Love Story

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elfie's trip is coming to an end

 Friday is Elfie's last day here before he heads back to the North Pole with Santa. He has been one busy guy! I wanted to share some of the pictures from the last week and a half. Not everything got documented with mommy being sick (it took everything I had to just move him some nights!) but he did make it to a new spot every night. His big finale on Friday morning will include him bringing the boys their new Christmas Eve pajamas. It sure has been fun including him in our Christmas tradition, looking forward to spending the year coming up with new ways to use him next year!

A toy parade!! (Ignore the dirty carpet, waiting until Spring to deep clean it)

Elfie brought green waffle batter

The finished product

A movie (Got it free with my Disney Movie Rewards!)

Hanging out...Jeremy says he must not be a real man if he's sitting like that;)

Popcorn and m&ms for snack

Chillin' in the tree

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

 Besides shopping, decorating, baking, crafting and creating memories there is another aspect of Christmas that has become a tradition in our house. That is the great toy clean-out that takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Actually, this has become a ritual that takes place before all gift giving holidays in our house (see this post around birthday time). We are blessed with lots of family which means several very spoiled little boys and more toys than they know what to do with. So before we take in more stuff we make an effort to go through the old. This process involves throwing out the broken toys, donating the ones that are no longer being used, and reorganizing the toys we are keeping.

While it is tempting to tackle this by ourselves to get the job done quicker and more efficiently, this is something we try to involve the boys in. First of all, their stuff = their responsibility. We certainly did not pretend to be tornadoes and hurl toys throughout every crevice of the house. It is our hope that in helping pick up the messes they make they will one day think about that before making said mess. Secondly, we like to use it as a teachable moment. If we were to just go through their stuff and pick and choose what to get rid of with out talking to them one of two things would happen...they either wouldn't notice or they would be very upset. Not to say there aren't still some grumbling moments when we involve them, but they do understand the purpose. We try to teach them that not everyone is as fortunate as us and so part of being blessed with lots of nice stuff is passing that blessing onto others who don't have as much as we do. When we come across an unused toy we remind them that it no longer gets played with and that some other little boy or girl might find a lot of joy in that toy. We then have them place it in the donation box. This way it isn't being done to them, it is something they are doing.

We tackled this project during the week and I have now moved onto their dressers. This is more of a me job and something that I am hoping will help me stay on top of laundry better. It is such a deterrent to put laundry away when their drawers are already overflowing. So I am starting at the bottom by packing up Isaiah's 0-6 month clothes then working through Jordan's too small stuff and finally Nathan's. The beauty of 3 boys is that they can just move right from one dresser to the next until I hit small fry and then they get packed away. One of my favorite things about getting their rooms organized is that it motivates me to do other areas of the house. It will make this holiday season that much less stressful when we aren't working around clutter and trying to find a spot for our new stuff.

What are some of the organizational ways that you get ready for Christmas? 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What's that elf been up to?

Another week of fun as Elfie found new ways to entertain us every morning. Here's a look at what he's been up to:
Mommy forgot to get out the Christmas books so Elfie dug them out of my closet for me:)

Hanging out with the Nutcrackers

Parachuting back from the North Pole and got stuck on our light fixture (Nathan says he must have blown in through the window!)

Getting handy on the boys' tool bench
Brought the boys hot chocolate and marshmallows, Jordan was VERY excited!

Spending some time with his old pal Mrs. Claus

Puzzles (I got them free with my Disney Movie Rewards) with a note saying that Santa sent them after Elfie reported that they were so good for daddy the last two nights while mommy was at Christmas parties

Let me say that I think Elfie is just as fun for us as for the kids. And they are really starting to get into it. Every morning they ask where he is and go on a hunt if he isn't in plain sight. If he is up high or on top of something Jordan often yells at him to get down. This morning was the cutest, after putting together our puzzles Jordan walked up to Elfie and thanked him for bringing them. The only downfall is when we forget to move him...twice this week I have had to do it at 2:00 am when I woke up with Isaiah and realized I had forgotten. But it's worth it! Stay tuned, who knows what Elfie will do this week:)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

In the midst of all the crazy holiday food I thought I would take a minute to share a recipe I recently stumbled upon that you will actually feel good about giving your kids. While my effort to move away from prepackaged snacks and try to prepare more at home has taken a back seat to the holidays, I know that this will be a habit I resume when the craziness subsides. My newest discovery is homemade graham crackers. These were really easy and turned out quite delicious. And you can vary them if you prefer chocolate.

Here is the recipe I followed. I replaced the sucanat with brown sugar, making these all ingredients I had on hand. Some suggestions based on my experience:
*If you like these thick, stick to this recipe. If you want to stretch the recipe or prefer thinner graham crackers, split the dough between two cookie sheets instead of one.
*The longer you leave them in the oven after turning it off the harder they will get so keep an eye on them and take them out based on your preference.

This is what my dough looked like before hand (no pictures after cooking but they look like the original posters):

My kids have been eating them up, so they get my seal of approval:)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Crack

I am starting this post with a warning - If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your figure during this holiday season, this is not the recipe for you. Just stop reading right now because once you know about the crack, you won't be able to go back!! Okay, you've been sufficiently warned.

I stumbled upon this recipe and heard hundreds of raves about it on a baby site I am on. I avoided looking further into it because something about the name made me think it was going to be some white peppermint concoction which, while I don't mind in small doses during the holidays, isn't exactly my favorite. But after having it come up over and over I finally gave in and read the ingredients. From that moment on I knew I had stumbled onto something amazing. Let me just say...I had no idea. This is the end result (trust me, no picture can do this have to taste it!):

What's in it you ask?'re sure you want to know? Okay, here it is:

2 sticks butter (real butter tastes best)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 layer saltine crackers on a greased or lined baking tray (it takes 1 1/2 to 2 sleeves of saltines to fill a 12x17 jelly roll pan)

- Grease your pan (it works best to have a cookie sheet or other pan with sides). I tried parchment paper to avoid a mess but the toffee mixture got under it and made it stick to the pan anyway.
- Put one layer of saltine crackers onto the greased pan - set aside

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Melt together butter and brown sugar. Boil for 3 minutes while stirring non-stop

- Pour butter/sugar mixture over crackers and spread evenly across all the crackers

- Bake at 400F for 5 minutes
- Sprinkle 1 bag chocolate chips over the tray and let sit until you can spread the chocolate over the crackers

- Let cool in the fridge or other cool place until chocolate is hardened.
- Break apart into pieces and enjoy!

I have been keeping mine in the fridge because I like it cold but it should keep in a sealed container for up to a week. But I dare, double dog dare you to keep it around that long. I know it won't last in our house!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Elfie update

I just wrote about Elfie the other day (here) but I thought I would update every Saturday so you all can see what he has been up to during the week.

Let me start by saying that shortly after posting last time Jordan, the boundary tester, had already touched Elfie to see what would happen. Now for those of you who actually know my children, you know that this is so in Jordan's character. And falling right in step Nathan, the rule follower, was the one who was upset by this because he knew it meant that Elfie would lose his magic and not be able to get back to the North Pole. So in an effort to ease Nathan and teach Jordan a lesson (yeah right!) we had Santa call and tell them that if they were good boys and cleaned their room he would send more magic dust for Elfie. Ah, what an eventful first day!

Day 2 we decided to have some fun with Elfie. He must have gotten bored during the night because he rounded up all of the boys' Toy Story friends and got into a snowball fight with some mini marshmallows:

He was outrageously outnumbered and lost horribly!!

Day 3 Elfie brought something special, a Fisher Price Nativity Set. The funny thing behind this is that Jordan has been admiring my decorations and asking if he can have them. I told him when he is bigger and has his own house he will get a box of all his own ornaments and maybe he can have some other things too. Daily he points at one of my nativity sets saying he wants that in his box. So Elfie had a note that said he noticed how much the boys had admired mommy's nativity and that he wanted them to have one of their own to play with:
 Day 4 Elfie decided he needed a birds eye view to keep really good tabs on the boy so he found himself a spot on top of the grandfather clock:
I am excited to say that this morning was the first day I saw them really talk about Elfie as if he was magical. The other days Nathan would say, "Who moved Elfie there?" and things like that. Today when I asked him how he thought Elfie got there he told me this elaborate story of how he climbed his way to the top. Then he proceeded to talk to him and tell him to get down from there. I am glad to see him letting go and getting in on the fun. I will continue to keep you updated on Elfie's adventures...who knows where he will end up next!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Elfie is here!

This year we are starting a new tradition in our house. We are going to have a little visitor for the month of December that I am hoping will help keep the kids in line. Hey, a mom needs all the help she can get!! I am talking about our new elf, Elfie. He was assigned to our family by Santa to watch the kids and report their behavior directly to Santa each night. He showed up this morning with a little gift for the kids:

Elfie with the advent calendars

I got this idea from Hallmark who sells Elf on A Shelf, a book and creepy little elf doll. I decided I would rather have this chubby faced elf to look at each day so I bought my own. Not to mention, I got it for $8.00 versus the $30.00 Hallmark was charging. I set this up by telling the kids last night all about Elfie and how he was going to show up each morning while they were sleeping and watch them throughout the day. Every night when they fall asleep he will go back to the North Pole to tell Santa how they did that day. The rule is that they are not allowed to touch him because he will lose his magic and won't be able to get back to the North Pole and Santa will assume they have been naughty. On Christmas Eve he will go back home with Santa for good. I also told them that he may occasionally bring back gifts from Santa. I have to say this morning was a little anti-climatic...I got up and the kids hadn't even noticed him. We went on a hunt and when I finally pointed him out Nathan exclaimed, "He's not real mom." He was looking for a REAL elf. Not as excited as I thought they would be but I am hoping as each day goes by they will get more into it.

I have gotten some really cute ideas on different ways to set him up each day so I am going to have fun playing around with that. Expect a weekly update with pictures of Elfie and his adventures. What are some traditions you are starting in your house this year?
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