"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Swap

You know how I love a good swap…

My partner was the lovely and talented Katie from Life with the Ds. I think I was almost more excited about unwrapping a gift each day than my kids were.

Here's the package! Just counting down until I could start opening them:

And the results:


Day 1 - Green goodie boxes. Came in handy while I was hiding storing homemade candy.
Day 2 - Christmas cups! Didn't get a picture because they were pressed into service as soon as I had the wrapping paper off.
Day 3 - Hershey's candy cane. See? She totally gets me.
Day 4 - Glass charms. Perfect for those "Hey, that's MY glass!" moments...
Day 5 - Cookie cutters! I actually don't have many Christmas shapes so these were great.
Day 6 - Cupcake liners. Apparently Katie has heard about my obsession with liners!
Day 7 - Cocoa cone. Love these things! Also? There's only one serving so I don't have to share.
Day 8 - Collection of cards and stickers. I'm a sucker for cute cards! And that little chef's hat is adorable.
Day 9 - Ghiradelli Chocolate bar. Didn't get a picture because I may or may not have eaten it. I plead the Fifth.
Day 10 - Recipe cards. These were too perfect since I'm redoing my recipe folder and did you see that cute cow on the front card? Love it!
Day 11 - Scented candle in a votive cup. Yummy!
Day 12 - Cookie Mix in an oven mitt. I'm dying over the cute miniature spoon!

Thanks to Angie and Beth from CG Swaps for hosting. And especially thank you to my fabulous partner, Katie!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wringing the Bell

Not so sure about this Elf on the Shelf tradition…I am so out of ideas. And you know they will remember everything she did for next year, so repeats aren't possible. Although, the girls really thought Bell would like to play in the Barbie house more than she did.

Anyway, here are the remaining photos of her visit:

After Baby's birthday party, Bell attempted to use the leftover balloons to fly back to the North Pole.

Here she is, reading my book. It wasn't that scary so I had no worries about it giving her nightmares.

Bell must have been smacking her head against the floor after witnessing the children's less than stellar behavior during the first couple days of Christmas break. 

Hey! No peeking!

Here, she's switched out the Christmas stockings for actual footwear. (I think she might have been reading Jessica's Joys over my shoulder…)

We'd received an early gift in this package. Maybe she was trying to make sure there wasn't anything else hidden under those packing peanuts.

Seems like the kids aren't the only ones trying to eat the strawberries in the fridge. Kids thought this was hilarious, that she stayed in the fridge all day.

Then Bell disappeared. The kids couldn't find her for the entire day. But the next morning, there she was, sitting in a candy bouquet we got from friends. She had a letter from Santa, explaining that she'd stayed in the North Pole to help Santa get their presents ready. Santa had sent Bell back with a special gift for the kids, too.

In that little bag she's carrying were magic elf seeds. They looked like tiny Christmas trees. The kids were instructed to "plant them in sugar, sprinkle with snow, wait for the magic to see what would grow." Even though there was plenty of the real thing just outside. I explained that we use magic snow instead because that was what would help the seeds grow faster. They took a pinch, made a wish, and then sprinkled it over the bowl of sugar.

This is what appeared the nest morning! The Boy said he knew they were magic because there was no way I could make cookies that good. Thanks a lot, Boy.

Bell got together a few of the other toys for a game of Uno Attack. Looks like she's winning!

Bell spent her last night with us the evening before Christmas Eve, reminding us what the true meaning of Christmas is. When Santa dropped off the gifts, he took his little elf back home with him. She'll return next year, with lots of new ideas for playing in our house!

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elf Invasion - Week 2

 Last time, I talked about Bell, our Elf on the Shelf. The first week was hard. Mainly because I kept forgetting that she leaves every night to report to the North Pole and then returns to a different location. Nothing like running downstairs before the kids in the morning to "make sure" she's back. So here's where Bell went the second week at our house.

Bell really likes being up high. I can relate. I'm pretty short and prefer to wear high heels. Unfortunately, she was so preoccupied with being up so high that she didn't change positions for the next morning. So when she heard the kids coming downstairs, she took a flying leap from her shelf…

…and landed in the Christmas tree.

The Barbies have all kinds of great clothes to try on. Too bad the shoes don't fit.

And shooting Nerf darts is really fun. Even if she did make a little mess on the Boy's floor.

Time to brush her teeth! I wonder if she has to floss…

Then, unfortunately, Bell caught the sniffles. She was in bed for two nights, until she felt better. Baby even snuck in to periodically check on her. Having just had a cold herself, she made sure to be really quiet so she didn't disturb Bell.

This was the end of Week 2. Things got more complicated the following week, when it seems that Bell was running out of ideas…

Week 1
Week 3

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So Be Good For Goodness Sake

I gave in to peer pressure and allowed a new family tradition: the Elf on the Shelf. (If you've never heard of these, go here.) We decided to ask for a girl elf because that seemed like more fun. The kids named her Bell, like jiggle bell. From her first night here, Bell was helping us get into the Christmas Spirit. Baby had made a countdown chain at school but it was severely mangled during a spontaneous wrestling match. I promised to help her fix it the next day, since it was already bed time. Bell had other ideas.

She taped the whole thing together while Baby was sleeping.
The next night was a little less serious...

She must have enjoyed watching the Boy play the Wii so she tried it out after the kids went to bed.

Not sure why she was playing in the dog's kennel but the dog was not going in there with Bell still inside. Oh, come on! The elf isn't that creepy looking...

I think she likes to be up high. She also hung from the chandelier.

This is what I get for leaving chocolate laying around...

After the first week, I was starting to struggle, maybe because the elf can only move once the kids are asleep. While looking for other ideas on where to place her -- er, I mean, where she might show up next, I found 101 ideas, which lead to this post on those "other mothers" and their overachieving (because, really, why would I leave a mess on my counters all day or give my preschooler ideas about drawing on family photos?), which lead down a slippery slope to PG-13 ideas. Well, maybe when they're teens.

Any suggestions for a tired mommy?

Week 2
Week 3

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Haunted Utah

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I've been really into ghost stories lately. So when I came across a collection of stories from my own state, I grabbed it. And then it sat on my shelf. Because I was busy. But then I checked my GoodReads page, realized I was 8 books behind my goal to read 52 books this year. This was a really thin book and I finished it in one evening.

And I was disappointed. Mostly, this book read like a travel brochure. The author obviously did his research and had a lot to say about the locations and histories, just not a whole lot about the ghosts themselves. Mostly, the sections were short, less than a dozen paragraphs, with all the supernatural details in the last paragraph. I think the the book should have been titled something else. Haunted Utah was mis-leading, as it leads one to think solely of ghosts. However, a large portion of the stories were about lake monsters, urban legends, or just places where really bad stuff happened once upon a time. Still, it was interesting to learn that there is a ghost just up the street from where I live. I'm totally going to go look for it.

Here's the Teaser:
"The team member, a woman, suddenly felt a sharp pain in her neck and was soon overcome with melancholy and pain. She started to cry and found it  difficult to breathe. Erickson took her outside where she soon recovered. The woman, who did not know how the homicides occurred inside the building, later found out that Carol, the female victim, had been shot in the neck."

What are you reading?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Worthwhile Moments

You know those times when your kids help renew your commitment to birth control? Like when your son jumps on the tube of Desitin, thoroughly working it into the carpet, just because it feels cool. Or when your infant daughter decides to messily expel the contents of her colon, quickly exceeds her diaper's capacity, resulting in a goopy mess down your brand new white pants. Or the first time you get a call from your kid's teacher because of his/her new vocabulary choices.

And don't even get me started on what pregnancy does to a perfectly nice figure.

Well, I have some examples of those little moments when having kids around is actually pleasant, if not downright hilarious:

With my kids running around the room, I was talking with a hair stylist friend about a perm I'd gotten that, unfortunately, turned frizzy. When I asked her what I could do about it, her advice was to "condition the hell out of it."
Moments later, I was walking with Boo and noticed she had been usually quiet. So I asked her what was on her mind.
"Mom?" Boo asked, her eyes wide. "Does hell make your hair frizzy?"
Am I evil if I told her yes, so she could be careful about sinning?


During church, a teacher was explaining how Jesus is our shepherd and that we are His sheep. That was a bit too literal for the 3 and 4 year olds, who immediately began refuting the claim that they were wooly animals. But Baby thought for a moment.
"My dad has a hairy face and a hairy belly," she said, "so he could be a sheep."


As a surprise, I took the kids to McDonald's. After jumping out of the van, the Boy expressed his thanks through dance, specifically with the "Gangham Style" horse dance.

Baby was having a milkshake when she looked at us, completely stunned.
"Hey!" she said. "There's ice cream in this!"
As opposed to what? Broccoli?

Let's just see if they can keep it up...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BBC's 100 Most Loved Books 76-100

76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt From what I can tell from the reviews, this is a very English book. Might make me crave tea and crumpets.
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins Hey, cool! There's a Supernatural episode inspired by this book.
78. Ulysses, James Joyce I have read this one. In school. Of course.
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens Lots of legal issues…not so sure about this one.
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl I cannot believe how many of these Roald Dahl books I've never read! And I thought my childhood was complete.
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith Read this one with my book group and liked it.
83. Holes, Louis Sachar Saw the movie. Totally adore the grown up Shia Lebeouf. Does that count?
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake This was described as from the mannerpunk genre. I have no idea what that means.
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy Sounds far too much like "A Thousand Splendid Sun" but set in India. No, thank you.
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson Kids' book that deals with death and grieving. Boo cries when an animal dies in a book so I don't think she'd enjoy this one.
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley Already on my to-read list! Dystopian story about genetics.
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons Set in 1930s England. Not sure about this one...
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist I've heard good things about this author so I might give this one a try.
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac Not a fan of jazz...
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo No.
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel Read this back in high school. Had to skip parts.
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett And here's the first book from the Discworld series! I really ought to read these.
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho Loved this book!
95. Katherine, Anya Seton Supposedly, the hero ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy.
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer Sounds like a guy book.
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez Anyone else thinking of the movie Serendipity?
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson Nothing like a book about boy-crazy freshmen girls. It could have been the story of my life.
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot Big fan of this author but haven't read this series.
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie This one sounds a little odd, but could be interesting.

Really had to look up a lot of these books. And my to-read list keeps getting longer…

Which ones have you read? Or are planning to read?

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