Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

This and That

Noah has been trying really hard to be a part of the kids' fun. Unfortunately for him, he's still too small and slow and just can't keep up yet. The kids don't like him hanging around because he doesn't know any better about knocking down what they're building or not slobbering up their toys. Poor kid. Soon though...

I made teacher gifts for the first time ever. I put in some home made Peanut 'Butter' Scotch (post on those soon) and Pretzel Hugs candy along with a Starbucks gift card. Coffee and candy, oh yes. Stuck em in a cup, wrapped some Christmas colored cling wrap around it, then tied it off and called it done.

Gabe bought Noah one of those awful beard hats at a local event. While I'm not a fan of it, I will admit it kept his face nice and warm. I'm just thankful Gabe didn't pick up a matching hat for himself. Bright side. :)

This is how we in Arizona do ice skating. On a waxy plastic sort of material that was much too sticky and hard to "skate" on. But if you'd close your eyes and pretend hard enough, you would think you were really skating fall flat on your face making a fool out of yourself. Don't close your eyes on skates.

Is anyone else having a hard time finding the magic and spirit of Christmas? I am. We've done an awful job of hiding gifts this year and the kids have seen almost all their gifts already. I did a poor job on the tree and never even got the outside lights up. I'm just not getting that warm fuzzy feeling this year. Maybe as everyone is opening their gifts on Christmas morning...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Noah - 8 Months

Weight - 17.3 lbs With all your mobility, your weight has significantly slowed down but that's OK. I know you are growing and perfectly healthy.

Height - 27.5 in Getting long and skinny.

Appearance -. With your 8 teeth (yes, 8!) you look twice your age. Your hair is just crazy. Very light and fluffy and turning blond. I need to cut it but am stalling because I know you will look older and I'm trying to preserve any part of my baby that I can.

Eating - You nurse every 2-3 hours, generally closer to 2. I can not nurse you in public because you will constantly unlatch to see what is going on. You have gone through all your baby food and I am not buying you more. You are eating table food with us and are very good about eating everything.

Sleeping - You sleep from around 8 or 9pm - 7am (although you will sleep until 8 or later if we don't have to get up early) usually waking up once, sometimes twice to eat. I thought you were getting into a napping routine but with the busy holiday season, that went out the window. Unfortunately, you do a lot of your napping in the many car rides throughout the day.

Sizes -  You wear 6-9 month, some 12 month clothes, and size 3 diapers.

Working on my fitness...
Milestones - Cruising furniture and most recently, letting go and doing a controlled sit down. I have no doubt you will be standing on your own this month.

Getting your 6th, 7th, AND 8th teeth.

You wave!!! It is the cutest thing. You will open and close your hand.

You were left with a sitter for the first time this past month and did OK.

 Likes - being outside, Ernie (the cat), food, the Christmas tree, taking a bath, chewing on everything, watching Alena and Christian play, looking out the windows and doors
Dislikes - having things taken from you like toys or ornaments that you are not supposed to have, when you have a dirty diaper, diaper changes

Noah, you are such a BUSY baby and really keep us on our toes. You get into anything and everything within your reach. You love getting the dog food and have eaten some. Our Christmas tree is bare on the bottom because you like to get the ornaments and have broken a few. Noah, you really do not like diaper changes and try your hardest to roll over and get away. And there is almost always crying during your middle of the night changing. You are such a great self entertainer and are perfectly happy to be left to play and explore on your own. But you do love when the kids and daddy play with you too. You are such a fun and enjoyable baby!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

They Say...

Me as Gabe is spinning in circles with Noah who was supposed to be going to bed. "We're not trying to rile him up right now."

Gabe - "But that is my job as a dad!"

Alena when I commented on how funny she is, "I know. I get it from my dad."

The other night Alena and I were playing dress up with her wooden doll and she gave the doll clogs to go with her sweat pants of the same color.
Me - "Alena, she needs running shoes. She can't run in heels."
Alena - "Yeah, but at least the colors match."

Hearing Noah cry from the other room, I ask, "What's wrong with Noah?"
Alena responds, "Nothing. He's just dramatic."

The kids have to clean up the bedding mess around the chinchilla's cage. As they're sweeping I hear Alena grumble under her breath, "Daddy wants clean. I'll give him clean."
And she did!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Great Toys for Kids (without batteries!)

Are you a last minute shopper? Stuck on what to get for the kids in your life? After being a parent for almost seven years, having both a girl and boy, and with three kids, I've got a pretty good idea of what kids like AND actually play with. Here's a quick look at our favorite toys. And bonus, NO BATTERIES NEEDED!  Can I get an Amen from the collective masses?

Gifts for the under 2 crowd

1. Activity Blocks - Noah is almost eight months and this holds his attention for quite a while. Even longer for older babies. They have many things on it to keep your baby and toddler busy.

 2. Stacking/Nesting Blocks - These are perfect for little ones. They love to stack them and also fit them inside each other.

3. Shape Sorter - There are many varieties of shape sorters out there and kids love them. Noah just chews on the pieces right now but around 12-15 months of age, they start showing interest in actually finding and sorting the shapes.

Gifts for kids 2-4

1. Lego Duplo - These Legos are perfect for small hands. They are larger than the regular Legos but not too big so that it's hard to store.

2. Wooden puzzles - These Melissa and Doug puzzles are a huge hit in our house. Cute pictures and very durable. In fact, Alena and Christian will still sit and put them together.

3. Train tracks and engines - There are so many different brands of trains and tracks that it can be overwhelming. Thankfully, many brands are interchangeable. Thomas the Tank Engine brand is the most popular although the priciest, and kids will sit and play for a long time. I like to let the kids build their own tracks throughout the house and they will build for hours.

4. Art Easel -  These are great for kids who love to draw and the double sided easels are fantastic. One side is white board, the other is chalk, and you have a roll of paper. Three ways to draw! Plus, with two sides, there is less fighting between the kids to share writing space. Win win.

Gifts for kids 4 and up

1. Plasma car - This may be the best purchase we have made toy wise. Alena and Christian use theirs daily. I would say that kids under four can enjoy these also (Christian was three when he got his.) Even Noah enjoys getting rides. These cars/scooters are extremely durable and are always a huge hit when other kids come to visit. When Noah gets a little older, he will definitely be getting his own.

2. Legos - I remember spending many many hours of my childhood playing with these. Shoot, even Gabe still enjoys sitting with the kids and building. They last forever. The Legos we have that the kids play with are Gabe's from when he was a boy.

3. Lincoln Logs - These are another one of those toys I remember having and playing with a lot. Alena will use them to build structures for her My Little Ponies and actually plays with them more than Christian (he prefers Legos).

4. Jump ropes and hula hoops - I love these because they are cheap but provide tons of entertainment for my kids. They have spent many a time using the jump rope to limbo, as a snake they're not allowed to touch, a lasso, etc etc. You get the picture, they have many uses.

5. Marble Run - While we do not own this toy, our piano teacher does and this is a favorite toy to keep them entertained while Gabe and I are in lessons. What kid doesn't love building and watching marbles roll from top to bottom and side to side?

 A gift for them all

Let's not forget the gift for ALL ages. Books. They are probably my favorite battery-less gift to give. A love of books is such a great thing for kids (and adults) to have.

So there you have it. Our favorite and most loved toys that do not require battery power. Do you have any to add to the list? What am I missing that you and your kids enjoy?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend Rewind

This past weekend was a busy one! Friday afternoon consisted of eye appointments for everyone. Two hours and four eye dilations later, we headed off to dress rehersal for our church's childrens play. We ended up grabbing take out Taco Bell for dinner because there wasn't enough time to make something before Gabe and I had to head out to his company Christmas party. Oh yes, mama got a date night without any kids! We dropped them off at the sitter's and I had a hard time pulling myself away from Noah as this was the very first time leaving him with anyone besides Gabe. We were arriving at the party late and leaving early so we were only gone for two hours which made me feel better about leaving him. And he did fine. The hubs and I had a good time eating, drinking, and enjoying the comedy show done by an old acquaintance from our military days.

After Gabe and I stayed up too late Friday night, Saturday morning was slow going. We took a couple of things off the schedule because of the cold temps and lack of motivation to get dressed and moving. I gave the kids the choice of whether they wanted to watch Santa arrive via helicopter at our local Ace Hardware Store and only Christian wanted to go. So he and I went and had good one on one time.

His "real" smile.

Saturday evening was our town's Christmas parade. Despite the cold weather, the kids still loved it. We came home for hot chocolate and the movie Elf.

Santa's float.

Sunday was the Christmas play at our church. The kids did a short version of The Littlest Christmas Tree. Christian had a speaking part and did a wonderful job. Mama was proud. :) We lunched at Buffalo Wild Wings which was scrumptious, as usual.
Paying more attention to me than the play.

How was your weekend? Seems to be the busy season for everyone.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Goals

Last month, I did my first monthly goals post. With November over and December here, I have the results from last month and my new goals for the current month.

For November...
Read 5 pages a day from a book - SUCCESS! I loved this goal. It was easier to do when broken down so simple. I actually exceeded the goal and read an entire book and then half of its sequel! I found the 2nd and 3rd volume of this series at our local library book store and grabbed them. I normally don't read a series out of order but had no problem doing so with these! She wrote them well enough that I never felt lost of confused.
Date night - We went out on Gabe's birthday but because we ended up delayed getting back from Tucson, we took Noah with us to the movies. He fell asleep part way through so... close enough.

Declutter master bedroom - I got out our winter things and have been slowly putting them away. The weather has been hovering between 65-70 so the winter clothes haven't been worn and put away. This is still a work in progress but I'd say it's 75% done.

Meal plan - I made some new meals this past month but I did not do weekly plans. :( However!!! I have signed up for a meal plan service through my favorite bargain site, At just $8, I signed up to get weekly meals plans (6 meals a week) through No More To Go, emailed to me for three months!

Blog twice a week - Another success. I found that the more I blog on a regular basis, the easier it is to come up with post ideas.

December goals

  1.  Finish decluttering master bedroom and start on office - I need to finish trading out winter clothes for summer and put the summer clothes into storage. Then I can start on cleaning up our office cuz the desk... it's a mess.
  2. Meal plan - I'm really excited to be starting with the meal plan service and will definitely be giving you an update and let you know how it goes! I hope we will love it as much as I think we will because they even give me a shopping list and that's one less thing to think about.
  3.  Budget for the new year - We need to get back on track with our spending and saving.
  4. Drink more water - I don't drink nearly enough water throughout the day. They say half your body weight in ounces, so around 50oz will be my daily intake goal.
  5. Do more structured play with the kids - This includes doing more crafts (instead of them making something up themselves), baking, cooking, and helping Christian out with writing.

I've got my work cut out for me. December will be a busy month but I think I can do this. :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DIY Christmas Wreath

 Christmas is juuuuust around the corner and folks are putting up their trees, lights, and all the other millions of different decorations. In previous years, I have seen pictures of homemade deco mesh or burlap wreaths and always wished I was that creative.

After hearing fall decorations were 80% off at Hobby Lobby, I walked in hoping to score on some good fall decor and walked out with Christmas stuff. Huh? I know. BUT! Hobby Lobby had all things Christmas on sale for 50% off and this lady was not going to pass up that sale. Walking through the aisles, I came across bare wreaths and deco mesh. At half off I thought now was as good a time as any to test my creative ability.

So! Let's get this show on the road. To the instructions...

You will need:

one wreath frame (mine was 16")
one large 21" roll of deco mesh
one small 5" roll of deco mesh in different color
any embellishment you want to add on (optional)

To start, take your wreath frame and put one end of the 21" sized deco mesh on the OUTER larger ring and secure with ties. Take a 10" section, bunch it up, and secure with another tie. Do this all around the wreath, then cut off the mesh from the roll. Try to keep your bunches the same size or close to it so it won't end up lopsided.

It will look pretty bare but that is what the smaller deco mesh is for. Start off the 5" deco the same way. I alternated between large and small bunches shown in the pic below.

Go around the entire wreath and once the last bunch is secured, cut the mesh from the roll. You can leave your wreath as is or add on the embellishments.

I wanted to add some embellishments and after FOUR different trips to Hobby Lobby returning and buying new ones, I finally settled on some that I thought fit and looked good with the wreath. And I am happy happy happy with the end results!!

After buying matching embellishments to put on the wreath and hating the look, something clicked in my brain and I decided that wasn't needed. So I chose five different but similar ones to add on and I love the look. Even Gabe commented "That looks really nice!". I agree. And it looks fantastic on the front door.

Not bad for a first try!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happenings Round Here

I've been doing a lot of DIY/recipe posts as of late (still have another to come) so I thought I would throw some of what we've been doing into one consolidated post.

Noah's clearly enjoying all things food.

I took it upon myself to do a 1000 piece puzzle by myself. Got 2/3 of the way done and one of the dogs jumped on the table and tore apart a huge corner of it. After that happened more than once, I tore it apart and put it away remembering why I do not do puzzles with pets and kids around. :/

Noah LOVES scooter rides and I'm thankful Alena is happy to oblige. The faster she goes, the louder his squeals of delight are.

These are my new favorite pictures. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Homemade Butter Beer. Yeah buddy.