Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Cupcakery

I found a great Groupon like thing for a Cupcake decorating class recently. I then talked my friend Natalie into going with me! Natalie has taken some cake decorating classes in the past, so was looking forward to expanding her skills. I do a lot of cupcake making for my little chickens, so was looking forward to the same!

We went to this quaint little Cupcakery
and had a blast learning how to make Santa hats and Christmas trees. It wasn't very high skill level, but interesting non the less. Their signature frosting is an almond butter cream, and it was really good. We all came home with six cupcakes decorated ourselves. And with interesting flavors like pistachio, gingerbread, and red velvet. Yum!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Family Talent Pool

Our first family Christmas party of the year was with the Payne side. Lucky for us, this year it was held in the general vicinity of our house. Usually we travel a couple of hours, but one of my dad's brothers lives near us and they hosted our annual Christmas get together this year. Oddly enough, several family members were sick or missing this year for various reasons and it didn't seem as loud and boisterous as usual. The food was delish, as usual, and the girls got presents that were very thoughtful.

I love spending time with my family and a highlight for me this year is the fact that my cousin Shannon, who is a very talented graphic artist, also started her own photography business. Seriously! To say I love good photography is an understatement. And Shannon has an eye for it AND lots of skill with photoshop. It's the little things that make me happy, really.

As you can see from the below shots, most of which are Shannon's. My favorite are the one with my dad and the grand kids and the one of my sweet Grace. Thanks Shannon! You can count on us as regular customers!

My Dad with Grace, Jack, Abby, and Isabelle

Kelsey, our the "Little Girl Whisperer" as we like to call her. Showing her own doll collection to my daughters and neice. She had them completely spell bound for hours.

Jenna, home from college, with Eian and Isabelle

My beautiful toothless Isabelle, currently down TWO teeth!

I love this shot of Sam, Eian, Jenna, and Kelsey.

And My favorite of Gracie. Do you love that big bow or what? I swore I never would, but I did. And I even though she could barely keep her head up with it on, I don't regret it one bit!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Pintrest Christmas, Part 1

I have been loving Pintrest. Have you been there? It is VERY addictive. I'm happy to say I'm not only finding cool things on there, but actually taking some time to do many of the things I have found. Let me highlight one or two today. Teacher gifts are always a trying task. What kind of gift do you get a teacher? I remember going to my friend Emily's house one year and seeing the BOX of stuff she brought home from her students. All of it she was thankful for, but I remember thinking, "How many apple knick knacks and scented candles can one person use?" So, we get target gift cards for our teachers, but so that I have something to put it in, I got these cute reusable travel mugs and made a Resuable Coffee Cozy to go with it. Although my first attempt didn't turn out half as cute as the one on the link...still, kinda cute. Hope they like it!

I also love to make wreaths. I often re-purpose old wreaths into new with stuff I have laying around the house. But I found this great wreath and pinned it! I bought one spool(is that how you say it?) of yarn and a about four sheets of inexpensive felt and wah-la...Christmas wreath!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cheer

Christmas is in full swing here at the Michael House. I have to say that I haven't felt stressed or overscheduled at all this Christmas season. I got my shopping done early and I have even been in full "crafty mode" and not too busy. So far we've had a Home Group Christmas Party, a School Christmas Play, and a Kid's Scarf Making Party at our house and still...we're all calm and totally enjoying the Christmas season!

One of our all time favorite things to do with our kids is putting up the Christmas tree. We always put on Christmas music and make hot cocoa, and take our time decorating the tree. Every year our kids get a new ornament that goes into thier own "box" of decorations. By the time they become adults and start thier own famlies, they will have a little box to start off thier own trees. We got our Christmas tree star on our honeymoon. And we even got an ornament at the Statue of Liberty where Conrad proposed to me! We have an ornament that has the story in it of when we were expecting Isabelle and told my family on Christmas Eve all about it. The girls LOVE hearing these stories! Most vacations or events are marked with an ornament.

Here are a few pictures of our Christmas Cheer! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All I Want for Christmas Is....

Yes! Isabelle lost her first tooth! I can't believe my little girl lost her first tooth! I think I was just as excited to play the tooth fairy as she was excited to get a visit from the tooth fairy. She traded her tiny little tooth for $2 (that had a little extra glitter or "fairy dust" as my kids like to call it). Apparently $2 is the going rate for a tooth these days?!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Picture for the Famiy in India

When my good ole' southern grandfather met my husband for the first time, there was one question he couldn't wait to ask. How much to love my grandaughter? Nope. Do you intend to be a good provider for future great- grandchildren? Nope. The question burdening his mind was, "So, what do they hunt in India?" Conrad looked at him with kind of a confused look and finally answered, "Uhhhh nothing. There are too many people in India to hunt anything." I laughed later on and told him, "You should have just said, 'Tiger. In India we hunt tigers.'"

This Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law who is a champion shooter, brought a few of his favorite handguns over and a few family members went outside for some target shooting. Conrad was one of them...and I HAD to take pictures to show his mom back in India how well her son shoots. And he did pretty well!

Thursday, December 01, 2011


As you can obviously see, there is a delayed response kind of thing happening here on the Michael Chronicles. Just last week I got around to posting about Halloween! Yikes. But lately, I have been thinking about Thanksgiving and well, being thankful. I thought I’d share it with you.

The last couple of years have been tough on me and on mine. Since this isn’t my online diary, I won’t be sharing with you the details of why, but suffice to say, it was one of the most difficult seasons of my life, possibly the most difficult. The circumstances haven’t improved, but we’ve just kind of adapted to a new normal.

During this time, it seemed like I was also under a weird barrage of attack. I broke my foot, my thyroid went berserk, and I had a general grumpy, exhausted, and irritable perspective that comes with those kind of physical issues. Yes, it was good times in the Michael household!

Things have gotten better. I’ll just tell you a few things. I feel so much better, I lost lots of baby weight plus thyroid issue weight gain (a personal goal that’s ALWAYS on my “list”). My thyroid is on the way to being under control.

As I took a step back from my life and examined where I’m at, I realized that I have met many of my life goals and I’m pretty much on track for where…no, who I wanted to be at this point in my life. I found and married an amazing person. He has been growing in the Lord so much and so quickly, I’m having a hard time keeping up! His focus on becoming the man God wants him to be has definitely ramped up our family’s spiritual life and challenged me to walk in God’s promises and to be who the Lord wants me to be!

We are serving in ministry together at our church. We love having the regular fellowship of our small group and the privilege of serving them. Honestly, every Friday afternoon, as I’m preparing for home group, I think, “I don’t have time! Why do we do this?” And every week, they remind me of how vital it is to fellowship and actually spend time together in the Word and in prayer and I’m so glad we do it! Really, Facebook is great, but it can’t compare to actual face to face time.

My kids. I think it goes without saying that I’m thankful for them. But, I think I still need to say it. There are so many families out there that are having a difficult time getting pregnant. And so many children without families. Wow, it’s very humbling to have ours here with us, safe and healthy. This first year of school has been a challenging one with Isabelle, but in hindsight, God was present, and so very faithful!

I have to say that throughout the last season of trials, the Peace never went away. If anything, it increased. Now, we have more peaceful circumstances, but the Peace is just the same. I have more understand of the scripture that talks about “peace that passes understanding.”

Another area of our lives that is a constant struggle is finance! It is a weird and challenging thing to live a balanced life in America these days. Life is very expensive and it seems like there is hardly ever enough money or time! Working part time is something I am extremely grateful for. I get the privilege of spending time at home with my kids and the privilege of appreciating that time when I’m at work. And it makes me love my job oh so much more for this balance! But it’s a bit of a strain, to say the least. So I’d like to say that I am thankful for my ambitious and hardworking husband who recently got a nice raise that has put us on the path to (as Dave Ramsey would say) financial freedom. We have a solid plan to pay off all our (mostly MY college) debt in the next two years. How long has THIS been on our goal sheet? Forever! Praise God!

And I have also felt like for the past couple of years I haven’t seen much spiritual growth in my life. It seemed like I was in survival mode, if you know what I mean? Just keep racing toward the goal. As long as I’m on the right track. I kept telling myself, keep your head down, focus on one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to be the fastest or the brightest, just keep moving toward the goal. And I kept on track. Often not well, and definitely not first, but I’m still running! Now I can look up a bit and consider the Prize and how I’d like to finish.

I guess that’s what I’m doing now. Considering the Prize. Contemplating the Price. Making a plan for finishing well. Looking back and being thankful.

A Visit from the Millers

My Bestie, Rachel and her family came to visit this month. It was so good to get together! Not to mention, we have officially multiplied and our two families cannot fit into a mini van to go anywhere! We had a great time getting our two girls and two boys acquainted. It took baby Sam a while to warm up to me, but he the VERY end. He was offering his sweet kisses instead of me stealing them! I would come near and ask him for a kiss and he would shake his head vigarously and say "!" Our kids got along pretty well, and the day after they left, Grace woke up in her bed, let out a nice big wail, and cried, 'I miss my friend Abe!"

We only get to see each other every few years, since they live closer to Conrad's family in India than they do to us! But whenever we get together, we easily pick up where we left off! Love you guys!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Halloween 2011

We had a fun time trick or treating this year. The girls were dressed up as...uhhh well, something with wings and a tu tu. That's really all that is neccessary for a small girl. I put glitter in thier hair and they were happy as clams!

We went to the mall to trick or treat a few days before and the highlight was defindatley the Jessica McClintock store, where all of the teenage sales girls were dressed in JM formals, handing out candy. My girls were like, "ohhhh Princesses!" It makes me just a little bit apprehensive about how over the top crazy they may be if we ever make it to Disney World!

On Trick or Treat Night we went out to our neighborhood and the girls got huge amounts of candy. Seriously, they still have half a bucket each, a month later. Our friends from church, came over and brought thier little ones to go with us. They have a little girl, Zoe, who is just about Grace's age, and a little baby girl, who was dressed up as a sweet little bear. But she wasn't too into the candy thing this year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fall Fun

We have thorughly exausted all of the beautiful Autumn days in Ohio. The leaves changed and stayed lovely for weeks...seemed like more than usual. Now we are entering the dark, naked, days of winter, but I can't complain because we sure had a wonderful Indian Summer!

One of our favorite things to do is the Pumpkin Patch. No Fall is complete without a visit to one! We played in the hay barn, pet animals, went through hay mazes, and took a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch to pick our own pumpkins. Fun Stuff! Not much to say, but lot's of pictures!

First Day of School: Take Two

Well, things certainly have been interesting here at the Michael House. As some of you might have read, Isabelle started school at our local Christian school in August. Things were not easy. She spent most nights in total meltdown mode and that lasted over two months! She is a pretty young five year old, but we thought holding her back for another year of preschool wouldn't be a good idea for her either. To make a long story short, after several conversations with her teacher, we decided to put her in public school. Our Public school Kindergarten only goes every other day, as opposed to the Christian school that was all day, every day. The conseseus was the five days a week was too much for where she was at.

When I bought our house (before it was "ours" it was just mine) I wasn't thinking of school districts, and come to find out, when we had children, our elementary school is...ummm..scary. At least, is sure seemed that way. It's in a pretty undesirable part of town, and it's not even in our town, but in Columbus proper. We called all around to try to get her admitted to other elementary schools in the district, but every one was FULL! Finally, we went and visited our home elementary. We met with the principal. Found out the school is nearly half internationals, or English as a second language students. They have students from Somolia, Latin American, Lithuania, China, and Russia, to name a few. They speak over 17 different languages and have 44 different THIS midwestern elementary school. The call in the United Nations of Elementary Schools.

Well, in spite of our best efforts, we have felt like a pin ball in a game. Every time we try to go this way with our kids education, we get knocked over to the other side. Apparently, this is where God wants us. I can't say that I am surprised. I have always had a love of different cultures and nations. And I'm kind of excited to see where this leads!

Isabelle started school there about three weeks ago and it has been a 180 degree turn. She loves school. She loves to learn. Everything got immediately better. One thing that we suspect could have been a stresser was the fact that Isabelle was the only kid with brown skin in her class at the Christian school. She started saying things like, "I wish I weren't so brown!"(Or "I wish my skin was blonde!") In this school, she's certainly only one of many shades and colors. We love that!

Now, Thanksgiving is officially upon us and we are gearing up for a busy Christmas season. Thanks for keeping in touch with us. We love you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grace's 3rd Birthday

I thought I would highlight Grace's birthday party. We had a great time! I did a "farm theme." But honestly I didn't have to do too much because we got a pony to come and well..that's pretty much all you need for a bunch of small children! I choose pink and blue and loved the color combo. It was a cute combo!

The weather (as it is every year for Grace's birthday) was PERFECT! So we had the party outside. I made Peanut butter cupcakes and wedding white cupcakes with my favorite Swiss Meringue Butter cream frosting. I colored pink and blue. The then made little pink chocolate animals to put on top. Of course, they melted in the hot sun, but oh well! I also made my favorite push up pop cupcakes, which were a big hit with the little ones.

I followed the same theme as with Isabelle's party, I bought several pieces of material and made pendants, wreaths and table decorations with the same swatches of material. Easy!

For favors, I got cowboy hats and blue bandannas. I also got little cats and put labels on them that said, "Adopt a barn cat. My name is..." and we named each one. I got M & M's and packaged them as "Kitty Food" and we painted birdhouses with paint markers. Good stuff!

We ended the night with smores over an open fire.

Grace got some awesome highlight was new bedding! I love it and she needed it. The child has only ever had hand me down stuff, so I was glad she got something new of her own!!

Thanks again to all of the sweet family and friends who came to celebrate with us!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Happy 3d Birthday Grace!

Dear Grace,

I cannot believe that my baby is three years old! Time flies and you have been, from the moment you were born, a joy and a pleasure to raise. You are sweet and funny. Even when you are sick, Daddy and I never mind getting up with you because you are the least self centered sick person I have ever met. Today we were in the grocery store and you looked at me and said, "I love you Mommy." You tell me you love me at least as much as I tell you! You cuddle and smile and make everyone laugh! You are super smart (not that I'm biased) but you talked in complete sentances before a year old. You walked at 10 months. And you are a performer! On some level, Im almost afraid you'll want to go into show business when you grow up! You dance and sing with your whole heart ALL THE TIME, and I'm not exaggerating!

Everyday, we love you more and more. We are happy to see you grow up and sad to see you grow up. Each day our baby disappears a little more and this bright little girl appears. But we love her too!

All our Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Grace @ Birth

Grace @ 1 year

Grace @ 2 years

Grace @ 3 years