Shoe-tying Fun

Monday was a day off of school for the big kids and apparently, the perfect day to learn a new skill.  EJ has been asking for ages (but usually at busy times) to learn to tie her shoes and I have been (big time) dragging my feet on it.  Our experience the first time around with Jack wasn't exactly smooth sailing.  He's known how to tie his shoes for ages but has never been able to get them tight enough.  So after a year of him leaving his shoes tied and sliding his feet in, I bought him these laces this school year (and the girls got velcro shoes).

I felt a little better because I had seen a new tying method on Pinterest/YouTube and was planning to try that way.  It worked!  EJ had it down after about 30 minutes and Jack has switched because he can tie much tighter this way.  We refer to the new way as Lobster is EJ practicing.

So, have I peaked your interest on how this awesome new method works?  EJ made a video to show you herself.

Super cool, right?  She was just a little proud.  (Did you catch the video-bomb from Jack? I didn't until just now...dork!)

Ready to try it for yourself?  Click here to watch the original video for step-by-step instructions.  Good luck!

Scenes from a road trip

We are back from our whirlwind road know the kind where you are at your destination for less than 24 hours, but traveled for about 14 hours.  But it was fun!  We spent lots of time with cousins we don't get to see all that often (and definitely not often with just our two families), we gave Miles' his gifts, and the kids spent lots of time shooting hoops, playing indoor soccer, jumping on trampolines, and making lego towers.  Livie was in awe of the wall of Ariel merchandise at the MOA Disney store and I got to say hi to a dear friend who I don't see nearly enough.  I'd say it was a good trip!

The big downside was that we had to cut our visit a little short due to some crazy weather (snow and freezing rain stormage) coming through our path home.  It was a tough trip to say the least.  I don't think I've ever been such a stressed out non-driver, but luckily Matt is an awesome driver and he got us through with no trouble (except for whopping headaches).  It was a great trip, but I don't think I've ever been happier to step in our house!


We have a big family (my MIL has 10 grandchildren for goodness sake) and most of us live within 45 minutes of each other, but my two youngest nephews are too far away (well, that may just be my opinion, but I think it's true).  Over the holidays, my friend Cyndi posted about this custom memory game from Pinhole Press and I knew it would be the perfect birthday gift for my soon-to-be three-year-old nephew.  The game comes with 12 matched sets, so I used the school photos of all the cousins and added in Grandma and his aunt/uncles (on his mama's side) that are also far away.  I hope it is fun and helps him keep track of everyone as well.

The set is really nice.  The cards are thick and they come in that cute little box...great for giving and storage.  The pics I sent were (mostly) photographs of printed pics and the quality of the images is still really good.  I really love how it came out and was really impressed with the quality given the low price.  I can't wait to see what he thinks!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

EJ loves Lilly (so much so that I made her this dress-up outfit a couple years ago), so she was super excited when our friends found out that there was a Lilly at Marquette University this month.  EJ dressed up for the occasion with special hair (she told me exactly what she wanted), her Lilly dress (which was a gift from Abbie & her mom), a yellow crown (a Christmas gift from Auntie Tracie), and even her red boots (she didn't care that they were way too small...just stuffed her feet in and was ready to go).

It was such a great play and really fun for both the grown-ups and the kids.  There was music every time Lilly opened her purse and they encouraged the kids to chair-dance.  EJ's favorite characters were definitely Lilly and Chester...although she loved the fact that a "grown-up" boy played Baby Julius.  EJ and Abbie had a lot of fun together for sure (being in different schools makes their girl dates even more fun).  They were even asked stand up before the performance to show off their outfits and crowns.  You better believe that was the first thing EJ told Daddy when we walked back into the house!

This was EJ's very first play, but we have another coming up soon (a special Christmas gift from Grandma) and EJ cannot wait!  She's already planning her outfit.

Weekend Projects

This was the scene at the dining room table as I made dinner Sunday night.  We had a three day weekend and in between a few playdates and outings/errands, the kids spent the bulk of the weekend working with things/kits they got for Christmas gifts.  Basically, the perfect way to spend time while the temps are ridiculously cold!

Jack filtered water

Livie made a bunch of perler bead creations with Matt

We visited The Domes...EJ decided to be a cactus

Liv opened an animal beauty salon

And the biggest news of all...Livie has no rails anymore!  She only fell out of bed about 3 times this weekend, so I'm considering it a victory.

Vacation, all I ever wanted

We spent last week on a family vacation in Mexico.  It was so great to spend time warm weather...unplugged and a family.  And it was also really nice to travel (for the first time) with no diapers or bottles or sippy cups or swim diapers...heaven, I tell you!

We spent a ton of time in the water.  The girls put a lot of miles on their life jackets this trip.  I think you can tell from the pics that EJ is the biggest water bug, but they all were in most of the week.  EJ even did a little aqua-aerobics (top right pic).

There were a lot of activities to keep us busy out of the water too.  The middle pic is Jack holding a geocache we found outside our hotel (yes, we're even nerdy on vacation).

Some of us even got adventurous at times.  That is Livie shaking her thing up on stage one night (top left), Jack rock climbing & zip-lining, and Liv posing with one of the stars of the dance show (EJ was in love with every second of the show, but too shy to "meet" the dancers).  There are a couple pics of Matt on stage & also singing poolside, but I was forbidden to post those shenanigans.

The kids all made some new friends as well.  EJ's buddy Albert chased her down to say goodbye and broke my momma heart.  Jack became fast friends with a group of brothers from Canada.  They actually live in the Niagara Falls area.  And yes, I beat that joke to death all week long!

If we wanted to see Jack in the evenings, we needed to be hanging in the gameroom (it's hard to pass up time playing air hockey, ping pong & foosball with your friends to hang with your sisters & parents).  Luckily we brought a lot of games for the girls & they were more than happy to beat us at them.

We've found that we're definitely more "pool people" than "beach people" (I'd say we're good for one beach day only), but Liv was really not too sure about the waves at all!

But Daddy worked some magic and waves hitting her feet (while in Dad's protective arms) produced some great smiles.

We didn't slow down too much, but we did take breaks from time to time.  EJ decided to take a poolside nap one day (at the main pool which is very loud) and that is Olivia sleeping in her chair at the restaurant table.  She slept from the time we ordered until our food arrived and then snapped right back into action.

Speaking of food, we definitely took time to eat!

The girls picked out silver bracelets as their souvenirs and Jack brought home a shark-tooth necklace.  The balloon animals didn't make it the week, but they were played with a lot while they lasted.

You've made it through a lot of photos (I swear, I only posted the highlights) and I apologize for the quality (my camera died about 3 days in, so it was iphone only after that).  Just a couple more snapshots of our family...and yes, the kids are already asking to go back.


Re-entry can be difficult after any vacation, but we've had a bit of a rough one this time around.  We thought with a "buffer day" (Sunday) built-in to the schedule, that things would be smoother this morning, but we started the day with...

-multiple wet beds (which never happens anymore...and I washed the sheets yesterday)
-a broken iron (and a man with all day client meetings)
-an early train departure
-a brand new school schedule for Jack (he'll be in 4 different classrooms today)
-a dead car battery (which meant 2 girls were late for school)
-kindergarten registration (and a mad scramble for immunization records)
-a forgotten lunch

We've had much worse days, but we've definitely had smoother.  I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping the afternoon decides to behave!

I'm off to work off a little of the yummy food and drink I had last week the only way I'm allowed (walking on the old treadmill), but I'll be back soon to share pics from our week of family fun.

Two Awesome Recipes

We tried two new recipes from Pinterest over Christmas and I can't stop thinking about them.  So yummy!

So, if you're looking for a great salad for the colder months...Winter Chopped Salad from H&M Kitchen or treat yourself to the perfect Winter treat...Hot Chocolate Krispies from Cookies & Cups.

Trust won't regret either one!

Reading List Summary, December 2012

-my current January library book stack

I've got some serious catching up to do in posting our reading lists.  The December list for 2012 is below, but here are links to the months I missed...just in case you're looking for a good book or two.
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012

Mom's List
Stargirl (Jerry Spinelli)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate)

Jack's List
Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet (Kirk Scroggs)
The Wild, Wild West (Geronimo Stilton)
I'm Too Fond of My Fur! (Geronimo Stilton)
The Amazing World of Sports (Sports Illustrated Kids)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris (Geronimo Stilton)
The Canary Caper (Ron Roy)
Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets (Eric Luper)

EJ's List
Too Many Dogs (Lori Haskins)
The Biggest Snowman Ever (Elizabeth Bennett)
Biscuit Visits the Big City (Alyssa Satin Capucilli)
It's Too Windy! (Hans Wilhelm)
Barbie Horse Show Champ (Jessie Parker)
Cat Traps (Molly Coxe)
The Perfect Dress (Melissa Lagonegro)
Rick Is Sick (David McPhail)

Family List
The Bears' Christmas (Stan and Jan Berenstain)
Kate and Nate Are Running Late (Kate Egan)
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas (Eric Litwin)

A Little Christmas Photo Fun

Before we get too far into January, I thought I'd share some Christmas photos.  The one above is the only one I took on Christmas Eve (I was not feeling well at all that night...even after a two hour nap) and the rest highlight some gift opening, sickie recovery time, gift exploration, and general silliness of our vacation time.


How It's Supposed To Be...

That picture of how things are supposed to be has been the cause of a lot of disappointments in my life...a lot.  I've hated those crushing disappointments and hated myself for allowing them to take me down.  I think it's especially hard at the holidays when you are hosting and wanting to create magic for everyone.  The fact is that things aren't always magical, but if you allow things to just flow and be how they are, you are much more likely to allow yourself to see the magic that is there.

I loved our Christmas this year, and trust me, things did not live up to the picture in my head (flu for all, 105 fever on Christmas Day for EJ, everyone sick on faux Christmas, burning all the garlic bread, and much more).  But I think for the first time ever, I went in without expecting the picture in my head to come true, and what resulted might have been even better.