Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday night leftovers

  • Risking sounding like a broken record - but seriously. Nothing is more fun than Christmas-time with my kids. I love it.

  • Last night, we watched the Polar Express. Cam LOVED it. A train AND Santa. It couldn't get any better. I was nervous for a bit, with the whole doubting Santa stuff - but once they got to the North Pole? It answered all of Cam's questions about where the Elf goes every night.

  • Last night, our dog, Henry, was laying in Maggie's room while I read her bedtime stories. He didn't get up and leave when I left and closed the door. About 10 minutes later I was looking for him, and I realized he was in Maggie's room. I opened the door and he is sitting next to her crib, and Maggie is petting him through the bars. The minute the door opened, he sprinted out - and then Maggie cried for 'Enry! for a good 20 minutes.

  • I volunteered to help as a 'costumer' for the 'Nativity in the Trunk' service at church. Turns out that means I needed to iron like 50 costumes. God. Damn. It. So I insisted we turn it into a ironing party, and I had two other women at my house last night ironing all the damn costumes. When will I learn?

  • My mother-in-law arrives today. I told Cam about it, and he said 'I'm GB's best friend.' I doubt my son could be any cuter.

  • We are going to the Rockettes this afternoon!

  • In true Maggie style, she insists on putting her jacket on MYSELF each morning. This is the result if I don't set it up for her to flip:

  • And if I DARE suggest that it's wrong? Forget about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


A picture's worth a thousand words, right? So these will help explain what I was trying to talk about yesterday!

Here is Cam helping Aaron put the lights on the tree:
This is a picture of Maggie painting those hand print ornaments I was telling you all about the other day. Cam painted one (both kids made 5). Maggie stayed and painted all 5, and wanted to do more. Makes me think that the present that my mom is getting her (the easel) is going to be a HUGE hit.

One of my friends holds an annual gingerbread house making party. Cam is finally old enough to go, and he had a BLAST!

He wanted to only put the orange candies on his house. At least the kid is consistent.

Final picture? Aaron and I took the kids to the mall, and after walking around for 30 minutes, I notice that Maggie has a candy cane stuck to her sweatshirt.

She is completely obsessed with the candy canes on the Christmas tree, and sneaks them at any opportunity. Aaron and I split up at the mall - he took Cam, I took Maggie. Cam and Aaron managed to get a bunch of presents, Maggie and I got a smoothie. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I haven't been posting a lot because I've been spending a lot of time just enjoying our life. I know that many people hate this season, and I get it. I really do. I've had more than a few things go wrong in this December and pretty much every December for the past 5 years. I think people would feel that I was totally justified if I just stayed in bed and protested all the holiday celebrations.

But that isn't how I'm wired. I just can't help but look at what I DO have and just revel in it. I have a pretty amazing husband who is the best father to two wonderful children. This year, Cam is really starting to get the concept of Santa. It is beyond cute to watch them run around the house looking for the Elf every morning (Maggie wants to touch the elf SO BADLY. Her little body quivers when it's somewhat close. And she starts repeating Elf. Magic! MAGIC!). The fun of watching Christmas movies with them for the first time (Cam was terrified of the Abominable Snowman in the Rudolph movie).

And this year, for the first time in a while, I've been able to really plan and get perfect presents for everyone. I don't have a million dollars, but I do have enough to be able to buy things that I have been wanting to get for a while. Which is fun. And, people may not even believe this, but we are excited to have both Aaron's mother and my mother visit for Christmas. I'm going to have company for almost 5 days, and I'm excited about it. I've even ordered special cuts of meat from the butcher for all our family dinners on the 23rd and 24th.

So yes, this is a hard season. Expectations are high. People are stressed. But I somehow am just enjoying the great life and family that I have.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last night, I was home alone with the gang. Aaron had to work late. So I thought I could engage the kids with making those hand print ornaments. But I had this feeling that it was going to be a huge failure. And it was headed that way -Maggie was VERY crabby when I picked her up from daycare.

But I fed them pancakes with syrup, and all of a sudden I had happy kids! Behold, the power of sugar.

I had made the dough in advance, but I'm sure the kids would have loved being involved in measuring the dough. Instead of rolling the dough out with a rolling pin, I just squished it evenly with my palm. Worked out great. I wish I had done this sooner with Cam, as his prints are the size of small dinner plates!

I followed this recipe, but found that I needed more water to make it feel like dough. I'm planning on letting the kids paint them with their favorite colors and then I'll tidy them up with white paint highlighting the actual hand prints. The kids LOVED pushing their hands into the dough. If they pushed too hard and made a hole, I would just add a little extra dough and blend it in with some water. They turned out pretty well! Cam's were so big they were still a little bit soft when they were done, but I didn't want to risk them getting burned/brown so I figured a little soft is fine. Also - I read another blog who made these, and she recommended two holes vs one for stability since these are heavy.

Fun, quick project!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmasy Stuff

Now that the birthday's are over, and the sad event of putting Abby down is over (augh) I'm trying to do a few fun Christmas things with the kids.

  • Every night, we take a treat from the Advent Mittens. I just love how cute those damn things are. I made two more sets as Christmas presents for close friends this year.

  • We went and cut down our own Christmas tree - which is SO much fun. I love it because it's a local town's conservation land. A resident of the town had a Christmas tree farm, and he got sick, and the trees weren't tended for a long time. After he died, he gave the land to the town. So - you go and pick out these 30 foot trees, but only the top 6-8 feet is a groomed tree. But they are not SUPER full trees, which I like better.

  • Then we decorated the tree, which was pretty funny - because both Maggie and Cameron insisted on putting all their ornaments on the same branch, so the tree isn't decorated evenly. Which kills me a little but I leave it.

  • We are also doing Elf on the Shelf - and I forget to move the damn thing every single night. Sigh. But they love finding it each morning.

  • I ordered our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints. I was sorely tempted to just let them address and send each one, but that will be this weekend's activity. Having the tree up and the cards ordered made me feel like a was SUPER MOM. Which is somewhat sad, I know.

  • Yesterday, on the suggestion of Jen, we did a little Candy Cane hunt... but I thought it would be super smart to do it at our Aunt's house, because they have a lighted, covered porch. The kids were more excited to go inside and see everyone than to play outside.

  • Tonight I'm going to make ornaments with the kids - hopefully handprints. That will be a HUGE hit with the grandparents.

  • Friday Cam and I are going to a gingerbread house making party.

  • On the 23rd, we are going to see the Rockettes! I was able to find 'cheap' seats - and he is going to love it!

I've also got all the presents done for the kids. They both got this scooter, Cam is getting this Hot Wheels Garage and Maggie is getting an easel. I'm sure more than a few things will come in from the Grandparents, but it feels good to be done.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Rest in peace, dog of my heart.

Tell Nora you like your tummy rubbed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

Been a long time since I've done leftovers - so I've got a bunch!

  • I just need to state that toddlers/pre-schoolers are awesome. Yes, they have their faults (pooping in their pants, tantrums) but in general, they are awesome. The smallest thing is AMAZING. Like tomorrow morning, we are going to a friends' house for breakfast - and they have set up their train tracks all around the downstairs. I can't even tell you how this is going to blow Cam and Maggie's minds.

  • I have to report that my pushing for us eating dinner together, in the dining room, has officially paid off. Weds night, we went to our Aunt's house for a 65th birthday party. Both of my children sat at the table, ate in a civilised fashion, and asked to be excused. All the adults (including Aaron and I) were suitably impressed.

  • We are going to cut down our Christmas tree tomorrow - I'm excited! I think the gang is going to have a blast picking it out and decorating it.

  • My older dog is declining rapidly. It's sad. I'm kind of hoping that she falls asleep and just doesn't wake up - but that seems unlikely. So we are talking about our options, and they all pretty much end the same way. Which makes me sad.

  • I had this super awesome idea of taking Cam to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Then I went to buy tickets. Cheapest are $111 a seat. Super awesome idea no longer.

  • I haven't ordered my Christmas cards yet. I don't even have a good picture. Hoping this weekend I can get that taken care of.

  • I'm done with all of my planned homemade presents. I rock.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The party!

I don't even know where to begin, but the kid's birthday was a HUGE success. If I just start with the presents, Maggie won't stop playing with her tea set, and my mom got her this super fun Ice Cream Set that they play with every night. And the car thing Aaron got? Cam wakes up early in the morning to play with it. Huge huge huge success.* The dolls I made, while cute, I think are a bit advanced for the kids - and the hair is getting pulled out. So I think I'm putting them up on a shelf and buying Maggie a Baby Stella for Christmas. But Maggie also received a cradle, and that is a HUGE hit. Both kids spend a lot of time putting the 'babies' to bed (which is every stuffed animal and doll in the area).

But the best part was the party. As you all know, I was SUPER nervous about the whole thing. It was just perfect. First, Cam was just so excited that Fellowship Hall, where we go for coffee hour after church, was decorated and set up just for him (it was lost on him that this was a joint party). There was a bounce house (a small one - perfect size for 4 pre-schoolers), tunnels for the kids to crawl around in, a table where the kids decorated a banner with crayons and markers, and another table where they made drums/noise makers (basically decorated coffee tins with rocks in them - the kids LOVED it). And even someone making balloon animals. The kids ran from place to place - screaming and laughing and having an absolute blast. And, since I didn't have to organize anything, I could just sit back and watch and enjoy.

About an hour in, they shut down the bounce house and had the kids sit still for some music (which was the cutest thing ever) and then had cake. Both of my kids had SO much fun, but the other parents wouldn't stop commenting on what a blast it was either. Just a perfect day all around.

Sunday we went to church. It was a rough day, as the 4th is the anniversary of Nora's death - but we stood up at the joy and concern time and talked about how this is a hard time for our family - with the joys of the birthdays and the sorrows of the anniversary... but that many people in that room helped us get through. It's been really hard for Aaron to go back to church - he always remembers Nora's service when he goes there - but the awesome birthday party I think helped him turn a corner. Which is nice too.

And Monday? Cam's actual birthday? We both took a half day off work and brought both kids to the Museum of Science. Cam was SO excited. It's still a bit old for Maggie, but she had a blast too. Then they got to bring Happy Meals for lunch at school, and ended the day with all our neighbors coming over for birthday cake.

Only funny thing is that when Cam woke up on Tuesday, he was pretty upset that his birthday was over. But he got over it.

* There are some issues with the build a road. The cars are battery operated and don't stop. The gearing is super high on the car - Aaron says that the motor and the wheels are probably directly connected - so you burn a battery within an hour of use. If you just let that go, it's a really really really fun toy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Freezer Paper Tutorial

I know there are plenty of tutorials out there for this, but SOMEONE nagged me, and I was making more anyway - so here it is.

I've made a bunch of tee-shirts for the kids with freezer paper stencils. I like doing this mostly because I get sick of the sicky sweet saying and pictures that are on most toddlers clothes (Mommy's Little Angel! 2 CUTE! blah blah blah). Also, I like to be able to get some shirts in more unusual colors - surprisingly, my kids aren't obsessed with pink and blue. Maggie loves purple and Cam is always telling me 'Orange. Dat is my FAVORITE color.'

First, I find cheap, plain tee-shirts. I get mine here. Then, figure out what designs you want to do. You want a VERY basic shapes. I would recommend one color (at least at first). I found this fun firetruck - so that is what I used. I've also done fairies, scull and cross-bones, trucks, airplanes. Just whatever your kid is into.

Remember that you need to cut out the area where the paint will go. In the above picture, I need to block out all the red areas.

The first step is to get the design onto freezer paper and cut it out with an exacto knife on a cutting mat. You can either tape the picture to the freezer paper and cut through two layers (which is what I did for this one) or do the extra step and trace the design onto the freezer paper. This is easier for cutting, but when you don't have a light box for tracing, I find it easier to just cut through the two pieces.

See all those little pieces? Keep track of those. Also notice that on the top of the firetruck, there are a couple places where I ripped the freezer paper. No worries. First, take the freezer paper and center it on your fabric, shiny side facing the fabric. Then, take an iron on the cotton setting, no steam, and first get the big piece stuck on. Try to stick any torn pieces close together. If that doesn't work, you can also use masking tape. And then add the tiny little pieces bit by bit.

If you look closely at the above picture, you can see that I lost the little headlight circles and needed to use a small amount of masking tape to fix the top of the firetruck.

Then, put another piece of freezer paper in the middle of the shirt (to be sure the paint doesn't bleed through to the back). I use this cheap paint from Joanne's and it held up to a whole summer of washes. I also use the cheapest foam brushes I can find.
Put a thin layer of paint on. I dab it on rather than brush - so I don't accidentally lift up the freezer paper.

I let it sit for about 30 minutes and then do another thin layer. DO NOT go crazy and do super thick layers - it cracks and looks bad. Trust me.

Wait at least a hour (if it's a shirt I really care about, I'll wait overnight) and peel off the freezer paper:

Super fun, right?

And - to show you what a freak I am - I made Cam a new firetruck shirt for his birthday:

And decided his doll needed one that matched.

Help. Me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let's talk toys.

I know I have a mix of stay-at-home and working moms that read here, so I have a question. What is your toy 'strategy'? When we first got ready to have kids, I had this vision that I would have all natural toys, with NO awful sounds or batteries required. I certainly wouldn't have a ton of toys - just the good, basic stuff.

Then I gave birth. And friends and family started buying stuff and giving hand-me-downs. THEN I found out I was pregnant with twins, and therefore wouldn't be able to afford daycare, so I started picking up anything that looked fun, so the kids would have things to play with all day with the nanny. And, of course, I found out just how much babies love LOUD toys. So for about 2 years, our living room had loads of toys and many of them played music or whatever. As the kids have been growing out of them (like this was a big fav as was this) I've been giving them away or storing them for my grandkids.

Since both kids spend all day in daycare, we have a very small window of playtime. At night, they get home at 5, they maybe play for 20 minutes or so while we get dinner ready. The weekends is the only time they REALLY play at home - and if the weather is nice, we are outside as much as possible. I feel like we can have a much smaller amount of toys. I also see that both kids are only playing with a few select toys. They play with the play kitchen, the trains, and blocks. Maggie plays with her dolls and Cam plays with his firetrucks. I decided to just focus on those toys, and get good quality stuff, and throw away the crap. Over the past few days, I've gotten rid of any toys that they never play with or are broken. I threw away some plastic crap play food that I'm going to replace with a few sets of Melissa and Doug play food. Cam has a huge amount of firetruck toys - and many he found at tag sales or older kids have given him - which means that they are broken or missing pieces. I threw those firetrucks away. I'm a little nervous that he is going to freak out when he notices (they are on the curb and today is trash pickup).

What do you all have? Am I making a mistake by severely paring down our toys? I just feel like we have piles and piles of toys, and the kids play with maybe 10% of them. So my theory is to replace them many with a few, high quality things.