Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Bells are Ringing

It's hard to know where to start when I've been gone from the bog so long.  I guess with an explanation; you see, sickness arrived and did not want to leave this house.  We all had a round a colds including a sinus infection for me followed by three days that we were all well and rushing around trying to accomplish our Christmas tasks, then another round of colds for everyone, another sinus infection for me, and a double ear infection for Creed that forced his eardrum to burst,  We recovered just in time to make it down to stay with 
all of my family for Christmas only to learn that they had the stomach flu and then we had the stomach flu.  Lovely!  The good news is that it all cleared up by the afternoon of Christmas Eve and we were able to enjoy a fun day together.  The day started out with a sledding ramp my family built across the deck in the backyard.

Then the evening was all about family traditions.  We started with a Raclette dinner.  Raclette is a traditional Swiss dinner that Swiss Shepherds were said to eat so that's what my family eats on Christmas Eve.  The shepherds would melt cheese on hot rocks by the campfire  and then pour the cheese onto bread or potatoes.  The modern version uses a raclette grill and each person has a little tray they fill with cheese and slide into the middle of the grill so the cheese melts while they cook different meats and onions on top of the grill.  It's all then poured onto boiled new potatoes.  My friend Rachel and Swiss and also serves Raclette with sourkraut, pearl onions, mustard, and tiny pickles but we just stick with potatoes, meat, and cheese.After dinner it was time for the Christmas pageant.  Creed was a very cute shepherd.I thought once we had kids, we got out of dressing up, but I was wrong.  So here's the whole group.  Notice anything weird?Yep, the three brother-in-laws wanted to be the three wisemen (because they were so wise to marry Borup girls) so Eli was left being Joseph while Marissa was Mary.I was an angel
The little boys were shepherds and Logan was Jesus.  Cole kept calling him "The Little Lord Jesus" and it kept making me giggle when he said things like, "The Little Lord Jesus is eating candy from the tree"
After reading the scriptures we all opened our Christmas pajamas and since I neglected to take a photo of Creed in his, this is the best that I can do. Just imagine his cute smiling face.   

Friday, December 12, 2008

Creed meets chocolate pudding

Umm, I think it's safe to say that he liked it, and we now have a chocolate ring around our bathtub that I need to go clean.

The Nativity Scene

We we lived in Utah when I was younger, I always looked forward to seeing the Christmas lights at Temple Square and this year, I was most excited than ever because I knew Creed would love it.

I really need to work on taking pictures at night.  Here's a second picture of this scene snas flash just so you know the temple was not looming all yellow and creepy, it was bright white and beautiful.
We walked  by the nativity scene without any hope that Creed would make it through the whole overhead scripture reading, but he was enrapt and would have stayed to watch it twice.

But even after all of that holiday cheer, I've been feeling a little sad this week.  You see, the Bonneview Stake (or maybe it's Bonneville) holds a live nativity every year in the park across the street from their building.  We happened to be taking a walk there on Sunday afternoon, a few days before the event was to take place.  We heard some rambunctious boys playing in the woods and didn't think much of it until they came into site and they were bashing things with metal pipes.  They just calmly looked up and said, "Hi," and started bashing again when Larry started yelling at them that whatever they were doing they probably better stop and they ran away as fast as they could.  We didn't know until we rounded a corner and we got closer that it was the actually nativity set they they were destroying.  They had knocked over all of the fences and parts of the manger, they had thrown the hay for the manger into the creek, and they had managed to smash a lot of the wood from the set to pieces.

By then they were long gone and I was totally aghast.  How could ANYONE do that?  And in broad daylight? They were long gone and there wasn't much that we could do, and I was left with this worry and sadness.  I would have guessed they were ten-years-old and at first they weren't even ashamed of what they had done, they just said, "Hi," and kept going.  It was seriously horrible on so many levels.  And I had those mom feelings of, "Oh my gosh, I just brought a child into this world and he could be friends with kids like this some day, or worse, what if he was one of those kids some day? And think of all the poor people who worked so hard to put this together, they certainly don't deserve to find this mess. And . . ."

I had such bad feelings about the whole event that I didn't even really want to go back for the live nativity on Wednesday, but ultimately we decided to head over and I'm so glad that we did.  It was AMAZING.  They had two Roman looking guards with bonfires at the front that you walked between to enter and then they had a lot of people in costume to greet you and answer any questions.  They were handing out hot chocolate and there was a choir singing.  They even had a live camel that the kids could pet.

You followed a path lined with luminaries along a creek as you walked toward the nativity.  Then you walked into a clearing to see shepards with live sheep up on the hill and then you saw this.

I was so surprised to see a tiny newborn out there surrounded by the snow, but he was so content that he slept most of the time we were there.  There was no site of the earlier damage and the scene was so sweet you would never have known it had happened.  It made me feel much better about life; that maybe there were two naughty kids out there, but there was a large crowd of people there with heart knit together because they wanted to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

My heart felt a lot lighter as we followed the winding path up the hill to head home.
And of course seeing Creed's joy over the sheep and goats along the path just waiting for you to pet them helped too.

And the winner is . . .

I used a random number generator and came up with ten so that means that Robin, you're the winner of free instructions to make Candice's 12 Days of Christmas Advent!


I'll email you the info.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I want to be the kind of mom who . . .

Oh, we are overdue for one of these posts because I have all sorts of good ideas stored up to share with you.

I want to be the kind of mom who continues to put together my kids Halloween costumes (preferably characters from our favorite books).  I am completely in love with this Max, The King of All Wild Things costume that Denise Sharp made.
I want to be the kind of mom who assigns chores to each of the kids and teaches them to work a bit.  I love this simple idea from Martha Stewart for a chore chart (spotted on Stephmodo)
I want to be the kind of mom who helps her kids see all the creative possibilities in simple things like white paper.  I think I need to make Creed a Santa Beard like this one also made by Denise Sharp, don't you?
I want to be the kind of mom that helps my kids become responsible for themselves and enables them to do small tasks on their own.  I love this idea for a hand-drawn packing list to help your kids pack before a trip.
I want to be the kind of mom that sends my kinds off with cute accessories that help them stand out from the crowd.  I love this darling backpack with Percival the Dinosaur.  I can already see her the conversation, "Why would you want a Diego backpack?  EVERYONE has a Diego backpack.  Don't you want to be different?"
Or what about a little scarf/tie like this.  It seems like I've seen it on a million blogs, but I love it so much I had to post it too.
I want to be the kind of mom who reads beautifully designed, free online magazines for parents that feature creative, high-quality products for kids like LMNOP and Small.  Oh wait, I already am! (Ok, maybe I'm stretching things a bit on that one, but I wanted to share the links with you in case you haven't come across them).
I want to be the kind of mom who seeks out really cool toys for my kids.  Did you know that you can design your very own Muppet through FAO Swartz?  I think that would be the coolest kids' gift ever!
And When I was little I would have gone crazy over a princess and the Pea doll like this (who are we kidding, I'm still going crazy over it!)
I want to be the kind of mom who designs whimsical bedrooms for my kids that are all about what they enjoy, but still manage to be beautiful places that both of us would love to spend time.  Check out this amazing little girl's bedroom
I want to be the kind of mom that makes amazing original clothes for my kids.  I know that I've said that before, and I'm not much of a clothing seamstress so it's not likely to happen, but how could I resist the chance to show you this little red coat?  It's one of the the many items that the mom behind Grosgrain has created and given away.  Seriously, she does this about once a week and all the clothes that she makes are amazing!  You have to check it out.
And of course, I also still want ot be the kind of mom who makes a least one homemade gift for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas. For example this is such a cute Snail Racing game.  
And I am absolutely IN LOVE with the idea of making a quilt like this one from the creator of A Small Object.  She wrote a letter to her niece and used the service Spoonflower to print in on fabric for her quilt (Their prices are expensive (I think around $18/yard) so I've been looking for a project special enough to warrant designing my own fabric and this is it!)
I have more links saved, but I have to get on with my holiday projects so I hope that you enjoyed these.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

GIVEAWAY- The 12 Days of Christmas designed by Candice Stringham

So you didn't start your advent calendar on December 1st and now you figure it's too late?  Not so, Candice just put together a class to create and 12 days of Christmas countdown full of ideas for fun family activities and directions to make some cute tags. Candice has put a lot of thought and hard work into this project and it really shows.

It's available for sale on Jessica Sprague's site, and for the first few days it's up it's discounted so if you're interested, you might want to buy it now.  That way you can get it ready to go and start using it sooner too.

Here's Candice's description:

I don't know about you, but I loved Christmas as a child! I loved everything thing about it; the smells, the food, the lights, the cheery greetings, and all the family traditions. As an adult, however, it seems as if Christmas has become hectic and sometimes overwhelming. Add the pressures of making the holidays perfect for our children, and Christmas becomes more stress than fun.

When I was little, I loved our advent calendar. Every day, we would anticipate the moment we would get a piece of candy to count down the 25 days of Christmas. My Mother would create a little piece of magic each day for us! As an adult, I want to create that same kind of magic minus the high sugar factor. I wanted to make the advent calendar more about family tradition than treats, but I knew I couldn't keep that up for 25 days with everything else the holidays bring. Thus was born the 12 days of Christmas count down garland.

It's a simple garland made of really cute tags full of family friendly activities, things like visit's from the sugar plum fairy, official notices from the North Pole, and snowflake parties.

You get:

  • Step-by-step instructions and photographs of 16 tags.( that way you can chose which 12 you want.)
  • 4 of the tags are already designed digital tags that only need to be printed!
  • 16 family friendly activity ideas.
  • 12 printable number tags.
  • And print out activity journaling to add to the back of the tags.

As a bonus with purchase of this class you get 10 percent off any purchase of supplies at!

And lucky you, I get to give one set of directions away for free.  Leave a comment here before 6 pm on Thursday, December 11th and it might be yours!

Monday, December 08, 2008

What would you do?

So I have this giant semi-odd shaped frame on my mantel that I pulled out of my grandma's trash and I was thinking it would be fun to put a big Christmas poster in it.  I found a White Christmas movie poster that I love, but it will not fit in my odd frame without being chopped dramatically.  So onto plan two, to design my own print, but then I remembered that I have a million Christmas projects going (that I wish I could show you) so why do that when I could move onto plan three, blow up one of my favorite Christmas illustrations from a children's book?  But how can I choose just one?  Which one would you choose? (Pardon the horrible photos, as stated, I'm being lazy so I was not about to put much effort into when I will only be using one).

The Grinch by Doctor Suess is a Christmas classic, of course, but I always think of him as being green even though he's not in the book.
I like this one, but poor Max wouldn't make it into the frame
Happy ending?
I love Olivia so Olivia Helps With Christmas is a good option.

I think this is probably my favorite Olivia option. Do you?
I like the idea of a religious book, but most of them have cheesy illustrations.  This was my favorite option from my collection.  It's The First Night by B.G. Hennessy with paintings by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher.  I really want a vertical picture, but this horizontal one is my favorite.
This vertical picture of Mary with Jesus is so sweet, but I would have to crop it way too much to make it work.
There's also something sweet about the Tomie De Paola illustration from Santa's Crash-Bang Christmas by Steven Kroll, but again, it's horizontal.
And If I was going to go with a horizontal option, this illustration from Santa Calls by William Joyce.  It's just so magical.
This title page from Olive the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Siebold is one of my favorite options.  It's simple and cheerful.

And my other favorite option is from Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee. The cover would look good.
And I also love this page of Santa listening to children's requests.
So do you have a favorite?  Which one would you choose or would it be another option?

Friday, December 05, 2008

mat giveaway

Eva and I teamed up to create two new frame mats, one for square, medium format pictures and one horizontal frame. Eva also just reprinted all the mats in two new colors; grass green and bright cherry red. 
 The best news of all is that Eva is doing a giveaway on her blog today so three frame mats of your choice could be heading your way.  Just head over to her blog and comment to enter the drawing.

Got Books?

Every December and May, Scholastic Books holds a HUGE warehouse sale for teachers in appreciation for them participating in book orders.  Remember getting book orders in school and how affordable the books were.  Well take the book order price and cut it in half and that's what you get at the warehouse sale.  It is THE PLACE to stock up on books.

People who see my library often wonder how I could afford so many books, well now you know my secret.  What's that?  You are not a teacher.  Well, neither am I so I never registered for the sales online. Even though my friends swore that they didn't care if you were actually a teacher, I always went to the door and told them that I am not a teacher, I just love children's books and they always said I was still welcome at the sale, but I did have to register online and they would sit me down at a computer in their office and have me fill out the online registration form.  They told me to just register as a home schooler.  The form asks you for a school address so they just told me to put "home" as the name of my school and my home address.  They said the registration is just for marketing purposes so they can let you know when the next sale is.  After going through that at every sale for years, I now feel comfortable just filling the form out online, and bonus, when you register online, you will get a coupon for $10 off of a $50 purchase.

If that's not enough to make you feel comfortable, note that I went to this sale this morning (a Friday morning when teachers would be in school teacher) 
and the warehouse was packed with shoppers.

Now, it's not like a Barnes and Noble, this sale made up of books from book orders and book fairs. They sell the rest of already open cartons so you never quite know what titles you will find, but you can be sure they will be a bargain.  

The newest releases are only 25% off of the Scholastic price, but that is still a fantastic deal.
My camera battery is dead so I have no photos, but be aware that this sale is in a functioning warehouse, not a good spot for kids to play, and you will be going up and down rows of enormous metal shelves of open cartons of books (although the Sandy sale was much more organized than the ones I went to in Ohio and employees seemed to know exactly where titles are located if you have questions).

Here are just I few of the titles that I spotted today that I highly recommend.
Picture books
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt (this book is only out in hardback in regular stores, but they had a paperback version at 25% off, which made it only $3.00)
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (this is another book that is only available in paperback through Scholastic)

Early reader
I am Invited to a Party by Mo Willems

Middle Grade Fiction
The 39 clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban