Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My favorite elf

I really had fun with Jack this year. The calendar helped, so I didn't feel overwhelmed with having to come up with an idea every single night. Also, the boys excitement every morning to go find Jack was super cute.

Yesterday Jack was found playing the squirrel game with Curious George, Dino and a Christmas frog. The boys found it hysterical. Look who was impressed.
They immediately wanted to play as well, since Jack had won the first round.
 Look at that baby gazing at the elf. He is mesmerized.
Since James doesn't know how to play the game and Jack "can't" per Santa, Zach took it upon himself to play for them all.
There was the usual amount of screaming and all was fine, until he started actually taking Jack's hand to spin the dial.
I had to step in at that point. The modifications I made to Jack are not super secure (I lazied out and just glued him back together). I didn't want a piece of wire poking Zach and letting out all the secrets.

That is why I have been putting him out of reach.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Teacher/Anyone-who-cares-for-my-kids Gifts

Did this sneak up on anyone else? The boys last day of school is Friday and I need to do the teacher gifts from the class, something from the boys for each teacher and what about their swim teacher, arts alive teacher and back up teachers? Why do they have all these activities?!

I immediately got on Pinterest for ideas. Here is what I have. Hopefully it will help if you forgot like me. But I am sure you did no; you all are much more on top of things (ahem, gift card tree, Debra).

Teacher Gifts from Class
As the room mom, I always give our teachers gift cards. Maybe it is crass, but those ladies wipe a lot of poop for not much money and I want them to have a little extra in their pocket on their special occasions.

In my search I saw a cup with the kids fingerprints on it and the tag line "Love your little deers" and I knew I had to use that. Not the cup. No teacher wants anything with the kids fingerprints on them. Sorry, it is the truth. Just ask my teacher text group - Debra, Melissa, Lauren, Joanna and Maria will all confirm.

But you guys just know how I love a good pun so I had to use the tag line. I went searching for a reindeer card and what do you know, I found a super cute one I could type my own wording in.
BUT I don't like to just give a card with the moula, especially for Christmas. I also don't like to spend much money either (if any), taking away from what will be in the gift card.

Then I remembered I had a link to sugar scrub cubes on my new favorite blog and I thought those would be perfect. I had all the ingredients on hand and I love to make stuff. I had to stop myself from starting it at 10 pm. Calm it on down, Kinsey.
I mixed them up one night (FYI I needed four batches to get 15 cubes) and put them in small canning jars. I made mine with honey and lemon, using the amounts suggested by the blogger. They were very easy (if messy) and super cheap. Also, a perfect use for those square ice cube trays I bought back when I was going to make baby food for James. A glue gunned bow, a gold sharpie and we are all set.
Teacher Gifts from the Boys
I found some insulated drink sleeves at Randall's a few months back and scooped up five of them. I had them monogrammed with the teacher's first name (since they use their first name at the school) and gave them a gift card to Starbucks.

Oh don't worry, I also found a printable tag to go along with that gift. BAM! Pinterest is my b***! (I told you I needed to calm down)
I printed a few extras of this card for the other activity leaders, coaches and the principal of the school. It fits perfectly in a 5x7 envelope with or without a drink sleeve.
Seriously though, aren't all the bloggers who are graphically creative (not just copy cats like me) so nice for putting their stuff out there for free? They are so talented and we can use their gifts. I love it.

They also rarely talk about how great they are, which, as you know, I don't understand. Did I tell you I was famous?

Friday, December 13, 2013

In the Home Stretch

Hi there elf lovers, how did your week go? Can you believe we are down to the final week and a half until Christmas? Terrifying, right? Here is your printable elf calendar to take you all the way.

I am ready for Jack to take his leave. It has been fun this year as Zach is excited every morning to find where he has landed, but Jack has also come under greater scrutiny. I get a lot of questions about why we can't touch him, why he can't talk to us, and MOMMY, JAMES TOUCHED JACK!!! The world might be over.

The majority of the ideas this year are not mine. Here is a list of the smarter-than-me bloggers I borrowed from!

No, seriously, I might be getting famous any second

This is not like last time when I was the star of the evening news for 10 seconds. No, I wrote an piece for Houston's Motherhood Center and they actually published on their blog! Look! That is me!
Don't worry, I took it easy on the exclamation points for them. Plus, my sister edited the piece before I sent it. She said something about my acceptable usage of "optional" commas, but that my "grasp of 'needed' commas to make my sentences grammatically correct was horrible." I thought that was a bit harsh. She then went on to tell me that her freshman students knew more about commas than me. Yes, but do THEY have a blog? Wait, most likely they do. Whatever, I have a sister and a mom completely fluent in all things grammar. And I love to delegate.

Anyway, back in October, my friend Lanie forwarded me a newsletter from the Motherhood Center asking for bloggers to submit articles. I didn't really feel I had the right stuff for a classy place like the MC. For those of you not from Houston (and/or don't have a baby), the MC is the place in town for all your baby needs. Not like a Toy's R Us, like a my baby won't stop crying/pooping/refuses to eat/what the hell am I doing/ I need real help place. They offer pre-natal yoga (which was awesome when I was carrying James who pointed straight out, killing my back), mommy and me yoga, breastfeeding classes, pump rentals, lactation consultants and a host of classes to get you ready for a baby and to help you once the baby is here. I called one of the lactation consultations after James. I, apparently, had totally forgotten how to feed a baby and that it is not supposed to hurt like a bitch. I did at least know that was wrong. To summarize, the MC is a big deal and I am just a lowly mommy blogger/crafter who tortures her family with poor grammar and cussing (sorry Daddy).

But you all know I eventually think I can do anything, so I sent a note last week asking if they were still looking for bloggers with a link to my blog. A lovely lady wrote me back and asked for an article about the holidays, something that would introduce me to their readers. Well, that was a stumper. How do I describe myself to people who have never read my blog or spoken to me? I have no clue and that is the reason I don't have anything under my Complete Profile link. Seriously, what do I say? Stay at home mom who blogs about how her children are precious but super annoying? Over user of sarcasm and a hot glue gun?  Lives near The Little Couple? It is terrifying trying to define myself without an actual job description.

It was like college all over again. I was frozen with a blank page staring at me. All I could think, was to write something about our first Christmas when Zach was two days old and we were still in the hospital. But, that was all I had when Alex walked by. You know he tries to pretend I don't have a blog (and we let him by not telling him what I write about him) but he is really good with ideas. Too good much of the time. I don't need to be told AGAIN that exercising is good for a headache/being tired/pants being too tight, thanks. This time he was helpful and suggested writing about our family traditions. You know I am  not good with sentimental stuff. But I liked his idea so spun it my way. I was totally shocked when the MC group liked it and posted it to their blog.

He is now calling himself my muse.

Check it out over on the Motherhood Center Blog. You guys who have been reading since 2009 know the story, so just pretend it is new to you.

I am really going to need to get my nails done if I am going to be such a big deal. Oh, and get a better spell check program.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tackle Football

James has really gotten into football as of late. And by "football" I mean running screaming "tackle football!!" through the house insisting anyone who is around chase him. Please don't try to actually take the ball from him, however. That results in ear piercing screaming and a full toddler meltdown. No, please only chase him at full speed, pick him up, turn him upside down and put him back down. Then repeat. 42 times.

Until recently, that is. James had played with a set of UT football players complete with the UT football field (similar here) out at his grandparents house and loved it. My mom had given Zach a set as well but I had clearly only been using the field as as a table runner for football parties (obviously). James spotted it after a Texans game watching party (so sad) and he pulled his chair up to the table and said, "Play football Mommy."

Note, it was not a question. It was an order.
So I got our set out of the closet and he went to town. He insisted I set them all up ("Where this one go? Where this one go?") as if I had a clue where any of them go. When I we play football, we use all the players. In the set, there is a player from each team throwing the ball and one running. We put them all on the field.
He then yells, "Tackle down!" and hits them all against each other.
Zach gets in on the game as well and it is at this time I see why we have two of each player. They clearly can't actually play the game together (as if the two year old would allow that). So they play on their own yards of the field.
Very, very seriously.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Return of the Rice

Remember when Zach and I made colored rice a while back? Well, recently I put it where the boys could see it and James has taken a huge interest in it. Huge.

However, I can't let them play with it alone and let me show you why. First of all, James feels the need to be in the box of rice.
When he did get out, to let Zach play. this happened.
James found this hysterical took it as he cue to frolic in the rice.

 Oh, I do mean frolic.
So my sweet baby wants to "play rice" daily now but I can only manage it once a week for my sanity. But he does love it and you know I love when my kids actually play with the things I make. And he is very, very impressed with the rice.

Friday, December 6, 2013

It is only the second week

How did the elf hiding go this week? Did your kids love the elf angel with sprinkles? Did you love cleaning up the mess it made? Thought so. I know you all so, so well.

Was my cheat sheet helpful or did you branch out? I would love to see what other people did! Please comment or email me so I can share them here as well (if you like).

You guys remember our elf Jack, who moved in last December.
this year I started out strong with Alex placing Jack on the front porch (not on the bathroom floor as in the picture above) and then sprinting to the back of the house. It was Sunday, the mail doesn't come on Sunday - who could have sent it? Zachary lost his mind when he saw him. He screamed JACK IS HERE! and ran to the back of the house to yell it at his dad. James was, of course, running along with him but completely unsure as to why we were yelling about a doll in a box.

The next day Jack was found, by Alex, in one of his socks sleeping. Tuesday I got lazy and just put him on top of a candle holder and Wednesday he made an elf angel out of sprinkles. At first I was a tad annoyed to use perfectly good sprinkles but then I checked the expiration dates (who knew they expired?) and found I had plenty that needed to go.
Thursday Jack made mini-pancakes for the boys and attached himself to the syrup. Wednesday night I finally added the wire to Jack so he could hold on to things and had feet. Super easy and worth it, PS.
Today he was found under a glass as I was making breakfast. Zach was highly concerned about his ability to breathe in there.

What is on the schedule this week you ask? I know you are just dying to know.

Here is Week Two complete with your printable file.

Saturday December 7, Elf is a dirty boy
Sunday December 8, Elf is hanging on your calendar and has scribbled graffiti all over it!
Monday, December 9, Put the elf on top of a lamp in your child's room.
Tuesday, December 10, little hands can find the elf when they get their spoons for cereal.
Wednesday, December 11, Elf is trying to brush his teeth
Thursday, December 12 and my favorite, the elf takes down the stockings and puts up your child's underwear in their place. Put the elf on the mantel holding the stockings.

Friday, December 13, Use a dry erase marker for the elf to draw funny faces on a family photo.
Saturday, December 14, Elf hides candy canes in your child's room for him to find. Here is the printable file from Etsy, or you can just write it out yourself.
I have had a couple conversations about what happens when we forget to move the elf. Because it is going to happen. I just turn to my children and say, "Well, what did you do that Jack didn't want to tell Santa?" They have always done something; hit their brother, talk back to us, wrestle at school, etc. And they are always better the next day.

I also spotted this suggestion of a note from Santa after you have had a particularly bad day. I love it and will most likely be using that at least once, if not twice. 
While my boys love Jack they don't respect his authority. 

At. All.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The elves are coming! The elves are coming!

You guys, Sunday is December 1st, so you know what that means? It is the Elf on the Shelf time! Of course, if your children don't have a clue what month or day it is (ahem, mine) you can start whenever. But I would like to be more organized around our elf, Jack, this time around so I am going to elf plan each day of the week starting on Sunday. I hate the feeling of shutting down the house at night only to remember you have to hide the &*^%# elf.

I figure I am not the only one with this issue, surely. I thought I would share my plans each Friday for the upcoming week to get you ready. Some will be creative ideas and some will be putting the elf in another lamp. Here is a printable calendar as well.
 Here is my Week One.
Sunday, December 1 - The elf arrives
I am going to have Alex put this on the front door then run around to the side of the house so Zach can open the door. The mail does not come on Sunday, who could have sent this package?
Elf arrival~!!!!! Cutest I've seen!

I found a skinny shoe box that I am going to stuff with tissue paper and cover with red wrapping paper. You can print out the North Pole cancellation postage and glue it to the paper as well.

Monday, December 2 - Snow Angel Elf
snow angel elf

Tuesday, December 3 - Breakfast from Jack
Elf sized pancakes..must remember for breakfast when our elf returns!!

Elf on a Shelf Ideas for ChristmasWednesday, December 4 - Elf under a glass
Thursday, December 5 - Elf on printer/scanner
Elf scans bum (at least that's what I would do!)
Friday, December 6 - Sleeping in Daddy's socks
Elf on a Shelf - Using a sock as a sleeping bag
Don't forget to "modify" your elf so he/she can bend and hang better. Life so Lovely has a great tutorial.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I am thankful for you

I have refrained all season from doing the "I am thankful for..." on Facebook but it is time. I want to take this day to say I am thankful for YOU my reader friends. And to show you my hand print turkey wreath. But really to say thank you. I love doing this blog, love to talk about my babies and myself and I love that other people care and can laugh along with me. We all know I don't speak too seriously on the blog. There was that one rare time, but today I seriously want to say thank you for following our little family each week for the past five years. I am so lucky to have reader friends far and wide concerned about my well being and, more importantly, the well being of the small people I am in charge of. I adore you all.

Now for what you REALLY want to hear about; the hand print turkey wreath.
I had a vision. A vision of combining this wreath with this wreath to form a turkey wreath using the boys hand prints.
Turkey hand wreath.                             
I used most of the excellent instructions from the Baby Rabies site for wrapping the foam wreath core. I used brown fabric that I ripped to give it a frayed edge and covered the entire wreath core with it. Then I just laid out James and Zach's cut out hand prints in a pattern and layering that I liked. Alex was highly, highly skeptical of this vision. Which is a fairly rational response to me painting and cutting styrofoam.

But I love it. It is either super cute or super tacky and I am still a bit on the fence about which one. But not so much that it stopped me from making another smaller one for my papa's door.
I also decorated our mantle this year. While some might not think hot pink is a Thanksgiving color, those people would be incorrect.
I had an American Indian blanket my mom purchased years ago in my Thanksgiving box and it happens to have hot pink, navy and various browns in it. And I just so happened to have purchased hot pink sticky vinyl. It was clearly meant to be.
I printed out these darling "I am thankful for" tags from Jones Design Company, which is a beautiful blog I follow. She has a bunch free for printing but the light brown one was the perfect fit for our mantle. Like how I say "our" as if Alex had any input into this at all.

Zach has had fun picking one thing he is thankful for each day to put on the tags. I write the front (as if I can give up that control) and he signs his name on the back with the date. I plan to use this for a few years until it just gets crammed full of things we are thankful for. We have much, much to be thankful for.
Like this glitter turkey that I grabbed while running out of the Nutcracker market. And you. OK it is a toss up, I am not going to lie.
I can't be sure what came over me and why I had to have this turkey, but I did and am thankful it made it home in one piece.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Strawberry Bread

A friend of Liv's made Strawberry Bread recently and Zach lost his mind over it. The recipe is from a cookbook that Liv and her friend's use all the time. I, of course, didn't have frozen strawberries but I did have frozen raspberries and mango from back when I was going to make smoothies for breakfast. That does not sound the least bit like me in the morning.
So I subbed the fruit, and you guys, this bread is good. It is not healthy. At. All. But it is delicious and super easy to make. I made one small loaf and 18 muffins. I froze the muffins to take during Zach's snack week. This was all that was left at the end of the first day.
Seriously, make this now. Whatever frozen fruit you have in your freezer would be great.

Strawberry Bread
From Wild about Texas

3 cups flour
4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tpsp cinnamon (I thought about omitting this but left it in and I liked it)
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
2 (10 oz) packages frozen strawberries, thawed

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs adding oil and strawberries. Pour liquid into well of dry ingredients and stir util mixed. Pour into two large loaf pans or four small loaf pans that have been greased and floured (or sprayed with Pam baking spray). Bake 45 minutes for loaf pans and 25 minutes for muffins.