taking this out and replacing it with a pantry style cabinet. The scary part is that it looked even worse yesterday. This is the place where everything that needs to find its' place gets piled when I am cleaning the kitchen. You'll find bills, school papers, Christmas cards never sent, a "to-be filed" folder, and a file for my husband that he never looks at. There's obviously lots more on that desk! Above is a little cubby that keeps the bills, postage supplies, notepads, and a whole lotta crap!


This is a view into the dining room from the kitchen. doesn't always look like this. Let me explain.

When the water restoration folks came in, we had to clean off the kitchen table, the end table, the bar counter, etc. and it ALL landed on the dining room table. Add to that all the "stuff" that needed put away from Haydens' birthday party, my husbands video camera equipment, and once again who knows what get a really cluttered dining room table.

However, we are considering selling our table and hutch (that I love) and converting our dining room into a "command center". Homework, crafts, toys, etc.

The thing is...I have an issue with being able to see all that- or at least not be able to close it off. I saw on some other posts that other gals have done this so I just need to get over it!

This picture is of the microwave cabinet area. Since it's not a "built-in" microwave, hubby uses it as a "storage" place for all his junk! Lovely! I am determined to get a "trim-kit" so that he can't continue as it really bugs me!

And just for fun...Hayden is showing off new uses for the dishwasher! Silly girl!

When clean, my kitchen is really nice. I have custom hickory cabinets. Not what I'd choose if I were starting over, but they are really nice. I'm looking a new paint color- any advice? We have boring laminate countertops...I long for granite, but someday will re-do my kitchen, so I'm not going to make that costly change. Our flooring is fairly new- tile looking laminate- installed by the handy hubby and his trusty partner- me!.

So, there you have it. Kudos to all you that have it more together than me and could post pictures of your beautiful large, sometimes cute and quaint, kitchens.

All I have to say is...Kelly, can I please have a do-over?

I really wish I could've really participated in the way Kelly intended. It would be such fun. But this week, it just wasn't meant to be. But that's just life, right? (Judging by the looks of the place, I'm not feeling real confident next week will work out either!!)

If you'd like to join Kellys' fun, check out her blog and join in- or just read other peoples posts and look at pictures!
One good thing....I really needed new carpet. Guess what?

I'm getting it...and it's not costing me a dime! (and no, I didn't clog the toilet on purpose!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The big birthday weekend is over! Whew! It was so much fun, lots of work, but I totally enjoyed every bit of it! Now, before you say anything....I have a couple of disclaimers! First of all, this post is a lot of pictures! I can't help it. I love pictures. The fact that I have over 300 pictures from the day is a testament to this fact. Lucky for you, I can't find the ones I took as I was baking. Hopefully they will turn up and I can eventually post them! Secondly, yes, I know that Hayden won't remember any of this day, except for through pictures. If you are my "facebook friend" you have seen some of these pictures. I know some of you will think I went a bit overboard, but, that's my perogative! I waited a long time for Miss Hayden, and by golly, I wanted to celebrate! I didn't do anything I didn't want to do. I enjoyed making things, crossing every "t" and dotting every "i" (except for the fact that I totally forgot my cute little flower shaped jello jigglers!!). It let me use my creative skills. I had a blast! So...maybe the party was a little bit for me too???? Of course! I gave birth to her, after all!

The party preparations began on Wednesday when I began baking. Actually, I began making some of the decorations weeks before. I had to spread the food prep out over the few nights leading up because otherwise I wouldn't have had time to get it done. I still wouldn't have gotten it all done if not for my sister, who helped me a ton Friday night! I seriously baked more for this party than I have in my almost 10 years of marriage. Unfortunately, now I've proved I can do it, so I may have to pick it up a bit.
***The Party***

We had the party at the Creative Arts and Events Center in town. It was nice not to have to worry about how the house looked...because let me tell you, it looked really bad! Honestly at times, it looked like Betty Crocker herself had exploded in my kitchen! (I actually took pictures for proof!) We decided that if I ever decide to be a professional baker (ha!) I am going to have a larger kitchen!

I made this birthday banner for the party. I'd seen them on ETSY for sale, but decided I'd like to make my own. I plan to take it apart and use the "HAYDEN" in her bedroom. Multi-purpose, you see!

These are the cupcake pops that I made. This was quite a time-consuming project, but really rewarding because they were so cute...and actually yummy. At first, I didn't like the texture, but they have grown on me (not that I ate more than one or anything). I found the instructions for these on Bakerella's blog.

This is the fruit basket I created. It is assorted fruit on skewers with mini marshmallows topping them off. These were a huge hit! I could have had many, many more (I refilled once)! This was the only thing that had to be prepared on Saturday. I did worry about the skewers being used as weapons....and all the boys at the party didn't let me down!

I made this sign for Haydens' highchair! It too was fun to create! I haven't scrapbooked in forever, so this kind of filled that "need".

This is a view of one of the tables. I made the pots that have the cupcake pops in them. Easter grass was used to cover the "foam" holding the pops. Then, as you can see, there were balloons coming out the pots. You can't see a close-up, but I made napkin rings and had the silverware already wrapped. This made it easier to set the tables. It was another project that was done ahead of time.

This is Haydens' giant cupcake! I bought a little, undecorated 3-tier cake at Wal-Mart because I wanted to decorate it myself. It was one of the last things I did as far as decorating. My icing wasn't the easiest to spread, so it's a little rough. It wasn't the best decorating job, I think I could do it better the next time, but it's cute enough! And you may hear rumors that I had my sis separating sprinkles by color to use on some of the, would I do such a thing? That would appear somewhat obsessive...

This is the cupcake table. I served strawberry cupcakes with creme cheese icing, chocolate cupcakes with whipped icing, and yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing. It was fun decorating the cupcakes different ways! Did I ever mention on my blog that I would love to be a pastry chef???

This is the absolutely adorable, heart-stealing, cuddling, climbing,non-walking,cutie-patootie


Hayden and Harrison with my nieces Charity and Christina.

**Hayden and Nana Kemp**

**Hayden and Papaw Kemp**

**Hayden with Papaw Tom and Grandma Judy**

**Our family**

I'm not sure...but I think she may be a little bit spoiled! I mean, look at that cute chair! Talk about fit for a queen!! It matches her room perfectly, but she loves it so much, we're leaving it in the family room! I'm calling it her "lazy girl"!

And judging by this picture...I think she likes being spoiled as much as we love spoiling her!

I made the bow for her hair because I ran out of time to order one from Etsy. Her dress came from Etsy. What an ordeal it was picking out what she would wear for this day! I think I made a good choice...and believe me, there were several, as in LOTS to choose from!

Hayden was a very happy girl...especially considering the fact that she woke up at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning (much earlier than her normal rise and shine time)! I was worried when she got up that early! She had a very quick snooze on the ride to town, but woke up as soon as we got to the party!

We got Hayden this "whisper-ride buggy"! We saw them last year at various campgrounds and thought at the time "we're going to have to have one of those next year!" She loves it!

I think in this picture she is thinking "faster!" All the kids had fun pushing her around in her buggy!

After cleaning up the mess of opening presents, it was on to her cupcake! She enjoyed being sang to. I had made her a birthday hat...all one year olds must have a birthday hat. My mistake was that I had ribbon to tie it on instead of the usual elastic. She wanted nothing to do with it, so I'm saving it for another year. It was cute tho!

She really had no interest in her cupcake. I'm thinking she might be a bit of a priss! I'll take it while it lasts, because I'm fairly certain that once her Daddy and brother get one-on-one time with her, when she is most impressionable, she will end up a tomboy! I'm just telling myself that tom-boys can still be "foo-foo"! I think of a friend of mine who can be "foo-foo" one minute and the next minute be shooting an opossum off her back deck!

She didn't even want to touch the cupcake!

I really tried to help her get in the spirit of making a big mess! It didn't work, but I succeeded at looking a bit silly!

She's looking a little tuckered out at this point!

She was an absolute joy throughout the party! She was ready to get down and get going though. I think she was "cooped" up enough! I tried to get some good pictures of her in front of this pretty "palace" painting that was in the room, but the minute I let go of her, she was off! So, no posed pictures like I had hoped for...oh well!

Another picture of the *four of us*!!! Harrison wore his shirt that he wore the day she was born!

After the party, we went home and Hayden chilled out for a while!

She loves this new chair! She got many, many nice gifts for her birthday. Along with her buggy, we gave her a jewelry box, and started a charm bracelet for her. Yes, it's something she could care less about now, but it will be special to her one day. Harrison got her a shopping cart. She got several cute outfits and pretty dresses, a bathrobe, a picnic basket and picnic set, books, a baby doll, a Fancy Nancy Madame Alexander, various toys, and lots and lots of love! It was a great day!

It was an absolutely wonderful weekend. We enjoyed celebrating Haydens' Birthday with family and friends! We are SO VERY FORTUNATE to have this beautiful, healthy, growing, little girl.

I mean....Is she beautiful, or what???


In other news....

I'll post Easter pictures as soon as I can. Sunday is Parent/Infant dedication and we will be dedicating Hayden , so I may post those pictures at the same time as Easter.

Hayden is cutting her two upper molars! Her fingers can be found in her mouth 100% of the time! She's not been eating very well...but still nursing LOTS!!! She's going to be difficult about the whole "weaning" thing, I believe!

Yesterday, I thought she'd be taking her first steps soon. Today, it seems as if it will be awhile. Hmmm.....

She is saying "Da-E" for "Daddy" and "Ma-me" for "Mommy"

When I say "give mommy a kiss" she comes at me with open-mouth kisses! love it!

She LOVES her glo-worm! She is beginning to show interest in her baby dolls. She hugs her toys like glo-worm and dolls!

She is becoming quite the climber! Today I found her on Harrisons' bed. He has a trundle that was pulled out...but she made it all the way up to the top! Where was her mother, you ask???

Harrison has his first baseball game Saturday! Yes! I love baseball!

He has a "sculpture" of some sort in the art show! Pictures soon!

We have friends (Aaron works with him) that had TRIPLETS today!!! Praise God for these little miracles! They didn't come easy!

Stellan is in Boston!!! He may be having an ablation on Tuesday. This is a risky surgery on a baby his age. Please continue to be in prayer that surgery will not be necessary.

Please continue to pray for Jonah! He's so adorably sweet! (see his button on my side bar)