Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Slightly Less Stressful Thanksgiving

We are now just a couple days away.  Thanksgiving is looming in the background - I can just see the turkey staring at me with his beady little eyes.  Well, not really - I don't know where his head is but I do know some guy shoved poor old Tom Turkey's neck up his butt.  Now THAT'S a bad day!  I guess maybe putting that into perspective makes me want to complain a little less about retrieving the darn thing.  Over the last few years I've realized that dealing with life's stressors is mostly about perspective.  I realize that even when things are at their toughest in my life, there are people that have it SO much worse.

Here are some things I'm doing around my house this year that are helping me keep the stress level a bit lower and the fun factor WAY up there!

1. I'm hosting the big meal this year.  Yep, that's right.  For some reason, this calms me.  Let me tell you a few reasons: if my boys act up, they can go to their rooms.  I control the menu, so I KNOW I'll get my sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and plenty of pie.  (This is NOT the case at other family member's houses who don't even serve the items I mentioned.  Yes, crazy.  I know.)  Also, it means that even though we've moved 9+ hours from our last home and 24+ hours from my parents I'll still see family.  They love us enough to fly down and bless us with their company.

2. I'm limiting the menu.  While there are a few staples that I HAVE to have (like above mentioned sweet potatoes), there are usually 10 million new recipes I want to try.  I have decided that I just can't.  And honestly, do we need three kinds of potatoes?  Do we need 5 different kinds of salads?  Not in my house.  I'll have a total of 8 people eating here, so far.  (If you are near by and have no family to eat with, come on by!  No, seriously.)  With 8 people eating, I'll still have enough food to feed them all at least two or three times.  See, I limit the menu, but double the size of the dishes.  :D

3. Clean like a mad woman TODAY.  Yep, after this post gets completed, I'm putting the apron on and making mad dashes through the house until it's clean or I drop from total exhaustion.  Well, that's only partly true.  I enlist the help of my kiddos!  Con-Man will have two rooms upstairs to clean - where all of the toys accumulate.  Monkey-Man will pick up toys downstairs and put them in the color coded baskets we have at the base of the stairs.  The Chief will help with laundry and dishes.  And the older two are responsible for scrubbing their own bathrooms.  

4. Bake Tomorrow.  Most years, I've cooked and baked everything on the big day.  I love how all the smells mingle together.  Well, this year I'm baking cookies, making the mashed potatoes and baking bread tomorrow.  (More about the bread in a little bit.)

5. Admit defeat and just buy it.  I cannot make pumpkin pie.  I've tried and tried.  Last year I made my last attempt.  I baked that stinkin pie for 4 hours.  FOUR HOURS!!!!!  It was STILL soupy in the middle.  I cannot bake pumpkin pie.  It's the one dish I fail at.  I can handle that - one dish out of hundreds, right?  Not a bad average.  So I buy it.  Why stress out and try to beat something into submission when you can just run to the store for it?  Can't cook at all?  You can get a complete cooked meal for about $50 - what a bargain when it means you don't scream at everyone, pull all your hair out and end up eating turkey so dry it resembles the one on that National Lampoons Christmas movie.

6. Give.  It really helps me with my own stress levels when I can stop and think about someone else who may be going through a rough time and give to them.  It doesn't have to be anything elaborate - you can just stop and call a friend that is lonely, send a card or two out to family you haven't talked to, donate some food to a charity that could feed the hungry.  Well, this year we are participating in National Tie One On Day!  I'm very excited about this.  Tomorrow I'm going to bake a few loaves of bread.  Just a simple little tried and true yummy wheat bread recipe.  I'll wrap the bread up in a cute little apron and tuck a note inside.  My note will tell the person that I'm thinking of them, that I pray for them and that I hope they know how much they mean to me.  

7. Have fun!  I know that when Thursday comes, I'll be busy running around in the kitchen.  I'll have to balance the food, my kids, visiting with my family, etc.  But in the middle of it all, I've got games already printed out to play with everyone!  I've also got a simple craft for the kids to do while they are waiting for food.  I will gather everything we need today so it's one less thing to do on Thursday.

This year, I'm so thankful for every little aspect of my life.  Things are never perfect, but we are healthy, happy and very blessed.  I give thanks to God for all these blessings and pray that every single one of you has what you need, what you want and what you love in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Play-dough

My kids are out of school for Thanksgiving Break right now AND my hubby is out of town on business.  So what am I going to do to keep my kids busy, happy, and NOT fighting?  Crafts, of course.  And hopefully lots of them!

Today we are using my favorite play-dough recipe - with a Thanksgiving twist!  

Pumpkin Pie Play-Dough!

You will need:
1 cup of cold water
1 cup of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
food coloring (we used red and yellow)
3 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons (or so) of pumpkin pie spice

*This picture reveals a lot about me - mostly that I'm cheap! lol

Now gather your crew to help you.
Cute, right? Cute help is a must for this project!

Oh, and look at my helpful little Monkey-Man in his apron! 

Mix water, salt, oil & food coloring.
Gradually add flour, cornstarch and pumpkin pie spice until the mixture reaches the desired consistency - like bread dough.  

* When adding the last cup of flour, it was just TOO hard to stir.  
But it's fun to get your hands dirty, anyway!

Now just have fun!

*See our Thanksgiving Tree from last week?  And the printables I got at Craftily Ever After.  

Store covered or in a zip-top bag.

While I've been uploading pics and working on this blog post, my boys have been very happily playing with their play-dough at the table.  They almost NEVER sit for this long doing anything.  Ahhhh, this is nice!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Brag About It - And Fun Hops!

This week, the theme for the Mommy Madness Blog Hop is:

Brag About It!

"We all have something in our life that we are proud of whether it's a person or maybe even something we've worked really hard to earn or buy. Write a post about whatever you choose to brag about."

I'm actually kind of proud of a few things going on in my life right now, but none are bigger or better than my kids!

We got report cards yesterday.  Last grading period, The Chief (2nd grade) got all A's.  We were so proud!  But this grading period, he IMPROVED his grades!  He has also decided to be baptized, which will be done this Sunday!!!  Con-Man had a HUGE improvement as well!!!  In Kindergarten, they have 26 sight words they want the children to know by the end of the year.  Last grading period he knew 9.  Now he knows ALL 26 words!  I love that they are doing so well this early because it just paves the way for future success!  I loved school from the time I was little and I hope they do, too.  It's much easier to learn and make good grades if you enjoy it!  Monkey-Man is also making me super proud right now.  I had to drop him off with a sitter yesterday so I could go to the doctor. He doesn't get much time with sitters and he cried twice about the event before we even left the house.  When we got there, though, he put on such a brave face.  I could tell he wanted to cry, but he didn't!  He gave me a hug, asked if I'd be back after I went to the doctor, and then went and played.  

There are many days where I feel soooo stressed.  I feel like I've been yelling more than I've been using sweet, soft tones.  Heck, there are days I feel like I'm the worst mom ever.  But then there are days where I can actually SEE the good I've done for my kids.  And those days, I feel proud.  

Other awesome Blog Hops I'm enjoying today:

It's OK to follow... it's the Weekend


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving party games - Review!

So what does your family do Thanksgiving Day while everyone is waiting on the big meal?  I am usually in the kitchen, rushing around to make sure everything is prepared and delicious.  But what about my hubby and kids?!  They are usually alternating between tv time, wrestling on the furniture, and tearing up the house!!  

Well, not this year.  I've been given the opportunity to review printable Thanksgiving games from Python Printables.  I did a test run with my guys so I could make sure these were fun and worth the price before I recommend them to my readers.  

Let me tell you, they are!  Python Printables has a TON of printable games on their site, but I think the Thanksgiving pack is my favorite so far.  There are fun coloring pages for the little ones, word searches, fun word games, even an NFL game pack!  I'm saving the NFL games until Thanksgiving Day because I can just see things heating up between my husband, brother and dad - should be a good show. ;)

You can go here to get more than 50 games for just $19.95!
But FIRST, go here to print of some free coloring pages and get a $5 off $19.95 purchase!

Have fun!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

It's a Social Parade - Follow On Fridays!

What a great Linky Party - It's Social Parade on Friday!  Hosted by Smart & Trendy Moms.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Have fun!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Camel Race Bible Trivia Questions Game Review

This week, For The Luv Of Boys has been given the opportunity to review Camel Race Bible Trivia Questions Game by Python Printable Games.  

I was very excited to play this with my boys - this is what the website says: 

"How to make Bible trivia more fun for the kids this Christmas? Teach by stealth with this UNIQUE giant printable board game! The kids become the Wise Men's camels in a race for the finish line at Bethlehem. Along the way, they answer simple Christmas Bible trivia quizzes. Fun for players and anybody watching!"

It recommends ages 6-9, but there were some questions that even stumped me!  It was so much fun to play!

This is a printable game - you print it out, cut the game pieces out and you are ready to go.  Python Printable Games has TONS of printable games for all occasions.  I can't wait to try out more!

[Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Organizing Our Chaos

As a mom of three wild boys, there are days I feel like I'm constantly breaking up fights or picking up after everyone.  Actually, most days are like that!  I'll admit that I'm not the most organized person - I'd rather pile than file, I have 5 calendars - none of them are completely in sync and there are many birthday presents that are bought while on the way to the party!  BUT, there is one thing I do in my house that has helped organize my boys and eliminate some of the fighting.


I decided a few years ago that we would color code common items.  
Blue for The Chief, green for Con-man, and red for Monkey-man.  

The colors are used for towels, wash cloths, cups, plates, bowls, lunch boxes, folders, Christmas wrapping paper, even some toys.  We don't color code clothes because it's easy enough to distinguish the sizes right now and we LOVE hand-me-downs in this house!  

Why I love this system:

Before Color-coding:
Me: Who left their wet towels on the floor?!
Chief: Not me, must have been Monkey-man.
Monkey-man: Nuh uh!  Con-man!
Con-man: I didn't even take a shower!
Me: If someone doesn't get in there RIGHT NOW, you're all in trouble.

(And guess who usually had to go in there.  That's right, me.)

After Color-coding:
Me: Chief - you left your towel on the floor.
Chief: How do you know?!
Me: It's Blue.  Pick it up.

Ahhh, so much nicer.  Same goes for dishes left out on the table or counter, lunch boxes with food left inside, etc.  And speaking of dishes - it's so nice to hand each boy a cup to use all day without them fighting about which belongs to them, someone slobbering on their cup and spreading cooties!  

Well, not cooties - in this house we say that only girls have cooties.  Have to keep those girls away from my boys for as long as possible.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Tree of Thanksgiving

As I promised earlier this week, I want to show you what the boys came up with for one of our Thanksgiving crafts.  We decided to cut out leaves in fall colors and write down things that we are thankful for.  Then we painted a simple tree on canvas and used glue dots to attach our leaves.  
(Don't laugh at our tree, I'm no artist. LOL)

Here is our finished product, proudly displayed on our mantle.

In case you are wondering, then things we are thankful are: 
My Toys
Our Food
My Kitten 
My Family
My Parents
That I'm Alive 
My Digital Camera
The Toys We Have and the House We Have

We also have leftover leaves with lots of other things we are thankful for that we'll be using for another craft.  *Note* I had to translate some of the above items from Kindergarten spelling. :)

After taking a look around online, I actually found quite a few other Thanksgiving Trees!

Hmmm, maybe we should do something with handprints.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review and Giveaway!

I have been given the opportunity to review two books from 
Story Time For Me.  
They have an interactive approach to reading by providing multimedia books with animation and narrators.  The program offers several book series to choose from, and each book is labeled with the age range recommended as well as the theme of the book.  The illustrations are beautiful and engaging and the stories have a good lesson in them.  
My 2 year old son usually doesn’t have the patience to sit through a book with many words.  As soon as we started our first book, he was glued!  He was asking for another book as soon as the first was done.  My 6 year old is just starting to read well and he loved reading along with the narrator.  Each word is highlighted as it’s spoken, so it’s easy for children to keep up!
Another awesome thing about Story Time For Me is that you can send them pictures of your child and get a personalized book!  They will add your child into the illustration and animate it.  What a GREAT gift idea!!!

I love, love, love Story Time For Me and I can tell you that I personally will be ordering books in the future from Story Time For Me - for my own children and as gifts!

Check out their video!

Now for the exciting part!  
Story Time For Me is allowing me to have a giveaway!  
Every single reader will win two free multimedia books to enjoy with your child or grandchild!   We read Will and the Harvest Festival from the Ben The Mouse series and The Special Egg from the Flame The Dragon series.  
My boys really loved the Ben The Mouse series!

Just click on the link below to receive your free books.

Story Time For Me Giveaway

I'm participating in the following giveaway directory today:

[Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

I just ran across a great blog called The Texas Darlings.  She is hosting

and has a great topic to blog about today.  
What is your Top 10 of 2010?

So here is my top 10 list of things I'm thankful for, in no particular order.

10. My husband's job promotion, even though it moved us 8 hours from home.

9. My kids and I making new friends in Texas quickly.

8. Having my own space to do crafts, sew and spend too much time blogging.

7. My older two boys getting great grades and conduct marks in school, even after a big move.

6. Getting to see my parents, even though they live so so so far away.

5. My marriage growing stronger, despite many obstacles thrown our way.

4. Finding a new church home that feels like just that...home.

3. Beginning my own tiny little business that incorporates so many things I love!

2. Another year spent watching my boys grow and change into little men.

1. My 7 year old asking to accept Jesus as his savior and scheduling his baptism for this month!

Fun Fall Crafts

I can't tell you how much I love seeing all these great fall crafts in blog-land!
Of course I see a ton of Christmas crafts, gift ideas and decor I want to start on, too.
But for now, lets focus on fall - Thanksgiving in particular!

I Am An Aspiring Artist has a great tutorial for a homemade cornucopia that I adore!  
I plan to make one for my Thanksgiving centerpiece!

Flamingo Toes has another great tutorial!  This one is for chalk placemats.
I've already got this fabric on my list of things to buy at Joann's today!  
What great idea to keep the kids busy at the table.

The Party Animal made these adorable Nutter-Butter Turkey Cookie Pops.
We can't get enough of Nutter-Butters in this house, so you know the kids and I will have fun with these!  Of course I better buy an extra package because more will get eaten than make it to the table!

I found a cute craft that the boys can make at All Kids Network.
These Paper Plate Pilgrims will hang on the backs of our chairs with names on their hats instead of having place cards at the table.  Too cute!

We are working on our own little Thanksgiving crafts here, too.  Definitely a work-in-progress, but here's a little sneak peek! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Farewell Halloween!

Hello, November!  

I cannot tell you how excited I am to see November!  It's time to get ready for my two favorite holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!  I am going spend a good part of this afternoon putting away all of my Halloween decorations, eating all the boys' chocolate and planning the crafts and decorations we'll make for Thanksgiving.  I'm super excited to share some of them with you guys very soon!!!

Before we get knee deep into turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing why don't we wrap up October activities by showing you a glimpse of our Halloween! 
(Forgive lack of quality AND quantity of pics, I was too busy getting messy!)

We started out by carving pumpkins.

This was the first time they boys actually carved them - usually they would just tell me what they wanted and I would do all the dirty work.

This is pretty much how they all felt about the pumpkin guts - EWWWW!

And this is how my oldest wanted to illustrate the point. lol

This was also the first year that I gave NO input on their costumes.  I let them decide what they wanted to be and come up with how to pull it off.  It was actually kind of nice to not shell out $50+ for a costume they'll really only wear once.  A mask and hoodie was a much better deal, even if I'm not crazy about it being too scary for their ages.


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