The elves are coming! The elves are coming!

You guys, Sunday is December 1st, so you know what that means? It is the Elf on the Shelf time! Of course, if your children don’t have a clue what month or day it is (ahem, mine) you can start whenever. But I would like to be more organized around our elf, Jack, this time around so I am going to elf plan each day of the week starting on Sunday. I hate the feeling of shutting down the house at night only to remember you have to hide the &*^%# elf.

I figure I am not the only one with this issue, surely. I thought I would share my plans each Friday for the upcoming week to get you ready. Some will be creative ideas and some will be putting the elf in another lamp. Here is a printable calendar as well.

 Here is my Week One.
Sunday, December 1 – The elf arrives
I am going to have Alex put this on the front door then run around to the side of the house so Zach can open the door. The mail does not come on Sunday, who could have sent this package?

Elf arrival~!!!!! Cutest I've seen!

I found a skinny shoe box that I am going to stuff with tissue paper and cover with red wrapping paper. You can print out the North Pole cancellation postage and glue it to the paper as well.

Monday, December 2 – Snow Angel Elf

snow angel elf

Tuesday, December 3 – Breakfast from Jack
Elf sized pancakes..must remember for breakfast when our elf returns!!

Elf on a Shelf Ideas for ChristmasWednesday, December 4 – Elf under a glass
Thursday, December 5 – Elf on printer/scanner

Elf scans bum (at least that's what I would do!)
Friday, December 6 – Sleeping in Daddy’s socks
Elf on a Shelf - Using a sock as a sleeping bag
Don’t forget to “modify” your elf so he/she can bend and hang better. Life so Lovely has a great tutorial.

I am thankful for you

I have refrained all season from doing the “I am thankful for…” on Facebook but it is time. I want to take this day to say I am thankful for YOU my reader friends. And to show you my hand print turkey wreath. But really to say thank you. I love doing this blog, love to talk about my babies and myself and I love that other people care and can laugh along with me. We all know I don’t speak too seriously on the blog. There was that one rare time, but today I seriously want to say thank you for following our little family each week for the past five years. I am so lucky to have reader friends far and wide concerned about my well being and, more importantly, the well being of the small people I am in charge of. I adore you all.

Now for what you REALLY want to hear about; the hand print turkey wreath.

I had a vision. A vision of combining this wreath with this wreath to form a turkey wreath using the boys hand prints.
Turkey hand wreath.                             
I used most of the excellent instructions from the Baby Rabies site for wrapping the foam wreath core. I used brown fabric that I ripped to give it a frayed edge and covered the entire wreath core with it. Then I just laid out James and Zach’s cut out hand prints in a pattern and layering that I liked. Alex was highly, highly skeptical of this vision. Which is a fairly rational response to me painting and cutting styrofoam.

But I love it. It is either super cute or super tacky and I am still a bit on the fence about which one. But not so much that it stopped me from making another smaller one for my papa’s door.

I also decorated our mantle this year. While some might not think hot pink is a Thanksgiving color, those people would be incorrect.

I had an American Indian blanket my mom purchased years ago in my Thanksgiving box and it happens to have hot pink, navy and various browns in it. And I just so happened to have purchased hot pink sticky vinyl. It was clearly meant to be.

I printed out these darling “I am thankful for” tags from Jones Design Company, which is a beautiful blog I follow. She has a bunch free for printing but the light brown one was the perfect fit for our mantle. Like how I say “our” as if Alex had any input into this at all.

Zach has had fun picking one thing he is thankful for each day to put on the tags. I write the front (as if I can give up that control) and he signs his name on the back with the date. I plan to use this for a few years until it just gets crammed full of things we are thankful for. We have much, much to be thankful for.

Like this glitter turkey that I grabbed while running out of the Nutcracker market. And you. OK it is a toss up, I am not going to lie.

I can’t be sure what came over me and why I had to have this turkey, but I did and am thankful it made it home in one piece.

Strawberry Bread

A friend of Liv’s made Strawberry Bread recently and Zach lost his mind over it. The recipe is from a cookbook that Liv and her friend’s use all the time. I, of course, didn’t have frozen strawberries but I did have frozen raspberries and mango from back when I was going to make smoothies for breakfast. That does not sound the least bit like me in the morning.

So I subbed the fruit, and you guys, this bread is good. It is not healthy. At. All. But it is delicious and super easy to make. I made one small loaf and 18 muffins. I froze the muffins to take during Zach’s snack week. This was all that was left at the end of the first day.

Seriously, make this now. Whatever frozen fruit you have in your freezer would be great.

Strawberry Bread
From Wild about Texas

3 cups flour
4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tpsp cinnamon (I thought about omitting this but left it in and I liked it)
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
2 (10 oz) packages frozen strawberries, thawed

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs adding oil and strawberries. Pour liquid into well of dry ingredients and stir util mixed. Pour into two large loaf pans or four small loaf pans that have been greased and floured (or sprayed with Pam baking spray). Bake 45 minutes for loaf pans and 25 minutes for muffins.

Letter of the Week

Like all Pre-K classes, Zachary has a letter of the week each week that his class works on. Last year I tried to have him do a craft in the afternoons/evenings one day a week with the letter of the week and it was a disaster. He was not as into art as he is now and it was torture for both of us. So after C I scrapped it. And with my work schedule we were lucky to do his letter book (where we had to cut out photos of things that started with the letter) and find something for show and tell. We regularly forgot both of those.

But this year he is very into art and I thought I would try it again. I found this site that has printable pages with the letters at the top and also ideas for each letter.

Since we had done some last year I tried to think of new things and asked Zach what he wanted to do. They are pretty straight forward.
A is for Ant and Anthill

 B is for Banana

 C is for Car

D is for Dinosaur

E is for Electric Pole or “poll” as I wrote it that day. Can you even believe it? Alex has since corrected it on the paper and initialed his changes. 
F is for Feather
Wait, you weren’t expecting E for Electric pole? Yeah, me neither. I tried to encourage E for Eel with visions of me finding eels he could color and cut out but he insisted on creating an electric pole. So that was the result. Those are the electric lines leading to our house and his friend Logan’s house.
We still haven’t gotten much father but now we group them together and do as many as we can in one day. We have them on display in the back room of our house. It looks so lovely with the building blocks, UT football set and dozens of balls. 

This would not happen if I worked

I hit send on this post last week a bit too quickly and it got messed up by BlogLovin. Here it is again if you missed it and wondered why the hedge trimmers were in my kitchen.

I wrote a post when Zach was a baby and got bitten in the face by The Biter in his class and ended it with, “this would not happen if I stayed at home.” Well, today, Zach locked himself and his brother in his room and I had to use a set of pruning shears to get him out. This would totally not happen if I worked.

Mornings are not my thing. At all. I detest them and pretend they are not happening. I have a friend who told me recently she loved mornings. I began immediately doubting our friendship. Growing up I would get dressed in bed to stay in there as long as possible. I picked out my clothes the night before, not due to an issue of me taking too much time picking them, but to not have to spend any time selecting them in the morning.

My point? I am not at my mothering best – or anything best – in the morning.

But when I worked we had a routine. The boys would get up and start eating breakfast and I would get in the shower. About the time my makeup was done they would be done. So they would entertain themselves or Alex would play with them for 20-30 minutes while I finished getting ready and got the dog fed/lunches packed up/car loaded. We would be out the door around 8ish. On a good day.

Now, we don’t have to  leave the house until 8:45. Glorious sort of, but they still get up at the same time. So they now have an hour, at least, of “free time” in the morning. The more time to get in trouble.

On the morning in question, I had decided to shower (it had been too long and my hair was semi-permanently in a french braid). As I am doing my quick mommy makeup Zach walks in with a toy from James’ closet. James’ closet is really both their closet’s and where I keep extra Christmas/Birthday toys to dole out to Zach throughout the year. It has a child lock on it because I don’t want them going in it. Obviously.

So I tell him, no, he can’t have that toy and that I have told him repeatedly to NOT go in the closet. I take the toy, shoo him away and re-lock the closet.

Next thing I know I hear muffled cries of “Mommy! Mommy help!”. I go to look and Zach has taken the child lock off the closet and locked he and James into his room.

His room used to be a study so he has two doors that open, hence him being able to use the locks. You can see what I mean in this picture of his very festive Halloween doors.

I was livid. And slightly panicky.

But since he was locked in it gave me a chance to calm down and decide what to do.

I told him that he got it off one time, to try and do it again. I needed to go put some clothes on that are not a robe.

He tried to start to cry but I calmly told him to suck it up and remain calm. I had to go put clothes on.

It soon becomes clear he is not going to be able to do it again as he has James helping. James is not a help to anyone.

I consider the option of removing the door handles (won’t work, the screw holes are to the inside where he is) and taking the door off completely. But then I wondered if the doors would open enough to fit our small pruning sheers in there.

Yep. Worked like a charm.

The boys were free and Zach was in trouble…..

I told him he was something called “grounded” and was grounded from watching TV all day. That really made him start to cry.

This would not happen if I was at work.

The real reason to have boys: Mums

I am not even going to waste everyone’s time adding the “I love my boys.” part because you all know that I do. And more importantly (no offense), they know that I do. I tell them 52 times a day and kiss their faces off. Plus I am now their personal chauffeur in addition to being their cheerleader, waitress and nurse. So let’s all just dispense with the need for me (or anyone) to say “I love my kids, but…”, and focus on the only real thing that makes having boys vs. girls exciting – Homecoming Mums.

I saw an excerpt from Debra Duncan this morning and she had a lady from Micheal’s, aka my mothership, talking about their mum selection and I remembered! In 12 years I, Kinsey Wall, will get to make a mum for Zach’s date to Homecoming. I am already getting the glue gun ready.

Should I pause and ask if some of you are wondering what exactly I am talking about? Are you not from the south? Did you not have to have your giant mum pinned to your bra? I am confused….

So in small towns in Texas for Homecoming the boys (aka their moms) give their dates giant fake mums decorated with ribbons, teddy bears, other flowers, plastic shapes footballs, dancers, etc.. Now some girls wear them to school – I hope Kaitlyn doesn’t do that. She will sound like a cow coming down the hallway with all the little cowbell’s dangling. Plus she can’t wear a backpack (you know for all her AP homework) and she will want to save the big mum reveal for the football game. Obviously.

Typically, everyone goes to the football game and wears their mum, then you go to the homecoming dance also wearing the mum. It is a thing. A slightly trashy thing, but a thing none the less.

I asked my dad to dig up my Homecoming photos to show everyone what I am talking about.

That was my boyfriend Senior Year of high school and his mom made the mum. And I loved it. I saved it – for years. I think I finally threw it away after college. Yes, you read that right, after college. She just put so much time into it, and totally got me and my 16 year old self.

I know I will be that mom. She too, only had boys, and she too, obviously knew how to work a glue gun. I am so excited to head to Michael’s to buy the biggest mum grouping I can find and all the ribbons and crap to glue to it. So. Excited.

There could a slight hitch in my plan. My friend Hillary (mother of Zach’s favorite baby) said that she did not recall having mums in high school and she went to the same high school the boys will attend. I am basically refusing to hear that. If I have to force Zach or James to be in the FAA to get a mum out of them I will do it.

I have lost Barbies, American Girls and ballet recitals; that is clearly the least they could do.

As an aside, the lady on Debra Duncan mentioned that there is a “homecoming expert” in each Michael’s and you guys, I think I have found the reason I left my job. I wonder what the qualifications for that job are and if the one near me has that position filled….

One of these things is not like the other, sort of

When you have somehow given birth to twins, separated by two and a half years, people want to know – do they have the same personalities? The quick answer is: no.

As a great first example is I had to really search my archives to find a photo of Zach not smiling. He was always smiling. Even when he was making my life miserable, like his brother does now, he had the best disposition. On the other hand you have James. He is a super happy guy, but as we all know, is not impressed with much. OK with anything. I have to search for a photo of him where he is smiling. He does not give it up as easily as his brother.

James is much more stubborn and screamy but, is also much more affectionate and huggy. Zach has always been my kid who would prefer to high five vs. hug. Even as a baby he wanted nothing to do with rocking/cuddling. You had to just put him down in his crib and walk away. Any attempts to sooth him would only anger him. But James loves to rock, he would routinely sleep on me when he was an infant and to this day still turns on his side and tucks his head under my chin when we are rocking before bed. He loves to kiss (“kip”) his dad before he leaves for work and insists on hugging everyone before bed – Norman included. I know, this doesn’t really fit his unimpressed persona.

Another big difference is the running factor. James loves to run. He runs over walking any day and kicks balls over not kicking anything. Every morning he wants to play “football” which means we run through the house while he holds a football and Alex, Zach or I chase him and pretend to “tackle down”. Zach is not and has  never been a runner. I loved that about him as a toddler and especially now that I have a runner. I never worry about him running off in the street or shopping malls. He always preferred to be in the stroller than walking when he was little, and James is that way a bit as well. I am certain James’ affinity for running comes from wanting to keep up with his brother, but it is so, so different than I am used to. 

But man do they look alike.

Especially when I make them match.