Friday, December 31, 2010

Stuffed Animals Everywhere - Holiday Traditions

Since the girls were babies, we were given stuffed animals for most holidays. Each girl would get a stuffed animal from each aunt. I liked this as when I put out Christmas decorations, the girls would try to play with them and a few got broken. I started collecting stuffed animals for each holiday to decorate so the kids could play with the decorations and I didn't have to worry about them getting broken. I had several bins for each holiday. Of course with their collections we had Snoopy with a Santa hat, bunny ears, a heart and with a pumpkin. They also have Pooh and Tigger and Elmo in each holiday's attire.

A few years ago we toned it down and kept only the animals that had some emotions attached. With things in my life being crazy, there were a few years that none of the animals were put out. Last Valentines day, I put out some of the Valentines animals and my younger girls didn't even remember that we had them. I was sad that they missed out on that tradition for those years. I have pictures of them as babies buried all but the face in the animals.

I put out our animals for Christmas this year and we are down to one bin. My oldest had taken her favorite animal that was given to her the day before we moved from the East coast to the West coast 16 years or so ago and has it in her "treasure box." Above my youngest is riding that animal which my oldest named "Ruddy." I pulled out this little bear and my second told me I couldn't put it back after the holiday because she always slept with it when young and it was also given to her by one of her favorite Aunts as we left the East. She named him "Ebbin" short for Ebeneezer. She wants to keep it in her "treasure box" also.

This poor guy is a laughing reindeer given to my third daughter when she was about two and she took some scissors to it and I found brown fuzzy stuff all over the house and couldn't figure out where it came from. I didn't have the heart to get rid of it as it has such a fun history so the animals we kept were the "collection" animals and the one's that the girls "remember" while growing up. So, you can see them in the top photo.

Here my oldest is a few years ago still holding "Ruddy." Some things are hard to let go.

We all have things like that..... I sometimes wish I didn't have so many thing that are hard to let go. :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chrsitmas Eve Gaming Marathon and Sleep Over - Traditions

This tradition was something that we started to keep tabs on all the kids. Sometimes the younger kids would try to sneak up and peak on Santa. So, we always stuck the kids in one room. They were allowed to watch videos until they fell asleep. The video's covered any noise that Santa may make in moving things around allowing for an earlier start.

A few years in, the kids asked to play video games. We got an old Sega and put it in the room and they would watch a video and then whomever was still awake after that would play Sonic on Sega until they couldn't stay awake any longer.

I loved my old Panasonic camera that had inferred night vision and I would always go in and video the kids after they fell asleep. I miss that feature on my new camera. I don't have as many photos because I wasn't in the room but my video editing isn't working right now so I can't show you the cute videos of them but this is one of my older girls favorite traditions. The younger girls like the video part but the older girls enjoy the "gaming" portion of the night. Mom likes that it makes them a bit more tired and they sleep later the next morning because they were up late. Mom also sticks them in the darkest room of the house to sleep so that the sun doesn't wake them up early. There have been a few years where they slept past nine not knowing what time it was because the shades are dark in that room! Who doesn't love to sleep in a little later on Christmas morning.

Just another fun tradition the kids enjoy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Follow the Candy Trail - Family Traditions

This is not a tradition that I had growing up but I started this when my older kids were younger as a teaser to let them know that the Easter Bunny or Santa had actually come.

I would make a candy trail from the bedroom they were sleeping in to the living room where Santa or the Bunny would leave their presents.

Usually it is candy from the holiday before that was gotten on clearance and saved for this holiday. I get candy that isn't dated by the wrapper such as dum dum suckers, smarties etc that won't go bad from Halloween to Christmas. It is fun for them to know that if they open the door and find treats, there will be more.....

One year the Eater Bunny bought a trampoline. They were with their dad on Easter morning so when they were dropped off at the house, there was a candy Easter egg trail around the outside of the house to the back yard where the trampoline was set up.

This year, Santa found some great $2 movies at a late night sale and along with the candy made a trail..... My older daughter said how excited the youngest was by the fun movies that were in the line up and how it really got her excited to "line up" (see last weeks post on our lining up tradition) and head in. This year however, my middle daughter complained that she never got to be at the front because we usually do youngest but every once in awhile we have done oldest to youngest. So, for the first time ever, the middle child was at the front of the line-up.

I was surprised how upset this new line-up made my youngest but she quickly got over it as the presents came into view. It makes for a fun tradition that I am sure my kids will carry on as they have their own kids. It also saves on treats for the snack jar as I have used granola bars, fruit snacks and other "snacks" in the candy trail.

I have some friends that make a maze for their kids on Christmas morning using anything and everything. One year they filled the hall with pine trees. That is a fun tradition.

I have a cousin that fills the room with balloons and the family has to pop the balloons to find their presents. That sounds like fun if you are deaf and not jumpy to popping balloons. Just thought how funny that is because his wife is deaf. Maybe that could be fun then. Anyway, I have always enjoyed hearing others family traditions.

I would still love to hear yours.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rock and Rolling Skating Party - Family Traditions

Every year the day after Christmas or in this case, December 27th, my d
ad rents out a roller skating rink, laser tag, bounce zone and ultimate ball crawl place. All my siblings and our kids go at ten in the morning before it opens to others and we have the place to ourselves. I can't remember how many years we have been doing this. There is something for everyone as the ball pit jungle zone is for little kids, they have skates for little ones that only go forward, they have pvc skate walkers if they have a balance problem. They have a race track or a regular skating rink.

They have a bounce zone where there are some fun games. I have a video attached where one of the girls is on a bungee harness trying to see how far she can run away before being pulled back.

We have some type of lunch and then the laser tag wars begin. The kids go in by age and then compete for points. It does get a bit competitive sometimes when my siblings and I get involved. Then they have token games where the kids earn tickets and spend a few hours picking out a penny toy which ends up under the seats in the car on the long rides home and I find them a few month later while vacuuming out in the spring.

My girls weren't able to go this year as we had many thing going on but I went and ended up being the photographer for everyone and got to hold some beautiful baby boy nephews I haven't gotten to know yet. My kids and their cousins look forward to this every year and are glad they will be back on track to go next year.

This in one tradition we will keep. We have some cute video of us doing Karaoke last year.

We would love to hear some of your fun family traditions!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Pajamas Tradition

When I was young, every year on Christmas Eve, we were allowed to open one present. My grandmother would make all her grandchildren homemade pajamas. We would open them and get to wear them to bed that night.

My grandmother lived near a sleeping bag factory so she would buy the flannel that was used for the inside of the sleeping bags that were over stocked or flawed and make the pajamas out of that fabric. We always had matching nightgowns and pajama's. With 8 kids in our family and many other grandchildren, she was sewing for months. My mother saved several of the pajama's and gave one of the nightgowns to one of my girls when they were little. I am not sure where it ended up but it was fun seeing my girls in a nightgown that I wore.

So, when I had kids, I would buy matching pajama's for a few Christmas's and then decided to start sewing matching pajama's. I don't have all our pictures scrapbooked so I would have to dig through many boxes to pull out all the Christmas pajama pictures but here are a few since we started using digital cameras.

Once while visiting the town where my grandma used to live, we visited a second hand store and guess what I found? Lots of flannel fabric from the sleeping bag company! I bought a bin full for $.75 a piece. Each piece made a few pair of pj's! So, you can see in the pictures, that the pj's look like the inside of a sleeping bag which just makes them even more like grandma used to make! I used to make full pj sets or nightgowns but when the girls got older, they just wanted pj bottoms. I gave them the option so we have some years with both options. Also, one year they wanted dance warm-ups so they all got different warm ups for the different teams they were on.

They usually wear the bottoms for the year and beg me to make them for the next year. Last year, I bought bottoms to go along with their collections, one collects snoopy, one sesame street etc.

This year with all the crazy stuff going on with my eldest coming home sick and everything else, I decided to buy them. I found a great find at an after Halloween sale at Walmart. They had "glow in the dark" pajama bottoms. I thought they were so cool that I mentioned it out loud and a lady reached over me and grabbed one of the last pair before I could get them off the rack. So, I bought all five pair that were left leaving one of my petite tall darlings with an extra large pair. That pair ended up being such a joke that we laughed about it all night.

The best part was the shirts I found to match. How much laughing can you do in a Walmart? I saw the shirts with "Who needs Halloween? My sister scares me enough!" I bought them all. It saved me sewing and each set was less than $5. So worth it not to have to sew and we had so much fun with them and then one girl put her hair in pig tails so she would look like the shirt and the photo shoot went on. I bought some Halloween orange Oreo cookies and got a photo of them all eating one. It was a fun Christmas with lots of laughs about the glow-in-the-dark pj's and the funny shirts. The girls actually really liked the pj bottoms and think they are comfortable. I didn't know if they would like them but they thought the glow thing made them really fun. Even the college student was excited to show them off.

Matching pj's has really been a fun tradition started before I was born. I love to carry on all those traditions that I enjoyed growing up. What are some of your traditions?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Popcorn Chocolate Nut Treat

A few weeks ago, my step-mother (only for definition as I love her like a mom) called and asked for the recipe of my annual Christmas popcorn treat. She said her mother (age 80 + that lives with her) suggested that they give out my treat to their friends because it is so good. I have made this at Christmas for about 10 years now and my kids always look forward to it and ask that I make it at other times of the year but I never seem to do it. I usually make my toffee as it takes less time and is every bit as wonderful.

I start by popping corn using a hot air popper. If you use other corn it has flavor on it and is greasy. You could use a "whirly pop" but it still has some type of oil for popping. I actually went to a second hand store to find one for my mother-in-law and found one for $3. It really makes it taste better. Once popped, take out any unpopped kernals. It can hurt to bite on one when its chocolate coated.

I get three large bowls. I pour all different types of Chex cereal or the store brand equivalent into the bowls equally. This year I added Kix but really, you can add what cereal you enjoy eating. I then pour in a bag of pretzels. This year I got the Halloween one's on clearance and used those. I doubt anyone will look to see that it is a pumpkin shape. I usually get some long and some round. I add mini marshmallows, any kind of nut, (I usually use almonds, cashews, or pecans) and sometimes I will add coconut to one. I usually put different types of nuts in each bowl so there is a variety. One with almonds, one with cashew and one with pecans.

Next, you melt chocolate and pour into the bowl and mix. I used melting chips bought at Halloween on clearance. They had green and white for 75% off. I added mint flavoring to the green for a different flavor. You can use mint chips but they are very expensive so I chose to do it this way. I also bought bulk chocolate bars by the pound for $.50 a pound at the chocolate factory outlet when I was in the city last week which is a much better chocolate than chips and cost less.

I don't have a double boiler so I just use two different sizes of pan. I put a little water in the bottom pan and put the other pan inside and put the chocolate inside the smaller pan. Once the water is boiling depending on the size of the chips, it only takes a few minutes to melt the chocolate. You can use the microwave but it is easy to scorch it so I use this method and have for years without problem. With the white chocolate, sometimes it gets thick so I add a little butter or shortening to thin it out.

You can use any flavor of chips that you have or like or just get cheap chocolate or bark for baking and add flavorings. Depending on how much of the cereal you use, will depend on how much chocolate you need. I used about a pound for each large bowl. I did the green (mint), white and milk chocolate. Once you have melted the chocolate, pour it into the bowls and stir. I actually use clean hands and mix it that way which makes less spill over the edge.

Once everything is well coated, I pour it onto cookie sheets to let it cool and harden. Once it is cool, break it into chunks and bag. I get different bags each year after the holidays when they are cheap and use those for the next year. I layer the popcorn treat so that it looks cute and that everyone gets a bit of each flavor. I also traditionally give out dried fruit from my trees. I get requests all the time for my dried fruit. (Check out those posts for references on how I dry them.)

So, another year done and I will deliver them today. I had to bag these quickly because each girl came in and "sampled" each tray and it is addictive. Once I start eating it, I can't stop.
Merry Christmas!!!!! Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cleaning Nail Polish off Wool Carpet

We had a wonderful early Christmas until I dropped a bag of nail polish on the floor. A black and a hot pink polish broke open and splattered on my light carpet. I was already tired but that isn't something you can put off cleaning until another time.

I have never gotten nail polish on the carpet before and wasn't sure how to proceed to remove it. The Internet was down so my daughter couldn't look up any tips.

My first thought was to use non-acetone nail polish remover with cotton balls and to blot the spot with a paper towel after. My oldest helped me as we knew we needed to keep the spots wet so they wouldn't "Set" in the carpet. So, I soaked cotton balls and placed them on the spots to keep them wet.

We then put cotton on with the remover and then blotted with the paper towel. Soon, the carpet had been rubbed so much we had dark grey spots and the remover wasn't working anymore.

At this point the internet started working and there were many tips about trying hydrogen peroxide amongst other things. We tried that and it didn't work. I tried some peppermint oil as I remembered that it took a finish off wood and that did work some but I was worried about it leaving a greasy stain. I tried another type of oil. No luck with that. I tried the dry clorox/oxy wash for the washing machine with no luck. I also tried "Zout" which I have used many times for paint, grass, blood, red Popsicle, blueberry juice and rust. It has gotten all of those items out very well. However, it didn't work well for the polish.

I finally tried "The Ultimate Cleaner" and was VERY HAPPY! I don't think it would have worked on the polish had we not used the polish remover to get the majority off. However, once the polish was rubbed in and kind of a muddle of color, the "Ultimate Cleaner" took the rest out.

I squirted the cleaner on and scrubbed with my finger. I then added a few drops of water and then blotted with the paper towel until I couldn't get any more color out. The carpet is clean but is a little frayed on the spots where we scrubbed. I think I wouldn't have scrubbed so much with the remover if I did it again but I am not putting that out there! :-)

I think if I had taken the time to carpet clean after, it would have even looked better but I didn't want to get into that big of a project today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

David Archuleta Christmas Part 2

When the concert was over, I asked the girls if they wanted to walk around down town and see the lights. Two said "Yes!" and two said "No!" which is about how it goes with girls.

One of the girls said, "If we are going to be downtown, we should go see David Archuleta at the book signing. I asked what they were talking about. They showed me the program, (they ran out before I got into the concert) and the insert said that he would be signing CD's and books a block away. We started to run along with hundreds of other crazy people. It was after nine at night and was FREEZING!

We stood for an hour in a line around the block before he even showed up and the line started moving. He was only doing it for an hour since he was an hour late arriving. I spoke with the people hosting because we didn't want to wait another hour that late and freezing if we weren't going to get in. They thought he would be able to make it. So, we waited. We had so much fun singing Christmas carols in line. We visited with people in line and made new friends. It was almost 11 p.m. which was when he would stop signing and I went and asked again if they thought we would get in. A woman had just walked up and said he was going to stop the line. I begged her to come out and see how short the line was and allow him to stay until the line was through. She looked at the line and he stayed to finish the line.

However, we were rushed through so fast that I didn't have time to take a picture and the girls turned around and took a few with their cell phones and here is what we got. If I was smart, I would have walked the half mile to my car during the wait and gotten my camera! However, the girls got two CD's and covers signed and I learned that if you take a picture with your cell phone and close it because the staff is yelling at everyone to "move on," the picture doesn't save. lol

It was still an amazing night and the girls were thrilled to be that close to him and get his signature.

I had one daughter who was wearing flip flops because I had picked her up off a bus and her stuff was loaded into the trunk and we didn't have time to get shoes as I dropped them off hoping they would get seats. I actually didn't know she had flip flops on but I am sure if she were asked, she would say it was worth standing in line for 2 hours to meet him.

I kept thinking how if any part of the planned night had gone as planned, I would have missed this fun night with my girls. I LOVE how God works in our lives. Thanks to David Archuleta and his staff for staying the extra few minutes so my girls could have a wonderful experience! Even though the photo is blurry, you can see her smile!

What a great Christmas surprise it was!