Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Got Links to Share

I found some really great posts I wanted to share about re-purposing some old things or making things on the cheap. And a great way to save our environment!

I follow these blogs regularly for coupons and tips. Thanks Sheryl and Stephanie!

Pancake batter dispenser
Soft Scrub for less (and safe for the environment if use an biodegradable liquid soap)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Sugar Hand Scrub

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't Forget the Reindeer

Today we went to a play date to make food for the reindeer on Christmas Eve. It was a really cute idea and the kids really enjoyed it. In fact, Kaiden keeps asking me if he can eat the reindeer food now!

The Legend of Magical Reindeer Dust
It has once been said,
That right before you go to bed.
You should sprinkle magic reindeer food,
To quickly bring Santa and his brood.
For many years the legend has been told,
To boys and girls, both young and old,
Sprinkle the food throughout your yard,
Then finding your house won’t be so hard!
The reindeer can smell the food for 100 miles,
Just do not leave it in big piles!
After you do this you must go to sleep very fast,
So Santa and his reindeer will not pass!

1 cup dry oats
1 cup sugar
glitter (or cake sprinkles so as not to harm the animals who may eat it)

Mix it all together and scatter around the outside of your home.

Use this poem to go with it:
Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

Here's Kaiden gluing the instructions on the paper

Miss Maddey posing with her reindeer food

Kaiden displaying his hard work!
Now on to making cookies on Thursday for Santa!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Useless Christmas Facts

Did you know?

  • Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company.
  • The poinsettia, traditionally an American Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico; where it was known as the "Flower of the Holy Night". It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.
  • If you received all of the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", you would receive 364 presents. That's a LOT of crappy presents!
  • On average, an American family sends and receives 28 Christmas cards each year.
  • Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition. I'll pass thankyouverymuch.
  • One in three American men say they wait until Christmas Eve to finish their holiday shopping. Are we suprised?
  • There are towns named Santa Claus in Arizona and Indiana, one named Noel in Missouri, and towns named Christmas in Arizona and Florida. Who knew?!?!
  • About 31% of all diamond purchases are made during the Christmas season. Hint, Hint.
  • Due to the way time zones work, Santa actually has 31 hours to deliver his gifts.

I bet you will all sleep a bit better tonight. You're welcome.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meal Plan-12/19/10

Last week's meal plan ended up getting moved around quite a bit. But that's the beauty of a good meal plan...technically having all the ingredients already in your home for each meal will allow for easy movage (totally a word) to suit you as the week progresses.

I ended up moving Wednesday's meal to Saturday, moving Saturday's meal to Sunday, deleting Thursday's meal altogether so to eat up some left overs from Tuesday's meal. But, it all worked in the end. So I have some meals left over from last week that I will try and re-work into this week.....and Christmas dinner....I am still deciding what to do for that one. It's just us this year so do I want to make a big meal or do I want to keep it crazy simple? I am thinking crazy simple but, hmmm.....

Sunday-Quinoa Waldorf Salad. Madelyn gobbled this one up again. Kaiden still, notsomuch. But it's yummy!
Monday-Tostadas using my favorite refried bean recipe. Oh, it's heaven. You MUST try!
Tuesday-Eggplant Parm
Wednesday-Crockpot Vegetarian Chili
Thursday-Lettuce Wraps. I have some tofu sitting in my fridge that I might try and make this with for me. Chicken for the hubs and kiddos.
Friday-Homemade pizza. I got some pizza yeast packets the other day (for FREE thanks to my coupons!) so I want to try to make my own pizza dough. Hmmmm....let's see how this goes.
Saturday-Christmas. Still deciding.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Festivities Galore

The past few weeks have been crazy with Christmas festivities. Throw in the fact that I still have gifts to buy for the kids, presents to wrap, stocking stuffers to pick up, birthday parties to attend, meals to plan and shop for and the normal chaos to deal with we are a very busy family these days. But who's stressed? Not me.

Anywho, on Wednesday we went to a mom's group friend's house for a gingerbread house building play date. But, no kits here. We did the old fashioned graham crackers and icing and candy decorating houses. The kids had a blast! And there may or may not have been a slew of candy that didn't make it on any houses at all. But I'm not one to snitch.

Here are my goobers decorating their house working so nicely together.

Here are all the houses that were decorated that day. As you can see, quite the variety. Only one house collapsed due to the fact that most of us used a GLUE GUN! Holla!

This is our house looking all nice and yummy.
Then on Thursday Kaiden had his last day of school before Christmas/New Year's break. So, the last hour they invited the parents to join the class for a Birthday celebration for Jesus! Kaiden attends a Christian school so I LOVE the fact that they can reinforce the true meaning of Christmas with what we are teaching him at home and what he learns at church.

Here are the kids singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Then they follow that with their daily prayer that they sing before their snack everyday. We have adopted this prayer and use it most nights at our dinner table before eating.

Here is Kaiden decorating his sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles

Then the kiddos decorated a gingerbread man with anything and everything they wanted to stick on it.

That evening the school put on a Christmas show with all of the preschool and pre-K classes. Kaiden's 2's class started off the show with the ringing of the bells. It was adorable and sooo typical of a young toddler-esque show with all the kids waving to parents in the audience! (Sorry for the quality of this video...I was using my camera since I don't know how to upload our videos from our actual video camera. Oye! )

Here is Kaiden and Madelyn after the show in his classroom. The teachers handed out a gift to the students for a job well done!

Kaiden poses with his teacher (left) and the classroom aide (right). See you all next year!

We still have a few fun play dates planned next week in which we are going to make food for the reindeer to sprinkle in the yard on Christmas Eve and also to make cookies to leave for Santa. We will also most likely attend a live nativity show that is at a church about a mile from out home tonight, go out and look at Christmas lights in our neighborhood (for the third time!), visit a massive gingerbread house village and watch copious amounts of Christmas movies! The craziness continues but I LOVE the Christmas season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Christmas Gifts

So you remember this post when I talked about my mason jars and how excited I was to make them into Christmas gifts this year? Well, I'm finally finished the task, mailed them off today and I am so excited with how they turned out.

You have probably seen homemade bread or muffin mixes, soup, coffee or bath recipes that you can make and put in a jar for someone. Well, I made a hot chocolate mix recipe that I found here and filled each jar with the mix. But first, I made the tags to attach to the jars using some scrapbooking paper and scrapbooking rub-ons. I punched a hole in the end and secured an eyelet to reinforce the hole (not shown in this picture).
Then I selected a fabric (I got a big sheet of it at Walmart for $1.00! HOLLA!) and cut it into an appropriate size square for each jar and spray glued it to each lid like so...

After I filled the jars with the mix, I made labels on my computer using Avery name badge printable labels and printed the directions of how to make the hot chocolate and the ingredients in the mix (we don't have a color printer here so that was a bit disappointing, but they turned out alright despite them only being black and white). I then stuck them to the jar, threaded the tag through the ribbon and tied it around the top of the jar. They looked so pretty!

We also made picture ornaments for the grandparents using felt and sequin-like crafty things.
And to top off the gifts, I made homemade, non-toxic hand sanitizer as well. It smells sooo good! I printed up labels on my computer using the same name badge size labels which I had to cut down slightly so they fit on the bottles better. All the ingredients are proven to kill germs, including virus, but are all safe for the environment and completely safe for you!

I sent each gift to the grandparents, my brother and SIL, hubs SIL and even made one for Kaiden's teacher and the aide in his classroom. I think the shipping alone cost me more than that actual gifts themselves, but I am willing to bet that most everyone will appreciate a homemade gift rather than something I bought in the store that they may never use!

Merry Christmas!

It's Beginning to Look A LOT Like Christmas

We haven't gotten family pictures done since Kaiden was about 7 months old. I wanted to get some taken this year so I would have something nice to send out for our Christmas cards. We went yesterday to a local portrait place and not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised how well our photos turned out.

Here is Miss DIVA looking so cute and innocent

Handsome boy looking so grown up!

My two cuties cooperating so well for the camera

My beautiful family whom I am so blessed to have!
Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meal Plan-12/12/10

Meal Planning worked like a charm last week. I had all my ingredients on hand, knew exactly what I was making that night and (amen!) had our dinner out on the table with no stress. Well, minus the crying, fighting children swarming around my feet during preparations. Besides that it was low stress.

I think it will work out for us that each week I will try to incorporate one night of a salad meal, one night of a mexican meal, one night of a meat dish, one pasta meal and the next two nights are open. We usually go to Saturday night church service so will probably just do dinner out when we go since coming home at 6:00 and starting to cook something isn't very appealing to me. This new schedule will seem to give the meals variety and balance throughout the week.

Sunday-Birthday party for our friend's son. Salad and pizza.
Monday-Lasagna Rolls
Tuesday-Chicken fajitas
Wednesday-Veggie Pot Pies
Thursday-Crockpot vegetarian chili
Friday-Veggie burgers with sweet potato fries
Saturday-Quinoa Waldorf Salad. I recently bought Quinoa from Costco and have been wanting to try it. I came across this recipe that was linked from Katie's blog a few weeks ago and had to try it. It didn't disappoint and Madelyn gobbled it up! Kaiden....well, not so much. He didn't hate it, but only took a few bites because he "had" to.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jumping Rope

A few notes about this video:
  1. He states that he is "using the jump rope from Halloween." For the record, I have no idea what jump rope and Halloween are doing in the same sentence and why he thinks he got this "jump rope" when he was trick or treating. In fact, he is using Paco's leash instead.
  2. Just 5 minutes before shooting this video he told me he learned how to jump rope at school from his teacher. Because I sure as heck didn't teach him how to jump rope. But then in this video he states he "learned how to jump rope from trick or treating." Honestly, I am at a loss as to where to go with that statement.
  3. Notice that my children do not like to wear clothing. When we were potty training he ran around naked so that he would tell us when he needed to go potty and not pee in his pants. Since he is now fully potty trained we try to at least keep underwear on the kid, but it's a daily mystery whether he wants just undies on, his pants on or nothing at all. I choose to pick my battles most days.
  4. I had to stop this video short when Madelyn decided to kidnap Ernie our "elf on a shelf." Apparently Ernie's perching spot was not out of the reach of curious toddler hands like he thought.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom

Being a mom is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I know it's so cliche, but it's so true. Most days I feel like a failure and wonder if I have done anything right. Often my patience runs thin, my house is a mess and I look like I have been hit by a truck from lack of sleep. I repeat myself a million times, kiss countless "owies," and break-up multiple battles between toddlers.

Just a couple days ago my children were OUT. OF. CONTROL. The day seemed to drag on as I dealt with numerous melt downs, time outs, uncontrolled emotions, fighting and clinginess that all made me want to crawl in a hole and hibernate 'til next winter. It was by far the worst day that I had faced being a mommy to two kiddos. I was emotionally and physically exhausted even before nap time hit and wondered if I would make it through the rest of the day. It's days like that which I find myself needing a reminder that I love being a mom. I really do love it.

I have a folder on my computer which I titled "reality check." I often go to the folder and look at the posts that I have stashed away in there (this post and this post are my favorites). Just for for days like I had this week. It's a reminder that one day I will miss it. All of it. My kids will be grown, they won't want to snuggle with me, they won't want to sit in my lap and read stories, they won't want to hold my hand while walking across the street. I'll miss it. Both the good days and the bad days. I try and savor it all.

As another reminder to myself, here's my top 10 reason's why I love being a mom:
  1. No matter how ugly you feel, they will always tell you you're pretty.
  2. Little snuggles and kisses.
  3. They bring simple innocence to a world full of craziness.
  4. They keep me laughing.
  5. Acting silly is okay. In fact, it's part of the job description.
  6. Unexpected flowers, gifts and hugs.
  7. Seeing all our hard work pay off when they love each other, give a helping hand to each other, share toys with their sibling, say "please" & "thank you" to total strangers, or tell the other "it's okay" when they fall down.
  8. Being able to watch my husband be an amazing father.
  9. My life suddenly has purpose.
  10. They make me want to be a better person.

I love being a mom.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meal Plan-12/5/10

I have GOT to get back to meal planning. Looking back at some old posts, the last time I meal planned was a year ago! No wonder most nights I am racking my brain (and shuffling through my cabinets) to figure out what to throw together in time for 5:00 dinner. I hate feeling that pressure at the end of the day not knowing exactly what we are having. Even if you vary from the plan at last minute and make something else or decide to go out to dinner, or even flip the dinner you had planned for Monday with the dinner that was planned for Thursday meal planning is a huge help. It's a huge time saver, gas saver (so you are not at the grocery store EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!) and stress reliever.

So here's to putting meal planning back into my life again! *Clink, clink!*

Sunday-Broccoli Slaw Salad
Monday-Pasta e Fagioli
Tuesday-Enchiladas (chicken for the kids and hubs, beans & cheese for me)
Wednesday-Corn Chowder
Thursday-Applesauce pancakes with fruit salad (who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?!?!)
Friday-Homemade veggie pizza
Saturday-Out to dinner after church

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids Christmas Craft Day

Did you know that today is December 1st?!?!? I know! Hard to believe. So I thought it would be fun to kick off our 25 days until Christmas with a kids craft day in which I hosted at my house with a few mamas from my mom's group.

The kids had a blast! We made a Christmas Advent Chain, a clothespin Reindeer and a little foam ornament. Even if most of the crafts were eventually completed by the mamas, I think they will all have something to add to their Christmas tree and look back on it for years to come.

Miss Maddey very intently checking out her craft bag

Kaiden gluing his Christmas Advent chain together

Look Mommy at my advent chain!

Each kid got a different foam ornament to glue together and hang on their tree. (a Dollar Store find!)

My favorite: Reindeer Clothespin craft
(see below for a "how to")

Materials for the clothespin reindeer craft:
-3 Flat, old-fashioned clothespins (I found these at Michaels, but I believe you can find them at Wal-mart and such stores like that)
-Ribbon. One color used to make a loop so it will hang on your tree and one color for the neck (the one at the neck needs to be very thin so you can thread the bell through it).
-Googly eyes
-Small bell for around neck (found at Michael's)
-Red pom-pom for nose (found at Michael's)
-White pom-pom for tail (found at Michael's)
-Brown felt.
-Glue (Elmer's school glue works okay but it takes awhile to dry. A hot glue gun works best-especially for the pom-poms which will only stay on with hot glue).

-Loop one color ribbon in a loop and glue between two clothespins to form the body.
-Glue one clothespin upside down onto the body to form the head and antlers.
-Glue on googly eyes, and red pom nose.
-Cut out tear drop shaped ears from the felt and glue on.
-Glue white pom on the bum of the reindeer.
-Tie ribbon around neck with bell (I hot glued it to the neck for added reinforcement).

The Christmas countdown has begun! It'll be here before we know it!