Monday, December 29, 2014

Preparing for New Years!

It's crazy to think that New Year's is just a few days away.  2015 will be here and a whole new list of goals, dreams, and aspirations will start fresh and new.  Here are two things that we have made in the past to add something a little different to New Years Day!

First up is the Rice Crispie Champagne Bottle dessert.  Inspired by PS I Made This {on the left}, ours didn't turn out too horrible {on the right}!  It sure did taste yummy!  
In 2013 we celebrated by baking homemade fortune cookies and writing personalized fortunes for inside them!  The whole process was easier than I was expected, they were delicious and super cute!

We will be staying in this year munching on Chex Mix and little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls!  Hope your New Year's is fun, safe and spent with the ones you love!  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

Wishing that you remember the true reason for all of the festivities and the giving of gifts.  Hoping that you steal away a few moments to reflect on the greatest gift we have in birth of Jesus.  What a glorious day it is, indeed!

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus;
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And he found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father!
Philippians 2:5-11

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hands Down, The Best Christmas Tree!

If you have read our blog over any period of time, you know that I am huge fan of hand crafts.  So it should be no surprise that this hand painting has got to be my favorite of all time!  

Using a 16 x 20 canvas from Michael's and an array of Martha Stewart paints, our family Christmas Tree was created!  For the branches we used Benjamin's hands first, mine second and Winston's for the top section.  Lulu's paw is our star!  She was a trooper and very patient while we rolled paint on her paw and cleaned her up.  The canvas was looking a little bland and it needed more pizzaz, so using two different sizes of sponge circles, Winston went to town adding color and sparkle!  

I foresee this being one of the decorations I look forward to unpacking each Christmas season!  It's not everyday that all four of us get to create art and leave our mark together.  A life long treasure!

Here is a list of the Martha Stewart paint colors that we used:
Seaweed, Green Curry, Granny Smith, Pollen {All Satin}
Glitter Lemon Drop
Metallic Gold
Satin Chipotle

What is your favorite handmade Christmas decoration? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 9 & 10

Day 9: Joseph
On this day we read the Scripture and talked about how Joseph was a good man!  We again used the little wooden people cut outs I found at Michaels, sticky-back foam and some stickers for embellishments.  Winston made sure Joseph had a hat!
Day 10: Dream
On this day we talked about how an angel appeared to Joseph and said, "Do not be afraid!"  When Winston heard this he exclaimed, "Mary! Do not be afraid!"  

I deviated from the suggested ornament on this day because I felt it was a bit out of Winston's skill level.  For our alternate pillow activity, I folded together a scrap of fabric and sewed it on two sides, leaving one side open.  Our Red Bag for the day included the piece of material and tons of cotton balls!  
Winston's job was to stuff the pillow and man oh man did he ever!!  Once it the pillow case was as full as possible, I hot glued the sides shut.  Voila!  A pillow for our good man, Joseph!

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 7 & 8

Day 7: Song
The set of verses for this day was Mary's Song.  Winston and I talked about how Mary sang as a form of worship and praise.  Our key phrase for this day was "Holy is his name!"  We had already talked about how Mary was to name the baby Jesus so it seemed fitting that he learn that His name is Holy!
We did the exact craft that was suggested and Winston loved gluing sequins all over the CD.  

Day 8: Sun
For this day, we made our sun out of card stock and sticky-backed foam.  Winston enjoys putting stickers on things and it gave us a break from glueing.  Don't want to wear a good thing out!
Our phrase during this craft was that Jesus is the Rising Sun!  We taught Winston to move his arms over his head like a rising and setting sun.  I know I say this almost every post, but it truly is heartwarming to hear his sweet little voice say these Truths.  And its amazing to me that he recalls what we talked about in previous days.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 5 & 6

The next few days we pretty much stuck to the suggested crafts and had fun doing it!  It has been such a joy to have this intentional time with Winston each day.  I cannot say how glad I am that we decided to do Truth in the Tinsel

Day 5: Mary
By this time in the Advent, Winston now knows our routine: read a story, open the red bag for a craft!  He does a great job sitting and listening.  I try to make it an active learning time having him repeat key verses back to me.  Our emphasis on Mary was that she asked Gabriel, "How can this be?!", that she was to have a son and name him Jesus, and her response to Gabriel was, "I am the Lord's servant."
Peering in his bag for the day!  We normally do our crafts in the afternoon.  This particular day was jammy day at school!
I found these cute little wooden figures at Michael's.  To make Mary's clothes we used sticky backed foam.  Winston said her legs were naked so we made some leggings for her.  He also wanted some sequin.  Our Mary turned out a little jazzier than I anticipated, but hey, he was proud of her!  Here he is giving her some shoes.  :)

Day 6: Mary & Elizabeth
Our main talking point for this day was that Mary and Elizabeth both had babies in their bellies that jumped for joy!
I normally don't let Winston color with markers.  I'm more of a crayon and colored pencil lady when it comes to him coloring pictures.  However today was a special day and we busted out the trusty Crayolas for some coloring.  He remembered that Mary was pink and purple from the previous day so her outfit was repeated!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 4

Day 4: Gabriel

Day four is Gabriel and the suggested craft seemed a little out of Winston's skill level so I found an alternative that turned out to work really well for him and what he loves to do!  

On this day we emphasized that Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, "Do not be afraid!"  We also talked about how Mary would have a baby boy and his name was to be Jesus.  The very same Jesus that was the Light of the World!  As we put our craft together I like to repeat what the main points of the Scripture for that day are and ask him questions like, "Who did Gabriel appear to?"  "What did he tell her?"  "What is Mary to name her son?"  It's so cool to hear him say the answers and be able to recall what we talked about in previous days!  

In our red bag for the day was:

  • Three different types of doilies, each a different color and size {large silver, medium red, small white} to allow Winston to choose what color angel he would like to have.
  • A circle, precut from peach foam
  • Googly eyes
  • A gold pipe cleaner
  • Sequins for embellishment
  • Glue
Each time Winston opens a bag, we looks inside with excitement and exclaims, "Oh, Wow!"  He chose to use the silver doily for his Gabriel.  While he picked out what color of paper he wanted, I cut the doily into three triangles, making one a little wider.  The wider piece we used for the body and the other two pieces were for the wings.   

We glued the doily pieces to the paper, glued the googly eyes on to the head, drew and mouth and then glued it onto the paper.
Winston needed a little bit of guidance on where to put the glue.  On his first try poor Gabriel's head was going to be floating off of his body!  He gets very serious when it comes to matters of glueing.  
After Gabriel's head was attached, Winston then carefully picked out exactly what sequins he wanted and knew specifically where he wanted them to go.  Once he was done, I cut the extra paper off, glued on a halo and voila!  A beautiful Gabriel!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 2 & 3

Day Two: Crown & Kingdom
Since this day involved some painting, we broke our craft time up into two sessions.  We read the Scripture for the day emphasizing that God is a MIGHTY GOD (making our arms show our muscles) and the Prince of Peace (setting a crown upon our head with our hands).  Winston was eager to get the items out of the bag and was thrilled when he saw the paintbrush!  He decided to paint his crown green.
After he finished painting, we set the crown aside to come back to later in the afternoon to add sparkles to.  Winston loved squeezing the glue and putting the sparkles on the crown.  Like with most things, he was very specific about what color he wanted where!  
That night during dinner when we were talking about our day, Winston told Benjamin that he had made a crown, that God is a Mighty God and the Prince of Peace!  He also remembered that it is Jesus who is the Light of the World!  

Day Three: Zechariah
This day was a little more difficult of a concept for Winston to grasp.  He was more enthralled with gluing than anything else!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Preparations and Day 1

About mid-Novemeber my Mom asked if I had thought about getting Winston an Advent calendar.  Up until that point I really had not given it much mind.  I knew that I had pinned a few Advent type things to do with him when he was old enough but hadn't done back to look at what I saved.  

I did some research and rediscovered the Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. I looked at blogs of others who had done it, watched the videos on the website, and did a quick hashtag search on Instagram.  I liked that each day Winston and I would have a craft to do together that told the wonderful story of Christmas!  Each day we would read Scripture, make an ornament and talk about what we were making and why.  I shared what I had found with Benjamin and we agreed that he was at the right age to start this tradition.  

I purchased the ebook, did a quick scan through all of the days and realized that there were a few of the activities that were a little outside of Winston's skill level.  During one of Winston's naps, I printed out all of the pages and started making notes on what we could do unchanged and what I would need to find alternative ideas for.  Knowing that Winston's favorite craft activities are painting and gluing, I intentionally looks for solutions to include both of those things.  As I went through each page, I wrote down what supplies we would need to make the craft a success.  Then I took inventory of what I already had and created a new list of items to get at our local craft store.  All of the items I needed to purchase I got at Michaels.  

Knowing that its easier to have everything already together when we sit down to make the craft and because I want Winston to get the most out of our time together, I put together bags for each day that contained the items we would need.  There are a few days where the Truth in the Tinsel curriculum provides templates for a few of the ornaments.  Cutting out the templates ahead of time guarantees that Winston won't get bored or loose interest in what we are to focus on for that day.

What really excites me about the Truth in Tinsel is that it is specifically geared for intentional conversations with toddlers about the birth of Jesus and all of the wonderful events that accompany it!  I also love how the crafts given are guidelines and that you could adapt as needed to make it age appropriate!

First Day of Advent
I was quite thrilled when first day of Advent rolled around.  I was ready and so excited to start sharing the Christmas Story with Winston!  All three of us went to the craft room for craft time.  Benjamin opened the Bible and started reading the first set of Scripture for that day.
This picture warms my heart for so many reasons.  The first passage was a longer one to read but Winston did a good job listening.  Then we let him open his bag.  He was so excited to see what was inside!
He was eager to help tear the tissue paper into little pieces and even more pumped to use the glue stick!  He was very specific in where he wanted each color to go.  After he was done, we turned off the lights in the room and Winston said, "Dark in here!"  We explained that how a world and life without Jesus was dark, like the room.  Then we took a flashlight and shown it through the ornament he had just made.  Winston said, "I see!!"  We explained how Jesus is the Light of the World and later in the evening when we asked who the Light of the World was, he answered, "Jesus!"
This is an example of the bag and what was inside for Winston to make!  I was thrilled that Day 1 was a success!  My prayer through this holiday season and trying to be intentional with Truth in the Tinsel that that Winston's heart would be tender and soft to hearing the wondrous story that is the gift of Jesus' birth.  That he would start learning truths about the character of God and the Goodness that He gives, about the greatest gift that He gave us in His Son.  My prayer is that I would be sensitive to Winston's understanding of the Story and make this a meaningful yet fun activity each day.  

My plan is to share our ornaments, the ones that we did by the book {like the first day!} or the ones that I have modified for a two year old!  

What traditions do you have with your little ones?  I'd love to hear!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Houston Zoo Lights

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  Our bellies were satisfied and we got a jump start on our Christmas shopping from the comfort of our home thanks to the masses of sales online and Amazon!  Now that Thanksgiving has been celebrated, we are getting into full on Christmas mode!  A mode that I love to be in!!

One of the activities we were excited about doing this year was Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo.  We figured it was going to be a win-win adventure because it coupled Christmas lights with animals, two of Winston's favorite things!  On a whim, we decided to go on Black Friday purchasing our tickets online before the window of opportunity closed.  We figured it was one of the last warm nights before the cold sets in for the winter and we knew we'd have good weather.   

Winston woke up from a three hour nap, we ate dinner and headed down to the zoo in order to be there as close to when it opened at 6 PM as possible.  As we turned the car onto Hermann Park Drive and were greeted by a parade of red brake lights as cars were already stacked up to turn into the parking lot!  Benjamin did a U-turn and we parked along the street.  Winston loves riding in his wagon when we go to the zoo, so we bundled him up with his giraffe hat, puffy vest and Olaf blanket and away we went!

Y'all let me tell you, it was a blessing that we purchased our tickets online because the line to purchase tickets at the gate was all the way from the main entrance to the corner of Hermann Park Drive!!  We overheard a Zoo staff member that they were expecting 10,000 visitors that night!!  We veered through the crowd to the Members Entrance making our wait to enter minimal.  
This was our first year to participate in Zoo Lights.  We figured that Winston was still too wee to really enjoy it last year and having been through it I'm glad we waited until this year.  
My favorite light display was near the front of the zoo.  It was set up with a watering hole with all the animals that one might see there.  We got our lookers out and saw giraffes, elephants, hippos, gorillas and monkeys!  Winston was enthralled and probably could have stood there all night if we would have let him.
All of the trees lining the Reflection Pool were decked out in lights synced up to Christmas music.  It was fun to watch the trees blinking in time with the classics!  We walked along the pathway and we saw a few elephants walking around and doing some back scratching in the dark of the night.  It is important to know that none of the outdoor animal habitats are lit up and that most of the animals cannot be seen.  A few of the giraffes were out and the lights are on inside the Giraffe Barn making them easy to each through the picture window.  

Y'all there are many things I enjoy in life.  Two of them are funnel cakes and wassail.  Both of those things were ours for enjoying at the zoo!  And because my husband knows I love a good souvenir mug, he delivered my wassail in a Zoo Lights cup!  
The wassail was delicious and the funnel cake was everything I hoped it would be!  Even little buddy enjoyed the treat!
We stopped to eat at the first major dining place along the path.  A Zoo employee told Benjamin that the dining stop at the end of the path tends to be busier than the one at the beginning.  The Zoo also has a fire pit set up to make s'mores on between the Rhino and Giraffe habitats.  I'm storing that information away for next year!  Because, well...S'mores!
Just as we figured, Winston enjoyed watching the trains go around the tracks.  Thomas and Emily were both busy on their branch lines!  

I purchased tickets for all of us to ride the Carousel by the giraffe habitat.  Winston was not quite sure that he wanted to ride it but we encouraged him saying it would be fun.  However once on the ride, he only wanted to be held by Daddy!
My View from on top of a moving Zebra.  Yes, I was the only one to actually ride an animal on the carousel!  
Since the magic of the lights tends to be lost in photos, we just enjoyed meandering along the path.  There were a few bottlenecks along the way {mainly due to the insane amount of people that were there!} and one of those was the light tunnel!  It's towards the end of the path, hence the sleepy looking Buddy.  
Benjamin and I had a wonderful time at The Zoo Lights!  And from Winston's grin above, as he took a break from chugging my wassail, you can see that he did too!  I highly recommend this family friendly activity!

Tips to Enjoying Zoo Lights
  • Purchase your tickets in advance online.  Online ticket prices for peak days are $10.95 {Members}/ $12.95 {Non-Member).  As you can see if you are a zoo member, you instantly save $2 per ticket.  If you purchase your tickets at the gate, the prices jump to $12.95/$14.95.  Off peak day prices are an additional $2 cheaper for members and non-members.
  • Plan on arriving early and be ready to go when the gates open!  Zoo Lights is open from 6 PM to 10 PM and last entry is at 9 PM.  It took us about two hours to walk through and enjoy a sweet treat!
  • Stop at the first major dining area for funnel cakes!  My wassail in the souvenir cup was $6.  Any time I take that same cup back to the Zoo at any time in the year, I can pay $2 for each refill.  A wassail without the souvenir cup was $4.
  • S'mores are available between the Rhino and Giraffe habitats.
  • Set your expectations: The Zoo Lights exhibit is just that - A Light exhibit!  The intention is to enjoy a festive walk looking at lights, listening to Christmas music and perhaps enjoying an apple cider or a wassail! {Alcohol is available.}  This really is not the opportunity to see the animals out and about at night time although the Reptile House, Bug House, and Aquarium are open.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Currently 11.25.14

Currently: I am sitting under the covies with a little buddy beside me.  He has been a little congested, has a little cough and is a little snuggle-love.  I have a sleeping Lulu curled up at my feet snoring. 

Currently Watching: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, the Thank You Day episode courtesy of PBS.  I like this episode {and really almost every episode of Daniel Tiger} because it teaches gratitude for big and small things.  The song is "Thank you for everything you do!"  Daniel Tiger is without a doubt Winston's favorite show.  We sing the songs, dance to the opening credits {"Dance with me, Mommy!  Dance!"} and giggle when Prince Wednesday says "Booshy booshy boo!"  
Currently Thankful For: The season that is upon us.  I just love the start of November and all that comes along with it - celebrating Thanksgiving, preparing for and celebrating Christmas, remembering all that this year has held and looking forward to the New Year.  We were able to spend last weekend away at the Gaylord Texan and it was a wonderful way to kick off this season of festivities.

Currently Thinking About Next Things: We are going to bundle up and venture out to Michael's to get the remaining supplies for some upcoming crafts.  I am also gearing up for a nap time of ironing!  This evening we will also be moving furniture around in our bedroom to prepare for flooring updates.  I am super excited!

Currently Trying to Decide: On what cookies to take to a cookie exchange I have coming up.  I have a few ideas but haven't settled on anything yet.  Do you have any suggestions?  What is your favorite cookie to make at Christmas time?

Currently Eyeing: The fabulous garland that The House That Lars built created for her parents.  It's on the Let's Talk About This When You Get Home Tonight List!  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Winston's First Wedding

Since getting back into the routine of blogging is about starting somewhere, I've decided to start.  And I'm going to do so with Winston's first wedding experience!  

One of ladies in Benjamin's office got married the first weekend in November.  She was sweet enough to invite Winston to attend as well.  We prepped him by telling him we were going to a party where there would be dancing and cake.  I asked him what else he thought there would be at the party and he quickly answered, "Cheese."  Benjamin had already scoped out which tie Winston should wear and our ensembles came together quite nicely.  Cause really, going to a wedding is a great opportunity to get dressed up for a good family photo!
The ties are from J. Crew from a few years ago.  They have tiny dachshunds on them!  Winston's bow tie is actually a full sized tie transformed into the perfect sized him tie!
The wedding was held at Amber Springs and it was an honor to be a witness to Sandra and Bryan's special day.  The weather was perfect for an outside ceremony.  The food was tasty and just as Winston had suspected, there was cheese!
Our little guy has such a funny little sense of humor and is totally animated!  He did a very good job at sitting quietly through the ceremony... until about the last five minutes when he got his lookers out and wanted to go look for rabbits!  
Little Buddy's name was even listed on the seating chart!  

Because Winston did a great job at the wedding...
Because we left before cake...
Because it was the night of Daylight Savings... 
Because I had a hankering' for some World Class Chocolate...
we stopped at Baskin Robins for a treat!  Winston chose a sprinkled cone and chocolate ice cream for his fabulous treat!  We were pretty sure that hyping him up on sugar, wearing him out and keeping him up later than normal would guarantee that he would sleep in the next morning...

We were wrong.  Oh well.  At least we had a good time trying!  

Winston's Outfit: shirt, coat {similar}, pants {similar}, hat

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DIY Dinosaur Hat Rack

As you may or may not already know, Winston truly loves to wear hats!  It was something we started when he was first newborn.  He enjoys wearing them while we are around town and to school.  His hat collection has been taking over the closet floor for some time now.  And since we are trying to teach him to put away his shoes and hats, it was decided he needed a designated area for his fancy headwear!    

Knowing that we wanted dinosaurs, we ordered a set of Mini Dinosaurs from Amazon.
Using poplar strips that were 1" tall by 1/2" thick, Benjamin sawed them down into 3 feet sections.  Then he choose a to paint them green using spray paint we already on hand.  While the sticks were drying, he sawed 16 of the dinosaurs in half using a band saw.  
After the boards were dry,  Benjamin drilled a pilot hole into the wood using a 1/8" drill bit as well as partially into the half of the dinosaur that would be hanging from them board.  Using a 1" size 6 wood screw, he attached the dinos to the boards.
We then took them to the closet, did a rough measure of the distance by holding up one hat to make sure there was enough space between the two rows and screwed them into the wall.
Buddy loved seeing the dinosaurs asking what each of them were while taking hats on and off the rack!  It has been a fabulous addition to his closet.  Speaking of which...I think we need to add a new row as all of the dinos are currently occupied!!

Total Cost of Project: Less than $25!!

You will need:
Poplar Wood Strips

Tools Needed:
Screw gun

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Currently 10.21.14

Currently: I am sitting at my dining room table with Sweet Lulu curled up in her bed beside me.  I have a can of Cherry Dr. Pepper on a coaster to my right and an open bag of Rold Gold Tiny Twists Honey Mustard pretzels on my right.  The windows are letting the fabulous fall air in and I am thankful for this beautiful day!  

Currently Reading: The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus.  Y'all.  It's good.  I'm through the first chapter and into the second.  It spells out that we serve a Creative God who created us to create.
Currently Thankful For: I find myself going over the last weekend - how fantastically special it was to our family - the weekend that Winston turned two.  I am thankful our sweet friends who drove down from Dallas to be here to celebrate with us.  I am thankful for the family and friends who were  a part of the celebration.  Our little guy certainly felt loved and for that, I am thankful.  I am thankful that I even have a little human to celebrate - that in itself is a huge gift.

Currently Scheming: The next phase of our Master Bedroom!  We have mighty ambitious aspirations for a cool paint scheme that could be amazeballs or be a huge disaster.  Either way - we are currently trying to decide when the optimal time would be for such an adventure.  Stay tuned!  

Currently Thinking About Next Things: To pick up little Buddy from school, grab some fro-yo and head to the grocery store.  Tonight's dinner is Trader Joe's Orange Chicken + rice and broccoli...  assuming we get to the grocery store!

Currently Obsessing Over: The next time I'll hear the ice cream truck!  I cannot get enough of the ice-cream truck and the delicious treats that come from the inside!  

Currently Going to Learn: How to make delectable delights!  I am so pumped to watch and reading The Allison Show's Cookie Party!  on how to make fabulously delicious cookies!  I totally did a pre-order and am PUMPED UP to learn her ways!  Be warned friends, family, teachers, neighbors, random people on the street - cookie craziness will be coming your way!

What are you currently doing, reading or listening to?  I'd love to know!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Meat & rice {an all time favorite!} with Baked Cauliflower and rolls.  
A meal is not a meal without rolls!

Trader Joe's Orange Peel Chicken, rice and broccoli

Tortellini, salad and rolls

Thursday - Saturday
Kitchen Closed!

Chicken fries, Mac & Cheese and Applesauce

Wishing y'all a fabulous week!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Birthday Poem

Today is the day that Winston turns two.
What a year we have all be through!
Lots of adventures and things to explore,
It's been so exciting to see him soar!

Today is the day we move into Year Three.
A little man he is growing to be.
Adore his laugh, adore his smile.
For him I'd even run a mile!
He is our pride, he is our joy.
So very thankful he is our boy!

He is funny and fabulous.  He is sensitive and sweet.
He is always saying "Hi!" to people on the street.
Not one for missing out on a hug,
He is and always will be our Little Bug!

This year has been a momentous one
And it's hard to believe that it is now done!
Celebrating all that God has given us today,
Celebrating Winston in every single way.
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