Monday, November 30, 2009

A Giveaway!!

Love Chris Tomlin's music? Love Christmas? Want to enter a contest to win $120 worth of goodies? Go to Kristen's blog (We are THAT Family) and put your name in the hat!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

25 Days of Christmas

I've been working on this year's 25 Days of Christmas for Justus and Titus well over a week now, and I am EXCITED!! :) The boys certainly get a kick out of a lot of what we do, but I think I enjoy it the most. I love planning the days, buying the little supplies/presents for each of the days, and wrapping them up and preparing the envelopes for our "events." I won't post pictures of every single day (well, who knows with me...I just might actually do that, but no promises!)...but you can follow our daily plans on my Google Calendar at the top right sidebar. OR you can get a sneak peak of the plans here:

Day 1 (a.k.a. December 1): Put up the Christmas tree and decorate it!!
Day 2: Decorate house with stockings, Christmas doormats, etc.
Day 3: Set up Nativity Scene sans Jesus and read the story of Jesus' birth
Day 4: Snowman Felt Pictures
Day 5: Trip to the library to check out Christmas books and videos
Day 6: Dye pasta for Merry Christmas banner
Day 7: Red and Green Lunch
Day 8: Make Merry Christmas banner with beans and dyed pasta
Day 9: Cut up paper snowflakes to decorate the house with
Day 10: Make Christmas chair covers for kitchen chairs (We made some for Halloween, and the boys were very attached to the chairs with their names on them :) )
Day 11: Make Christmas gifts for friends and family
Day 12: Go to Imagine Christmas at FBC Euless; Camp out in the living room by the Christmas tree
Day 13: Make Christmas wreaths
Day 14: Make and take baked treats to neighbors
Day 15: Drink hot chocolate with a candy cane and marshmallows and watch a kids' Christmas movie
Day 16: Boys open Christmas pajamas
Day 17: Christmas party with friends, make Gingerbread houses (or if they turn out like last year, Graham Cracker Shacks!)
Day 18: Walk/Drive around neighborhood to see Christmas lights
Day 19: Early Christmas at our house!!!
Day 20: Listen to Christmas music and play Christmas games (Homemade Christmas Bingo, etc.)
Day 21: Make Gingerbread cookies with GG
Day 22: Picnic Dinner by the Christmas tree at Mimi and Grandbob's house
Day 23: Go out for Christmas donuts for Breakfast
Day 24: Make Christmas cookies; Christmas Eve service at Mimi and Grandbob's church
Day 25: Put baby Jesus in the manger and sing "Happy Birthday!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photos of our Thanksgiving Festivities

Snapshots of our Thanksgiving Day!! Hope yours was great!!!!

Getting ready for dinner...

A little video game entertainment for the boys

Eli was entertained by the fish :)

Carving the turkey!!!!!!!

Let's eat!

Kids' table :)

Table for one

Family time

And of course, naptime :)

Happy Birthday, Eli!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little over a year ago, we were a family of four. We knew you were on your way, but we had no idea how you would change our lives. We are so thankful for the day you were born...a day I will never forget.

One year later, we are celebrating the one year anniversary of your birth...your BIRTHDAY! I just can't believe you are one. You still aren't walking, and you only have ONE tooth, so others might find your age hard to believe as well! :) You were born the day before Thanksgiving, 2008. In light of your birthday being ON Thanksgiving this year, we had your party at Uncle Jack's in the midst of our Thanksgiving Day celebrations. We are blessed in so many ways, but today, we are especially thankful for YOU!

We love you, Monkey!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excerpt from one of our Thanksgiving books...

"Then somebody spotted
An ax by the door,
And she asked Farmer Nuggett
What it was for.

With a blink of his eye
And a twist of his head,
The old farmer told
A grim tale of dread....

And when they returned
To quiet the matter,
The children were calmer
(And mysteriously fatter!)....

They limped to the school bus
All huffing and puffing -
It's not easy to walk
With hot turkey stuffing."

*Taken from 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving" by Dav Pilkey

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just in case you didn't notice...

I have started another blog to document our fun activities HERE :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A new sport for Juice

Bowling!!! Sorry for the bad picture quality! He looks pretty cute in those bowling shoes, though, doesn't he?! ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All we could do was to sit, sit, sit, sit

Eli's new favorite thing to do? Sit :) He loves climbing into chairs, backing into little seats, and crawling up into my lap to SIT! It's so cute watching him. He must think he's such a big boy, because whenever he plops down, he just sits there and smiles...often after clapping about his accomplishment!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Compilation of Must-Have Mom Advice (Possibly my Longest Post Ever!)

(More like....What I Learned The Past Four Years!!!)

I have been a mom for 4 years. Over those 4 years (and even prior to that when I count my years of babysitting, nannying, and going to school for Child Development), I have learned countless pieces of advice about the infant stage, the terrible toddler phases, preschooler challenges, and general mothering. Some of these pieces of advice I laughed at and then learned later on how absolutely invaluable they really ended up being in my life. Some of the things I thought were amazing and oh-so-wise I eventually realized were not in line with my parenting style, my beliefs, or my kids' personalities/learning styles. I wanted to put together a list of random tidbits, advice, and tricks of the trade I have found to be crucial in my four years of mothering. Take what you like, throw out what you don't, and bend others to your liking. Enjoy!!

The Infant/Baby Stage...

When your baby has mastered the pincer grasp and is self-feeding, keep dry finger foods readily available at ALL times and in ALL places for ANY situation that may arise. I'm talking about Cheerios, dried fruit, etc. Keep packages in your car, ziploc baggies of the food in your purse, in the diaper bag, one in the pantry ready to grab at a moment's notice when heading out the door, etc.

Either read every book out there on caring for an infant, or don't read any of them. I'm kind of exaggerating, but also...I'm kind of not! With my first baby, I followed Baby Wise BY THE BOOK (pun intended.) And you know what? I wish I had known more. I wish I had read some other thoughts and ideas about feeding my baby, about when and where to let my baby sleep. I wish I was well-read on both mainstream ideas and also attachment parenting. I would say I pick and choose from both sides of the spectrum at this point in my mothering career. And I would also say, I am much more open to trying new things (and therefore finding out what is best for each individual child, based on their special, individual needs.)

Get that baby adjusted. I know, I know, here I go again. If you know me, and you have a baby, you've probably heard my "talks" about everything a Doctor of Chiropractic can do for your fussy, whiny, colicky, difficult, gassy, constipated baby. But you know what? It's true. Chiropractors can do amazing things for people, but in my experience, the most obvious, clear-as-day results happen when babies get adjusted. We have seen it first hand with all 3 of our kids. If you need some examples, just ask...I'd be happy to share ;)

The Toddler Stage...

Keep extra sippy cups in your car's glove compartment for misc. use. (The Take and Toss cups are great for this.) You can use this for little snacks for your child when they need something for the car ride, you can buy one drink at a restaurant and split it b/w two or three of your children and still have their water cups available for later, etc. etc.

Let them explore. Chances are, they'll probably be okay. Let them touch things, allow them freedom outside to (GASP!) even get a taste of a few leaves (they might just spit them right out and your job will have just gotten a thousand times easier for getting over that battle), stop and watch when they attempt new things instead of running to "save" them, and don't be afraid to let them eat what you're eating (butter, salt, spices, and all.)

The Preschool Stage...

I feel like the preschool stage is where the "REAL" parenting starts. Not like the years prior to this aren't important...of course they are! (They set the STAGE for the preschool years.) Around ages 3-5, though, seem to be when the parenting tree branches go every which way. Children are so different - emotionally, in their learning styles, whether they're sensitive or tough, their maturity levels and whether or not they reason well with you as the parent, their understanding of their relationship with others/the world, and on and on. All of these things come into play prior to the preschool stage, but I feel like THIS is when it drastically changes how we all deal with our individual children. The only piece of "advice" I can say I have learned so far with our four-year-old that would apply to everyone would be to pray. And I'm not really trying to be funny :) I mean pray for yourselves as parents, pray for your children, and pray for the people your children come in contact with. I think these are the crucial years in shaping our children.

General Mothering...

Keep wipes readily available. (Kind of like the snack thing!) Keep some in your car, some in your purse, some in the diaper bag....These are needed for any age or stage, including wiping your own hands off after many, many disgusting things a mom finds herself having to do.

Shower at night. I don't do this all the time, but my life is SO much easier and enjoyable when I do. My shower is peaceful and enjoyable, the morning is not rushed, and I am a calmer mommy. If I am going somewhere I need to be presentable the next day, I just straighten my hair. If I am sticking around the house or running errands or taking the kids to the park, my hair goes up! If I am going to the gym....I just stink until I can get a shower in...usually that evening right before my hubs gets home!! (but we'll keep that to ourselves, right?)

If you have more than one child, cut EVERYONE'S nails on the same day. We generally bathe all of the boys together (or I bathe Eli in the sink and the older boys take a shower with Daddy) and then everyone plops down with me on the couch to watch a video while I go down the line cutting 60 little nails.

Lay out clothes the night before if you want to have any chance of getting out the door on time in the morning. (Again, more applicable if you have more than two kids.) Take it a step farther and do absolutely everything you can that night to be ready for the next morning. I have diapers and clothes laid out, the diaper bag packed, snacks/lunches made if needed, and (most importantly) socks and shoes are with the clothes. (Looking for stray socks and shoes in the morning is one of the most stressful things for me personally. For some reason, not being able to find a shoe as we're walking out the door just sets me off. If I can go ahead and put the socks and shoes on them at the time of getting dressed, I am good to go. My kids enjoy wearing shoes in the morning, b/c they know it means we're going somewhere they don't take them off and lose them throughout the hustle and bustle of getting around to get out the door.)

Sing!!!! Sing while you're changing a diaper, turn directions and "commands" throughout the day into song, hum and whistle while you work, and make up lyrics to things they are asking you for overandoverandover. They will laugh, you'll find yourself finding joy in the things that would have been pushing you over the edge, and once again...your day will be generally more pleasant and up-beat.

When you find yourself feeling frustrated, short-tempered, wanting to hit the door running (WITHOUT the kids), do the thing that feels like the last thing you want to do at that moment...sit down on the floor/on the couch/(or better yet) in your bed and snuggle with your kids. Forget every single thing on your to-do list, and take time to remember why you are doing any of this in the first place. Read books together, let your kids make you some pretend food, talk to them, listen to them, hug them and tell them how much you love them. Not only will this bring you down to earth, it will end up making your day a delightful one...I can just about guarantee it.

Being a Wife...

Don't forget your husband! Again, I'm not trying to be funny. It's TOUGH being a mom and having to take care of all of your kids, the house, the whining, the "I need/I wants," the CONSTANT food preparation (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack??!!!!!) When the day is "done" and everyone is in bed, suddenly you realize you have a husband to be with, someone else to serve, another person to "take care of." And sometimes? That can just feel like too much. It can make you feel resentful, frustrated..."Take care of yourself!! You're an ADULT!" Remember that before you had kids, there was you and there was him. He was first in your life and priorities then, and he still should be. (I'm talking about earthly things here, of course.) Yes, he needs to understand the hard work and time and effort you put into your day. No, he shouldn't expect you to wait on him hand and foot...he should help out as much as possible. Our jobs as wives, though? Encourage him. Thank him for HIS hard work. Sacrifice ourselves, even if we've done it countless times in the day already. Serve him and then serve him some more. And finally, pray for him.

Keeping up with the House...

Run the dishwasher at night. Every single night. I unload and re-load the dishes from the night before while the kids eat breakfast in the morning. Everyone is happy and has what they need for at least 10 minutes, Eli is up off the floor...and therefore not climbing on the dishwasher and pulling everything out faster than I can load it.

Wash one load of laundry a day. I do at LEAST one a day...but we use cloth diapers, so sometimes I have to add a load for that on certain days. I get this advice from FlyLady. (and it most certainly is another piece of advice that helps me keep my sanity and makes me feel like I am on top of the laundry situation...instead of under a pile of ridiculous amounts of dirty clothes and towels!!!)

There is OOHHHHH so much more I could add to this list. I have been so blessed with wise women in my life. None of us are perfect, none of our children are angels, but we certainly all have some great advice to share with each other. I hope you enjoyed what I have learned this week the past four years. Feel free to leave some of your own wise advice in your comments!!

For more blog posts on "What I Learned This Week," head over to Musings of a Housewife and join in!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oink Oink

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fryeday Raves, Brags, and Freebies

Yes, we like to call Friday "Fryeday." Call us dorks, we don't care:) It's fun for us to pretend there is a day named after us....

I wanted to rave about this book. I don't really know how much information I'm allowed to give (like I don't think I can quote the whole book for you...), but I just bought this book for the boys and LOVE it. As much as we talk about Thanksgiving, I don't ever really tell the history lesson behind the origin of the "holiday." This book, however, does it quite nicely for me. In very easy to understand language, the book lays out the story of the Pilgrims living in England, leaving for a new find Plymouth, Massachusetts, where they experience hard times with planting and harvesting much, until Native Americans (including Squanto :) ) teach them about hunting and planting, leading up to the great feast of celebration and Thanksgiving. Now, instead of just talking about giving thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon us, I can actually tell them why we will be getting together soon with family for the biggest meal they have ever seen.

I don't really have anything to brag about, but I did want to share a giveaway. If you go here to VistaPrint, you have a couple of options of free calendars (plus shipping of course, but it's only like $5.) This is one of those calendars where you add pictures and different events on certain dates personal to you. I got a small 8.5 x 11 calendar to hang in the kitchen.

Anyway, whenever I post things like this (giveaways and such), I feel funny about it. I don't even know if very many people read this blog, let alone care about the giveaways and all that. But whatever, if one person sees it and gets something free, I'm happy. And even if not, I still got something free! haha :) (Speaking of which, I wish I had posted about the Herbal Essenses giveaway. I just came home from Target tonight with a free $3 bottle of conditioner!! The offer to sign up is expired now....Sorry I didn't mention it!!)

Now, I'm off to make some cornstarch clay with my sweet boys!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I love you, BUT......

Before I begin, forgive me for this post. My hubs is not home yet, kids are in bed, and I'm bored :)

Dearest Chick-Fil-A people,

Oh how I love you all. What a nice place to go for both a play area for the kids and somewhat adult food along with kids' meals. I think the only better thing would be a Starbucks with an indoor playground...I mean, seriously, why has no one done that yet??

Thank you for all you do for our family. On nights like tonight, a trip to your restaurant is nothing less than ordained by God. You are all so helpful, your food makes my kids smile (and actually makes it into their stomachs), the bathrooms we frequent are always clean, the "toys" (SLASH often books or activity cards) you give in the kids' meals are almost always MUCH to my liking, and on nights like tonight, what could have turned out as a HORRIBLEpullmyhairoutSTRESSFULwhydididothis event ends up literally saving us all.

I felt like I was at the end of my rope this afternoon, so I made certain statements my children have been hearing a lot of lately: "We're going somewhere, but I don't know where, don't ask, just get in the car, I'll decide as I drive, you'll see when we get there." We pulled up to your restaurant, my boys yelled out, "CHICKFILA!!" I said a quick prayer that Jesus would get us through the event, and we ventured inside.

Your workers are so faithfully kind, polite, and helpful. Maybe it's because I have 3 little kids, maybe it's because they're all boys, or maybe it's because I look 16 and like I don't have a clue what I'm doing...whatever the reason, I don't care. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for bringing our food to our table for us, thank you for helping me with the high chair, thank you for coming to our table to ask if we need any refills or condiments, thank you for beaming with delight when my 2 year old breaks out in the loudest "Jesus loves me this I know" rendition you have ever heard right in the middle of me ordering his chicken. We love you all, we love your restaurant, and we will continue to faithfully spend money we do not have for your chicken and fries we do not need...if only to help this mom-going-crazy survive the night without Daddy at home.

Can I ask one favor? Would you PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE put two identical-mirror images-exactly the same color/style/size-canNOT tell them apart toys/books in my kids' bags? I'm sure you think you are doing us a favor. ("Oh, I'll give them 2 DIFFERENT toys, so they can enjoy even more of our selection!!") I can assure you, you must not have more than one child of the same sex between the ages of 2 and 4, and you most certainly are NOT doing any of us a favor. I can also assure you that I will NEVER remember to ask for 2 identical toys, so if you could just oblige me in this one area, I think your restaurant will have reached perfection in my eyes.

Your faithful customer-Mom of 3 boys, one of whom discovered that he can actually climb up that first step and therefore every subsequent step all the way to the top of the play us yet ANOTHER reason to frequent there. My youngest can finally join his big brothers in the Chick-Fil-A fun :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

When I think of my Thanksgiving memories as a child, I remember decorating paper grocery sacks and dressing up like Pilgrims and Indians, Thanksgiving meals with the fam, and making these...

Haha! Good times!! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Signs of the Times

Going for a nature walk to collect things
for our nature table and to clean up trash in the neighborhood
(well, two of us were walking!)

Beautiful trees we saw
(I don't think I've ever
witnessed such a colorful Fall in Texas yet!!)

Slipping and Sliding in the acorns

Our Nature table is looking festive:)

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