Isn’t Spring fantastic? With all the snow melting, the grass starting to get green, flowers popping up, birds singing, and a new baby calf added to the herd every few days…
Well, it’s hard not to feel a little happy boost that Spring has officially begun, isn’t it?
Sure, there is mud to deal with. I made the husband bring home a few bags of mulch last week and we spread them in the rain because I couldn’t stand to clean up mud every time the dog went outside. (I was really wishing my Spot Bot hadn’t died and I had a new Shop Amazon – Presenting the Bissell Symphony) And my body is definitely not swimming suit ready. But, that is vastly outweighed by the overwhelming urge to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the weather.
Last weekend, my daughter suggested we roll out the fire pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner. That’s one of our favorite things to do as a family during warmer weather. The kids happily rode their bikes and played wall ball with each other while the husband and I enjoyed sitting by the fire for a couple of hours.
As I sat there staring into the fire, I couldn’t help thinking how glad I was that Kaitlyn has suggested something so simple yet thoroughly enjoyable. Then I started thinking about all of the many other small things in life we had celebrated the past week or so. (It had been kind of a crazy one actually)
Making it through my daughter’s back to back swim meet and band concert. Celebrated that one by letting her pick out ice cream on the way home. My little guy’s final Utah Citizenship performance (part of months of work and many projects and tests for them) celebrated again by letting him pick out ice cream on the way home. That one happened to fall on the same day we went before the county for approvals on our building lot (got it! Just a few more hoops to jump through before it’s official). In among there, I hosted our monthly Bunco group and that always feels like a party.
And you know what? Life is so much more enjoyable when you take a minute to appreciate the small things when they happen. Everything seems better when you purposely give yourself and your loved ones small things to look forward to. When once in a while we make the everyday special.
-a warm sunny day
-school or sporting event (ice cream!)
-one of those random “National ____ Day” Find a long list of holidays by date HERE. (I can’t believe I didn’t do anything for pie/pi day last! It falls on March 14. 3/14 – get it?)
-accomplishments – a promotion, finishing a big project, the baby took her first step, the 4th grader memorized his multiplication tables
-because it’s been a while since you had a dinner party or lunch out
-because the kids have other plans and you and the husband have some free time to spend together
-because it’s the weekend
-because it’s Monday
-because we’re all tired and need to relax and indulge
-the first ____ of the year (snowstorm, flower, hot dog/marshmallow roast)
-because it’s Girl Scout Cookie season
-minor holidays (St Pat’s, April Fool’s, Labor Day, etc.)
-change of seasons
-local events (strawberry picking season, hot air balloon festival, etc)
-because you missed someone’s birthday/anniversary
-the divorce is final
-your favorite author just released a new book
-that movie you’ve been dying to see finally hits the theaters
-get outside (walk, hike, ride bikes, roast marshmallows, fly kites, blow bubbles, fire up the grill Shop Amazon – Grilling and Outdoor Cooking Products)
-take a picture
-go out to eat
-try a new restaurant
-wash the car (what? Are you telling me having a nice shiny car after months of snow and salt-covered roads doesn’t count as a celebration?! Have you SEEN the line at the car wash at the first sunny day in a while?)
-plant flowers (Shop Amazon – Gardening Products)
-rent a movie (or find one on Amazon Prime Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial or Netflix)
-cook something seasonal or extra-yummy
-document it – journal it, scrapbook it, post it on Instagram
-surprise someone (treat, card, gift)
-invite people over
-family game night
-food, food, and more food (funny how so many things revolve around food, isn’t it?)
Well that’s my list. I hope to keep adding to it, so please feel free to share your own Life’s Little Celebrations, and how you recognize the small moments.
Give yourself something to look forward to.
*May contain affliliate links for your convenience.*
Linking to: Made By You Monday,
It’s that time of year again! Halloween is over, Thanksgiving plans are well under way and all of the stores are decked out for the holidays…bring on the Christmas prep! For me that means lists – gift lists, shopping lists, projects lists, Christmas card lists, and lists of ideas for our Christmas elves.
Our elves always show up on the first of December and spend the month with us keeping an eye on the kiddos for Santa, as well as having a little fun themselves (sometimes too much fun!). The kids look forward to the visit from the elves and it adds a little daily fun and magic to the season for all of us.
Our elves have been making their appearance for almost 10 years now (yes, I looked it up 😉 I started this tradition in 2007), well before the Elf on the Shelf concept took on the recognition and popularity it has today. So our elves don’t look like all of the other elves and they don’t have quite the same rules as the official Elf on the Shelf. In fact, our elves love to get hugs from the kids and to play with them during the day.
To keep things fresh and fun year after year I do have to put in some planning time (thank goodness for Pinterest, right? I have tons of ideas on my Holiday Elf on the Shelf board) so I’ve been pulling together ideas and reviewing photos of our Elf Antics from years past and I thought I would share a sample year with you.
This is what our elves were up to every day in December a couple of years ago. (My kids were ages 11 and 8 at the time)
Day 2: found them in the storage room where they had pulled out most of Grandma’s games and toys. Photo is courtesy of Kaitlyn, who was quick to inform me when I got back from the gym that morning and found the kids playing Jenga that she knew I liked to take photos before we moved the Elves and had made sure to do so. (Isn’t she the greatest?!)
Day 3: in the bathroom, where Twinkle was tangled in Kaitlyn’s headbands and Tinsel had drawn a Rudolph head on the mirror.
Day 4: the elves had put up a “tent” using one of the pool towels so they could hide while they created Top Secret missions for the kids.
Wonder what’s in the envelope…. (printable found here. Awesome idea)
Day 5: was Tyler’s birthday so the elves had made an attempt to decorate with crepe paper but got distracted playing with the party games.
Day 6: the elves we cozily reading a book together in the rocking chair
Day 7: had decorated the photo wall in the office using dry erase markers
Day 8: Perler bead creations
Day 9: they got into all of the treats left over from the birthday party
Day 10: must have been taking inspiration from my (body builder) brother. Looks like Tinsel might benefit from a few personal trainer sessions.
Day 11: found the sled on top of the entertainment center in the living room. I’m told Twinkle almost met with a horrible accident when she toppled off and my brother’s pit bull picked her up. Luckily, the husband saw it and pried her out of his mouth before any damage was done.
Day 12: packed the kids’ lunchboxes
Day 13: changed out the light bulb in the hallway for a pretty stained-glass one. Tyler said it looked like they were having a dance party.
Day 14: climbing the Christmas tree. I’m afraid it looks like Tinsel must have taken a tumble or two.
Day 15: hot chocolate! They found a special Cookies and Cream version from Stephen’s – MMMMMM
Day 16: crepe paper Christmas tree
Day 17: time for a Nerf dart war
Day 18: the elves found the tablet and had used it to take photos of themselves (by the Christmas tree, posing by the dog, random selfies, etc) then used them as the desktop background photos on the tablet.
Day 19: Playing with Tyler’s Minecraft toys and even found a Santa Minecraft head for Steve. (The cardstock “Steve” is a printable I used for Tyler’s Minecraft Party. The Santa head is a printable found here that I just enlarged a bit before printing. It wasn’t quite big enough for one of our elves to wear, but it worked fine for Steve)
Day 20: The kids forgot to open their Advent treat box before bed so the Elves did it for them. Lucky for the kids, the elves didn’t get as far as opening any of the chocolate!
Day 21: found the elves fast asleep under the Christmas tree, using the kids’ stockings as sleeping bags.
Day 22: the elves were having fun with the camera last night and took all kinds of photos. (Printable photo props found here)
Day 23: this morning they attempted to hitch a ride to school in the kids’ backpacks. I think we are all excited for the last half-day of school before Christmas break!
Day 24: elf zip line! And of course they also wrote up a farewell letter since Santa will be picking them up tonight.
And that, my friends, is an entire month of Elf on the Shelf ideas for you. They’re my favorite kind too – quick and easy. Easy enough to implement at 3AM when you suddenly wake up with that feeling that you forgot to do something… 😉
What have your elves been up to? Any great ideas you would like to share? I would love to add a few to my list for this year!
Linking to: Wow Me Wednesday,
Yay! We’ve almost made it to the big day! I’m almost as excited as the kids – though probably for different reasons. After all this preparation and planning, now that I have everything all set to go I’m anxious to get the party started! And I must admit that I’m a little exhausted by the need to keep staying on top of things day after day, especially when it comes to those silly elves (#elfontheshelf). The husband has been in Texas for military training all month and while I’m mostly excited to see him because we missed him, part of me would be relieved to turn over the nightly Elf Duties to him for a couple of days.
Here is what our elves have been up to lately:
*I have been sharing all the Elf Antics daily on my Instagram feed – be sure to check that out!
–Day 15: The elves found the DIY Lego Advent I started (and gave up on). Tyler thought the designs were pretty cool. Maybe between all of them they will get finished.
–Day 16: I think the elves must have heard about Kaitlyn’s field trip to the Discovery Space Center. We found them busily painting balls of newspaper and making a sign that read “Our Solar System”
–Day 17: Guess who else is excited for the new Star Wars movie! Glow stick light sabers and all – though Tyler was quick to inform Twinkle that “Storm Troopers carry guns not light sabers.” (Printable masks found HERE)
–Day 18: The elves wanted the kids to have something special in their lunchboxes for the last day of school before Christmas break so they dressed up pudding cups to look like reindeer.
–Day 19: 6 day’s til Christmas! First day of Christmas Vacation!
–Day 20: the kids have had a few days of extra good behavior and the elves wanted them to know how happy they were about that. The elves brought fun new Glow in the Dark markers with a note that said “Write on! Your good behavior is not overlooked.”
–Day 21: Found the elves “sledding” down the stairs, using my shoes as sleds.
–Day 22: We’ve had non-stop snow for a few days in a row and this morning we found the elves having some indoor “snow” fun of their own building snow forts and igloos out of cotton balls.
–Day 23: The husband has been out of town all month but finally made it back last night. The elves were nice enough to make him a giant “Welcome Home” banner.
–Day 24: As usual, on Christmas Eve the elves will be waiting for the kids with a Goodbye Letter until next year.
Wow. It just really hit me that we are finally here at the Eve of Christmas Eve. All the planning and prep for the holidays is done (or if it isn’t, it won’t be) and for the next couple of days we just settle in to enjoy the holiday and the time together. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
*For more Elf Antics and great Elf on the Shelf Ideas check out this year’s Week 1 and Week 2 on the blog. Or follow my Instagram feed for daily updates. There are also tons of great ideas on my Pinterest Board.
Here we are finishing up another week with those crazy elves. This is what they’ve been up to lately.
–Day 8: found the elves in the bathroom where Twinkle had build a “snowman” out of toilet paper (printable Olaf found HERE) and Tinsel was trapped in the basket where we keep the extra TP.
–Day 9: the elves brought a candy cane bouquet for the kids
–Day 10: Elf Antics in the pantry. I guess the elves were disappointed with our lack of Christmas cereal as they decided to create some Elf Breakfast Cereal of their own
–Day 11: Twinkle tried her hand at barrel racing using one of the Barbie horses while Tinsel cheered her on from the “stands” with the rest of the Barbie and Skylander audience.
–Day 12: we actually got some snow yesterday (strange it waited this long to stick) and the elves were excited. We found them all bundled up in the kids’ winter clothing ready to go out and have a snowball fight
–Day 13: pretending they were at the beach suntanning and snorkeling
–Day 14: The elves decorated the washer and dryer to look like snowmen. How did they know it would snow on laundry day?
Happy Thursday! Before I head off to a morning of painting drying racks, I thought I would do a quick Throwback Thursday post. Here is a look back at our epic road trip from North Carolina to Utah last summer – with the dog!
Two adults, two kids, and an enthusiastic golden retriever “puppy.” 2200 miles, three days on the road. Twice. That pretty much sums up our road trip this summer from North Carolina to Utah and back again this summer. Quite frankly there were times in the planning where I thought it was going to be torture. In the end, it all went fairly smoothly and most of it was even enjoyable.
So what are the biggest concerns when taking a pet on a long trip? Our first consideration was where she was going to travel. She’s big and she’s energetic and her “manners” just aren’t where we want them to be yet. We have a big gaz-guzzling SUV (because I like the extra space and flexibility, and in Utah we needed something that could handle the snow) so it made sense that the dog would ride in the back. We debated about leaving the third row seats home but were glad we kept them as we made good use of them quite a bit while we were on vacation. We also knew that we wanted to take her crate with us so we decided to prop it between the second row and the folded-up third row seats, figuring it would act as a good screen to keep her in the back. In our trial run in the driveway she showed no indication of trying to get past it. On the road, before the sun was up and we had gone less than 20 miles we had pulled over TWICE to deal with the dog. We had put her in the back and she was whining and pacing and wanting attention and pretty soon she had found a way around it and was in the kids’ laps. Fine. We just pulled out a leash and tied it to one of the metal rings in the back. Mistake in that the leash was too long and she was once again in the kids’ laps. Ok. We got out a different leash, making sure she had only enough length to stand up and lie down. She was still agitated and we thought we would have to stop a third time but eventually she did calm down (10 minutes? 20 minutes later?) And we were surprised at how well she did for the rest of the trip, even showing she was happy to jump into the back of the vehicle at rest stops when we thought she would be anxious to stretch her legs and run around longer.
Tip #1 – make sure your pet has a safe place to ride and is restricted well enough not to bother/hurt passengers if she gets agitated.
Tip #2 – do a trial run and make sure you actually get out on the road to work out the kinks instead of just staying in the driveway. That would have been a good idea 😉
On the other end of that, our dog is very friendly and loves people and she’s “a pretty dog” so she gets a lot of attention. At one busy rest stop when the husband took the kids inside first I didn’t make it more than 10 steps from the car with her before they got back because multiple families with kids asked to pet her and it was so much fun to watch the kids and make small take with the adults. At another rest stop a guy we ran into said he trains service dogs and noticing my focus on trying to keep Bambi sitting nicely while he petted her he ended up giving us a mini dog training/tip session. Despite the desire to get to our destinations as quickly as possible, the entire exprience was more fun because we took the time to enjoy the process, the sights, and the people we met along the way.
The highest point on our journey – elevation 8640
We had to do the whole thing over againa few months later when we moved back to Utah. And yes – all these trips worked perfectly that time around too! I’m interested though: Do you have any tips/tricks for traveling?
*This post is part of a series you can see the other parts here:
Linking to: Your Turn to Shine, Thursday Favorite Things, BFF Open House, Pin Me Linky Party, Snickerdoodle Sunday, Merry Monday, Blog Hobnob Link Up, Sundays Down Under, Tutorials and Tips Link Party, Something to Talk About, Idea Box, Made By You Monday, Lou Lou Girls,
Yes, we did pack the mini DVD player (and a brand new movie), the tablet (with a couple new free apps) and the Ipods (with updated playlists). We also uploaded an audio book the whole family could listen to (we highly recommend the Heros of Olympus series by Rick Riordan) and that served to keep us entertained for the majority of the time. For variety’s sake – and to get the kids to look out the window or carry on a conversation with us once in a while – I prepped quite a few activities ahead of time and put them in a couple of binders.
I found quite a few cute printables (like the Slug Bug one) here and you can check my pinterest board for other ideas. Each child got their own folder full of printables and I packed some dry erase markers so they could write directly on the page protectors then wipe them off to use again. I also kept another folder in my bag full of more activities so I could change it up if I needed to when they got bored. This included things like Lego instructions for the little guy (a couple sets in his binder and more ideas in mine) and origami folding instructions for Miss Kate.
Of course I also printed out maps for each day of our route. One of the most exciting parts of the trip was anticipating when we would cross a state line and we would start counting down the miles 5-10 miles out from each one. Kaitlyn even marked her map with the times we crossed each one so we could really see our progress.
Trip Journal Page found here.
Origami instructions found here.
Printable State Activity Pages found here. I thought these were absolutely fantastic. I kept them in my folder as well and handed them back to the kids as we entered each new state.
Of course, best laid plans and all – they did a few of them but often the kids were busy with other things and most of the state pages went into their folders unused. No worries – we will be making the trip again in a couple of months (EEEK! The move is coming so quickly!) so I kept it all together in their folders and my activity prep will already be done.
I also printed off some very detailed abstract coloring pages and packed a set of colored pencils for us to use (crayons and hot cars sounded like a bad idea) and found that even I liked to pull them out and color a bit while listening to the audio book. (now that is something we should all blog tips about – forget about entertaining the kids, how do we adults pass the long hours in the car?!)
*Reposted. Originally posted on my old blog Aug 2014
It’s Friday and another week has just raced by. We are down to just two weeks before the kids are out of school for the summer and I’m getting pretty excited for the change in routine. Being able to make it to the gym without having to wake up at 4:45AM to do so would be awesome.
It has become our tradition over the last few years that as summer approaches we sit down as a family and talk about what we are looking forward to and what we would like to make sure we do during the summer. It’s always a fun way to spend an evening and I’m often surprised by a few of the suggestions from the kids. Once we have a pretty good list compiled I sit down and type it all up, cutesy it up a little bit, then put it on display so we can cross things off when we do them and it’s there to refer to if we have a little down time we want to fill and are in need of ideas.
Included in our list this year:
-lots and lots of swimming
-hike Timpanogos (we almost made it to the top last year and are determined to go all the way this time around)
-swim goal (Kaitlyn – summer swim team)
-family 5K (We are signed up for the Great Inflatible Race at the end of this month!)
-Tyler wants the 4 wheeler fixed
-Collect Brag Tags – 100 of them! (This is through the Heber Valley Unplugged Program, which was initiated in a neighorboring county a few years ago. The kids have participated in it in previous years while we were here on vacation and it was a huge hit. More info available HERE.)
-sell house in North Carolina (fingers crossed! It is now officially on the market)
-make homemade ice cream
-rodeo/parade (4th of July)
-ride horses/trail ride
-BBW with friends
-Kaitlyn wants to babysit
-random hikes (to explore and to get in shape for the big one)
-clear out clutter/junk on farm
-kids learn to cook a few things (Kate realized I put this on one there twice. I guess I’m really sick of the daily “what’s for dinner?” grind. I’ve been too lazy to reprint the list lol)
-spend time at the lake
-try out a new restaurant
-playdates/time with friends
-set reading goals
-Pass of All Passes
So, what’s on your Summer Bucket List??