Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of my family, friends and blog friends!
We are low key when it comes to our New Year Eve's celebrations. I make a bunch of appetizers and we have a "picnic in the living room" on the coffee table with our Shirley Temples. Allison looks forward to it every year....actually, I do too!
I hope you all have a safe day and I'll see you next year!
Have Fun!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Santa Surprise!

As I've mentioned before, I am the head party parent for Allison's class this year. I was struggling with the game for the holiday party so her teacher gave me a suggestion. She suggested that I wrap a present and put candy canes for each child in the box and then put that present in another box and so on and so on. Then they would all stand in a circle and pass the box around to Christmas music and when the music stopped the student holding the box would unwrap the present. Then the student who opened the last box could pass out the candy canes.
I liked this idea! know me! I had to put my own twist on it!
I decided to make little cellophane gift bags for each child. I included a holiday pencil, candy cane and one of the other Mothers made little bags of reindeer dust to put in it. The cellophane bags were red with Santas all over them. I ended up with 6 boxes all wrapped in Santa paper but the final box was huge and I couldn't figure out how I was going to carry it to the party with everything else I had to carry.
That's when the light bulb came on in my head!
I would deliver it a week before the party with a tag on it from Santa!
I made a huge tag and on it I typed out:
To: Room 7
Do not open until your Christmas party on Tuesday, December 23rd!
Love, Santa
The security guard delivered it for me and that night I received a note card from her teacher saying the look on their faces were priceless!
When I got to her room the day of the party, her teacher shared with me the excitement had been building and the kids were so excited about the package. She said they have been guessing all week!
I started the party with the present and told them that Santa had called me and told me what to do with the present. They were so adorable! They couldn't wait to get that thing opened!
Allison's teacher was so sweet and stopped the music the first time on her.
They freaked when there was another box! As you can see, they crowded the poor child who had the box!
Here is the final box with the gift bags. I included a note from Santa and it said:

Congratulations Boys and Girls!

This is the last box and inside you will find a little gift from me.

If you are the one that opened this last present, please be my little helper and pass one out to all of your classmates.

Enjoy your party and don’t forget to leave milk and cookies out for me!

Love, Santa (with his name signed in red marker)

See, I told you the kids were excited!
Then there was a visit (unplanned) from Santa immediately following the opening up of the present. Allison's teacher caught him in the hallway and explained to him what we just did. He played right into it and asked the kids if they got his early package!
The kids were captivated by him!
Have Fun!
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Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Christmas Token!

I know Christmas is over but I have a couple of ideas that I wanted to post on my blog. I promise that as of the 1st of January, you will not see any more Christmas posts until Christmas of 2009!
Anyway, I like to give the managers that work with me a little something for Christmas. I don't actually work for them but I still like to acknowledge them just the same. In the past I've done S'more baskets, hot chocolate with snowman mugs and last year, I did home done chocolate covered oreos in holiday tins.
This year I was looking for something very easy and very affordable since I had to make six of them. I searched blogs and found the cutest idea. It is a bird nest for their Christmas tree. I have had a bird nest in my tree for over 20 years so this idea was the perfect choice for me.
You'll need Spanish moss and little plastic eggs. I found them at Michael's craft store in the same isle. All you do is tear off a piece of the moss and form it into a birds nest. I just spun it in my hands in a circular motion with my thumbs making the indentation for the eggs. It comes together in a minute. Then I hot glued 3 eggs in the middle. I popped them into cellophane bags that I had on hand and added the explanation. I printed out "An Old Christmas Legend" on card stock and then tore the edges. Burning the edges would be really cute too but Allison was at home and I didn't think it would be a good example to set for her. I added a bow with ribbon that I also had on hand and VOILA! It was done! It was seriously so easy and everyone loved them!
Here is the legend:

An Old Christmas Legend

Long ago, great happiness and good fortune came to those who chose a Christmas tree with a bird’s nest in its branches.

Here is a little nest for your Christmas tree.
May the legend come true for you.

Have Fun!
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Christmas & My Observation!

We had a great Christmas! Usually I kill myself making it exactly what I envision in my mind for my family. This year with everything going on, I just couldn't do it. I concentrated on the most important of our traditions but other things had to be cut out of my plan. I was worried that our Christmas wouldn't be up to par but you know what?

No one cared and it was the best Christmas we've had as a family yet!

I am sick every year on Christmas because I think I nearly kill myself trying to get everything done. I think it's my body telling me to take a break! However. This year I didn't stress about getting everything done and I didn't get sick this year! It was awesome!

I cuddled in bed with Allison Christmas night for a little bit and she said thanked me for a great Christmas and all her presents. I asked her what she loved the best and she said "I love everything the same; even the clothes." She has no idea how wonderful she made me feel by her little statement of reflection and thanks! She showed me that even though I didn't get everything done that I wanted, I did accomplish my mission by making her Christmas a memorable one for her!

Thanks baby! You are such a sweetie!

Here are some of my favorite photos of Christmas. Yes, they are all of Allison but it is her that made it so wonderful for me!
Allison wanted to put the ornaments on the tree this year. I let go of my perfectionism and let her have at it. She put them all on and our tree was beautiful! I have enough ornaments for 5 trees and I let her choose what she wanted to put on it. She picked all the ornaments that I have collected over many decades. Some of them haven't been on my tree for years. I enjoyed seeing them and sharing their memories with her.

As you can see my window doesn't have curtains on it. I had bought new curtains but never got the chance to paint the curtain rod. Even though I would have liked the curtains up for the picture, it didn't take away from our Christmas.

Our family presents that the three of us open on Christmas Eve. I had asked Allison earlier in the season how she felt about receiving 3 presents from us and 3 from Santa just like baby Jesus. She didn't flinch and was fine with it. However, I miscalculated and she ended up with 6 from us! Oops! I had forgotten that I picked up a couple of small ones during the year!

I love this baby!

This robe was a last minute idea and she loves it! I saw it at Target when I was looking for a holiday shirt for her to wear to school. It was on the 50% off rack and was under 10 bucks! It is so thick and soft! I'm thinking I may go back and see if they still have them. I would like to get the next size up for when she outgrows this one!

"Woooo Woooo!" Obviously she LOVED her make-up! That's my girl!
Oh and before anyone goes judging me and I get hate mail, the make-up is for special occasions and only Mommy is permitted to apply it. She knows too much "makes me look trashy."

As you can see by the look on her face, she absolutely didn't know that the Nintendo DS was a possibility. I had told her that it was a bit expensive and it probably wasn't going to happen. She asked if we could save for it and get it for her 8th birthday in July.
This was the highlight of my Christmas!
I didn't capture the kiss but here's the hug!
Telling my Mom about the Nintendo DS.
Doesn't she look so grown up?

Santa's delivery. He miscounted too and delivered 4! He also cheated and added the Webkinz friends!
Even with bed hair she's still cute!
I love her reactions!
What is with the kissing and hugging?
Santa brought her 20 "Magic Tree House" chapter books. This should keep her busy for the next several months!
Did you know that only Santa wraps presents in Santa paper?She's growing up too fast!
Have Fun!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours!

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Day.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Someone's in the Holiday Spirit!

I'm still trying to keep my head above water but I HAD to post this! I was running around like a mad woman yesterday trying to complete things on my to do list when I saw this van! I was on the phone with my Mom and burst out laughing! I told my Mom that I wish I had my camera to take a picture of it because it was too funny! Then I realized I could use my cell phone but I was already passed it. I didn't have time to turn around but said if it was still there on my way back, I would stop to take a quick pic! I'm glad it was still there! It just makes me laugh! I hope it makes you laugh too!
Unless I post a quickie entry, I probably won't be back until after Christmas. There is just too much to do! I will have a small give-a-way though so make sure you keep checking back!
Have Fun!
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Monday, December 15, 2008

A "Thankful" Find!

I'm sorry I haven't posted but as you probably know me by now, I attempt & agree to do more than is humanly possible...and I've done it again! There is too much on my plate and I'm trying to keep my head above water! I'll be back full force when I can. I promise.

Before I go, I want to share what I found when I was attempting to organize all these school papers that come home every week! Ugh!

This is definitely a keeper!

Giving Thanks
By Allison
Thanksgiving is for giving thanks.
I am thankful for my life because I am alive.
I am thankful for school because it makes me smart.
I am thankful to be normal because it is good to be normal.
I am thankful for food because food gives you energy.
I am thankful for water to keep me from getting dehydrated.
I am thankful for family because they keep my company.
I am thankful for my pets because they are very cuddling pets.
I am thankful for my friends because they are fun to be with.
I am thankful for science projects because they are fun.
I have a lot to be thankful for.

Have Fun!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my Birthday!
Woo Hoo!
Even though as you get older birthdays aren't as much fun as when you were younger, I'm still celebrating the day God gave me life!

Isn't this cake beautiful?
It looks like it's my favorite...white almond cake with regular icing...none of that whipped cream stuff for me! I like the good old fashioned sweet icing! Yum!
Have Fun!
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Daughter's a Turkey!

Uncle Rudy (Curtis's best friend) has always called Allison turkey. It's his pet name for her.
Well in November she was chosen as Star Student for her class. They take their picture and do a bulletin board in the hallway by the office with the current month's theme. Last year she was February's Star Student so it was a Dr. Seuss theme and this year.....

She's a TURKEY!!!
This came home yesterday and we have it hanging on the refrigerator.

We (Curtis & I) can't wait for Uncle Rudy to notice it!

Allison, of course, doesn't find it so funny!

She'll live!
Have Fun!
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My 1st Works-for-Me Wednesday!

Every Wednesday I check out a blog carnival at "Rocks in My Dryer" called "works-for-me Wednesday." Hundreds (and I'm not kidding) woman link their blogs and share something that "works for them." I've gotten quite a few ideas from there so I thought I would share something that works for me this week. You can click here to see what others have posted this week but be sure you have some time, there's a lot of links!

We have a small bucket that sits on our counter with pretty pink ribbon on the handle. We use it to measure good deeds and behavior for Allison.
It all started when we were sitting at Open House at school. Her teacher told the parents that the Guidance Counselor did a presentation to the kids about filling someone's bucket. She explained that you can fill someone's "bucket" by doing or saying nice things for or to them. Some of the things could be picking up their pencil when they drop it or telling them you like their shirt today. Basically anything that can fill them up and make them feel good. She also explained that you can take from someone's bucket and make them feel sad.
When the teacher was explaining this concept, a light went on in my head. Yes. Occasionally the light switch does get flipped and I come off with some good ideas. Anyway. I thought I could make this "Fill the Bucket" speech work for us.
I went to Michael's and bought a small galvanized bucket, floral stones and ribbon. I went to work and made the bucket look pretty and fun. After all, little girls like pretty!
I then cleared a place in our kitchen junk drawer for the stones. We actually call them pebbles. Oh...and I can't believe I'm showing you my junk drawer!

After I was prepared, we presented the idea to Allison. Basically she can earn pebbles to help fill her bucket by doing nice things or good behavior. We use it to reinforce what is expected of her. We do not have a list with how many pebbles she gets for doing a specific task posted anywhere. This isn't a "payment" or reward system for doing chores like setting the table or feeding the cats. She knows those things are some of her responsibilities of being part of a family. They are things that need to be done in the home and it's our job to get them done. It's also not a bribe system as in "if you do this, you'll get a certain amount of pebbles." The pebbles are given at Mom and Dad's discretion so she doesn't know when she will earn them or lose them. It keeps her on her toes this way. If she does something without having to be reminded, she'll earn a couple of pebbles but she also doesn't earn them every time she does something either. As an example: If she makes her bed three days in a row without being told, I'll throw a couple of pebbles in her bucket each day. If she makes it on the fourth day, I don't throw pebbles in her bucket. If she asks about it, I explain to her that it's her responsibility to make her bed and not having to remind her was wonderful for Mommy and that she shouldn't be making her bed because she thinks she's going to get something for it but because it's her responsibility. She usually understands. I then pray that I taught her a good habit and she'll make her bed the next day without being told!
Some of the things she can earn pebbles for are: doing something extra I ask her to do with no fussing, doing something without me having to tell her, eating her whole breakfast without me having to say "Allison, please eat", doing homework correctly, putting the kitties down when they squirm (she loves to hold and love them to death), giving compliments (she earned 10 the other day when she said the dinner I made was the best she's ever had in her whole life!) and she's also earned some for reciting a prayer she needed to learn for church.
Some of the things she can lose pebbles for are: not listening, sassing (yes, my sweet daughter can sass...I'm hoping it's just the age!), me having to repeat myself more than a couple of times when I ask her to do something. This one is my favorite. Through my frustration of her not doing what I ask, my voice gets louder. I admit it but I think most of you Mom's out there can relate. However, with the bucket system, I just walk over to the bucket and reach in and take a pebble out. I make sure that I make a lot of noise when I do this which is sure to result in Allison's change of attitude and she immediately does what I was asking her to do. When her stubbornness kicks in though, it does take more than one pebble at times but I make sure I am very dramatic in my actions when I take them out of the bucket and eventually she gives in. You may think this is cruel but I say it's effective.
What happens when the bucket is full, you ask?
Well. Allison gets to pick an activity. Some of the ideas I've offered up to her are: going to a movie or renting a movie of her choice, sled riding, a picnic in the park, going to the library, baking something special or anything she wants to do. She is currently working on a family picnic in the park. I told Curtis that it may be 30 degrees and snow everywhere but by golly we'll be there with our picnic basket!
Wait! Did I just say "by golly"???
Have Fun!
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Not Much Time!

I don't have much time for a big post but I thought I would stop by and say...
23 Days till Christmas!!!!
Also, the two pictures below are a couple of the reasons why our tree will not be going up until the week before Christmas!
Notice there is no decorative garland or strands of beautiful beads on our tree????
This is why! She managed to pull them off to make way for her resting place!

And this year she has a partner in crime!
Please say a prayer that these kitties live through the holidays!
Have Fun!
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Monday, December 01, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ Dec. 1st!

Wow! Can you believe it's December already?!?
So that makes it 24 more days until Christmas!!
Are you hating me yet for the countdown?
So. Here's my menu for the week. I did really well last week and kept to most of last week's. We ended up having Chicken Fajitas on Sunday since there wasn't enough leftovers from Thanksgiving for what I had planned.
When you are done checking out what we are having for dinner, click on over to Organizing Junkie to see what others are planning for their menu this week!
Monday - I'm working late and Allison is at her grandparents' today since there is no school so Grandma will be feeding my crew.
Tuesday - Pasta with Meat Sauce, Salad and Texas Toast.
Wednesday - Beef roast in the crock pot with potatoes, carrots and green beans.
Friday - Homemade Pizza Night if I get home in time, if not it will be frozen Schwan's Pizza Night for Daddy and Allison.
Saturday - We are going to see a show in Pittsburgh so we'll be having dinner out.
Sunday - Baked Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes and Corn.
Have Fun!
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