Monday, October 22, 2012

What's in a Name?

So what's up with Spenser spelled with an 'S' instead of a C you ask? Well- here's the story behind the name.

All of our kid's first names are after our favorite literary characters with family middle names. We wanted to give them names after strong, confident and unforgettable characters.

Bennet  Leona is named after Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. Leona was my Grandmother's name. When I was 12 one of my Scholastic Book order books, 'Just a Little Bit Lost' had a female character named Bennet in it. My Jane Austen love spiraled from there.
Scout Ann is named after Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. And the name fits her to a T! Ann is my middle name.
Eleanor Margaret is named after lots of Eleanors. Elinor from Sense & Sensibility, Ellie from the book Contact, Eleanor Roosevelt and even Ellie from the Movie 'Up'. Margaret is Nick's Grandmother's name and my Great-Grandmother's name.

And then there is Spenser Nicholas. Spenser comes from the character in the Robert B. Parker series of 40 books. Spenser is a private detective from Boston with a smart mouth, a soft spot for his one and only lady love and Scotch. He says the Spenser with an 'S' is like the poet. Nick's family devours the books- passing them from family member to family member. My brother-in-law Tony has a puppy named Spenser too- so it's a family thing.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Welcome Spenser Nicholas!

Mitten has arrived and it's a BOY!

He decided to make his entrance unexpectedly 5 weeks early- but he's here and doing great so far. I wanted to get his arrival story written before it becomes more of a blur.

Walking into surgery. That was a first.

I was feeling pretty crappy on Tuesday night. Just couldn’t get comfortable. Lots of pressure in my chest of all places. Nick and Mark were downstairs laying floor in the new office. He said he could hear me cursing on the couch but just kept his space. I worked on some journaling for a scrapbook layout and went to bed early. 

Around 4 a.m. I woke up to wet pants and a slight trickle. I changed and went back to bed. When I woke up around 6:15 a.m. I was wet again. But nothing else was really happening. We got everyone ready for the day and off to work/school. Spenser was REALLY active that morning which was was abnormal for that time of the day and I was a little crampy- but nothing to note. I was standing in the hallway at work getting ready to go to an offsite grant writing workshop and had another tiny burst. As soon as I got in the car I decided to be responsible and go to Aspirus Hospital and get checked out. I figured better safe than sorry.

I didn't tell Nick or work where I was going until I knew that something was really happening. I had never been to this hospital so in addition to actually finding the right department They did an AmniSure test to verify if my bag had broke and after 5 long minutes of waiting we saw 2 lines instead of 1. That meant I wasn't going anywhere. That's when I called Nick. (10 a.m.)

And before we knew it we were off to welcome our 4th and final child to the family. However, my new O/B was on vacation so my 4th child was delivered by a 4th O/B. I wish I could have frozen the looks on Nick and my face when we heard, “We have a winky. It’s a BOY!” My eyes just welled up with tears and I'm pretty sure I uttered "Holy s$%!".  At 2:11 p.m. on Wed. Oct. 17 we welcomed all 5 lbs.8oz. and 17 1/2 inches of Spenser Nicholas.

Since he was born a little early he was taken to the NICU to deal with some pulminary hypertension. Once they were able to take the CPAP off he's been much happier. We haven't been able to hold him yet, but we're staying patient and hoping that today will be the day. I think once we can really hold him and smell him it will seem more REAL! 

The girls are smitten and cannot wait to get him home. Ellie just wants to hold him and show him Dora. Bennet keeps reminding her that his name is Spenser, NOT Mitten. And Scout is entralled by his little feet and hands!

We are blessed!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Seven Months

I haven't really been able to scrap much lately because my scrap area looks like this:
instead of the 'normal' this: 

We are still working hard on our basement remodel with the hopes of having it done before Mitten makes his/her arrival in less than 2 months

Making my 7 month layout had been on my "Want To Do" list for a week or so and it was bugging me to have it still listed- so. . .  I carefully carved out space enough to crawl over the chair and pile of stuff to get into my Scrap Cave the other night to finish it.

TITLE: Seven Months
Journaling: My due date is two months from today. I am still feeling good and getting around pretty well. You really like to move around ALOT at night and put on a show for your Dad.  I think you still have plenty of room because you tend to roll from one side of my belly to the other & back again. Your Dad & Uncle Mark have been working so hard in the basement trying to get our home ready for your arrival. It will continue to be a busy, whirlwind time, but I am confident that we’ll get it done in time to bring you home. 9/21/12.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Space Available

It seems that my free time is being squeezed more than usual. Between sewing projects, reading, normal house/family stuff, working full time- the hours fly by fast! But I am making the time to keep my pregnancy album as current as possible. If you'd like to see all my pregnancy layouts in one spot here is my Pinterest board.

I love this layout for several reasons. I love the photo. It is true to life and really captures what is happening right now. I love the story behind it. I love that I got my feelings to paper.


This is a typical scene. The moment I lay down on the couch all three girls figure out a way to not only be near me, but ON me at the same time.  In all honesty, it isn’t always the most comfortable. It’s a complicated dance of feet, limbs, belly, pillows. . . 

But I try to take a step back and relish in the fact that they want to be near me. I can do this for them. I can make the space. 

My excited children fighting for room on my lap- leaning in close to tell their new sibling they can’t wait for his or her arrival.

Bennet asking questions about how I’m feeling. “How’s your leg Mom?” 

Scout wanting to use my belly as a pillow to feel Mitten nudge her in the head. 

Ellie poking me in my belly button saying “Baby Mitten in your tummy. There!” 

And in time I’ll make the space for one more. 
Sept. 20, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Half Full

Another no-photo page for my pregnancy album. I guess I have a lot to say or a lot that I want to remember.

I started this design with the half-circle journaling as the focal point. I sat there staring at it and realized that it resembles the shape of my pregnant belly right now. But thank goodness my belly button doesn't resemble the 3 circle element. :)

Journaling: 9/7/2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Night Out

The photo of the three of us is blurry but still somehow perfect. Last summer the big girls and I went to 400 Block downtown and watched 'The Muppets' for Screen on the Green. I packed a brown paper bag filled with a popcorn and M&M mix and orange soda pop. BIG treat! We snuggled in our lawn chairs and blankets and made it about 3/4 of the way through the movie before they both admitted they were ready for bed. Ah- my girls!

Inspired by this layout.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

10 Things on Thursday

1. I am a TV junkie and therefore I am giddy that Season Premiers are happening this month. 

2.  I've hit 30 weeks. Since Mitten will be making his/her arrival around 39 weeks we're down to single digits. 9 weeks to go. O.M.G. 

3.  I actually made something for OUR baby rather than gifts/orders for other babies. Since Mitten is arriving in November I wanted something to keep him/her toasty in the cold Wisconsin winter. I used this tutorial for a cozy, car seat canopy. I just loved the elephant fabric and figured with the orange it was gender neutral enough. I used a warm minky fabric for the interior. 
4. Scout Snapshot of the Week: Photo from her 5th birthday. Nick made a Captain America cake per her specific request. The pearls and blue glitter were her favorite part. 

5. Bennet Snapshot of the Week: According to Bennet, as a 1st grader she 'has' to read for 20 minutes each night. She has a grand remodeling plan for her (and Scout's) bedroom to carve out her quiet, reading spot.  Thank goodness she's content with a little nook in the corner. 

6.  Ellie Snapshot of the Week:  Grandma Barb was able to celebrate with Ellie at the YWCA's Grandparents Day event on Monday. They did arts & crafts although I think Ellie was more interested in the lemonade and cookies. 
7. Read this book last weekend. I've all 3 of her books and have enjoyed them all. Dark, suspenseful and just entertaining. 

8. Currently reading this: 

9.  I have Christmas gifts on the brain. It's a good thing. 

10. Weekend plans. More work on the basement remodel, walking in the United Way parade on Saturday with the YWCA, naps and a movie night! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tick Tock

Sharing another layout I made for my pregnancy album. I just bought the small wooden stars (Studio Calico) and I am addicted! They'll probably be on every layout for awhile. 

Title: Tick Tock
Journaling: And just like that I’m 29 weeks & in the 3rd trimester. Unbelieveable to think you will debut in a  little over 2 months. I am still feeling pretty good most days. You are starting to be   more active ,especially at night.Your sisters get a kick out of watching you kick me in my tummy. for the1st time i don’t  have to take iron supplements - woohoo! heartbeat 125bpm . measuring on schedule. 13 lbs.+   
Design lifted from this layout. By Allie Hamblin.

Friday, September 7, 2012

At a Loss

Last week my obstetrician, Dr. T. Connolly, died suddenly from a massive heart attack. It's really taken me back. Just a sad, unfortunate truth. I have always preached that scrapbooking is not only a creative outlet but also my therapy. I stole some quiet time last weekend to put my thoughts and feelings to paper. I still feel the loss, but it helped provide some clarity. 

Journaling: Dr. Connolly has been my O/B for all of my pregnancies. From the first time we saw 2 pink lines with B to the last time those tell-tale lines appeared with Mitten.  He eased all my first-time-Mom questions and concerns with his amazingly laidback bedside manner. He looked at Nick and I and said, “It’s a GIRL!” when Ellie made her arrival.  Over the course of 4 pregnancies our relationship has become more casual and relaxed– “here we go again” There wasn’t a visit that went by that we didn’t somehow acknowledge how fast time flies and how much we loved every second of raising a family. 

This caring, selfless man passed away suddenly this week. His contagious smile won’t be greeting me next week at my appointment. He won’t give me a pat on the shoulder with a “see you soon”. He won’t be here as we complete our family. I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor and he will be truly missed.

Photography by: Photography by JDesigns

Thursday, September 6, 2012

10 Things on Thursday

1. Nick and I are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary today. We've gone from just him, me and 1 cat (Stoli) to him, me, 2 cats (Stoli & Jones) and 3.5 kids: Bennet, Scout, Eleanor and almost-Mitten in 9 years. We've been busy! 

2.  I've hit 29 weeks and thus the 3rd trimester of this pregnancy. I'm still feeling pretty good and while I'm starting to feel more tired, sleep is becoming elusive. Double edged sword. Can hardly believe Mitten will make his/her debut in 10 weeks. 

3.  Fall TV starts back up in 2 weeks. CAN'T WAIT! I am such a tv junkie! 

4. Bennet Snapshot of the Week:  Lost her 2nd tooth last Saturday and started 1st grade this week. 

5. Scout Snapshot of the Week: Started Kindergarten this week. She said she was "embarrassed" but meant nervous. She was a little timid as she gave me one last kiss on the first day. But when I picked her up in the afternoon she said, "Mom- Kindergarten was so totally awesome. I'm not nervous anymore. It was just GREAT Mom!" Whew! AND she turned 5! 

6.  Ellie Snapshot of the Week:  Ellie is adjusting to being the only Sweeney kid at the YWCA. She keeps looking for Bennet and Scout throughout the day. And a photo from Labor Day. 

7. Read this book over our weekend in Chicago. Quick little spy novel.  

8. Then I read this. It's a combination of a coming-of-age story with an end-of-the-world type story. Different to say the least. 

9.  I want to fast forward to November 7 so the political garbage can slow down a bit. 

10.  Weekend plans include the Wausau Arts Festival and my father-in-law's 70th Birthday Bash! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Still Scrapping

August came and went in the blink of an eye. Between trips to Bay Beach, G&G Camp, Chicago for Nick and me- it was just a blur. We (by 'we' I mostly mean Nick) are in the middle of a major house remodeling project so our basement and scrap studio are in total disarray. It's actually physically difficult to make it to my space. But I did put on some steel toed boots and carve my way in. 

TITLE: Little Birdie Sit
Journaling: The look on your face says it all. You loved feeding the birds at Wildwood Wildlife Park. June 2011. 

I was inspired by the patchwork look of Scout's skirt and created the quilt/grid look. I did some machine stitching as well.  I had this photo in my stash for a long time. When in doubt- go with the good old grid! 

TITLE: Remember all the good times. 
Journaling: You says yard work can't be fun? What's more fun that 3 girls in a wheel barrow going for a ride? Daddy powered around the front yard bringing wide eyes and wide smiles.  Summer 2011

I had these photos printed for close to a year and finally made myself put them to paper!  

 TITLE: You are a Fish! 
Journaling: This summer you really fell in love with swimming. Your confidence in your new skill just shine on your face.  Summer 2012

I lifted this layout of mine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More on Mitten

I won one of the Grand Prizes during the ScrapFreak summer crop- a gift certificate to TwoPeas. It was burning a whole in my e-pocket so I ordered up a bunch of new scrapbook goodies. But- before I dug into my new box of product I whipped up two more pages for my pregnancy album. The first shows a current belly photo although I really popped more this past weekend. The second shares the story behind our nickname for baby #4- MITTEN. 

TITLE: 5 Months 
Journaling: 25 weeks. I’m wishing I could slow down time. I just feel like time is flying! I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, just the normal aches and pains. I do feel smaller than I was last time but this time next month I’ll be saying the opposite.   Trips to the bathroom have increased as well as my need to snack! 

I have had the acrylic number 5 in my arsenal for YEARS! I'm guessing 5 years at least. I knew it would come in handy at some point. 

TITLE: Mitten
Journaling: It all started with Bennet and got progressively more creative with each pregnancy. Your Dad doesn’t like cutesy or food realted nicknames for babies when they are in utero. And since we don’t find out the gender we want neutral nicknames. First there was TRUCK. Then came LEG LAMP followed by THERMOS. We call you MITTEN. Each name, has a backstory related to either the season or timing of when we found out about you . It’s kind of weird, but it’s just how we do it. 

Inspired by this layout. I did the journaling in InDesign.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

10 Things on Thursday

1. Spent last Saturday in Eau Claire with my one-of-a-kind friends.  I have such fond memories of my college years because of these people.  Over the years some of us have been in each others weddings, added children, gotten married and become family. I think it's a testament to both UWEC and APO that after all this time we still keep in touch.

Four years ago a dear friend of mine from college passed away suddenly. While at his wake his friends decided that we would gather every year in Eau Claire on the 1st Sunday in August to celebrate his life. This year was the 4th Annual Jason Yarrington Memorial GetTogether.

2.  Plus I got to spend some time with my sister Katie which I always LOVE! 

3. Demolition has begun in the basement for Nick's new office. Wish us luck! 

4. Bennet Snapshot of the Week: BIG NEWS!! After a year and a half of talking about it and over a week wiggling it, Bennet finally lost her first tooth. I had to make her a cute tooth fairy pillow to celebrate! (Pillow available for order) 

5. Scout Snapshot of the Week: We went school supply shopping last weekend and is now even MORE excited for Kindergarten! 

6.  Ellie Snapshot of the Week:  She loved the rides at Bay Beach last week. Especially the carousel. She did NOT like when I rode the big swings with Bennet. I don't think she liked seeing me fly through the air. 

7. Read this beautifully written yet very sobering book last week.  

8. I love the Olympics. That is all! 

9.  Reading this: 

10.  Weekend plans include construction, a dinner/bonfire with friends and some relaxing! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I absolutely adore these photos of Scout from last Valentine's Day. I made the older girls a ruffle heart tshirt from scraps and a matching skirt. Isn't she cute? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bay Beach

For the last two years in August my Mom makes the trek from MN for a quick visit. Our full-day together involves a day-trip to Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay. They have 16 rides.  Even better is the fact that tickets cost 25cents a piece. Most rides are 1 ticket but never more than 2. Can't beat that! 

Last year Bennet was SUPER excited for her very first roller coaster ride. Unfortunately she was a little too short. "Maybe when I'm 6 1/2 Mom!". Well- now she is 6 1/2. We are enjoying the 3rd Annual Bay Beach Day today so we we'll see if she was able to ride the Zippin' Pippin!

Here is a layout of Ellie from last year's trip. 

TITLE: Giddy Up

Monday, July 30, 2012

In This Spot

Yesterday I called my mother-in-law from our Guys Who Grill event to see if she could bring some serving spoons. Her response, "Sure- I think I have some leftover from your wedding" as if our wedding was last month, not nearly 9 years ago. September 6, 2003. Bless her heart. She came through with the spoons like a champ!

That conversation reminded me of our wedding and the fact that I have a related layout I've been meaning to share.

Here we are- newly married. )On a side note- our niece Morgan, whose face you can see, just turned 15! WHAT!)

I took this photo of the girls on Easter 2011 sitting under the arbor where Nick and I exchanged our wedding vows. 
Journaling: In this spot Nick and I were married. We exchanged our wedding vows under this arbor
at his parents house in September 2003. Fast forward eight years to 2011 and our three
daughters can be found sitting underneath it. It all started right there in that spot. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Things on Thursday

1. Last Friday night we went to the Lincoln County Fair in Merrill with our friends, the Mann's. It had been FAR too long since we'd seen them. Bennet and Scout rode their first roller coaster and loved every minute. They also went on the Tilt-a-Whirl with Nick. I know it made him a little sick :) 

2. And then when we got home I surprised Bennet and Scout by taking them down to the 400 Block for the annual Screen on the Green. We were armed with popcorn, drinks and our camp chairs.  At dusk they showed The Muppets on a giant inflatable screen.  They didn't last through the whole movie (too much fun for one day) but I was glad we went. 

3. We are getting ready to start our "having a 4th child" house remodel SOON! Part of me wishes we could outsource to whole thing- but we'll get it done! 

4. Bennet Snapshot of the Week: BIG NEWS!! After a year and a half on wishing and dreaming, she has her first loose tooth. She has been diligently working on getting it out since Saturday. She spent HOURS in the bathroom last weekend trying to get it out. Nick and I have always wondered why the previous owners of our house put a mirror behind the toilet. I guess it's used for Tooth Loosening. 

5. Scout Snapshot of the Week: Has asked me to make some new reversible headbands for school. I think I can do that. I can't wait to go school supply shopping with the girls! 

6.  Ellie Snapshot of the Week:  I happened to walk by the table during breakfast the other day at school. I noticed that she ate every single marshmallow from her Lucky Charms but zero grain pieces. She does the same thing with Oreos. Licks the cream and leaves the cookie. 

7. I finished up this beast of a book (close to 900 pages!) last night. It really was an enjoyable little journey. Looking forward to the sequel in October. 

8. I made a couple of Burp Cloth sets recently. These are made-to-order to match exactly what you're looking for. $15 for a set of 3. Just email me at kari at kariann96 dot com for details. 

9.  Battled a little insomnia last night so I started this book. 

10.  This Sunday is the YWCA Wausau's 3rd Annual Guys Who Grill so both Nick (grilling) and I (organizing) are busy preparing for the event. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WooHoo Wednesday (July 18)

Last week for Woo Hoo Wednesday we made Jolly Lollies. I had pinned the idea earlier this summer. I was looking for a low-stress, quick project last week and this fit the bill. Scout calls lollipops, "Lady Pops" and it is just adorable!

The lollipops were pretty darn tasty and the kids thought they were so 'fancy'!

We also did this art project. Found here. It's similar to the Corn Syrup painting we did a couple of summers ago, but less messy.