Sunday, December 27, 2009

What I Learned Over Christmas

This Christmas was a learning experience. First, we were trying to figure out if we needed to give the kids (age 6 and 3) the same number of toys, spend the same amount, or just get them what we thought they would really enjoy (and stuff they asked Santa for). In the end we did the latter. No one noticed that one got more and had more spent on them. This may not have worked in reverse (with the 3 year old getting the most), but this year, everyone was happy.

I also learned that even if the dog hasn't touched the Ghiradelli chocolate tower, still wrapped in cellophane, in the last 3 days it's sat under the tree, if left for any duration, boredom will set in and you will find it demolished. You will also find a sick dog and a trail of "sickness" throughout the house...on Christmas Eve. I really thought the dog was going to need international travel insurance, either for her trip to heaven, or for wherever Hubster kicked her too when she finally showed herself. She ended up living through it. I stayed up until almost 2am to monitor her. I also learned that you can give a dog peroxide to induce vomiting (but I didn't do it). I gave her bread too absorb the caffeine and calm her.

I learned that when you arrive home with tired kids on Christmas Eve to find piles of doggie doody splattered around the house and insist the kids stay put on the couch until you can track it all down and scrub the areas, it becomes "The worst Christmas ever" to a 3 year old who watches too much Drake and Josh. I also found out that opening a zhu-zhu pet from her brother 5 minutes after the disaster was cleaned up, turns it back into the "Best Christmas ever."

I found out that you should also never underestimate the observations of children on Christmas day. My MIL had gotten gifts from our oldest to his Mom and Dad. He didn't know anything about the gifts, but she handed him bags and told him to give us each one. As we opened them and thanked our 6 year old, who was as shocked as we were, my darling 3 year old went across the room and picked up her coveted Playdoh burger factory and came over to give it to me. I told her it was for her. She said "Boog got you something so I want to too." She was serious. She wouldn't let me give it back. She insisted that we could play with it together, but it was mine. Why wouldn't grandma pick out something from both kids? The gifts were things people had donated for the kids at church to "shop for their parents". Our kids weren't there on this day so grandma picked some stuff out. I don't even think she realized how it would, or DID affect Puddin Pop. I swear that little girl of mine is the sweetest thing.

Oh. I also learned that offering to help get Christmas Eve Dinner ready is a BAD idea. My MIL has all sorts of yummy snack foods laid out and getting there early and walking past all the chips and dips and candies was just too much temptation for me. I was stuffed before dinner even started. Next year she's on her own.

What did you learn this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays and a Snowball Fight

It's the closest we'll get to tossing snowballs.

Have a Very Merry Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Candy Cane Reindeer


We love to do crafts.  Especially ones where we can use stuff around the house.  Boog wanted to make candy cane reindeer for his classmates this year.  I thought we could do Rudolf, but I must have been late at getting out to the craft store.  All the brown pipe-cleaners and red pon-poms were gone. I imagine finding these at Cristmas time is like trying to find Ferrari parts for a 1980 model...not so easy.  No worries.  The rainbow colored ones (of each) didn't make them any less cute.



What You'll Need
Pipe cleaners (any color)
small googly eyes
small pon-poms
candy canes

Glue eyes and nose to front of candy cane.  Attach antlers (pipe cleaner) by twisting at top of "head".  We also put a drop of glue to hold antlers in place.

This is a fun and easy project for smaller kids and a great gift for friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Walgreens, I'm a Little Disappointed in You

I'm not in any way trying to get anyone to ban Walgreen's. I don't have anything against them. I've used them in the past for photo copies and collage prints. Overall, I think they do an awesome job. I just want to share a recent experience, so maybe I can help you avoid the same situation.

I don't print a lot of photos. I save them to flash drives. I'm going to do a video scrap book, or maybe several Cd's. Right now they are saved. When I do want copies, I usually print from one of my three home printers. I'm currently putting together a gift box for my parents and on of the things I'm including is a 5x7 of each kid. I have Boogs school picture and to have them from close to the same time, I decided to use a picture I took of Puddin Pop just before Halloween. In going to print it I realize that all 3 printers are low or out of one or more cartridges. Instead of figuring out which ones I need, I figure it would just be cheaper to have Walgreen's print it. Everything else they've done for me has been great and I knew I could get it fast. Here is the picture I uploaded to their site




I love this picture. A friend had given me the idea to put a sheet over the couch to create a backdrop. That's where the problem begins. While the picture turned out well, the backdrop caused some issues.

I received an e-mail that the pic was ready, less than 2 hours after uploading (I had requested it for the following day), that was a bonus. When I arrived after work on Saturday to pick it up, the young girl at the counter asked my if I had a copyright release form. "I'm sorry?" I said. Apparently the backdrop is a red flag to them that it is a professional photo and they require a release form from the photographer allowing it to be printed. I chuckled and explained that the so-called backdrop was actually a sheet over my couch. She didn't look amused. She explained that she would have to pay a $10,000 fine if she released the photo. I thanked her for the compliment and said I would surely fill out her release form. She said I had to provide the form. What? "You need a release form but you don't have release forms?" I was assured that it was my responsibility and she couldn't do anything else to help me. I left...without my picture.

When I got home I put a message out on Facebook to inquire if any of my friends had a release form. Apparently I'm not the first to have this happen. One person told me to talk to a manager, one person told me if I still had the picture on my camera (which I didn't) that they would do it. My neighbor actually brought me a CD with the copyright release on it. I was going to print the form, but then realized my ink situation. I sulked for 4 days and finally went back today. I explained to another young girl my situation, assured her that I had taken the picture and asked if there was any way she could help. She said as long as I was willing to fill out a release, she could give it to me. I then told her I didn't have a release form. She got me one. She said that they really aren't supposed to do that, but she did. I'd mention her name to publicly thank her, but I wouldn't want to get her in trouble. I appreciate her going the extra mile to get me my picture.

I want to say again that I am in no way telling anyone NOT to use Walgreen's for their printing needs. They actually have some of the best prices on picture gifts, graduation announcements,
picture cards and photo calendars. Use them, just be careful of using backdrops to create Look-a-like professional photos. If you do use a backdrop, here's a release form you can use if you find yourself in the same situation.

Copyright Release Form

Christmas Concert 2009

The kids had their Christmas choir concert at Church last night. They were so cute. Thankfully, no one picked their nose. Boogs first year we weren't that lucky. Puddin Pop and the other pre-schoolers were so cute. They partly participated. partly danced around, partly stared into space, and smiled and waved at all the familiar faces in the audience.



The older kids got up to do their songs. Boogs been at this for 4 years. He doesn't dance around like he did in previous years. He seems more nervous that he was in the beginning (at 2) but better than he was last year. He's the one who had both fingers wedged up his nose the first year. He's outgrown that...now he's moved onto this...


Maybe he was hot? Yep. That's my kid. Pulling his pant legs up to show off his knees. Gotta love the photo ops these concerts create.

It was a lovely evening. We had dinner with the other church families and I got several inquiries in my employment status. How do you tell 80-something folks that you actually DO work...from home...as a blogger? I just told them I did some freelance writing and they seemed impressed by that. I wasn't trying to impress, but they never get it if I say what I really do. Some of the older women actually seem disappointed that I no longer spend 60 hours a week in the restaurant business. I guess they thought that was a good job to have. I'll take the non-paying job of Mom, any day, over that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Never too Early to Make Your Summer Vacation Plans

It's really going to happen. I keep talking about wanting to take a family vacation. I'm saving money and have tossed around different ideas of where to go. We have not had a week long vacation since the cruise Hubster and I went on in 1999. The kids are old enough now to do fun things with and they LOVE the beach, so when a friend mentioned their previous Outer Banks vacations and sent me the link to the house they are renting this summer I said "Hell Yeah." So it's set, we will be spending a week at the beach. I feel relieved that it is finally going to be a reality. I'm good at talking about it but trying to put all the details together and getting Hubster to take the time off...that a whole different story.

On a funny note...

When I asked Boog what he thought about going on vacation with another family he thought it was a "terrible idea." That shocked me knowing how much he loves the beach, and the fact that we've never taken a vacation. Turns out...he thought I was planning on sending him on vacation with the other family...just him. Once he realized we'd all be going, he thought it was "the best idea EVER."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gingerbread House


The kids had so much fun doing this. Puddin Pop has a small jawbreaker in her mouth she is crunching on thus making her look like she's doing her best pirate impression. This kit came with the icing already made in an easy-to-use pouch. I started the house by putting the walls and roof on and then let the kids do the rest. I thought they would've eaten more of the candy, but they were having so much fun decorating that the nibbling was minimal.
Do people really eat these?
We tried the chimney. Boog thought it was great with icing. I didn't care for it that much and it was a little hard for PP. The candy is slowly disappearing. I'm giving up on trying to find the best weight loss pills. I'm not a pill person to begin with and am thinking that moderation this holiday season and more time playing Wii games and using my Wii Fit for extra exercise is my best bet. I even skipped the chocolate chunk cookies with ice cream that the rest of the family enjoyed last night.
We picked up the tiles for the coasters the kids are making for the grandparents. We got extras for a Teacher gift for Boog's teacher. I'll post that once they're complete. This is a super inexpensive gift that the kids can personalize and take pride in giving as a gift. I can't wait.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adoption, the Good and the Great

By complete accident I found myself watching Find My Family (on ABC) the other night. It followed a Christmas Special, otherwise I would have never known about it. I watched as a woman talked about "feeling abandoned" and not feeling "complete" without knowing where she really came from and not having the answers as to why she was given up in the first place. I could relate.


I've spent my entire life looking over my shoulder and wondering...what if. When I was told I looked like someone, I thought "could be." I've always been fascinated with "nature vs. nurture". I've wondered who I really look like and who I got my love for reading from. As a child, knowing I was adopted, I was always hyper-aware of differences between my other family members and myself. Wondering how things may have been different and whether those differences would be positive or negative. It didn't consume me, but it did take up a lot of my thoughts during different stages in my life. Just now, I followed a link to adoption.com. I've been there before. With millions of adoptees and birth families registered it's hard to see "No matches found" when I type my birth date and state. No one? Not a single person, not a birth parent or sibling or other family member is looking for me? That's hard to swallow and usually is enough for me to put it out of my mind...until next time. I have no information and maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. I now have a family of my own and couldn't imagine ever giving them up.

My story is easy. Un-wed, young mother who wants the best for her child. Puts it up for adoption, knowing it's the best for the child. that's how I choose to think of it. But what about the children who are removed from their families? What about children who know and live with parents in unimaginable situations only to be taken away and separated from siblings. What about all the children in the Foster Care system who KNOW where they came from, KNOW they can't go back and don't know what is going to happen next. These children have seen and been through things no child should be put through, and now have no stability and no place to call home. They are in temporary housing and dream of a loving family of their own. Why shouldn't they get that? Why should any child have to feel unloved and insecure about this basic right...Family?


Adopt Us Kids is an organization that brings together foster kids with waiting-to-adopt families in the United States. They provide the tools to families that want to help nurture these children and give them what they want and need most...a safe and secure place to call home and a family to love and trust, people who will unconditionally love them. Adopt Us Kids has already helped over 11,000 children find homes, but there are still more than 123,000 that need this basic right. Even if you can't bring a child into your home, you can help. Check out the site and get involved. The future of these children is something we could/should all invest a little time in.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Storytime Friends Review and Giveaway

***Winner announced***Congrats RedKathy***



Last week we received one of the best blogging "perks" yet. Just ask Puddin Pop. As a reviewer for Mom Bloggers Club, My Storytime friends sent us their interactive set. The minute we opened the box Puddin Pop grabbed out the bear, and she hasn't put "her" down yet. Beary has been to the grocery store, to church and a birthday party (but stayed in the car for the party) and slept with PP every night.





What It Is
The My Storytime Friends set includes a unique combination of a plush stuffed animal, an inspiring hardcover storybook written by award winning author Andrew Wolfendon and a lifetime membership to the My Storytime Friends Book of the Month Club. My Storytime Friends membership also includes free access to My Storytime Friends™ online, an interactive place to learn and play

My favorite part is the book-of-the-month-club. I love to read and truly want to inspire my children to read for enjoyment. There are so many options to receiving the new books each month that it's hard to choose.

Membership Benefits Include:

* Narrated online flip-book version of the Book of the Month
* Printable colored PDF copies of each Book of the Month story plus black and white
versions for coloring. Hardcover copies of the books are available to members for just $6.95 with free shipping included.
* Access to educational, interactive activities on MyStorytimeFriends.com as well as
additional offline activities for children and workbooks for parents.
* Audio-book version of each story


The books are really nice, hard-bound stories with beautiful illustrations. It's a great way to start (or add to) a library for young children. While one of my kids grabbed the bear, the other (age 6) went straight for the book. We've already read it several times.

Additional Online Benefits:

1. Children can catch up on their Storytime Friends between books by visiting the Newsstand.
2. Kids can interact with characters from the stories by sending and receiving mail through the Post Office.
3. The My Storytime FriendsTM online store features fun accessories and outfits for the plush toys available for purchase.


My Storytime Friends is a gift that keeps giving. Each month new stories become available. I love that the kids can check in on their favorite characters and even write letters to them. Having a first grader (Boog), I find that getting him to put thoughts on paper is sometimes a challenge. Writing a note to a friend is more enjoyable and why I think My Storytime Friends is an exceptional gift that grows with your (my) child.

Being able to "make friends" with their favorite storybook characters is a fantastic way to keep them involved and make them eager to read the next month's selection. The stories reinforce the lessons we try to teach our children everyday and, in my case, are probably better received from such adorable characters.

How can you get one:


Log onto My Storytime Friends and purchase one for only $39.99.



OR



Enter to Win one Right here.

My Storybook Friends and Mom Bloggers Club have agreed to give one lucky winner this packaged set just in time for Christmas. Like every contest there are rules. I'll make them simple.



First Entry (mandatory)
Go to My Storytime Friends and tell me who you would like to get this for. (comment here)

Extra Entries (leave a comment for each action)

Follow More Fun Than Allowed...with Kids

Follow MoreFunMom on Twitter

Tweet about this contest (make sure to use @morefunmom so I can track) You can also just click the retweet button at the end of this post. You can tweet each day, just make sure to comment each time.

Contest ends Monday December 14th. Winner will be drawn Tuesday, December 15th with random.org.

Thanks to My Storytime Friends and Mom Bloggers Club for this awesome gift and giveaway!




Friday, December 4, 2009

Books do NOT Have to be NEW to be Enjoyed

I was recently made aware, from another post I did, that there are a lot of people who didn't know about getting used books from Amazon. I rarely pay more than a penny for my books and even with shipping, most books cost me under $4. I love to read and this is an alternative to paying full price for my reading enjoyment. It allows me to try new authors without feeling the "sting" of regret if it turns out not to be my style of writing.

If you go to Amazon books and type in the Author or book you are looking for, you will see the price plus what the used books are going for. There aren't always books for a penny, it usually depends on the age of the book, but you can still save a ton by purchasing your books used.




(click to enlarge)
If you click on the used books, you will get a list of sellers and their price, including shipping. I usually try to get the books I'm looking for from the same seller as they will, in some cases, combine the shipments and reduce the price of shipping. This is a great was to get multiple titles for the price you would pay for one new book at the book store.

I can also tell you that, as an avid reader, I would NOT be upset with a basket of used books as a gift this Holiday season. It's the thought...right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Busy Hands are Peaceful Hands

So much to say and so little time. So little time because last week Puddin Pop was playing on my laptop and accidentally dropped it. It fell right on the backside where the power cord attaches. The cord held on for a couple days and then snapped off...with the silver part stuck in the machine. I'm now rigging it to charge but can't keep it plugged while typing so I have about an hour before I have to plug it back in. $65 for a power cord and I'm having trouble locating the right one. We were supposed to get a refurbished laptop from Hubster's work a couple months back...for just $80. They ended up using them all for agents they re-assigned to work from home so...I'll have to keep looking. Any ideas?

We bought a Gingerbread House Kit yesterday and I can't wait to put it together with the kids this weekend. We also still have our Shrinky Dinks tree to put together and the ornaments still need to be colored and baked. The kids get along so much better when they are kept busy. Is that just my kids? With a purpose they are polite and so kind to each other. Sharing and helping each other out. Leave them to play on their own and all heck breaks out. One is always teasing and tormenting the other. When Boog gets bored with making his sister cry, she starts in on him. It's maddening. I don't know why I'm surprised. I had an older brother (and a younger one). My older brother tormented me to no end...and then I started fighting back. I guess this is what I deserve. I hoped, but didn't expect, things to be better. Keeping them busy helps keep me sane.

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