Monday, November 25, 2013

Toodles the Elf, Arriving Soon!

I don't know about all of you, but my kids have been asking for WEEKS when our Elf on the Shelf {named Toodles} will be arriving. We always have Toodles arrive on Thanksgiving night, but because the holiday is a little late this year, I have been tempted MANY times to bust him out early. 

But now that Thanksgiving week is upon us, I am so glad I waited. Our tradition has always been to have Toodles arrive in his box, all wrapped up on our front porch, some time after our guests leave on Thanksgiving night. He brings the kids a little gift {last year it was Christmas jams} and then he stays with us until Christmas eve!

When Toodles first started arriving at our house, people weren't going Bat-shit-Pinterest-Crazy yet. He simply hopped around from shelf to shelf and occasionally the kids would find him hanging from the ceiling fan or riding in the Barbie car. But now parents are spending HOURS planning and constructing these elaborate Elf on a Shelf poses and although some of them are incredibly creative, I ain't got time for that. Last year, I was lucky if Toodles moved to a new location each morning. I used the whole "Well…he must have REALLY liked it up there on top of the Christmas tree!" several times. 

But do you know what did work for us last year? Including Toodles in many of our other holiday traditions. Like I said earlier, Toodles was the one who brought the kids their new Christmas jams, he was there to leave them "Christmas Lights Express" tickets on their beds, he cooked them special breakfasts a few mornings, he left them books at night and this year…he is going to fill their advent calendar. I am sure Toodles will still find himself in some silly situations this Christmas {Eric really wants to try the zip line} but other than that, our Elf will just be chillin :-)

I know this sounds terrible, but I think my favorite part about having Toodles around is taking advantage of his ability to instantly alter my kid's behavior. I can shout things like, 

"Don't punch your sister…the elf is watching!"
"Don't feed Howie trail mix…the elf is watching!"
"Don't say potty words…the elf is watching…I mean listening!"

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I considered letting Toodles stay with us all year :-) And the kids take it very seriously. They do NOT want the elf to know when they are in trouble and sometimes, they will even run to where Toodles is and tell on each other. Not as effective, but it is sweet when they share or do something nice and want to brag about that too. So this year, I thought it might be fun to print up some little cards that can be from Toodles. He can use them to write little notes, leave reminders when the kids are being naughty, acknowledge their good behavior, etc.


Toodles also wrote notes to the kids last year when he arrived and when he left on Christmas eve, but I didn't have any cute themed paper! I think it will be a lot more fun for Toodles to have his own stationary this year :-)


You can download both of these files from our shop here.

So…when is everyone else's Elf arriving??!!! I can't wait to start seeing all the pics!!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Davis Family Progress Report

Blake Davis


It's hard to believe, but Blake is almost done with his third month of K3 preschool!!! He just got his progress report and aside from his cutting skills (damn those zig-zag lines), he is doing GREAT!! It actually brings tears to my eyes every day that I drop him off or pick him up. I dreaded his first day of preschool for MONTHS and worried that my little Stage 5 Clinger wouldn't have as much fun in school as his sister does. But let me tell you friends...this kid LOVES playing with his buddies, singing about Jesus and having "snack time." One of the comments his teacher wrote on his progress report is that he loves socializing with his friends. WHAAAAT?? I mean...who is this kid? First he's rocking preschool, and now he's tearing up the ice at his first skating lesson?? I just couldn't be more proud of him.



You want to know what else is crazy? My BABY is going to be celebrating his 4th birthday next month!! And last week we settled on a Transformers Rescue Bots theme. It was a very big decision :)


He is also VERY excited to visit Santa this month and tell him exactly what he wants for Christmas (his list has grown to about 4 pages now). What can I say...Blake loves Christmas just as much as I do :-)

Addison Davis


This little Kindergartner got the BEST progress report from her teacher this month. Although my girl is a bit of a talker & daydreamer (I have no idea where she gets it...ha!) her teacher had nothing but wonderful things to say about her. She also said that Addie is excelling at reading so far and Eric and I can see that at home. She is a natural...and it's been so fun working with her and watching her get excited about learning. I just can't believe how much she has grown up in the last few months. She is SO into fashion lately and has been wanting to pick out and accessorize all of her outfits (notice the scarf in this one). 


And...she's also developed quite a Starbucks habit.


That is a TALL hot chocolate she is pounding. No more kiddie size for this girl! She is all grown up :(

Jen Davis

Photo: Only one more Pom practice untill game day!!!!! Helping coordinate this alumni game has been exhausting on so many levels, but now that the big day is almost here, I couldn't be more excited to be a part of it :) Arrowettes forever!!

This semester, I have totally and completely bitten off more than I can chew. I am stressed to the MAX most days trying to keep up with the kiddos, the house, teaching, the shop, etc. and on top of that, the high school alumni football game I have been helping coordinate for the last 9 months is FINALLY happening next week!! I have had Pom practice every sunday for the last month and even though all of us are well into our 30s and 40s...we can still bust out school song like it is 1998. Holla!!!

I have really had so much fun connecting with all my old friends and I know this game is going to be BLAST!!! Sure it's going to be fun living out our glory days and taking bets over how many injuries happen on the football field where 30, 40 and 50 year old guys are playing in full pads. OUCH! But this game is also doing a lot of good for our community. This past weekend, several of the towns in our county were hit by a tornado. Friends and family lost homes, churches, etc. and we are setting up a huge donation station at our game to help aid the victims. That storm was just too close to home for me.

So...in addition to shaking my booty at pom practice, I've also been trying to get my groove back with running and working out. My Dad and buddy Tom and I all did the Hot Chocolate 5K again this year and had an awesome time.



Maybe a little too awesome...HA!


 All of us will also be running the Ditka Dash next weekend at Soilder Field. My BF Tara is  also driving up for the race and Eric will be running his FIRST 5K WITH ME!!! Woohoo!! He even bought new running shoes this week. I asked him if this meant that he was going to take up running with me and join in on Operation L.G.N. and is answer was Hell-to-the-no. Whatever. His loss. He is going to miss out on our latest challenge then...


My fellow LGNers and I started this little challenge last week and it's been going well!! It feels nice to get back into a workout routine again.

Eric Davis


I am proud to say that Eric received a pretty good progress report this month too :-) He's been working like a dog, as usual, but told me this week that he will get some time off over the holidays, which will be WONDERFUL!! I love when we can all be home together. I am excited for the two of us to run our first 5K together, but I think Eric is more excited to be dressed like Ditka running around Soldier field. Ha! Da Bears!

And this concludes the Davis Family Progress Report!! Everyone is super busy, but doing super awesome :) It's been a wonderful school year so far, but we are ALL looking forward to Turkey Break next week and spending some time with our families :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Being Okay With Messy

The other day I saw a mom in Target with newborn twins, holding a carrier in each arm, calmly direct her 3 and 5 year old to grab a cart with the extra seats. The two older kids slammed the cart into the Dollar Spot, knocking over a shelf of mini oreo cups, and then when they tried to turn quickly, they knocked over the stack of shopping baskets. The mom stood there, calm as a cucumber, and asked the kids to stop pushing the cart. She set the babies down next to her, cleaned up both messes, put the twin carriers in the cart, the two older kids in the seats, and ordered herself a Starbucks.

I stood in awe of this woman for what felt like 10 minutes. HOW did she keep her cool like that? WHY didn't she freak out and leave the store? Better yet, what the HELL was she thinking bringing all those kids to Target???

I saw this woman 3 different times in the store and each time I went past her, one or all of her kids were crying. First I found her reading labels on organic pasta sauces. Then I found her comparing two different Christmas pillows. Then at the end of my trip, I saw her by the workout clothes holding up sports bras. This chick had shopping to do and she didn't give a shit what her kids, or the rest of Target thought about it.

She was my hero.

And I don't say that because she was able to handle 4 kids in Target (although that alone is pretty spectacular). The reason I call the woman my hero is because she didn't worry about what ANYONE else thought about her in that store. Even when her kids were knocking over displays or throwing tantrums because they wanted Fruit Loops, she completely kept her cool and didn't dash for the parking lot with tears in her eyes. She had her shit together...and I so badly wished I was like her.

This past weekend, Eric and I had some of our friends stop by for an unexpected, quick visit. It was a Sunday and we were rushing around trying to get ready for dinner at my in-laws. I was also in the process of pulling out Christmas decorations so there were a bunch of random decorations spread all over my counters and tables. The kids rooms were trashed from a long morning of fort building, my floors were dirty and covered in fake pine needles and sliver tinsel from dragging up the tree, my office still had craft supplies all over the desk and there were random piles of folded laundry everywhere you looked. My house was NOT in the shape I like it to be when friends come over for a visit, especially friends who have never seen our house before. But they were 5 minutes away!!

I tried my best to quickly pick up and shut doors to the bedrooms but before I knew it, they were already inside and Eric was giving them the grand tour. I tried several times to make eye contact with him before I finally shouted out, "NO! Don't go in the kids rooms...they are trashed." In the same breath I was also apologizing for my floors and my messy office. I was absolutely mortified. I just kept looking around at my messy house and at one point I actually got tears in my eyes.

I know that must sound absolutely crazy. In fact, it even sounds crazy to me as I type this!! But I was upset and embarrassed that I didn't have my shit together that day. And to be honest, not having my shit together is what causes me the most stress. I feel like Eric, the kids, our family, my friends, my students, my customers, my blog readers and even the random shoppers at Target are (to some degree) depending on me to have my shit together. And some days I do! But most days, I am just trying to survive and keep everyone alive.

So how do we become that mom in Target? How do we learn to keep our cool and not worry about what others think? How do we become "okay" with life being a little messy and loud sometimes?

The answer is to paper your walls with fabulous quotes like these from Mother's Letter.

Kristen Welch Quote - Mother Letters E-book


mother letters, word art, mother letters ebook, super mom, mother letters free art, free printable for Mother's Day

mother letters, word art, mother letters ebook, free printable for Mother's Day, mother letters free art

I just need to remind myself EVERY day that it's okay to be a little messy. It's okay to say "No" when there simply isn't enough time for something. It's okay to be loud. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to knock over stacks of oreos in Target. It's okay to be a Mom who isn't perfect, but does the best she can. It's okay to be me :-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Planning for Thanksgiving & a Pumpkin Surprise

On the contrary to what most of my friends and family believe, I DO celebrate Thanksgiving. I may have my Christmas tree up while I am serving Turkey...but whatever :-)

Eric and I have been hosting Thanksgiving at our house since we got married and although we do have our routine down (Eric works the turkeys and I prepare sides, decorate the house and set the table), the day can still be chaotic if we don't have lists to follow.

So yesterday, as I sat down to do my 100 Days to Christmas daily challenge (which was to plan my Thanksgiving Menu) I decided I needed some cute printables to put in my planner/home management binder. I set out to just make two, but ended up making 5. Ha! I have a sickness :-) But I know I am not  the only Thanksgiving Warrior preparing for a feast this year, so I am sharing all of these fabulous printables with you!!


You can download all of these printables on our shop blog.

I really have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year. Our family has had lots of little health scares the last few months and we've managed to come out it with nothing more than a gluten intolerance. And I all have to say to that is BRING ON THE GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN PIE!!

Gluten-Free Pie Crust with LIBBY’S® Famous Pumpkin Pie Filling

And speaking of pumpkin, my brother Ryan & Sis-in-law Meagan have a very special pumpkin treat for us this year...


That's right folks!!! Ryan and Meagan are expecting their second baby, who we just found out is a BOY!!!!!!! We are over the moon excited and we will be welcoming our newest pumpkin in March :)

You see? SO MUCH to be thankful for this year.

So let's talk menu now, shall we? Eric and I always prepare two turkeys...one he deep fries (or smokes) and one we make in the oven. We have tried several brines and recipes over the years, but this one looks SO DELICIOUS...we may have to give it a whirl.

Turkey with Brown-Sugar Glaze

This is Martha Stewart's Roast Turkey with Brown Sugar Glaze.

If you've ever deep fried or smoked a turkey, you know that it almost NEVER comes out on time. Last year, we had to do some extra waiting around and I was wishing we had more appetizers set out. But I am tired of the same old thing, so this year I am going to give this Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip a try.



Does anyone else do appetizers on Thanksgiving? I would love some other ideas.

If any of you are in planning mode like I am today, here are so other great resources I cam across this week.

If you want to set a more formal table for Thanksgiving this year, The Classy Woman gives some fantastic instruction and has some great diagrams.



As always, my girl Martha Stewart has some fabulous inspiration for decorating your home and table, but I especially love the ideas she has for the kids!

good-things-placemat-mld107720.jpg

And one of my favorite resources comes from Organized Christmas and it's a list of Turkey Talk Hotlines! Who knew there was such a thing?! But they have created a list of hotlines where you can talk to "experts" on cooking times, baking techniques, food safety and more!

Thanksgiving Turkey Helplines

So does anyone else have any fun resources for Thanksgiving? I'd love for you to share in the comments!!

Happy Hump Day friends and thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Halloween in a Nutshell

Every year, on Halloween night, I sit at my computer and upload at least 150 different pictures of the kids in their adorable little costumes. Last year Addie made such a gorgeous Snow White, I uploaded at least 50 of just her. 

And this year we picked out super cute costumes too. I bought Addie's Sophia the First costume at the Disney Store the end of summer because I KNEW it would sell out. And it did...by the end of September. But no worry for us! We had the dress, tiara AND the light-up amulet! We were all set and ready to get our trick-or-treat on.

Blake FINALLY retired his trusty Lightening McQueen costume after 2 years and went with Bumblebee the Rescue Bot. It was the easiest (cheapest) costume we have purchased yet. 

The kids were counting down the days until Halloween and negotiating who would trade what candy. When Addie's school party came a day early, Blake was SO JEALOUS that she got to dress up. I know I am a bit biased because she is my daughter, but she made one CUTE Sophia the First.


Because Addie was Star of the Week during Halloween, I got to come in and read a story to her class. I wasn't chosen for the Halloween class party (I got Christmas) but her teacher was nice enough to let me stay anyway!! So I got to walk in her little parade, 


make some crafts, 


watch the mummy-wrapping contest 


and I even got a quick picture by her Star of the Week board. It was a nice treat :-)


At first I was a little sad that Addie's school party was the day before Halloween (Kinder had Halloween Day off) but when Addie woke up WITH THE FLU the next day, I was thanking my lucky stars that she at least got to wear her costume and party with her friends at school.

So while Addie was sick in bed, this little guy got to go to his Teddy Bear Picnic Party at preschool!


His face is super happy in this picture, but let me tell you...this little dude was far from happy when I told him that he couldn't wear his costume to school. His Christian preschool chooses to do a pajama party instead and his little deer hunting jams were not near as cool as his Bumblebee costume. He was pissed.

Addie was pissed.

I was pissed.

It was pouring rain, Addie was sick, Blake was screaming, "MY BUMBLEBEE COSTEEEEEOOOOM" and I was out of pumpkin coffee. It was a rough start to our Halloween.

And the day didn't get much better. Blake did end up having a blast at his Teddy Bear Picnic and was able to change into Bumblebee within minutes of being home. But after only one quick round of trick-or-treating at Mima & Papa Steve's House...Bumblebee was out for the count.



The rest of the night we passed out candy to the handful of trick-or-treaters that made it out in the rain, drank beer and I uploaded the 6 pictures I got of the kids. It wasn't the ideal Halloween by any means, but we made the best of it and had a good laugh :-)

And now, my friends, it's time to start celebrating my FAVORITE time of the year!!! I swear I won't post pics of Christmas trees just yet...but the bins have been pulled from the shelves, I've been singing Christmas carols all day and I've already had my first red cup of the season.


Cheers to happy HEALTHY.....here that Santa.... HEALTHY holiday season :-)