Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Elf...

One of our most recent, but favorite Christmas traditions is The Elf on the Shelf.  I bought this book for my kids last year and our family's elf came with the book.  As per the book's instruction, we learned that our elf was visiting from the North Pole and would be reporting back to Santa, frequently, during the holiday season.  The boys would know that he traveled to the North Pole each night because he would be sitting in a new location each morning.
This morning Jingle was sitting on the shelf with the boys stocking holders! 

Since my boys are 5 years apart, I had been looking for a way to keep the magic of Christmas for my oldest.  This new tradition has been perfect.  They love looking for Jingle each morning and my husband and I occasionally remind them that Jingle is listening to their conversations {arguments}  The magic of the season is alive and well in our house as we host one of Santa's elves during the month of December.  Last year, the boys were disappointed to discover that Jingle returned with Santa on Christmas Eve.  With their excitement at his appearance this year, I am sure they will be sorry to see him leave again this year.

What are your new, favorite traditions?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking Forward...

I love the Holiday Season...I've never lost that little kid wonder and awe of the season.  My husband and I start our holiday shopping with Black Friday because I love being in the stores all decorated for Christmas.  It seems that this year, I have so much to look forward to...
* My oldest will be performing in his first band concert
* My family has season passes to a local ski / snowboard mountain and I can't wait to hit the slopes
* I have lots of Christmas crafts planned
* My all-time favorite count-down to Christmas will return (stay tuned later this week)
* Family traditions and time with friends...lots of shopping still to finish
* Late night wrapping parties with my husband
* Christmas light drives with my kids
* Ice skating and sledding
I can't wait!

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday...

This week our Working Mommy Wednesday prompt is Thanks!

I have a rich and full life with lots of people and things I am Thankful for, so to narrow the field,  I decided to approach this as...

Things this Working Mom is Thankful For...
in no particular order...
  • Working in a building full of working moms who understand
  • Grandparents who understand our desire to always have our children with people who love them...and who have bent over backwards to help us achieve that goal
  • Coffee
  • A husband who understands my (infrequent) ranting and raving about working and thoughts of being a stay-at-home-mom
  • My husband's schedule which allows him to be a 75% stay-at-home-dad
  • Email and my iPhone
  • Friends who meet me at the gym at 5:00 in the morning so working out can be social also
  • Being a teacher...so my work schedule is compatible with my children's school schedule
  • Friends who organize Girls Night Out
  • Having a second income, which allows us opportunities that we wouldn't otherwise have
  • Wine
  • Fantastic, amazing, wonderful children 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ode to my Mom Bag...

You all know how much I love my Mom Bags!  I wrote about them here and here... I just love having a cute way to be organized, carry what I need while I have fun with my family.
This is the bag I found for our most recent family adventure to Disney World.  I love this bag!  I popped in to my local Eddie Bauer outlet literally the afternoon before we left, hoping I could find something new that would be comfortable to carry, look cute and accommodate my camera bag.  This is it!

Of course it's a mom bag so, not only was it comfortable, looked cute and held the camera bag it also...
* held both boys wallets...and they needed easy access
* held Aiden's retainer case...in and out every time he ate something
* stored sunglasses and sunscreen
* held a packet of wipes and a first aid kit
* quick access to our "Keys to the World" for fast passes, dining and opening the hotel room
*  held my own wallet
* and...managed to carry the various souveniers and trinkets we accumulated throughout the day

It just wouldn't be a Family Adventure without the perfect Mom Bag!

Monday, November 22, 2010



I love Thanksgiving...such a cozy, family holiday.  In the spirit of the season, I have made this button you can display on your blog.  Just copy the code in the sidebar!

My button was made with Adori Graphics Fabulous Fall digital scrapbooking kit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Irresponsibility was WONDERFUL...

The Great Family Adventure was amazing...

More pictures and a few memorable moments coming up next week...
Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Family Adventures...

Have you ever done something really fun and a little irresponsible?

Have you ever pulled your kids into the adventure?

Have you ever wished you could walk away from every day life...for just a few minutes to refresh?

Have you ever needed to reconnect with your husband...your kids...your family and just play & have fun?

We're doing just that...Chasing the Dream and having a family adventure!

I'll be back in the blogging world in a few days and I'll share all the fun and irresponsible details :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Talking to my Kids...

"Do you want to wear your coat or carry it?"
"Would you like water or milk?"
"I play with boys who don't cheat."
"Feel free to join us when you're done cleaning your room."

Each day my goals are simple; I want to talk to my children without anger or frustration, I want to provide guidance through enforceable statements and choices, I want to encourage them to make decisions and to be responsible for the decisions they make, I want my boys to feel safe and secure, and I want to have fun being their mom.

In the last three months of sports schedules and back-to-school, I could feel my habits with Love & Logic starting to slide.  I have practiced Love & Logic as a teacher and as a parent for  as long as I have been both.  It's the way I want to talk to my kids and the way I want to discipline.  But lately, I've been tired and run down...and the habits have started to slip.

My favorite Love & Logic strategies are Enforceable Statements and Choices and I use them  in daily conversation with my kids as often as possible.  Enforceable Statements work because I am telling the kids what I am going to do if their behavior continues.  The benefit is subtle corrections of behavior in a way that doesn’t make my kids feel like they are in trouble, just a reminder of the expectation.
“Do you want to wear your coat or carry it?”  My kids typically don’t argue about coats, I want to establish the fact that coats are going with them and they will be responsible for the coats.

"Do you want to do your homework now or in 30 minutes?"  I love giving my kids this choice, because they almost always choose to procrastinate.  In 30 minutes, when it's time to start, it's the time they chose...not the time that I chose :)  They may not be thrilled with starting homework, but they have less to argue with when the time was their choice.

 “I play with boys that don’t cheat.”  In my experience, playing with children also means teaching them how to play.  This enforceable statement is meant to be a reminder of how to play.  Most often the boys catch themselves, and we continue playing with no problem.  On the other hand, there is a clear expectation that I can enforce without engaging in a power struggle with the boys.  I can simply walk away from the game if they continue to cheat. (Or continue whatever it is that I don't want to contend with.)

This conversation helps to prevent power struggles.  It helps kids to know what the expectations are and decreases the chances of a temper tantrum.  This conversation allows us all to have more fun together... and I am resolved to bring this habit back into practice.

My current favorite..."I am not wearing black and white stripes today, so I can't referee this argument.  Would you like to play together respectfully or find something else to do alone?"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Dinner Games...

My family enjoys playing games at dinner.  We don't do this every night, but sometimes, when we have time to linger over dinner, it's fun to play a game.  Yesterday my son, Aiden brought a dice game home from school...Roll-A-Turkey!
The object is to be the first person to have a completed turkey!  You draw your turkey by rolling a dice...
Roll 1 = Draw the head
Roll 2 = Draw the body
Roll 3 = Draw 1 wing
Roll 4 = Draw 1 foot
Roll 5 = Draw face and wattle
Roll 6 = Draw 1 feather

Here's Aiden's turkey...he really had a rough time rolling 6's :)  Try this at dinner...it will leave you all laughing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's on your Night Stand...

Last week at the Book Club, I shared that this is the season for the epic novel!

I have been reading Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.  This book is not a quick read, but I sure have been sucked into the story.  Reading on a Kindle is a bit different than a paper book, as I am not sure what page I am on but I am about 25% of the way through the book.

I have been introduced to a large cast of European characters from coal miners and house maids, to Russian soldiers to aristocracy.  The strings of the story connecting these people are loose right now, but I can see that they will be drawn together and connected further.  At the point in which I am reading Europe is on the brink of  World War l and the reader is privy to both drawing room speculation and working class participation in war preparation.

I love sinking my teeth into a deep, good book and this one is perfect.  I don't know much about World War l and while this is certainly historical fiction, I appreciate the sense of how people lived and how decisions were made.

If you're reading along, what are your thoughts?  If not, what are you reading right now? Do you have any great book recommendations?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Key Chain Scrapbook...take 2...

Last summer, I shared this "Key Chain" scrapbook.  I have it displayed in my truck, and love the ability to shift the wooden pages for new pictures.  Recently, I updated the pages.

 I started with new wooden "pages" that I got at the craft store.  These are about 2 x 3".  I drilled a hole in the top of each one before I started.

 Then I went to the picture files on my computer and printed out some of my favorites from the summer.  I printed a couple of different sizes so that I would have flexibility in putting together the pages.
 I treated each wooden rectangle as a page and layered paper, stickers and pictures...just like I do for "real" scrapbooks. (Sorry for the blurry pictures...my camera was acting up!)
 When I finished one side of the page, I flipped them over and scrapbooked the other side. 
 I pulled a couple of my favorite wooden pages from the current Key Chain scrapbook, and put the others away (they'll probably recur in some other project)  Then I stacked all the pages up, and threaded the ball-and-link chain through the pre-drilled holes.
The finished Key Chain scrapbook is a bit larger than the old one, and I love having new pictures to show off. 

This fits perfectly in the center console of my truck and I can flip the pages whenever I need a glimpse of home!

Have a great weekend...Happy Crafting, Playing, Sporting, Baking or whatever life finds you doing :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

6 Things Children Teach us about Life...

I was recently approached by the team at An Apple a Day to write a guest post.  I hope you enjoy their take on what children can teach us...

It's a cliche that kids see every day through new eyes, but it's true. For most adults, it's too easy to get caught up in the dull, boring aspects of our lives and forget about everything that makes life exciting. Here are a few lessons from our kids that are good to remember from time to time.
Having a Passion is Important
Sometimes it's easy to get down on your hobbies and the things you love to do. Even though they bring you happiness, a negative voice can creep in: I'm never going to get anywhere with this. Kids remind us of the pure joy that comes with simply immersing yourself in a project you love, and not worrying about what anyone thinks or what the project will bring you in the end.
The Possibilities are Endless
Every day kids' dreams and aspirations change, and they truly believe that all of them are possible. How many times have I gotten into a bind to think that it will never resolve itself, but it always does. You never now how things could change, even in the near future.
Look Past the Niggling Details
When you're stressed out and frustrated, it's easy to look at your spouse or loved one and name a dozen details about them that drive you crazy. Kids remind you to look past your spouse's tiny "flaws," because well, they look past yours.
Now is All That Matters
As a mom, you don't have the luxury that your kids do of having complete faith that the future will take care of itself; you're the one who makes sure the future turns out okay for them, after all! But, you can still take a cue from your kids and remember that a life not lived in the moment is a life wasted. Look around and enjoy the small wonders. If your head is always in the future, you never get to enjoy life as it is right now.
Forget About Your Body
Never once have I seen my daughter staring for long stretches of time into the magnifying make-up mirror (okay, she hasn't hit the teen years yet). Although it's hard to let go of our deeply ingrained body woes, do your best to forget them from time to time and give yourself the love you deserve.
Go Without a Plan
Even when I'm working on a creative project, I still find myself agonizing over every detail. After all, what if it turns out badly? Unlike adults, kids don't see their creative attempts (and mistakes) as reflections of their own self worth. They create, and fail, happily and without a plan. And often times, that spontaneity creates something they never would have thought of before.

Joy Paley is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on the subject of medical transcription training for the Guide to Health Education.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Triathlon Training...

I ran my first triathlon two summers ago and I was hooked!  For someone who wasn't sporty growing up, the idea that I could...that I did...finish a triathlon was amazing.  Last year I focused on biking and swimming, and in my two races last summer, these events felt great.  I actually swam and biked better than I had the previous summer.  

Running has been a bit of a challenge for me and I decided to be more intentional in training this year. In the past, I would just run.  I didn't really have a sense of how to train so, I started doing some research.  This article was in last month's Shape Magazine.  Interval training is something I've done with both biking and swimming, but I needed help in figuring out how to get started with running.  

Moving inside to run on a treadmill makes the intervals a bit easier to track.  The interval workouts also, keep the treadmill interesting and are starting to really push my running.  I can already run longer than I could and I am pushing the pace too.  Knowing that so much of sports, especially endurance sports, is mental I have also banished any negative ideas or thoughts about running. My new mantras...I like running...Running makes me stronger...I'll feel great when I'm done! (Sounds cheesy, but it works for me!)

I am excited to be training for three triathlons next summer and excited about being a better runner.

How do you change up your workouts in the fall and winter?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Breakfast and Ballots...

There has been lots of media attention to the mid-term elections, signs posted on every corner and commercials on TV.  Since our county votes through mail-in ballots, we use our ballots as a teachable moment.
While the boys ate breakfast, Kyle and I completed our ballots.  We didn't have too many races that were important, but there were several initiatives, resolutions and bills.  Connar helped us by looking them up in our Voter's Guide, and we deciphered the wording together.  As Kyle and I both belong to unions, we also took into account the perspective of those unions.  Connar asked great questions and actually helped us clarify our thoughts.

I believe strongly that what we model makes a more powerful impression on our children than what we say...and we had more fun voting!