Friday, December 23, 2011

Elf On The Shelf... A.K.A. Sparty

Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf? I hadn't heard about it until right about Christmas last year. What I knew about it then was very little. Then on Christmas last year, my dad had gotten the Elf on the Shelf "kit" for us which included the little elf and the book that tells the story about it. Basically this elf comes into your home (around Thanksgiving/beginning of December), and as a family you are to name the elf. Once you name the elf he/she gets magical powers. The elf keeps an eye on the kids behavior daily, and then at night he/she flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa. When he returns in the morning before the kids are up the elf will be in a different spot and the kids have to find him/her. The elf cannot be touched because if he is then all the magical powers are lost. And he/she only moves when nobody is around. There were some days where Sparty needed to be moved before nighttime, like when he was in the freezer, or on the kitchen counter. So I would always have to make sure the kids were out in the car, and I was the last one to walk out the door so I could quick move Sparty. When we'd get home they would immediately look for where Sparty's new hiding place was. One weekend we were even gone to Grand Rapids, and the kids were wondering if Sparty would be at Grandma's. Sure enough when we got there, Sparty had arrived! All this elf fun happens up until Christmas Eve when the elf leaves for good to help Santa with Christmas deliveries. He/she doesn't return until the next year.

So now that you have the background info, our elf came to us at the beginning of December. We had to decide on a name for the elf, and well as you know we bleed GREEN in this house and of course the kids came up with naming him Sparty (Note- this was right in the heart of the Big Ten Championship game time so we were in full swing Spartan mode). I did a little research on the elf and some people just move their elf, but some people have their elf get into a little mischief. I saw a few ideas on Pinterest which I thought would be fun, but many of them I didn't care for so I began to brainstorm things I could do with Sparty. Well, after the first couple days the kids really got into it, and I knew I'd have my work cut out for me. Almost every night before bed since Sparty has been around, Emmaline has said, "I wonder what Sparty will do tonight." Then almost every morning when she gets up she says, "We have to go find Sparty!" Some nights have been a little more work than others setting Sparty's antics up, but it's been well worth it! I'd do just about anything for my kids, and the joy they get out of seeing what Sparty has done is all worth it. These are moments I'll cherish forever and they are truly priceless! If you're on Facebook you've seen my album "Sparty Antics." He's done everything from playing UNO to unrolling the toilet paper, to hiding all the Christmas presents. A majority of the things I did come up with on my own, but as I mentioned there were a few on Pinterest that I "borrowed." Many of the antics related to things that we had done the day before. Here's a few pics of Sparty's antics that were my favorite so far...

Sparty made a snow angel... a.k.a "sugar" angel.
Sparty decorated the living room in candy canes!
"Sparty" was busy a few days before preparing a bunch of snowflakes to hang on the windows. I really loved this one because the snowflakes really added to our Christmas decor and beautified the house!
Emmaline had to take her lunch to school one day because she went at a different time. So since both kids had to pack a lunch, Sparty made their lunch with a silly combo of stuff.
Sparty wrapped some of the furniture, and then he wrapped himself in this box for the kids to unwrap. They had been asking if they could open just one present, so Sparty left a note that said, "You can unwrap this one present before Christmas." They were so excited, but then surprised to find Sparty inside! LOLSparty was guilty of getting in the laundry! I had a basket of the kids clothes to fold the night before, but never got to it so it was perfect for me (I mean Sparty) to throw some clothes around the house!

Tonight is the last night of Sparty this year since tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and it's time for Sparty to head back to the North Pole for another year. It's been fun, and while I'm really going to miss the kids reactions in the morning, I'm a little relieved because I'm running out of ideas! I'm going to have my work cut out for me next year! Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Emmaline's Stage Debut

Last Thursday was Emmaline's last day of school before winter break. She had her Christmas party at school, and then in the evening she had her first stage debut in her school Christmas play. Her teacher Miss Shirley does this Christmas play every year with all the preschool classes. Emmaline had been practicing at school for about a month, as well as singing her songs at home. She was so excited to be in the play. She was an angel. She was also "Eight Maids A Milking" in the 12 Days of Christmas which she had to hold up the number eight every time it came up in the song.

The play as I said had all three classes participate so it did get a little chaotic with all the kids, especially the younger one's. There were a few melt downs and some that shouted their line in the microphone. I don't know how Miss Shirley, Miss Sallie, and Miss Gail all stay so calm. I was stressing just sitting in the audience. Emmaline's class did very well, and I was very proud of my little girl. She remembered her line, and she did a great job singing all the songs. Of course she was adorable in her angel costume, and her antlers & red nose for the Rudolph song were so cute! After the play was over, they had refreshments of punch and cookies. It was a very nice way to finish off the year before the start of winter break. Here's a few pictures from the play.

Angel buddies- Chloe & Em

Saying her line- "He is the son of God"

Singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"(The kids had a hard time keeping the antlers up)

"Eight Maids A Milling"

This was supposed to say "Happy Birthday Lord Jesus" with all the letters up. It took a few minutes, but eventually they all got it together.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

Here's the recipe as promised for the Sour Cream Cookies the kids always make at Christmastime.

Note: The dough rolls out better if made the day before and refrigerated overnight, or at least chilled for a few hours before rolling out.

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies:


1 3/4 cup Sugar
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup shortening
1 cup thick sour cream (regular not light or fat free)


Mix all together well and chill in refrigerator. This may be dropped by spoonfuls or rolled out and used for cut-outs. We always roll out. Don't roll too thin thought. They burn easier that way.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on rack.

These cookies are so good we never frost them, but in case you want to here's a frosting recipe below. Also, we have colored the dough with food coloring and make candy canes. Example- Red & Green dough rolled in strips then twisted together & shaped like a candy cane.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp water
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weekend in GR

This past weekend we spent it at my mom's in GR. It was her birthday last Thursday so we headed there for the weekend to celebrate and my sister and Kaite came too. So my mom had a houseful of all of us there! She had foot surgery again about five weeks ago so while she can start driving again, she's supposed to take it easy and not drive too much. So instead of her usually coming here, we headed there. It was a fairly relaxing weekend. The kids made Christmas cookies with Kaite which they loved. Kaite's been designated the cookie maker over the past few years so she and the kids make the cut out cookies. The kids love making cookies with cousing Kaite! They all did an excellent job this year! The cookies turned out perfectly. I just love these cookies which my mom used to make over the years. The kids have grown quite fond of them too. They're sour cream cookies. I know, it sounds weird... sour cream in cookies, but they are sooooo good! We don't even frost them they're that good! I will post the recipe soon!

Here's some pics of my little bakers and cousin Kaite!
This was at the end of making the second batch of dough. They were being silly playing with the flour! They thought it was funny that Kaite put flour all over their noses.

Thanks to Kaite for making the cookies and to my mom for making not one, but two batches of dough! While we were at my mom's the kids discovered the cabinet of games my mom still has from when we lived at home. They were all into checking out as many games as they could. One they discovered was Monopoly. I couldn't believe how well they picked up on playing the game, and how much they enjoyed it. Evan was bummed when we left on Sunday that he wasn't going to be able to play Monopoly with Kaite. Looks like there will be game night on Christmas when we see Kaite again! Here's the cousins having game night!

Saturday night we went to the mall for a little bit. It had been a long time since I had been to Rivertown Crossings so I wanted to stroll around for a bit. Even though it had been awhile since we had been to the mall, the kids surely did not forget about the carousel! They wanted to go with Katie over mom & dad of course. They had a fun time and were being silly on the carousel every time they passed us.

It was a nice weekend. It's too bad cousin Kaite doesn't live closer to us because the kids sure do love spending time with her. Up next I need to tell you about our Elf on the Shelf and Emmaline's Christmas play at school! Slowly but surely I'll get caught up... thanks for hanging in there with me!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Preschool Bake Sale

Yes, I'm still playing catch up on here. Let's just face it... I think it will be that way until the end of the year. The fact that Christmas is now less than two weeks away, the kids are done with school this week, and I've still got shopping, baking, and teacher gifts to make, and a school Christmas party to get ready for means I don't have a lot of extra time for blogging. I'm trying to get a lot of this stuff done this week. Some of the things need to be done this week, but I also want to get as much done as I can before the kids are out of school for winter break.

I had to take a break from everything to share with you the bake sale that Em's preschool did last Thursday. Let me remind you that Em's preschool is at her teacher's house. It's not a huge preschool. Her teacher Miss Shirley is a certified preschool teacher and has her whole basement converted into a classroom. There are two other ladies that assist Shirley with the teaching. It's a very welcoming environment for the children and with only 12 kids in Em's class and three teachers it makes for a perfect learning environment. I believe Shirley has three different classes (divided by age groups). Anyways, Shirley organizes a bake sale every year with Okemos High School students to raise money to buy gifts for needy children in the area. This year the money raised would be given to the Meridian Township Police Dept. to buy gifts such as coats, boots, hats, and toys for Christmas.

Parents were asked to donate something like cookies, cupcakes, party mix, puppy chow, etc. to be sold at the bake sale. I made these coconut chocolate chip cookies that I recently discovered when my friend Brenda brought some over. Super easy and yummy! I'll have to post the recipe. I also made some of my pretzel buttons. Some of the high school students also made stuff to sell. Each preschool student was paired up with a high school student to sell the baked goods. Each child got a baker's hat to wear and a balloon tied around their wrist so they could be spotted easily among the "big kids" as Em calls them, a.k.a. high school students.

Back to the bake sale in a minute so I can give you a little side note. Em had a make up dance class to do last Monday and since it was at a different time than her regular class she had different teachers. One was Kate, my neighbor and the other was Tess a high school student at Okemos High School. Em sees Tess often at the dance studio, and on Monday Tess told her she was going to be at the bake sale. Em was pretty excited. So now back to the bake sale. When we got to the high school the preschool kids had to find their high school buddy. Right away Tess saw Em and since Tess did a lot of the organizing she paired up with Em which made her really happy. Emmaline quickly forgot I was there and went about her duties helping with the bake sale. She was so darn cute! Check her out with Tess!

They took turns with the other kids working at the tables of desserts as well as walking throughout the cafeteria taking trays of goodies around to sell. Here's a few pics I thought you'd like to see. It's just too adorable for words!

Helping set up the goodies!
Working at one of the tables!
Going around to all the tables of students at lunch time to see if they want to buy anything.

The sale went from 11-12:45pm and each item was $1. For example one cupcake, a bag of 2-3 cookies, a cake pop, a baggie of puppy chow, etc. each a dollar. The amount of desserts was phenomenal! Just look at this!

I just received an email from Miss Shirley last night with the total amount of money raised from the bake sale. Drum roll please...... $1,976! Isn't that amazing? I'm just floored by that amount and so proud of all the preschool and high school students! Lots of needy children will be getting some much needed items this Christmas! This event went above and beyond my expectations, and kudos to Shirley for organizing this!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Today has been a very low key day for us around here. I spent the last three days cleaning, putting out all my Christmas decorations, cleaning, decorating the tree, and yes more cleaning. Friday night Evan had a friend come over for pizza/movie night. His good friend Gavin from kindergarten isn't in his class this year so they don't get to see each other often. We finally had a free Friday night so he was glad Gavin could come over. I wanted to get the house decorated and everything done before the weekend so that was good motivation. I love the house at Christmastime, it looks beautiful in here! I've had candles burning, the tree on almost all the time when we're home, and the house is clean (well the downstairs)! Love it!

Saturday morning we went and had breakfast with Santa at Bravo. They had a breakfast buffet, a coloring & cookie decorating station, and Santa was there! This was the first year Bravo has done this so we thought we'd check it out. The kids had fun. Here they are with Santa!

After we got home from breakfast I pretty much cleaned all day and prepped some food for our football get together with friends last night. Our neighbors Jim and Kate, and friend Brenda & her daughter Keyera came over to watch MSU play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. A rematch against Wisconsin after MSU beat them in the final seconds earlier in the season. I wanted to go to the game really bad, but it just wasn't gonna happen. So the next best thing... invite some friends over, eat yummy food, drink some beer, and cheer on the Spartans! I was hoping for a great performance by the Spartans. I did not want a let down like the Nebraska game. If the Spartans were going to win they had to play a full 60 minutes of football. Well, the game was great! Everything you want in a championship game! The Spartans had some trick plays up their sleeve, Cousins didn't choke under pressure. The big guys, B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, Keyshawn Martin, LeVeon Bell, and Edwin Baker all played their hearts out. As did the rest of the team.

MSU lead most of the game, and then it all changed with about 3 minutes left in the game. I'm really not being a poor sport when I say this, but MSU was robbed of the Big 10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. MSU did what they needed to do to win that game, and because of two huge plays called back, the officials cost MSU the game. One was a long reception by Keyshawn Martin which he clearly caught with one foot in bounds, but they ruled differently after replay. Then with about 1 min 45 sec left Keyshawn again came up huge for the Spartans and returned a punt all the way to the Wisconsin three yard line. It was clear MSU would score and win the game (they were down by three at this point). However, the Big Ten clearly wanted Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and called roughing the kicker to give the ball back to Wisconsin. The Badger kicker is a former soccer player, and you can clearly see on the replay how he held his leg up (a popular soccer move) until the MSU player got close enough to him to bring it down on him and thus getting the roughing the kicker call. With no timeouts left there was nothing MSU could do. At this point I was totally speechless, I still am. I hate sometimes that I get so wrapped up in football, but I do. I am that true diehard Spartan fan. I'm literally sick over how this game ended. It's one thing to lose, but to lose a deciding game for a trip to the Rose Bowl like this is horrible. Once again MSU gets shit on, and the Big Ten won't have their best team in the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row. I feel so bad for the team, especially the seniors, as well as Coach D. They really are deserving to be playing in Pasadena this year.

It was hard to get up this morning, and with the gloomy weather it just sort of went with the mood. Not much motivation to do anything. It's been nice to be lazy. We did go out for a little bit and went to the Arts and Crafts fair at MSU. It was pretty much picked over by this afternoon. I really wanted to go yesterday, but didn't have time. Tonight isn't going to be much different than today. Sitting by the tree and fireplace and waiting to see if MSU gets any respect for their bowl selection. Doubtful, but I guess there's always a little hope.