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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Magic Elves - 2009


I introduced our Elves to you last year (see this post) and of course they are back for more fun this year. Kaitlyn could not wait for them to arrive and checked the porch for them first thing in the morning on Dec 1st. And most mornings since then, the first thing she does is find the elves (and clean up after them if necessary).
Some of the elf-capades include:
-wrapping each other in wrapping paper
-stealing the chocolate from the advent calendar
-hiding in the stockings with new coloring/activity pages for the kids
-riding on Katy's Barbie horses
-making snowflakes and hanging them from the ceiling

-getting stuck in the cereal box while trying to find something to eat
-writing all over the bathroom mirror with the dry erase markers
-wrapping up in blankets on the couch reading books, including a new book for the kids
-leaving post it notes all over the house with messages for the kids
-making "snow" angels in the kitchen using powdered sugar

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy List

You know those days where your brain and your emotions are telling you "I don't care what it is, today I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT!" That's the kind of day I had yesterday. I had reason to be having a rough day, oh yes I did. I've been dealing with a lot lately, including a sick toddler and very little sleep, and the stress from everything else in life was piling up I'm sure. I probably had a case of PMS too. :) And did I mention the part about Ty trying to be too independant and I found my ready-to-go-out Christmas cards in a puddle of spilled milk? Yup. The good news was that only 2 of the envelopes had to be replaced. But that was the part of the day, at barely 6:30 AM, where I just kind of crumbled and fell apart. I didn't know if I wanted to cry, scream and throw things, or just simply run away.

It took me a couple hours to get back on an even keel, struggling the whole time not to take my mood out on my sweet kiddos. Because goodness knows they didn't deserve it. A closer look at the milk debacle showed that my little guy had been trying to help. Not only had he decided to leave me alone and try to get his own drink, but I found a slice of bread at each of our places at the table and the peanut butter, honey, and bread knife ready and waiting. My 3 year old was making us breakfast! lol

Today, while thinking about how yesterday had gone, the concept of the Happy List came to mind. I remember reading a blog somewhere, months ago, about this list - a list of things that made the woman happy. She used this list when she was down to help herself get happy again. Because we all know that in the moment it's very hard to think about much more than just coping. But we also know that our moods and the way we handle each and every little situation has a profound effect on the rest of the day, and more importantly, on those little people around us. Being able to get past the frustration and regain our patience and positive outlook quickly is one of the most useful things we can do for ourselves. And that's where we need the list - to help us find/remember the fastest, easiest way to get happy when our lives are driving us crazy.

My list includes:
-a nice long soak in the tub (tried to hop in the shower yesterday to get a little time to myself and not 2 minutes later Ty was barging in, crying and complaining about his sister. So remember if one doesn't work, move on to another thing on the list)
-music. can't be unhappy when something upbeat and loud is begging me to sing along - or dance!
-chocolate.
-talking it out with a friend over the phone, in person, or online
-walking away from it - to another room, getting out of the house alone, whatever it takes
-having my guardian angel (my mom) take the kids off my hands
-scheduling something FUN to give me something to look forward to. This usually involves Girl Time or Date Night.
-straightening up the house. I always feel better about life when I'm not staring at piles of clutter or stepping on toy cars.
-a big old hug from the husband, usually accompanied by me crying on his shoulder for a few minutes. He also knows to feed me chocolate :) True story! I was having a meltdown a few months ago (more than a year now probably), practically in tears because he had brought home Miracle Whip instead of mayo and I couldn't make dinner as planned. (a true PMS moment when emotions are just out of control for no reason. Isn't it funny that I am only now finding myself acting this way in recent years? It must have something to do with having kids right? RIGHT?!? Tell me I'm not the only crazy one!) So off to the store he went and came home with mayo and Hershey's kisses :) He also ratted me out to my mom, who had happened to be at the store. She called later to make sure I was doing ok.
-immersing myself in a good book
-taking a step back and remembering how much I love my little ones. Hugs and other gestures of affection from them are good too.


So what's on YOUR happy list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Black and White Birthday


A good friend of mine just turned 30. She has 4 kids and her birthday just happens to be sandwiched in between 2 of the kids' birthdays. And thus - no big birthday bash for herself on her agenda. So we offered to do one for her!

We went with a black, white and red color scheme - it's a favorite for both of us - and just took it from there. It doesn't take much to throw a good party for adults - a few cute touches and good food and they pretty much entertain themselves.

The invitation:

Decor:
-Happy 30th Birthday banner. I know we've seen these all over the place in blogland so of course I had to try one myself. Loved it! If I could get away with using it again for the next party I'm doing, I would. (my husband turns 30 in January. He'd like the black and white floral damask and polka dots right??)
For mine I used my largest circle cutter for the background, my scalloped circle Nestabilities for the mat, and just printed out the lettering from the computer and cut that into circles and layered them all together. Punched holes in each side of the circles and tied them together with ribbon and tulle.
-We wanted to do photo holders for centerpieces. And can you believe I couldn't find what I wanted ANYWHERE? But I did have all these leftover wooden cubes so we painted them up, added some patterned paper and had the hubby drill a few holes in the top. Then we took some wire (Home Depot, hooks and photo hanging section, thickest kind they had) and twisted it up into the shape we wanted. Then just used a little hot glue to hold the wire in the cube. We had her mom and sister send a bunch of photos that we stuck in the ends of the wire. We placed these in the center of each table, as well as on the gift and cake tables.
-Black and white polka dot fabric. Cut it down into 2' squares for the center of each table and larger sections for the food tables.



Food:
-a nice variety of soups. She's vegan so we went with meatless chili, minestrone, and chicken noodle (yeah not vegan, but most of the husbands would have protested the complete lack of meat)
-rolls
-caramel apple cider (yum!)
-yummy chocolate cake from Costco
We had a TV and movies, along with coloring stuff to keep the kids occupied. Didn't work very well. That's my one complaint about big parties for adults - you just can't keep the kids from running (literally) around unsupervised. Drives me nuts. Short of hiring a sitter to keep track of them all or having someone run activites for them I don't know how to avoid it. Anyone have a better solution to this problem?

But all in all, a nice party for someone who certainly deserves it. Happy Birthday Cheri! Thanks for making the drive up here for it :) And a big thanks to Alisha and Beau Dee, my co-conspirators.

Now back to our regularly scheduled holiday programming, for at least another week or so.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Farm Party

For Tyler's Third birthday, I decided to go with a farm theme.

The invitations: see earlier post here

The decorations:
-barn. Made with a red plastic tablecloth and masking tape.
-fence. We made the fence to go around our Christmas tree when Katy was little. It has served us well (happy to say that with Ty being 3 we no longer require its services for the tree).
-front door was also made to look like a barn door with red plastic and masking tape. I could have picked up some hay from the barn, grabbed an old milk can, picked up some balloons, put out some stuffed animals and really dressed up the porch. But it's FREEZING outside. And I got lazy. So I just did the door.
-cow. I made this one for one of the games - just used some clipart from the internet as a guide and drew it on a couple pieces of foam core.
-misc barn, animal, tractor toys from Tyler's collection.
-galvanized buckets to hold art supplies, food (Target dollar section in the summer)

The food:
-pig and chicken cupcakes. I found the idea here. The kids were able to help make these.
-goldfish crackers (because I feel bad feeding them JUST sugar. and Ty likes them)
-chocolate milk
-served on Zoo Animal plates and cups (Walmart, etc). These things are great! I bought 2 packages and split them up with the farm animals for this party and the jungle animals for Kaitlyn's monkey party. The cups are particularly great for this age because they come with lids so the little ones can't spill.
-the big cake. My tradition is to use this one for decoration at the kid party then it gets consumed later at the cake/ice cream party with the adults/family. I used the Wilton Animal Crackers pan and just decorated it to look like a cow. (That pan is a great investement. Very versatile)

The activities:
-made sheep puppets. Internet clipart of a sheep, printed on cardstock and cut out (because half the kids are too young to have scissors skills). The kids glued cotton balls onto them to make them fluffy, then we taped on popsicle stick handles.
-Find the Animal. Had printed out different animal clipart and hidden them around the room for the kids to find. Then the kids took turns looking at the cards they had found and making the noise for the animals while the rest of the kids guessed what animal it was.
-Egg and Spoon race
-Stick Horse Races
-Milk the Cow. Attached a latex glove (turns out the ones we had on hand were blue. Oh well) filled with water to the cow and poked a hole in the bottom of the fingers so the kids could "milk" it.
*you'd think this was enough to keep them busy right? Nope. For some reason we ran through the games much more quickly than I thought. It was ok because we sang Old McDonald a few times, had cupcakes, opened presents, then filled in the extra time with free play. Other fun games could include The Farmer in the Dell (remember that one from elementary school? I thought the kids were a bit young for it here though), milk bottle games (ring toss, or throw a ball and try to knock them over), hide plastic animal in the "hay stack" and have the kids find them. And of course there is always the hay ride, pony ride, animal petting options which we have access to but again, it's December and COLD.

Party Favors:
-decorated white paper bags with "cow spots" using a Sharpie. Tied them with ribbon and added a tag with each child's name
-mini farm themed coloring book - found it online but didn't note where
-mini crayons - picked these up a couple years ago. They're halloween theme so I just covered it with a picture of a barn
-John Deere tractor fruit snacks
-plastic farm animals - picked them up at the Target Dollar Spot