DON'T MISS OUT!

Happy Birthday Patrick!

Patrick is FIVE today.
When I started this blog the first photo I ever posted was this one:

He was just as little as Janey is now.

And now he's so big.

I can't believe he is five already.  I know I am always lamenting how quick time flies, but as I get older it seems like it flies faster and faster.  And five is just one of those big milestones.  

Patrick, my Christmas-time baby, has such a sweet soul.  He is so sensitive, and always a really good little boy.  He adores Janey and is always "petting" her and snuggling up to her.  He will be such a good daddy one day.  He loves sports-whatever is in season is his favorite.  He can't stand wearing long sleeves and long pants-his school clothes now.  He must be ready to be an athlete at all times, so he wears his t-shirts and shorts indoors-sometimes (if mom lets him-not too school!) he even wears them under his normal clothes-that he quickly sheds as soon as he walks in the door.  He loves puzzles and Star Wars Lego guys and likes to practice his flashcards.  His favorite friend is his neighbor Anderson.  When he sees him at the door a big shout usually goes out and he runs to open it.  

We love you Patrick.  You are such a joy.  Happy Birthday my Paddy.

Our Favorite Christmas Books


Here's an updated list of our favorite, most-played with, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.

And here are our favorite games.
Here are some great teen gift ideas.


My favorite are the classic ones from my childhood, and the Nativity books with beautiful pictures.
I think the books we grow up with are so impressionable-they form the images in our mind of what Santa looks like, and Jesus in the manger, and elves, and the wisemen.  Does it seem overly-thoughtful that I want to "choose" these images for my children?  I think it might, but I still choose carefully.
The Night Before Christmas -The one illustrated by Leaonard Weisgard on the right is my favorite.
Frosty the Snowman- I am working on getting my hands on the vintage Golden Book version of this story, but this one with vintagey-illustrations will do.



I have a Golden Book collection and a few more (like the Frosty one) on my wishlist.

My mom bought this years ago (she is the best book picker-outer) for my kids and they love this story.  Beautiful illustrated and just the right amount of words in this version of the classic fairy tale.


I love this book because it is tells the traditional story, with beautiful illustrations.  

Another beautifully illustrated book.  Mothers will love this book because Mary tells the story.

We love I Spy books.  They hurt my eyes but they are also so addicting.  Once I start a page I have to finish all the searching.

And of course, my all time favorite:
(It is out of print, so if you want one for yourself, you'll have to search a little.)

A Weekly Recap



Patrick thought it was hilarious to set baby Jesus (from our Advent calendar) on baby Janey.  I think she got the joke.

Christmas books.

Please don't think less of me, but this is a joke I played on Abbey, and I must say it was a good one.  It all just came together so perfect and I couldn't resist-she is creeped out by Elfie and I thought I would rub it in a little.  We are both scaredy cats when it comes to horror movies-like we have never even watched one little part of one not even commercials for them.  She didn't see this horrible scene till it was dark and she went to change into her PJ's which make it even better.  We laughed until we cried.  Or she might have been actually really crying a little. :)  I am busy thinking of my next move.  Or she might get me back?  (No little children witnessed my immaturity just so you know, with the exception of Janey.)

St. Nicks Eve.  Missing Isaac.

Card helper.  Thanks to Andrew I had half of them finished in one evening.

Loveliness


This last weekend everyone begged me to get out the decorations and I succumbed to the pressure-I had thought about waiting just one more week.  Last year when I took the decorations down, I was sick as a dog with pregnancy and it was apparent in the way I literally threw things into the bins and I had to laugh at the tangles and scrappiness and a few broken ornaments here and there.  

This year I scaled back my decorating-just because.  I've decided that from now on  I am going to go with a few fresh garlands ro replace any fakes that I bought before.  Not only does it look really fresh and simple, there is no storage needed.  I love having to store only a few Christmas bins in the attic. (Remind me of this reasoning when I am vacuuming up pine needles in 2 weeks)

As we were decorating the tree Abbey and I had a chuckle because I mentioned those commercials that show a family peacefully decorating the tree in matching sweaters and scarves, while sipping hot chocolate and hanging ornaments one by one, music playing in the background.  I was listening and comparing in my head with what was really going on here and it was pretty funny.  Jeff was holding Janey in the other room, while she slept (because that is the only way she will stay asleep in the late afternoon) and while he watched a game on TV.  He had just brought the tree home and set it up in the stand, which always tests his patience level to the max. Isaac is gone at college, hopefully studying for exams.  Matthew, Andrew and Patrick were putting on the ornaments in typical boy fashion.  I heard one of them say, 'I am going to group all these animal ornaments together on one branch.'  And then Abbey saying, "No, that's so stupid!  That will look awful, you can't do that, that's not how you decorate a tree!"  Andrew said, "This tree hates us!  Everytime I put an ornament on, it falls off! Stupid tree."  One boy almost fell off the ladder into the tree, and blamed another boy for it. They all lost interest after awhile and Abbey and I finished it up.

It looks (imperfectly!) beautiful, filled with spoon ornaments and laminated hand print ornaments and a bunch of other funny stuff.  I love it.  I find as the years go by I lower my expectations little by little.  Isn't it funny how that works?

My Patrick Elf


I asked Patrick, while driving home after preschool last week,  if he would be my helper-elf when we arrived home and take all the packages from the front door (where they had been dropped off by the friendly UPS woman) to my closet.  I told him it was a big deal to be a helper elf, and the really hard part was that he couldn't open any of the packages and look in them because they were all surprises.

I could see a little look of resignation in his eyes when I told him about the no-opening part-it's so hard at 4 to wait, isn't it?

But then he took a big sigh and said, "Sure I'll help you Mom.  They're all probably filled with makeup and clothes anyways."  Make up and clothes-the worst of the worst I guess and what he needed to guard himself against curiosity getting the best of him.

*By the way, he wears that outfit in the photo above every single day at home.  The minute we leave to go out he changes into normal clothes and the minute he gets home, he changes right back into his favorite basketball outfit.

Advent

(I love this Advent wreath-directions on how to make it here.)

Advent begins on Sunday!  I love this Catholic tradition.  There is nothing like the scent of those candles burning at dinner time that brings me back to my childhood.   Today I am running out to get some new candles.  Have a good weekend!

Guest Post -Affordable Gifts for Teens

Favorite Toys here.
Favorite Games here.
Book Gift Ideas here.

Ok, ready?  Boys and girls mixed in, junior high into college, here's a list of ideas from Abbey and some of her good friends. (I begged only a few suggestions out of my boys.)  Also at the bottom, is a cute post my daughter wrote when a few years ago with more ideas.

Nike socks-girls and boys wear them. I have bought so many pairs of these! Where do they all go?

Very popular right now, lots of different choices.


Makeup brushes. I am told they don't have to expensive to be quality.




Sanuk flip-flops.

Soft PJ's.  The Aerie brand is popular.

Crocodile clips.  Can be found at any drug store

Not Your Mother's Beach Spray and Dry Shampoo

These Lush bath bombs are a perfect gift and have a five star rating and are very popular.

Personalized Coffee Mug
This cute one is from Anthro for $8, but you can find these everywhere.

YogaAccessories (TM) 1/4'' Extra Thick High Density Yoga Mat (Phthalate Free) - Jasmine Green
Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks, Pink

Electric Blanket-Abbey LOVES her electric blanket (and boy did it come in handy early this year when Janey and I had a terrible bout of pneumonia.)  I bought her one at Kohl's on sale.

Fuzzy Blankets
We have this one and this one-these are found everywhere, the softer the better.

IPhone Cases
My niece uses the Otter Box  Commuter Series and really likes it-they are affordable too.
Abbey uses a LifeProof (after having to replace the screen because of a breakage she decided it was in her best interest to spend a little more.


neff Men's Daily Pipe Glove, Cyan, Medium
neff gloves-boys or girls!

neff Men's Daily Beanie, Green, One Size
neff beanies-again, boys or girls, lots of cute colors.

Duffel bags-especially for college kids-Lands End has great ones, I love their sales, and you can get them monogrammed.

Quad copters. This is the brand we chose and you can read about this fun toy here.


Here is a list from a couple years ago, written by my daughter:
Shopping for teenagers is definitely harder than other ages (I would know, I am one) and one of the biggest problems is not knowing exactly what they want.  If you're stuck on this and need a few ideas, these are some of my favorite things that I have gotten, and some things I am asking for this year!

Headphones. Definitely a broad topic. My favorite are the brand Skullcandy .  Lots of styles, affordable, and great quality! Pink and purple are my go-to colors.

Something that I am in desperate need (okay, want, sorry Mom) of this year, this iPod adapter thingy for an older car like the one Isaac and I share.  Because radio music can get old too fast when they play the same songs over and over...

The Wet Brush Detangle Brush . Last time I went to the salon, the lady who trimmed my hair suggested this because my hair is so long and gets tangled so easy. It works wonders.

OPI and Essie nail polish. great quality and true to color. New favorite colors: Gargantuan Green Grape by OPI (minty green) and Mango Bango by Essie. You can find Essie at Target and OPI at salons and makeup stores like Sephora and Ulta.

Image result for mauve opi nail polish

A subscription to InStyle magazine.  Full of great ideas, new trends, fashion advice, cool pictures, and classy clothes!  Once I am finished reading a magazine, I look through it and cut out pictures that inspire me and my style and collage them onto my doors.

Every girl needs something Vera Bradley! Such cute patterns and very durable. I use my bag for everything, school, shopping, etc. (Sometimes I see these at TJ Maxx for a great price.)

Robin Hood Kate Wristlet
And when I don't feel the need to lug around my big purse, I love a wristlet. This one comes in tons of different patterns.

Also I put my cards in a pouch on the back of my phone.



One of my absolute favorite Christmas presents last year from my grandma was this Color Daze Blockbuster from Sephora.  (NOTE: This is crazy expensive now, this is a similar kit at a price close to what was paid for the above kit.)  For girls that love experimenting with makeup and trying new techniques, this set comes with it all: Mascara, blush, eyeliners, lip gloss, eyeshadow, luminizer, and brushes. It could also be a good starter kit.

A jewelry organizer is a must-have for a cluttery closet! This one hangs anywhere and is two-sided.

Hope this helps!