November 25, 2013

Not Cooking!

I haven't cooked Thanksgiving Dinner in a long time. And that's perfectly fine by me. I host a big Christmas Dinner every year so I have no desire to also host Thanksgiving just a few weeks before.  I do bake and bring a dish to whoever ends up hosting and I will help the hostess, but the mess isn't at my house. That's the important part!

One thing we do every year after Thanksgiving dinner is our family Pollyanna between the adults. It's much easier (and cheaper) to only buy one gift. Plus, we offer some gift suggestions too. We like to give gifts that we want and need.

About two years ago when my kids started getting older and buying presents at Christmas became more challenging (and more expensive), we started going by the "something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read" adage. And it's been very helpful to get them to really think about gifts they'd like to receive but it has also helped me keep the spending under control. It's a win-win all around.

I've asked them a few times to start thinking of a few Christmas gift ideas (because I'm stumped this year!) and because it's only a matter of time before family starts asking me what to buy them too! So I created this cute Dear Santa list to help keep them on track and to get the ideas written down so I don't forget. 

Cute, right? Perfect for the non-believers.
I used the Ribbet site to create it!

November 22, 2013

Overheard in My Kitchen

The 6th grader was working on his Current Event assignment that is due every Friday.  He selected a recent article about "pop-up" schools being built in Kenya.

Do you even know where Kenya is?

him:  Asia?

Are you asking me or telling me?  Try again.

him:  Africa? .... no wait, Europe?

So you think Kenya, one of the poorest third world countries in the world, is in Europe?

him:  Africa. That's my final answer.

Someone needs an extra geography lesson!

November 21, 2013

Target Disappoints Again

For some reason I'm in serious denial that Thanksgiving is next week and by the end of that weekend, my house will be Christmafied. Already? I'm not ready. I'm really not ready.

Did anyone else notice the lack of Christmas selection at Target this year? I was at the store on Monday and not one thing jumped out at me to buy! Don't worry, I don't have a fever. I checked. I love Target, I do, but lately ... eh.  

I am extremely frustrated with their lack of clothing selection in the boy's department. It's t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e and has been for about a year. We loved their cotton pajama shorts and pants (not the sets) and bought them frequently but for some reason they've stopped selling them.  On Monday I bought a pair of sweatpants for Bud and the waistband is horrible. It's like there is no elastic in there to hold them up! So they are going back!

C'mon Target ... let's offer some good clothing for boys and you may win me back. Otherwise, you'll just be my go-to place for staples, like my occasional trips to Walmart.

November 19, 2013

Season Over

Bud's team lost their playoff game on Sunday night. The score was 0-6 at half-time but with the 3rd quarter came disaster and it was all down hill after that.  He was so, so sad. I had to give him a pep talk to get him out of the car when we got home. After a long hot shower and some french fries, he perked up a bit. 

I know he's sad but to be honest, I'm not. His body needs a break and time to heal. He's covered in bruises and his hand is swollen and bruised (again) from being stepped on. There's a reason the football season is short!

Boo's team won their last game on Sunday with a 2-0 win over an undefeated team, so that was  a nice surprise and a great way to end the season. They were 6-4 overall.

So that's a wrap on the Fall sports season, just in time for the Holidays. The break is somewhat short though, as we will start indoor soccer and lacrosse in January.

November 15, 2013

Playoff Weekend

The playoffs are here ... Bud's team plays on Sunday night. If they win, they move on. If not, the season is over.  The Husband's lost the Wild Card game last weekend so their season has already ended.

Bud's team has the ability to win this game.  I'm already nervous and excited about this game! Sure, we've been freezing our butts off at practices this week but a chance to play in the Championship Game ... it's within our sight!

Wish them a safe game and much luck!

November 14, 2013

eBay Time

I finally got off my lazy butt and got some stuff listed on eBay the other day.  I've always had good success selling my boy's gently used clothing. I have a lot of Christmas shirts and pajama sets that I never got around to listing last year. The time is now since Christmas only comes around once a year!

It's always been surprising to me how much people are willing to pay for quality gently used clothing. I suppose that it's just easier that way for some people. Maybe they don't like to shop in stores or have limited access to them.  It even possible that they purchase my stuff and resell it!

I used to purchase a decent amount of stuff from eBay when my boys were younger especially when we were trying to purchase hard to find toys.  But they aren't into toys anymore and all of our stuff has been packed away, tossed, sold at a yard sale, or given away.  I have a TON of Toy Story toys (older stuff) that I'm not willing to part with. Toy Story wasn't even popular when my oldest son was obsessed with the first two movies. Man I sound old and he's only 11! We also have quite a collection of Scooby Doo toys. You have no idea how much time I spent tracking down those toys! I can't think about parting with them either.

My point is, I only resell kid's clothing on eBay. There is a science to it too, like you can't expect to sell a bathing suit right now and receive a decent price for it.  If you sell a pair of jeans with a cute shirt as a set, it will sell at a higher price then if you sold them separately. I don't buy things at stores to turn around and sell on eBay. Who has time for that?!

Now is the time for Christmas-themed auctions. Hopefully after Thanksgiving (because many people travel and are too busy shopping stores on Black Friday!) I can get plethora of slim jeans and some other stuff listed as well. A little extra Christmas money always helps!

November 13, 2013

Report Cards, Round 1

The first quarter of school is over and report cards are in.

My 6th grader pulled straight A's! I am so proud of him, especially given his football schedule. But I've noticed he gets better grades when he has a busy schedule. Less time to goof off, I suppose. Whatever - I'll take it! I hope this trend continues throughout the year.

My 4th grader did just as well, with all A's and a B in Reading. The B was a only a B by the skin of Boo's teeth which isn't surprising since reading is far from his favorite activity.  There is something about 4th grade because Bud also struggled a bit as well at the beginning of his 4th grade year too.

I'm extremely grateful that school work comes easily to my boys. They are both capable of earning good grades so we expect them to make the effort.  I don't tolerate messy work or being lazy when it comes to school work.

Our Good Grades contract is still in full effect. In fact, Boo purchased a small aquarium with his money this past weekend. He really wanted fish! The added bonus is that the cats actually enjoy these new pets (there is no hope for them ever loving Gunner!)

November 11, 2013

No-School November

November is here, in case you didn't know.  November is the month I often dread because my kids spend more time out of school then they do in school. It's crazy. And it's only like this in the state of New Jersey! For working families, it's not a fun time.

Last week they were off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. They were off Wednesday because we don't have Election Day off and Thursday and Friday because of the Annual NJ Teacher Convention that no NJ teachers attend!  My sister is a teacher in NJ and she's currently in Florida along with every other family from NJ. I personally know of 5 families that spent the last week in Disney. I'm sure the Orlando area is anxious for the Jersey invasion to leave.

Today starts a week - an entire week - of half days to accommodate parent-teacher conferences.  We've been in this school district for 6 years now and I still don't understand how parent-teacher conferences for a classroom of less than 20 kids takes that much time?!

Then we have a normal week of school, finally, and next thing you know it's Thanksgiving Break. 

Thanksgiving ... I wonder who is cooking this year!

November 8, 2013

Take That, Coach!

My son's team was tied with another team with an overall record of 7-2 for the season so they had to play an overtime situation game to decide who was ranked in 4th and 5th place.  Each team runs a series of offensive plays, hoping to score. Then the other team has a chance to score as well. 

Right before the game started, the opposing team's coach was overheard saying, "Team, look at that. Too white and too slow - we've got this!"

Yeah. In 2013 it's still alive and well.

So the game starts and 3 plays later we score first. The other team runs a few offensive plays and is down on the 2 yard line, just about to score. The ball is snapped and the quarterback fumbles the snap and we recover it. Game over. WE WIN!

Take that, "coach"!

Thanks to this win, we have a bye week this week with no game until next week.  This could be good or it could be bad ... a break like this can cause a momentum shift. But let's hope the team has a chance to rest and come out ready to win next week!

You might be thinking, "Well great! Now you can go to the wedding!"  Nope.  The husband's team is playing in the wild card game at 6 or 7pm tomorrow night.  So now I have a really nice dress and no where to wear it!

I might wear it on Christmas Day just because : )

November 7, 2013

Fall Hydrangea Initial Wreath

Here's my new front door wreath that I mentioned I needed to make a few posts ago.  I was really happy to take down the Halloween decor and add this to my front door this past weekend...

... even though Christmas has taken over everything single freaking store in the world.

I am still going to enjoy the Fall season, the crisp air, the colorful leaves, and be thankful for everything in my life.

I'm ignoring everything Christmas until after Thanksgiving!

November 6, 2013

Super Easy Apple Crisp

Sometimes you want apple pie without baking a pie. Enter the Apple Crisp. The best part about this recipe is that you cook it in the microwave.  You can be spooning apple pie into your mouth in about 15 minutes!

No pictures this time ... I'm sorry.  But here's what you do:

Spray an 8x8 glass dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Peel and thinly slice 6 apples. Mine were on the small side and worked perfectly. Layer them in the glass dish. Pour 1/4 cup of water (or a little less) over the apples.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 a box of dry yellow cake mix, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Toss together well. Then dump most of it on the apple slices. Mix the apples a bit to spread out the dry mix. Top with reserved dry mix.

Then, slice a stick of butter into many "pats" and randomly place them all over on top.

Stick the mess in the microwave and cook for 12 minutes. Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then dig in.  It's even more delicious if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!


November 4, 2013

Foyer Chair Makeover

I was looking for a small chair to sit in my foyer for quite awhile. I found one in good shape (but really  dirty) at Goodwill for $3 probably 6 months ago, I guess. I brought it home and scrubbed it with oxyclean. It was seriously amazing how much grime came off of this chair. The wood is old of course but it handled the scrubbing just fine.  I had thought about painting the wood but when it comes to old wood in decent shape, I have a hard time ruining it with paint!

I knew I wanted to recover it somehow but wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I just let the project sit for awhile. Sometimes that's best, you know.

With Christmas coming, and it is coming, (I'm sorry for the reminder!) I decided it was time to get serious and hit the fabric store.

Now, I'm not the best with showing the process pictures. Kudos to people who do but I find it really annoying to stop 10,000 times to take a picture!  But I think you will get the idea of what I did with the pictures below.

If I had a piece of advice?
Go slow.
And pull it tight!

I did not attempt to take this chair apart. I didn't think the chair itself could handle it. If you look closely at the picture, the original green cover on the chair is actually two pieces so I had to cover both pieces ... so I decided to add the foam to the top and just cover the entire thing, leaving the original seat in tact. It worked out great because it makes the chair look bulkier! If I ever decide to recover the recovered chair, it will be easy to do!

I wish I could be more bold with fabric but I decorate the foyer based upon the season so I'd rather stay neutral and add color and patterns with the decor.

November 1, 2013

Design Your Own Amusement Park

This was the first of many 4th grade projects to be completed.  Mapping skills are important! This one wasn't too bad and didn't require too much of my help.  Yes I drew the layout of the park and copy and pasted the pictures of the candy bars from the Internet into Word and scaled them to a good size for the project.  But Boo did the rest, I can proudly say!