Tips On How To Have an Evergreen Christmas

Need some ideas for keeping Christmas green this year? I have come across some ideas that are perfect for those looking to make holidays fun, simple and evergreen

How about giving someone on your list a couple of those fabric reusable bags for shopping? Many people would probably use these bags if they were given to them. Sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can have the biggest impacts.

Another idea is to cut back on buying "things" for presents that may end up in landfills quicker than we realize. How about buying gift certificates for a nice dinner at a restaurant? Tickets for the movies, or a show somewhere? Maybe zoo tickets, museum tickets, concerts, or other family attractions could be a fun family gift for relatives with kids?

When it comes to wrapping paper and holiday cards, look for those made from 100% recyclable paper. Or how about skipping wrapping paper altogether and use materials around the house--magazines, atlas paper, paper bags that have been decorated with markers and crayons by the kids, left over fabrics, etc. Reusable shopping bags can also make a perfect holiday gift bag! And you can always opt to email holiday greetings-- No paper or stamps and a lot less time!

Inexpensive Christmas Decorating Ideas

So I am in the holiday decorating mood this weekend, as I mentioned in my earlier post. I though I'd share a couple of decorating ideas that cost very little, and really are festive and fun.

First off is the "Christmas Bears" theme we did before. It works well and my kids loved it. We just gathered some stuffed bears the kids have collected over the years, and dressed them up with red and green bows, scarves, mittens, Santa hats and whatever else Christmasy we could find. Then we took Christmas wrapping paper and wrapped boxes of various sizes. Then we made arrangements with bears and the presents around the house. My daughter and 4 year old loved doing this. My two year old mostly loved coming behind them and taking the bears and presents, hehe. If you have a toy wagon that your kids won't mind giving up for a bit, they make great decorations with holiday bears and presents loaded in them.

Another cheap decorating idea is to simply take pictures you have hanging on your walls, and wrap them with Christmas wrapping paper and big ribbons. Then hang them back up-- Christmas presents on the walls---now that is festive and cheap!

I have also taken paper and covered the front side of bedroom and bathroom doors. I had to stop this one though when my two youngest thought it would be hilarious to tear the paper. But if you can buy cheap wrapping paper at dollar stores, this is a fun and easy decoration to do--as long as you don't have wrapping paper tearers like mine, LOL.

Bowls filled with ornaments, glass balls (put high up if little ones are around), pine cones and greenery always make nice touches when holiday decorating.

I love to make Christmas pictures with the kids and frame them. Use paints, stamps, glitter, crayons and markers and let the kids draw their Christmas masterpiece. Having them sign and date their paintings before framing them will create wonderful lasting Christmas memories that also show how their drawing skills changed each year.

I really think the best holiday decorations are the handmade ones, and the ones that will make everyone smile the most.

Oprah's Favorite Things Show Tomorrow!

Well, Oprah fan or not, tomorrow's Oprah Show should be interesting, to say the least. It is Oprah's Favorite Things episode, you know--the one where Oprah gives away lavish gift after gift to her audience every holiday season-- well tomorrow is that show. But there will be one little difference this year -- instead of wonderful gifts like TVs and Designer Purses, this year Oprah will be featuring gifts that cost next to nothing or nothing at all!
Apparently Oprah wants to help viewers out by sharing gift ideas (from other viewers) that are inexpensive or free. It's a recession friendly type show, with ideas on how to make Holiday Parties memorable and affordable, and gifts that come from the heart, not your wallet.
I am wondering what the audience members will think of this twist. I know the intentions are good here, and I will be watching for helpful gift and party ideas on the cheap, but I will miss seeing all those fabulous gifts being brought out one after the other. And dreaming that I was there. But I think the audience is going to be missing them more!

Kota The Triceratops By Playskool And His Magical Powers

First --this is not a paid advertisement, LOL. This is the toy that has my 4 year old promising every promise a 4 year old can think of in order to have this under the Christmas Tree come Christmas morning!
If you have not met this hefty dino, his name is Kota, The Triceratops. We encountered Kota this past weekend when we were out shopping at Target. My son, who loves everything dinosaurs anyway, just about went speechless when he first laid eyes on old Kota. I say "Just About", because it took probably about all of 3 seconds for my son to regain his composure, and...his speech. The rest of the day all we heard about was Kota. My little boy's face was a mix of disbelief and joy that something this grand existed...I kid you not! And it appears as those Kota does have some Magical Powers. My son has actually behaved himself these last couple of days astoundingly well. I am happy, scared, and stressed. This kid really has his heart set on Kota being under the Christmas Tree. What will happen if the old dinosaur is not there? Shudder.

Anyway, here I am today debating with myself and with the Hubbs on whether or not we should buy old Kota. Kota does not come cheap mind you. I know he is a talented triceratops that responds to your voice and all, and has some pretty fancy tail, head and eye movement, but this uy will set us back at least $200 bucks. This is a tough year to rationalize getting such a gift. But my son and his adorable face and never ending list of promises is getting to my soft side. Big time. Not so much the Hubbs, however. He is staying strong. But my 4 year old is so sure that Santa will deliver old Kota, especially since in trade my 4 year old has promised us and Santa he will be good until he is old. Whatever old means in a 4 year old's mind. Oh yea, he will also never ever fight with his little brother again, Ever.

I have checked around a bit and found the lowest price for Kota at Amazon-- a cool $199.00. Not bad since I've seen the old dinosaur listed for as much a $500 (really!) at a couple of other places.

I could really use some advice here. What would you do? Is the Hubbs right on this one? Too expensive, or heck, it's Christmas...go for it?

Dreaming About Christmas Gift Ideas

My mind is full of everything Christmas these days. From planning out decorations, deciding where to put the Christmas Tree this year, and of course the presents I want to give to family and friends. I have so many gift ideas in my head, I just wish I had the money to match the ideas,LOL. For the hubbs, I have thought of several different gift ideas, one of which would be super charging up his car. I know the kid in him would absolutely love this, and boy would it surprise him, LOL. The look on his face if he opened a pontiac supercharger on Christmas morning would be so fun to see -- this gift idea may be a keeper.

Baby Ergo Carrier Give Away!!

Ahh..just had to pass on this bloggy giveaway, it's a nice one for all the baby-wearing mamas out there or if you know a mommy that you'd like to give this wonderful gift to! Along For The Ride.Com is giving away a fantastic Ergo Baby Carrier Embroidered Organic Hads Free System. The very lucky winner can choose between an Organic Blue Applique or the Organic Black Embroidered Ergo Baby Carrier Hands Free System (baby carrier, plus matching back pack and front pouch). They both look awesome.
All you need to do is get your entry submitted by midnight December 15th-- this would make a very cool Christmas present for a mommy to be in my family, so I gotta tell you that I have my fingers crossed on this one! But for anyone who enters, of course I wish you good luck as well (Really...I mean it...Good Luck, hehe).

A Picture Can Be Worth a Thousand Words

Blog Pictures |
For all bloggers out there in the blogosphere, I just wanted to pass on some information on Acobox. This is a site that has licensed, optimized, and ready to use pictures for bloggers to use with their blog posts. I checked it out today and was pretty happy with the selection of quality photos I saw. It is always a nice touch to add blog pictures with posts (though I have to admit I sometimes do not manage to get a picture added to every post I write ) and I am sure readers appreciate a picture to go along with the writing. Personally, when I read other blogs I always love seeing a picture with it.
The nice thing with Acobox is that they make it so simple to pick a picture and then place it on your site. All you need to do is copy and paste some image coding -- no downloading, resizing,or uploading the image file. Anything that saves me time, I can really appreciate. Tonight I cruised around the site and tried it out. The picture above is one that I found and liked. It took me about two minutes to add it to the post. Pretty cool, don't you think?

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make

Here are a few of my favorite kid made Christmas Gift Ideas that I have found cruising around the blogosphere!

Home Made Soap Shapes

You will need: one bar of Ivory soap;
1/4 cup water;
2 drops of food coloring;
cookie cutters;
kitchen grater.

This is such a simple, inexpensive and totally fun recipe for making home made soap shapes that it is one of my favorites! Grate the soap in a bowl, then add in the water and food coloring. Mix well and then spoon into fun shaped cookie cutters. Pack the mixture firmly and let dry overnight. A really simple version is to just shape the soap into balls. Wrap in netting and tie up with a colorful ribbon.
Adding a few drops of essential oil or soap scent if desired. Most craft stores will carry these items.

Hand Painted Key Tray or Loose Change Tray

This is a cute idea for A Handmade Christmas Present kids can make, plus it recycles those polystrene trays that things like fruit and meat sometimes come on.

Wash trays well!

Then simply let kids paint them! Grandma, Dad, Grandpa, whomever.... now can have a personal try for putting their keys, mail, loose change, or whatnot on when they come in.

Personalized Memory Books

All you really need to help your child make a personalized memory book is a 3 Ring Binder, Some left over fabric, fabric glue, ribbons/buttons for extra decorating touches if wanted, and some page protectors that fir in binders.

Help kids cut the fabric about an inch bigger than the binder on each side, and using the glue, cover the binder with the fabric. Decorate the front even more with lace ribbons, buttons, beads etc.

Then have fun picking out family pictures, school work, poems, paintings from the kids, hand written stories of favorite memories, and so on. You might want to leave some page protectors empty to be filled with new memories later on.

Hand (or Feet) Painted T-Shirts

Use simple plain T-shirts and fabric paint.
Kids can dip their feet in the paint, and make footprints
Or handprints
Or paint hearts ("My heart belongs to Daddy, Grandpa, Grandma,")
Or paint cookies (My Grandma makes the best cookies")
Ideas are pretty much endless for designing personalized t-shirts!

Make a Personalized Dish Towel

For this you'll need

Plain white cotton dish towel
plain white paper
crayons or markers

Ideas for personalizing could be

have kids draw a picture of their favorite food Grandma makes, and then write their version of the recipe (there is nothing cuter than little kid's printing and their ideas of how cookies are made!)

have kids draw a picture of their favorite food they like to make and then write the recipe --

Just have kids draw a picture

Have kids write a poem

When the design is done, take the it to a copy shop and have an iron transfer made at 50 percent of the size.

Take home and you just iron on the transfer to the dish towel (or see if the copy store has an iron press and can do this step for you!)

Breastfeeding Is a Beautiful Thing

I think the most wonderful part of having babies is the indescribable bond I felt when I breastfed each one of my babies. I miss those special moments, even the moments that came at 3 AM. But what I don't miss so much about breastfeeding is the contortionist moves I'd sometimes I have to make as I would try to discreetly nurse my baby, or the not so attractive choices I had for lingerie that also was suitable for nursing. Thank goodness there are more and more solutions as far as clothing and apparel for nursing moms these days. Condessa is an innovator in the lingerie industry. You can easily see their commitment to nursing mothers in their line of luxurious and beautiful lingerie for nursing moms that is also nursing accessible. The beautiful nursing bras by Condessa are exactly the kind I wish I had back in the days when I was breastfeeding.

OOPS--I Didn't Do That, Did I ??

Yep, I did! I apologize for not getting the drawing/post done yesterday as I planned to! Please Forgive Me. Please?????

Here we go though...

The winner of the Amazon Gift Certificate

I had a total of 30 entries. I used the List Randomizer, and here are the results from Randomizer....

List Randomizer

There were 30 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1. 28
Timestamp: 2008-11-18 23:50:56 UTC

So Number 28 is the winner....and that would be, DRUMROLL PLEASE.....

aBookworm from a book bloggers diary


Thank-you to all who commented...I loved reading your thoughts on favorite children's books!!

Small Investments Can Bring Big Rewards

The struggling economy is simply on everyone's minds these days. Businesses are filing bankruptcy, foreclosures are at their highest rates ever, and families are dealing with layoffs and loss of incomes. There is a program I read about today that provides a way for people to help rebuild communities and provide jobs at the same time.
Anyone that wants to can purchase a $25 Certificate of Deposits, which is FDIC Insured, and those investments will in turn be used to put people to work by revitalizing the construction and real estate industries. The goal of Rebuilding of America is to unite Americans through an affordable investment group program, that will get America working again in an industry that is profitable and where those profits are returned directly and equally to its investors.
When I think about how quickly I can spend $25.00 on fast food or other impulse buys, I know it is certainly possible to invest that money in a worthwhile cause such as this one. I do not know much about investing, but for $25 this sounds like an investment worth checking out not only because it is FDIC Insured, but because it has the potential to help rebuild our economy. I like the grassroots feel of this program...revitalize properties, give people jobs, and provide investment potential for people. If you'd like to learn more about this program, just click the link above.

Amazon Gift Certificate Give Away Ends Tonight!!

Last call....if you want to get in on Happy Healthy Families Amazon Give Away ($15 Gift Certificate), tonight is the final night! You just need to post a comment about your favorite children's book you like to read to your kids, or just like yourself, and tell me why it's your favorite. That's it. And one lucky winner will win a $15.00 gift certificate to spend at Amazon.
Tomorrow I will do the drawing, so be sure to stop by and see if you are the lucky winner. And if you don't win this contest, don't be sad....Happy Healthy Families will be having another fun giveaway shortly.

Speaking of giveaways, here are a couple more fun giveaways going on in the blogosphere right now--

A very cool Cleaning Package Giveaway at From The Desk of Melissa

"Because it's Christmas" giveaway (lots of great toys!) ongoing at What's That Smell

CurlyQ Cuties--Plush Monster Giveaway at The Mom Buzz

Signs of Christmas

Christmas count down is on! Are you counting days or weekends left till Santa comes? My kids are getting so excited, I have to keep reminding them that we need to celebrate Thanksgiving first, lol, but they just look at me like I am speaking in a foreign language.
Luckily I started Christmas shopping this weekend. I admit that I didn't get a lot done, but usually I haven't even started my shopping by this time in years past, so I'm pretty pleased with myself right about now! I have a couple of things on my kids lists, like th ewagon my 4 year old wants and a couple of games for nintendo my daughter wants, put away on Kmart Layaway and that alone relieves some stress! Mr.Bluelight is one of my favorite reminders that Christmas time is here, kind of like seeing the Christmas Tree lots getting set up. It's funny how certain things will become like rituals to us that make each season real for us. When I see the Kmart commercials featuring Mr. Bluelight and his advice for shoppers, I know it's Christmas. Just like when I see leaves turning colors, I know football season and Thanksgiving is here. Problem is, it seems like the two holidays overlap more and more each year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are intertwined in our thoughts and in the stores. Oh well. It is a great time of the year that always passes by too quickly for me anyway. I enjoy the kids being so excited and making lists, and I enjoy seeing Mr. Bluelight giving shoppers his sage advice!
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Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids

thanksgiving day kids ideas

Better Homes and Gardens has some great links for children activities that you can download for free. There are coloring pages, games and cards that will keep kids happy and busy while Turkey Day preparations are underway!

Color Me Thankful

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Thanksgiving Day Card

Thanksgiving Turkey Card (Very Cute!)

Turkey Tic Tac Toe

Turkey Day Games

Wild Turkey

My Friend The Entrepreneur

I am jealous. The green eyed monster has bit me, and bit me hard, LOL. I have a wonderful friend who is about to open a wedding consultant business. I love this friend, and wish her well, but I admit I am feeling a bit green. I have always dreamed of opening my own business in a real brick and mortar store. Living vicariously will have to do for now though. It is so cool being kind of close to an actual business about to open though, and watching her get ready to open her store/office, has taught me quite a bit. There is so much involved that I never gave much thought to before. For example, the shop will need security features, such as a digital security camera in case of break-ins and theft. Sites like IT Planet provide discount hardware for businesses, and also a large selection of security cameras and systems. Having a security camera visible is a great idea that will hopefully deter would be thieves.
So I really am excited for my friend, and hope her new business is successful. And if I am ever ready to open a business of my own, hopefully my friend can guide me!

Sharing A Thanksgiving Recipe--Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Ohhhh...this pumpkin chocolate cheesecake pie is so yummy, and actually quite easy to make! It's not really Thanksgiving time in our house until all the delicious baking starts, and this recipe is one of my family's favorite to kick off the holiday season with.

What You'll Need:

1 8 ounce package softened cream cheese

2 cups of pumpkin puree

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

3 eggs

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

3/4 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate

9 inch pie shell (use your favorite recipe, or do what I do--buy already made pie shells at the grocery store!)

To Make:

Combine cream cheese and milk and beat until smooth. Spread in pie shell and sprinkle with the chocolate pieces.

In another bowl, combine pumpkin puree, spice and eggs. Mix well, and then pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the pie comes out clean (that's how my mom always checked on her pies...and it really works)

Enjoy warm!! Don't forget some whipped cream on's the holidays, time to splurge, right??

What Are Your Plans For Black Friday?

I am getting exited a bit more each day. Why? Because Black Friday is approaching. OMG--what fun that day is for me. I plan on making a big pot of hot coffee, getting up super early, switching on my laptop,!

I am going to get organized (I hope), before Black Friday so I know what I want to shop for. I am checking out ads already and am taking notes. It's like getting ready for a major athletic event for me, LOL. The most important thing is having ideas for gifts for people on your list, in my opinion. Then you can prepare kind of a "schedule" of stores/products you want to shop for. Obviously I will have toys on my list, but there will also be some other stuff that I really am hoping to score some good deals on, like cell phones.

My daughter would really like a new cool cell phone, as would my hubby. So I will be checking for Verizon Wireless Black Friday sale this week, and making notes on my "Big List", LoL. But I have to know about all the deals, so I will check for T-Mobile Black Friday sale as well.

I know my hubby has been eyeing the new Sprint Instinct for Sprint which I have to agree looks very cool. It of course has the awesome touch screen, but what makes it such a good match for my hubby is that he needs a large colorful screen because he needs glasses and often times is not wearing them when he should be. So the bigger the screen, the better for his eyes! I will dfinitely be checking out Sprint Black Friday deals to see if I can get a free one of these phones for hubby.
I know there will be more deals on cell phones, like at&t Black Friday deals, and by the time I finish checking those out as well for my daughter, I should be about ready for my second pot of coffee!
So what are your shopping plans for Black Friday going to be? Are you getting ready too?

Tips For Fighting The Flu This Season

Getting ready for the holidays also means getting ready for the Cold and Flu Season. I read an interesting article on our immune systems, and how we should be focusing our attentions on building up ours and our kids systems to help fight the flu.

Studies show that sugar and processed foods lower our defenses, basically depressing the immune system. There is a direct link between the amount of these foods that kids eat and child their health.

So we know the drill--sodas, candy, sugary sweets, ice cream and chips are not good choices for our kids. But there are more foods that some may think are "healthy" but actually are not. Yogurts, drinkable yogurts, juices, soy ice cream, fruit rollups, and many frozen treats actually hide sugar and refined ingredients. Even though snacks like these may be labeled healthy, they may not be. We need to carefully check out ingredient labels and watch out for things like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or “HFCS,” brown rice syrup, fructose, sucrose, barleymalt and the obvious, sugar.

Getting fresh fruits and veggies into kids may be a challenge, but it is crucial we find creative ways to do so. They need the vitamins from these foods more than ever during cold and flu season.

Sleep is another factor in strengthing in our immune systems. Deep sleep allows for the body to do some serious recharging of our immune systems, so for kids to be the most resiliant, they need their 8-10 hours of sleep.

Avoid having kids use antibacterial soap when washing their hands. Washing with good old hot water and soap is actually better (and cheaper!). Bacteria is everywhere, and immune systems actually need bacteria to be stronger and resilient. So while it is important to wash hands frequently during flu season, killing off the germs on hands with antibacterial products is futile and weakens your child’s- and the world’s- future ability to confront germs.

Using My 1-800 Flowers Promotion Code This Thanksgiving

Flowers, Beautiful Centerpieces and Thanksgiving go together, kind of like Turkey and gravy. I always love to send flowers to family I will not be seeing at Thanksgiving, as a way to let them know we are thinking of them and wishing them a wonderful holiday. But I am wondering how the economy this year will affect the tradition of sending flowers during the Holidays. I know we are watching our pennies very closely this year, as so many other families will be, and I will be putting sales, coupons,and promotion codes all to good use for all my Holiday shopping.
The best way to shop I believe is online. At the very least, you should start by searching stores and products online before heading out to the malls, because great coupons and promotions are often found online. For example, there is a 1 800 Flowers promotion code online right now that will save me 15% on my Thanksgiving orders, and if I hadn't checked online first, I may never have known about it. My best tip for shopping this year is to make a list as soon as possible of the people you plan on buying a gift for this Holiday season, and write down the gift ideas you have in mind for each person. Then check online everyday for coupons, promotion codes and sales for those gift ideas, and check the stores you are thinking of shopping will often find deals online that you would not know about otherwise!

Tales From The Potty Chair, Part Three

If you have been reading my blog, you may recall that I have been thinking/debating/half-heartedly attempting to potty train my two year old son. So here is my latest update-- and it's a short one. Sigh. The potty training is somewhat on hold. Well, really, it's kind of on stand by mode. My little guy seems to do so much better when Mom stays quiet on the subject of using the potty chair so I have decided to stop suggesting it for the time being. It would seem that my little sweetheart is actually a mini-rebel in the making!
The days of his being easy going and cuddly seem to disappearing...quickly. Again, sigh. Now that he has started upon his third year of life, my little boy has decided that he, and only he, will make decisions for himself. He is reminding me of my pre-teen daughter, who is also rebelling my every "suggestion" these days.

Now I know two year olds are stubborn and are seriously intent upon being independent (while trying to cover up the fact that they want to see mommy nearby at all times...quiet and not interfering in any way, but still nearby), and want to do everything they want to do the way they want to do it and when they want to do it, but knowing this in my mind does not make my heart hurt less. Yes, I understand that he is acting exactly the way he is supposed to be acting, but there are days when I want my cuddly sweet baby back. But then I would miss this hysterically funny little person trying to explain things to me with hand gestures, expressions that make you want to laugh out loud at but can't because you know you are not supposed to be amused, and words that only a mommy (and sometimes a daddy) can decipher. ah...there really is nothing quite like the Two Year Old stage. Gotta love it!

So I will let my little guy feel like he is the one deciding if and when he will use the potty chair (aw men..always needing to feel in charge, aren't they? But I digress) I can already tell he will be using it quickly and confidently, as long as he thinks it is all his idea. So the plan is to leave the potty chair out in the open, and my mouth closed when it comes to it being used or not!

Stay tuned for part 4 of Tales From The Potty Chair!

Dear Santa, Can You Please Bring me a Wagon?

My 4 year old is most definitely going to be asking Santa for a wagon this year. And not just any wagon, either. No, this will have to be a super-cool awesome kind of a wagon. We have neighbors with two little boys that my boys sometimes play with, and they have a very cool wagon. The boys use it to pull each other in, pull toys in, and just about anything else they can think of. This wagon so cool that it has in fact become a big topic of discussion in our home, LOL. My 4 year old wants one and reminds us of this fact almost every day. So I am pretty confident that a wagon is going to top my little boy's list for Santa this year!
Today I found the perfect wagon online at Kmart. And guess what? I can put this snazzy wagon on Kmart Lay-Away. They are the only national discount department store that offers layaway. That is a perfect solution for me all the way around. I can make payments every two weeks at my local Kmart--just a couple of miles away from me--and pick it up just before Christmas. That will make the tight Holiday budget breathe easier (and my hubby as well!), and will keep sneaky little boys from finding their present. My goal is to not use any credit for buying presents this year- and still make it a wonderful holiday season for my kids. So far, I think I'm off to a good start!
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Counting Down To Christmas. I know it's not 100 days till Christmas fact there are now only 47 days left, for anyone starting to feel the panic creeping in, LOL. But I have joined the 100 Days Till Christmas group in hopes that it will kick my yuletide rear into gear and help me get organized and focused!

I always start out the Holiday season with big plans and inspirations, but then daily life kicks in and I lose focus. I am the stressed crazy looking mom out on Christmas Eve Day searching for last minute gifts!

But not this year. I am going to follow along with the Countdown to Christmas and stay on task. Because this year I am planning to make our Holidays more about family activities, crafts and home made presents and goodies for people on our list, this will be just what I need to stay on top of things!

So today I am going to do the task of sitting down my family and making a list together of all the stuff that needs to be done. Everything we can brainstorm together is going to go on this master list.

If you want to follow along the countdown, check out the 100 Days To Christmas and join in the fun!

An Award and a Tag!!

Happy Healthy Families has an award this wonderful crisp Friday!! Piera from Jolly Mom (I smile everytime at that name) has awarded me this very cool Rock Star Award. Me...a rock till my daughter hears this one!

Along with this awesome distinction, I am now to share 8 amazing facts about about me. Hmm....I will really have to ponder this, LOL.

So, off we go ....

1. I am a night owl. I love to stay up after everyone else is asleep and watch tv, read or work on my laptop. The peace and quiet is awesome...worthy of losing some sleep over in my opinion.

2. I am a chocoholic. And no, I am not seeking help for my condition.

3. My favorite place to go is the library. Seriously. I love it there. Goofy, but true.

4. I used to teach elementary school before I became a stay at home mom.

5. I was a real estate agent before I started teaching.

6. I get bored easily...can you tell?

7. My favorite show lately was Project Runway (Hope it comes back!)

8. Salmon is far and away my favorite meal for dinner (hmm..with a glass of wine..I'm in heaven!)

Now that I have passed on these tantilizing facts about myself, I must choose 8 wonderful bloggy friends to give the rock star and tag award to. Not an easy task mind you, because there are so many great choices out there.
But here are my 8--truly cool bloggers I enjoy visiting everyday!!

1. Thrifty Momma Ramblings

2. Mrs. Frugal McDougal

3. Mom Knows Everything

4. The work from home mother

5. Mama and Hustler

6. It's Just My Thoughts

7. Hippos Toes

8. Mommay's Mayhem

Keeping The Holidays Simple

I am inspired this Holiday season to keep things simple, warm and family oriented. My inspiration comes from the economy woes of late, which have touched us along with so many other families.
We, meaning my hubby and I, have spent many a night lately bemoaning the fates. We worry about money, work, our house, bills, keeping groceries n our kitchen and clothes on the kids (and us too of course! Just a little funny to remind us to smile.) But recently I feel we have groaned enough, and have forgotten to be thankful for the blessings that fill our lives. I am in some ways greatful for the lessons this past year has taught us. Family time has become even more a priority to us as entertainment outside of the house has become more a luxury than a common event. Watching movies together snuggled in our bed, all kids happily munching popcorn is something you really can't put a price on. And the warmth that fills my heart with the kids snuggled around me makes up for the heater being off...big time!

Making meals is much more a family activity now, and we are eating healthier as well. Much more infrequent are dinners out, or pizza deliveries. Now my daughter and I get in some chatting and bonding time as we make a salad together. Instead of deciding on what take-out to get, we plan meals ahead and everyone gets a favorite once a week (my boys almost always pick mac n cheese...I must admit that we have had more than our fill of that delicacy, LOL.

Even building a fire in our fireplace has changed. No more buying a log and plopping it in. Now I watch with amusement and love as my two little men accompany their daddy out to our backyard to gather twigs and wood. I watch all three huddle around the fireplace hearth and proudly put their twigs and wood in. And the proud smiles on my little boys faces as they stand back and watch their dad light "their Fire" is simply priceless. They will pull my hands and jump up and down as they proudly point out to me their grand fire-making skills. Way better than plopping a store bought firelog in the fireplace.

So I am eager to continue in this same spirit this Holiday Season. I plan to make some home made gifts for many on our list, and give more thoughtful and personal "clutter-free" gifts to others on my list (watch for an upcoming post, btw, on some ideas for gift giving and homemade presents.) Baking will be a big thing at our house this year, as will making Christmas tree ornaments, holiday decorations and cards. And not so much because of the money issues really, but more because I am appreciating and loving the family time spent together as we create something together... a memory of watching a movie in bed, a family meal we all made together, and hopefully some wonderful holiday presents we will all make together and give with pride and love to family and friends.

The Great Lice Invasion.....Coming To Homes Anywhere!

Ack! Just the thought of lice gives me the creeps. But with my daughter in school again, and my two little ones playing at the park, I know that it is always a possibility that we will be, ah shall we say "visited" by these creepy bugs? A few facts about head lice I came across that I thought were interesting ...

Human head lice have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Great. Looks like they have no intentions of becoming extinct, so to speak, anytime soon.

Lice actually prefer clean hair, not dirty hair as the common perception might be. The lice (shiver)prefer frequently washed hair because it is easier for laying eggs on and attaching to the oil-free hair strands (Obnoxious buggers, aren't they?).

Aside from the horrible itching associated with lice, there really is no health dangers (but who cares? We sill want those nasty things gone like yesterday!!) Unlike mosquitos (also very yucky creatures in my book), lice do not carry diseases. But the itching from lice can be so intense that the constant scratching can hurt the scalp and lead to infection. So you do need to start treatment for as soon as you discover this unwelcome visitor.

Coconut oil or olive oil used as a leave-in conditioner, using as much as you can stand without feeling greasy or smelling too much like the kitchen, may help discourage lice from getting in hair, especially if there is an outbreak going on (like at your child's school) that you may be aware of. (Yep-- slather that stuff on if there is a lice epidemic at school!)

Chemical based repellents have not been demonstrated to be effective in clinical study. Special lice-killing shampoos,only kill the adult and newt stage lice, not the eggs. They must be thoroughly combed and picked from the hair. Again --- Shivers!

If you want to learn more about lice (Me...waving my hand like crazy!), there is a truly cool site you can visit and learn more about safe head lice removal. You can even have an in home visit from an expert to help remove lice safely without using toxic chemical treatments, and will give you tips and guides for preventing and treating lice.

Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway!!

This might help (a tiny bit anyway) with Holiday Shopping--

I love love love buying cute children books for my kids. Did I mention I love children's books? LOL. Anyhoo- I have been looking at some really wonderful books to buy for the kids this Christmas, and I have found several that I really like. Number one right now on my list is "Good Night, Gorilla" by Peggy Rathman. It's a board book (an absolute MUST in our house with the two mischievous monkeys I have!), and what is really cool is that on each page there is a red balloon hiding out for little ones to find.
But I want to know what some of your favorite children's books are, or were. If you were going to buy any books this Holiday Season, which ones would they be? So here is the Giveaway part (I know you have probably been reading and thinking, sheesh, what about the giveaway?? LOL)

Leave me a comment about your favorite book to read to your kids, and why it is your favorite. That's it. Simple, right? Want another chance to win? Then blog about my giveaway, and comment a second time here letting me know you blogged about the giveaway. And yet another chance? Subscribe to my blog, let me know via comment, and you will have a third entry! The giveaway ends midnight Sunday November 16th, and the winner's name will be randomly drawn Monday November 17th.

And the giveaway? A $15 Amazon Gift Certificate (and, NO, you do not have to buy a children's book with it,LOL)

Good Luck!

Note** I inadvertently put down the wrong ending date for this giveaway. It will end on November 16th, NOT the 23rd as I had originally posted. Sorry about that!

Black and Decker Floor Vac Giveaway

I so want one of these Black and Decker Floor Vacuums! And I aim to win one, LOL. But out of the kindness of my heart, I have also decided I should share this awesome giveaway news with my readers.

Redbook is sponsoring this giveaway, but it ends November hurry and enter. This Pivot Floor Vac from Black & Decker is too cool And a total of 25 lucky winners will be chosen to receive one (5 winners every day will be drawn!)

But since the giveaway ends tomorrow at 11:59 ET, you better fill out your entry form now!

A Craft Tutorial For The Not So Crafty

I love this-- The Mom Buzz has a tutorial on making the cutest Felt Book. The tutorial is courtesy of the the wonderful Piera from Jolly Mom, who along with Felicia from Go Graham Go, have started a meme....Make Something Monday.

The last thing I can say about myself is that I am a crafty sort of person, LOL, so I really appreciate the step by step (with pictures!) instructions Piera gives for making this felt book. Visit The Mom Buzz and check it out! If I can make this, and I think I can, it is a sure thing anyone can!

Thinking of Christmas Gift Ideas

So I am working on making my Christmas list today. I am trying to figure out some home made gifts for some family members, and some practical yet not outrageously priced gifts for some others. I know my Mother-in-law could use some new glasses. I don't think she has gotten new frames in a very long time, and while I'm pretty sure she'd enjoy a new fresh look, I doubt she will do it for herself. So you know what I'm thinking right? New eyeglasses could be a perfect gift for my mother-in-law. Photobucket I'm thinking of making a package deal out of the gift. Something like an eye exam to make certain her prescription is right, then lunch, and then time spent checking out new snazzy frames followed by a nice dinner. I think she will love this idea. And we can sit leisurely looking at eyeglass frames online at ZenniOptical. That way we can pick out the perfect stylish pair, and still be able to afford a nice dinner, LOL. Seriously, I know we can get a good deal because ZenniOptical manufactures their own glasses and sells them directly to middlemen.
Hmm... think I will run this idea past hubby and see what he thinks.

Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands

We have just finished dealing with the dreaded stomach flu bug here. At least, I hope we have finished! Now that we are in flu and cold season, it is more important than ever to get our little ones to wash their hands and to make sure they wash right!

Here are a few tips I've picked up when it comes to getting my kids to pick up that soap and scrub:

Mom Washes, We All Wash! My kids love to do what I do...but don't they all? So if I wash my hands, I can almost always get them to wash theirs as well.

Singing Under The Faucet! Kids should take at least 20 seconds to get those cute little grubby hands clean. So come up with a song to sing while washing hands. When the song is done, so should the germs be!

Rinse and Rinse Again! My kids will tend to put extra heaping amounts of soap on their little hands if I don't stop them in time. So when the song is done, have an extra line or two to sing and rinse one more time. If the soap is not completely rinsed off, it can dry young skin.

Practice Makes Perfect! Kids do best with a routine. So reminders when to wash is important, so they will hopefully get into the routine. Before eating, after playing, after using the bathoom, after petting pets, touching garbage cans, shopping carts, etc. are just some of the times kids need to know to wash their hands. Making a game can help, like " this a time to wash our hands or not?"

Soap is soap! We just use regular pump soap in our house...nothing fancy. No brand name soap in our house.

Suds and More! Kids need to know that they need to wash more than their fingertips. Hands, fingers and wrists should all be washed in warm sudsy water.

And it's always a good idea to have some on the go antibacterial wipes with you when washing hands is not going to be possible.

And The Winner Of The Scribbleprints T-Shirt Giveaway Is.........

Drumroll please....

Shaunjoy from Tales From O'Toole!! I will be sending you an email soon so watch for it, and of course....CONGRATULATIONS!!

Thank-you to everyone who entered! I wish everyone could win, but I will be having more giveaways, so check back often!

Personalized Christmas Cards Ala Turkey

Be honest. You are thinking now about all things Christmas, not Halloween anymore, and not so much Thanksgiving. Come's true, you know it. Halloween was fun, and we have this Fall Back weekend to take down our Halloween Decorations, but our minds are now racing full steam ahead to Christmas and the holiday season.

Poor Thanksgiving. It really is a wonderful holiday, but somehow it gets a barely an aisle (maybe only half) in all the stores, while Christmas takes over the shelves. Ah, what are we to do? It is so hard to stay focused on the orange and brown tablecloths, wreaths, and napkins while the twinkling lights, Santas, and gorgeous ornaments are calling to us. I admit it, I am ready to pull out the Christmas boxes and start singing the Christmas Carols. But I'll wait. I will be good and do the turkey thing.

But I will sneak in Christmas too. After all, it is less than 60 days away now! So my first official Christmas activity will be working on my Personalized Christmas Cards. I love doing the Vista Print thing when it comes to my cards. They have an awesome selection, and being able to handle everything online is wonderful. All I really need to do is decide on the picture I'll use, and get them ordered. Sweet. The one thing I know about me is that if I don't get the Christmas Cards handled early, I will more than likely not get to them. Know what I mean? There have been the unfortunate Christmases past where I did not get my Christmas Cards sent out, and I was so sad! So now I make sure to work on my Christmas Cards early and before any other Christmas preparations.

So bye for now ghosts and goblins, And with an excited but controlled anticipation for all things Christmas, welcome turkey, football and Fall leaves!

Fall Back, Lazy Saturday, Winner To Be Announced!!

Good Morning! Did you remember to set your clocks back last night?? LOL, if you didn' it now!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween. We had a nice time here. Lots of candy was brought home, a very cool Haunted House was visited, lots of Trick or Treaters came by our house, and everyone went to bed tired and satisfied. That's a brief recap, but you get the gist.

Yesterday was LAZY Saturday! It rained, thundered and we even had a lightning show. In between we managed to get in our daughter's soccer game--it was like the storm took a break just for us! Other than that we sat around watching movies and enjoying our first fire in the fireplace of the season ( I love Fall!).

I am going to be drawing the winner of the Scribbleprints T-Shirt Giveaway please come back and check to see if YOU are the lucky winner!!

Busy week ahead....more giveaways and other fun stuff coming.

BTW, What will you do with your extra hour?? Enjoy!