Friday, December 28, 2012

The Year in Review: 2012

Top 10 Moments of 2012

#10 Zip lining at Super Bowl Square

#9  St. Patrick's Day at Brown County State Park & Abe Martin Lodge

#8 Going with Ruby's class to the Indianapolis Zoo

#7  Ruby becomes Art Student of the Week

#6  Eli turns double digits

#5  Christine finishes her 2nd half marathon

#4  Clifty Falls family day trip

#3  Saying "good-bye" to Indiana

#1  Moving to North Dakota

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

I have always wanted to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.  My vision was to give each child one gift on each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas as well as a slew of presents on Christmas Day.  Welp, when you do the math-- (12 days x 3 children) + (a slew x 3 children)= more money than I'm willing to spend!

This year I decided to try the 12 days differently than I'd ever thought of before.  Instead of doing a present per child each day, we decided to do an activity a day for the 12 days of Christmas.  Honestly, it was much better than I imagined.

Here is a rundown of the Main family 12 days of Christmas...

Day 12:  make red/ green Christmas countdown chains

Day 11: dinner in front of the Christmas tree (This night the kids also decided to sleep under the tree for the 1st of many times!)

Day 10:  make gingerbread man crayons

Day 9:  Oak Park light display & hot chocolate (Sorry, I had great pictures of this, but they were lost in a deleted photo card fiasco.)

Day 8:  Paper Strip Trees (Another lost image on this one, but here is an image from the blog where the idea came from: Whatever


Day 7:  Holiday Mad Libs  (from Teaching Resources Classroom jr)

Day 6:  "Gingerbread" House-- We always buy one of those cheap kits and this year we accidentally bought a chocolate kit.  As in, we had to melt chocolate into walls, etc.  It was nearly a disaster.  We finally decided to just give each child a wall and let him decorate that.

Day 5:  "Green Day" (The Grinch and green wreath cookies)

Day 4:  The Legend of the Candy Cane and healthy candy canes

Day 3:  Rudolf pancakes

Day 2:  Happy birthday Jesus party @ church

Day 1:  Snowflakes for Connecticut & Christmas Eve service

I would definitely do the 12 days of Christmas again.  In some places I would try to find new activities to replace the ones we did this year and some I think we'll do every year.  What memories did you make this year?  Any new activities that will soon become traditions at your house?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DIY Christmas

I was again inspired by a certain site to do a few more diy projects for Christmas.  The first one was my very favorite.  

1.  Fort Kit for our neices-- There are several variations of this floating around.  I can't sew and I'm cheap, so I had to kind of let the stores be my guide.  I found pink flashlights, batteries for the flashlights, clips, and popcorn at the dollar store.  I found glow necklaces at the dollar bin at Target, and I found a colorful sheet and tote bag at Goodwill.  The total cost of this, including shipping 4 states away, was about $15!

2.  Cash for a cousin-- I have a 16 year old cousin I had no idea what to buy for.  I know he has gotten his first job and is saving for a car.  I thought that maybe cash was in order.  In my opinion, opening cash or gift cards is about the most boring thing ever.  It's plenty of fun later, but while while you're opening it.  So, I sifted through several Pintrest ideas and loved this one.  I wrapped up a tissue box, taped dollar bills end to end, rolled them and put them in the box so they'll pop up one at a time.  I added a cute "Don't blow it all in one place" note and it was done.  I wish I was going to be in Indiana to see him open this one!

3.  Recordable book for Great-Grandma-- One of my grandmother's is not doing so great.  She's been holing herself up in her house, which is not exactly like her.  My aunt had mentioned scheduling a Skype date, which hasn't happened yet, so I thought I'd do the next best thing.  I bought one of those recordable books from Walmart (I was so happy they had them and that I didn't have to brave the mall with a toddler!) for $17 and had my two oldest take turns reading Grandma a story.  Although Grandma can't hug or see them, she is hearing their sweet voices read her the story of the first Christmas.  After we finished, I wished I had gotten one for myself as well!

4.  Homemade cookies for a family friend-- I had commented on FB back in October that I was making Great Pumpkin Cookies with the kids.  A family friend requested I send him some.  With moving, and school, and normal kid chaos, October didn't happen.  Nor did November.  So last week I sent him a batch of pumpkin cookies.  I knew it was something he wanted and I didn't have to step one foot into the mall!  Perfect!

5.  Cocoa Mixes for teachers-- tonight we will be making cocoa mixes for the kids' teachers again.  As a former teacher, I find gift-giving for teachers extra tricky.  Not to bust anyone's bubble, but teachers get really tired of apple stuff.  You can also only have some many kitty cat ornaments or patriotic coffee mugs.  I read that the best gift to give to teachers are consumable gifts and I totally understand that logic.  So this year the kids decided to make peppermint stick cocoa mixes for their teachers again.  I love that it's a simple enough project that the kids can help.  I love that it is not another thing for a teacher to dust and I love that if they really hate it, or run out of time to do their own shopping, they can easily re-gift it!

Obviously, we will also be giving plenty of store-bought gifts, but doing a few diy projects is fun, keeps you out of the mall, and can very activly involve the kids!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pintastic "S-N-O-W"

I fell absolutely in love with this Noel mantle on Pintrest.  When I went to Hobby Lobby, my plan was to replicate it as closely as possible, but, oh the magic of Hobby Lobby...

I decided I liked these cardboard-type letters best and they had no "E".  I also knew I had a pathetically decorated snowman mantle at home.  That is when the "snow" idea was born.

I went home with letters, a wreath, some white paint, and some iridescent white fairy glitter.  

I painted 2 coats.  Threw on some Modge Podge and shook on the glitter.  All while a toddler tried to help.  It was that easy!

Not to sound conceited, but I'm in love with the results.  Sometimes I'm so thankful when things don't turn out exactly the way I'd planned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas at the Zoo

A week ago Saturday, smack dab in the middle of basketball and church play practice, the kids and I went to "Christmas at the Zoo".  

We started by grabbing a handful of the most delicious cookies and then standing in the looonnnggg line for a wagon ride around the zoo.  I didn't think Mr. Impatient would make it through (even with cookies), but he did, and it was a good thing because a December wagon ride-- even around an animal-less zoo-- is a lot of fun!

After our ride we came inside to meet the "big guy".  David rushed right to him, got two feet away, and then wanted to bolt.  Luckily, on my lap, he'd at least pose for a quick photo.

Ruby, although she has known the Santa secret for 2 years now, was delighted to see Santa and couldn't wait to jump up on his lap!

Each child received many goodies.  One of Ruby's favorites was a stuffed bear named Honey.

The kids were each allowed to do a craft and this was the fruit of David's labor.  Yea, can you guess how long this lasted on a toddler's door before it was destroyed?

I would definitely do Christmas at the Zoo again next year... but I'm hoping that a certain dad will join us, because two hands were just NOT enough!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Mama, I Found Baby Jesus!"

"Mama, I found baby Jesus!" I heard my 6 year old cry out from the next room.  What she meant was that she had found the missing piece of our Fischer-Price nativity; what I heard was the truth of the season.
We've picked out our tree and made Amazon wish lists.  We're preparing for visitors and looking for gift tags.  Every year I think, this is the year I'm going to do it differently.  I'm going to put the focus where it belongs.  Even in helping to organize a Happy Birthday Jesus party at church, I know my focus is on whether using Pintrest is going to make our internet crash... again... not on Him.
Dear Lord, There are certain things that are expected of me this time of year-- above and beyond the normal, "Where are my clean socks?" and "What's for dinner?".  Please let me keep YOU in the center.  Help me reflect to my children that You are supposed to be at the center.  Help me be more like Martha and simply sit at your feet this season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A House is Not a Home...

... until you put some holes in the walls!

We are settling in to our new house.  One of the hardest things for me in our "church house" (the house we rented when we first moved to ND) was not being able to hang pictures on the wall.  I love being surrounded by our beautiful photos and framed kid drawings.  To me, it says home.  So here are some of the improvements I've been working on this week...

The Mud Room:

I've never lived in a house with a mudroom before and I was super excited about it... until this room literally became a dumping ground for everything!  It was pathetic!  My fantastic husband added several details this weekend, though, that has this room functioning exactly the way I want.  First, he added these clips to the wall over the heater.  They will serve as a great place to hang wet mittens, socks, and hats after a long day of playing in the snow!

He then hung our "key thing".  This has a picture of each of us adults and hooks underneath for our keys.  It also has a mirror for last minute looks at oneself on the way out the door.  Although, I have to admit, while scooting everyone out the door, I rarely care what I look like.  The cabinets below are for holding miscellaneous.  Right now the kiddos have put their bags loaded with snowpants and snowboots to take to school each day.

We had coat hooks for each child in our Indiana house, but here we decided to go with five hooks so Mom and Dad have somewhere to hang coats and purses as well.  There is also a boot tray for wet shoes and a small bench for sitting on while taking off boots as well as to hold dry mittens.

The Entryway:

This bench was one that the owner had in the mudroom.  With all the items needed in a mudroom for five people, it just would not fit.  I moved it to the entryway and hung three of our all-time favorite Jen Sherrick photos above it.  I love it for now, but I hope it will be a wall that will grow as time goes by.

The (upstairs) Hallway:

This is the hallway leading to all the kiddos rooms and the main bathroom.

Here is a close-up of the wall at the end of the hallway.  These Willow Trees were in the kitchen at first, and I had tried several other photos here.  In the end, this combo is by-far my favorite.

These are two views of the right side of the hallway-- another cluster of our favorite Jen Sherrick photos.  I'm usually all about symmetry, so this is way outside the box for me!

The Stairway (to the basement):

I have been swooning over stairway photos on Pintrest since before we lived in a house with a stairway.  I knew I would do something on this stairway, but I had to figure out just what.  The beige is seen from the kitchen, so I decided to start photos under the chair rail so they'd only be seen as you're going downstairs.  I also decided to stick with a particular photo session, rather than combining several random snapshots.  This was a red-white-and-blue session we did at our favorite park right before leaving Indiana.  These photos are more colorful and playful than the ones upstairs which combines well with the more playful nature of the basement.

The Family Room:

In Indiana we lived on "St. James Place" and therefore had quite a game theme going in our living room.  The hubs suggested the game items go in the basement family room, and although I wasn't convinced at first, I am now!  I love the game items clustered with my very favorite family picture over the couch.  We have large wooden dominoes and a large die on the mantle (forgot the photo of that, oops!).

Wow, I had a lot to say!  I hope you've enjoyed the partial tour of what is now truly our HOME!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Norsk Hostfest

We didn't have to be in Minot long to hear about Hostfest, North America's largest Scandinavian festival.  Although we weren't quite sure what to expect, we venture to the state fairgrounds on a gorgeous Friday night to find out.

We started out with some dinner.  The kids chose "safe" options like a hot dog and pizza.  Jason and I were slightly braver.  He chose a kind of hot dog with some type of dumpling and saurekraut (which he picked off every last piece of!).  I got a "Viking on a stick" which was a type of sausage meatball covered in a dough and fried-- yum!

After dinner we walked room to room talking to vendors, seeing tons of arts/ crafts, and seeing people we knew, which is a huge deal when you've only been in a city a couple months!

Lastly, we hunted down some empleskievers (sorry, I still can't figure out the correct spelling of these), which I had been dying to try. 

We received a special plan to make these a few years ago and the directions for our pan says to use a thin pancake batter and put the jelly on the inside.  These were more yeast-like, almost like a doughnut hole, and jelly was served on the side.

As we were chowing on empleskievers , we found that the whole shin-dig was done at 8:00, so like it or not, we were on our way home (or maybe to Tutti Fruiti!).