Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'll be back soon...

Hey everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Just wanted to let you know that I'm still eating ridiculous amounts of food and just now getting a chance to be with my extended family... I'll be back in a few days with new posts... but for now, I gotta get back to the chocolate. Happy New Year to you and yours! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cookies & Milk with Santa

Here's a quick post of the kids at Cookies & Milk with Santa sponsored by the Library... I like this picture. It fits Cole's eating personality perfectly... he is eating the frosting straight out of the frosting cup....

And here they are with their visit to Santa...

Also I wanted to link you to an excellent audio Christmas Story for Kids over on the girltalk blog. I'm going to have my kiddos listen today while they eat their lunch. It's about 10 minutes long and really great! Merry Christmas, friends!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My heart is full...

I love these girls... great day with my besties! Aren't they beautiful!?

We spent the day talking, eating, laughing and making these...

The three of us became friends back when Sadie was born... they both had baby girls that were a year older than Sadie and we learned to do life together. There is something to be said about friendships that are made when your children are young... there is authenticity in those relationships... I mean, after all, you get no sleep and spend most of the days in your pj's... you need people that love you for you! We have so many good memories together... and I'm thankful that although there are now miles between us, we can still pick up where we left off!

Oh... and here's our kiddos, too...

4 boys... 4 girls... even steven. Great day... great friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm so glad, you're in my family...

One of our friends took our family pics a few weeks ago... and some with just Eric and I... love them. Thought I'd share... after all, family pics was on my 30 B4 30 list.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just a bunch of random thoughts...

Here are a bunch of random thoughts that aren't nearly beefy enough for a post of their own. :) Welcome to my brain.
  • When we were a double income family, I had a method of Christmas shopping that would drive Dave Ramsey crazy. It was the BOGO approach and went something like this... buy a gift for my mom, buy something for me, buy a gift for Eric, buy something for me, buy a gift for my brother, buy something for me... this method kept me motivated through the mall. Now my motivation is to stick to the list, use as many coupons as possible and try to get most of my shopping done online.
  • Oak Ridge Boys is my all time favorite Christmas Album. I have not listened to it once this season. That needs to change.
  • When we were doing advent last night, we were reviewing all the alphabet. We were on the letter P and were reviewing that Jesus was the only perfect person to walk the earth. Cole strongly disagreed with, "No! I perfect, I perfect." We tried to explain otherwise, but gave up to avoid a major meltdown.
  • Today is Sadie's first school program. I nearly booked myself to substitute today... that would have been terrible. Can't wait to see the adorableness that oozes from her little class. So thankful for her incredible teacher.
  • My favorite dessert right now - s'mores... I make them in the oven and they are with a Dr. Pepper, of course.
  • Today I need to clean my bathroom, dust the floors, vacuum and wrap packages... I wonder how much of that will be accomplished??!! Bathroom must be done - hands down.
  • Tomorrow two of my besties are coming for a visit!!! I can hardly wait! They are each bringing their three kids... how did I get so far behind on the child production??? Hmmm... anyway, I am praying that all of us wake up healthy in the morning so our wonderful day together can actually happen!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Menu Plan - Christmas Week!

Christmas week is upon us!!! Can you believe it!? I am so excited... this is the first year in awhile were we have not been overbooked and in a hurry. I intentionally blocked off weekends this month to keep things a little more low key... I feel like I've been able to really soak in the season, and that is refreshing.

Last week I planned our menu for two weeks and did two weeks of grocery shopping at once (trying to see if I can knock a few bucks off the grocery bill this way)... that means this week I will only need to stop for produce and milk... and that my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Speaking of milk... I think we either need to take out stock in Braum's or purchase our own dairy cow... just sayin'.

Okay... onto what we are eating...

Lunch: Chicken Tetrazzini, Snap Peas, Fruit
Supper: Christmas Party - I am bringing Peanut Butter Chocolate Treats

Lunch: Egg Sandwiches, Carrots/Dip
Supper: Hamburger Noodle Soup, Corn Bread

Lunch: Grilled Ham and Cheese, Chips, Fruit
Supper: Penne w/mushrooms, Italian Sausage and Broccoli, Salad, Fruit

Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Taco Squares, Carrots/Dip, Fruit

Late Lunch: Pizza
Supper: Snacks - tortilla rolls, rye bread & dill dip, carrots, celery, apple slices

Breakfast: Sweet Sausage Rolls, Breakfast Bake
Late Lunch/Snacking - BBQ Meatballs, Cheese Ball with Crackers, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Fruit

Celebrating Christmas with Family... not sure what I'm making yet. :)

I'm not sure how much I'll be around here this week... we'll just kind of see how things go! If I'm not back too often, have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Something that makes life easier... at lunch.

Every now and then I'm going to start posting a picture of something that makes life a little easier around here. It's no rocket science, just some things that I've picked up along the way. :)

So for the first edition (Doesn't that sound so professional??? HA!) I am presenting (drum roll please) Muffin Tin Lunches. This is an idea I stole from someone along they way, but I love it. Basically it's just a bunch of odds and ends thrown into a muffin tin and served to your children for lunch. AND in case your wondering, I secretly like to eat out of a muffin tin, also.

Usually we eat right out of the tin, but last week I gave everyone a plate... Eric was not home for lunch on this particular day, but this tray fed all three of us. Sadie wanted me to take a picture of her "circle of food." She was quite pleased with herself.

Whoever it was that I stole this idea from used 6 cup tins and each person ate out of their own tin instead of sharing. That would be kind of fun, too... I should start looking for 6 cup tins at Goodwill! Happy Munching!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spreading A Little Christmas Cheer

Last week our house was an M-E-double S. Something had to be done before I needed admitted to the crazy house.

I decided to turn on Relient K's Christmas CD to help us get in the cleaning/organizing spirit. Within the first two notes Cole was throwin' up his rock fist. We caught a couple minutes on Flip... this ought to warm your heart with Christmas cheer (or at least make you smile)... ignore the spastic dancer on the right. I don't know her, but I'm pretty sure it's where this little boy picked up his best moves. :)

Coley Dance from Eric Franklin on Vimeo.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan - Better Late Than Never!

Sunday's are normally my uber relaxing day of the week.... but yesterday, It was a fun day, but busy, which kept me from getting my menu done until today! Here's what we're having this week...

Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Eric & I - DATE NIGHT and Christmas Shopping & Sadie and Cole Scrambled Eggs and Biscuits

Lunch: Muffin Tin Lunches
Supper: Just the kids & me - eating my leftovers from Date Night @ Logan's - The meatloaf meal from there will literally feed me one meal and then all 4 of us at another meal. It's so yummy, too.

Lunch: Egg Sandwiches, Carrots, Fruit
Supper: Laughing Cow Chicken, Green Beans, Fruit

Lunch: Mac & Cheese with Hot Dogs
Supper: Savory Steaks & Sauce, Baked Potatoes, Fruit

Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Fruit

Lunch: Chicken Chili
Supper: Popcorn, Cheese, Apples

Lunch: Sloppy Joes, Snap Peas, Fruit
Supper: Pancakes with Berries, Eggs

Hope you week is off to a good start!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Baby

Sorry I'm a little late in getting here today! We actually did the activity I'm going to share with you tonight.... and then went out to look at Christmas Lights... and then we went to Walmart to get toilet paper (somehow we've run out)... and I might have thrown in some Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream along the way... I've heard that Blue Bunny's Peppermint Ice Cream is heavenly, but haven't found any around here, yet. That very well could have been the longest sentence I've ever written... but I digress.

Anyway... the last book for the Preschool Christmas Play Party is Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. This is a story about a little boy who opens the oven door too early while baking cookies. Expecting to check on his baking Gingerbread Boy, the boy is surprised to have a Gingerbread Baby jump right out of the oven. The whole town works to catch the Gingerbread Baby, but he is too fast and clever for everyone. The little boy finally captures him by luring him into a Gingerbread House and then shutting the doors up tight... and that is where the Baby stays.

I'm sure you can tell where the activity for this book is heading... you guessed it... decorate a Gingerbread House. Normally when we craft around here the expense is minimal, but sometimes you just have to splurge. I had considered constructing our own Gingerbread House out of graham crackers and candies, but when I found a kit at Aldi for $6.99 we went that route. It was a lot of fun, but I think more candy went into the kids' mouths than onto the house. They loved it...

I hope you've enjoyed this week's mini series... more than anything, I hope you find time to just be with your family this season teaching them of the wonderful gift we have in Jesus. Many Christmas Blessings to you and yours!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Mitten

Today's post is going to be quick and pictureless... this was an activity we did last week and I failed to photograph the fun.

The books that will be featured today and tomorrow are both Jan Brett Books. Jan Brett has a great website that has many resources that go along with her books... you outta check it out.

Today's book is called The Mitten. This is a story about a little boy who looses his mitten in the snow... while it is lost a group of animals squeeze in the mitten to find warmth until finally a little mouse follows a bear inside. The only spot left inside the mitten for the mouse is on the bears nose... this tickles the bears nose, he sneezes, all the animals in the mitten come flying out and the little boy finds his mitten drifting in the air. It's really a very sweet story.

On Jan Brett's site, Brett provides a printable mitten and the animals in the story. Have your children assemble the mitten (glue together like a pocket), color the animals and cut them out... they will all store snugly inside the mitten. This is fun to use as you read the story together or for your child to retell the story!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zoo Flakes - ABC

Happy Wednesday! Welcome back to the Christmas Play Activities for Preschoolers Par-tay! I hope you are having a lovely week!

Today's book and activity is centered around the book, Zoo Flakes - ABC by Will C. Howell. This is a book that we checked out at the library this past week. Zoo Flakes is a very creative ABC book. Each letter of the alphabet features a zoo animal that is cut into a snowflake shape. Some snowflakes are really quite incredible! I was hoping that Amazon would have the "choose a page" feature for this book so you could actually see the inside because it really is quite impressive.

If you have older kids, you could actually make animal shaped snowflakes... it would be a fun after dinner activity for everyone to do together! Here's one that I made... I must admit, it took some thinking! :) Here is what I could use for "L is for Lizard." Sadie was quite impressed with my skills... I was too, actually.

Since our scissor skills aren't as refined here, we made snowflakes out of Popsicle sticks, buttons, sequins and star beads... you could really stick anything on that you have around the house... noodles, pony beads, pom-poms (I totally would have used pom-poms, but we are out... I love those brightly colored poms... they take me right to my happy crafty place.).

I pre-glued the sticks together....

...and then let the kids glue on the bling.

They turned out pretty cute and with a little ribbon attached to the back, they will make a nice, cheerful decoration! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Animals' Christmas Eve

I hope you all enjoyed the fingerplays and songs that were posted yesterday! Sadie and Cole loved the Santa's Chimney fingerplay and found it to be a novelty that I would actually draw a face on their little thumbkin. I also wanted to mention that last year I posted an advent idea on my blog... the link for it is right here if you are interested... it's had a lot of hits this season, so I'm hoping that families are able to use this or adapt it for their family worship times!

The story I want to share with you today is called, The Animals' Christmas Eve. It's actually a Little Golden book that I found at a second hand store a few years back... I might have a small obsession with children's books.

I think the first page of the book sums up what this sweet story is all about...

In the barn on Christmas Eve,
After all the people leave,
The animals, in voices low,
Remember Christmas long ago.

After sharing this book with your kiddos, take some time to make a paper bag barn. Here is a picture of ours.

We used a full size brown paper bag and cut open doors. The kids and I colored some animals (Cole made a sheep out of his hand print), a star, Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus.

I contemplated just printing off animals for them to color... I'm glad I didn't... have you ever seen such a sweetly drawn camel or Baby Jesus?

(Sadie shining her flashlight in so you can have a closer look.)

Lastly, we glued some of our nativity creations to the outside and some of them to the inside. Sadie wanted to leave some of them loose so she could walk them in and out of the barn... some days I just have to put my OCD ways aside... I mean, who really cares if all the animals are glued perfectly in place. :) It never needs to be perfect to be a blessing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Play for Preschoolers...

Before Miss Sadie came along, I spent my days teaching 1st grade. I loved teaching. I loved the kids. I loved celebrating the holidays with my class and all the special things we were able to do together. Now that both of my kiddos are getting a little older, we are able to do some of those same things together... and it satisfies my teaching itch for this season of life. :) This Tuesday-Friday, I am going to feature a Christmas Story with an activity for you to do at home with your kiddos. Hopefully it will encourage you to slow down, snuggle with your little ones and read, and just have fun together.

For today.... I thought I would post a few songs or fingerplays that I have picked up along the way! Enjoy!

Reindeer Pokey
You put your antlers in,
You put your antlers out.
You put your antlers in,
And you shake them all about.
You do the Reindeer Pokey and you turn yourself around,
That's what it's all about!
(repeat with hooves, red nose, fluffy tail)

Ring the Bells - Use with instruments
(to the tune of "London Bridges")
Ring the bells it's Christmas time,
Christmas time,
Christmas time
Ring the bells it's Christmas time,
Merry Christmas time!
(Play the drums, Pat the sticks, Clap your hands)

Here is the Chimney
Here is the chimney (make fist hiding your thumb)
Here is the top (put your other hand over the "chimney")
Open the lid (take off your hand)
And out Santa will pop (pop up your thumb... you can even draw a face on your thumb:)

Wise Men & Baby Jesus
Wise Men traveled from afar, (walk with your fingers)
Following the Christmas Star. (make a diamond with your fingers and move it through the air)
When it stopped they jumped for joy, (jump up and down)
And worshiped baby Jesus boy. (pretend to cradle a baby in your arms)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan - Plans Bumped

Last week we ate a lot of leftovers! I am not sure how we got away with so much extra food, but it worked out great. Even my not-so-crazy-about-leftovers husband went along with the plan! That being said, this week, we have a few items bumped from last week's menu...

Lunch: Grilled Cheese, Carrots with Dip, Applesauce
Supper: Spicy Orange Chicken, Brown Rice, Snap Peas, Grapes

Lunch: Bean Tostadas with the fixings
Supper: Chicken Noodle Casserole, Salad, Apples

Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: BBQ Meatballs, Sweet Potato Fries, Fruit

Lunch: Muffin Tin Lunches
Supper: Turkey Burgers, Grilled Zucchini, Apples

Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Mexicali Meatloaf, Green Beans, Oranges

Lunch: Chicken Quesadillas
Supper: Popcorn, Cheese, Apples

Lunch: Out to Eat
Supper: Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes, Fruit

Hope you all are off to a lovely start this month! Remember to slow down and just enjoy the season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Save the Silly Bands

First off, I would like to say that if I had known shaped rubber bands were going to be the hottest trend in 2010, I would have invented them myself. They remind me of the POG craze of the 90's... they have no purpose AND they cause a lot of clutter.

As I was tidying up today I was terribly annoyed to see that we have Silly Bands all over the place. I found 2 by the coffee pot, some on the living room floor, a generous handful of them hiding in the corner of the doll house and about 6 or 7 in our bedroom (for the record, Eric and I do not wear Silly Bands). They are just the right size to be overlooked as you clean and before you know it, Silly Band's begin to take over the house.

I understand that the Silly Band clutter is partially my fault because I have not given the Silly Bands a "home." Honestly, how does one store Silly Bands??? Please, share how you organize your Silly Bands because my children's are about to find storage in File 13.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I think I'm maturing... or getting old and sentimental.

I used to have this thing with Christmas trees. In order for a tree to be beautiful they had to have white lights, coordinating bulbs and the garland hung just right. Also... they had to be without a corny angel tree topper that flashed enough to send someone into a light induced seizure.

Things have changed. I now have a 4 year old and a 2 year old who love crafting gluey and glittered ornaments that they are oh-so-proud-of. I've inherited some ornaments from our childhood and a few from my grandparents personal collection. There are memories attached to each ornament and they seem to run deep. So, this year, our tree has all the garb on it that I used to love (and still do) and old memories strewn throughout... and it's beautifully perfect.

Here's my Baby's First Christmas Ornament from 1981. I did have a white little dog like that but lacked in the hair department until about 1983... I was one bald little critter for the longest time. Maybe someday I will show you my baby pictures... wouldn't that be fun?! Back to Christmas...

This was the Mr. and Mrs. Clause that hung on my grandparents tree for as long as I can remember. I loved taking them out of their wrapping this year. I couldn't help but think that maybe my grandpa was the last one to hold Mr. and Mrs. Clause as they were wrapped up for me.

You know that I'm loosening up when Raphael makes a Christmas appearance...

Doesn't get any better than a hero in a half shell on your tree. He's hanging low getting ready to guard my gifts from sneaky little fingers.... good thing Eric picked this one out as a little guy.... hey... maybe I'll show baby pics of him too! *insert evil laugh*

Wishing you the most wonderful Christmas season yet! May we truly embrace the deep love that God has for each of us in His precious Son, Jesus.