Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I was so tired and not feeling the greatest yesterday that I only managed to get the downstairs bathroom cleaned and the rec room half tidied. Today is much the same but not as bad. Im trying to keep myself busy though to pass the day but I don't know how well that's working.

I have a few things around here that are half started but I just cant seem to get back around to. It's not that I don't have time but more like not enough drive. Our advent calendar needs to be finished for tomorrow, or at least the first day of it. But that includes a number of little things that still need to come together and when I think about it I just get all blah and don't want to do anything! I would hate to get a couple days into December though and then regret not starting it out right. Maybe in a couple hours Ill have a little more drive, though I can't really see it.

So far I've only cleaned off the top of the fridge (only because I needed something up there), made cupcakes with Owen (that still need to be frosted) and half painted little Christmas blocks for my mantle. It's nearly 1pm and I've done about a half hour's worth of stuff :(

Tomorrow is another dreaded Wednesday where I have Mom N Me in the morning (possibly with my nephews as well as the littles) and Fun Factor at night. It'll be the last Fun Factor until after Christmas so Im happy about that. There is this group that is just horrible to control. They are in grade four and I have to spend most of my time sitting with them to try to keep them under control instead of with the grade ones, where Im supposed to be! Hopefully this mood will be gone by then and I'll make it through without too much headache.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Staying ahead of the Holidays

Im noticing more and more people talking about their Christmas plans and putting up their trees, etc. but very few who already have it done. Am I alone in this?

Our tree has been up for a little while now and the decorations for the rest of the house are slowly emerging. I find that if I don't start these things early, I wont get them done!

Do you know how quickly four weeks can pass?

Before we know it, Christmas will be over and we'll be evaluating how things went. I certainly don't want any regrets of missing out on family time, activities that I wanted to do, functions that I wanted to attend, treats I wanted to bake, those cards that just didn't get mailed until the week of Christmas, gifts that never got delivered...

It's so easy to get caught up in all that you have to do, that you don't ever truly enjoy the season, and that's what it is, a season. That's why I start early. My Christmas cards are addressed, stamped and ready to be mailed (including picture), my tree is up and decorated, my list of baking treats is made and so is another one of all the ingredients that I will require, our calendar is filled out so that we can enjoy celebrating with everyone without last minute schedule clashes...


I plan to spend some time this weekend finishing our new advent calendar and decorating the rest of the house. Then I'll make a schedule for my baking and sit back and enjoy the season. My list of gifts left to buy is getting smaller and smaller and those that are bought, are already wrapped and packed away in boxes so little eyes can not peak.

Im not writing this to make anyone feel like they're behind or not keeping up with others. Im simply writing this to encourage people to start early with their planning and organizing of this holiday season so that they too can enjoy everything that comes with it. Too many people dread December and the hectic pace. I say, with a little planning and organization, anyone can pull off the kind of Christmas that they truly desire. Forget the things that you don't really enjoy and focus on what you love. Armed with pen and paper, and a little time after the kids are in bed, anyone can tackle the holidays with minimal meltdown :)

Pantry Challenge update #1

One day in and I was already at the store!

I knew that I would be shopping yesterday, when I started this on Thursday. It was actually part of the plan. If I didn't have the restriction of around $25/week I certainly would have bought a lot more of the sale items then I did. And I would have made it to the four different stores that had items I normally buy, on sale. Instead, I only went to one with a plan to go to the other ones through out the week. Yesterday I only purchased bananas, craisins and cereal. It's a start.

I also was able to go by Walmart early yesterday, right after I dropped the kids off to school to purchase a leapster for James. I've had my eye on this for months and was about to cave and get the newer version for $80 when I saw the flier for Walmart. The leapster 2 was $30, down from $60 and the games were $15, down from $30. I had $105 written beside this entry in my Christmas shopping list and I ended up only paying $67 with taxes (and an extra game)!

I had to be home to babysit my nephews right after that at 9:30 so I didn't get to go by another store that was also having a sale. I did however get out around 2:30, right before picking the boys up and although I was drove nuts with the littles running around the store, I was able to get one of the last qwerty cell phones that were on sale for $50. The one I got was originally $70-80, which isnt too bad. It's for Micah for Christmas and it's a prepaid phone which means no contract and if he proves to be too irresponsible with it, I can take it away without worrying about having to pay out the contract. This is another item that has been on my radar for months and with Walmart's $100 price tag, Im glad I shopped around and found this deal.

How's your Christmas shopping going?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pantry Challenge

So Ive decided to change my 'month of spending' posts to instead talk about my first pantry challenge. Obviously given my history, I've had to deal with times where I couldn't shop simply because there was no money. But this is different.

From now (November 25) until Christmas, I will stick to a budget of $100 for food. I have waaaay too much in my freezers already that all I would need are the perishables. And baking ingredients. It is Christmas after all!

I figure milk alone will probably cost around $30 and the rest will be tight, but completely manageable. Hopefully this will keep me in line when Im at the store and wanting to buy all the goodies they have so prettily displayed this time of year!

Christmas Cards

Our church is currently creating a photo directory of all the members since there has been so much growth in recent years. Our photo session was in October and so I decided to combine the experience and order Christmas cards of one of the poses. I think it turned out great! The image I saw on the screen that day didn't look anywhere near as good as this card came out, so I was pleasantly surprised. I only hope that I chose this pose for our church directory....although I have no idea.

I love how James (in the red) is posing! He is usually the one who feels self conscious when we're taking pictures and never cooperates. I had trouble finding outfits that would coordinate and so I finally gave up and said we'd go with "sweaters and dress shirts with jeans." Thankfully we all had one or the other! Ha!

I like to get my Christmas cards out by the 1st since I have some that travel long distances. These arrived on Tuesday so it's just perfect timing! I even found a bunch of Christmas stamps from last year so I didn't have to spend a penny :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The next month:

This is the our calendar leading up to Christmas (just 31 days away)!

I just had to take it down and add the rehearsals/performances for our church's Christmas concert, Micah's after-school ball hockey schedule, various Christmas functions, and some more school notices.

Most of what is on here are things like pizza days and gym days for Micah and Noah, but there's a lot of other stuff on there too. Christmas is still a month away and our schedule looks packed! If you notice, only the 17th and 18th are free. The kids will still have school on the 17th though....OH! I just remembered! I have an EXAM on the 17th, yay! So only the 18th is free! Ill have to make sure I include something that involves staying home for our advent calendar that day.

At least I also have this written on my dry erase, next to the calendar, to help me remember to be grateful and also why I do what I do:

Letters from Santa

Do your children receive letters from Santa? We've had them once or twice in the past but it's not a yearly tradition. Micah and I came across a card that he got from Santa probably 5 years ago or more and that got me to thinking about it. Why not?

It's another one of those inexpensive, easy and quick things that we can do to make the holiday a little more special. I followed a link from Mommy Daisy's review blog today to a site that will put together a package including a letter, certificate, etc. for your child that you can print from home. There is a fee and that's what turned me off of that specific site, but a quick internet search using swagbucks or google will give you plenty of ideas or even a template to get you started.

I plan to visit the dollar store to pick up some Christmas paper for ours to be printed on and then Ill either add stamps and just put them in our mailbox or I might actually mail them. I've found four different letters to use so each child gets their own and Ill be sure to not have them all arrive at once either. It'll be more special that way.

Our local Santa Claus parade is on the 4th and we'll be giving Santa our letters then so I have a couple of weeks before they need to be ready, as these will be in response to what the kids write him. I find that with anything, starting well in advance is the only way I get things done!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DIY Christmas gifts for kids!

We've all seen the Christmas gifts that you can make yourself but if you're anything like me, you may not find many of them to be very good. I've come across very few that I would actually give to people and I don't think any that would work for my own kids. And lets face it, buying for my own children is my biggest stress when it comes to Christmas gifts. Everyone else only receives gifts if time and budget allow.

So imagine my delight when I came across this site

There are so many great toys that you can make for your kids with very little money or skill!

I've already printed out this for 4 year old James and plan to have everything cut out and put in a pretty box for him to color and assemble. All it cost me is the paper, ink and a little time. Perfect!
These Fabric Nesting dolls are adorable!

And then there's this cardboard velcro robot...How cool is that?

O Christmas Tree...

The boys and I decorated our Christmas tree this past Sunday afternoon. It was a little different this year doing it ourselves and having Owen help, but it was fun. We took a break after putting on the lights to have hot chocolate and chips, then the boys hung the ornaments.
I think they did a beautiful job!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nutty Butter Cookies

Image from Amazon.com
Awhile back the littles and I were reading this Dora book about a quest for chocolate for Abuela's chilly day surprise. Among other characters and things, Dora and Boots meet Tico who offers them some of his Nutty Butter Cookies.
When we finished the book, I had the idea to make our own Nutty Butter cookies together for a little treat. Obviously I had no idea how to make such a cookie, but that didn't stop us! I just used a regular chocolate chip recipe that I pretty much know by heart now, and instead of adding chocolate chips, we added whatever nuts were in the pantry at the time. All the kids needed to know was that there was both butter and nuts in our cookies and they were satisfied.
I didn't think to take a picture at the time, but they were good and we had a lot of fun making them. Instead of just reading the story and then going about whatever chores I had to do, I took the time to expand the simple story into something much more. Now when we read this book and we get to the end where Dora asked what we like to do on chilly days, we can talk about those Nutty Butter cookies and maybe even make some more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making the most of a small room

Some of those pictures of James are just precious! I love the one where he's pretending to make binoculars out of his hands :)

I realised yesterday when I was cleaning up the little's room* that I've never written about the decorating that I've been working on in there for months. Actually I haven't done anything since the beginning of the summer, but it's an ongoing project none-the-less.
I probably should have closed the curtains, that glare is terrible. The two youngest share this somewhat small room and so I had to make it friendly for my preschooler and toddler. I don't want to be redoing this room next year either, so I wanted something that would last a little bit. One of my favorite details are the "O" and "J" above their beds. I took the glass out of dollar store picture frames and painted the letters. So simple.
The room is painted a sky blue with clouds around the top. I haven't decided if I'll paint an animal mural on the lower half yet or a racetrack. Owen loves cars but I think the animals may last them both longer (not to mention their curtains are an animal print).
This shelf was here when we moved in and because we're renting, I don't want to paint it or take it down. Actually it would probably ruin the drywall behind it if I tried to take it out anyway. So it works as a bookshelf and a place to keep Owen's diapers. Plus their night light is clipped to it and I hang their robes for bath time on the bottom.
This was their closet. One of the best things to do in a bedroom to make more room is to take off the closet doors. I can hang all of their sweaters and nicer clothes up and fit everything else into a single dresser (mine from when I was a kid) There's also room for bins of all their small toys and their extra blankets.
And this is a hidden treasure. We live in a four level side split which means that the top half of this room is adjacent to our roof. From what I can tell, this door leads to some sort of attic, although I've never actually looked. I used to have their dresser in front of this and hated the wasted space that it caused. Until I took a closer look, that is. Now it holds all the kids' big toys:
The entrance to the attic, or whatever it is, is behind the poster.
So what would you do, cars or animals?

*Ever notice that when you're trying to clean up their toys, kids always get a new interest in playing with them? Mine could be bored and whining but the minute I start cleaning up their toys, it's like they've found a bunch of new treasures.

Monday, November 15, 2010


James turned four last week and instead of writing some long sappy post about how BIG he is or how much I am in awe and love with him, I thought I'd share some pictures of the last year. Starting with his 4th birthday and working back...