Monday, May 8, 2017

Breakfast Fit For A "STAAR"

Happy Monday!

If you're a mom like me, you might find yourself counting down the remainder of Mondays left in the school year.  You're probably doing the exact same thing if you're a teacher, too :)  Counting down the lunches you have to make.  The alarm clocks you snooze through.  The outfits that need to be clean and semi-wrinkle free.  It's not that we don't love school, it's just that, well, we're ready for a little unstructured and routine-free time.  I can promise you I'll be saying something TOTALLY different come August, but for now, I'm finding with each day inching closer to June, I'm more and more ready to have my boys at home, to sleep in, and to just enjoy this crazy Texas heat with no plans in sight :)  

However, before we celebrate the start of summer, 3rd & 4th graders all across Texas have to take the state mandated STAAR test.  Talk about ending the year with a bang, LOL!!!  It's the first year for my 3rd grader to take this test.  He's 100% ready, but I'd be lying to you if I said he wasn't 100% anxious.  Bless his heart.  It's definitely a mental thing.  Knowing all that, I thought it would be fun to send him off to school on a celebratory note instead of a scary one.  So I figured it was a great morning to get up before them and prep a little breakfast fit for a "STAAR" ;)  

First up, the menu.  Praise the Lord for easy recipes.  He requested these cinnamon rolls and since I prepped them last night, all I had to do was pop them in the oven this morning.  Easy peasy, thank you Jesus.  I know bacon and eggs or something healthier would've been the smarter choice, but I prefer the path of least resistance & my boys don't necessarily dig savory breakfast choices :)  Whatever works.

I decorated the breakfast table with things I already had on hand.  I use all of these manipulatives at workshops & conferences, so all I had to do was pull it out of the closet and put it on the table.  Really, really simple!  

It probably took me a total of 5 minutes, so trust me when I tell you I didn't work to hard to make things "special".  I just wanted to get him excited and help to calm his nerves.  Bless his heart, he was so nervous!  He puts WAY to much pressure on himself.  He says his goal is to make a 100.  Way to set the bar high!  Lord!  I mean, I love that he goes big when he sets his goals, but I hate that he's so hard on himself when he doesn't meet his expectations.  I miss the days when his biggest concerns were getting his diaper changed and enjoying his next bottle. 

Star stickers for the STAAR test (you can find them in the craft section at Wal Mart for $1.96 a bag), and lots of dice & timers (Dollar Tree), & pom pom garland (Dollar Spot at Target).  Today's test is all about Math, so these just kind of fit the bill.  Tomorrow he'll be taking the reading portion of the STAAR, so I'll switch out the dice for books & letter tiles and call it a day :)  The only thing I actually went out and bought for this was the package of Starburst.  

He's already requested a special breakfast for tomorrow, too.  "Pam"cake Cake it is!  He loves this stuff and I don't make it nearly as often as I probably should.  I guess that'll make it that much more special!  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  

Praying for all of our sweet babies taking the STAAR here in Texas this week!  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Well, Well, Well...

Long time, no type!  2017 has been quite the year so far.  Here's what we've been up to since I last posted in December (whoops!)...

In January I made a quick road trip to Dallas to attend a surprise party for one of my favorite people...

I rang in February "Gal"entine brunching with these cuties.  February.  Short sleeves.  80 degrees.  No winter in sight.  #winning

Followed by a trip out to Pasadena, CA to present at a conference.  This was my first time in California and it did NOT disappoint!  I flew into Bob Hope...the most darling little airport!...and stayed right down the street from Old Town Pasadena.  Absolutely loved my time there and can't wait to go back!

February also brought about some big changes for the boys. They finally got their own rooms!  They share a Jack & Jill bathroom so they're not too far away from each other.  They got to pick out their own bedding and a lot of the decor.  I'm done doing it my way.  The bonus is that they LOVE being in their rooms now!!!  Let's take a tour of these space tomorrow, mmmkay?!

March came in like a lion!  We celebrated like it was 1937 for the birthday of this handsome grandpa.  

And then headed off to Breckenridge with some of our best friends for lots of skiing and, of course, Apres ski, too ;)  Recap on Wednesday, shall we?!  Breckenridge is my family's most favorite place in the world!!  

So that's been my year so a nutshell.

I also started this bible study back in January with the ladies at church....

Let me just tell y'all.  If you're looking for a transformative bible study, this one is it!  And be sure to watch the videos that go with it!  Priscilla Shirer is such an amazing teacher!!!  Our study ended at the beginning of March and now I'm starting this one with a few friends based on some suggestions from the ladies in my bible study...

I wish I could tell you that I've been trying a ton of new recipes and can't wait to share, but that just isn't the case.  Lots of things on repeat.  Salmon and veggies.  Tacos & taco salads.  And all the chicken.  Did I mention that pizza has taken up permanent residence on our weekly menu as well?! 

So that's about it in my little world.  Not much to share, but just wanted to pop-in and say "HEY!"  

Happy April!!!!  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Elf'd Up

We welcomed our mischievous little elf into our home about 6 years ago.  Over the last six years, I've realized this little trickster sure is the cause for quite a bit of controversy. 

You either:

A)  Hate the elf and keep him far away from you and your family.

B)  Think he's too creepy for Christmas

C) Feel like it's cruel to tell your kids the elf is watching them {I mean, after all, they should want to behave on their own merit, right?!  If you're using him as leverage, you're doing something wrong as a parent, right?!}

D)  Want to punch all the "bored moms with nothing better to do" in the throat for going to such elaborate lengths to position the elf in such ways that make you feel like a slacker

E) Have feelings about the elf that can only be explained through expletives

F) Love the idea, but not the trickery...ain't nobdy got time to stage the elf and pick up his mess 


G)  You're all about getting elf'd up...bring on the creepy faced little nugget and all his elf'in shenanigans :)

Let me just tell you that I've pretty much experienced all of the above.  

For the last few years, I fall into category G.  I am that "bored" mom with "nothing better to do" than place my little elf into mischievous situations every (ahem...ALMOST every) night before I go to bed.  

And I do it for two simple reasons...

These two :)

They get SUCH a kick out of the elf.  They anxiously wake up every morning and scour the house for his hiding places.  They can't wait to see what crazy thing he does next.  Sometimes our elf doesn't move and the boys typically assume he's too tired to fly.  We try not to make a huge deal about it.  Our elf is for FUN.  He's become one of our favorite Christmas "traditions" {can I count him as a tradition?!?!?}  

He doesn't go back to Santa and report...he just flies back to the North Pole to rest and give Santa hugs, drink syrup, and play reindeer games.  And when the holiday crazies set in, I'm not ashamed to admit that I use him as leverage..."do y'all think y'all should do that?!  Y'all don't want Elfabet to tell Santa tonight, do you?!" ...but those times are few and far between.  Not because they're angels...lawd, no.  But we've always wanted him to be just something fun...and magical... for the boys.  He really does make our holidays extra magical.  Just one of the fun little things for my boys to add to their Christmas memories :)

Our elf's name is ELFABET.  My oldest named him when he first arrived at our house.  That's a teacher's kid for ya ;)  Here are a few things he's done over the years.  Maybe he'll give you some new ideas?!?!  Or prove how bored I really am?!?!  Or maybe you just want to punch him in the throat.  

Elfabet arrives every December 1st and brings the boys breakfast, random trinkets, and pajamas straight from the North Pole (aka:  North Pole Breakfast). 

You can check out this years breakfast HERE.

Below are the elf ideas I shared with you last year, but before you get to those I wanted to share what he's been up to in the few days he's been here this year :)

Snap, crackle.....ELF?!  (I found this one to be particulary creepy, but funny nonetheless)

A little game of Pie Face for the win.  I used Cortizone cream for the whipped cream so that I wouldn't wake up to a milky mess come morning.  The boys always wake up before we do and there's no way I was going to wake up early to stage this one. 

It took the boys forever to find the elf in the fridge.  In fact, they woke up at 6:30, scoured the house, and said they figured he was too tired to fly back to our house so they gave up.  It wasn't until we woke up and went to the fridge for breakfast stuff that we alerted them to his hiding spot.  Haha.

And yes...Elfabet needs a bath.  In a bad, bad way.  How disgustingly dirty is his hat?!  Gross.

This right here is the boy's all time favorite .  They still talk about it to this day!

Elfabet got a hold of my phone and went around the house snapping elfie selfies with all of us sleeping.  He left the boys a note  (and some cookies) telling them to look through the camera roll.  If you could've heard their laughs this morning, ohmiword.  Best alarm ever.    They were in hysterics!  He even changed the wallpaper on my phone!  Sneaky son of a gun.  

This is what he got into last year that had the boys in stitches...

Left to right:
He packed the boys a nutritious lunch full of syrup, chocolate syrup, icing, sprinkles, and junk food.  All the essentials for a delicious meal.  And one night he couldn't quite make it to the bathroom in time so he left a little mess on our coffee table.  SO disgusting and so hilarious all in the same breath.  I live in a house full of boys and the potty humor even makes me laugh :) 
And finally there was one night he decided to help himself to some cookies, but he realized how awful those tasted and left a note for the boys letting them know he didn't like them at all.  Silly Elfabet!  Dog biscuits are for DOGS!!  Hahahaha

1.  Elfabet always arrives with a North Pole breakfast.  He brings Christmas socks, Christmas jammies, a Christmas book, and a Christmas movie.  And candy canes, too :)  The menu always consists of hot chocolate and snow covered donuts.

2.  He got into mommy's jingle juice.
3.  Drinking syrup in the pantry...after all, it's one of the 4 main food groups :)
4.  He turned the milk green...and my husband refused to drink it (and we wonder why my oldest is so picky?!?! ;))

5.  He rode a reindeer into town and didn't want to get off.
6.  He loves sugar and processed food as much as we do!

7.  Bless.  He's stuck outside!!!
8.  Reading to his Smurfs.  Smart little fella.

9.  He strung a clothesline from the Christmas tree to the drapes.   Then he hung up the boys underwear and himself...upside down!  This was one of their favorites!

10.  Drawing a picture of he and the boys.  Ha.
11.  Drawing faces on the boys in their Santa picture.  This is the one that scarred my youngest...FREAKED him right the heck out.  He pretty much screamed...then cried...and the picture came down.  This is when I was feeling like option E above.
12.  Wrapped the tree with toilet paper.  I felt like option F and decided this wouldn't be something we do again...once was enough :)

13.  Elfabet is a big fan of The Office, so he made himself a bowl of marshmallows and some hot cocoa while he watched.
14.  "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."...singing while wrapped up in Christmas sheet music.  See what I did there?!

15.  Taking a bath in a sink full of marshmallows.  When I woke up, my boys were helping themselves to a few for breakfast.
16.  Stuck under a glass in our cabinets.  He stayed there for a couple of days.
17.  The boys were worried he wouldn't follow us to Indiana for Christmas, so he wrote them a letter telling them he'd be there.  Reassurance :)

18.  Another ride on the reindeer...he likes riding in style.
19.  Watching "Elf" under the covers :)
20.  He got into the leftover Halloween candy...and then we had to throw it all away {thanks, Elfabet!}

21.  He made a shoe mountain and climbed to the top.
22.  Fishing for goldfish in the potty.  With a candy cane.  Landon's personal favorite.
23.  Made himself a little TP hammock in between the boys' stockings.

24.  Coloring a little something special for the boys.
25.  It was a particularly rough day at school for me, so Elfabet hopped in a cop car and pulled over a school bus :)

26.  Even Elfabet knows the real reason for the season.  He stayed here for a few days, too.
27.  A marshmallow message to remind the boys why we celebrate Christmas.

28. Ziplining on tulle right for the tree.
29.  He hung the boys undies on the tree.  They laughed like crazy, and then they were all, "are you gonna take those down before people come over?!?!?!"  Ha.

30.  He was tired of coming up with ideas, so he hung upside down from the chandelier.
31.  Telling Santa what the boys want for Christmas.
32.  He hung the boys Christmas pajama pants from the stocking holders.  This was the year the boys would walk by the display and run their hands along the pants.  Then the stocking holders fell over and all broke.  That was a last for that idea. {feeling like option E again...dang elf!!!!}

33.  Okay.  This one was a family favorite.  We all laughed pretty hard.  Elfabet stuffed himself inside of a roll of toilet paper and rolled down the stairs.  Hahahaha.
34.  He set out the M&M's for our Christmas cookies and decided to eat a few, too.

35.  See boys, it IS cool to do chores!!!!!  However, please don't use Soft Scrub on my mirrors.
35.  A little Christmas camouflage.
36.  Reading under the Christmas tree.  We recycled quite  few ideas :)

37.  Sack races with the other stuffed animals!
38.  I don't even know where to go with this one.  Mr. SPouse was all, "why would a Purdue guy do that to Elfabet???"  Ha.

39.  Instead of hanging from the chandelier, he hung from a wreath and dropped down a line of candy canes.  
40.  A little underwear swingin' next to the Christmas cards.
41.  Elfabet likes chalk art, too!

If these ideas are lame, head on over to my Elf'd Up Pinterest board and see what I've been pinning over there!  A few new...and pretty darn funny...ideas!!  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

North Pole Breakfast 2016

About six years ago, our little family started the tradition of welcoming our elf (Elfabet) with a North Pole Breakfast.  Of course, when we first set it all up it was kind of a big deal.  We wanted it to be fun and special for our....wait for it...TWO AND THREE YEAR OLDS.  If you think that's ridiculous, you're right.  Like they could've cared?!  Just a visit from the elf would've been enough.  We set the bar too high right out the gate.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?!?!?!  

However, I will say that this is one of the boys' most favorite traditions.  They LOVE the North Pole Breakfast!  Each year I think to myself, "they won't remember last year". And every year I'm wrong.  Of course they do.  They love it.  For one, it's the only day of the year they get powdered donuts (aka SNOWnuts) for breakfast.  And of course, they LOVE welcoming back Elfabet.  

Let me tell you this.  I will savor every one of these silly traditions for as long as I can because they bring so much joy to the boys.  And my boys are getting older.  My 3rd grader has started asking questions.  "How do we know you're not Santa?"  "Are you sure you don't buy us presents?" "Why do you want our Christmas lists if Santa is the one getting us presents?"  The "magic" is here for such a short time and even though some of these traditions and whatnot are silly, over the top, and competely ridiculous, I'll do it as long as I can because to my boys it's all so magical.  Seeing the magic through their eyes gives me memories I'll never be able to forget...and I love that.  

SO let's talk North Pole breakfast!

It can be as simple or elaborate as you make it.  The elf alone is what makes it so much fun for my boys.   

AND...they get to enjoy SNOWNUTS (white powdered donuts) with hot chocolate and floating glaciers (marshmallows).  The simplest...and most unhealthy...breakfast ever.  And they eat it up.  This year I decided to top it off with Christmas cupcakes because I'm mother-of-the-year (thank you, Hostess).  I wouldn't let them eat them for breakfast, but I told them they could have them as special treats in their lunches.  

I typically get all the "filler" goodies from the dollar spot at Target.

The only thing not from the dollar spot is the pjs, but I did snag them 50% off, so that was a great find!  I also picked up their Elf shirts on sale and they were slightly ecstatic about those.  Elf is their most favorite Christmas movie :)  

And this was my most favorite dollar spot find this season.  Christmas Advent activities!  I thought they'd be disappointed that they didn't get the little chocolate calendars, but they were THRILLED with these!  Both of their countdown books are different, so these were a great find.  And chances are, they'll get the chocolate advent calendars, too because TRADITION ;)

Even our pug was ready for #allthesweets.  This year the boys didn't wait for me to wake up before they started digging in.  That was a *harsh* first.  

And just for giggles,  here's a little stroll back through the North Pole Breakfasts of the past (tear).

Here they are celebrating in a new city, new house.  This was in 2013.  I remember them being so worried that the elf wouldn't be able to find us since we had recently moved.  Bless.

And in 2014....

And last year...

You think I'll be able to get pictures like this when they're home for the holidays from college?!?!?  Because that would be awesome.  

In other holiday news, the house is *almost* decorated. I'm behind this year, but that seems to be the theme of my life right now, so we'll go with it.  

The boys love decorating the tree almost as much as I love redecorating it when they go to bed :)  Hahaha!!!  I only move a few ornaments around because somehow many of them end up hanging from the very same branch :)

 Slowly, but surely, it's all coming together.  

And our sitting room is becoming my most favorite spot to work.  SO cozy when it's decorated for Christmas.