I feel like I have been holding out on you, but it has not been on purpose. The fact is having a new baby in the house is exhausting, even and especially the 4th time around.
We are overjoyed to announce the birth of our son! He was born on September 30th weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces. I made it a policy not to use my children's names on my blog years ago to protect them so I have to leave that piece of information out.
Big brothers love their new baby brother and are so excited each time they get to hold him.
Snuggling up with Daddy.
First car ride (home from the hospital)
We have had two weeks with additional help from each set of grandparents and are on our own now. The help was wonderful and we loved spending time with family. It was awesome to share this joyous occasion with them. Babies are such a blessing and they grow up way too fast. I'm going to enjoy some baby snuggles this afternoon (in between napping) if I can keep my eyes open. :)
Linking up at Friendship Friday
I saw this today and thought I should enter my article "No More Perfect". When I started looking at other submissions, I saw my article and realized I must have submitted it already. We'll blame it on mommy brain. I guess that's what happens when you are very pregnant and have had a lot on your plate.
I know you all are busy but if you get a chance, please stop by The Today Parenting Team Challenge and vote for my article No More Perfect. You can scroll down to No More Perfect by Faith Still. Thank you! Love ya and I'll keep you posted on any baby news.
Since this Dr. Seuss birthday celebration costume post has been getting pinned on Pinterest like crazy for the past couple of weeks, I thought I would update it with a few more details. This post is from 4 years ago. Hard to believe my little GACK is now 8 years old and we still have this costume in the dress-up bin, although the antlers don't look like this anymore.
My son's preschool celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday today by dressing up as their favorite characters. He was so excited. He decided he wanted to be a Gack from "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish". We went to the store and he helped pick out the supplies. My very creative husband managed to create the headpiece out of sturdy floral wire and wrapped it with extra fabric. He used red duct tape on the ends to secure the fabric to the wire. The fabric is a short fur type of fabric that I found at Jo Ann's. The rings on the antler headpiece are cut from thin sheets of colored foam pages that kids use for crafting. The GACK shirt is really simple to make. I just stitched up the sides and cut out a neck hole. Then I cut red felt letters out and sewed them on by hand.
Our Cute Little Gack at Preschool
You received a text last night…no school today. Snow day !!! At least that’s how your kids saw it. You saw it more like snow day, right after the weekend!?! Ok you didn’t have to get the kids up early and get them off to school. But you think to yourself, what should we do on a cold day right after spending two days at home?
Hmm…Morning chores, kids make beds and pick up hundreds of lego pieces off their bedroom floor. You wonder how long the clean floor will last before you are stepping on lego landmines again. Boys start some crafting projects, craft for a while, then you think...what should we do next?
Boys are now running up and down the stairs and all around the house enjoying an adventurous game of chase. As much fun as this is for the kids, you would much rather enjoy some peace and quiet. Since the weather is keeping them inside, you decide a trip to Burger King playland might be relaxing for you and entertaining for the kids. New to the area, your older kids have not been to the playland before and you know it will be exciting and new to them. Also, you know you can bring your laptop and catch up on emails and blog work while the kids are happily playing which is a luxury since (new to the area) you don’t have internet yet.
So off you go, bundling up to face the cold on your trek to Burger King playland.
Upon arrival the kids settle in happily in the large enough, but cozy play room. Decked out with a Wii console, a climbing tube play structure, a tv playing one of the Minions movies and a roomy seating area, you know this is going to be a good day.
You order some food and the helpful employees bring it too you when it is ready. You know you are here for the long haul so no pressure to make the kids eat right away. You let them play and eat when they are hungry. You know they will eat everything you have ordered and they do, during play breaks while watching the Minions movie.
You open your lap top while casually eating french fries and begin to work. It has been three days since you have checked your email. It takes a while, but you get through it and even get some photo editing done. You waste some time on facebook, but seriously it has been three days!!!
You realize at one point that you have spent almost three hours at the Burger King playland and that you are now on a first name basis with a very friendly employee who may be a manager…you aren’t sure since you didn’t get a good look at her name tag. She actually recognized you from your first visit the week before when you first discovered this magical place where you could actually put two thoughts together and concentrate on something for more than five minutes.
Of course you can’t help but watch little bits and pieces of the Minions movie. The minions are adorable and your kids are having so much fun laughing with the movie during their play breaks. So you don’t get as much work done as you could, but you enjoy your time with your kids and accomplish more than you normally would. You think to yourself, I can handle this. Bring on the snow days!
You work hard, so enjoy it Mom, bask in the snow day paradise otherwise known as Burger King playland.
Experience the the magic of Christmas with your children by preparing for Santa's Reindeer. They will love helping to make reindeer food and sprinkling it on the ground outside.
All you need is some oats or oatmeal and glitter. If you have access to oats that you would feed to horses you can mix it with glitter otherwise oatmeal works too. Just mix the oats or uncooked oatmeal with glitter and put in a container or small bag. Then let your little ones sprinkle it outside on Christmas Eve. Younger children love this. I found a picture of my oldest sprinkling magic reindeer food seven years ago. Such great memories.
I made these as party favors for a Mom's group children's Christmas party several years ago so I attached labels with a little poem and tied a bell to each one.
The poem reads: On Christmas Eve, sprinkle the magic reindeer food on the lawn. The magic glitter sparkling in the moonlight and the smell of the oats will guide Rudolph right to your house.
I was not the creative thinker behind Magic Reindeer Food. My department made this as a favor to send home with children who attended a Christmas party we threw every year at my old school where I taught Family and Consumer Science.
Linking up at Friendship Friday
Since I have three boys, I thought I would share my thoughts on the best gifts for boys. Our boys ages range from 4 to 8 years old so this is where I will focus. This is an update on a post I wrote last year when our youngest was 3 so it is still relevant for 3 year olds too. I will share our most played with toys over the years and any additional thoughts I have. We really try to limit screen time in our day to day life, so I won't be sharing any videos or movies. I'm also not a huge fan of toys with lots of bells and whistles. Simple is good. I want toys that inspire imaginative play and creativity.
Also, gift giving does not have to be expensive. I have purchased lots of gifts over the years (especially for kids) at thrift stores, garage sales and consignment stores. I have even made a few homemade gifts too. I also keep my eye out for clearance deals and buy gifts all year long and store them away for Christmas and birthdays. These are some of our favorites.
Magna Tiles are by far the most played with toy in our house. We have had them for years and the boys still play with them. They are an investment, but one of the few toys that are worth their expensive price tag. My parents bought the boys a large set years ago for Christmas and they still play with them every day. If you can find them used, buy them. I found a bin of magna tiles at a yard sale for $1 and added to the collection. I have never seen them at a yard sale, thrift store, or consignment store since. I don't have much experience with Magformers (similar to Magna Tiles), but my nieces and nephews love them. They are pricey too, but a toy that will last and entertain for years to come.
Since Magna Tiles are our most played with toy, we are adding to our collection this year (thanks to generous grandparents). We are adding a Magna Tiles Grand Prix set which includes two wheeled chassis. The boys will love the new set. I found them at my local Target, but they are now on sale and the set I want is sold out at the moment so if you know where I can find the Grand Prix set, please let me know. As of this week, all the magna tile sets are on sale at Target.
A classic choice is Lego. Lego is always a favorite toy. We even had a Lego birthday party a couple of years ago. You can sometimes find used lego at Kids consignment shops for a fraction of the price new. Lego are usually pricey new, but look for sales and clearance. I have seen nice sets for half price (which is still expensive, but a nice gift). The younger kids love Duplo. Our boys, especially our 4 year old still play with our bin of Duplo which were mostly purchased at a church yard sale. Our 6 year old received a Star Wars Lego set for his birthday this fall and he thought it was the most exciting gift ever.
If you have boys, you probably have some dinosaurs, but they are always great gifts, especially for 3 to 5 year olds. As you can see they make great dinosaur prints in homemade play-dough too. Dinosaur books are also an excellent choice.
We received our first Switch & Go Dino from a review I wrote a year ago, and it is still a well loved toy. We actually bought a second one at a kids consignment shop for Christmas last year. One turns into a plane and the other turns into race car.
Transforming toys are much sought after in our house. The boys put Transformers on every birthday and Christmas wish list. They have several transformers who are consistently involved in elaborate battles with dinosaurs usually centered around this large castle.
One of the boys received this castle for his birthday a few years ago from some very generous friends. It is a large footprint, but a much used and entertaining toy. If you have the space, this is great backdrop for all kinds of imaginative play. I think it's made by Fisher Price.
This is more for the younger kids, but trains have been a big part of our lives for years. We have quite a collection of wooden trains and tracks. We have a mix of several different brands and they all seem compatible with each other. (I just realized the train in the picture is not a wooden one, there are great plastic trains too.) Wooden trains can get expensive, but if you check kids consignment stores they often have nice sets for a fraction of the price. We have a lot of wooden trains and tracks, but it is from years of birthday parties and thrift store finds. If you have the space for it, a train table is a good investment. Some friends gave us ours when they were done with it and it has been used for all kinds of play. Train tables are common in kids consignment shops too.
Boys love bugs, at least mine do. They spend their entire summer outside climbing trees, playing tag, and yes collecting bugs. We actually have a real wooden insect collection box that the boys were given by an entomology professor when their father took them to visit the entomology department at the University. They learned how to correctly preserve and label insects and their interest grew like crazy. These are some of the boys favorite things. They love collecting and identifying insects. If your child has any interest in science and nature, he will probably love insect related gifts.
Art supplies are always welcome in our house. I love consumable gifts because we all have too much stuff. Other great ideas are magazine subscriptions and fun activities. My son received golf camp for his birthday two summers from his grandparents. It was a great experience for him. There are a lot of great magazines for kids. We have received National Geographic Little Kids, Ranger Rick Jr., and Highlights.
Another idea is Origami. Our oldest is really into Origami right now. The boys learned it at Kung Fu camp two summers ago and make origami at least once a week. I found a box of origami books and paper at a thrift store a year ago and they have really used it. They still love origami and will be getting some special themed origami sets I found at a local kids consignment shop in their stockings this year.
A new favorite in our house are these Star Wars workbooks. The older boys received these as gifts this fall and we purchased some more for them because they love them so much. I love that they are learning and having fun at the same time. We need to get the preschool level books for our 4 year old who will be so excited to have his own. Our boys pretty much love anything Star Wars which is pretty easy to find right now with the new movie coming out.
If you are handy or crafty, homemade gifts are great too. When the boys were younger, they loved to play with geo boards at preschool. The older boys have sort of outgrown this, but it is great for younger kids. My husband made the boys a homemade geo board from supplies he already had in the garage.
My oldest got Travel Tangoes in his Christmas stocking a couple of years ago and he still carries it with him on trips. He loves this game. I need to find another one for my 5 year old's backpack.
Games are always great choices. As our boys get older, they are really getting into games. My husband is a huge board gamer too so he really encourages them by playing with them when he has free time. The two older boys are really into Tally Ho right now. They played for hours last weekend.
Other great games the boys love include Mastermind Jr., Labyrinth Jr., Zingo, and Whac-A-Mole (kind of silly, but fun). Another favorite game is King of Tokyo. My husband taught the boys to play and they could literally play for hours.
Last summer I walked into the living room to this scene. The boys had brought in a card table from the garage and were playing The Reef, all on their own. I was glad to see them getting along so well and playing happily together. My husband is the board game geek in our family and I am so glad he shares his love of gaming with the boys. It is a great way for them to bond and the boys learn a lot from playing board games.
Our 6 and 8 year old boys are really into Pokemon. They could spend hours looking at Pokemon cards and books. They have several friends who are also into Pokemon so it must be a popular thing in this age group. Pokemon cards are highly sought after and have been the reward of choice this year at Family Formation. They earn coins for learning their bible memory verses and get to spend them in the "store".
Other good ideas for boys are practical things like long underwear, pajamas, socks, gloves, hats. This doesn't have to be boring since there are lots of fun styles. Our boys love anything camouflage or Star Wars.
What are your favorite gifts for boys? Feel free to share.
Linking up at Share the Wealth, Best Mom Advice, Friendship Friday
I love handprint crafts for kids because they are fun to make (kids love putting their hands in paint) and they become keepsakes that I will cherish reminding me how little my children once were. I still have a Christmas handprint craft my son made with his babysitter (I was teaching full time then) when he was 6 months old and I treasure it. It reminds me of how tiny and precious he was. He is still precious, but at 8 years old he is keenly aware that Mommy is embarrassing and won't let me hug and kiss him in public anymore. Well most of the time, I did get an arm around him in church on Sunday.
Since my four year old and the little boy that I watch part time love to craft, I got out the paints and some poster board and helped them make handprint and footprint turkeys the other day. They had a blast and painted for at least an hour while we let the handprints dry.
I mixed some yellow and red tempura paint to make orange, then swirled some more yellow in to give their handprints a mottled mixed color effect.
I then helped them position their handprints on the poster board. We let these dry for about an hour, then made footprints.
I very carefully dipped their little feet in paint then positioned them on the turkey to make the turkey body. I had baby wipes near by and quickly wiped the boys' feet off before they could run around with a painted foot. We let the paint dry during nap time so that it would be completely dry before moving on.
Then I cut waddles out of red construction paper and beaks out of orange craft foam and the boys helped me glue them on. For fun we added wiggly eyes. I think they turned out really cute and the boys had such fun making them.
I actually wrote these notes to myself in my journal quickly one afternoon. It must have been about a year ago and I really needed some encouragement. Being a stay-at-home parent can be lonely sometimes and there seems to be a lot of pressure to do it all. I know I feel the pressure to keep a clean house, raise well-behaved, well-rounded children, plan and prepare healthy and delicious meals, help with yard maintenance, and contribute to the family finances by saving money and earning income (usually blog income and ebay sales). When you think about it, stay at home parents contribute A LOT to the family. Yes A LOT is in bold because really it's like a TON.
So here is some encouragement for all of my fellow stay-at-home parents.
Let me start with this, you are doing the most important job in the world! It doesn't seem like it most days, but when you look back at your life, your children will mean more to you than any job ever did. The days will seem long, even mundane in the everyday tasks that must be performed, but each task that you do and each moment that you spend with and for your children is essential to the happiness and well being of your family.
I gave myself two weeks for the goals in my last goals post since we had family visiting and did a little traveling ourselves. I am giving myself two weeks again since I will be baking for a church bake sale, planning and hosting a birthday party, and traveling again. Such fun, but a lot of work too.
Previous Goals and Accomplishments:
1. F̶i̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶u̶n̶p̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶u̶i̶t̶c̶a̶s̶e̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶a̶ ̶t̶r̶i̶p̶ ̶t̶w̶o̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶s̶ ̶a̶g̶o̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶u̶t̶ ̶a̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶y̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶p̶i̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶a̶r̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶t̶.̶ Accomplished, but only because I had to pack again so now I need to unpack again.
2. Mend at least one thing from my mending piles. Starting small because I have had mending piles forever and rarely take the time to mend anything. (Not accomplished so on my new list. I have set aside something to mend though.)
3. B̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶c̶h̶o̶o̶l̶ ̶o̶p̶e̶n̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶b̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶s̶a̶l̶e̶.̶ Accomplished. I baked chocolate chip cookies and made extra dough so that later in the week when we had family in town we had fresh baked cookies.
4. S̶t̶a̶y̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶p̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶n̶o̶r̶m̶a̶l̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶s̶e̶h̶o̶l̶d̶ ̶c̶h̶o̶r̶e̶s̶,̶ ̶c̶o̶o̶k̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶n̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶l̶a̶u̶n̶d̶r̶y̶ ̶e̶t̶c̶.̶ Accomplished. I cleaned for hours and hours since we had family coming into town. I actually did some deep cleaning which I don't always have time to get too. Well, I didn't have time last week either but that's what the wee hours of the morning are for right? As you will see my goal of 7 hours of sleep a night was not fully accomplished.
1. C̶o̶n̶t̶i̶n̶u̶e̶ ̶R̶e̶a̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶J̶e̶s̶u̶s̶ ̶C̶a̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶C̶h̶i̶l̶d̶r̶e̶n̶'̶s̶ ̶b̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶b̶o̶y̶s̶.̶ ̶ ̶ Accomplished. I can't say we read it a lot, but we did squeeze in some time at the bus stop waiting for big brother and I packed it with us on our little trip so there was some travel reading.
2. Make peanut butter play-dough. The little boys are excited to try this. - Not accomplished. Just ran out of time. This is still on our to do list.
3. F̶o̶l̶l̶o̶w̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶b̶o̶y̶s̶ ̶ each day on completing their chores. I would say this was partially accomplished. Some days I was on top of it and some days I was not. We have some improving to do here over the next couple of weeks.
4. S̶t̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶n̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶b̶i̶r̶t̶h̶d̶a̶y̶ ̶p̶a̶r̶t̶y̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶f̶t̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶A̶r̶t̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶N̶a̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶b̶i̶r̶t̶h̶d̶a̶y̶ ̶p̶a̶r̶t̶y̶.̶ I sent an evite and made a pinterest board of some ideas and now I need to make lists and get the supplies in order.
5. Finish mailing my son's thank you notes from his birthday. - Still not done, but I have a big push now to get this done before the next birthday party.
1. P̶u̶b̶l̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶v̶i̶e̶w̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶ and work on another one. Got one done, but not much accomplished on a second post.
2. F̶i̶n̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶s̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶q̶u̶e̶.̶
3. W̶o̶r̶k̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶p̶h̶o̶t̶o̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶h̶o̶t̶o̶ ̶e̶d̶i̶t̶i̶n̶g̶.̶
4. P̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶g̶i̶v̶e̶a̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶g̶i̶v̶e̶a̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶l̶i̶n̶k̶y̶'̶s̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶3̶ ̶d̶a̶y̶s̶.̶ Barely got this one done. In two weeks I think I did the minimum of three days.
5. Pin at least five old posts on some of my group pinterest boards. - I only pinned one old post on group Pinterest boards. Lowering my expectation on this goal because like all blogging work it takes precious time.
1. Exercise at least three times. Usually workout videos. I have a pilates video from the library I am currently using. - Not accomplished at all, unless you count lots of walking to and from a college football game and up and down the steps of the stadium. Lowering my expectation here too. No excuses I know...but it's hard when you have kids and not that much motivation.
2. Get 7 or more hours of sleep a night. - Sometimes accomplished and sometimes not. I do love sleep.
3. R̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶J̶e̶s̶u̶s̶ ̶C̶a̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶d̶e̶v̶o̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶5̶ ̶d̶a̶y̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶.̶ Accomplished. I love this devotional. It also helped that I had perpetual adoration last week. Quiet time in prayer and thought is so important.
4. Read three chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife. - I couldn't find this book for a few days and did not accomplish this goal. Next week.
5. Work on getting up earlier on school mornings. I hate being rushed in the morning and I am less patient with my kids when we are rushing to get out the door. - Better, not every morning, but probably half the time. Keep working on this one.
1. Unpack suitcases again. Another weekend trip equals more suitcases and unpacking.
2. Mend at least one thing from my mending piles. Starting small because I have had mending piles forever and rarely take the time to mend anything.
3. Stay on top of normal household chores, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. and more to get ready for birthday party.
4. Bake for the bake sale.
5. Prepare anything for the birthday party that can be made ahead of time.
1. Continue Reading Jesus Calling Children's book to the boys.
2. Make peanut butter play-dough. The little boys are excited to try this.
3. Follow through with the boys each day on completing their chores.
4. Continue planning birthday party crafts for an Art in Nature birthday party and procure supplies. Actually, host the party. It is in the next two weeks.
5. Finish mailing my son's thank you notes from his birthday. (Still haven't done this, but must get this done before the next birthday party.)
1. Publish another review post.
2. Finish one posts from my que.
3. Work on photos and photo editing.
4. Pin at least two old posts on some of my group pinterest boards.
1. Exercise at least one time. Usually workout videos. I have a pilates video from the library I like. (Really easing up on this one since I didn't do it at all over the past two weeks.)
2. Get 7 or more hours of sleep a night.
3. Read my Jesus Calling devotional at least 5 days.
4. Read two chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife.
5. Work on getting up earlier on school mornings. I hate being rushed in the morning and I am less patient with my kids when we are rushing to get out the door.
I can't believe my baby is five years old today. I was reminiscing recently and found this video of him when he was just a few months old. It seems like yesterday.
To my little man:
In case you read this someday...I treasure you more than you can possibly imagine. I love you more than words can say. I love you forever.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) Teacher turned work at home Mom, bringing you family friendly, homemade recipes and homemaking tips to simplify your life. Join me on my homemaking and mothering journey.
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