Saturday, December 29, 2012

Elfing Around

Our Elf on the Shelf, Bob, returned for a third year this Christmas season.  He comes out the day after Thanksgiving and hangs around in various places until Christmas Eve when he heads back to his North Pole home.

The kids were even more excited about Bob than they have been in the past.  Every morning they couldn't wait to find out where he was.  Although he didn't do anything too crazy or elaborate, he found some fun places to keep an eye on the kids.

One day Bob was found dangling from the overhead light...

This was the day we brought our tree home and since they couldn't do any decorating until the tree settled, Jack and Casey entertained themselves.  The took the tree skirt and some Santa hats and did their best impressions of Bob's mischievous smirk and eyes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Christmas Tree

After several years of an artificial tree, we went with a real one this year.  We got rid of our fake tree after last Christmas.  The lights weren't all lighting and the branches were flopping all over the place and not staying level.  I felt like I spent way too much time "fluffing" it and trying to make it look real.  And I think our Yankee candle that smelled like a fir tree reached the end of its wick as well.

Our tree buying experience turned out easier that I could imagine.  We decided to go with Costco because several friends mentioned they got their tree there and it was a good price.  The only potential problem was that you couldn't pick the tree.  You get what you get!  But it was so easy to get the tree that I liked the idea of just working with whatever it turned out looking like.  No searching the lot in the cold for the perfect tree.  Although I'm pretty sure it wasn't anywhere near cold here in early December.

After breakfast with Santa, we crossed the street to Costco, pulled the van up to the trailer, and the tree man put the tree on the roof and tied it down while I paid.  So easy!  

We pulled the tree stand out of the attic and brought the tree in.  I think we only adjusted it about 3 times.  Then we had to explain about letting the tree settle to the kids who were a little anxious to decorate!

Pat looks very proud of his tree!

Jack is helping out...

Then the kids decided they should take some pictures.  And I think you can tell that we had just about squeezed all the joy out of the tree buying experience and it was time to move on to something else!

It ended up being another week or some before we finally got to decorating it although Jack was still placing new ornaments on up until Christmas Eve.  

About halfway through decorating, I realized we should have had some sort of Tree Decorating 101 discussion with Jack.  Some topics we could have covered - 

- Heavy ornaments require a heavy branch
- Not all ornaments of the same type need to be right by each other
- Some ornaments need to go at the top of the tree
- Some ornaments need to be on the sides of the tree

But with a little redirection and some discreet repositioning, the tree got decorated.  

We put a couple strands of LED lights on this year.  I really wanted to like them because I like the idea of more energy efficient light bulbs, but they just didn't have that glow that I wanted.  

Our theme is simply what we have collected over the years.  We have ornaments from all the places we have lived and places we have visited.  This year we got ornaments when we were at Disney World.  When we got them out (of a bag I have yet to unpack from the trip!) Casey promptly dropped her castle and a few turrets broke off.  It now goes well with her Cinderella carriage ornament of which all the wheels are broken.

It was Casey's year to put the angel on top.

After she was decorated, the kids once again wanted to take pictures with my camera.  They each spent forever trying to get a good shot without people in it.  But I couldn't resist jumping in a few pictures while someone else was behind the lens.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Breakfast with Santa

I didn't mean to take another long break from blogging.  I reached the space limit for storing photos though Picasa and I've spent forever trying to figure out how to best put pictures on the blog without paying.  Right now I've settled on Photobucket, even though I have upload them individually (as far as I can figure out).  

And so, I'm going back to the beginning of the Christmas season!  I think I struck a good balance between Christmas fun and getting things done this year.  It felt like we had an extra week or two this year because we are celebrating Christmas with Pat's family in a couple days instead of the weekend before Christmas.  

Way back at the beginning of December we had Breakfast with Santa at the country club.  It was decorated beautifully, the food was good and the kids got to craft and visit with Santa.  Although I wasn't totally impressed with the realism of Santa, I liked the fact that the kids got to spend as much time with them as they needed and he "knew" their names.  We weren't hurried by a long line behind us and we didn't have to pay for overpriced picture packages. 

Casey hopped right onto Santa's lap without a bit of hesitation.  She asked for baby dolls, Barbie dolls and a toy puppy.

Jack didn't have a problem going up to Santa but looked a little nervous the whole time he was sitting there.  This is only the second year he has spent time on Santa's lap!  He asked for a Disney monorail, a video game and some Hotwheels.  I can't believe he remembered about the monorail!  I was hoping he'd forget after not talking about it for 3 months.  (And since I'm posting this after Christmas, he did not get a monorail and thankfully hasn't asked about it.  He came up with another different list of things at school!) 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chopsticks & Invisible Skeletons

A few weeks ago, after I put Casey in bed, she came out and yelled down from her room.  "Mommy!  Do you have any chopsticks?"

Since I was in the kitchen, I wasn't sure I had heard her correctly.  "What do you want?"

She said, "Do you have any chopsticks?"

I was a little puzzled at this point so I decide to ask her why she needs them.  "What do you need them for?"

She replies, "For my lips hurt."

" want chapstick!  I'll bring some right up.  That's chapstick, not chopsticks!"


A few weeks ago, I noticed that Casey's laundry basket was filled with all of Jack's clothes too, so I asked her why all of his clothes were in her laundry basket.  She simply said, "Because he has an invisible skeleton under his bed."

Yes, right, the invisible skeleton.

It was funny to hear Casey say it in such a matter of fact way, but I wasn't confused when she mentioned the skeleton.  I had heard about this invisible skeleton.  It caused some bedtime stalling one night.

Jack can't tell me how he knows that it's there, but he knows it is.  He would believe nothing I said about this skeleton.  I told him there really wasn't one there.  I told him if it was there it wouldn't bother him.  I told him invisible skeletons are really quiet.  Finally I told him there was an invisible ninja under his bed and it would protect him from the invisible skeleton.  That seemed to do the trick for that night.

Apparently the invisible skeleton has not been dislodged from under Jack's bed.  It no longer causes night time issues.  However, I asked Jack why he was getting dressed in the hallway a few days ago.  He said, "Because there's an invisible skeleton in my room."

Obviously.  Silly question Mommy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


While Casey was at dance today, Jack and I had a few minutes alone together in the car.  I guess we were in between movies because he was very chatty...

Jack:  Mommy, Chinese Skittles have a very different package from regular ones.

Me: What?  Where did you get Chinese Skittles?
(I'm very confused...I'm wondering if regular skittles say Made in China on them or something.)

Jack:  At school.

Me:  Where did they come from?  Did Mrs. S bring them into class?

Jack:  No, A brought them in.

Me:  Does she have Chinese family?  Where did she get them?

Jack:  I don't know.  I guess she got them from her family.  But the bag is very different.  The only thing Mrs. S could read on it was Skittles.

Me:  Did you try one?  Are they the same?

Jack:  They are.  Even the S is the same on them.

And there you have it.  The only thing different is the bag.  But it's very exciting to a 1st grader.  And a little confusing for the 1st grader's mother but I feel a little more cultured after all that.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Eve

***This is a rather abrupt jump back into blogging, but I just need to write when I feel like it.  Hopefully there will be more to come.***

This boy.  He came home and he was very grumpy about doing his homework.  He chose to work on a math program on the computer called IXL and he had to do 20 minutes of it.  He wanted to be done at about 15 minutes.  He tried to out-grump me and then finally sat down to finish it up.  When he was done he ran off to play.

Then I decided it was time to turn the heat on.  I don't know why I resist this so much.  I have been cold for a couple weeks.  I like to see how long I can go without heat.  And yet the whole time I resist it all I want to do is get in my bed because it's warm there.  It's not very productive.

I went upstairs to set the program for the heat and Jack says, "Look Mommy.  It's Romney and Obama!  I have the O for Obama and the M for Mitt Romney."  He shows me a Lego creation he has been working on.  It amazed me that he had come up with an idea to build an election scene with his Legos.  I ran to get my camera while was on a search for coffee cups so they would both have one.

I love his creation.  He went on to tell me that people are voting tomorrow and that "both Romney and Obama were born in the 19s!"  I told him I was born in the 19s too.  The one on the left is Obama because he has flatter hair more like the real Obama's.  I guess that left Romney with a beard and mustache.  I think it looks good on him.

Then he created them each on their own stages.  The red loose pieces are the curtains.  I tried to get him to use blue curtains for Obama but he wasn't quite grasping the red and blue and different political parties.  "Parties?  What are you talking about?"

I asked him who he would vote for.  He said Romney and when I asked him why, he said he didn't think Obama had done a very good job of running the country.  He must catch bits and pieces of conservative talk radio in the car when he's not watching Batman or Star Wars.

Later he asked Casey who she was going to vote for.  She said, "Is there someone that begins with O?  I want to vote for him."

"Obama?  You're only saying that because you don't know anyone else," Jack claimed.

Casey retorted with, "No, really, that's who I'd vote for.  I like Obama."

Jack also came up with a "fun game" wherein he and Casey both run for president and I have to vote and pick the president.  But after his two terms I would get to be president again.

And just before he ran off to play again, he said, "I can't wait for election day tomorrow. I don't even know why I like election day so much."

Monday, September 10, 2012

School for Casey

Casey started school too!  ...two weeks ago.  Then she promptly got sick and missed a few days.  But she is back on track and set to enjoy the third week of school...her first full week of school.

She goes to preschool at a very nice Baptist church down the street.  (In Tennessee, there's a very nice Baptist church every mile or so it seems.)  It's five days a week and on two days she stays a couple extra hours for "Stay and Play."  She gets to eat lunch with her friends and play for a little bit.  Last week was her first week of stay and play and it's the longest time I've had to myself in quite a while.  Although I have to admit I was a little lonely at lunch.

So far she is having a great time at school and always has something to tell me and show me when I pick her up.  She is even doing made-up "homework" in the afternoons when Jack has to work on his homework!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Casey's New Room

Last week I got to spend A LOT of quality time with Casey while Jack was at school.  Even though we went out to a store every day, we still spent a lot of time at home.  The Barbie/Princess family also had a very busy week.  They celebrated birthdays, went to the pool, went to the beach, went to the hairdresser, changed outfits a lot, and witnessed some amazing high diving by Cinderella.

In between Barbie adventures, I tried to do some little projects around the house that I thought Casey would be interested in.  If I wanted to sew, I sewed something for her.  One dress turned out to be a big failure and the other still needs just a little finishing.  I also decided it was time to get the big bare wall behind her bed decorated.

A few months ago I found a great idea on Pinterest to make silhouettes of the princesses and use them as art.  I thought this was a much more subtle princess decorating idea versus some big poster of the princesses.  Basically I didn't want anything too cartoon-y.

I also have a Silhouette cutting machine that has been sitting idle for some time and now I have a big space near the computer for it.  After a little search online I found the Crafty Mama blog where she had already created templates to use with the Silhouette.

One quick trip to the scrapbook store, four dollars and a few hours later and I had princesses framed and ready to put on the wall.  (And somehow I walked out of that scrapbook store with only what I needed!)

On Friday, I put the frames on the wall and got ready to take some pictures.  I probably spent more time cleaning her room than hanging pictures.  Casey was too busy with her babies to help.

Casey managed to be in almost every picture.  She also wanted to take some pictures with my camera but they didn't make the cut for this post.  I finally convinced her to go get her own camera.  Then she was even more in my way as she tried to get all her pictures.

She has Christmas lights wrapped around her bed and sleeps with them on every night.  After Christmas was over, she didn't want to take them off.  We're now on our third strand.  It makes for a nice little night light for her.

 Her bed still needs a new bedskirt.

This is Casey's wall of butterflies and dragonflies.  We found some vinyl Star Wars stickers for Jack soon after we moved here and I guided Casey towards these butterflies.  It was one of the first things we put up in each of their rooms.

Here are the signs for Casey's room.  It's been used as a storefront lately, which was why I had to do a lot of cleaning.  Casey was selling lotions in there and then it turned into quite an operation one night as they were both making jewelry and selling it.  Casey made the small yellow sign which has her name on it.  Jack made the larger green and yellow signs.  The green one says "Beauty" and he made it fancy (like Grammie did when she was babysitting in April) and the yellow one says "On."  Jack decided that he would rather have No and Yes signs instead of Open and Closed but then No turned into On.

This is the wall opposite the bed.  It's not quite as neat...once again Casey was busy with her babies and the lotion store (which she has staged on her empty doll bunk beds).  And her top drawer is broken from the move or else I would fill it with all the junk beautiful hair bands/elastics/bows/etc. sitting on top of her dresser.

These are a lot of the things that I removed from her bedroom to take pictures.  You can see the cash register that was being used for the store, but I'm not sure where the horse and shield were fitting into the place.  I think that must have been from a cowboy playing day.  (In full disclosure, a lot of that stuff is still sitting in the hallway outside Casey's room 5 days later.)

And so, Casey's room is the first room I've gotten to in showing off our new house.  Casey and I have another long week together so maybe we can get to some more projects.  Pat asked me today when I was going to finish hanging pictures in the rest of the house.  Sometimes I just can't decide what I'm going to do and I do nothing!  We'll fix some of that next week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maine Vacation: Lighthouse Trip to West Quoddy Head

There are so many great places to visit when we go to Maine but sometimes it can be a bit of a drive to get to them.  In the past when I had driven 18 hours to get to Maine, we didn't make too many long trips on top of that.  This year we didn't have as much time to take long trips; we flew from Memphis to Maine but then there was 4 hours of driving on top of a day of flying.

One of our adventures this year was to drive to the easternmost point in the United States to visit the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and have some lunch in the town of Lubec.  (Despite its eastern US location, the lighthouse is called West Quoddy Head because there is a lighthouse further east on Campobello Island (Canada) that gets the name East Quoddy Head.)  

Jack remembered visiting the lighthouse a couple years ago and he remembered posing in front of the granite that says "Easternmost Point in the USA".  This year, he became a little camera hog, posing multiple times in front of the sign and directing everyone else to get in or out of the pictures.  It was a refreshing change from the faces he's been making lately when I take pictures.

Casey rarely turns down an opportunity to pose for the camera.

Jack is also a big fan of getting his photo taken in any type of wooden cutout with a place for his head.

After walking around the lighthouse and checking out the displays inside the lighthouse, we walked down to a set of stairs that lead to the beach.  There were lots of rocks to climb on and rocks to walk on and rocks to throw.

Grampie followed Casey pretty closely around on the rocks.  It's so hard to watch her climb on them because every time she takes a step she appears to lose her balance and looks like she is going to fall.  She didn't have any big falls which I thinks was a combination of supervision and that fact that she can climb on them despite how it looks.  She gained a lot of confidence in her rock climbing while we were in Maine but that only made her braver and more likely to fall because she was being silly at times.

We had lunch at a restaurant in Lubec, Maine overlooking the water.  The lobster boats were to the left and the bridge to Campobello Island was to the right.  It was a beautiful day.  The kids and Grampie climbed around on the breakwater and played on another beach.

On the way out of town, we stopped at Monica's Chocolates to find some treats.  Monica grew up in Peru and bases some of her chocolates on recipes she remembered growing up with her family.  She met us at the door and immediately gave the kids balloons and a chocolate lollipop.  She then treated the grown-ups with some samples.  We all walked out with bags of chocolate and I even found a cute Peruvian necklace to buy.  

It was a great Maine adventure...we drove on some dirt roads, saw a lighthouse, climbed on the rocks, ate lunch overlooking the water and got some Maine/Peruvian chocolate :)