Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Books

Lucas has been asking to break out our many Christmas books for more than a week but I've held him off because I wanted to start a new tradition. Last night I wrapped our 23 Christmas or winter themed books and loaded them up in this basket. Starting Thursday he'll be able to select and unwrap one each night as part of his bedtime stories. Yes, we need a few more to make it until December 25, but my parents traditionally give each boy a Christmas book for St. Nicholas day on December 6 so we should be all set after that.
By the way, if you're looking to start or supplement your own Christmas book collection, I highly recommend Humphrey's First Christmas. (One of last year's St. Nicholas day gifts!) It's the specific book Lucas has been asking for. Not only are the illustrations absolutely stunning, but the story is very, very sweet. We all love it!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Free printable from here.

Life is challenging and busy and hectic these days. And I'm often wishing for more time, especially with my wonderful boys. But I am so grateful for our family -- for Nathaniel, who can now say, "Mommy" and calls for me often. For Lucas who is so full of hugs and kisses and always wants one more, just one more, one last hug, okay this is the last one, but mama, one more hug and kiss! And for Abel who is my biggest fan and who is an amazing father. These days are hard and long for him, too, but our sons are so lucky to have such a great dad who takes care of their needs and makes time for fun adventures.

And, I'm thankful, too, for this outlet -- to write and share with you, dear readers.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with yummy food and surrounded by loved ones.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Last night Lucas and I made a quick little fire in our fire pit to roast a s'more each before bedtime and then we hung out by the fire for a bit to ensure it was out before we went back inside. After we gobbled up our s'mores, he used his amazing imagination to start a game -- I was the captain of the ship and he was my first mate, all kinds of fish started attacking and he speared them with his bamboo. At one point a whole school of piranhas attacked and Lucas started telling me about his super power: his brain can divide into 1,000 Lucas's to make a Lucas army.

I tried to play along and said I'd make a Mama army, too. He came over, really close to my face and said, "Silly, Mama, that isn't your superpower."

"What is?" I asked.

"Sweetness and kindness and putting people on the naughty step when they do bad things."

Being able to divide into 1,000 me's would be pretty useful, but I'll happily take those three instead.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The universe is telling me to get a Wii!

I'm not even kidding.

So several months ago, I got an e-mail with the opportunity to host a Wii Play Motion party. So fun, right? The only problem was that we don't own a Wii. No worries, they said, can you borrow one? Of course!

I decided it would be selfish super-fun to make it a ladies-only night. I mean you know that if the guys and kids were there the moms and ladies would get NO playing time. Am I right?

Nintendo and their pals at Brand About Town sent me two HUGE boxes which were, essentially, a party in a box. Seriously. The only thing I had to do was use the generous Cold Stone gift certificate to actually go purchase the ice cream.

(Don't you just love my table scape above? I was so proud of it!)

Oh? A close up? Here you go!

Yes, the jars came pre-labeled. And yes, I saved them for a future party.

Man, those sundae's were delish! But, of course the most fun was an evening with some of my favorite ladies and having a TON of fun playing with the new Wii Play Motion!

And did I mention the favors? Everyone went home with an ice cream bowl and scoop and one lucky lady went home with a copy of Wii Play Motion and a controller!

My generous fist-pumping friend, D., let us keep the Wii for an extra week or so and Lucas, Abel and I LOVED playing. I may or may not still be obsessing about Pose Mii Plus. (Not surprising since Tetras is my first and true Nintendo love!) Oh, and ladies, Abel and Lucas figured out Skip Skimmer in about 2 seconds -- it is super fun!

So after a few fun nights of gaming with our 5 year old, Abel and I started to think that maybe a Wii should play promently on our Christmas List this year.

But, wait! The story doesn't end there!

Fast forward a few weeks to Blogalicious (totally. amazing. more coming soon!) and WHOOOO gets her card drawn to be part of the Sears & KMart Winter Wonderland Dirty Santa gift exchange?

MEEEEE!!!!! (And 24 other lovely ladies!)

I know my good friend Thien-Kim at I'm Not the Nanny won't mind me stealing this pic. That's the awesome Lindsay Maines of Rock and Roll Mama but I'm on the floor on Lindsay's left.

Man, they had some amazing gifts. And you know how this game goes -- you can pick a gift from under the tree or steal from someone else. You know the moment one of the bloggers ahead of me opened up a Wii that I was intent on stealing it. But, alas, I got caught in the 3 steals max rule and lost it. However, I did score a Wii Fit Plus!

So, let's add this up: I now own a Wii Motion Plus game, 3 Wii motion remotes and a Wii Fit Plus. What's missing? An actual Wii!

Yeah, it's on the top of our list!

Of course the disclaimers: Nintendo supplied me with the game and remotes and sundae fixings and ice cream gift card (whew!) but all opinions are my own and those of the fun ladies at my party. I paid for Blogalicious with my own dime(s) and had a grand time and totally lucked out on getting to play in the Dirty Santa game (THANK YOU to the MANY bloggers who dropped your cards but weren't "present to win" as they say). No compensation was provided for this post.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Congratulations, Katrina at Wakeboarding Mama! You won the Tiny Prints giveaway. I'll e-mail with the details!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How do you choose?

Friends, I had the BEST luck yesterday -- I won a giveaway over at Design Mom!. Do you read all of Gabby Blair's amazing stuff? Oh I just adore her! And her giveaways are to die for. I always enter (you can't win if you don't play!) but never dream of winning because she usually has nearly (or more than) 1,000 entries per contest.

But yesterday I got an e-mail notifying me that I won! And a really good one at that -- $250 to spend at House8810.

So that got me to thinking: how do you spend "free" money like that? Even if you've never won an amazing contest like those at Design Mom, certainly you've gotten some sort of reward or even received a gift card.

Do you go crazy and buy frivolous things that you'd never spend your "own" money on? Or do you go super-practical and feel as though you have to get the absolute most bang for your buck?

I go back and forth. This time I went super crazy and bought all kinds of fun things that I would have had a hard time spending my "own"money on. And, my lucky, lucky sons (especially Lucas!) will be the recipients of some pretty fun things this year for Christmas!

But I did make sure to get the most bang for my buck -- through some slight changes to my initial order, I got my grand total up to $249.45!

Photos above are a few of the items I selected from House8810. And that umbrella? Totally keeping it for myself!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Free TinyPrints Card from Santa for All PLUS Giveaway!

Lucas has already started hoarding holiday toy catalogs and is circling and pointing out ALL the toys he wants (note: just about every single item in the catalogs!).  And Monday night he wore his robe to bed "to be ready in case the Polar Express comes tonight."

So while I may not be ready for Christmas, HE certainly is! One of the absolute best things about his age (he'll turn six right before Christmas!) is that he's so smart and grown up in so many ways but still has this amazing sense of wonder and excitement. I mean, he was really and truly serious about the possibility that the 'ole PolEx might rumble in front of our house that very night!

So imagine how excited he'll be to get personalized card from Santa in the mail soon!

Today only, visit the Tiny Prints Facebook page to find out how to personalize either the Checking It Twice or Santa’s Scroll greeting card for FREE!! {Hurry! Offer ends 11/9/11 at 11:59 pm (PT).}

And...even better...one lucky reader will win 50 free TinyPrints cards this year! Just head over to http://www.tinyprints.com/shop/picture-christmas-cards.htm to check out this year's selection and leave me a comment with the one you'd choose! (I know it's hard to narrow it down, so feel free to mention your top 3!)

The giveaway will close in one week, on Wednesday, November 16. One comment per person, please and I'll randomly draw one winner.

Disclosure: I was offered free address labels for giving away 50 free cards to a reader. Sounded like a win:win for all of us! All opinions are my own.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dia de los Muertos

We got invited to a very fun Dia de los Muertos party on Saturday. It was the perfect addition to our otherwise very low key weekend (just what we needed after a very, very busy October!).

The day before I decided we'd paint our faces like the calavaras and I thought the flowers in my hair were a nice touch! Our painted faces were a hit and several other guests joined in the fun (I brought the face paint and brushes with us!).

Another nice aspect was that everyone was asked to bring a photo of a loved one and many people spoke about the person or animal they were remembering. It was lovely--how often do you get to share a story or memory like that? Not often enough, I say!

We brought the wedding photo of Abel's maternal grandparents (on the left with blue background) and Abel told the group how they had 15 children and were incredibly poor (think one-room house and no indoor plumbing with all those kids!) but that there was so much love their poverty didn't matter. In fact just this summer I asked Abel's mom and aunt if they knew how poor they were and they both answered that they had no idea. Their memories are filled with laughter and love. How wonderful.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

We had such a fun Halloween this year! As always, it was a little hectic (especially since I had to get home from work!) and there were a few minor costume incidents, but overall, it was fabulous!

I took a picture of our treats this year (above). I was totally RADICAL this year and didn't give out ANY candy. None at all. Only one child yelled back to his friends, "There's no candy here!" But I got lots of "wow!" "awesome!" "look mom!" comments, so that was very cool. We gave out boxes of temporary tattoos which I got on clearance last year, glow stick bracelets (15 for $1 at Michaels!) and, Halloween comic book samples which the comic book store gave to Abel (literally about 100 of them!) for free when he and Lucas stopped by to pick up some new kiddo comic books earlier that afternoon. (If you don't already know, there are some really neat kid comic books out there--Lucas really loves them and they're the first "books" he's sat looking at for long periods of time.)

But of course you really just want to see the costumes, right?

Nathaniel was an adorable fire fighter! I picked this expensive costume up at the thrift store last September for about $15. It's really nice material (heavy canvas with reflective strips) and we already had the hat. Nathaniel spent our town holiday party on Saturday trying to strip out of it (and succeeding!) but didn't try to wrangle out of it last night.

This cutie pie LOVED trick-or-treating. He loved running after his big brother from house to house, loved saying, "HI!" "THANK YOU!" and "BYE!" to everyone. He did get quite spooked at the scariest house in town, but quickly got over it when Lucas ran on to the next house!

Lucas made an awesome Captain America. As you can see from the expression below, he was quite serious about it! His poses were awesome! Abel (aka The Best Dad in the World) hand sewed that star, the red and white stripes and the arm bands. And, he even shortened the fingers on those long red gloves so they'd fit perfectly. The coolest thing is that Lucas can now wear his Captain America sweat suit all fall and winter! And, of course, the mask and shield will make for fun toys.

(In this last picture you can see that Lucas still has his saber tooth tiger face painting on from earlier in the day! He didn't want to wash it off but also didn't want anyone to see it and be confused! Too cute!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!