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def. 1 Mod*derhood (mad-der-hud) 1) A mama of multiples with a modern style yet old school values

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Pictures *2010*

Here are a few pics of the Esparza Christmas 2010...


Uncle Henry got both Scout and Sawyer stuffed animals that were each 3 feet tall.  The kids went nuts.  So did I, when I realized we were going to have to travel back to Austin squeezed inbetween 25 feet of stuffed animals.

This is Mirna's face when she received a laptop from her sister (my mother in law, Leticia) for Christmas. This is completely different from the face she made when opening up her present from us.  We gave her a caramel amaretto soy based candle - one of the most incredible smelling candles I've ever come across.  Shortly after she unwrapped it, we learned she had no sense of smell.

One of my favorite moments is when Carlos received a green gift card (not the one pictured) for Christmas, then turned to his wife, Rebecca, and said, "Look, honey, we're legal!"

Merrick kissing his beautiful (and sleepy) Aunt Lynda.  He was so excited about the talking microscope she gave him for Christmas.  

Bita (short for Abuelita, Spanish for Grandmother) gave each of her three youngest grandchildren a rocking horse.  I love Priscilla's face in this pic (in the back).  She's screaming, "Get me off of this thing!!!!"


Mama looking good.  Shelby getting socks for Christmas.  

Once again, Scout is swallowed up by her Christmas gifts.

Mama opening her gift from me.  Subway Art!  Read that story here.

Daddy reading the real Christmas Story from Luke 2

Beautiful Christmas Decor

I love checking out my parents' tree every year and seeing all the ornaments from my childhood.

Grandmother came to visit and...

...brought us some North Carolina BBQ!!!

Mama's garland on her front door (1 of 2).  Isn't it beautiful?  I love the music theme.

The kids went outside to play with cousin Jack's helicopter.  I love how kids so quickly seek to destroy their toys.  One kid would fly the helicopter while another kid would try to knock it out of the sky with a soccer ball.  After that got old, they decided to use the soccer ball to try to hit BDaddy (my dad) "in the privates."  Sawyer loved every minute of this.

My favorite picture from Christmas.  Sawyer loves his BDaddy so much.

Merry Christmas to all.  :)

Sugar Plum Treats

Here are some pics of the little treat Merrick and I decided to make for all his friends in his class at Mother's Day Out.  This year, Merrick became obsessed with marshmallows and gingerbread houses (and anything else that was pure sugar) so when I stumbled across this recipe, I knew it was the perfect treat for us.   

I love making little treats like this with Merrick.  One, it keeps him within my line of vision and in an area of controlled chaos.  Secondly, I get to eat about seven or eight of them when he's not looking.  C, if I train him right now, I could have him cooking dinner by the time he's seven years old.  That's the plan, anyway.  

The best thing about this "recipe" is that it only takes about 10 minutes to complete.  There are two things I would suggest if you decide to make these yourself.  One, don't "dip" the candy coated marshmallows into the sprinkles.  Instead, put a few sprinkles in the palm of your hand and pour them on the marshmallow (over a bowl, of course).  The second tip is to buy a little piece of styrofoam to use to stand the sugar plums up as the candy coating is hardening.  Both these tips are to prevent the candy coating from getting smooshed.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crazy Christmas Shopping

I spent two and a half hours running Christmas errands with my three gremlins this morning.  I remember a few years ago when I completed my first year of shopping with a 6 month old in tow.  I thought life was soooo hard.

This morning, I spent 45 minutes in Hobby Lobby only to walk away 1 piece of black felt.  I had spent a whopping 27 cents (note to husband: not that my success while shopping is determined by the amount of money spent, of course...love you, baby).  Next, we went over to Target where the goal of my children was to impress upon every stranger passing that I was an abusive mother who had not showered in three days.  OK, maybe the not-showered-in-three-days impression had more to do with me than the kids, but you get the idea.

I'm not sure what drove me most nuts.  Was it when my 4 year old shouted out, "Mommy, that guy smells like the Stinky Cheese Man!" while pointing to a Target employee?  Perhaps when my twin boy kept throwing out every single thing I put in the basket forcing me to carry (and constantly drop) socks, toy cars,  and lady stuff even though I chose a cart the size of Texas itself.  No, despite the heavy competition from her brothers, the thing that I think drove me most nuts was the constant high pitched squealing from my daughter.  Put her in the basket - cry.  Hold her - scream.  Put her in the seat of the cart - wail.  Some times I wish I had a t-shirt that said, "Please don't call CPS.  I promise I don't beat my kids."***

During our crazy shopping time, I kept looking for the good.  "Sure," I told myself, "these kids make shopping insanely difficult, but it's all worth it because they are so adorable....right?"  I kept looking for adorable, cute things that they'd do, but they didn't really do any cute things.  It was mostly just wailing and hitting and pinching and biting.

However, once we got home they reminded me, as they always do, why I don't sell them to some under staffed sweat shop in China.  Merrick went to the restroom and, as he always does, came out with his hands held out proudly.  "Smell my hands, Mommy, " he said.  He loves for me to smell the candy cane soap after he washes his hands.  Then, my daughter, as she always does, imitated her big brother and held her hands out for me to smell as well.  "Mmmmm...." I said, even though she had not washed her hands and they smelled like boogers and mac and cheese.

I truly dislike shopping with my kids.  But, man, I loooooove, looooove, looooove my kids.

***As a side note, I think it would be hilarious if the back of the shirt said in very small print, "though if I did beat them, they probably deserved it..."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Tier Tutu Tutorial (say that three times fast...)

There are many-a great no-sew tutorials out there.  However, when I got it into my head to make my little Scout a three tier tutu, there was very, very little to be found.  So, here is a tutorial I put together for all those out there like me who like to see their little Princess all but swimming in tulle.

Initially, I started making this with the idea it would have an elastic waste.  Once I was knee deep in tulle, however, I decided to make it an apron tie waste so that my daughter could continue to wear it for a few years (and so that I can wear it when no one is looking).  

The upside to this project is that tulle is relatively inexpensive.  It cost me about $1 per yard.  The downside, of course, is that working with tulle is almost as difficult as getting your daughter to take a cute picture in the tutu after it's finished.  However, with a bit of patience and a bit more time, you can do it!

I'll refer to the colors green, red, and pink for the purpose of this tutorial, but you can use any three colors you prefer, obviously. 

Let's do this thing:
Supplies Needed
Green Tulle - 4 yards
Red Tulle - 3 yards 
Pink Tulle - 2 yards
Coordinating Thread
Safety Pins
Coordinating fabric
Coordinating Ribbon
Sewing Machine
Sewing Needle
Cutting board, Ruler, and Rotery Cutter (these things would technically be optional, but I imagine it would be very difficult without them)

First, you've got to get your measurements.  The measurements you'll need for this are the waist measurement and the length you want each tier to be.  My 18 month old daughter, for example, has a 19 3/4 waist (I round up to 20).  I decided I wanted the tiers to be 7, 9, and 11 inches long.  It's as simple as that!

Cut each layer of tulle.  The width will be same length as the desired finished length (in my case, 7, 9, and 11 inches).  The length will be 2 - 2.5 times the waist measurement (the longer you make it, the more rufflely it will be).   Cut between 4 - 8 pieces for each layer.  Per my example, I cut several pink pieces 7 x 50 inches.  Then I cut the red pieces 9 x 50 inches and the green 11 x 50 inches. 

Set your stitch length to the longest possible length (mine is a 4) and sew a straight line 1/2 inch away from the edge of EACH piece of tulle.  Don't worry - this goes pretty quickly.

Tip: You can sew two pieces (of the same color) together if you like to save time.  Just be careful that the edges are aligned.  To do this, simply line up the very ends, sew about 6 inches, realign the edges, sew 6 more inches, and repeat til the end.

After sewing the edges of each piece of tulle, gather each piece.  To do this, pull very gently on the bottom thread of each line sewn.  Pull a little on each side, then push the ruffles along the thread so that they are even all the way across.  Adjust the ruffles so that the length of the tulle is 3 inches shorter than the waist measurement (for my example, I stretched each piece to 17 inches).

Tip: Now is a good time to lay each layer of tulle to see how the colors look.  If one color doesn't "pop" as much as the others, add more pieces of that color.  For my daughter's skirt, I noticed that the green needed more pieces that the red and pink in order to stand out. 

Ohhhhh....ahhhhh....pretty tulle.....

Now take each color layer and safety pin the pieces together.  Start on the edges, making sure each piece is aligned.  Next, pin the middle, then pin in between the middle and edges.  Use at least 5 pins.

Now pin all three layers together using the same order as above.  Be sure that all the edges stay relatively aligned and that the middle pieces don't drop.

Tip:  Use smaller safety pins for pinning the individual layers and larger safety pins for pinning all three layers together.

With a sewing needle and coordinating thread, sew the three layers together by hand.  This does not have to be perfect.  Just make a stitch every 1/2 inch or so, enough to secure the three pieces together.  The picture above is what it should look like after the layers are sewn and the pins are removed.

Tip:  Use the original straight stitch line as a guide.
Time to make the band!  Cut a piece of coordinating fabric 5 1/4 inches x 1/2 inch shorter than the waist measurement.  My piece was 5 1/4 inches by 19.5 inches (for a 20 inch waist).

Fold over each edge of the fabric 1/4 inch and press then sew.

Break out your iron.  Fold the fabric in half an press.

Open up the fabric.  Fold the edge of each side in 1/4 inch and press (for a picture of this, see 3 pictures down).

Now fold the edges just below the crease in the middle and press again.

Now fold the entire piece in half again and press yet again.  This is the same method you would use when making bias tape.

Next, pin the edge of the fabric to the back of the tutu (green side).  The right side of the fabric should be touching the tulle.  Pin so that the edges of the tulle are even with the edge of the fabric on the top.  There should be about 1 inch of fabric left over on each side of the tulle skirt.

Using your sewing machine, sew just above the first crease in the fabric.  This should be about an inch from the edge.

Now, flip the fabric over and fold the last quarter under so that it looks like the picture above.  There should be no raw edges showing.  Pin in place and sew, being sure to remove the pins as you go.

Cut two pieces of ribbon about 25 inches long.

Stick one end of the ribbon inside the end of the fabric band.  Repeat on the other side

Tip: Use a lighter to slightly burn the outter raw edges of the ribbon to make sure it doesn't fray.

And...voila!   An adorable Christmas Princess Three Tier Tutu!!!

If you take a stab at this tutorial, be sure to let me know!  I'd love to see pictures of your three tier tutu!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

I received some ridiculously adorable Christmas fabric yesterday and, after dancing a little jig, I started brainstorming Christmas sewing ideas right away.  Here are a couple of sneak peek pics.  I have plans in motion to restock my etsy store for the holidays with lots of Christmas goodies...pillowcase dresses, Naughty/Nice onesie twosies for twins, and maybe even some t-shirts for MoMs.

In addition to the onesies, I made a three layer Christmas tulle tutu for my little Princess.  I look forward to posting a tutorial for that soon!

I loooooove me some colorful Christmas fabric!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch Parable

Doing a search on the internet for Christian Halloween activities results in skim pickings.  I can understand this as there are many Christians who don't feel in good conscience they can participate in this holiday.  As a follower of Christ, and as a mother, I have had to do some soul searching myself to decide how I would handle this celebration.

One year, I heard a woman talking on a Christian radio station about how she made the decision to open her home to her neighbors, provide candy, and say a prayer (in her heart) over each child that came to her door.  Instead of shutting out her neighbors on principle, she turned Halloween into an opportunity to reach out to them.  This is the heart I decided to adopt.

In our home, we don't make Halloween about witches or evil.  We don't have any scary decorations or scary costumes.  Instead, we make Halloween about making memories as a family (and, of course, getting our candy on).

This year, I came across one Christian Halloween-themed lesson that I just HAD to share.  It's based on a book called The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs.  We decided to use this story in our small group's family time.

Here's how it went:

Of course, as at most small group events, we had to have treats!  This was one of my favorite recipes of the season: Spice Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.  You can find the recipe here.  The only thing I did differently is to use 1.5 cups of pumpkin and cook them 16.5 minutes a batch.


Pumpkin Punch.  One tub of orange sherbet with 2 liters of Sprite.  For the hand, I filled a latex glove with water, put in some food coloring, and froze it about 6 hours.  

OK, I said we don't do scary stuff, but that hand probably counts as scary, huh?  I like to imagine, however, it's a little red person giving me a high five or waving hello.  :)

The kids had a blast watching Jason, our small group leader, carve out the pumpkin as Marcos, my theatrical hubby, told the story of the Pumpkin Patch Parable.

Ewww...stinky pumpkin yucky stuff!!!

Great times!

Here is the info and a few tips for the lesson via Creative Bible Study.  This is definitely something we'll do each year with our children.  I hope you will too!

Christian Object Lesson

Supplies needed: One real pumpkin, carving tools, candle, lighter/matches

Bible truth: We become a new creation through Jesus and can let His light shine in and through our lives.

John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

2 Corinthians 4:6 "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Bible songs: "This Little Light of Mine"

Christian Object lesson: A Picture of Salvation
If you have the book, read it as you carve the pumpkin. It has Scriptures throughout the book and a wonderful story. You can order it here.

Carve an actual pumpkin for this Christian object lesson.  As you cut the pumpkin open and pull the "yucky" pulp out, tell how this is a picture of how God takes us and cleanses us from all our sin - casting them as far as the east is from the west.

The carving of the eyes, nose, and SMILING face, represents how God makes us a new creation.
Then as you put the light into the pumpkin, remind them that Christ comes into our lives as a light and can shine through us into a dark world.
Encourage them through the month of October to remember this Christian object lesson and the light of Christ every time they see a carved pumpkin and how we as Christians should be letting His light shine through our lives.

A Script to go along with this Christian Object Lesson: 

(Based on Liz Curtis Higgs' book - for those that do not have the book. The book is so much fun to read though; I recommend getting a copy. Liz has such a special way of writing, and there is such a rhythm to the story. She has also added a Scripture on every page!)

Today I want to tell you a story. It's a special story called a 'parable'. A parable is an earthly story that has a heavenly meaning. In the Bible there are many parables that Jesus told so we could understand His teachings better.

This is a story about a farmer and a pumpkin.  The Farmer lives wa-a-a-a-ay out in the country. On his farm He has a pumpkin patch.

Pumpkins are really special. They start out as small oval seeds that grow into big, orange pumpkins. The farmer plants the seeds, waters, and cares for the pumpkin vines and patiently waits as they grow.

Finally by October there are big, orange pumpkins in his pumpkin patch! Some are tall and lean, some are short and round, and some have bumps and lumps. But they are all pumpkins and all were planted and cared for by the Farmer.

One day the Farmer chose a pumpkin for a special project. He brings it in from the field and washes it off. You have to be careful with pumpkins; they're tough on the outside, but if you drop them, they break into pieces!

The Farmer takes a large knife and cuts a hole in the top of the pumpkin. Inside there is yucky, slimy pulp waiting for Him. That has to go! He cleans it all out and throws it away - never to be seen again.

After that He gives the pumpkin a new face! He cuts two triangles for eyes, a square for a nose, and a big, wide smile!

Then He does something really special. He puts a small white candle down inside the pumpkin and lights the wick.

How that pumpkin glows! As people pass by, they see the smiling pumpkin and smile back. They know that once again the Farmer has taken a simple pumpkin and changed it into a glorious sight!

The Meaning of the Parable

Just like us, all the pumpkins were different. But there was something the same about every one of them - that yucky, slimy pulp on the inside!

The yucky, slimy pulp is like the sin that's in us. Romans 3:23 says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That's every single one of us.

God has made a way that all our sin can be forgiven and washed away. God even says He'll cast them as far as the East is from the West. Romans 5:8 says: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

John 3:16 goes on to say: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
After cleaning out that pumpkin, the Farmer gave the pumpkin a new face! The Bible says God can make us a new creation too.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
Then came the really special part. The light was placed inside that pumpkin and it glowed for all to see!

2 Corinthians 4:6 says: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
And Matthew 5:16 says: "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

So we can become like that pumpkin in the lesson - a glorious sight for others to see the love of Jesus!

1. Pre-carve the pumpkin.  
2. Be sure to have lots of paper towels near by on which to put the yucky insides.
3. This lesson is best suited for 3 years old and up.  If you have little ones, be sure to keep their curious hands away from the carving knives.
4. Toast the pumpkin seeds afterward telling the story!
5. Couple this lesson with a craft like the mini booklet here.

Have fun and Happy Halloween!