Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bribery ain't just for felons anymore

About a month ago, I took Ella and Luke to our local Health Dept to get their H1N1 shot.

I try be honest with the kids about what we're going to do even when it's not something that they really want to be a part of (like going to get shots) because I don't want them to ever feel like I'm deceiving them or tricking them in some way (I'm weird like that). So I told them what was going to happen and needless to say, they were less than happy about the situation.

So, I bribed them. (As a side note, I do NOT normally bribe the children.)

I'm not happy about it but I did. I told them that if they acted tough that I would take them someplace fun when we were done. Of course, when we got in there, the nurse told me that no actual shot would be required and they would just get the mist up their noses.

So, I wasted a perfectly good bribe.

What do you think about bribing your children to get them to do what you want? Dumb? A necessary evil? Vote now.

P.S. What was the bribe, you ask? A trip to Grammie's library to check out a couple videos.

Year End Countdown

Everyone does a year end review this time of year and this blog is no exception. Here are my fave posts from throughout the year. Enjoy





May and May2 and May3 (it was a busy month)








Saturday, December 26, 2009

What to do...what to do...

I knew this day would come but I've been trying to put it off in my mind as long as possible.

Ella has decided she wants to have some friends over.
Don't get me wrong...I'm excited that she's making friends and everyone's getting along. HOWEVER, I have concerns like
--I don't know any of their parents
--I don't know anyone's last names to look up their numbers in the phone book (IF they're even in the phone book)
--How many do you invite?
--Will people really let their children come over to my house if they don't know me/Aron?
--How do I entertain a bunch of little girls??
Ella says she would like a Valentine's Day tea party with all of her girl classmates (there are 11 including E). Think I can pull that off??

Kindergarten Christmas Party

Look at all those little polite hands in the air!
Even Luke had a politely-raised hand.

Mr. Honorary Kindergartener

Ella's class of fun

Gotta roll up your sleeves before your snacks

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this but I help with Ella's class on Wednesdays for 1/2 hour. They divide up for something called "centers" during this time in groups of 4 students. I'm in charge of one set of 4 students (which always includes Ella) along with Luke. Somehow, Luke has become some sort of pseudo-mascot for the class. When he enters the room, everyone calls out "Luuuuke." It's kind of like the episodes of Cheers when Norm would come in the bar and everyone would yell out Norrrrrrm (except for Woody who would say "Hello, Mr. Peterson."). When we leave, some of the kids need to have a hug before he can leave.
I volunteered to help with the Christmas party and Luke came along with me. The kids were so good at the party! We gave them a bunch of healthy snacks like grapes, apples, cheese cubes, and crackers. There were enough cookies for them to have one each. I was the bearer of the cookies and took them around to all the kids. Some kids refused the cookies (Crazy kids!! What were you thinking?!?!) but each one of them were so polite that it was amazing. They all said "please" or "No, thank you." After they ate, they all played a little Christmas bingo.

Sign of the times

I went to a locally-owned grocery store before Christmas. Hanging in the back of the store next to the fire extinguisher was this sign. People around where I live are exceedingly generous and more than willing to help one another. At first, I laughed at the sign because I thought it sounded strange. I don't personally know the owners but I can get enough of a feeling about them to know that they would rather give you something for free than have you compromise yourself by stealing. It makes you realize how blessed you are if you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and enough money to give away gifts at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My little bell choir--too cute

The church we go to decided to have a children's bell choir this year for Christmas. It's very easy to do. The kids just ring their bells along with a CD of a song with the direction of color coded cards. If you make a mistake, it's not too noticeable.

Ella, Luke, and Myles are all in the video. Myles is the one on the far right in the argyle sweater, Ella is third from the left, and Luke is fourth from the left.`

I do have to admit...I chuckled a little at the placement of the bells when it wasn't their turn to play. You'll have to watch the video to see what I mean.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The winning photo

Probably shouldn't show it but this will be the one in my Christmas cards this year.

Christmas pix--The rejects reel

You would think that it would easier to take their Christmas picture as they get older............ nope! They just get goofier and egg each other on. Le sigh.

A spirited rendition of Go, Tell It On the Mountain

Luke and his fave teacher.

Luke had his pre-school Christmas program tonight. Hope our buddy, Natalie, likes this one, too!

(Luke's in the middle of the screen in a brown, argyle sweater in the second row with the blonde, shaggy hair)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Double duty craft

Aunt Robbie was kind enough to bring along a craft she had at her house. (Typically, I'm a little scared when Aunt Robbie whips out the glue gun but it all turned out ok. No one was glued together and there were no trips to the ER--whew!). Check out the pix

And then you roll the dough

L to R: Myles, Aunt Robbie, Luke, and Aron. Don't forget to make a hole in your ornament top using a straw.
Ella looks like she thought it was gross in this pic but she really thought it was great.

Use cookie cutters to make different shapes or just roll and shape into whatever you want.

Put it between sheets of parchment paper for easy clean up.

Look at the concentration on that kid's face!


Yes, you'll need this whole tub of cinnamon (4 cups)...and a jar of applesauce (3 cups)...and some Elmer's glue (1/2 cup). It will make your house smell AWESOME! Note to self: next time S-L-O-W-L-Y add the cinnamon to the applesauce. If you just dump it in all in one big heap, it will puff up in a big cloud causing massive amounts of coughing and sputtering. The inside of my lungs were a cinnamon-infused haze.

Mix it all around in a big ol' bowl

Pile it in a big lump and cover it with saran wrap.

Did anyone else ever make cinnamon Christmas ornaments (click on the link to get the recipe)when they were a kid? I remember making these when I was in the 4th grade, I think. I'm not sure what happened to my keepsake ornament (ehem, MOM) but I do have the memory of doing it...I think in Mrs. Peterman's class but I'm not sure. We invited some family over today and had A BLAST making them. See also next post for pix.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Unwrapped: A Cheryl and Company Tour

I stole some top secret recipes to shares with all of you. Shhhh! Don't tell...............just kidding! They handed them out in our goodie bags. I don't remember signing anything that I couldn't share this with other so click on the pic to make it bigger so you can read it/use it.
A gift for me? Oh, you shouldn't have....WHATISIT????

More gifts?? Oh you really shouldn't have...I'm spoiled enough as it is...I'm blushing...Heck, who am I fooling--IT WAS AWESOME!! Inside the gift bags were gift cards to 1-800 flowers, Cheryl's, a huge assorted box of cookies/brownies, a pound of chocolate from Fanny Mae, and a box from The Popcorn Factory. I also got a Cheryls and Company apron and I got to keep the hair net I had to sport in the factory. I think it was my first time wearing a hairnet and I must say that I rocked that look. I.ROCKED.IT.

Paws outta the bag, KiKi. I don't share well with others.

My friend, Jim, who is also known as the CMH Gourmand was kind enough to let me tag along with him on a behind-the-scenes factory tour of Cheryl and Company. Invites were issued to food bloggers like Jim and other food-press type folks. We were greeted at the door, signed our photo release waiver, given a name tag, and awaaaaaaay we went.
The gentleman who took us on our tour had been with the company for 22 years (I think). He started when the company was still pretty small (think using large convection ovens instead of mammoth machines to create those tasty little products). We were told about the entire process from the very beginning (ordering supplies on a daily basis the afternoon before you want to make the cookies-- giant bags of flour, sugar, baking soda, chocolate chips, etc--from a storage facility in Obetz, OH) to people using recipe sheets and weighing scales to combine ingredients in gigantic mixers to conveyor belts full of cookie dough to the ovens to the cooling station to the frosting station (where each of those delectable little cut outs are hand frosted) to packaging to storage. They used to employ people to hand shake on the sprinkles, too, but recently had a machine built to do this for them.
Something that struck me was that all the employees seemed to genuinely enjoy being there. They all looked happy (you'd have to try really hard to be unhappy when around all that sugar!!).
I even got to meet the prez of the company, Steve Druckman. What? You thought Cheryl still ran everything? Nope, I'm sorry to say that she retired a few years ago.
I feel like I owe them some free publicity in exchange for giving me bunches of their tasty wares. Here are a few fun facts:
1.) Cheryl's products do not contain preservatives. If you read the label, you can identify most if not all of the ingredients.
2.) Did you know that they merged with 1-800 flowers, Fanny Mae chocolates, and The Popcorn Factory?
3.) When you eat at a Golden Corral restaurant, the cookies on their dessert bar are Cheryl's. The factory makes the dough, freezes it, and ships them off to be baked at each restaurant. A similar process is used when they ship dough off to their Cheryl's stores.
Note to self: The next time I go to a factory, wear functional shoes. Your wedge shoe isn't as cute when you're almost falling on your keister.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Awesome McAwesomeson, Mayor of Awesomeville

I had a multi-faceted GREAT day which I will tell you more about tomorrow. I will tell you this much--


You may remember Jane from this post. I'm very glad to say that she returned to my in-laws house last night about 6 weeks after she disappeared. Wouldn't you just love to know the places she's been and the things she's seen?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Super easy cookies for the holiday season

In a panic, I've been known to use this recipe for cookies. It's really easy and most people have the ingredients on hand so here you go.

Cake Mix Cookies:

1.)1 box of cake mix (whatever flavor you like)
2.)1 egg
3.)1/2-2/3 c of vegetable oil (sometimes I can use 1/2 c and sometimes it seems a bit dry. Start with 1/2 c and add a little bit more at a time if you need it)
4.)1/2 bag of chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips, vanilla chips, chocolate chunks--whatever)

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix these ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Drop tablespoons of the dough on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

The combinations are endless (almost endless anyway) and are good in a pinch.

I jinxed myself

The kids have done nothing but pick at one another and fight since I made that last post. Therefore, I withdraw the nice things I said about how they interact (now maybe all will be right with the world).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 will keep us together....

Here's a pic of the kids having a snack inside their fort. You may notice that they are surrounded by chairs with stuffed animals on them...those would be their guards.

(Whenever I think of this song, I think of my Mom letting 2 year old Uncle Jeffy stand on the front seat of their car (yes, while she was driving--there were no car seats waaaaaaaaay back then) and dance to this song by Captain and Tenille. He would shake his little booty like there was no tomorrow. For those of you who know my brother, the thought of him shaking his diapered little moneymaker to Love Will Keep Us Together is hilarious. Hi-lar-i-ous).

I love that the kids enjoy playing together. When Aron and I were deciding when to have our children, we knew that we wanted to have them close together in age to enjoy all the benefits of a sibship. I think that it's worked out really well. The only hard part was when Ella was 2 and Luke was a baby. It was pretty hard then because we were overwhelmed and sleep deprived 95% of the time but it has gotten better as they get older.
Most of the time, the kids get along famously. They laugh at each others jokes, enjoy the same cartoons, and just generally enjoy being with the other one. When Ella goes to school, Luke will tell me that he misses her. He loves it on Wedsnesdays when I volunteer in Ella's class. He gets to go with me and feel like one of the big kids. He's got a little thing for E's teacher, Mrs. Porter, and likes to gab with her. When he and I go into the classroom, he and Ella run to each other and hug (yes, it's a little sickening) like they haven't seen each other in months. Ella always makes sure that he has a chair right by her. If it happens to be snack time, she makes sure that she gives him half of hers (again, it's a little sickening). When we go to leave, there's at least 4 or 5 of the other kindergarteners standing behind Ella in line to get a hug from Luke. I think he's some sort of mascot for the class at this point but without, you know, the big fuzzy head, bulging eyes, and overexaggerated antics.

Shop til you drop

Ella and I don't have the chance very often to shop with no boys around to pester us (ehem, Luke) but over the weekend, we had the chance to shop quite a bit. We decided to have a fun girly day with our fave Auntie T (my friend Tori). E and I went to the Lodi outlet mall. Normally, I'm not a huge outlet mall person because I think you can find equally good deals at the regular mall if you look carefully (except for one outlet mall in Michigan where I've been known to make my Dad my Bag Boy and send him back to the car with my purchases multiple times. You may remember this trip from this post) but we managed to find some cute stuff at a great price.

After we were done at the mall, we went to my FAVORITE candle factory EVER, A I Root where I spent enough money to earn 2 free candles. Tori tried to curb my spending by asking what my Mom would think if she saw me spending this much on candles. I told her to be quiet because my Mom would be rather proud and probably would yell at her for not buying enough. Besides, I don't buy any other candles any other places (I'm a candle snob) so I feel justified buying something that is such an awesome product. (Ok, my AI Root testimonial is done now).

After that, we went to the Larchmere district in Cleveland for their holiday stroll and Bazaar Bizarre full of unique crafters. I got an awesome screen printed scarf from this person along with some cute headbands for Ella from this person.

Ella had a BLAST doing all the fun girly stuff with Auntie T. I wish I would've gotten pictures of the event but I was so busy having a good time that I forgot to get my camera out!

Give a little bit...give a little bit of your love to me

With the holiday coming up, Aron and I are trying to decide what to get the kids. Neither have asked for a big item so I guess we'll get them a bunch of littler things. Every year, he and I disagree (read into that get frustrated with one another but somehow come to a compromise) on how much to get the kids. You may recall that we got a Wii last year (see also Wii and Wii2) and Aron was less than thrilled with the thought of buying it.

Seems like everyone I talk to is scaling back this holiday season...what are you doing? Get out there and vote in my poll, people.

Quick craft--tissue paper flowers edition

Even the least crafty of Moms can do this one.
You'll need:
.tissue paper

Take a stack of 8 sheets of tissue paper (whatever color you want. You can even do a stack of rainbow colors if you want to get crazy) cut in a rectangle . The rectangle can be whatever size you want to cut it. The bigger the rectangle, the bigger the flower. Generally, I size I use is 1/2 the size of a regular 8.5x11. Fold the short end of the rectangle like a fan with about 1/2 inch sections. When the entire length is folded up, take a piece of ribbon (again, however long you want it to be. If you use a longer piece of ribbon, you can tie the flower around things like your banister or refrigerator door or your kids arm like a corsage) and tie it securely around the middle. Pull each piece of the tissue paper gently toward the middle where you have tied it with ribbon. Keep doing this until you have a cute little flower.
Sorry for the lack of pictures. I meant to take more while I was making the flowers and promptly forgot.

RIP Nellie Jane

^Baby Jane was pretty cute...

I'm sorry to have to give this update but our kitty, Jane (you may remember Jane from these posts #1 , #2 , #3 (there are more...just do a search of "Jane" in the search box at the top of the blog) is no longer with us. We parted ways a few months ago due to what I considered unacceptable behavior from her and she went to live in my in-laws barn. About a month ago, she became missing ...with no sign of her since then, we are assuming the worst. I'm not sure if the kids have figured it out yet and I'm not going to tell them until they directly ask me.