Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Wii Day!

William has wanted a Nintendo Wii for YEARS.  Ever since he first played one at my sister's house he's been hooked.  At first he was too young, then we didn't have a proper TV for it, then blah, blah, blah.  We just kept putting it off.  Well, William had decided  months ago to save his money for a Wii.  He has a large money jar and little by little it would fill up as he earned money or saved it from birthdays or grandparents.  Some of his chores include vacuuming the kitchen floor, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning his room, dusting, and helping with putting laundry away.  These go for 50 cents a job.  He has also done a couple of big ticket jobs like clean and vacuum the car (for 2 dollars).  Sean and I have also helped him out by putting loose change in his jar when he wasn't looking.

Well, today was the Day of Days!  William finally had enough to buy his Wii.  He was so proud.  Sean took him to the bank to change out his coins.  He made sure they went at a slow time so the tellers would be more cooperative.  He had over $50 in change alone!  Then they headed to the store so William could pick out the box and pay for it with his own money.  What a big guy!
Apparently the box was super heavy so William couldn't keep his smile going!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from William and Charlotte!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ward Christmas Dinner

I have a lot to catch up on.  I'll start with the event that took up a lot of time in the last few weeks, our ward Christmas dinner.  Here's the story behind the event:

First of all, in the middle of October, our ward made the choice to exhaust the entire rest of the year's budget to charter 2 buses to take families to the DC Temple.  It was a controversial decision but it was Bishop's choice to make.  Anyway, it was announced in Relief Society that our Christmas dinner would be a simple potluck and the Young Men's auxiliary was in charge.  It was an effort to teach us a lesson in sacrifice, ie. we sacrificed our fancy party for a trip to the temple.  I was shocked!  The Christmas dinner should be the nicest event of the year!  I heard the chatter from other members who felt the same.  We were all troubled over the dinner and how it might turn investigators, friends, and family members off.  Anyway, after stewing over it for a week or so, I volunteered to help with the decorating.  With a ton of planning, shopping, and countless hours on Pintrest for inspiration I was able to make this party look great in spite of the simple potluck.  Here's what I did.  I had the food lined up in the overflow and shut the partition walls 2/3 to hide the potluck-y-ness of the food tables.  Also, I had Sean string lights all across the cultural hall so we could dim the lights way down and have an intimate setting.  I brought all of my Christmas decorations including my trees, wreaths, centerpieces, battery powered lights, and even my Santa collection.  

But I think that set this party apart was the Hot Chocolate Bar.  I was so excited to do this.  I had 3 Crock Pots full of hot chocolate and an assortment of condiments including

Crushed Peppermint
Mini Marshmallows
Mini Chocolate Chips and White Chocolate Chips
Peppermint Stirrers
Chocolate Sprinkles
Cans of Whipped Cream
Marshmallow Peeps on a Stick
Chocolate Powder for Dusting
Gingersnaps (for dunking)

We had a Santa suit but no one to fill it.  So Sean, being the best helper ever, volunteered for the job.  To make things run more smoothly, we had Santa make his arrival while people were eating.  He went around to visit each table for photo ops and have his elves (the Young Men) hand out a special treat bag for the kids.  This way, we didn't have a huge lineup after the dinner and we could end the evening on a more spiritual note.  It worked like a charm.  Sean was a great Santa in spite of not really wanting the job to begin with. 


  Then we had a variety of performances from members including a piano duet, singers, and poetry readings.  We ended the night with some Christmas carols and were done by 8pm.  I was so exhausted by the end of the night.  Good thing my kids didn't mind being left with another family for most of the night.  Thankfully, we had a ton of help with the clean up and we were home a little after 9pm.  It was a ton of work and I had the biggest headache the whole day and night, but hearing the people tell me that they had never been to a nicer Church dinner made it all worth it.  Although I won't be throwing another party for a good long time, I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Preschool Snack

 I'm so glad I can make fun snacks for William's school.  Here's an easy kids snack:
Body - Cantaloupe (bottom flattened for stability)
Head - Pear 
Beak - Pineapple
Eyes - Blueberries
Wattle "dangly thing" - Apple Slice
Feathers - Mixed Fruit on a Skewer
I attached all the pieces of the head by toothpicks and used more toothpicks to attach the head to the body.  I considered cheese cubes on a stick for feathers, but fruit was more colorful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recipe of the Month

Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

This is a good one.  I also appreciate any excuse to my bundt pan.  It's a great appetizer, side dish or entree (that is, if you're like me and love a good side dish for dinner).  Make sure everyone has some gum handy because this recipe can some major dragon breath!

Start out with:

2 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/3 cup of warm water

Mix these two together and let them sit for 5 minutes or so.  While that's going on, throw the next few ingredients in a mixer with the bread hook attached.

2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix these all together and add the yeast.  Mix the dough until it's a big ball.  You might need to stop and scrape the sides a few times.  Stop when it gets all stretchy and bread dough-y, about 5 minutes or so.  Then get a large mixing bowl and spray it with cooking spray.  Put the dough in and cover with a clean dish towel.  Let it rise about 2 hours or until it doubles in size.  Punch it down and get the following ready:

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, melted
1 Tb Italian seasoning
2 cloves of minced garlic

Blend these to make a delicious butter garlic sauce.  Take a bundt pan and spray it with cooking spray.  Then tear off a piece of dough and make a ball about 1 inch in diameter.  Dip the ball in the butter and place it in the bundt.  When you have a single layer, cover it with grated Parmesan.  I only had shredded Three Cheese Italian, which worked okay but I'd used grated next time.  The shredded cheese melted out to the edges instead of inside the dough.  Make another layer and cover with cheese.  Repeat until all the dough is used. 

Cover with the dish towel and let it rise again about 20-30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Invert onto a plate and dig in!  Make sure you have plenty of marinara for dipping, or Ranch (for William).  So good when it's warm from the oven!  I can't tell you how it is reheated because it doesn't last that long around here!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Painted Leaves Kids Craft

 I've been surfing the web for cute ideas for kids crafts only to find stuff that's fun to make, but not really worth keeping.  I've always loved the idea of framing kid art but William is not out of his "abstract" phase (ie. globs and squiggles with no picture in mind).  I found a frame on sale and an idea hit.  This frame holds three 4x6 photos.  I cut out 4x6 rectangles of white cardstock and traced a circle in pencil on each of them about 2/3 the way up.  

Then I had William use a Q-tip to make colorful Fall "leaves" (dots) with paint.  The circle helped him keep the dots in the right place.

I had them dry overnight.  Then I framed them.
 Then I got out my trusty Cricut and cut out a bare tree shape.  I used Stretch Your Imagination "Tree."  I originally was going to glue the trees directly on the leaves, maybe use some pop dots for dimension, but it just didn't look right.  Then I thought about cutting out vinyl and adhering that to the glass.  Much better!

Then I added a title and voila!  Cute kid art worthy of any wall.  The best part is, I can peel the title off and change the "leaves" and make one for each season.  Love this!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Halloween was awesome this year!  We went to pumpkin farms, got dressed up, had special Halloween treats, went Trick-or-Treating, and topped off the holiday with an awesome Halloween party.  

A couple of weeks ago we went down to Virginia to watch my sister's kids for a few days.  We went to a fall festival at Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville.  They had a fantastic set up.  There was a bounce house and inflatable slide in the front.  They had a hay ride around the lot.  There was a hay bale maze in the back and a large sandbox filled with corn to play in.  The kids also got to paint a pumpkin and get face painting if they wanted.  A fabulous set up at a local garden center.

The next day we went to Cox Farm.  A family tradition for my sister.  It's definitely one of the best pumpkin farms out there.  They have tons of giant slides, lots of farm animals, a corn maze, free apples and cider, play grounds and a very entertaining hay ride.

Back home, William had his preschool Halloween party and costume parade.  It was crummy weather so we had the parade in the gym.

Then it was time to get ready for Trick or Treat night.  In our township, they have Trick or Treat night the Thursday before October 31st.  Silly, I know, but that's how it is out here for whatever reasons.  Grandpa came to join in the fun and later Robyn's family came to double dip in the Trick or Treating.

After Trick or Treat night is over, you get the feeling that Halloween is over.  I am totally against this!  This year I had a Halloween party to celebrate the actual holiday.  I invited a few families over and had treats and snacks and did it up proper.  I had the most fun planning this party!  I'm pretty sure it was a success even though we ended with one of William's friends throwing up.  I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I was caught up in the party fun.

Good times this Halloween season.  Now for the frenzy of putting Halloween away to make room for Christmas!