Merry Christmas!

{the Browns}


Homespun Advent {Part 1}

My newfound obsession with Pinterest has lead me to consider myself perhaps more crafty than I truly am. Even so, it has become my vision to add to our holiday decorations with a variety of homespun crafts.

I adore all the bookpage craftiness that is floating around the web these days, as it appeals to both my literary nature and our "vintagey" home decor. My first project became these flowers delicately crafted from an old book, the inspiration for which can be found here. The addition of a few holly berries {I've since added three berries to the middle of each flower} and a red crocheted garland made these flowers the perfect touch for my beloved grapevine wreath. I thought the crocheted garland was inspired by this homemade creation, but as I look now at the original wreath I find myself wondering where my mind's memory began to stray. To give credit where credit is due...

I never know how to decorate my {extremely} limited kitchen countertops. Enter a cinnamon stick candle, an empty Oberweis milk bottle, and a few stray pinecones and... vuala! A little bit of Christmas cheer is born. Stay tuned for more homespun tidings...


Christmas Cheer

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."
- Buddy the Elf
{Elf, 2003}

As you may have read about here, Christmas cheer needed a little kick-start around our home. Enter... iPod playlist.

Point of Grace "A Christmas Story"
I picked this album up off the clearance rack at our local Christian bookstore MANY years ago. Having recently found the CD, I have been enjoying all the tracks once more this season.

Amy Grant, "Home for Christmas"
I am actually NOT an Amy Grant fan, but find I must make an exception for the Christmas albums. Just look- the cover has a beautiful white birch tree... it must be amazing!

Amy Grant "A Christmas to Remember"
Hearing the title track begin this album makes me happy every single time.

Amy Grant "A Christmas Album"
This is the album probably responsible for the massive over-representation of Amy Grant in my Christmas music selection. We had this on a record when I was small... visions of pink-nightgown-clad girls swirling around with their daddy are in my head each time I listen. (Besides, who could resist the fabulous Christmas sweater and ski sunglasses?)

Keith & Kristyn Getty "Joy- An Irish Christmas"
You should get this album... immediately. This is the best Christmas collection I have ever encountered. Instantly affection raising. Seriously, you need to visit their site right now to purchase it.

There you have it. The music Baby Girl and I danced to all day long as we endeavored to gain our Christmas spirit. Do share- what music puts you in the Christmas mood?


The Versatile iPod

Most common use of the iPod before kids...

{utilizing the shiny reflection to entertain the dog}.

Most common use of the iPod after kids...

{utilizing the shiny screen light to distract the crying baby}.

And who says owning pets isn't good practice for having a kid?


Time Flies...

... no matter what level of fun you may or may not be having. Everyone says this, but I cannot believe my baby girl will be five months old next week. What happened to the pregnancy? I am now fully convinced the older you get the faster time seems to go... I never used to believe adults when they made such comments. Just yesterday I was thinking about something that happened when I first began working in the restaurant business (which feels like just a short time ago), and it occurred to me that as I am just shy of thirty said incident took place nearly HALF MY LIFETIME ago. Sheesh...

In a totally unrelated theme, I am so not ready for Christmas. Can we just back up a few weeks and allow some time to "deck the halls"? With the adjustment of working-part-time-from-home-teaching-baby-to-sleep-at-night-trying-to-cram-all-my-housework-into-naptime-traveling-for-the-holidays-for-the-first-time-with-a-baby, I haven't even begun to prepare for the season of good tidings and great joy. Good thing it's not really about the gifts for which I have no idea what to even put on my list. Not only do we not yet have a Christmas tree (note the date of this post as December 1st), but when I went in the basement yesterday with the intent of retrieving our holiday decorations I decided to thoroughly purge a massive amount of clutter instead. Yep... those decorations are still in their clear plastic totes! I'm half tempted to succumb to the "bah, humbug" voice in my head and try for better luck next year. If it wasn't baby girl's first Christmas...


Sad Tidings

Last week we sojourned to Texas to participate in the marriage celebration of my brother-in-law, leaving our puppy to the careful care of my family. Upon our return, it was decided to make their house Piper's permanent dwelling due to our growing concern over his less-than-eager reception of Chloe into the family. While it is not yet a "done deal" and is probably the correct decision for the safety of our daughter... the truth remains I miss him.

I miss having him rush out the door each time we come home. I miss forgetting I left him outside only to find him sitting patiently on the front step (we could not get him to run away if we tried). I miss hearing the click of his toenails on the hardwood as he gets a drink in the middle of the night. I miss his hopefully expectant face waiting for a rawhide before bed each night, and his eager anticipation of messy droppings each time I begin to cook something in the kitchen. I know he is only an animal... but you do grow affectionate sharing the same roof for five years.

So... here's to you, Piper!



Before becoming a mother, I never knew the wealth of impossible choices that awaited me.

take a shower OR sleep

eat lunch OR go to the bathroom

brush my teeth OR put on deodorant

fix my hair OR apply make-up

get food at the grocery store OR take the baby to the doctor

And that doesn't even consider these less-critical but equally impossible choices!

sweep up the piles of dog hair drifting around the house OR fold and put away the mountain of laundry growing on what was once your bed

spend five minutes actually looking at your husband's face OR spend five minutes fixing a dinner that does not involve a drive-thru window

attempt to exercise while holding the baby OR attempt to clean two weeks' worth of dishes while holding the baby

Oh, the decisions you'll make! Every day is quite the adventure!


Secret Weapon

Through my growing up years in the Loy household I learned an important secret -

"Baking Soda Can Clean Anything".

From shoe-scuffed tiles to grimy shower walls to stained sinks... this item reigns supreme above all other cleaning chemicals. And who can beat the price?

My favorite item of choice for this powerful product? Our white-porcelain sink (adorable to look at/extremely impractical to use) when marked with iced tea and coffee stains. So, the next time you encounter something dirty that needs a little more than elbow grease I recommend you grab your box of baking soda. I guarantee it will become your secret weapon too!


Bliss is...

...being able to take a long, hot shower while your wonderful-amazing-fabulous-hubby-you-don't-deserve cuddles with your fussy little bundle of joy.


Technologically "Un"-Savvy

We were blessed to have recently purchased a new MacBook. Our trusty old 2003 could no longer handle the requirements of "newer" programs (like Word 2008 or iTunes version 9). I am one of the most inept people at handling technological devices (I still cannot successfully send a picture from my phone) so overall I have greatly appreciated the simplicity of Apple technology. I did have one complaint which I recently shared with Kyle.

Me: Every time I try to click on something, all these choices come up onto the screen. It's really frustrating when I don't want to cut or paste or copy... all I want to do is scroll down.

Kyle: I don't have that problem.

Me: Well I don't know how to fix it, but I can't keep using it this way.

Kyle (watching me attempt to click on a link): Um... you're clicking on the right side of the mouse pad.

Me: Oh...


We Believe

This beautiful creed is stuck in my head today... I highlighted my favorite statement of truth. What an amazing thing is the Trinity!

"We believe in the Father, who created all that is
And we believe the universe and all therein is His
As a loving heavenly Father, He yearned to save us all
To lift us from the fall... We believe!

We believe in Jesus the Father's only Son
Existing uncreated before time had begun
A sacrifice for sin, He died then rose again
To ransom sinful men... We believe!

We believe in the Spirit who makes believers one.
Our hearts are filled with His presence;
The Comforter has come
The kingdom unfolds in His plan
Unhindered by quarrels of man
His church upheld by His hand . . . We believe!

Though the earth be removed
And time be no more
These truths are secure
God's word shall endure
Whatever may change, these things are sure . . . We believe!

So if the mountains are cast down into the plains
When kingdoms all crumble, this one remains
Our faith is not subject to seasons of man
With our fathers we proclaim
We believe our Lord will come as he said;
The land and the sea will give up their dead.
His children will reign with Him as their head.

We believe!"

~ sung by Steve Green


Word Study

Today I came across a word whose origin I had never considered before- handkerchief. In designing a lesson reviewing the vowel digraph and the digraph, I found this amazing word. My hypothesis was that it was a compound of hand + kerchief, which proved to be correct. What I didn't recognize at first was that is formed from the Old French word couvrir "to cover" + chief "head". The word handkerchief has been in use since the 1500's, and is a "one word contradiction of terms" (http://www.etymonline.com/). Incidentally, notice how this word cannot be spelled correctly based on its sound (we don't articulate the /d/ in hand). In order to arrive at the correct spelling, the meaning must be understood. Chalk one up to a fully rounded teaching of orthography!



I really dislike football, but the Superbowl food lineup can be lots of fun! I have been wanting to try these for a few years, and a last minute party invite gave me the perfect opportunity.

I would have liked to serve them on a green tray... perhaps sporting Packer flags in tribute to Kyle's family.



A winter blizzard is headed our way. In keeping with the typical serious reaction of people in the Twin City area to a forecast of precipitation, the grocery stores have been plundered and Governor Quinn has even declared the entire state of Illinois a "weather disaster area".

With the cupboards fully stocked and the house locked up safe and warm, Piper and I watch the snowflakes gently fall outside the window. It is hard to believe this beautiful picture is supposed to evolve into a raging storm.

I intend to take advantage of the unexpected time off by working through the stack of books on my nightstand that have been patiently waiting to be read. I might even enjoy a nice cup of tea!


Instant Cure

I have a cold.

Being the daughter of a pharmacist, this is the first time I have had to deal with illness apart from the aid of medicine. In suffering from a head-cold-induced migraine, I stumbled upon the perfect "natural" cure.

Down 12 ounces of corn syrup laced coke while taking an excessively long, excruciatingly hot shower.

Side Effects:
You will probably deposit little, dried flakes of what used to be your skin all over the house while your insides suffer untold damage from the corn syrup, the full extent of which only your grandchildren will truly understand. Also, your husband may come home from work with inquiries as to how the bathroom paint peeled off of the walls and ceiling in the course of one day.

I deem these side effects as minor sacrifices in the name of instant gratification from pain. Attempt this cure at your own risk.


The Way We Talk

I have thoroughly enjoyed the class I am taking on the orthography of the English language. The material has expanded my view of literacy, and the discussions have kept my brain sharp. We are at the point in the curriculum regarding phonology (units of speech that construct meaning).

Our teacher emphasized the point that many spelling errors are problems of orthography, not phonology, with this story. A fellow doctoral student is teaching a college level English 101 class. In an assignment, some of her students wrote the following phrases:

from the gecko

hammy downs

While we may laugh at these errors that seem like cards in Mad Gab, phonemes are rarely pure. Which just reinforces the truth I have firmly come to believe- in English, we spell things the way they mean not the way they sound.


Baby Blog

I am a terrible scrapbooker. Piles of cute paper, adorable stamps, and rolls of acid-free tape sit unused in a dusty corner of the basement.

I am a terrible photographer. Not only do I not know how to use the limited advantages of my Nikon point-and-shoot, I never have the camera within reach at those "Kodak moments".

In an effort to change these shortcomings, or at least adapt to them, I have begun a "baby blog" to chronicle all these new and exciting changes. Click here to check it out!