Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Chrissm Eve!

I have been thinking a lot this year about the wonderful fact that if there was no Easter, there would be no Christmas. Christmas isn't just a celebration of the birth of a baby, it's the celebration of the life of that baby and that baby's ultimate mission - to be our Savior.

I was blessed enough to sing the following song when I was at BYU and I have never found another way to more accurately express my feelings about Christmas. Music like this puts my soul into focus and helps me feel the divinity in me and in those with whom I sing. It's an indescribable experience.

This is just the audio recording. I've included the lyrics to read while you listen (it's best with earbuds in).

Carol of Joy
lyrics by Eileen Berry and music by Dan Forrest Jr.

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in...
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song--
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music--hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song--
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound--
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted--witness God's love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven's joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn--
Oh fallen world!
Oh fearful world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

I know He came, He lived, and He redeemed us. I am humbled by His example and grateful for His love. I hope you're able to feel of that love and take time to reflect on what His life means to you this Christmas.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If the world is ending we are going to enjoy the global warming while we can

Some pictures from last week:

Mommyschool does Christmas

We made some fun play dough to start our study of the letter C this week - for candy canes and Christmas. Red and white and peppermint oil and glitter!!!!! Equals CHRISM!!!!!

I just love her serious concentration.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nerd Alert

Tiny human fell asleep with a book in her hand. Love it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Confusion

Christmas with Ava is finally fun this year! YAY!

It was hard to explain to her at first. Because of Halloween, she thinks all holidays are about getting dressed up and asking for "canny" (candy). The conversation went a little like this:

Me: Ava, do you know what we celebrate on Christmas?
Me: No, that's Halloween. On Christmas we celebrate Jesus.
Me: That's right, Christmas is Jesus' birthday!

It has taken a few more conversations, 2 nativity FHEs, lots of picture books, and "The Polar Express" movie (which is actually kind of creepy) but I think she has grasped the fact that we're celebrating the birth of Christ and getting stoked for Santa to come on Christmas.

I asked her what she wanted for Christmas from Santa Claus and she said, "BLUE!" .......So I'm working on that......

In the meantime, she has eradicated all feelings of grinchiness from our home, which is saying a lot because Danny lives here. (HEH HEH ZIIIIING!) She regularly sings Christmas songs that go something like, "CANNY CAAAAAANE!! CHRISIM TREEEEE!!!!! SNOWMAAAAAAAN! SANTA SANTA SANTA CLAUS!!!" Yeah, she says "Chrism" instead of "Christmas" and yesterday, trying to remember the proper pronunciation of the word, she called her ornaments "armpits" several times.

If you are feeling like a Grinch or a Scrooge this year? I will send Ava to your house for a day. She is like a little north pole elf, spreading her Christmas cheer and trying to get away with only eating from the four main food groups; candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. You won't be a scrooge when she gets done with you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Old, magic friends

A good childhood friend of mine (I almost said a friend from high school, but we go way farther back than that) is married to a fabulous guy (whom I also know from high school) and they're magic.

They went out on a limb shortly after they got married and started a business together. They shoot commercials, mostly, I think. They're all film and cameras and DSLRs and how the heck did they do that? Rachel dreams things up with her crazy, artistic imagination and Kenny breathes life into it with his excellent skill behind the camera and in the editing room. They also have an awesome team that contributes muchly to the whole process.

Aside from being hilarious, quality people, they are also really good at what they do. I am absolutely in love with their latest project and can't wait to see what else these two dream up together.

Just take a minute and be inspired and touched and maybe tear up a little. 'Sokay. I tear up every time I watch it.

See? They're magic.

Blog, if you were a child, someone would have called the authorities by now



So so sorry, blog. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Life just happened, man. It just happened. And then, here I am, 18274 months since my last post feeling like my 3 followers and random passersby in Germany and Australia HATE me because I forgot about you.

Mayhaps this will make all the things better. A use for my crown and a fabulous progression of my daughter's super expressive face.


 "Ava, do a really really big smile!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Sooo. A is for apples and Adam. B is for butterflies (and glue apparently) and baptism. Annnnnd colored vinegar and a pan full of baking soda is for fun.

I have also learned a lot about Ava. She loves learning, sensory bins keep her attention for 15 minutes tops, and she goes through activities rather quickly. We are definitely having fun!

Friday, October 12, 2012


I have a friend who is blogging about doing Mommy Preschool with her little girl, who is 6 weeks younger than Ava. I made the mistake of reading about all their educational fun last week, after the makeup and glitter incident. I just cried while I read it. I felt like such a bad mom. I actually had thoughts of doing something like this with Ava this year but with house projects and teaching Let's Play Music, I just couldn't get my crap togetha.

So I cried. And had a pity party. I purged all the bad feelings.

And then we had General Conference and I started training for a 5K the next weekend. Magical things, I tell you. Endorphins! Coursing! Through ma veins! All the happy feelings! All the prioritizing! It all put me right. And I started planning.

Mommyschool kicked off this week with a reading of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and a making of a coconut tree in the play room that we will fill with all the letters in the alphabet as we learn them. My friend did this with her kid and I thought it was awesome and then I started researching preschool stuff and realized that quite a few people do this. Guys. If the bandwagon involves Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, I am totally on it (we did the play in kindergarten. I haven't been the same since).

We also previewed the letter A this week because I needed to pick apples at the orchard and can some applesauce. We're doing it for realsies this week.

So we're doing a letter a week and we'll have one word that is secular in nature and one that is spiritual (a fabulous idea of Alisha's) for each letter. A is for apples and apostles - you get the idea. We'll also just do some fun little crafts that are more seasonally based (a lot of them coming from this blog) and a science experiment every Friday. Monthly, I'll be doing a busy bag, like these ones, for Ava. I cleaned out her toy room today and realized that I haven't updated her toy stash for over a year (no wonder she's bored!)

So that's the plan. We are going to rock this.

After the monkey soap

The monkey soap was cute. The next day, she used some watercolors and painted herself in the time it took me to unload the dishwasher. Apparently, when one paints their palms, arm, and mouth, they become a dinosaur. RAWR!

Again, with the cuteness.

But then, the next day at bed time, she decided that the vaporub would do a better job if it was smeared all over the wall.

At "nap time" the day after, she decided that her horsey was hungry and the only way to feed it was to squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste onto the floor and rub it in. And also, she was hungry so she sucked the rest of her (fluoride free!) toothpaste out of the tube. Saturday it was more vaporub (where is she getting this stuff?!) and Sunday it was fingernail polish (I caught that one before it got too out of hand. Although, she did get her big toes painted before I interrupted).

Danny and I were both a little surprised at how she was able to procure such messy substances - we thought we were putting them out of her reach.

At this point, I know you're all, Tiffany, clearly she is dropping her nap and putting her upstairs where there are messy things is not an option. Realize this and suck it up. Listen, I KNOW. But that doesn't change the fact that even if she isn't sleeping I need at least 30 Ava-free minutes a day to frolic or pluck my eyebrows or, heaven forbid, eat an entire York Peppermint Patty by MASELF. I explained to her over and over that she just needed some quiet time. "You don't have to nap if you don't want to. Just play quietly for a little while."

I decided that we needed those doorknob thingies. You know? Those plastic things you put over doorknobs to make it impossible for kids (and most adults) to escape that particular room? Yeah. First thing on Monday morning, we went to the store and bought them. I was so excited to have some peace. It is hard, on everyone involved, to go from 2-3 hours of nap time to no nap at all in a matter of a couple weeks.

I slapped those suckers on the inside of her room and the outside of the bathroom and my bedroom.

45 minutes later she stood at the top of the stairs and asked, "Mommy? I come down now?"

Wha? How? "Yeah! Come down!"

Her face was covered in glitter and blue eye shadow and lipstick. HO LEE. HEAD FOR THE HILLS, KID!!! RUN!!!! And run she did. Smart girl.

Crap. All. Over. Ma bedroom. Our bedding and matress was soaked, just makeup everywhere, and the doorknob covers were in two pieces, strewn about the room. The craziest part about all of this was that I had been intently listening for mutinous noises and I didn't hear any. She is a sneaky little monkey.

Many tears and phone calls, a quick roadtrip, and a bout with a virus later, I realized that my kid is bored. She is so bored. She is done napping and she needs more! Stimulation!

So. That's what she's going to get. Mommyschool. Annnnnd I'm sooooooo excited about it. And so are all the surfaces in my upstairs rooms.

Wherein you understand the origins of "monkey soap" much as a person can

It started with some innocent monkey soap one afternoon.

If you're friends with me on facebook, you've probably already heard this story. But. I am retelling it. Because it is awesome.

I put Ava down for a "nap" knowing that there was a 60% she would just sit in her room and play instead of actually taking a nap. I went outside to get some yard stuff done. 30 minutes later I came back inside and my toddler immediately came downstairs.
Looking like this:

With lots of soap in her hair (I like how the hair on the sides of her head is untouched - like a man experiencing male-pattern baldness). The conversation went like this:

Me: Did you put something in your hair?
Ava: Nope.
Me: What did you put in your hair?
Ava: Monkey soap.
Me: Is there a big mess upstairs?
Ava: Yup. I a monkey!

There was really no way I could drum up any anger in my soul. It was too weird and funny. I decided the best course of action was an interview for posterity. YOU'RE WELCOME.

I love the noise her hair makes when she pats it. Heh heh.

Child Labor at its best

It's only fair that she helps, right? I mean, she is the reason I'm canning applesauce in the first place. She loves it though. Even kissed the peeler.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some meh and some yeah!

I know I'm missing the last installment of summertime happenings but man. Technical issues, people. Technical. Issues. So maybe in a couple months I'll blog part 3 (you're welcome, Shannon).

But right now I am pretty excited about my fireplace. It is done. DONE! Praiseallthatisgoodintheworld. Remember how it used to look? Need a refresher?
With the off-white paint and the red brick and the brass grate and the blah and the blee ??

 Had to go.

I have a bunch of "in progress" shots of this whole thing but with the technical bla bla bla I don't know where they are and I don't feel like looking so you just get the before and after. You're welcome.

We took off the grate, Danny put a wood facade on the front, we painted the outside white and the inside black, took out the ugly red brick (which was quite an ordeal and involved my husband being very manly with a chisel and a sledgehammer), laid the tile and grouted, and finally caulked it all. And now that I have a finished fireplace and a huge mantel, I. must. decorate for all the things. Even for back to school fun. (excuse the crappy night picture.)

Yes, that is a giant pencil and yes, I made a chalkboard (leftover black paint + unsanded grout = chalkboard paint) and no, you cannot eat those apples. Ava already tried.

I have my birch twigs....all I need are actual logs. Don't worry....I'm already working on my Halloween decor. So indulgent.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer fun: Part 2 of 3

Next up? RaRa and Jay (Ava to English translation: Reilly and John).

You know what's lame? I have no pictures of these happenings. I think all pictures were taken/hoarded by Reilly. What the.....? Anyway, one of my best friends moved from SLC back to Ohio so she and her trip companion (her little brother) stopped by for a few days to visit. Now, the first time Ava and Reilly met (after Ava discovered that she was, in fact, a human being), Ava was pretty much completely freaked out by Reilly. She cried if I left her in a room alone with her. I attribute it to the fact that I am pretty fair skinned and blond and Reilly is, well, Esmerelda. Thankfully, the fear wore off and Ava was all about RaRa when last we saw her in Utah.

See? Friends. 

Well, RaRa arrived at our house this summer with lots of gifts, most of them for Ava. Any vestiges of Ava's extreme Reillyphobia were completely erased by the total spoiling Reilly did to my child. Ava still loves her "RaRa" shirts the best.

Next came Matt and Mandy and their little ones. Matt is Danny's brother and they are ridiculous totally awesome when they are together. To be fair though, I'm pretty sure Mandy and I are equally ridiculous when we are together, but in a way cooler, less dorky way.

They have 4 girls. More importantly to Ava, they have a Lydie. Ava looooves Lydie. It's hard not to love Lydie. Ava and Lydie were kind of inseparable the whole time they were here. I'm really happy Ava has fantastic cousins on both sides.

Lydie and Ava on the beach:
This is the littlest Armstrong. She tried to crawl, head first, into the lake every chance she got (read: she is awesome).
All the Armstrong grandbabies:

Sadie and Ava in their natural state. So fancy.

Sparklers (they were here over the 4th):

Ava was really upset that everyone was leaving so she collapsed onto the ground. Naturally.

Bye, cousin friends!

Our Summer: part 1 of 3

Well? It is time.

Time to stop procrastinating and actually blog about our summer. Not for your sake because, let's be honest, you won't feel bugged if this post does not exist. No, no, this is for me. And posterity or something.

Anyway, we had a wonderful summer. In my head, I was all, "get all the house things done before hotel d'Armstrong opens at the end of June!!!!" Reality laughed at me and tossed her hair that smelled of beach days and summer frolicking and I gave in. How can I spend my days inside doing boring house stuff when the sun is so sunny and the sand is so sandy?? So. Hotel D'Armstrong is still a work in progress but I think our guests enjoyed their visits all the same.

First up, Tyler (of the big brother variety) and Shannon (of the genus littlest sisterest) came for a quick visit and dropped off my piano.

Ava jumped on Shannon upon arrival:

And warmed up to Tyler in .7 seconds:

We beached around and made and ate a lot of really good food and then we went to a WWII reenactment.

A flamethrower demonstration. We could feel the heat from where we were standing.

Annnnnd Ava's reaction:

It was a too-short visit but I was just glad to get a little bit of sibling time.

Friday, August 24, 2012


So. For the last few weeks we have been working on a little kitchen facelift. I finally took down alllll pineapple wallpaper and Shannon helped me paint all the walls and the ceiling white. You don't realize how not white something is until you put white on top of it....

Yuck. I think we all agree, non?

Anyhoodle, We put down the white, painted the cabinets gray, and put on new hardware. It's nice. Clean and sharp and all that but kiiiind of boring. I didn't want to paint any actual colors because they would be doing battle with our turquoise countertops and flooring so I decided on geometric accent wall. In gray.
I should have taken more pictures during the process but here's what I did.

First, cleaned my walls. Thoroughly. Then, put green frog tape around the perimeter of my wall. I measured the length of my wall - 110". You want to divide your sections as evenly as possible so, using a tape measure, I marked the tape every 11" along the top and the bottom of the tape. I "connected the dots" from top to bottom to create 10 even, vertical stripes.
Then, using the tape measure I marked every 5", running vertically, on every one of my tape stripes. Then, it was just a giant game of connect the dots. I chose to connect and paint them to make a herringbone pattern but you could totally do a chevron or zigzag pattern at this point. On the areas you leave white, you have to put the tape on the inside of the markings. Smooth down every single piece of tape and make sure to put a little piece of tape in the white areas so you don't accidentally paint it. That would be sad.

This is what it looked like when everything was taped. To reiterate: you want the to-be-colored areas to look bigger than the to-be-white-ones because the wall underneath the width of the tape will also be white.

It took about an hour and a half and 1 1/2 rolls of tape to do this.
Then, using the tiniest little trim roller you can find, get to painting. Don't drench your roller in paint as the paint may bleed under the tape (also, get some good paint to do this. I used Benjamin Moore Advanced. It is awesome. It's a water-based paint that acts like and has the durability of an oil-based paint). I did 2 coats. By the time I was done with the first coat at one end of the wall, the other end was dry enough for a second coat.

I began back at my starting spot and started to take off the tape. This is key: DO NOT wait for the paint to dry completely to take off the tape. You increase the chances of ruining your clean lines by like, 100% if you do. You need to allow it time to try just a little (maybe 10 minutes depending on the paint you're using) but, again, do not wait for hours or until the next morning to take off the tape.

When you do peel off the tape, do it like this, pulling at an acute angle, and go at a moderate pace.

I've got a little touching up to do on the white but I really like how it turned out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The randomness of a 2 year old

I find things in the weirdest places these days.

A grout sponge in the bookcase. (I love that Breaking Dawn is next to Team of Rivals. Heh.)

Super safe potatoes.

Lasagna with a view.

An autoharp getting some extra protein.

She certainly keeps life interesting.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

The family room - Phase:almostdonepraiseallah

Happy houseiversary to us!!!!
I can't believe we have been in this house for a whole year. Looking at the progress one has made via photograph is tres important for the DIYer's morale. So let's take a gander at our back room, shall we?

Complete with delicious wood paneling, almond blinds and ceiling, and a sick carpet (hiding even sicker green tile).

Annnnnnnd some progress (because we aren't to the "after" stage yet):

We painted the wood paneling, put in new, white blinds, ripped up the carpet, ripped out a closet, ripped up the subfloor where the tile now sits, reinforced the floors joists, laid down new subfloor, installed backerboard and tile, and painted the ceiling. The carpet was laid this morning.

Mmmmmm. Delicious textures.

Well crap. You turned too far to the left. Bahahaha. We still have work to do on the old closet (obviously) but we are excited to create our own little mudroom.

Stay tuned for more exciting "before and progress" snapshots because we are so far away from "before and after" right now that it'll make me cry to think about it.