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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Snow Day with Friend- Picture it!

Jules here-

As I am resolving to post a bit more, and I have a new laptop :) - no more excuses! This is the first Christmas since I moved to New Hampshire eleven years ago that wasn't white.  I was quite thrilled with the mild fall; however, our ski mountains and tourism industry has suffered.  Tuesday, the "true" winter has begun with our first 5-6 inches of snow.   The children gleefully watched as the lawn (and driveway...) filled with fluffy white snow. 

We had a sleepover guest- Grace's best friend- for TWO nights due to snowy weather! She got to partake in our annual tradition of snowman pancakes.  I simply make 3 different sized pancakes and give them a variety of toppings to make their own snowman.  James's turned out a bit like a Picasso snowman, but it still tasted delicious.


Later in the day, I suited up to snow blow and snow shovel my driveway-- AHHH! It was quite cold, and I am not in snow-shoveling-shape. My sore muscles ache today, but I did a thorough enough job to get my minivan out!
This is the "Before" picture... before it felt as if the wind had frozen off my face.

The children wanted to go outside too- and after 25 minutes of suiting them up, they lasted only 15 minutes outside in the 17 degree day....

I was so cold after my outdoor endeavors, that I had to bake a ton when I got back inside. I made the classic easiest pumpkin muffins and an apple pie muffin to help warm my house.

For dinner, I made some quick homemade pizza using the Betty Crocker dough recipe and the kids were able to add the toppings. Yummy and fun!

We were blessed with a plethora of board games for Christmas, including my favorite Bananagrams! Grace and Sophie played for hours; though they needed some "Is this a real word?" help they did great!  

It was a challenge to keep the little ones from knocking the puzzles...
We also could not have a sleepover-snow day without a movie night! We watched the classic Balto which is a snowy tale about sled-dogs. Quite entertaining and also safe for all ages- it's hard to find a movie to entertain all kiddos.
Cozy kiddos watching a film

 Having four kids on a snow day made it TONS of fun! We loved having a "best friend" who experienced sledding, pancakes, games, toys, and movies with us- thanks for loaning her to us Chrissy!

Side note- Yes, I am blogging on New Year's Eve-I lead a crazy wild life here!!! Hope everyone has a blessed, safe, healthy, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Easy Rule #41321- Even though snow can be a bit daunting for a homeowner- it can be lovely to experience through the eyes of the children.

Easy Rule #4324- You can always take a hot shower and bake muffins when you're recovering from the cold.

Bonus picture- Took this from my car window on my way to work- seriously-- New Hampshire is gorgeous!!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top Ten Reasons I Slacked

Jules here-

I did it again. I did NOT heed my letter to myself from two years ago and once again baked, crafted, gifted, traveled, etc. all in December- and I even added a few things to the list.  But, as Christmas day is winding down... I have no regrets (well, except that I didn't blog....).  So here are the Top Ten Reasons I Slacked Off this Month:

#10- Dated Technology.  One of the things I am saving for is a new laptop. My current one is 6+ years old, which is quite "dated" by today's standards. Unfortunately, I have to keep saving my posts as my computer often freezes when I have multiple-tabs open or I attempt to upload a picture.  I can't stand typing on my kindle or smartphone, I prefer a keyboard.  Here's the one I am saving for:

Oooh... so fast.

#9- Healthcare at the Holidays- Similar to shopping malls, hospitals fill up quickly this time of year. And since I work in home care, the hospitals try to send all the patients home before Christmas. We become very busy around the holidays... So my work has been quite busy and evenings are often spent with treatment plans, evaluations and notes.

#8- Children remember traditions now.  Could I skip doing homemade Christmas ornaments? Could I skimp on driving around looking at Christmas lights while delivering cookies? Could we skip singing carols at the nursing home? No- because they now remember what we did last year... They keep asking when they are going to get to their favorite things. THE PRESSURE!! AH!

Marshmallow paint (using sweetened condensed milk)

#7-This Whole "Real School" Thing- Lord- getting the kids to school on time every day and remembering to pick them up- who has time for this at the holidays? I almost wanted to keep them home from school to have uninterrupted prep time.
At School Holiday performance

#6- Helping out Siblings in Distress- Betsy decided to host an overwhelming large party while having a 3 month old and a two year old- needless to say she panicked a bit prior to the start. I am so grateful that I live within driving distance of her so I could help prep, plan, and implement her AWESOME Christmas shin-dig in her new place.  (Yes, Betsy, I am using you as one of my excuses for not blogging).
Rory with his hands full.

Who could stay mad at this cute little guy? Cutest nephew!!

#5- Christmas Concert- Having some of my nights been taken up with piano lessons and even a Christmas concert at the school really slowed my blogging progress.  Though having my kids be involved in a real "performance" was worth the time away :)

#4- More Christmas Baking- O.k. I am insane. After 250+ cookies, 300+ pieces of candy, I had a thought that I might have gone a bit over board. But honestly, from teachers, aids, support staff, friends, coworkers, mailmen, etc.--- I had over 20 cookie plates to deliver.  The children were super helpful this year and we were a little factory of truffle makers and sprinklers.

#3- Christmas Pageant- Who knew that having a sheep and an angel sing Christmas carols would require hours of practice.  We spent several Saturday & Sunday afternoons in December rehearsing for the main event last weekend.

#2-Squeezing in Shopping, Working, School, etc.-- NO TIME LEFT!  - So apparently, I have no time left after all those commitments. I am looking forward to trying to relax (which I don't know if  I know how to relax) and maybe doing a jigsaw puzzle this week- I am so happy to have time with the girls!!!

#1- Dance Parties I'll leave you with my lamest excuse- We dance A LOT at my house. Here's our post-Christmas, new pajama dance party!!

Easy Rule #122515- Yes, Christmas time is crazy and I should probably allow more time for reflection, but the kids LOVE the traditions and I do love spoiling them with love and thoughtfulness :)
The reason for the season. Christmas Day Mass- very peaceful, holy and takes a moment out of the selfish present unwrapping!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cinderella Party

Jules here-

Before the onslaught of the holiday season, I decided (well, Grace and I decided) to throw a Cinderella viewing party. Ems and Jojo had seen the movie in the theater last year, and they raved about the new live-action movie.  I didn't want to break my 7 year streak of not entering a movie theater, so we waited until it came out on DVD.

When I allow Grace on pinterest, things get crazy. Parties escalate. We started with having 2-3 girls over, and it ended up being 13 children and 6 adults.....

Everyone came in costume!
After we sent out scrolled invitations, we developed our menu to fit our theme.  We wanted to make the children happy, but have a few grown-up taste dishes as well.  Veggies and dip (ranch & hummus) are a staple at our parties as it's a way to get kids not to die of scurvy from all the other sugary stuff I feed them... So we called this area "Cinderella's Garden". We also had clementine "pumpkins" in this area. Of course, I forgot to take a picture but they looked like this:

We also served the classic cheese and crackers- but when we added a little whimsical mouse figurine and a label saying "Gus's Cheese and Crackers" voila- fits the theme!
The children devoured the fruits, veggies, cheese and crackers- but I still wanted to give them some more filling food before the movie started.  I think "pigs in a blanket" always is a favorite- who doesn't like hot dogs and crescent rolls?  So how could that fit the theme? I decided to go with the original Grimm's Cinderella and called these treats- "Stepsister's Toes" as they looked kind of like chopped off toes... gross, I know.

For the sweeter side I made fruit wands, a Cinderella gown cake, and I made chocolate dipped pretzel wands as well.  We gobbled all of this up rather quickly during intermission from the movie:

We also decorated our home with lanterns, a painted, bejeweled pumpkin and loads of streamers (all leftovers from previous parties). 

We had a great time planning, implement, and eating at our party. But the highlight WAS the movie-- highly recommended for the good values, acting, and entertaining take on the classic tale.

Easy Rule #432342- Why plan a simple movie night when you can go all out? 

Easy Rule #34234- Definitely make extra food at a party- twice as much as you think. I had enough- but I feel as if I could have done more!