2015 Family Words

Last week I shared our 2014 family words and today I’m going to share with you our 2015 words.

For the canvases last year we used colorful magazine clippings but I decided to try and make it a little different (and easier) this year by just using paint for the undercoating.

I gathered all of the blue and green paints we had and explained that each person was going to choose several colors from this palette and cover their canvas with it.

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All five of us sat at the table on a cold and rainy morning in our pajamas and painted for an hour.

It was my version of heaven.

IMG_8648It was so interesting to just sit and listen to the kids talk about why they chose their word for the year.

After letting the paint dry, we picked through the stickers we had to create our words and names. I then spray painted the canvases with white paint. Once dry I peeled off the stickers.

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IMG_8661IMG_8684IMG_8662IMG_8680A few days after making our word canvases I said to Caroline would you like to try some cinnamon toast? She gave me this pitiful look and said, “Mooooooommmmmm, when  I said try for my word I didn’t mean to try new foods I meant to try new activities.”

Now keep in mind this kid has eaten cinnamon bread before and loved it.

“You don’t have to eat the whole thing, you could just try it.”

“Maybe later but I just can’t right now.”

She later ate 2 pieces of cinnamon bread and loved every bite. On her own time. When she was ready.

I’m thinking maybe her word for the year should have been “go with the flow,” or “don’t make trouble just for troubles sake, ”  or even, “every once in awhile just agree with your mother.”

But for now she’s sticking with “try” for 2015.


Do you have a word or a family motto for the year? I’d love to know.

2014 Family Words of the Year & Our Wall of Pictures

Last year was the first year each member of our family came up with a “word” for the year.

The word each person chose was entirely up to them, although I did provide the 4 yr old with some choices.

The idea is that the word is supposed to be one of the things they want to focus on for the year. Kind of along the lines of a resolution.

Our words are hanging on a large corkboard which I found at the Habitat store for $4. I then glued on some left over fabric (burlap with gold circles) and placed our word canvases on there with push pins. I then took pictures we had printed out already and let the kids pin those up.

It’s literally my favorite thing in my house.


Here’s a close up look at the canvases and how we made them. The idea is based off the same project I saw on Shannan’s blog. We’re not really friends. I just like to pretend we are so I call her by her first name 🙂


The project starts off with scraps of magazines – the best in my opinion are the Boden catalogs because of the vibrant colors – I spent a couple of nights watching tv and cutting out different patterns and colors.


Then we hodged podged the heck out of those scraps onto a 9 x 12 canvas.

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Once Caroline was done, I went back over hers with the hodge podge several times since she was rocking about 4 layers in some parts.


Once the whole front was covered, we used old science fair sticky letters we already had and placed our words onto the canvas. I then spray painted the canvases (I initially painted my with white acrylic paint but liked the look of the spray paint better) and then peeled off the stickers.


Can I just stop for one minute and say that this kid “DID” 2014.

KJMP_McEachern_20141013_0282Signed up for the Geography Bee all on his own, finished the school year with awesome grades, made the school band he wanted to, became a leader on his soccer team, made the state meet in summer swimming, made the region band, joined the school pentathlon team all on his own, ran for the cross country school team, and so much more!

Middle school really agrees with him. So proud.




It’s funny how you start out the year thinking your word will mean one thing and it really ends up meaning something else. I thought my word would mean to find the courage to travel to Ethiopia but what it really meant was to find the courage to be around those who could add to their families. With each person who told me they were pregnant the pain of our loss really struck home again. While happy for them I found it just brought out sadness for me.

Courage for me this year was finally visiting my sister who had a new baby and experiencing that joy with her. I went back and forth and back and forth about making plane reservations but what I kept coming back to was my word for the year: courage.

I could do it. I needed to do it. So I did it. And it was wonderful.


Next week I will share with you our 2015 words.

It should be interesting to see what path those words take us on.

Halloween Pillows Made by Kids

I was walking through the store the other day when I found orange polka dot napkins on clearance. I decided to pick up a few since I thought they would make some fun Halloween pillows.

My 5 yr old and 9 yr old decided on Halloween silhouettes they wanted to paint onto the fabric. We then used the tracer to transfer the image onto the pillow. My son used a Sharpie which promptly bled through the think material onto the wall – yay!



My 9 yr old then painted his image with fabric paint staying inside the lines as best he could. For the 5 yr old, I decided to place blue painter’s tape around the image to help her.



I was planning on keeping the pillows in their original square shape but then realized they would have been huge. So we decided to cut around the shape, leaving room to sew the edges.




They chose to use a Halloween fabric we already had for the back of the pillow.


After they sewed around the edges, stuffed the pillows, and closed the last opening we were done!


Now here’s the thing. These will never make the cover of House Beautiful or any decorating site but my kids loved making them and love seeing them on the sofa. Every time they walk by the pillows they try and fluff them or stand them upright. and you can just see their sense of pride.




But here’s actually my favorite part of this whole project…


…their names written in permanent marker. Nothing sweeter than little kid handwriting.



Happy Halloween!

Summer Fun 2014

Yesterday was officially the first day of Fall and the kids have started their 5th week of school but I still can’t shake the feeling of it being summer.

Maybe it’s because it’s still in the 90’s here or that I still love to spend days with my kids in our pajamas.

But I’m proud to say that I am moving in the direction of fall since in the last week I drove  my kids to school only 50% of the time while sporting my pajama pants.

I thought it was now or never to show you our summer fun list since it’s time to move toward ghosts, goblins, and all things pumpkin.


We were all quite busy this summer…


visiting many people and places…


…and having tons of fun.


I guess it’s really time to say goodbye summer…


and hello Fall.


But maybe we’ll do that tomorrow since we are too busy going to the pool today.

The Rabbits, It’s Always the Rabbits – Part 4

Read here for The Rabbits – part 1, part 2, part 3

I know what you are thinking…Again with the rabbits?

Yes, the rabbits but this time it’s different.

Unbelievably, I just bought some rabbits.

I know.

Along with the rabbits I also purchased some ducks, geese, chickens, and honeybees.

You can close your mouth now.

Thankfully I purchased these animals from the comfort of my home.

And even more thankfully, I will never ever see any of these animals in my backyard or, even better, dead on my dining room floor.

Instead of angel Christmas gifts this year, my kids, influenced greatly by my 8 year old, decided they want to buy gifts through Heifer International.


“Heifer International works with community groups in third world countries and provides them with animals which help families help themselves. They train beneficiaries in animal well-being, agroecology, water quality, gender equity, and other topics. The training enables them to care for livestock, grow crops sustainably, and further lift themselves out of poverty.

Families then share the training they receive, and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once impoverished family to become donors and full participants in improving their communities.”

I gave each child a budget and told them they could buy whatever animals they wanted as long as we didn’t exceed our total. We went through the gift catalog on the website reading about each animal, their cost, and talked about how those animals could help someone.

They contemplated, they added and subtracted, they debated, and they discussed.

Eventually, they decided and we bought a flock of hope (chickens, geese, and ducks), honeybees, and rabbits.


Yes, rabbits.

Once we convinced Caroline that buying a pegasus horse was not an option she went with the rabbits.

The family that kills rabbits just bought rabbits.

Cue the Lion King music. Again.

This year our family has talked a lot about poverty, families that are struggling, and kids who are hungry, both locally and far away. My hope is that by exposing them to programs like Heifer International and the Angel Tree they will see themselves as part of the solution and know that they can make a difference even at just 11, 8, and 4.

Donating to Heifer International was new to our family this year but based on the kids excitement I know it will not be our last experience with them. I think this program would also be fun for a school service project, a bake sale focus, or even an animal themed birthday party.

I’m not receiving any sort of compensation from Heifer for telling you about their program. I’m only asking that once you can purchase “a pegasus” our family is notified immediately.

Christmas Card 2013

Whew. It’s been awhile since I was here.

So sorry about that extended break.

I meant to warn you beforehand but I didn’t quite get to it.

Since it’s 2 weeks past Christmas now seems like the perfect time to share our Christmas card – OK not perfect but just go with it.

The week before Thanksgiving my husband found out he was going to be in Japan for the first two weeks of December so I knew we had to get our Christmas card picture taken immediately or it just wasn’t happening.

So we did what any family does and headed to the drainage system near our house.

Thankfully, we just took shots by the trees and saved the ditches for next year’s card.

We first started off taking a couple of nice shots…


…but then we quickly moved on to silly…



and even sillier when trying to set up the next shot.




Until finally we got what we were going for…


The card above is scanned so it’s not the best colors but I was very happy with the actual card.

Hope you have all had a wonderful start to the new year!

Santa Letters

The Dear Santa letters are written and are now on their way to the North Pole.



In my opinion, there really is nothing cuter than little kids handwriting.


And my eight year old has included a special message to Santa just to explain a few of his behavior choices lately.


“I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve been good.”


I’m pretty sure Santa has noticed the good.

Missing Socks

I’ll give you one guess as to who is not getting their socks to the laundry bin…



It’s not little one.

And no, my eight year old did not suddenly start wearing itty bitty teeny tiny pink socks.

He wears white athletic socks.

Don’t see them on here?

That’s because just about all his socks are missing.

There’s not even one loose one to be found.

I’m waiting for that day when I open a drawer, look under a cushion, or empty a box and they all fall out.

Until then, I guess I’m off to buy more socks.

Or maybe he can just wear some of his sister’s socks, some of which are getting to the laundry bin.

Days 1, 2, & 3 While in Japan

My husband just returned last night after being away for almost 2 weeks on a business trip to Japan.

(He had to go train people in a computer program. No one in Japan has the technical knowledge to do this training? I think he really just went for the Okonomiyaki and Ramen. Love you dear!)

Regardless, we are all very glad to have him home.

Each day I emailed him a little synopsis of our day so I thought I would share days 1, 2, and 3 with you.

Day 1

  • Roughly 5 hours after you left…
  • Caroline woke up with a fever
  • toaster oven handle broke totally at breakfast
  • garage door suddenly not working correctly so we are now walking the bikes through the house
  • filled Caroline up with Advil and she went to school
  • swam 1400 until got kicked out of lane
  • picked up Sophie and the vet informed me that she needs to have her ears washed out and medicine put in everyday for the next 14 days – I will let you guess who will be doing the last 2 days of treatment
  • music class – made $20 selling cards towards adoption
  • dinner at Cici’s
  • basketball – Andrew’s head coach is weird, like straight from the chimps looking weird, Andrew thought he was fine
  • Andrew swims then Alex swims
  • Smuggle Caroline into girls locker room where I give her a shower and ignore the mean looks from the cleaning lady who is doing no cleaning
  • Drive home while Andrew & Caroline watch Tom & Jerry Nutcracker in car
  • Alex is dropped off by Sheryl from practice
  • went to bed at 1:00 am

Day 2

  • Caroline still had fever, went to school, would not hear of not going
  • swam 2100 – didn’t get kicked out – tired
  • pick up Caroline and she has a constant cough
  • Alex goes early and stays late to work on project
  • piano lesson
  • drive thru mac n cheese & cornbread for boys for dinner, Caroline thinks I’m poisoning her with said bread
  • drop Andrew off at boy scouts with Bryce
  • drive Alex to soccer practice (Laura brings him to indoor game after practice)
  • go back to Boy Scouts
  • Andrew has to bring a collection of 10 of something to next meeting – he wants to bring 10 pencil leads – our kid is weird sometimes
  • take little 2 home and shower them
  • drive to indoor soccer game at 8:30 pm game where team is killed 9-0
  • drive home & kids asleep by 10:15 – yikes!
  • went to bed at 12! getting better

Day 3

  • fever still, doesn’t go to school, cough is too bad
  • Drive Alex to school early
  • Start cleaning out closet with Caroline – complete waste of time attempting that with her
  • doctor’s appointment at 11:30 who says she has no idea what the cough is – if doesn’t go away by Friday will do chest xrays – decides to put her on liquid zpack
  • go to target to pick up a few things before winter storm which is supposed to hit tomorrow night – $160 later we leave Target
  • get Caroline lunch and medicine and start to heat lunch in microwave
  • Caroline starts throwing up everything she had to eat that day
  • Clean up puke – fun!
  • Put Caroline in shower and eat lunch
  • Andrew comes home and shows me his collection of pencil lead that he has had at school – Jessie is helping him collect the lead “I think she’s breaking her pencil lead on purpose. She gave me like three leads in three minutes.”
  • Get lecture from nurse on phone about why Caroline needs to have her medicine & that if she doesn’t take it, she’ll have to come in for a shot
  • I plead, I beg, I try and hide it, I literally sit on top of her, and yet no medicine goes in – it all comes out with spit and runs down her face
  • I say, welcome shot!
  • Pick up Alex from band rehearsals. He is so enthusiastic about the practice that I’m willing to bet that he will want 76 trombones played at his wedding.
  • Eat chicken dinner, burn rice, eat leftover cornbread, and strawberries. I eat the corn. No one else acknowledges its existence.
  • Everyone “helps” in giving Sophie her medicine. Basically Sophie got 3 treats and no medicine tonight. I don’t care. She can go deaf.
  • Drive to swimming.
  • Again shower Caroline in locker room.
  • Drive home. I say no to Tom & Jerry. Caroline proceeds to harass me for next 15 minutes on why she can’t watch it. I win.
  • Put younger to bed in our bed. You are going to have to kick Andrew out of your spot. He’s been loving sleeping there every night and says it’s so cozy.  Have to reassure Andrew that Caroline will not throw up on him.
  • Alex gets dropped off from swimming and takes worlds longest shower all while humming Christmas carols. He then eats last piece of pumpkin pie and 2 granola bars.
  • Tuck Alex onto the sofa cushions in our room. We’re having quite the slumber party without you here.
  • I eat tons of Halloween candy while sitting at the computer.
  • Looks like it might be another 1 am night.

Love you and miss you – only 9 more nights till you come home!

Jennifer & the kids


Baby It’s Cold Outside

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Actually, it’s not just cold in Texas right now, it’s freezing.

Wednesday we were in shorts and it was 79 degrees outside.

Thursday we had tons of freezing rain and temperatures below 30 degrees.

School was cancelled on Friday (insert cheer from my kids) so we stayed home all day. With temperatures not expected to reach above freezing until Monday we may be in the house for several days.

The kids wanted to go outside because everything was covered in white. Initially, I told them no, “It won’t be fun. It’s just ice.”

But I relented and we all bundled up and ventured outside. After five minutes I was done. Actually I didn’t want to go out at all so I’m being pretty generous when I say five.

“Can we have a snowball fight?”

“No, it’s just ice.”

“Can we make a snowman?”

“No, it’s just ice.”

“Can we slide down the hill?”

“No, it’s ice and you would kill yourself.”

I went inside after about 15 minutes, standing in the doorway, watching them, peppering them with constant demands – “Get off the fence,” “Please don’t climb on that, “Get down from there.”

Seriously, I’m worried about their common sense.

It’s ICY folks.

With temperatures that officially felt like 13 degrees and ice covering the ground, my kids naturally played soccer outside for an hour and a half.


Now they’re inside watching Christmas movies which I’m completely fine with.

Gives time for the pneumonia to set in.

Just a joke, please oh please God, just a joke.

Update: The kids are home again today (Monday) and still thrilled about it. Too much ice on the roads. No one to clear them for us in the South so we wait till it warms 🙂