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Archive for the ‘Just Life’ Category

Today is the first day of spring! When those blossoms bloom on the trees as spring approaches, it is so beautiful and I love it. March started out on the rainy and overcast side and it was a little sad too (the one year anniversary of my mom’s death, and we went and spread her ashes) but ultimately, life is sunny and exciting and full of love. I am constantly blessed by my family and I appreciate those blessings.


(click for larger images and details)

Next up… Jaimee’s 6th birthday and the awesome fairy party we threw her.

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Elf On The Shelf ideas

I did it! When it became clear our 5 year old needed some fun Christmas make-believe, the elf was the perfect solution. I was a little nervous about being committed every day for 24 days (what if I forgot one night?!) but the desire to not see Jaimee disappointed was strong enough to remind me each night. It ended up being fun for the whole family and I’m glad we did it.

I hinted in the post about how we decided to start doing this that I changed some of the traditional “Elf on the Shelf” ideas and wrote a letter from our elf that better framed this the way we wanted to do it. I didn’t want an elf that went back to the North Pole each night to report on the kids’ behavior. Because… well, for a LOT of reasons. Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Drew, Holly, Jaimee, & Bennett,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Now that it’s the Christmas season, I’ve come down from the North Pole to stay with your family! There are three things you should know about me:

1. I only come awake when everyone else in the house is asleep.
2. I shouldn’t be touched (only your parents can if it’s to keep me safe).
3. I will go back to the North Pole on the night of Christmas Eve.

I will have fun watching you during the day, and I’ll be having my own fun in your house at night while you sleep!

Love,
Jolly McJinglepants

Yes, I named the elf, lol. Knowing what Jaimee wants to name our future pets, I knew this would be a better idea. And I wanted something that would amuse ME too, hahaha. I liked the “no touching” rule but I didn’t say anything about elf magic… I just didn’t want the elf to become a play thing that would endure extra wear and tear, or worse, I didn’t want the elf to get MISPLACED (*shudder*). Lastly, I wanted the elf to be “leaving” on Christmas Eve because really… can the elf even compete with Christmas morning? And do I want another thing to have to do the night before Christmas? Sometime during the month, Jaimee reasoned that the elf had to leave on Christmas Eve so that he could help Santa deliver toys. Ok!

So…. I admittedly used many ideas I’d seen online (I’m just not that inventive!) but I do love how it all turned out and it really was a lot of fun. I’ve already shared the first six days. Here are the rest!

more elf on the shelf
7. Jolly is taking a Barbie out on a date. And driving all over our partially-done puzzle!
8. Jaimee had the class “pet”  for the weekend and they were chilling on top of the TV. Sunday was a great day for this since we were all watching a lot of NFL football that day (P.S. how much fun was watching that game in the deep snow?!)
9. Peeking out from the water dispenser in the fridge
10. TP’ing the tree. (I loved how fast this one was – great reaction… a lot of bang for the buck!)
11. Then rolling down the stairs in the toilet paper roll (30 seconds to set up since he was already in the toilet paper roll!
12. You know syrup is one of the main elven food groups! (That blue one is my bunny-elf from my childhood!)

still more elf on the shelf ideas
13. A panty raid on the ceiling fan! A pair from everyone except Drew. I’ve even got one of Bennett’s diapers up there.
14. Playing Candy Land with some Groovy Girl dolls.
15. Jolly made a gingerbread train and brought three gingerbread house kits. That day (a Saturday!) Jaimee, Holly, and I made gingerbread houses.
16. Jolly made a snowman in the freezer! (this was the one time Jaimee needed help finding him)
17. The elf loves low-brow humor (ie. whatever will make a 5 year old laugh!)
18. Jolly, drunk on sugar, eating a gingerbread house!

and still more elf on the shelf ideas
19. Snow angels (I used flour, sifted)
20. “Snowball” fight!
21. Playing Mr. Potato Head. With REAL potatoes!
22. Elf-sized donuts (cheerios, frosting, cookie decorations) and a dozen donuts for the family from Krispy Kreme. Perfect for a Sunday morning.

23. This one was a two-parter. He sat on the tree with a packet of “Magic Elf Seeds”:Elf on the Shelf Magic Seeds
(“guaranteed to work overnight!”)

and instructions:
1. Plant the seeds in the vase on the ledge
2. Sprinkle the fertilizer on top
3. Wait till morning to see what grows!

Here’s the “planter” (filled with sugar) and “fertilizer”:
planter for magic elf seeds

Both Holly and Jaimee loved this:
planting magic elf seeds

24. Candy canes grew overnight!
elfcandycanes

And that was a big hit that morning. By the time I’d gotten up, Holly and Jaimee had already each had a candy cane, lol! Next time, I guess Jolly needs to specify that they need to wait for mommy (so I can get pictures!) and eat their breakfast first. ;)

What a blast. Jaimee already misses Jolly and hopes he’ll come next year too.

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That is until Jaimee. Jaimee is our first child who really REALLY wants to believe in Santa. We were sort of blasé about it at first because it wasn’t a big deal with either Drew or Holly… it just caught us by surprise, I guess. Over the Thanksgiving weekend when we were at Grandma & Grandpa’s as Jaimee and I were snuggled together on a blow-up-mattress ready to fall asleep, I was looking at Elf on the Shelf pics (knowing she’d be looking over my shoulder) to see her reaction. When I told her about elves from the North Pole who sometimes visit homes for the Christmas season and sometimes cause mischief, she was so tickled by it. And I knew this would be the way to bring some Christmas make-believe that she was so craving. In the car on the way home, I typed up a letter from him and emailed it to myself. We stopped by Barnes & Noble (yay for their 30% off Black Friday weekend coupon!) and I ran in to get the elf. When we got home, I got in before Jaimee could get out of the car seat and hurriedly put him up on top of the entryway mirror and printed out the letter. She spotted him minutes later. She was so excited she practically started crying and her face turned beet red. Yay, we pulled it off!

So now, six days into it (wow, already 25% done!) here’s what Jolly McJinglepants has been doing in our house:

ElfOnTheShelf_FirstSixDays

Dec 1: Surprise! Jaimee gets her elf!
Dec 2: Having fun with Dumbo
Dec 3: Naughty Jolly on the mantle. There were discarded wrappers and chocolate bits on the floor too!
Dec 4: Haphazardly strewn lights and a few ornaments… the tree smells good, but decorate it already!
Dec 5: He likes TV and popcorn. Who knew?
Dec. 6. Did you know elves poop chocolate?

I think we’re all having fun with it. Holly is excitedly giving me ideas and Ron, who’s been out of town for the last two days on business, asked me to send him pics of what the elf has been doing while he’s away. But mostly, I’m just happy to be doing it for Jaimee.

If you do Elf on the Shelf, hit me up with your blog posts and Pinterest boards!

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You remember the ol’ “What did you do this summer?” essay. Me? I did this:

transformation_front

transformation_neck

transformation_back

It took me 14 weeks. That’s 98 days. From June 7th (before pics) to Sept 12th (after pics). The summer.

Those before pics are really embarrassing, y’all (and there is no Photoshopping of the bod in any of the pics, I promise). I struggle to even post them. But if someone (Kerry Stewart)  hadn’t posted her own transformation three years ago, I never would have had the inspiration or known how she’d done it. So I figure I owe it to whoever may be out there that would be inspired enough to change their body (and life!).

How’d I do it? Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM). It’s not a diet. It’s nothing extreme. It’s eating right and exercising. It’s not about the number on the scale. It’s about body fat vs. lean body mass. It’s about health and fitness. If you want my advice (and I’m not an endorser, I don’t get paid to say this, I’ve received nothing, I’m just someone who’s been successful using this) I recommend getting his book (either ebook now or hardback when it comes out in December) and even joining the online community and participating in the next 14 week challenge which starts the first week of January. Actually, I recommend first reading his book The Body Fat Solution and then “graduating” to BFFM. Be prepared to not only count calories, but to calculate “macros”. These are the percentages of the total protein, carbs, and fat grams you eat each day. I used My Fitness Pal (you can use it on your computer and/or via an app on your phone) to track my macros and highly recommend it. Don’t let this scare you off! If I can do it, you can do it!

Anyway, I was ready to change my life. After two miscarriages, a pregnancy that required bed rest for the 2nd half, and then my mom being diagnosed with cancer and passing away this March, I was in bad shape. I weaned Bennett in April and was ready to start taking care of myself.

I’m not gonna lie. It was work. It took time and effort. But isn’t something worth having worth working for? I have to admit… I’m proud of myself. I feel GREAT. I’m sleeping at night. I’m STRONG. When I first start started working out, I attempted to climb the rope at the gym. I couldn’t even lift my own body weight up off the ground. As of 2 1/2 weeks ago, I can climb that rope. I’m getting out there and being active. Last Saturday, my daughter and I did a 5k and had a blast. I have energy. I’m living life. I’m loving life.

Speaking of working out, I’ve tried doing the big gym thing in the past. For me, it’s hard to motivate myself to get in regularly. But this time I decided to give Crossfit a try. They are 100% willing to scale every workout to what YOU can do, so don’t worry and don’t think you can’t do Crossfit. It’s an awesome community of encouraging people and I recommend it highly (again, not an endorser, I receive no compensation from them). What more can I say than, even though my 14 week challenge is over, I can’t wait to get back in for my next workout. I love getting stronger. I love feeling good. I will continue to improve my abilities and strength. This has been a kick start to truly changing my life. I am so thankful.

If you use Pinterest, check out my Fitness Motivation board. The mental aspect is important too.

I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Just post in the comment section and I will answer!

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Up & Out

I know. It’s been awhile. But remember where we last left off… my mom had just passed away. Just a few months before, the business had failed and there was months of unemployment and the financial situation was… grim. It was such a very dark and dismal time. I was not in good shape physically; I was on bed rest for the 2nd half of the pregnancy with Bennett and had continued in the bad habit of just sitting around and eating whatever I wanted during the breastfeeding phase (which thankfully lasted until this April). But wow, when I look back to this spring… the days were dark and I was hardly sleeping…

In May, we went on family vacation to Disneyland. I love Disneyland and it was a huge bright spot and the beginning of feeling like the sun was coming out. When Bennett and I were done with the breastfeeding I knew that it was time to take back control of my physical situation and get healthy and fit. Last month I decided to participate in a 14-week fitness challenge. I’m just over 6 weeks into it and so far, it’s going really well. I decided that part of how I would reach my fitness goals was joining a CrossFit gym. In short, I love it. I started with 3 days/week and now I’ve worked up to 5 days/week. It’s hard, but it’s a good kind of hard. I know I’ll keep going after the 14 weeks is over. It’s a part of my lifestyle now.

So I’m getting stronger, and feeling better, and sleeping better, and looking better… I feel like I’m coming alive. Life feels good! Each day is exciting!

I already love the summer… the kids are out of school and we can spend more time together . But it’s even sweeter now and I appreciate it more. We went to Disneyland again earlier this month (we did keep our Annual Pass vouchers and activated them when we went in May – and we didn’t have to pay for the price increase difference!) when the A/C went out during that heat wave. It was fun to be spontaneous (and was a great way to escape that crazy heat… can you imagine staying home with no A/C when the temps were hitting 112?!) and what a great vacation when you’re trying to get in shape… you’re walking and moving all day long!

I’ve gotten some great freelance work lately too. I just finished up an article for Scrapbook Magazine (look for it in issue 75; I think it hits shelves in September) and I’m about to start a big project for a major manufacturer… can’t say anything more than that yet, but I will say… it’s a PAPER project. I know! I haven’t done paper scrapbooking in years. It’s gonna be a trip, but I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to share it with you when it’s time.

So it’s all very busy and the house is a wreck, but… as I expressed in this scrapbook page, it feels like the sun is coming out. And I love it.

Here’s that photo:
July2013_crop
taken yesterday and I gotta say… yep, I’m feeling good!

Here’s the fam in Disneyland:
DLand_fam01_lores
Radiator Springs is so cool at night!

Bennett getting bigger and walking all over the place:

My girls:

My boys:

Jaimee taking swim lessons this month:

So that about wraps it up. I’m so happy to be able to make a happy post. Happy to be climbing up and out of the darkness.

P.S. Isn’t Pinterest awesome? Give me the link to your boards so I can see what you’re pinning.

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