Saturday, December 21, 2013

The-thing-that-must-not-be-named

So.  The Elf on the Shelf.

I don't get it.

I'm not going to go on some tirade about spoiling children and how parents don't need to stage these elaborate scenes because hello do you remember Peanut's birthday parties?   And forget lecturing about commercialism and the true meaning of Christmas because I LOVE Christmas.  All of it.  The good, the bad and the cheesy.  The kid has a his own house decorated for Christmas for goodness sakes..

I'm not even dead set against The Elf.  I imagined picking up Peanut from preschool one day, sniffling as he came to the door, looking up to me with big, sad eyes and asking, "Mommy, why don't we have an elf on the shelf?" To which I would reply, "Oh honey, our elf is coming tomorrow!"  It wouldn't be the first late night run to Target and hopefully it won't be the last.  (Does anyone else love that quiet, childless stroll through Target after all the normal shoppers have left?)

My plan until that moment is not to talk about The Elf at all, in hopes that when he does hear it mentioned at school, he'll have no idea what they are talking about.  We shall not name that thing.


I'm watching you.

The first thing I don't understand about the-thing-that-must-not-be-named, and this is very important, is that it's Creepy.  With a capital C.  With all the technology we have today, how was it not possible to make a remotely cute and endearing elf?   

The eyes.  

It's all in the eyes.

That thing is freaking me the heck out.  And I'm not the only one.


This is pretty accurate as to how I feel about this thing running around and wreaking havoc at night while we are all sleeping.

P.S.  This photographer is hilarious, genius and terrifying.  I especially like her Facebook page because it has the perfect mixture of classic family, boudoir and couples photography mixed with some truly disturbing creepy elf photos.  I love a lady with balance.

The second thing I don't understand is the every day part of the deal.  Parenting is so full of every single day tasks.  Feed the kids everyday.  Bathe the kids every day.  Brush their teeth every day.  Change their diapers every day.  You know?  So I'm resistant to an every day situation.  Although I have done a Christmas book a day in lieu of an advent calendar (and yes I start Thanksgiving because I have that many books) but let me give you a little background on how that is going.


Clearly this is not our pile (all of the pictures on this post are from Pinterest)

Year 1:  Every day after bath there is a nicely wrapped book sitting under the tree.  Well not everyday because he was too little to know that we were repeating books.  At the end of this year I wrapped all the books before putting them away in storage for the following year.

Year 2:  Every day there is a nicely wrapped book sitting under the tree.  At the end of this year I threw all of these books along with all our Christmas movies into a big container that was nearly impossible to carry into the attic crawl space.

Year 3:  Nearly kill the family trying to pass said container down the ladder.  Wrap 6 books and run out of tape, mentally add tape to the list of things to buy.  After 6 days of a nicely wrapped book sitting under the tree we forget, on a nightly basis, that we are supposed to have another book under the tree.  When Peanut gets out of the bath we shove a book in a gift bag with a piece of tissue paper.  Until the tissue paper disappears.  Instead of finding more tissue paper we stuff plastic grocery bags in as filler.  He doesn't seem to mind.  The gift bag has since ripped on one side.  He still doesn't mind.


Is it me or is that one angry looking powder angel?
And don't even get me started on the cop picture.

So yes, we have all these normal parenting daily things to do and then the holidays hit and we go from life is busy type of crazy to Holy Shit the holidays type of crazy. And then we have the nightly staging of the Thing.  Maybe I'll get into it next year but right now, I'm too tired to think that's realistic.


There is an undeniable perk to the-thing-that-must-not-be-named.
He's Santa's snitch.  I'm all for having something around to keep the kid in line for a few weeks.  But this leads me to my next question.



Why is that creepy little thing always getting into terrible trouble in the night?  Aren't we trying scare our kids into submission by threatening coal and the full wrath of the naughty list?  

So let me get this straight.  Every day the kids wake-up to find that the-thing-that-must-not-be-named made snow angels in the powdered sugar, tied-up his toy friends, ate all the cookies, wrote on the mirrors and had an all night strip poker party with Barbie.

All in order to get our kids to behave.

I'm so confused.



So, we spend a month giving the kids examples of things they shouldn't do and then tell them to toe the line or Santa's sleigh is skipping this house on Christmas Eve.

I mean, wouldn't this theory make more sense if It was prompting the kids to do nice things.  Like if everyday the-thing-that-must-not-be-named had a sign that said,
 "If you wake your mommy up today, you can say goodbye to any hopes of getting that Teenage Mutant Ninja Princess Rainbow Loom Sword Set."
  Or whatever. 


Don't play with fire kids!

I'm not saying It has to be holding a different scripture passage every day because let's face it, Elves, and Santa for that matter, have little to do with the religious holiday.
I don't remember hearing about any elves lurking around at the birth of Christ.  Maybe they were at that one nativity with the lobsters.

There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?



I will say that there are quite a few very cute ideas that I really do like.  Even if the Thing is creepy.

Besides if you want to get all religious you could replace the-thing with this instead.  But that's not at all the same, now is it?   I mean, there are alternatives like these two and these peeps and of course Etsy has this girl (can someone make this for me pretty please, she's too precious).  Of course there is Montgomery, the mouse that is not at all less creepy than the Elf.

I don't know.  I'm still waiting to feel inspired by some of this.

So if you can clarify any of these things, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Otherwise, we can laugh and cry together next year when you notice me pinning elaborate ideas on how to turn my living room into the North Pole by morning so that I set the right stage for the-thing-that-must-not-be-named.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peanut's Christmas House

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It is not enough that Peanut has his own house in our backyard.

A house complete with doorbell, kitchen, eating area and custom shelving by Papa.

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One day I came home from work to find this happening.

Papa ran a 50 foot extension cord across the pergola, onto what was once our canopy and down onto the house so that it would have working lights.

And then he made sure it was remote-controlled so Peanut could turn them on and off himself.

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They did this all during nap so he woke up to a big surprise.
He was so excited and is still excited every time he goes outside.

Peanut was very impressed with the lights!
Oh and the snow, we can't forget the snow!

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Nama then made sure to decorate it with a new Christmas wreath,  plants for the flower pots and a Santa welcome mat to pull it all together.

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Peanut ADORES decorations.  

It's awesome to do these types of things for him because he loves it SO much.

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Even at night after dinner, when it's too dark to play outside, he likes to turn on his lights and admire his house through the window.

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This year is turning out to be so much fun because
 he's really getting excited about all the holiday cheer! 

Besides, who needs to wait for Santa when you have Nama & Papa?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Halloween Felt Play Boards

PicMonkey Collage

It's another "I love felt" addition on Spontaneous Clapping.
Mostly that's because I'm not very good at making things that are hard to handle.
Felt is easy to use, it's easy to cut, it's cheap, and hello, you can hot glue it!

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3 weeks before the party I still had no idea what I was going to make for a party favor.
The first year we did the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch.

And really, you cannot beat the Adopt-A-Monster that we did last year.
I just can't.  Nothing is going to be as cute as that.  

Plus, I wasn't feeling the motivation to get anything done.
You know what I mean, there was no inspiration and I was seriously dragging my feet.

So mom was over, looking at my fall felt tree when she suggested I do some play panels as favors.

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I was immediately excited but since I didn't have a game plan, I wasn't able to take advantage of Peanut's Yen Yen (grandma), my lovely mother in law who was in town.

She would have been more than willing to help cut out shapes but I just kept sitting down and staring at big pieces of felt.  This would continue for 2 weeks.  Felt Everywhere.

Contrary to what most of you think, I'm not very creative.

But I'm great at copying things!
As you can see a few pictures up, I have my phone out.
I like to google pictures so that I know what to sketch.
Google:  Pumpkin Outlines
Google:  Bride of Frankenstein
Pinterest:  Jack-o-Lantern faces
Pinterest: Witch Crafts

This is where I get my "original" ideas. 

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My felt panels are 2' x 2' which is really big.
I wanted to be able to hang it on the wall or door handle and have the kids stand and use it.
Alternatively you could make it small enough to sit on their lap.
I thought about doing it on half-size baking sheet from the 99 cent store but I didn't want to bother with cutting out such small felt pieces for 24 different panels.

My mom made them look all professional by sewing a sort of open-ended hem, 
 adding a 2' dowel (from Home Depot), cutting a slit below the dowel (no problem with felt)
 and tied a string around it for hanging the panel.


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I glued on some of the pieces so that the kids would have a general idea of what they were looking at.

I also wanted the big pieces to be anchored so the smaller pieces would stay on.
Each Frankenstein had pieces to make both the Bride of Frankenstein and the man himself.

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This photo is too dark to really see her hair but I was pretty happy with it.

In general, the less the panel moves around, the better the felt pieces will stay on.
BUT if you're in a situation where it's getting jostled a lot, the pieces will fall off.

So, either lay it on the floor or table to be used
OR
stick some velcro on the back of the pieces.
This is what they do in a lot of preschools.  
The only disadvantage is that the velcro tears up the bottom piece of felt 
and over time it'll need to be replaced.

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Jack-o-Lanterns!
You could get really creative with these.

I originally just cut out the eyes and decided later to make the masks.
The littler kids may have a hard time with all those individual eye pieces, so I thought this would be a way to help make it easier for them.
It also adds color.

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You see what a difference it makes to just turn the mask upside-down?

A bow can also be a bow tie depending on where it is placed.

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You could make costume faces too.
A kitty mask, a witches hat, a scarecrow face, etc.

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I used one pumpkin as the stencil for the rest of them.
Working in duplicates really helped move things along.

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We have witches!
Each one has a hat and several different "faces".

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You could do a night sky behind her, a broom, a black cat or just a moon and stars.

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Again, all I did was flip the eyes in the 2 pictures above and the faces look completely different.

This could be good teaching tool for feelings/emotions.

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I also love these because they serve as decorations during Halloween.

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This was how I felt when I accidentally cut through some pieces that were already finished.

Don't be lazy like me and cut felt on a table full of other felt pieces!

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Owls.
You just can't go wrong with owls.

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The body and the branch are hot glued on.
I sketched both with chalk on the felt,
cut it out, smacked the chalk off and then used that to trace and cut the rest.

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I made the eyes by tracing the bottom of a kids cup on white felt, glued it to another piece of felt (in the above photo I used orange) and then cut that out.

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I found I liked the pupils to be towards the bottom (or top) instead of the middle because it gave more character when you flipped it upside down.

This way the owl can always look in different directions, as you can see in the photos below.

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The wings are not attached and I did decorate some of them.
Decorating the wings would be a great craft to do with the kiddos.
These are all decorated with scrap from this and other projects.

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In keeping with the theme of the Halloween Outer Space Party, 
I also made some space ones that I will show to you later!

Maybe next year you can try some of these out… because it's already nearly 2 weeks since Halloween and I'm just getting this posted, ha!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Peanut's 3rd Birthday: Outer Space

ryder

I'm not sure if I've told you this yet but Peanut has been obsessed with outer space for the last 6 months or so.  He loves outer space, planets, rockets and Star Wars.

He can name the planets in the solar system.
I had to look this up.  It's terrible but seriously, do you remember the names of the planets in order?
Anyone who names Pluto is automatically disqualified.


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Of course, we still wanted to do Halloween so we just threw it all together in a mish mosh.

A Halloween/ Outer Space/ Costume Party!

pops

Instead of elaborate cupcakes I wanted to simplify and do cake push pops.
We started these at 11 pm the night before.
We had a really full day with another party to go to so it couldn't be helped.

If you really wanted to make them cute you could do flames coming out the bottom!
But you don't do those types of things when you start at 11 pm.
Why won't kids every go to bed on time when you have a deadline?

Anyway, cake push pops.  Hmm, I'm going to try these again but I'm not a huge fan of frosting so an entire layer of it is not a perk for me.  AND the boxed cake mix was too fluffy so it fell apart when we stuffed them.  I'm going to work on this process and get back to you.

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Cake decorating is really not my thing.  At all.
Frosting cakes is not my thing.

So I made a sheet cake, froze it, cut out a paper stencil of a rocket,
cut around the stencil and then used canned white frosting on it.
Then I cut the circles out of the stencil and stuck them on the iced cake, cut the fins?  (you see, that's how much I know about rockets) off the stencil and stuck them on the cake.
Added sprinkles to the body of the rocket, removed the stencil pieces,
added Dollar Tree candles, called it a day.

jake

This kid.  Do you see this kid?  
Can you feel the energy coming through the screen?
Yup.  He's hilarious.

His parents are AMAZING and made this for me.
2 1/2 weeks before the party I still had no idea what I was doing for the outer space theme.
His mama sent me a message that she would throw this together.
Can you believe that?
Me neither.

This rockets was completely amazing.

It was completely free standing.
Peanut is still using it, he thinks it's hilarious.
I should just set it up in his room in front of the mirror.

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Snow White came by and all the little girls swooned.
Her little Mulan was incredibly adorable.

I love seeing all the kids dressed up.

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This little boys birthday party was the day before.
These guys met at My Gym and immediately clicked 
so I guess you could say he's Peanut's first friend.
You know, a friend of his own making, outside of the friends that I have introduced him to.

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Oh my God.
A little chicken!

I've really been cutting back on the parties
 but as my friends keep having babies, the parties never seem to get any smaller.

daniel

Cousin Daniel, always camera ready and without the strained fake smiles I get from Peanut.

Did I mention the RJ stand for Peanut's initials and the 3 for his age.
They thought of everything!

frankie

This is why you have little girls.

Her expression is fantastic.

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And then I died.

connor

Come on up little batman!

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That finger full was all he ate of his cake which is why I don't believe in putting a lot of effort into it :)

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My niece and her baby.

She's a parrot!  And my niece made her costume!
Baby Charlie's parents were pirates for Halloween 
and they looked adorable carrying around their little parrot.
Did I mention that both of them have Dawn as a middle name?
I like to mention that to people.

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I did not previously know that spider girl existed but I love her.
Peanut was very envious of her brother, Darth Vader.

ivy

She's like the spokesmodel for cake push pops.
AND she has the modeling leg pop down.

I swear, every time I pulled out the camera she struck a pose!

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Because my friends are awesome, we got a lot of themed cards and bags and presents.
Snow White made this one.

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What 3 year old doesn't want a solar system in his room?
OK, my kid is a little odd.

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After most of the guests left Daniel and Ryder decided to open some presents.
What this means is that Daniel opens the presents and we try to get Peanut to pay attention.

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Peanut would be happy to open one present and then play with it.
Present opening could take days.  Months even.

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I made Halloween and Space felt play boards for the kids to take home.

Thank you mom for the idea as I had no idea what to make.
My mom made them look professional.
I'll post about these soon!

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And then there was this face.
You want to squish it and kiss her cheeks don't you?
She'll be a year old this month.

When she smiles, she has dimples and then I give her whatever she wants.

boys

He had a great time!

PS In case you noticed, yes he was wearing pajamas the entire party.
They were supposed to go under his costume that he didn't wear.
It wasn't the type of costume that you can climb around in but I thought I could at least get one picture.
He was in it for days beforehand but you know how these things go.

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