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Christmas Categories-a new take on gifting

Each year, I go crazy at Christmas time. It’s my absolute favorite time of year. We have a tree in every room of the house, mounds of wrapping paper, and Christmas music can be heard starting in early November. I love buying gifts for my kids and each year they have over a dozen wrapped items under the tree from us, countless gifts from friends and family, and a large item Santa brings. I’m seriously finding items from last year in my kids bins that have still never even been opened! So this year, I decided I wanted to take a different approach to gifting. I had seen online about some moms doing a 4 gift per kid principle by using the “something you want, something you need, something you can wear, something you can read” concept. I liked this but decided to adapt it a little because A. I can’t commit to buying my kids a “need” for Christmas. If they “need” something, we just buy it when it’s needed. B. 4 didn’t seem like a right number to me but 6 did. Don’t know why. lol So after brainstorming a little with Dave, I came up with these categories for our kids this year:

1. Something to play together
This could be a wii game, a board game, a play set they would all enjoy, etc. For this category, I picked a board game for each of them.

2. Something to create
This is a craft, art item, or activity. My kids love creating things and doing busy work with their hands like their mama. This could be a craft set, art supplies, or activity of some sort. I got P a paint by numbers print of Van Gogh’s Starry night for her room, T got a set of Bunchems, and A is getting a set of bendaroos

3. Something to read
Pretty self explanatory. They each got a boxed set of books they enjoy.

4. Something to wear
I went with cute Pj’s and slippers for this category for when we are roaming the halls of Great Wolf after Christmas. But it could obviously be anything like a cool scarf, a new pair of shoes, a shirt.

5. Something they wish for
Just a small wish list item. P wanted me to re decorate her room for Christmas so she’s getting a new quilt for her bed and some art work for her wall. The other two wanted a puppy surprise.

6. Something made by Mama
This was one of my favorite categories. I wanted them each to have a gift made especially for them by me (with some assistance by Dad in some cases). For T I made a Shopkins display frame with glittery shelves. I’ve of course stocked the shelves with several new shopkins baskets too! You can see how I did it here. For A, I’m painting a picture of the moon over the eiffel tower. She always tells me she loves me all the way to the moon, all the way to Paris, and all the way back home. So I plan on writing that on there too. I’ll certainly post a photo when it’s done. For P I have a HUGE plan to make her a custom dry erase headboard that looks like a giant piece of notebook paper. Then she can doodle on it to her heart’s content. I’ll post a photo and directions of that soon too. I have to find a secret workplace to complete it! lol

This is our first year doing something like this and I really liked having a little check list to go along and it kept me from going insanely overboard. I found some cute little felt shaped tags at Target and assigned a category to each shape. When it’s time to open gifts, we will hand out all the gifts with the same shape out together that way they are all opening their pjs together or their books together. Should be fun!
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We asked Grandparents to gift experiences rather than toys as our children are fortunate to already have so much. We suggested a trip to Greatwolf Lodge, gymnastics classes, horseback riding lessons, ballet classes, museum memberships, etc. Making memories is really better than any toy at the store!

Do any of you do something similar for your kids? If so, what are your categories?

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A very shopkins Christmas

It’s happened.  I tried to fight it for a long time but I’ve finally succumbed to it.  The shopkins craze has hit our house.  For about a year now, T has asked me for shopkins every time we leave the house.  If you don’t know what shopkins are, they are tiny gumball machine prize sized collectibles which unfortunately do not have the gumball machine price tag.  They most often come in “blind baskets” so you have no idea what you’re getting.  It’s a surprise!  All my nieces in the 6-8 year age range love them and thus my 6 (almost 7) year old has jumped on the bandwagon.   This year when making Christmas wish lists, that’s all T said she wanted.  Seriously.  Anywho, if we’re going to do this shopkins thing, we’re going to do it right.  She’s my little collector so I knew I wanted to find a way to display her shopkins so that she could easily reach them to play with but see what she has at all times.  This year, we’re doing Christmas a little differently and we have gift categories to be checked off.  1 category is “made by mom”.  So for T’s gift, I decided I wanted to make a shopkins display.  I purused Pinterest for ideas but couldn’t decide then yesterday, while strolling Michael’s, I hatched a design plan!  Thought I would share it here in case you’ve got a shopkins crazed collector too!

What you’ll need:

-An acrylic box frame (any size you choose) I went big with a 16×20 

-foam core or sturdy cardboard

-box cutter

-wrapping paper

-hot glue gun

  
You can use your frame as a template and a straight edge to cut your shelves out of foam or cardboard.  I wanted 8 shelves on my display and each shelf needs to be doubled up.  So total, I cut 16 strips.  Leave them a little longer than necessary (about half an inch.  You can trim with scissors later.  

  
After cutting them, I grabbed a glue stick and began sticking them together in pairs.

  
Next, I cut 8 strips of wrapping paper to wrap around each shelf.  I had this fabulous glitter paper that worked perfectly because it won’t scratch easily, it was thicker than my others, and it seamlessly matched up when I wrapped it around without being noticeable.  You’ll want to use something similar or solid color for best match up.  You could even use printed contact paper!  I used my glue stick to secure it to each “shelf”.

  
Next, you’ll need to find a box or a book that will match your desired thickness.  I wanted her to be able to store those little baskets and bags on it too so I found a box that was the perfect width in the closet and used that as a guide.  I then used hot glue all along the back and sides of the “shelf” to secure it to the frame.  

  
Moving the box up with each shelf kept them perfectly spaced and I used a small level to double check my work.

  
I plan to cover the outside trim in ribbon that way I can hang it on her wall as well but I haven’t picked that out yet.  Next, stick your shelves with shopkins and you’re ready to go! 

 This week, Michael’s has a 50% off coupon so I used that for the frame which brought it down to about $7.50!  They also are now carrying shopkins in the store so we used to coupon again to score a 12pk set half off!  
Hope this is helpful Mamas!  I know I’m going to have a pretty happy girl come Christmas morning.  😃

Today’s youth group-tomorrow’s adults!

I sit in the same section every Sunday at church. On the far right 1 row behind the teenagers/youth. Some people are annoyed by them but not me, I’m absolutely fascinated by them. Something about sitting behind them encourages me and gives me hope for the future. Why? Because it’s a place where otherwise macho jock teenage boys will hug each other as brothers in Christ. It’s a place where teens will huddle around a friend laying hands on one another in prayer. It’s a place where the popular trendy looking girls embrace the not so fashionable ones as their sisters. Watching teens with arms extended high to the Lord fills my cup. They aren’t ashamed of their faith, they embrace it. They don’t sink into their seats for fear of looking “uncool”, they jump, they shout, they sing, they dance, they praise! These kids aren’t here because their parents dragged them there, these kids are truly on fire for the Lord and it shines! This is encouraging to me because the world has set them up for spiritual failure. Everything on television, in music, movies, and magazines seems to be advertising sin. Satan entices our children with every temptation that is meant to drag them down to the fiery pits of hell with him. He wraps that sin up in a beautiful red ribbon and it’s hard to resist, especially when you aren’t well equipped. My girls and my nieces aren’t teenagers yet but I know that day is right around the corner for us. I’m so blessed to have many amazing teenage girls that I’ve adopted as my nieces over the years. I’ve loved watching them grow into beautiful, amazing, intelligent, caring, compassionate, God-fearing young women. My heart breaks for them when I see them struggling with some of the “normal” teenage girl dramas and heartaches. I try to reach out and encourage them to the best of my ability because it’s MY responsibility as cooky adoptive aunt to pour into their lives. It’s MY responsibility to show them the love that God has for them. There are a million and one people and influences swirling around them daily pulling them in the wrong direction, giving them destructive “advice”, pressuring them to sin so they need just as many influences lifting them up and encouraging them in the word. We are living in a world where kids who don’t know the Lord are committing unspeakable crimes against other teens and themselves. Our high schools are filled with young pregnant girls, STD’s, drugs, suicide, crime, teenagers with no accountability for their actions whatsoever. I want to encourage each and every one of you whether you have teenagers of your own or not to lift our youth up in prayer daily. Pray a hedge of protection over them and their friends. Pray that they will be so filled with the spirit of the Lord that satan can not sway them. Pour into their lives and be a good listener. Drop unexpected encouraging texts and emails. They need to know that the price of sin is death and that Jesus brings life. Remember that today’s teenagers, are the leaders of tomorrow. If we don’t cover these kids in the blood of the lamb and teach them right from wrong, if we don’t nurture and encourage a Christ centered life, we are not only doing them an injustice but we are sabotaging the future of our nation, of our world. Our teenage girls are especially under attack. Society tells them they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, popular enough. Society will teach them that they need the love and attention of a boy to make them feel complete. But, we need to teach them that they are the daughter of a King and their heavenly father thinks they are beautiful and perfect and loves them more completely than any high school boy could even fathom. It’s up to us to raise and encourage God fearing women who will go on to raise and encourage another generation of God fearing women. It’s up to us to pour into those teenage boys and show them how to love and respect a woman just as their heavenly father loves the church, his bride. It’s important that we teach them to love others despite their differences. Schools are filled with so many cliques and so much division, we must teach them to close in those gaps and come together as a family of Christ sharing one simple goal. Love God, love others. Rejoice in the truth and not delight in evil. If we all pour into these tweens/teens and show them to follow Christ, help them fall in love with Him and his word, we can change the world. These kids are our future. Invest in your future! <3 Be the light! <3

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Proverbs 11:14

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

Motherhood

I want to start with a bit of an apology or a disclaimer if you will, I normally proof read my blogs briefly before I post because I know I can often become long winded or stray from the subject but I didn’t do that here. I just wanted to express exactly what I was feeling without any regards to run ons or subject changes! You’ve been warned.

When I held P (now 10) in my arms for the very first time, I knew being a mom was my calling. I mean, I had always known it but it really reiterated it. Yep, this was what I was meant to do. I was absolutely made to be a mother. I closed my eyes and envisioned my future as a glowing, nurturing, patient, maternal goddess. My entire future glowed before me. Soccer games, cheerleading, PTA meetings, family pictures. Yes, life was going to be picturesque, I could feel it. Even through the pain of my c-section and the late night feedings and poop explosions I trucked on towards the prize. The mother-of-year-prize; as though it was a tangible engraved trophy. I attended all her preschool parties with handmade treats and personalized party favors in tow. I scrapbooked every glorious little detail of her life in elaborate hand cut spreads with corner rounded photos. When I learned I was pregnant again, I just knew I would be an even better mother this time around. After all, I had some experience under my belt now, I was practically a pro! But when T came along, I learned I wasn’t as super as I thought. She was a difficult baby. She pretty much hated anyone but me and refused to be bottle fed at all. Pumped milk was not her thing, she wanted it fresh from the source! lol So class parties and other social events sort of took a back seat to little sister. I felt spread so thin I was sure both of my girls were suffering. By the time T was around 2 and I finally felt like I had a foothold on motherhood again, Dave and I begin talking about trying for our third and final baby. We thought since we were “trying” this time, it may take a while but in no time at all we were expecting again. This pregnancy was exciting to me because we were better prepared for it. It was expected, we were excited, the girls were excited, and we were in a better place financially to accommodate a new little blessing than previously. I was older, more experienced, and completely ready to take this on. After all, I had mastered being a mother of two, how much more difficult could a third child be? A was a pretty difficult child right out of the gate. She was colicky and was seriously attached to her mama. She did like Daddy much more than T did as a baby so that helped. Dave was much more helpful this time around too. He changed diapers and would offer to keep her so I could go to the store alone occasionally. But 3 kids into my parenting journey, I don’t exactly feel like a pro. I am NOT president of the PTA like I envisioned, I don’t even attend meetings. I have a hard time keeping their school and sporting events straight so I’m always late or confused in someway. We haven’t had family pictures taken in years. I’m not a glowing maternal goddess. I’m out of shape and stressed and overwhelmed most days. I feel like I’m drowning and failing in so many ways. I spend most of my days questioning every parenting decision I make and reflecting on every poor choice I made in the day: I text while I was at dinner with them, I fed them chick-fil-a because I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t bathe them last night because I was beyond ready for them to go to bed, they watched tv for more than an hour today, I lost my patience, I yelled, I skipped a bedtime story, we didn’t wake up in time for church, we didn’t pray together before bed. Did I spend enough time with them? Did I spend TOO much time with them? Did I let them be individuals and develop their own opinions or am I forcing mine on them? Have I scared them for life? Am I crushing their little spirits and forever changing who they are? Will they need therapy as adults? You laugh, but you know you’ve all thought the same thing about your parenting skills. Some days I hide in my closet and cry because I’m so disappointed in myself as a mother. Our pediatrician constantly compliments me on how well behaved, polite, intelligent, and wonderful our girls are. She praises Dave and I for our parenting every time we visit. Recently, Dave and I treated the girls to a nice dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse to celebrate P & T both being selected as students of the month at school when an elderly gentleman sitting at the table behind us came over as they were leaving and shook Dave’s hand. He said he just wanted to stop by and congratulate us on being wonderful parents. He said he and his wife had been watching and they were so blown away by how polite the girls were and how they just sat there sweetly the entire dinner. They were never rambunctious, never threw a fit, and were absolutely beautiful as well. Dave beamed with pride and the girls sweetly smiled and said thank you before waiving goodbye. Stuff like this literally happens to us every time we leave the house but still I don’t feel like a good parent. I still am overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and failure. This weekend was a great weekend for our family. Thursday I attended a muffins with Mom breakfast at the older girl’s elementary school and then a few hours later attended a muffins with Mom event at A’s mother’s day out program. I loved watching them very proudly present me little handmade cards and gifts as a Mother’s Day present. Friday morning, I attended another early morning breakfast event at the school because P had been chosen for a character award. Each time I attend an event at the girl’s school I am bombarded by reports of praise from their teachers, administrators, peers, and other parents. I cried as a letter from her teacher explaining why she was chosen was read aloud choked full of wonderful words of praise like “P is selfless, generous, and there is not a student in my classroom who thinks anything but the best of her. On my own bad days, I can think of a student like her and realize why I love to do this job.”. She goes on to say “Her kindness and constant enthusiasm will be something I remember for many years to come.”. Wow! Included in her award papers was a wonderful collage of sweet comments that each of her peers had contributed about her. “P is a problem solver and I have never seen her with a frown”, “You are a sweet, nice, cute, and generous girl and will be my best friend forever”, “You are awesome! You are fast, nice, gold hearted, a good friend, and very good at soccer”, “She is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met”. Were amongst some of my favorite things her classmates had to share about her. I am so so proud of this amazing little girl but I can’t take the credit for it. Even with all this praise, I can’t take credit. She’s wonderful all on her own and I still felt like a failure when I fed her fast food for dinner that night. The next morning, our whole family attended a city wide “Character March” at one of the local high schools. Star students from each school in the city were brought on stage and recognized for being students of impeccable character. This year there were about 18 students out of the nearly 500 enrolled students at their school selected to be students of the month and of those 18, my 2 children were BOTH selected! They were the only set of siblings recognized that day. T’s teacher said about her: “She always has a kind word for her friends and encourages others. She usually goes the extra mile to help teachers and students alike.” She added, “She is a great example to her peers daily and her genuine and caring heart makes her a friend to all.” We finished off the morning with food and fun at the stadium and then enjoyed an evening of pizza and playing with friends. At the end of the night when I kept my children up waaaaaay past their bedtimes and then became irritated when A was extremely cranky and whiney I felt like a failure again. My point in all of this was not to brag on my children, (okay, maybe a little bit, but they truly deserve some recognition), it was to say that no matter what the parenting circumstances are, no matter how other people view you as a parent, no matter how well behaved and kind hearted your kids may be, you will always be your own worst critic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became a mother and something I will probably always struggle with from time to time. This morning when I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, jewelry from one of my favorite stores, donuts, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards before church, I cried. Reading the sweet words on the card my husband had selected for me and the wonderful note he wrote at the bottom made my heart swell because I realized something for the first time in all of my years as a mom. I realized that I am enough. I’m not perfect, I’m often impatient, I become overwhelmed, sometimes my kids eat fast food, but I’m doing my very best and you know what? That’s a pretty good start. God didn’t intend for us to be perfect mothers. He intended us to lean on him with faithful prayer. He intended for us to go to Him for counsel and guidance and to raise our children to love him. Can I tell you something moms? You are enough for those babies. Someday when they’re grown, they won’t remember that time we were too tired for a bedtime story, they will remember the love we had for them, the discipline they received when they were disobedient, the lessons we teach them, and most importantly how we instilled in them a love for the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I find so much encouragement in the word knowing that the Father is with me co-parenting and picking up the slack when I can’t go on. I find hope in His promises for me as a mother and although I know I will always fall short in some area as a mother, I know those sweet, beautiful, amazing, precious babies of mine love their imperfect, absent minded, goofy, flawed mommy more than I deserve. They are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. They try my patience and drive my absolutely batty some days but this wonderful amazing motherhood journey has been the greatest ride of my life!

Proverbs 31:28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.

Thank you Lord for loving me so completely despite my many flaws. Thank you for trusting me with these 3 amazing little angels. Thank you for giving me a God fearing mother as an example to myself and my children and for the many amazing mothers in my life. I pray for extra strength for my fellow mommies who are struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy and failure today. Less of us and more of you Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamas! <3

Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

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Memories…

pho·to·jour·nal·ism
ˌfōdōˈjərnəˌlizəm/
noun
the art or practice of communicating news by photographs

Okay, okay so photos of my kids and our life may not exactly be “news” but they do tell a story. I’m sure my friends on social media get sick and tired of me flooding their news feed with a bazillion photos of my kids, especially in the last few months. What can I say? My kids are cute and they’re always doing cute things. I’m proud of them, sue me! Sorry, not sorry. lol Imagine all the photos I take and DON’T post! There was a time not so long ago that I didn’t take my camera anywhere. It’s big, bulky, and heavy so if I was going to snap a photo, I relied on my trusty iPhone camera to capture the moment. Fine in a pinch for a quick snapshot but the problem with iPhone photos is that they are great for Instagram and other social media sites for quick posting but in reality, they are grainy and poor quality. Really how often do you print your iPhone photos? When my mother in law passed in August and we were searching for photos for the slideshow for her services, I didn’t have a single photo of her with my kids that wasn’t a grainy cell phone photo. I can’t get that time back. I will never have those moments back. Why didn’t I take more photos? Why didn’t I capture the way she liked to play baseball in the yard with the family or the way she liked to fish on the river? Why didn’t I capture her smile when she would throw her head back, slap her knee, and laugh? Or the way the kids would light up when she read Jingle to them at Christmas time. I would give anything to go back and have my camera to capture the little things. Looking through those old grainy cell phone photos made me realize the importance of carrying around that big bulky thing for 2 reasons.
1. Life is short. Those you love won’t be around forever and all you’ll be left with are those memories, those photos.
2. Kids, they aren’t kids forever. I recently made a comment to my Dad about how I couldn’t believe my baby girl was 3 already and he said, “how do you think I feel? My baby is 30 and has her own babies!” Woah. Really? It goes by that quickly? Yikes!

I’m going to blink one day and my babies will have babies of their own. There’s so much I want to remember about their childhood. Like what T looked like leading her horse to pasture by herself for the first time at her riding lesson last summer or the longhorn balloon hat she picked when we went to he Fort Worth Stockyards over spring break.
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or the pouty face A makes when she’s overly tired and not getting her way or the pure joy on her face when she’s at the park swinging or sliding.
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I want to remember forever P’s love for animals and how she just has a way with them or what she looked like sitting on the bench at soccer taking a break and waiting for coach to call her back in. Always with her shoe untied! lol
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So how do you know what to include in your photos? Ummm… well, EVERYTHING that means anything to put it simply. Or not so simply. Remember, there aren’t any rules to memory catching. Your subjects don’t always have to be posed, smiling, looking at you, or even facing forward for that matter! Some of my favorite photos are of the back of my children’s heads. Like this one of P & A fishing together last summer.
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Get up close and personal! Zoom in, catch the details even if you don’t get any faces in the shots. Last summer after my Mama in law’s funeral, we all spent a week at the family ranch together. The kids loved playing down in the meadow and by the creek skipping rocks and catching roly polys. They spent the week with dirty fingernails having the time of their lives with tiny bugs in their tiny hands.
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Pay attention to your surroundings. Over Spring Break, the girls and I hit up the zoo. While there, we rode the train to the wild west area. Normally, I would just snap a photo while I sat across the train from them but then I wouldn’t remember what the train looked like or what it was called. For this shot, I choose to snap the photo before I boarded the train while the other passengers were still loading. This way, I’ll always remember our ride on the yellow rose express. Because at one point, my grandkids will be flipping through a photo album and ask “Grandma, where were you? Why are you on a train? What color was it? What was it called?” Because that’s just the sort of thing kids ask. lol
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My final tip to you is to pay attention to your angle. I snapped these tonight at P’s soccer game while A was playing on one of the smaller goals behind the field. The one on the left was shot with me standing like normal over her and looking down. You see the grass and that she’s sort of swinging from something but you’re not real sure what it is or where she is. It doesn’t tell a story. For the one on the right all I did was squat down till I was at her level. You can tell just by glancing at it that it was taken at soccer fields and that she is more than likely swinging from a goal post.
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Remember these things when recording memories of your cuties even if all you have handy is your trusty iPhone. A well executed iPhone photo is better than no photo at all.

My absolute final tip to you is don’t always hide out behind the camera. Jump in front too! Have someone take a photo of you with your kids. Take a selfie, heck, photobomb them! You’re not getting any younger either people! I may need to take my own advice a little more here. I don’t know about you, but I love looking a photos of my mom and my grandmother from when she was younger. Checking out her goofy glasses or seeing the shifting fashion trends. So get out there and get in those frames mamas!

Happy snapping! <3

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After school snacktime

I don’t know about your kids, but when I pick my kids up from school, the very first words that come out of their mouths are usually “I’m hungry”! Sure sometimes they grab a yogurt or some sort of prepackaged snack from the pantry but if we have extra time and I haven’t had a dreadfully stressful day, we like to engage in a little snacktivity. Yeah, yeah, a snacktivity is a snack that doubles as a fun activity. Kills two birds with one stone! 😃 I’m going to share with you a few of our favorites.

There are a few things that you will pretty much ALWAYS find on hand in our house and we use them in many of our snack making adventures. Bananas, peanut butter, pumpkin purée, and wheat tortillas.

1. Peanut butter quesadillas:

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We buy PB2 powdered peanut butter because it has less fat and sugar than typical PB. We buy the other kind too but for smoothies, shakes, and snack making, the powdered kind is awesome! Just mix it with a little water and BAM! Instant PB! We smooth a little on a wheat tortilla and then add our toppings to just half of it. Bananas, strawberries, and chocolate chips. A is allergic to peanuts, not a severe allergy but she gets a little rashy so I use Nutella on hers instead of the PB. Then I fold it in half and toss it on the griddle until it’s nicely toasted. We enjoyed ours with a yummy fruit smoothie on this particular day.

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2. Pumpkin spice chips with caramel pumpkin cheesecake dip
This is one of our very favorite snacks ever! My kids (and myself) could probably slather this dip on just about anything and enjoy it.
For starters, take a few wheat tortillas and coat them in butter. Then add a sprinkle of cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin spice. Use as much or as little as you want. Use a pizza cutter to cut them into chips and then place on an untreated cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 mins. Ovens will vary so just check on them and pull them out when they hit your desired crunchiness.

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While those bad boys are getting their crispy on, toss 1 part cream cheese in a bowl with 2 parts pumpkin purée into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar, cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin spice, and a few drops of caramel flavoring. Mix it with a fork or use a hand mixer until it’s nice and creamy. Sweeten to taste, different brands of pumpkin are sweeter than others so you may need more powdered sugar.

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3. Banana pops
Easiest snack ever! Cut bananas in half, insert a lollipop stick, and place on a wax paper lined pan in the freezer for a few hours. When you’re ready, take some melting chocolates and toss them in the microwave. I like to use a small juice glass rather than a bowl for these because it makes dipping a breeze. I add a little PB2 for the big girls or Nutella for A and mix well. Remove bananas from the freezer and dip one by one then place back on wax paper in pan. Add sprinkles if you’d like and wait for the chocolate to harden. Voila! Banana pops!

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4. Fruit kabobs and vanilla cream dip
Super easy fun snack and so yummy! I let the girls select and cut up their fruit and then they have a blast designing their own kabobs. We use lollipop sticks rather than skewers because they’re safer for little fingers. While they do that, I combine 1 part cream cheese with an equal part of marshmallow cream. Add a scoop of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and a couple of drops of vanilla extract and mix well.

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Scoop into dipping bowls, garnish with sprinkles, and enjoy!

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5. Pumpkin pie banana ice cream
Chop up 4 ripe bananas and toss them in the freezer for a few hours. Once mostly frozen, put them in a blender or food processor with half a can of pumpkin puree, a dash of cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice and blend. Pour into a freezer safe container and toss in the freezer for a few hours or serve just like that.

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I dip my ice cream scoop in a mug of hot water to make for easier scooping. If your ice cream has frozen solid it helps to let it set out a little before serving. We top ours with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.

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6. Banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Toss 2 cups of oatmeal in my food processor and make a fine powder from it. Take 2 ripe bananas and mush them with a fork in a bowl. Stir in the oatmeal and add a dash of cinnamon, and about 1/8 cup of brown sugar. I toss in some dark chocolate chips and a bit of crushed walnuts and mix completely until it’s the consistency of cookie dough. Spoon it out into cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 mins.

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7. Cinnamon sugar art
My kids LOVE this snacktivity! Take a paint pallet or a plate and add drops of food coloring. I use a medicine dropper to fill the pallet with milk to make edible “paint”. We use a small cup of milk to wash our brushes and the girls go to town painting designs on their slice of bread. I bought the brushes at dollar tree and washed them with warm soapy water first. We set them aside for this very project. Once they are done with their works of art, we toss it in the toaster until it’s to our desired level of toastyness. Once it’s done, spread butter over the top and add a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy your edible art!

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Hope you and your littles enjoy these fun, tasty, and semi healthy snacktivities too!