Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Parenting in Congo

A Cup of Jo has been doing a series on expat Americans and the surprising things of motherhood.  On Monday she had two women living in Congo and raising their children there.  Scooch on over here to read  "13 Surprising Things About Parenting In Congo."

I have to admit it made me smile and cry as I thought about my own two Congolese Cuties.  One of those moments where I thought about how blessed I am to have them but how much I want them to have part of their country in their life.  I am still figuring it out.

I love these pictures from her post.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Don't know if I ever shared but I love snakes.  We decided to get a snake shortly after we were married, but then we got pregnant, and snake went to the wayside.  Now it would just push us past a level of crazy.  So no snake.

But this, this I can do.


Totally gorgeous, and totally a DIY if you don't have the money, although the prints are reasonably priced at $35 a piece.

Monday, July 29, 2013


This is Truitt last night at supper, who could not be prevailed upon to finish up his meal, not even for a fresh chocolate chip cookie.  See how his mouth is goofy?  That's because he was storing up food in those cheeks of his for winter.  Just like a squirrel.  

So we sent him to bed early.  (Partly too because he is getting over being sick.)  Guess who was still wide awake 2 hours later?

I think the word for him is incorrigible.  (I totally had to google that to find the meaning.  I saw it on another blog describing something and I just really wanted to use it!)

Also, he has the best hair ever.  I have hair envy of my two year old.  My plan is to never, ever cut it.  Until someone tells me that he looks like a girl, and then maybe I will realize that I took it a little too far.  Like Rachel Zoe's kid.

PS: Today is basement renovation start day!  Finally!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Do to the Vay

While I continue on my no buying summer, I have been spending a lot of time online looking at things for the house.

I will be shortly painting my bedroom white, (I hopefully have enough paint already that I won't have to buy more or wait until september to finish to avoid buying anything not necessary).  And my duvet cover is white and I really, really want to notch it up a bit in color.  And since duvets are nothing but straight lines, I can easily sew one up.  And then I will cheat and sew in velcro and not buttonholes to close it because I am lazy and impatient and don't want to take the time to learn how to do them.

So I headed over to to peruse their endless possibilities, and I came across these three.  Two of them are the same fabric just a different color scheme.

Lucky Penny Mural Noon

Lucky Penny Mural Night

Swavelle Mill Creek Merrimack Passion Black

I love, love the quirkiness of them.  The only problem is I can't figure out which one I really want.  Probably I will just order all three since has an awesome return policy- you can return for free, no questions asked.  Then I can lay them out on my bed and play with ideas.  Or maybe I'll get all crazy and do one pattern on one side and then a different one on another....

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monsters University Birthday Party

I decided on Thursday night that I wanted to up the ante a little bit when it came to the littles' party.  I was feeling mom guilt since we didn't throw them a party the year before and all that.  So I hopped on Pinterest to find some inspiration.  Pinterest is like google, if you aren't careful you should probably just stay away.

Here's a few ideas I found.

Monsters University Party #monstersuniversity #party 
                    Here                                                         Here

Playful Monsters University Themed Party               Monsters University party ideas. When I have a son... Blakey's birthday cake!
                  Here                                                              Here

There's a ton more, so give it a lookie.  I was a little overwhelmed since I had only 1 day to get stuff for the party, and also since all the pictures everything looks amazing and well, fairly professional, which correlates with expensive.  I mean look at that fun polka dot fabric in the first picture.  But I didn't have the budget for that.

So I give you the cheap mom's version of a Monsters Party.

Everyone likes balloons and streamers.  And if you look really hard you can see on the back wall there are some cut outs.  I found this free printable and printed off a bunch on cardstock, cut them out and plastered them over pretty much every wall in the house.  It's also what I used to top the cake with.  If I had all the money in the world, I would have bought a ton of helium balloons and filled the ceiling with them, the 6 I got looked so awesome just hanging out.

I cannot wait for my new bathroom!  

Monster Jigglers.  The mold is one dollar in the Jello aisle at Walmart.

Monster plates from Walmart, Monster pencils and balls from the dollar section right now in Target.  

I couldn't find a link to it, but I also went into the party section at Walmart and bought the Monsters decorating kit for $6.50 that had a ton of hanging items, and three large posters.  You can see two of the three in the picture below.

I used this from Pinterest and cut out the circles and taped to cups.

Monsters university party cupcake toppers

And then I went to this website and printed off a ton of free coloring printables so all of the 11 children could go to town.

And because I am a glutton for punishment, I topped it all of with sugar infused green and purple juice.   And green twizzlers cut in half in little tin pails that we had from Easter.   It was a lot of fun, and when the kids came out Saturday morning after I decorated the night before, all three of them told me "it's so beautiful!".

It took quite a long time to decorate, so we probably will leave everything up for at least a week!  Now Owen says he wants a Monsters party too!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Birthday Pics

On Saturday we had a party for the 3 littles turning 3, 3, and 2.  The weather was finally cooler, so we were outside.  Which was fantastic since our house is tiny, our basement is ripped up and we had 20 people.

Let the pictures come forth.

If you squint really hard you can see it's a Monsters University cake- the theme for the party.

He pretty much hasn't let go of this since Saturday.


Who knew goggles would be so awesome?  Except for Truitt, he would not put them on,

In front of the loot.  We now need to majorly go through and get rid of toys.  I am inspired by this post over at House Tweaking.

A family shot with the neighbors house for a background.  

Tomorrow I will post pictures of what the inside of the house looked like for a Monster's University theme party, as well as free printables and awesome ideas if you want to do the same.  It was a huge hit as all my kids are obsessed with Monsters.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Controversial" Cheerios Ad, and Kids' Reaction

Probably you have all seen this Cheerios add that apparently pissed people off.  People I really want to punch in the face.  (I won't, that wouldn't be very nice, but I still want to.)

This weekend I came across the video below on kids reacting to the commercial.  America, stand up and listen to these kids.  Their answers made me smile, and shed a few tears.  We love to think that racism is a thing of the past in the US, and yes, I agree we have come a long way.  But when Moyz went up behind a little old lady and gave her a hug, and she turned around and told him that he better not do that when he's older or he'll get arrested and thrown in jail (after she saw Moyz hug her friend), that shows me we have so much further to go.

Please, teach your kids that God created all people equal.  That racism does exist and that we need to fight it because  Because if we don't teach our kids and correct all the crap that our country has in its past, there is not way we can move forward.

For a long time, I was so focused on the fact that there wasn't that many black people in our community.  But I have come to the realization that our kids are the black people, and we can change peoples perceptions.  And that is a big responsibility.  But you know what?  When someone tells me that they watched Hotel Rwanda and grieved in a way they never thought they would because they were thinking about my kids, that made me refocus, and smile and cry for happiness.

Racism is a long and hard fight but when my friend told me her reaction to the movie, I knew that there was one more blow to racism pushing it further from our country.  And for that I am glad.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guess Who Turned 3?!

My baby girl had a birthday this week.  3 years old, I can barely believe it.  And today is the day the kids first landed in America- home two years.  Time flies.  Like crazy.  In fact, I can barely remember life without them.  Which makes me think my brain might be a little fried since Ava was 8 and Owen 4 when they came home.

See this cake?  It's the first time I've used props, butterflies from the dollar store.  Normally I just make a two layer cake and call it a day.  But Chris said I've set the bar really high for myself now, and I have to admit the cake did look so stinkin' cute!

These dolls are currently at Walmart for $4.97.  They don't have too much make-up, come in two shades of black, plus a Latino colored (and white, obviously) and are dressed fairly appropriately.  Which is more than I can say about the current crop of Barbies.  Run to get one if your little likes dolls!

At her three year checkup the doctor said that while tiny, 20% for weight, and 3% for height, she thinks she will make it to 5 feet.  But gave a disclaimer that you never know with kids who come home severely malnourished like Kembia was.

July 18, 2011- Two years ago today.  Picking them up from the airport.  She looks a tad shell-shocked.

Here's her stats:  At the first doctor visit, one week after she came home she weighed 14 lbs. 7 oz.  At 12 months old.  I almost cry thinking about it.  She was 2 feet and 2 inches tall.  Her hands were the same size as her newborn brothers (born three weeks after she got home), and she wore 3 month sized clothes.

This week she was 27 pounds, and 2 feet 10 inches.  Doesn't sound like a whole lot of growth in 2 years, but we are so proud of her.

We love you baby girl!  (To which she'd reply "I'm not a baby!")

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DIY Windfall

I am finally almost finished with my oversized growth ruler.  I just need something from the hardware store to fasten it to the wall.  In the mean time, I decided to go through my meager pins on Pinterest and post some of my favorites, yet to be accomplished at my house.

DIY Paper Wall Art.  Definitely happening when we get the new bedroom.  Trouble is, which kids will want it?  Answer:  all of them

DIY picture frame tray.  I am regretting a tray that I missed out on at Target when Jonathan Adler (I think it was him!) collaborated.  But then I found this just this week.  Awesome.


As soon as my self-imposed not buying anything until school starts, I am immediately rushing out and getting everything to make these amazing bracelets.

DIY faux snakeskin table.  Be still my heart.  (Confession, I usually hate when bloggers use that phrase, but truly, it sums up the feeling better than anything else I can think of!).  If you don't want to do a whole table, I saw this lamp on Target just this morning.  Their Threshold line is constantly amazing me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

House Beautiful said what? And a cheaper DIY.

Flipping through the current House Beautiful, I came across this in the section called "the best".

My first thought was they were cute, and my second thought was not $20 for 20 clothespins.  These made it into a fancy design magazine?  People, if you are spending $20 for 20 clothespins then we need to have a little chat on spending money wisely.

It is a great idea.  But do not spend that kind of money on clothespins, of all things.   Buy a pack of $2 clothespins (BTW, I already owned the clothespins, so no worries, didn't break the self-imposed don't buy anything until school starts. Yet.)  and, wait for it, color them yourself.    With the permanent markers I know you already own.  Better yet, make your kids do it.  Like this.

You don't even need instructions for this DIY.  Eat your heart out House Beautiful

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meet Zeke

Look what just joined our family-  Zeke the baby Great Dane!

It was super hard to get good pictures of him because he is all over.

A moment of peace and quiet- for me!

This gives you an idea of how big he is, just turned 8 weeks old.

We've had him for 5 days, and unfortunately, 3 of those days he has had 1 or 2 accidents in the house.  Two of the days I can blame on Chris for not watching him well, but the other day was mine.  I am totally freaking out that with all these accidents his hope for potty training is quickly going out the door.  I've looked up a ton on the net, and it sounds like he still has hope, but I am super paranoid!

We are also doing crate training, as well as umbilical cord training during the day.  See that blue leash?  He is always wearing it in the house and usually, I am always holding it unless we are actively playing with him.  If we are playing with him then it comes off, but otherwise, he has a 6 foot leash and where I go, he goes.  Apparently, it is supposed to be excellent for training because he can never get away from you, although this morning as I was opening the door for the boys to come out of bed, he took that moment to pee in the hallway, so it's not fool proof.

I think I need to step up my potty training a dog game.

Friday, July 12, 2013

In The Spirit of Excess and 7......

Okay, you all know I am reading the book 7, where the author tries to pair down her life to focus on Jesus.  Well, as I lay across my bed looking at my dresser filled with piles of stuff, almost all of it stuff that doesn't matter, I decided to run an experiment myself.

Starting today, I will not be buying anything for myself and the others in my family that is not absolutely necessary.  No clothes, books, house stuff, etc., etc.  Probably if you can think of something, I won't be buying it.  Aside from food and regular things like toilet paper and body odor products, it is banned.

Until school starts in the fall.

I know it seems kind of drastic, and maybe it is, but I buy so much stuff that is unnecessary, I am probably single-handedly blowing our monthly budget, and it's not like I have lots of great things to show for it.  I have lots of stuff.  Stuff that fills my house and gets in my way and stuff that I now somehow have to find a home for.

Were they reading my mind when they wrote this card??? I often joke that I watch Hoarders when I'm feeling scrappy so that I can feel good about myself again!!!  Lol
This is kind of true for me.  Okay, maybe more than kind of.

Really, it's only for a month and a half, and I can keep myself motivated by thinking about all the money I will save.

There are a couple of exceptions.  The first is that the three littles all have birthdays coming up, and while they don't need anything, I will still get them a birthday present.  The second is when school supplies go cheap in August.  I use that to stock up my own notebooks and pens and such, and I will still do that this August as well.

And, to top it all off, while I am busy not buying anything, probably best accomplished by not going anywhere, I will be going through my house like a mad woman and getting rid of things.

Anybody in for a fight against excess until school resumes?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I'm Reading

Summer is great for reading.  You want the kids outside, but if you don't have a fenced in yard, and littles to worry about, you have to be out there with them lest they run out into a road.  However, if I don't have something to do then I think about all the crap inside the house I should be doing and it drives me crazy.

Really, I am just justifying yet another reason why reading rocks.

Here's what I have going on right now.

1.  American Sniper

This is actually a fascinating book written by the US military's top sniper.  Incidentally, he was shot and killed this past February in the US by a fellow soldier he was helping who was struggling with PTSD.  A very interesting read and thought provoking in terms of my ideas about war.

2.  Inkheart

If you are only familiar with this because of the movie, please know that the movie is crap.  But the book, the book is magical.  This is a several time repeat for me.  I started it again this last time after the drive home from South Dakota.  They had these low scrub bushes that for whatever reason give me an idea of the Italian countryside, even though I have never been, and this book is based in Italy.  If you are a bibliophile even just a smidgen, this woman does the best descriptions of loving books I have ever read.  I love it so much that my paperback is falling apart and I ordered the hardcover, plus the ebook for my kindle so I can easily take it where ever I go.  That's love.

3.  The Odyssey

This exact one specifically.  It's one of the Penguin clothbounds I have been slowly collecting.  Although technically, I am not sure if you can say I am reading this since I only read the first page.  But, it is in my pile of "current" books.  And I think I am going to like it.  And only just a little ashamed that I made it into my 30's before getting to it.

4.  7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

This one focuses on a woman who went on a journey for 7 months where every month she reduced an area of excess in her life.  For one month she only ate 7 foods, for another she wore only 7 items of clothing.  The goal is to simplify her life so she has more room to focus on Jesus and the things he wants from her, rather than what we think society wants from us.  Pretty interesting and kind of makes me want to attempt it.

Anything good I should know about?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Love this.

by Leah Flores

Monday, July 8, 2013


Well, our basement reno has been postponed a month.  Just imagine the tears coming from my face.  For various reasons, including an extremely high water table we need to get beneath to do piping, and our friend who is doing the reno has a two week government job that pays much better than home reno, and so we wait.

I'll get over it.

In the mean time in between begging Chris to just "dig that egress window already", I have been virtually shopping.  So, so dangerous.

Look at what I found for the new bathroom.  A periodic table of the elements shower curtain.

Vintage Periodic Table Shower Curtain
I seriously cannot stand it.

Who comes up with this stuff?  It's from the website cafepress, where pretty much they can custom make anything for you.  I can totally see this with my new bathroom upstairs.  Originally, I was going to put it in the kids' bathroom downstairs.  But then I realized that they wouldn't appreciate it, and the nerd in me can't reconcile with this being in the basement and every visitor who comes to the house would totally miss out...

So then because I stole the kids' shower curtain, I had to keep  looking.  And here's what I came up with.

Octopus Antique Illustration Shower Curtain
You don't find this in the aisle at Target.

They only hesitation I have with this is that is it too much of a cliche' to put this in a bathroom?  All of those bathrooms filled with shells drive me crazy.  And here I am going to stick a ginormous Octopus in mine?  And then I wonder how I would decorate the walls.  I'm going to have to ponder this...

Perhaps this?

Black and White Chevron Pattern Shower Curtain
Chevron, I don't care if it is getting old, I cannot get over it!I can totally see a white and black bathroom, maybe with a bright coral accent color?  

And then there is this strange one.  

Money World Map Shower Curtain
A shower curtain of the world with the currencies of different countries.  Strange, and unique, but not really in the running.

And therein lies the problem, with too much time to sit and ponder, I go crazy.  It's probably why I have had 8 colors in my kitchen- I cannot stand the same thing too long and there are too many awesome choices out there.  But seeing as the Nelsons don't have any money trees in the backyard, I kind of have to pick something and go with it for the foreseeable future.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Strong Willed Child

When I was pregnant with Truitt, someone, actually lots of people, told me he was going to be the easiest and so laid back because he was the youngest of 5.

They were all liars.

Doesn't this just scream easy and relaxed to you?

That kid.  I don't really even have the words to describe him.  Naughty, defiant.  Never know what type of mood he will be in.  We call him our disgruntled employee.

He went through a stage where every time you gave him something other then milk, which he only got at meals, then he would be throw the cup as hard as he could across the room.  He always tells me no, grunts in defiance, hits and screams.  Last week I literally drug him across three baseball fields to get to the fourth where Owen was playing, all because he wanted to stay on the playground.

When he's in a good mood, I have never met a child sweeter than him.  We just never really know which side of Truitt we'll get at any one moment.

I'm almost yanking my hair out with what to do with this little rascal.  I found this link that gives advice on what to do with strong willed children.  Unfortunately, it's more aimed at kids older than Truitt.  Hopefully, this is just the terrible twos rearing it's ugly head and he'll grow out of it.  Maybe I'm just more stressed because I also have two kids going through the terrible threes.  I don't know.

You'd think after all these kids I would have this all figured out by now.  Any thoughts or tips?