Thursday, December 16, 2010

Food, Glorious Food

Recently overheard at my house:

"no, you must finish your french fries before you can have any more broccoli."

ok, seriously. The kids are making me so crazy with their food issues, that I am clearly losing it. We have a dinner system in our house. Every other night we try "new" foods. "New" foods are those the kids hate. They have either not had them before, or are on record hating them. These include anything not in the list of foods they like. On the non "hate" days, we have foods they like. These include (the very limited list of): pasta, tacos/nachos, steak sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets, and quesadillas. On the "new" food nights, the kids are given 3 bites of meat, 3 bites of veggie, and 3 bites of starch (i make a pretty traditional plate). They must eat these 3 bites in order to leave the table, and have anything else. And many nights result in at least one person crying (sometimes even the kids). Gotta love dinner in my house.

But there are weird anomalys. The 2 younger kids LOVE broccoli. Love it. B is the most flexible liking several other things (chili, chicken soup). K is the worst but does like tomato soup and quiche (in full disclosure, something I hate!). Big Man used to be great, but is now among the worst, except for his love of broccoli.

I started a new rule this week that nobody can talk badly about dinner. They have to eat it and shut up. I hope this passes soon. I can't handle it. I have tried having them help cook - they still won't eat it. I have tried having them help set the menu - no good.

But we will persevere. I can't go back to being a short-order cook and giving them only the crap they like. Sadly, we have had this plan going for about 9 months, and it is still a nightmare!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quick and Easy Gift

Saw this awesome tutorial and thought I would try it. They are fast, easy and cheap.

1) buy a few 1/2 yards of fleece in different colors/patterns
2) cut them into 6" widths (the length of the fabric)
3) sew 2 of them together right down the middle (just eye-ball it)
4) cut fringe the whole length (making sure you don't cut through the middle)

That's it. So easy. When fleece is on sale, you can make these for less than $1 each! The girls are making these for their friends. They have helped me sew them and are cutting all the fringe. Have fun and try lots of different patterns/colors together!

For more ideas, visit WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Still a few Days Left

If you celebrate Hanukkah, or are celebrating with someone who is, you MUST make these. They are in the current issue of Family Fun, but I can't find it on their website.

Anyway, they are so easy. They whole container of Fig Newtons took about 20 minutes to turn into these awesome dreidel cookies. Four simple steps:

1) cut fig newton into point on one end (save the pieces, they make a great snack!)

2) outline the cookie in white icing

3) try not to mangle the Hebrew letter that you copy from the magazine in blue icing

4) stick half a pretzel stick in the end

VoilĂ ! Aren't they so cute? We got so many comments on them, and sooo easy. So get out there and treat your friends to some quick and easy Hanukkah joy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Last Advent Tradition

This week I also was rushing to get ready for one last Advent tradition. Each year I gather up all our Christmas-themed books, wrap them up, number them, and stick them under the tree. Each day of December a kid opens one of the packages, and that book is added to our nightly reading.

The kids love it, and I try and add a few new books every year.

I should note that this is in addition to reading the little bear Christmas story - The Advent Storybook. This book is awesome. It has a short (one page) story for each night of Advent, that tells about a little bear's journey to Bethlehem. It is a really cute story, and has some great lessons.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar Just Like Mom

In the 70s, my mom made an advent calendar out of felt that we used every year when I was growing up. A few years ago, my Dad and I searched the house and couldn't find Mom's calendar. I was bummed, but made due with other stuff. This year, I decided I would make my own.

Of course, I decided this abourt 4 days before December 1. Not much time. But thanks to my friend Kathy, and the Dollar store, we got it done just in time. My calendar isn't perfect by any means, but I think its cute, and looks a lot like Mom's. I did cheat and use about 6 ornaments from the Dollar store, which I may replace before next year. Each day, a child will remove an ornament from the grid, and add it to the tree. The star goes up last, on December 24th.

We did this free hand with random felt, glue and string. Very easy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Fun

I posted about this last year, but still love it, so here it is again. An Advent Joke Tree. This is a fun and easy craft that will take you less than 1/2 hour and your kids will LOVE it. All you need is a single sheet of 25 jokes (each joke on its own line), a piece of green construction paper, an exacto knife, and buttons or small plastic jewels.

All you do is form the construction paper into a cone and tape it together. You may want to cut off the bottom to make it stand even. Then make 25 slits in the sides with an exacto knife.
Then cut your jokes into thin strips (leaving white space on the front or back end). Then attach a small button or jewel to that white space.

Next, slide the jokes into the slits of the "tree", pulling from the inside to help. The inside will look like this.
Tada! An Advent Joke Tree.
Each day you child can pull a joke and read it. Then will then repeat it to all their friends at school and be the hit of the playground!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It was Inevitable

4 yr old boy + playground equipment = trip to the emergency room

Frankly I'm surprised it took this long. Big Man has always been a climber, jumper, etc. In other words, a normal 4 year old boy.

On Saturday, he fell off a some playground equipment (you know those thingys that are like a fireman pole with a loopy thing around it??) - kind of like this:

and he used his left arm to brace himself.

15 minutes later when I arrived at the emergency room with him, and unlatched his car seat, I felt his arm for the first time (DH was with him at the playground). EWWWW. His forearm was literally in pieces held together by skin. It was really gross and shaped like an S in the absolutely wrong direction. A 6'+ 250lb+ orderly at the ER nearly threw up. It was really awful. According to the doc, "an acute transverse fracture of both the radius and ulna with significant angulation of the distal fracture fragments resulting in deformity of the forearm." ick

But amazingly, he didn't need surgery. The orthopedic surgeon was able to get it back in place, and gave him this lovely cast. (Spiderman was added by Big Man's Preschool teacher!).

He was a real trooper and is already running around like a champ. In two weeks we go back and will take yet another set of x-rays to see how it is coming along. Hopefully will continue to be good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exercise Your Civic Duty

If you have ever criticized a politician.

If you have ever complained about the government.

If you have any stake in how you country/state/city/school board/local government is run.

Then VOTE. please.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas is Coming!!!

I have used Shutterfly for photos every since K was born in 2002. I love it. I really do. There picture quality is great, the delivery is pretty fast, and they have great products. And it is so easy to share great photos with friends and family.

We just recently sent out Halloween cards (yes, I know - WHO does that?) and they were great.
Now I am looking at their amazing selection of Christmas cards. One thing I love about Shutterfly is that they allow you to use multiple pictures. With 3 kids, getting a good group shot is iffy at best. This way I can put a bunch of pictures on my cards, and everyone will look good in at least one! Many other providers only have limited options for multiple photos.

Right now, I LOVE these (not my photos!):
These (and more) can be found on their website here.

If you don't celebrate Christmas, they also have gorgeous Hannukah cards as well!

Or if you are like my beloved MIL, you will get your cards out late, and perhaps this will come in handy!! (hee hee)

I am also thinking about some of these for Christmas gifts:
You can personalize each and every month - with more than one photo! And for less than $20 (closer to $10 if you buy multiples!) - how can you lose? (watch out grandparents!)

So yes, Shutterfly will give me 50 free cards for this post. But if you know me IRL - you certainly know how much I love Shutterfly, as you have received countless pictures, cards, etc with their logo from me. I have tried other services, but always come back to Shutterfly.

I have been using their photos to scrapbook for years. And although I am a paper scrapbooker - I have also cheated and use their amazing, quick, professional, easy digital scrapbooking services for some of my albums. If you go on vacation with others, it is the easiest way to put all your pictures together. And PAINLESS! And the albums are beautiful - complete with my own captions and LOTS of photos per page (the way I like it!)

So that is my tip to get ready for Christmas. Visit Shutterfly and find lots of easy solutions!

This post sponsored by Shutterfly. Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select me as the referral source!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Disney Secret ----shhhh

This past weekend we took the kids to Disney. I had a conference in Orlando, and so we took them out of school for 2 days and had a BLAST. More on that later.

For now - I found out one of the BEST KEPT SECRETS of Disney. If you are a Disney freak (like me) you are well familiar with the Bippity Boppity Boutique, where kids can get made up like a Disney princess. It it awesome, and the girls did it last trip. But at $55++++ per child, it wasn't in the cards for this visit.

But on my first day there, I saw a little girl with her hair up in a bun, bright colors, and sparkles. It was so cute. I asked if she had been to Bippity. Her mom said no. And then she told me. At the Main Street Barber Shop (in the Magic Kingdom) you can get a little color and sparkle for $7.50. I KNOW! Awesome! They even do boys with hair gel and they can even make a little Mickey head on their hair. (Big Man didn't want it, so I don't have pics). It was certainly not as fancy as Bippity, but it was really cute, the girls got LOTS of compliments, and for less than $8??!! AWESOME!

Will surely be on our to-do list for future trips!

That's what Works for Me! Find other Works for Me tips here!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Fulfilling a life long dream, DH and I finally went to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And it was amazing. There are SOOOOO many artifacts! We could have been there for 6-8 hours easy, but the kids took it happily for about 2 1/2. The museum is great in that is includes a scavenger hunt for kids that keeps them engaged!

We particularly like the multi-media movie presentation, the individual team "lockers" (see Nats above), and many of the fantastic displays like the All American Girls League, baseball in movies, and specific milestones in baseball history. Would have loved to spend more time watching all many short interviews and taped stories. Just means we need to go back again! If you are a baseball fan at all, I highly recommend it!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loving the Foliage! (and apparently beer)

2 weeks ago we went on an RV vacation - this time to New York, specifically Cooperstown. The leaves were in FULL color and just GORGEOUS!

Here in the DC area, we had a bit of a drought, so the leaves are not that great. But up North a few hours - spectacular!

We had a great Fall weekend of not just leaf-peeping, but apple loving too! K especially liked cider press, as she is learning about simple machines in school. We went to several apple mills and enjoyed cider slushies, a cider float (cider, vanilla ice cream and ginger ale!) and lots of cider donuts!!

We also went to 2 local breweries, which had root beer for the kids. Naturally, when Big Man had to tell about his weekend at school he said he went to Yogi Bear Town (it was a jellystone campground) and to breweries. Nevermind the Baseball Hall of Fame, Howe Caverns, Herkimer Diamond Mine, etc. He posts on the weekend summary at PreSchool for a week that we took him to breweries. Gotta love it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Easy Craft

I got a bunch of these bottle caps to try the bottle cap necklace that is all over the blogosphere. They are super easy, and I think they are cute. Really takes just 6 steps.

1) put caps in small frying pan and heat up for about 5 minutes. This allows you to peel the wax/plastic thingy from the bottom.

2) using a nail and hammer, make 2 small holes in the side of the bottle cap.

3) find images on line and print them out at about at the size of 1".

4) cut out the images and glue them in the bottle cap.

5) cover with either a plastic disk, or with diamond glaze

6) thread string through two holes.

I think they are adorable, and the kids LOVE them. Very easy to personalize for anything they want. If you have a kid that I know IRL, expect to get some of these. We may make a bunch for Halloween too!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Easy Peasy Knitting Project

So we went on a fabulous RV vacation last weekend (the kids didn't have school thurs, fri and monday!) that I will share with your soon. While we were gone I made two really cute scarfs that were SOOO easy, and probably took about 1-2 hours each. The girls love them. I just used this yarn:

Just one ball and it makes this:

Isn't that so cute? B got pink and purple and K got black and white (her favorite colors). They are so soft and warm and easy as pie. I highly recommend. To make the scarf (directions on the ball) you just cast on and knit knit knit. Nothing to it!

Can't wait to get more of this yarn to make some more!

disclaimer: nobody is paying me anything or sent me anything, or knows anything about this review!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Election Makes Me Crazy

The Republican rhetoric of this election is making me NUTS. Don't get me started on the Tea Party crazies, but even mainstream Republicans are just spewing it....

First - check out this awesome video. Its great to say you are going to cut spending - but how??? Love to hear someone who knows.

Second - Everyone hates TARP. Just a clue - TARP was signed by President BUSH - not Obama. BUSH. On October 3, 2008 - BEFORE the election. This was a REPUBLICAN plan.

Third- Saying only Republicans can solve the deficit. Two things have contributed most to the deficit.

1) the war. BUSH's war. That and all our other military conflicts. In fact check this out. Almost FIFTY percent of the entire World's annual Military spending is by the U.S.. Cutting U.S. expenses in half would still be more than next five or six countries combined. Notice no Republicans propose cutting defense spending in any way.

and 2) the collapse of the economy - again, happened under BUSH - due strongly to government deregulation. But what is the Republican answer? Smaller government - getting government out of business. REALLY?

ARGHH - best I can say is people, VOTE. VOTE VOTE VOTE. Vote early and vote often. We need all reasonable adults out there at the polls.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making Xmas Gifts

K started a knitting class last week, and is hoping to make some scarfs for Christmas gifts this year. That got me thinking that I should get all 3 kids involved in making some presents. We are going to do these to start.

1) Marbled Paper (with shaving cream!!) We did this years ago, and ended up losing all the papers we made accidentally. Will try this again. Directions here.

2) Bottle cap necklaces. I think these are so cute. We made a few this weekend and will be working on more. Great gifts for the girls to give their friends! Cheap too!

Any more ideas?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick and Easy Halloween Wreath

Have seen a bunch of cute halloween wreaths in the blogosphere and decided to try a quick one myself. Picked this up for about $6. I had the wreath form. Bought the ribbon, skulls, orange stuff (bath scrubbers) and used the netting from the bag of small skulls. Took about 10 minutes.

Lots more halloween coming up!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Its a Pirate Party

Big Man decided he wanted to wait a few weeks and have his 4th bday party when we were at the beach with our friends. This was fantastic news to me, as it would be so much easier to plan. And, even better - there were exactly 12 children. Can you say Oriental Trading?

The kids each got an eye patch, a sword, and a telescope. Then we sent them on a scavenger hunt (in 3 teams) around the house. There were 5 clues in all. The first had them jumping to the bottom of the pool (cannonballs are a favorite of pirates) to retrieve pieces of eight; then spying a jolly roger hidden across the street on a neighboring property; eating pirate booty (popcorn) to find a clue; searching the galley for treasure (under a dining chair); and lastly reporting to Pirate Bluebeard (daddy) to collect 15 doubloons (Big Man still says "balloons) to receive the treasure (pinata). The clues were all written in pirate speak and they had fun tracking down everything.

Then we did the pinata, which was a big hit, and filled with nearly everything pirate Oriental Trading sells. The cake (which mom tried to make from scratch, but ended up crafting from store-bought pound cake) was a big hit! Lastly, they made their own oceans-in-a-bottle.

All in all a very fun party, and pretty easy to do!

Friday, September 24, 2010


If you like word games (think Scrabble or Boggle) you will LOVE this game. It is easy to play (even the kids played it at the beach) and VERY ADDICTIVE. I even have the App for my ITouch now. It is called Bananagrams, and it is soo much fun!

I think it is better than Scrabble, because I am easily intimidated by Scrabble. With Bananagrams - you can make all 3-letter words with no penalty. Basically you get a bunch of tiles and create your own scrabble-type board in front of you. When you use all your tiles you say "peel" and grab another tile. The other players must also take another tile. It continues until all the tiles are gone - the first to use theirs wins. Easy peasy. As I said, even the kids play it. I now own 2 sets - one for home and one for the RV. I highly recommend it for some simple fun!

I have not been compensated or in any way provided any benefit for this review, but if Bananagrams wants to contact me, I love their game!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So many vacations

We took several fantastic vacations this summer. I already blogged about our trial RV trip back in July. In August we did our annual beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We shared a fantastic house with our friends and their kids (23 in all!) and had a BLAST.The kids (ranging in age from 9-1, with most around 6) are getting to an age where they preferred playing with each other to playing with us - HURRAY!! We had lots of time for adult talk and play! Had great food (and drinks) and just had a wonderful, relaxing week.

Then we came home for 48 hours and headed out for the first vacation in our very own RV! We went to Dutch Wonderland (LOVE it!). Nana was the star - getting them to reopen the Slushy Shack so we could get our refills (that we were told would be open!). We all had so much fun on all the rides, and the campground was GORGEOUS. It backed up onto an Amish Farm - complete with cows and horses. So pretty.
Then, despite Hurricane Earl, we headed for Rehoboth Beach. Had a great few days frolicking in the sand, riding at Funland and playing in the pool with friends we joined there. The campground was a glorified parking lot, but in a good location and perfectly serviceable. WE had our first RV Party with our friends, as we made hamburgers and hotdogs - and of course, SMORES!

It was an amazing summer, and we are sorry to see it go. But we have another RV trip in the works for this fall, so hopefully our fun continues!