Wednesday, November 30, 2011

25 Days to Christmas: Final Advent Preparation & Meeting Santa

It's that time my friends!!! December starts tomorrow, which means it's time to break out those Advent Calendars and let the fun begin!!

Today's 100 Days to Christmas Challenge is Final Advent Preparation. We are all set over at our house. We have the fabric Advent Calendar that Nana made us a few years ago. Instead of filling each pocket with a treat (because the kids are still too young to resist the temptation to open all 25 the first day), we are just going to have our Christmas Penguin hop from pocket to pocket each day.

I think the kids will like moving him every morning. Plus, it's not like we are going through advent without a special treat each day. Elf is bringing us a book each night and Great Grandma dropped off this chocolate advent calendar today...

I think these kids are sufficiently spoiled this year :-)

But the advent fun doesn't stop there! I did a post a while back about an Advent Activities Calendar and we finally have ours all filled out and hanging on the fridge!

Obviously, some of these activities may change (do to weather, unexpected events, etc.) but at least we have a game plan of the things we want to do!! If you still want a blank copy of the Advent Activities Calendar I made, you can download it here.

If you noticed, visiting Santa is not on our calendar because we already got to see him this year! Twice, actually. The first time was with Nia and Nolan, after Aunt Dana suggested we beat the Santa rush and head to Bass Pro Shop the day before Thanksgiving.

If you have a Bass Pro Shop near should really take your kids (or grandkids, nieces and nephews, etc.) because it is a really kid-friendly store. They have these huge fish tanks that my kids just love...

And during the holidays, they have a huge Santa's workshop set up with tons of free crafts, games and activities set up for the kids. Addie and Nolan were crazy about this train...

Although, the train was nothing compared to the shooting game.

Nia and Addie with guns...their Daddies were proud.

I suppose the best part of Santa's Workshop at Bass Pro is the big man himself. We were able to get TWO pictures this year that were both FREE! Sorry more $20 pictures for us :-)

Plus, this Santa was amazing. So sweet and gentle with the kids. They just loved him. Well...Addie loved him. Blake was only willing to give him a high-five and then I had to hold him for the picture. (I wish I would have pulled his pant legs down. Whoops!). But least no one was crying this year!!

When we were done with our picture, Addie was still talking Santa's ear off. There was a huge line but Santa didn't rush her. He let her tell him ALL about preschool, wanting a light-up paint brush (that was news to me) and a Disney Princess Aurora Baby. The camera man was sweet enough to snap a second picture of just Addie and Santa. I love this one.

And like I said, this wasn't the only time Addie's seen Santa this year. When we were at the mall getting our ears pierced, there wasn't a line to see Santa so she ran right over and hopped on his lap. I didn't get another picture, but I wish I had because she was so sweet sitting on his lap showing him her new earrings. Kids are so freaking precious at this age. Just seeing how excited she was to talk to Santa (without all the crying and body thrashing) was priceless :-)

So...has anyone else already seen Santa this year? Is everyone excited to get their Advent calendars up and going? I know we are!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

One VERY Special Girl

So far, this week is starting out to be pretty awesome for Addie. For starters, we went to the mall today and came home with these...

As promised, I took Addie to get her ears pierced for not only filling up her listening chart with stickers, but also for getting a wonderful progress report from her teachers!! I put it off for a little while, thinking she would change her mind and want something else. But when I asked her today what she wanted as a reward, she said she wanted to get her ears pierced. So off to the mall we went!

I still can't get over how calm and sweet she was about the whole thing. She just hopped right up on the seat...

When the girl told me that she would have to do each ear separately, I was worried that Addie would freak after the first one and not want to do the second. When she first pulled the trigger, Addie looked like a deer in headlights. But then when she realized how quick the pain was, she was ready for the second ear.

I still can't believe she didn't so much as flinch during that whole experience!! She was such a little trooper. I think it helped talking about it ahead of time. Nia even told her that it just hurts for a minute, and that's all Addie kept saying, "It just hurwts for a minute". 

After we were done, Addie walked all over the mall telling every stranger that walked by that she got her ears pierced. We were even able to tell santa!!! She was also more than willing to pose for pictures with her new "diamonds" :-)

So now my baby girl has her ears pierced. I could almost cry!! She is just growing up way too fast!


So as if getting this big treat wasn't special enough today...we came home and finished setting up her very own pink Christmas tree. Her "Pinkalicious" tree as she says :-)

And then tomorrow, Addie gets to be the "Special Person" at school which means she gets to bring a show-and-tell item (which will be her picture and autograph book from Disney) as well as a snack to share with the class. I wanted to do something Christmasy but since we have a peanut allergy classroom, the list of acceptable snacks is kind of strict. So I had to be creative. 

I ended up finding some strawberry applesauce at Target (market pantry brand) and I made little sticker labels to put on the top.

I think they turned out pretty cute! So if you happen to be looking for a yummy, inexpensive treat for kids this holiday season, just buy some strawberry applesauce, print out the label I made here, and viola! You have yourself some Christmas Applesauce :-)

Addie is so excited to be the special person...I can't wait to hear how it goes :-) Although, I am pretty sure the Disney autograph book will take a back seat to her new diamonds during show and tell. Ha!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Decking the Halls & Welcoming Elf

After all the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and the week leading up, it was nice to just spend some time at home relaxing this weekend. I am so happy that I managed to deck our halls last week, so that we could just sit back and admire this weekend :-)

Here is our lovely dining room tree (that houses all of our breakable ornaments up top so they are out of reach from tiny hands :)...

Last year I was able to score a bunch of different clearance wreaths that I have hung in all our windows this year. I think they are such a cute and simple touch. All you need is some ribbon.

And here is our cozy little family room tree...the one Santa visits :-)

I have my red and white polka dot Reisenthel out to collect all the Christmas books our little Elf brings each night :-)

Speaking of which...we did have some excitement this weekend. Our Elf on the Shelf arrived!!!

Addie was very excited to see him, but Blake didn't know what the hell was going on.

It only took us a few minutes to break Santa's first rule of NO TOUCHING!!!

So now our Elf hangs out in especially high places :-)

I guess I shouldn't say that Blake doesn't know what's going on, because in all honesty...he was the one that named our Elf this year. His name is "Toodles", short for "Oh Toodles", since that's Blake's favorite thing to say each morning when we watch Mickey :-)

So Toodles the Elf is here to stay!! At least until Christmas Eve. And as long as the kiddies behave, he will bring them a new book each night. That's my favorite part of the whole tradition :-) was everyone else's Thanksgiving weekend?? Does everyone have their tree(s) up? I am so excited that it is FINALLY Christmas season!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Best Thanksgiving Yet

Isn't it funny how some of the most uneventful holidays are the most memorable? Many of our Thanksgivings have been overshadowed a bit by weddings and new babies the last few years. The last 5 to be exact :-) So this year, when we all managed to work out our schedules to be together around one table...

I knew it was going to be special. My parent's hosted this year and there is just something so warm and comfortable about being at their house. And maybe that's the magic word here...comfortable. This thanksgiving was comfortable and wonderful in so many ways.

We kept all of our traditions, like forcing Di to make the gravy and having Eric help with the bird...

We gave Addie her responsibilities, like feeding baby Owen his Thanksgiving meal...

We took our girls group picture (although I realize now we should have had mom in it, instead of taking it). Whoops! Redo at Christmas :-)

And then we did some lounging. Here I am with my little turkey, who celebrated his FIRST Thanksgiving!!!

And then it was time to sit around drinking coffee and wine while looking at the sale papers.

The good news is that none of us had to wait in those insane lines (except for my brother who does it for fun). I was able to score so many deals last night and today online that I am just a few presents away from being done with my shopping!!! That feels so good! My goal was to be done by December 1st, but that isn't far away so I better get moving :-)

After browsing the sale ads, my Mom and Dad pulled out some old videos from when my brothers and I were kids. They were so cute and so funny to watch. I can't believe how much my little Addie is a clone of me and how much Owen is a clone of my brother. I really should find a way to share these videos because they are precious. It was a wonderful way to end our holiday.

After we all left, the 4 of us girls were busy sending texts to each other about how great Thanksgiving was this year. And it really was perfect. BOTH of our Thanksgivings were perfect. 

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times...I am such a lucky girl :-)'s time to really CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

I think that's what everyone should do this Thanksgiving.




Because really...isn't that what this day is about? Being thankful for a warm home and a nice meal to celebrate the holiday...

Being thankful for amazing friends and family to spend it with...

And being thankful for the millions of other blessings God has given us. Only HE can grow a family from this...

To this...

And what a truly amazing blessing that is :-)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Traditions

It seems like only yesterday that my brothers and I were passing out on my Grandma's couch after a yummy Thanksgiving meal. It was nice being a kid. You didn't have to cook, plan a meal, clean the house or do the dishes. You showed up...ate...and then sat on the couch.

ACTUALLY...I think that's exactly what all the men in our family still do. HA! Just kidding guys...kinda :-)

Actually, in all fairness, my hubby is quite the turkey man. He has deep fried a turkey and helped me prep the oven turkey for the last four years. He takes great pride in this, and we have the pictures to prove it. Here's a pic from the first year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house.

And our second year...

Ans our third year...

And last year! maybe he didn't take great pride in his deep fried turkey last year, but it was still fun :-)

I realize I'm a pretty lucky girl to have all of my family so close by. No one has to fly anywhere or coordinate big trips to be together...we just get to drive to each other's house. We can make last minute decisions (like deciding to eat at my mom and dad's this year) and it doesn't mess up anyones schedule. That's a rare thing it seems, as I watch so many of my friends plan trips for the Thanksgiving holiday. But when I ask those friends if it's hard having to travel, they just say it's part of the tradition! 

And tradition is what it's all about!! In our family, it's tradition to be casual, eat until we can't zip our pants, sit on the floor and look through all the fun sale ads in the paper, drink lots of wine while we do dishes, watch some Charlie Brown with the kids and when there's some pumpkin pie :-) It's a day to be thankful and celebrate all the blessings we have been given. And let me tell ya friends...I have a ton to be thankful for :-)

So...what are your family's traditions? Do you get all dressed up? Do you host? Do you have something besides turkey for dinner? I always love reading about everyone else's traditions :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

34 Days to Christmas: Kickin It, Pilgrim Style

Thanksgiving week is finally upon us!! I guess I shouldn't say finally, considering this holiday totally snuck up on me! I do this every year. I get so focused on being ahead of the game for Christmas, I fail to give Thanksgiving the love it deserves.

But all that's going to change!! Even though my house is all decorated for Christmas (and I totally want to post pictures), I am going to focus just on Thanksgiving this week and give thanks for the countless blessings I have been given in my life. Last night, I celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with Eric's side and it reminded me once again how truly blessed I am to have married into such a wonderful family. There were lots of great pictures taken last night, although they were not on my camera. I sorta forgot mine so I will recap last night as soon as cousin Sarah sends them my way (hint hint girlfriend :-)

So...on to today's 100 Days to Christmas Challenge!! The challenge today is to start prepping your Thanksgiving table. Eric and I usually host Thanksgiving for my side of the family every year, but this year my mom decided she would like to have it! At first I tried talking her out of it, since I really do enjoy hosting, but considering how busy we've been since we got back from vacation, I'm kind of liking the idea of NOT having to prep a table this week :-)

However, that doesn't mean I can't think of future Thanksgiving tables today! Now that my kids are slowly growing out of high chairs and booster seats (tear...) I've started thinking about planning a cute kids table to set up every year! I'm just in love with all the little kids tables that Pottery Barn Kids puts together every year...

Pinterest is FULL of little Thanksgiving kids crafts too and I love the idea of having something to entertain them at the table until the food is ready. 

They could work on something as simple as coloring...

Or you could have them put something together that they can eat after (or before?) dinner. I love these little Turkey pops...

If you have a little helper on your hands like I do, you could even have the kids help you make cute place setting cards with construction paper and stickers. 

Ideas for Thanksgiving tables are endless, especially if you browse through Martha Stewart Living or your holiday Pottery Barn catalog, but I think the most important part of any Thanksgiving table is not what you put on it, but rather who sits around it :-) anyone hosting Thanksgiving this year? Is there anything special you are planning to do with your table?

Friday, November 18, 2011

3 Chicks & a Date With a Vampire

Today was the day that my girls and I have been waiting for...the release of Breaking Dawn-Part 1!!! The three of us really hate this picture, but since it looks like we are a part of the Cullen clan with our vampire eyes...we thought it was appropriate for the occasion :-)

So you see those big ass glasses of wine of in front of us? We were able to sip on those while we watched the movie. And we may have ordered a know...just because we could. I'm pretty sure we will be seeing EVERY movie here from now on :-)

So speaking of the movie...I have to say that overall, I loved it. Yes, there were lots of things missing from the book and I didn't really care for a lot of the werewolf scenes. I thought some of the special effects were a bit corny and it was tough to watch Bella in her gruesome state towards the end. 

BUT...after I got done complaining about all that, I realized that I had to look at the movie for what it is. Movies rarely live up to the book and after waiting a year and a half for this movie to come out...I think my expectations were too high. I also had to remember that this movie was PG13 so the honeymoon love scene could not compare to my imagination. Haha! In fact, when it was over, Tara and Linsey and I looked at each other and said, "That was it?"

But on a bright note, the wedding scene was fantastic. I didn't care for Bella's dress, but she looked gorgeous and so did Edward (and Jacob. Ha!) I loved that they used the same song they danced to at the prom in the first movie for their wedding song. I almost got a little teary eyed at that part :-)

Okay...I realize that all of you non-Twilight fans like my hubby are making fun of me now, so I should probably end this post.  I will say though that I'm a little sad that we have to wait another YEAR to see the second part. But judging by how fast this year went, the three of us will be in our Twilight shirts before we know it :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being Thankful (Plus a Really Cute Thanksgiving Printable)

Even though I spent the majority of the day decorating my house for Christmas with the kiddies, I am still excited for Thanksgiving next week! I love a yummy turkey, time with my family and the opportunity to tell others how thankful I am for them.

Two people that I am incredibly thankful for this year are Addie's preschool teachers. They have only been a part of her life for a few months, but they have already changed her in so many wonderful ways. She knows God now and talks to him everyday, even if it's just to thank him for cookies and new markers. She listens more attentively (even if its for only a few seconds). She sings songs, tells stories and genuinely loves going to school. That alone is reason enough to thank these two wonderful women :-)

So I wanted to put together a little "thank you" gift to give them tomorrow at their Thanksgiving Feast. I saw some cute candy jar ideas on Pinterest, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. But while I was walking through the grocery store tonight, I saw some gorgeous little mums. Bingo! Everyone loves getting flowers and these would look cute on their thanksgiving tables next week. So I bought them each a mum, tied the pot with some ribbon, and then created a little note that I glued to a bamboo skewer and stuck in the dirt. I think they came out pretty cute for only a few minutes worth of work.

I know it's nothing special, but I hope it will brighten their day just like they brighten Addie's. I just want them to know how thankful we are :-)

So while I was making these printables for Addie's teachers, I realized that I could make a more generic tag to share with all of you! You know, in case you have some people you would like to thank this week. The tag is simple, but I think it gets the message across :-)

You can download this printable here.

Well that's all I have for today friends! I am still struggling to catch back up after vacation, but since Thanksgiving is already NEXT WEEK...I need to get my bootie in gear. Lots of fun posts to come!