Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best Buy Ever

Wow!  I ordered this preschool busy bag a few weeks ago.  It was on some crazy sale and I had been wanting to create something like this for Bro, but the time and expense to make it would probably not be worth it.  So, I ordered it.

The busy bag includes 20 preschool-friendly activities to keep your preschooler busy.  I imagined that we would use the bag: on a rainy day, to keep Bro quiet during church, on a long car ride, and so on.

Soon after I ordered the bag, I had buyer's remorse.  I envisioned this ratty bag showing up at my door with lackluster appeal and mediocre artistry.  I could not have been more wrong.

Note:  If you have a preschooler in your house then this is the busy bag for you.

Each of the 20 activities is perfect for little Bro: counting activities, letter activities, color activities, lacing activities, sorting activities, pretend activities... and more and more.  Each activity comes in its own ziploc bag with easy instructions for mom and dad.  Every bag contains all of the items needed for the activity.  The lady who put them together even took the time to round of the edges of the papers and laminate the cards that would clearly get lots of use.  This is such a sweet set.  It is clearly handcrafted and I love that part too. 

I went so far as to order a Christmas bag from the same lady because it not only includes Christmas activities but has some "winter" activities as well.  I am hoping that this will help get us through some tough days that we are stuck inside the house, hiding from Old Man Winter. 

We took our busy bag with us to an evening doctor's appointment. 

We were sorting...


and lacing... as we waitied.  We had great fun!


The lady who makes these bags also holds a busy-bag swap each year.  The idea is that each mom makes 30 sets of one bag and mails them in.  When the lady gets all of the sets, then she divides them up and sends them out to the families.  Cool huh?

How do you keep your kids occupied at the doctor's office,
while you make dinner, or on a rainy day?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

I did not blog over the Thanksgiving weekend.  However, here is a quick photo recap for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, November 24

The kids had a great Thanksgiving.  Bro asked for "more turkey please."






Friday, November 25

Bro did not play while we were outside.  When we went inside to eat lunch he started screaming and fell to the floor with stomach pain.

We took a visit to the ER which has its own pediatric wing.  Yay! It's new and I forgot all about it until I got there.

They said that his colon was probably spasming.  They gave him Motrin and a popsicle.  He watched plenty of SpongeBob too.


Saturday, November 26

We went to the Smithsonian museums.  I was so delighted to see that the Air and Space Museum has a baby changing station in the men's bathroom.  Yes, this is the only picture I took all day long.


Sunday, November 27

Pioneer Woman's Turkey Tetrazzini is a great way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey.


What did you do over the break?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

JUICE!

My little Bro-man is rather inflexible at times.

For example, he gets a sippy cup of juice each morning.  There is hell to pay if he does not get his juice immediately when he arrives to the living room.  I'm not kidding here folks.

Recently, we were out of juice.  I was giving Bri her bottle and Bro was still sleeping.


While I feeding Bri her bottle, Bro walked out into the living room.  I could feel the hairs on my neck stand up.  I knew what was coming.

"I want my juice Mommy."

I was in a predicament.  Bro was gonna have a fit if he did not get his juice, but Brielle was going to have a fit if I sat her down in the middle of the only bit of cuddle time we get each day.

I know I can multitask but I cannot make juice and feed a baby a bottle at the same time.

So, I took a gamble and asked, "Bro, Mommy needs to make new juice.  Can you give Bri her bottle while I make juice."

He replied, "Yes" and he did.. and Brielle didn't fuss. Oh my gosh - he even let me TAKE HIS PICTURE!!!

This is his I-just-woke-up face, not a grumpy face.




He really is mommy's little helper.

Don't the kids just surprise you sometimes?




Monday, November 21, 2011

Books

Recently, I spent a few days sitting around the house holding his little gem.

She threw up all day long.  Good times!

Actual picture of terribly sick baby Bee.

The best part was when she was supposed to be taking a nap and instead stood up at the corner of her crib and threw up into the basket below... the basket that holds 4 of her favorite baby books.

What did I do?  I'm not kidding folks.  I rinsed them and set them in the bathtub to dry.

Is that awful or what?


At $9 a piece, we are looking at about $40 of books here.  These are the bulk of her favorite board books.  We cannot live without them.  Luckily, the Barney lift-the-flap books were not in the basket.  They are out of print and the replacement cost is not in our family budget.  The Barney books are her top favorite books and she asks for them by name.

Was I able to save the books?  Well, Brown Bear, Brown Bear was beyond saving.  {{sigh}} It has been part of our collection since Lulu was a baby.  {{tears}}

Please tell me that someone reading this blog would have tried to save the books.
I couldn't just throw them away.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Paper Hornets

Lulu is learning the art of creating and shooting paper hornets.  We have hornets and targets all over the house.  It's best to both hit the target and leave, gaping hole, and make a loud noise. 


Here is a small paper hornet and rubber band launcher.


She informed me that you can make 14-20 paper hornets from one piece of notebook paper.

She learned this technique during school on Friday.  The kids who take Spanish were on a field trip and this left the few French and Chinese language students in school for the day.  The science teacher let them make and shoot paper hornets... including setting up barricades in the classroom.  She says it was a great day!

She's teaching every member of the family to shoot paper hornets.


What wholesome activities are you enjoying with your family? 
 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do It All. Who me?

Wow!  What a night! 

First, Lulu and I went to the movies together and saw Footloose.  It was the bomb!!!! That is, I really liked it!  I couldn't stop smiling almost all night long.  The dancing and music were great.  I think I never saw the original Footloose, but the music from tonight's movie seemed like remakes from the first movie.  I'm not really that into music, but I'm sure I would love to have the soundtrack to listen to.  It really was great!

What was my favorite line from the movie?  "A parent's job is to worry."  {{Geez.  Isn't that the truth?}}

After the movie, we stopped into Barnes and Noble... one of my all-time favorite stores.  I saw this Do It All Mom calendar for sale. 


I had to immediately walk away.  I've taken a Zen-like approach to life lately.  Well, I'm trying to be calmer, okay?  This calmness doesn't come easy for me.  Chill. 

Is it just me or does this Do It All Mom calendar make you feel pressure to be perfect?  Admittedly, the calendar was cool; but the title is awful.  I'm sure they will sell tons of these calendars because every mom wants to feel like she can do it all.  Here's a tip:  You don't have to do it all.  mkay?  You will feel tons better if you stop trying to do it all.  mkay?  I promise.

Next Lulu and I buzzed through the beauty supply store.  We found Justin Bieber's perfume set – front and center in the middle of the store.  Did you know he has his own perfume now?


Apparently Taylor Swift has her own perfume too.  Who knew?

To top of the night, when we got home we opened a letter saying that Lulu was accepted into National Junior Honor Society.  Everyone else most of her friends got their letter on Friday.  So, we were starting to assume that Lulu didn't get accepted.  Seeing the acceptance letter was a nice surprise and a great topper to a wonderful mother/daughter night out.

Finally, I need to take care of a little blog update.  So, here goes.

Speaking of the do-it-all motto.  I was attempting to be a do-it-all blogger for the month of November.  I'm sure that on November 1, as on previoues November 1s, I promised to blog every day for the month of November.  I don't think that I have ever made this goal and it looks like this year will be no different.  However, you might notice that I am on track to blog on more days in November than any other month in 2011.  So, I think that's a bit of an accomplishment... only a few more blog posts left to go.  I think I can do it.

Do you feel like you need a Do It All calendar or
does it create too much pressure?

To be honest, I probably would have bought the calendar if I had seen it 6 months ago. No offense to you if you have one.  I'm learning to set boundaries.  One of my boundaries is that I don't have to be perfect.  Is this starting to sound like my own online therapy session?  I apologize.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pumpkin and the Power of Stickers

Oh gee!  I promised that pumpkin was ONLY for October.  Then, my mom gave me some pumpkin butter from Trader Joes. 

I had no idea what to do with pumpkin butter until I found Tis the Season for Pumpkin Butter on a Trader Joe's cooking blog. 

I made both the Harvest Glaze Carrots and the Pumpkin Turnovers. The carrots could not have been more of a hit.  It's no secret that I prepare vegetables for every meal. In return, no one eats the vegetables.  They rot as leftovers in the refrigerator.  Then, I throw them in the compost pile.  Repeat.

Not this time.  My whole family inhaled the harvest carrots.  Bonus: they are crazy easy to prepare.

Run to Trader Joe's and grab a jar of Pumpkin Butter.  They are running low and will not restock again until next year.

Speaking of Trader Joes... it's amazing what kids will do for a sticker.  Teachers use stickers as rewards.  The doctor hands out stickers after the visit.  Even Trader Joe's offers a sticker station for the kids to visit on the way out the door. My kids never complain about going to Trader Joe's with me because they know they will get a sticker before they leave.


Why are stickers so powerful?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Naps and Ninjas

Sometimes the starts align and I get to take a nap.

Napping is my favorite activity EVER.  My best days are days I take a nap.

Bri will still take a nap but Bro has given them up.

So, I set him up with some TV and his favorite toys.  I make sure he is well fed AND has gone to the bathroom... and then I settle down for a nap.

I use the term "nap" loosely here.  Let's face it, I can't get a deep sleep with a preschooler running around the house... even if he is "quiet as a ninja" (as he puts it).

Inevitable, he sneaks into my room and leaves gifts for me on my child's school desk nightstand.  It is hilarous to listen to him sneaking in to leave these gifts. 

Today, I turned over to find this little gem waiting for me.

 
Oh my gosh - I could just squeeze him for being so thoughtful!

So, I didn't get a nap, but I did get a delicious snack to share with my little guy.

How do you unwind on the weekends?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bounce Zone

Wow!  I asked a friend of mine for suggestions of activities for my two youngest kids on a State Holiday when the daycaare was closed.

I am finding it hard to keep the two of them occupied as the weather gets colder.

My friend suggested a local indoor bounce place specifically for little kids.  I have been to the bounce places for older kids and I knew that would not work for us.

We met some friends at the bounce place and both of my little ones had a great time.

You know what happens when you try to get the kids to pose for a picture at a place like this?

You get the backs of their heads!



Someone with a winter birthday (poor guy) wants to have a Bounce Zone party this year.


Do you have any suggestions for a winter birthday party?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Humanity

I sleep. I do not stay up late.

However, I was in shock and awe about why PennState University students were supporting Joe Paterno. 

The support and adoration of Paterno after everything that has been disclosed and his own statement that he "should have done more" has sickened me. I was physically ill after hearing and witnessing the support. This has never happened to me before.



I prayed that I would hear and read some different stories in the morning.

I found these great quotes online:
•Colleague Mark Schlabach: "Finally, adults with backbones and courage made a prudent decision at Penn State. Paterno was fired because he failed miserably while making the biggest decision of his life."



•The Philadelphia Inquirer's Bill Lyon: "The irony is, the tragedy is, in trying to keep his beloved school from suffering harm, Paterno had a hand in causing that very harm. When the scandal was brought before him, he reacted, but it was only the bare minimum, superficial, a shocking cover-up that flew in the face of all that he, and Penn State, had come to stand for."
Then saw these two posts from friends on facebook:

As a Penn Stater, this entire thing is sickening and heartbreaking. And it's about those young kids. They did not deserve that abuse and will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Paterno, and every single one of the administration that knew about what Sandusky did needed/needs to be fired over this. And charged under the law. That small portion of the 45,000 students up there rioting does not represent MY university. Not one of my fellow alums thinks Paterno et.al should stay. This is not about football and wanting a winning football team. When it comes to PaternoStaters get that and are sickened and upset just like you are. It's that 1% that can't see beyond the confines of their own small world and/or can't articulate their anger that do these stupid things. And of course, the media finds them.
as well as, 
To add to what Shane said, there are very few things in big-time college football or in life for that matter that are good and true. And, up until a week ago, Joe Paterno was one of those things. If people are upset, it's because it is har...d to accept that Joe Paterno, the pinnacle of all college football coaches, could let everyone down like he did. It's another sad example of a hero taking a terrible, yet deserved, fall.
 
Today I am thankful that there are
some loving and sympathetic human beings out there;
I was starting to get scared.
 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not Here

This Napmom is not posting today because she is at her mom's club.

However, I leave you with this snapshot from my evening.

This is Brody, running an errand to the grocery store, with me, to get milk.

He says that he is Spiderman and Spiderman can carry heavy things.  However, he informs me that Spiderman does NOT smile for the camera.  So, this is the best I can do.


Nighty-Night.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finds

This isn't a very long post but I have to share my latest grocery store finds.

First up... allow me to introduce "Gripe Water."  The name just kills me. It makes me think that I should give this to my kids every time they start to gripe, complain, or whine. Hey!  Maybe I should buy a few cases of this stuff?  Can you overdose on it? {{Just kidding.}}  You have to admit though... wouldn't it be great if they had medicine to keep the kids from whining?  "Fusspot Elixir" = Give me some!

Alas, Gripe Water is for infant "stomach discomfort & gas."  Oh.


Secondly, please say hello to Peppermint Sugar Cookie dough.  {{Hello!}}


I had it in my hand, and then I put it down.
Then I had it in my hand, and then I put it down.
Then I had it in my hand, and then I put it down.

What silly items have you seen in your grocery store lately?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Prayer

Time for a little honestly.  You wanna know something?  I pray with my eyes open - all of the time - even in a crowd - no matter what.  I have always done this.  There are times when I try to pray with my eyes closed but I get distracted by the "stars" in the dark of my eyelids.  If my eyes are closed, I have no idea what the prayer is because I can only think about... having my eyes closed... it's so weird.  So, I pretty much stopped trying to pray with my eyes closed.  I just bow my head and look down.  So, now you know.

Also, Bro taught me a neat little prayer that we have been praying each night.  It is to the tune of Fr√®re Jacques and it goes like this:

God our Father.  God our Father.
Once again.  Once again.
We thank you for our blessings.  We thank you for our blessings.
Amen.  Amen.

So guess how excited I was when I saw this post on facebook this week.

What if you woke up today
with only the things you thanked God for last night?

I was worried at first.  Wow!  But, then I remembered our nightly prayer - "We thank you for our blessings" - and I was like COOL - dude - I don't have anything to worry about.  Right?  I just thanked Him "for my blessings" - that means all of them right?  Sweet! {{Do a little happy dance here.}}

Ok.  In all seriousness, I am very strict about my requests to God.  It goes like this... you see... you might believe in Him and you might not.  Either way... I don't want to wear out my welcome.  You know?  So, when the time comes that I REALLY need something... I don't want him to think... Who is that?  oh is that YOU again?  What do you want THIS TIME???  I need Him to take my request seriously.  Right?  I know I might not get the answer that I am looking for {{thus I have not won the lotto yet}} but at least I want Him to know that I am serious.

In fact, I am so serious about this that I did not ask God for a single request, via prayer, for 36 years {{up until about 3 months ago}}.  The ENTIRE time I was young I had the same nightly prayer.  "Dear God.  Thank you for this day.  Amen."  What I really meant was, "Dear God.  Even if today was awful, I am going to thank You for it so You can remember this in the future if I ever come to You with a real need.  mkay?  Amen."

Then, I grew up and had kids.  I am ever-so-blessed that I still do not have a real need.  However, I know people who are seriously struggling; thus, I find that I do have to throw some requests into my prayers nowadays.  Mostly I am praying for Peace.  I know that God is going to do whatever He is going to do but I really pray that those who are suffering can find peace with the outcomes in their situations. I prayed for these friends this week:

I have a friend of a friend whose husband just died in Afghanistan.... wife... 4 kids.  Ugh.

I have a friend who was stationed overseas and had to have an emergency evacuation to come back to the states for exploratory surgery on several lumps in her breast.  She has a toddler at home.

I have a friend who has fostered 2 brothers for the better part of the past year.  The brothers came from a home that we would all probably consider to be awful.  The brothers have been and ARE part of her family... and just this past week they transitioned to a new home.  My friend, her husband, and her biological daughter miss them terribly. The details of this story pull at my heart strings.
So, I pray that these women, men, and families can find peace.  This is awful stuff... can someone please just give them the peace to get through this?  Please!

Since I am starting to get the hang of this prayer thing,
feel free to send me an email or comment below
if you want me to pray for you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday Activity

Some of you may know that I made the decision to start going to church again over the summer.  This post is a little update on the church that we are going to, how it is working out for us, and other little tidbits about our new... ahem... Sunday activity.

History:  Many of you {{being strangers and all}} do not know that I was raised in a Christian home.  No one forced me to be Christian any more than they forced me to eat spaghetti and like it.  Christianity was just part of what we did.  I went to a religious-based school and I was raised by my grandmother who was the church organist, and treasurer, as well as a Sunday School teacher.  "Church" was just part of every day life.  

Somewhere along the way I went to college, got married, and had kids {{not necessarily in that order}}... and stopped going to church because I was too busy.

Sometime during the late summer of 2011 the Spirit moved me {{well... more like hit me over the head with a club}} to start going to church and this is probably the single best parenting decision I have made EVER.

Although I was raised and baptised Lutheran, we allowed our teen-aged daughter to find a church for our family.  We felt like one of the main requirements was that she needed a place with peers whom she felt comfortable with and so we let her have a big say in where we went to church.

She found this Baptist church right down the street from our house and it has been the great fit that we have needed.

Here are some things that I like about our church, in no particular order.

1.  The songs are great.  They use real words that we all know.  They are catchy.  They are thought provoking and inspirational.

2.  The sermons, albeit 30-45 minutes long, are inspirational as well.  The pastor is a great speaker and I walk away with good information every single Sunday.  My apologies to my past pastors - I am sorry for the glazed over look I had during your sermons; you started off great but always lost me mid-way through - sorry.

3.  The kids can go to Sunday School WHILE I go to church.  This might be the single best thing about this church and the main thing that keeps me going back.  I don't have to work to keep my kids quiet during the service.  They have their own Sunday School lesson while I get my lesson and we all leave recharged and re-energized at the end of the service.  SCORE!

4.  My kids -- all of them -- enjoy going to church on Sundays.  Let's face it, it's no fun dragging your whole family out of bed bright and early for a bummer activity.

5.  Our church offers tons of activities during the week to share with other Christians.  We have traditional Bible study as well as a runner's group, a knitter's group, and so on.  My kids and I all participate in the Wednesday evening activities.  They have youth group and kids club while I... wait for it... go to a Mom's Group.  The purpose of the mom's group is to encourage and equip moms to be the best moms that we can be.  We have guest speakers, good food, and plenty fo tiem to chat.  I feel like such a rejuvenated and re-energized mom when I leave my mom's group.  Think about it?  How do you feel on a mid-week night at the end of the night?  Worn out?  Exhausted?  Tired?  Like giving up?  I used to feel that way but now I am totally re-energized for the rest of my week.

6.  Over all, I feel a different vibe and a different energy in my home.  There is a greater sense of calm and unity and fun that is just a tad bit different than it was before. We are spending more time together as a family... laughing and playing... it's just great.  I don't know if all of this wonderfulness is a result of going to church but I'd like to think so.

So, now you know a little bit more about my church and how going to church is impacting my family.

Does Dear Husband go to church with us?  No.  He does not.  He was raised in a very strict Catholic church; although he does not want to go to a Catholic church, he says that this contemporary church feels more like a cult than a church.  Ouch!  He says that he would compromise and go to a Lutheran church.  I still pray that he will attend church with us every so often.

Any advise on how to coerce my husband
into going to church with us is greatly appreciated.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween 2012

Halloween was such a hit!  Everyone had a blast and it wasn't too cold outside.

Lulu - She was an amazing shufflebot.  She was uber proud of her costume which also included audio of the songs that the shufflebot dances to.  While all of the adults thought she was a robot; the kids new exactly who she was!  Score!

Bro - What can I say about Bro?  He is the perfect age for trick-or-treating.  Here are the highlights of his night: 

~ He talked in a deep Spiderman voice all night long. 

~ He greeted everyone with "Happy Hallo-sneakers!" and would look at his candy and exclaim "for gosh sakes" each time he got candy.

~ If the home owner was not positioned outside with the candy then Bro would walk up to the door, stare at the home, and shout "NEXT!"  It was hilarious!

Bri - Well, we packed a stroller for Baby Bee, but she didn't need it.  She waddled around in her tutu, going from house to house, all night long.  She was extremely cute and definitely got tons of compliments on her cute costume.


I'm loving that I am blogging every day this month. I would like to thank you all for confidence that I can start to lose some weight.  The Halloween candy in the house is NOT helping my efforts though.

What do you do with your leftover Halloween candy?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let them eat... pie???

For those of you who are still eating pumpkin... I made this pumpkin goody for a dinner party I went to.

It was delicious and easy.  I used regular pancacke syrup from my refrigerator instead of the "pure maple" that the recipe called for.  I added the spider web design from melted chocolate in a ziploc baggy.  Since Halloween is over, you can skip that step.


I also made these to-die-for blueberry pie bars for my mom's birthday.  Yes, they taste as good as the picture looks.  Also, this makes lots of pie bars.  The recipe made enough to: celebrate with my mom, leave her with leftovers, have leftovers for my house, and share with the church mom's group as well.


Baking season is upon us!

My only regret is that my homemade vanilla extract is not ready.  boo-hoo.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Part 1 and Vanilla Extract

We made it through Halloween.  Someone was going to be Taylor Swift... but at the last minute opted for Shufflebot instead.  Why does she always do this to me?  Can't we just go out and buy a costume like the rest of the world???  The Shufflebot is the mascot of a hot teen pop group right now.  It is a person who dances in a robot costume.  She informed me that she needed a "rock star" shirt with the words "Excuse me for Party Rocking" (in a certain font) on it, and she also needed the robot head.

Luckily, I read more than my share of craft blogs.  I decided to use the "freezer paper stencil" technique to stencil the correct text and font onto the shirt.  There are tons of freezer paper stencil tutorials online.  Basically, freezer paper is paper on one side and plastic on the other side.  You draw your stencil onto the freezer paper and cut out the center as necessary.  Then, iron the freezer paper stencil to your shirt.  Color in the letters (or picture) and then peel the paper off.  It works like magic! 
So, here we are with the freezer paper stencil on a black shirt and Lulu is spraying silver glitter paint onto it.

While we waited for the stencil to dry, I dove into the Madagascar vanilla beans I ordered on the Internet.  Yes, this is Dear Husband and I splitting vanilla beans while the Halloween shirt dries on the ironing board.  I made him take a picture of my hands covered in vanilla. I was really touching the insides of the beans from Madagascar for crying out loud.  It was uber-cool! 


So, back to the vanilla beans...  I am making my own vanilla extract. Why?  Because I can.  Ok - well, it is a fraction of the cost of store-bought vanilla extract and I am also going to give it away as gifts this Christmas.  It is important to start now because it takes two months for it to finish.  After that, the vanilla extract supposedly just gets better and better with age and makes your home-baked goodies taste extremely yummy! 

Next time, I am going to make the extract from rum, not vodka. 

Stay tuned as we show off our Halloween creations tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Weight

I've been getting some pressure to lose the... ahem... baby weight that I gained with my last two pregnancies.  I get it.  I need to lose some weight.  I also have some very good excuses why I am still a ton wee bit overweight. 

1.  I have a desk job.  That is, it is my j-o-b to sit on my bottom all day long. 
2.  Since I work all day long, I spend my free time with my kids... not at the gym.  Don't get me wrong - I totally love going to the gym.  I am just NOT going to go to the gym in lieu of playing with my kids.  End of story.

Oh, there is this other little issue too.  It is called, "I love baked goods."

In all honesty, I found this picture somewhere online and saved it for myself.  I really laugh an audible laugh every single time I think of this picture because it TOTALLY represents the voice inside of my head! 

Not sure where I found this pic,
but I would love to give proper credit if anyone knows where it came from.
Christmas is coming baking season is upon us.  I do not have any delusions that I will lose weight any time soon.

Speaking of baking, I have so much to share with you... like I am making my very own vanilla extract.  Oh gee - so much to say!  I hope you stick around.  I've been challenged to post every single day this month.  Yikes!  I don't know if you really want to hear from me that often, but I intend to be here if you need me!

Is it really possible to lose weight during baking season???