Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teacher Gift Ideas #2

I saw this wonderful idea HERE, to make Christmas Potpourri. It smells wonderful and is something easy enough for LITTLE kids to help with. I had to make seven for Harley's preschool teachers. It only took us about 10 minutes and it was a big hit. Click the link above for a list of ingredients!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Puppy for Christmas

The kids' Christmas gift from Granny came a little early this year and with a lot of fur attached.  The Butler's have added another animal to the zoo, a Cavachon (Cavalier King Charles/Bichon Frise Mix). They named her Splat, which I really hope isn't a foreshadowing of her demise. I am exhausted  and feel like I have a newborn again but I already love her fuzzy little self, poop, puppy puke and all!

They all love Splaters, but Harley probably loves her best. Harley lays on the floor and just lets the puppy lick her and wrestle her.  It is the sweetest thing in the whole wide world and I am fairly certain every little girl needs/deserves a puppy of her own. Next year a pony for sure!

Here we are at the vet, ALREADY!  The cat and her got into quite a rumble and Lucy Cat scratched Splatypuss'  eye terribly.  So, now we are giving eye drops to an animal and probably going without food for a week. No worries Splatimir Putin you are totally worth it, for now!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Teacher Gift Ideas #1

My very most favorite store in the whole wide world is a jewelry store called Charming Charlie.  As I have probably mentioned before it is like Claire's for grown women.  That is where I went shopping for the boy's teachers' gifts this year. Their teachers are all young and super stylish. So, we went with some trendy necklaces with a little tag that said, "YOU ARE A GEM!" Yes, the teacher's name has been snowflaked to protect the innocent!

Cookie Exchange Time

I have two cookie-exchange parties this week. I know, I am so totally popular!! Actually, it is because everyone knows the chubby girl can bake a mean cookie. Can you say HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN?  Who cares right? That is what New Year's Resolutions are for.  I am taking OREO TRUFFLES. They are easy and oh, so very yummy! Although, I am not sure if a truffle is a cookie or a candy.
(Don't Judge the Truffle by its cover! I'm not a very skillful dipper)

Oreo Truffles
1-15oz. Bag of Oreos
1-Block of Cream Cheese
Chocolate for Melting
 (White or Milk Chocolate works)

Crumble Oreo's in mixer or food processor. Reserve a small amount of crumbs for later.  Add cream cheese and mix well. Form balls with Oreo Mixture and place in freezer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt chocolate.  Remove truffles from freezer and dip in chocolate. Immediately sprinkle with crumbs before chocolate hardens.  Keep refrigerated.  Makes about three dozen truffles.


Not really sure how it happened because I am fairly certain that just a few days ago I was bringing this dark-headed baby boy home and stuffing him into a Christmas stocking to get the cutest picture ever; and now he is almost 8 and getting baptized next Saturday.  We are so excited for him! 

Ispy the Elf-Help Thou Mine Unbelief

Yes, you have all met him in Christmas' past and he arrived again this year by mail, soon after Thanksgiving, bringing with him a Playmobile Advent Calendar. Ispy has been up to his usual elf antics which generally include references to poop and other potty-talk trickery. Pooping Hershey Kisses always make my irreverent children giggle. One night he even sneaked into the boy's room and painted their toe nails while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. Unfortunately, we have approached a year where there is only one-true believer left in our household.  This really backfires on me when I threaten the boys with, "Be nice and remember Santa is watching." So, Ispy and I have worked really hard to get those unbelievers to doubt their doubt and be ever fearful that they are being WATCHED!  
First, with the magic of modern technology, Ispy managed to capture an image of the Jolly Old Elf himself creeping back up our chimney one night after checking in on the kiddos. 
Needless, to say they were a little freaked out. 
Second, Ispy left them each a little book full of pictures of themselves throughout the year as a reminder that he has been WATCHING all year long!  
They were even more freaked out.

 These books are actually a printed compilation of my Instagram pictures that I had made into three adorable books HERE!  (3 for $10)
That good little elf even left us a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas! 
(I think I saw him buying this flannel Nativity at Michael's for $6.99)

Anyway, we love our elf and I will keep you abreast of anything exciting he may come up with during the days leading up to Christmas. 

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

I had not been home for Thanksgiving in 16 years! Can you believe that?  That is a very long time and it was wonderful to be there this year.  It was so relaxing. We spent most of our time just "visiting" with family and friends.  "Visiting" seems to be a lost art. In fact, for the first few days, I always find the "visiting" awkward.  Why is that?  Have I just become CITY-FIED or is it a TECHNOLOGY-HAS-MADE-ME-WEIRD sort of thing?  Either way, "visiting" is a good thing. I wish people did it more often.  But, only when my house is clean please.
 We wandered the foothills around my hometown, something I spent a lot of time doing as a kid. Nash never without a football and his BB gun. Atley never without some sort of map. And Harley never without her enthusiasm for anything outside.  

Harley found a rattle-snake-skin that she was very proud to show off.  We ate our fill of Mexican food. Woke up to snow one morning which made everything look magical as the first snow always does.  We spent some time in the mountains with my uncle finding their perfect Christmas tree.  

We had Thanksgiving in the Cultural Hall of the church because the family has grown too big for anyone's house. The kids played basketball and lots of other games and of course they cried and cried when they had to say goodbye to Granny, their Great-Grandparent's, and their many cousins.  
I have so much to be thankful for.  I have a blessed life. I love my family. I love where I am and where I came from.  I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given in my life.  I am especially grateful, for a Father-In-Heaven who is mindful of me and those I hold dear.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Amish Country

The kids had a long weekend away from school, FINALLY!  So, we went to Amish country with some friends.  It was so lovely and I am totally converted. Can you convert to the Old Order?  Life is simple and everyone SEEMS extremely happy. Don't get me wrong they work very hard, which is what prompted Harley to say, "I want to be Amish, but a lazy Amish."  I couldn't agree more.  

Our first stop was at the Amish Village Museum and Farm.  It was a great overview of Amish life and Amish beliefs. They take the biblical scripture regarding not being of the world literally among other things that I will let you research on your own.
  Pictured above the kids enjoy the animals and a typical one-room Amish school house.  Notice how my teacher obviously believes in corporal punishment.
We loved driving around the farms and even got caught in a Horse-and-Buggy traffic jam.  More than 40 buggies passed in front of us heading to a funeral. We stopped at farms along the road and bought homemade Root Beer and hand-made wooden toys.  Everyone was so hospitable and patient with our "worldliness". We enjoyed an enormous Amish feast and took a buggy ride with a gentleman that was totally infatuated with Nash. He told me what a hearty, solid boy he was and even took a picture with us which is rare since they do not believe in "graven images." 

We stayed in a REAL train caboose, which was barely one step above camping but the kids were in train heaven. 
True to their natures, and perhaps their mother's, the children were up at first light.  This was my absolute favorite part of our trip. We slipped on our shoes and jackets and just started walking and watching the sunrise. It was heavenly.  We wandered through farms and watched buggy after buggy trot by on their way to Amish weddings. Tuesdays in November and December are reserved for Amish weddings. It was pure bliss.
We finished our trip with a ride on the Strasburg Railroad and a visit to the amazing Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.  
If you ever need a break from the hustle and bustle of life in the city or the suburbs visit Lancaster County.  It always inspires me to live more simply and enjoy the beauty of the earth and my children.  Now I must run. I have developed a sudden urge to purge our home of most of its' possessions, sew a dress and bake some bread. By the way, does anyone know where we can get some QUIET chickens for our backyard?

Halloween Butler Style

The Costumes
The Parties
The Treats & Our Favorite Book
The Pumpkin

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lunch Ideas

I have been attempting to UP my game in the lunch department this school year. I invested in those super popular Bento Boxes and the kids are loving it.  Atley said he is actually excited to see what surprise might be in his lunch everyday.  Here are a few ideas.  Remember, judging our imperfect eating habits is very sinful!
Starting at the top left corner and moving across:
1. PB&J, Muffin, Crackers, Raspberries, Cheese
2. Homemade Pizza Lunchable with Pita Bread, Cantaloupe and Teddy Grahams
3. Jerky, Pretzels, Cheese, Carrots, Cucumbers, Marshmallows, 
4. Hotdog, Gogurt, Watermelon, Crackers, Carrots, Cookie
5. Homemade Lunchable with Bologna, Cheese, Crackers, Apple, Jell-O, Twinkie
6. Ham Sandwich, Pecan Roll, Carrots, Popcorn, Champagne Grapes
7. Crackers with Cheese Spread, Teddy Grahams, Orange, Apples, Carrots
8. Cream Cheese & Ham Whole-Wheat Bagel, Orange, Cucumbers, Cookies, Popcorn
9. Pasta Salad, Oreos, Apples

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Halloween Crafting with Belle

Harley collected sticks in the yard to create this Spider Tree.  She made puff balls for the body of the spider by wrapping yarn around a fork. Then we added eye-balls and pipe cleaner legs.
Next we made this adorable little Ghosts-in-a-Jar!

She loves creating and is such a great helper when we work together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More Letter Learning

 I convinced Nash to create a letter game for Harley. He wrote out the alphabet on Popsicle sticks and then put them in a cup.  He would draw a stick and show Harley the letter. If  Harley knew the letter she would get a candy corn.  When he showed her the letter, Nash would tell her all of that letter's sounds. This also helps Nash. Nash has dyslexia.  He has to scrutinize every word and every letter by sounding it out phonetically. No word ever looks the same way to him twice. It is a struggle everyday and I am recognizing some of those same symptoms in Harley Belle.  So, obviously, I am thrilled when they are willing to work together in a way that is helping both of them. They really have lots of fun together.  She always makes Nash laugh and he can always make her smile.