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Friday, November 29, 2013

My 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

Like most people, I have a list of must-see movies to watch at Christmas time.  I don't get to watch all the movies on my list anymore since, well, you know...kids, but I try to see at least a few off my list every year. 

Here are my top 10 favorite Christmas movies.

1. It's a Wonderful Life

Description from Amazon: George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence. Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all of his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget suicide?

2. Family Man

Description from Amazon:  Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) is a single, wealthy Wall Street trader living the high life in New York City. All that magically changes one winter morning when he wakes up in suburban New Jersey next to Kate (Tea Leoni), the girlfriend he left 13 years ago. He's now got two kids, he's traded in his Ferrari for a minivan all while trying not to lose his mind.

3. While You Were Sleeping

Description from Amazon: Lucy, a lonely subway worker, becomes smitten with a handsome stranger (Peter Gallagher -- MALICE). But when she saves his life after he's been mugged and fallen into a coma, his hilariously offbeat family mistakes her for his fiancee! Soon, the mix-ups escalate as Lucy fabricates a life between herself and a man she's never met! And when Lucy falls for his charming brother (Bill Pullman -- INDEPENDENCE DAY) the situation really gets uproarious as she's forced to make a choice between the two!

4. The Holiday

Description from Amazon: Two women trade homes only to find that a change of address can change their lives. Iris (Winslet) is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda (Diaz), realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda's L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris' handsome brother Graham (Law) and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Wallach), mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles (Black).

5. The Nutcracker Ballet

Description from Amazon: Under Baryshnikov's inventive direction, the traditionally lighthearted story of a small girl's dream on Christmas Eve is transformed into a more complex theatrical experience.

6. The Santa Clause

Description from Amazon: Tim Allen shines bright in Disney's magical, larger-than-life hit comedy that "People" magazine dubbed "The most playfully amusing, inventive cinematic ... fable in several decades!"

7. The Santa Clause 2

Description from Amazon: Tim Allen reappears in SANTA CLAUSE 2, the hilarious sequel to everybody's holiday favorite. Scott Calvin (Allen) has been Santa Claus for the past eight years, and his loyal elves consider him the best one ever. But Scott's got problems. His son Charlie has landed on this year's "naughty" list, and if Scott doesn’t marry by Christmas Eve -- one very, very short month away -- he'll stop being Santa forever.

8. Little Women

Description from Amazon: Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon star in this "affectionate, superbly acted" (Los Angeles Times) family favorite. With her husband off at war, Marmee (Sarandon) is left alone to raise their four daughters, her Little Women. There is the spirited Jo (Ryder); conservative Meg; fragile Beth; and romantic Amy. As the years pass, the sisters share some of the most cherished and painful memories of self-discovery, as Marmee and Aunt March guide them through issues of independence, romance and virtue.

9. Veggie Tales: The Toy That Saved Christmas

Description from Amazon: Appearing in his own TV commercials, unscrupulous toy maker, Wally P. Nezzer has convinced all of Dinkletown that "Christmas is when you get stuff!" With the town's children begging for more toys, it's sure to be the worst Christmas ever - until one brave little Buzz-Saw Louie doll decides to take matters into his own hands! The Toy That Saved Christmas reminds children of all ages the "Christmas isn't about getting; it's about giving."

10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Ghosts of Christmas Eve

Description from Amazon: Narrated by award-winning actor Ossie Davis, the production takes us on a journey of a runaway little girl's decision to return to her family after she enters a rundown theater for shelter and encounters an old caretaker who guides her on her journey. This magical story - which features appearances from Atlantic recording artists Jewel and Michael Crawford - was filmed entirely on location at the newly refurbished and historic Loews Jersey Theatre in Jersey City, New Jersey, and includes performances of such tracks as "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Good King Joy," "Christmas Canon," "Music Box Blues," "Promises To Keep," and "This Christmas Day,". 

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How To Make Your Own Board Book

When my older sister and I were kids, my mom helped us make a special board book for our younger sister's birthday one year.  We cut out pictures in magazines, glued them to cardboard, and decorated the blank space around the pictures.  Our mom assembled our decorated pages into a board book that was much loved by my little sister for years.  I actually have the book now and my kids love looking through it too.

For Little Man's third birthday, I threw a "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" Eric Carle themed party since he absolutely loves the book.  Since he's also obsessed with tractors, I decided to create a special book for him that included his love for the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See with farming. 

First, I gathered my supplies.

Cardboard: I used cardboard-not the heavy corrugated kind, but a cardboard that was just a little heavier than that used in a cereal box.  You can use a cereal box too, just glue together 2 layer of cardboard for each page instead of decorating both sides.  That will make it thicker and more heavy duty.

Ziploc Bags: I bought the cheap brand of sandwich sized ziploc bags.  Regular ziploc bags have writing on them and you'll need plain ones so nothing covers up the pictures.

Plain baggies

Yarn: The yarn is used to hold the pages together.  Pick whatever color you want :)  You'll only need about a yard of it.

Paper, pencils, scissors, hole punch:  To give the book more of a clean look, I covered the cardboard with paper and because I'm lazy resourceful, I printed my pictures on large shipping labels so I could just peel and stick.  I used colored pencils to color my pictures because I was almost out of color ink for my printer and it was important that the colors were bright.

I spent several hours coloring all the pictures for the book.  It would have been much faster to buy a new color ink cartridge for my printer.

First, I cut my cardboard down to fit inside of the ziploc bags.  Make sure you test the cardboard to make sure it fits before decorating the cardboard so you don't have to cut any of the design off later.  Leave about 3/4" on the side of the cardboard nearest the opening of the bag so you can punch holes in the ziploc bag later.

I found my pictures using a google image search.  I copied and pasted them into a word document so I could manipulate the sizes to where I needed them, and then printed them in both half page sizes (to fit inside the ziploc bags) and in miniature sizes for the last page of the book. 

The miniature pictures for the last page in the book.

You can decorate your cardboard pages or the paper you'll be using to cover the cardboard however you'd like.  This make a perfect project for older siblings to do for younger ones, just like I made for my younger sister.

I hand-wrote the words for each page, but you could just as easily do that before printing it.  I traced my cardboard onto the paper so I would be sure to get it the right size when I cut it out.   

Glue the paper to the cardboard pages.  If you're using cereal boxes for the cardboard, glue two pieces together to make it thicker.  Slide the cardboard pages into the ziploc bags and seal them, making sure to get all the air out.  Stack the ziploc bags in the order you want them and flip through them to be sure all the pages are right.

One bag at a time, punch two holes in each ziploc bag, about 1 1/2" from the top and bottom.  Stack the bags up again in the right order and thread the yarn through the top hole and then the bottom hole.  Continue to go through the two holes four or five more times so the pages are tied securely together.  Tie a knot in the yarn, being sure to keep it tight.  To make it more decorative, you can also tie a small bow and double knot it so it doesn't come loose.


Open to the first page

Little Man loves reading his book by himself.

Star loves the book too and can easily flip the pages by hersel.
If you're interested in making a farm/Eric Carle themed book like mine, here are the pages in order:

Green tractor, green tractor, what do you see?
     I see a brown horse looking at me.

Brown horse, brown horse, what do you see?
     I see a red barn looking at me.

Red barn, red barn, what do you see?
     I see a white sheep looking at me.

White sheep, white sheep, what do you see?
     I see yellow corn looking at me.

Yellow corn, yellow corn, what do you see?
     I see a black cow looking at me.

Black cow, black cow, what do you see?
     I see a blue truck looking at me.

Blue truck, blue truck, what do you see?
     I see a pink pig looking at me.

Pink pig, pink pig, what do you see?
     I see a gray silo looking at me.

Gray silo, gray silo, what do you see?
     I see a farmer looking at me.
Farmer, farmer, what do you see?
     I see a green tractor, a brown horse, a red barn, a white sheep, yellow corn, a black cow, a blue truck, a pink pig, and a gray silo looking at me.  That's what I see.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baby #4 - 26 Weeks

How Far along: 26 weeks. Next week, I'll officially be in the third trimester!

Baby's Size: Baby is about the size of an eggplant and is approximately 14" long and weighs 1 2/3 pound.  He or she is able to hear my voice and is beginning to practice taking breaths.

Sleep: I seem to go through a period of a few weeks where I need a ton of sleep.  I just got through one of those periods and am feeling a little better, but I could still use a nap most days. 

Movement?: Lots of movement :)  This baby doesn't seem as active as the others were which maybe means that he or she will be laid back and easy going, right? :)

Food Cravings: I've been craving eggnog and Little Debbie Cherry Cordials lately.  And yes, I'm definitely putting on too much weight.  Ugh.  I eat more when I'm stressed out without even realizing it and the last month has been extremely stressful to say the least. 

Things That Make Me Queasy: Been feeling pretty good lately.

Gender: We're keeping it a secret because of what happened last time and because I just get so annoyed with the comments and assumptions about my family when I tell people what I'm having.  I can tell you that the baby is healthy and right on track for growth. :)  My standard answer when someone asks what I'm having is to smile and say, "Well, we know it's either a boy or a girl!"  So far, that's worked pretty well :) 

Labor Signs: The Braxton-Hicks contractions are starting to get a little stronger, but nothing too bad yet.

Symptoms: The usual.  Killer heartburn, fatigue, achy legs.  

Mood Most Of The Time: Depends on the minute you're asking. 

Looking Forward To:  Turkey!  I love turkey and I only get to eat it once a year at Thanksgiving (I tried making turkey for supper one time and Hubby was not impressed since apparently turkey can only be served on Thanksgiving)

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Random Acts of Kindness To Do With Your Kids

I want to do something with the kids this Christmas that encourages them to put others first and focus on the real reason of Christmas.  After being inspired by this book, I put together a list of 30 random acts of kindness that I can do with them at Christmas and all year round!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"The Sparkle Box" Review and Giveaway

Growing up, we always hung a stocking for Jesus at Christmas time.  One year, I tried to get my siblings to write their good deeds on a slip of paper and put them in the stocking as a gift for Jesus, but you know how siblings can be...  After about a week or so, I gave up because I was the only one doing it, but it's time to start a similar tradition with my own family (because my kids listen to me better than my siblings did).  I've been waiting until my kids were a little bit older and now that Princess is 5 and Little Man is 3, they're able to understand things a little better so it's time.

Which is why, when I received the book "The Sparkle Box" to review, I was thrilled.  Here's a synopsis of the book from the website:

Sam is so excited about Christmas! He's thinking about what to put on his Christmas list, anticipating holiday parties and puzzling over one very mysterious gift – a sparkly box sitting on the mantel above the fireplace. Written by Jill Hardie and brought to life by the rich illustrations of Christine Kornacki, The Sparkle Box is a heartfelt Christmas story that celebrates the beauty and excitement of the Christmas season, while gently bringing the true meaning of Christmas into focus through a story that features a powerful Christmas tradition. Children and adults of all ages will be captivated by The Sparkle Box and forever changed when they discover the Sparkle Box is a gift that honors Jesus on his birthday. Readers moved to adopt this faith-centered Christmas tradition in their homes can put a Sparkle Box, included with the book, under their own Christmas tree.

This book explains the whole concept really well for young kids and Princess is already excited to get started on our own Sparkle Box.  I loved that the book came with a sparkle box in the back to put together and use.  We haven't started filling it up yet, but I think December 1st would be a good time to start to kick off the Christmas season :)  I've been putting together a list of Random Acts of Kindness I can do with the kids
The Sparkle Box assembled.

It really sparkles!

Want to win your own copy of "The Sparkle Box?"  Enter with the rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Star-13 Months

Age: 13 months

I've given up on her ever wearing 2 socks at the same time for more than 4 minutes.  :)
Weight and height:  Around 17 pounds.  She recently had a cold for about 2 weeks that cut down her appetite quite a bit. 

Wearing: Size 3 diapers and 6-9 month or 9-12 month clothes.  The 6-9 months clothes fit her perfectly and the 9-12 month ones are still too big for her, but she's wearing them already because she doesn't have much in the 6-9 month size. 

Likes: "Reading" books, LOVES her special owl blanket, dancing to music.  She stands up in the middle of the room when there's music on and dances-it's really cute and probably good practice for balance :)

Dislikes: Being told "no", taking naps (she's a really light sleeper and has been having a hard time sleeping for more than 15-20 minutes at a time), being buckled into her carseat, wearing clothes.  She's into the "taking everything off that she can" stage just in time for winter.  The other day, when I got to the store, she had taken off her hat, mittens, shoes, and socks and had thrown them all in between the 2 bucket seats in the van where I can't reach them.

Eating habits: She eats 3 meals and 1-2 snacks a day.  I've never done morning snacks for my kids-once they got on a regular eating schedule, they dropped the mid-morning feeding on their own.  Star, however, still sometimes gets hungry between breakfast and lunch so I give her a snack to tide her over.  She's drinking exclusively from a sippy cup now and wasn't very happy about giving up her morning bottle for the first 2 weeks or so, but she seems to be adjusting now.

Sleeping habits: She wakes up around 7 in the morning and needs a nap between 8:30 and 9.  However, she usually doesn't fall asleep or if she does, it's only for a few minutes before she wakes up.  I feed her lunch early so she can be in bed for her afternoon nap by noon since she's usually really tired by then.  However, she doesn't usually nap well for that either so by 6:30 pm, she's ready for bed! 

Milestones/Accomplishments: She's been practicing taking steps independently, 
She has 3 of 4 molars in!  I noticed it the other day when she was hanging upside down in my arms (one of her favorite positions).
She copies people a lot and loves to use the word "more" (she signs it and says it at the same time) when she wants food.
She takes a few steps by herself and will be walking soon. 

Miscellaneous: She doesn't scream as much as she did last month, thank goodness!
She knows what "no" means, but has started testing limits.  Hopefully it won't take her too long to figure out that Mama is serious about boundaries!
She absolutely LOVES green beans!  If she sees them, she gets very excited and starts signing and saying "more" over and over.  She can eat about a cup of them in one sitting.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


You may have noticed that I've been a little quiet around here lately.  It's not because there hasn't been a lot going on in my life lately.  Actually there's been too much.  But it's not anything I can write about publicly because the stuff that's been going on in my life personally is ongoing and the other stuff is not mine to tell.

Since I can't blog about any of this and my mind and heart are so consumed by it, I'm having a hard time blogging about anything else.  

I will say this however...life is hard.  It's hard and sometimes it downright hurts.  It just seems like there's so much hurt and pain in the world.  Which is why I'm so thankful that all this is temporary.  This is just a blip on the radar when eternity, and eternity spent with God, is considered.  It's that assurance that keeps me going although I will admit to wondering at the point of all this sometimes.  But living in this world has given me a desire and a yearning for the next.   

Right now, I'm tired.  Emotionally, mentally, physically.  Obviously, being pregnant hasn't made any of this easier, but that's only a small part of it.  I just want this to be over.  Which is why, when I heard this song in the store the other day, I had to go home and find it on Youtube to listen to again.  So for now, I'm listening to this, praying, and reminding myself that at some point, it will be over.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Baby #4 - 24 Weeks

How Far along: 24 weeks.  Because I'm at the point in this pregnancy where things don't really change much from week to week, I'm moving to biweekly posts for the time being.   

24 Weeks

Baby's Size: Baby is about the size of an ear of corn (just in time for harvest season!) and is approximately 12" long and weighs 1 1/3 pound.  Taste buds are forming and pretty soon, baby will start to put weight on so he or she will be a chubby, cuddly newborn.

Sleep: Can't get enough.  I've been needing (not wanting, but needing) naps frequently. 

Movement?: Lots of movement :)  Princess was able to catch a few kicks the other day and thought that was pretty cool.  This baby doesn't seem as active as the others were which maybe means that he or she will be laid back and easy going, right?  Lol

Food Cravings: Anything with pumpkin.  I think that has to do with the season we're in :)  I've also been craving veggies, but unfortunately, only if they're smothered in butter which kind of makes them less healthy, right?

Things That Make Me Queasy: Been feeling pretty good lately.

Gender: We're keeping it a secret because of what happened last time and because I just get so annoyed with the comments and assumptions about my family when I tell people what I'm having.  I can tell you that the baby is healthy and right on track for growth. :)  My standard answer when someone asks what I'm having is to smile and say, "Well, we know it's either a boy or a girl!"  So far, that's worked pretty well :) 

Labor Signs: A few Braxton-Hicks contractions here and there, but nothing too bad.  Last time, I was having a lot of them by this time so this is much better.

Symptoms: Tired, hungry, crying at everything and nothing.  Little Man went to church on Wednesday night and told someone that Mommy had been crying before church.  She then proceeded to yell across the church to ask if that was true which meant that everyone turned around and looked at me.  *Embarrassing*

Mood Most Of The Time: Depends on the minute you're asking. 

Looking Forward To:  My glucose testing at my next doctor's appointment...NOT!  I've always been fine on the numbers so I'm not worried about that, but that big cup of super sweet fruit punch makes me gag.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Random Monday-November 4, 2013

Little Man told me that when he gets hurt, I should give him bacon and a hug.  I'm pretty sure that that combo would fix any owies I get too.

Little Man was asking me questions about the baby in my tummy the other day.  Here are a few of my favorites:
"Is the baby going to fly out of your tummy?" (Ha!  If only it were that easy!)
"Is the baby crying in your tummy?" (Only if you keep poking my stomach.)
"Is there a baby in your leg too?"  (Wait a minute, what are you implying?!?)

Little Man's typical bedtime prayer: "Dear Jesus, thank you for a wonderful day. Thank you for "What Does the Fox Say?' *breaks into an enthusiastic "wa pow pow pa pow pow pow!" and dances crazily mid-prayer before moving on*.  Thank you for the tractor that went in the field with the trailer and it didn't get breaked and Grandpa drived it and I didn't even get to ride along because I want to and Grandpa didn't come get me so I could.  Amen."

BTW, if you've seen the viral song "What Does the Fox Say" on Youtube, you should check out this parody.  If you ask me, it's even better than the original :)

I love this picture that Princess drew of her and Little Man in school.  She wrote their ages and first initials above each one.  I'm not sure, but I think Little Man has a beard and mustache. 

Because my craft room is actually a 2 foot wide area behind the couch in the living room, I have to cut fabric on my living room floor.  Due to having, well, children, I usually do this during nap/rest/ask-every-5-seconds-if-it's-time-to-get-up-yet time, but sometimes, I'm working on something that needs to be done asap.  Such as a dress for Princess to wear to school the next day.  However, this is what happens when I lay my fabric on the floor to cut:

I've been told that I have a very cute fabric weight.  This may be true, but I'd rather have a fabric weight that doesn't wiggle so much.

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