Valentine Teacher Gifts

So I have been consulting with my very own teacher (my sister) on what teachers would like for the holidays. One thing she suggested is office supplies. Snooze to some of you, I know. But for elementary school teachers and up, that is what they really need. So I started searching for cute (naturally) school supply gifts.

I saw these cute ribbon topped paper clips and wanted to make them immediately.

I ran the saying by my sister and once she approved, I made it happen.


Simple, sweet and not too cutesy. I like that it is something small and non-food. Even Zach approved! Which is good as his teacher will be getting these.IMG_6986-001

Can you even believe how toned down I am? This was only a three step process which is VERY unlike me.

Back in the saddle

I think we all remember last year when I was disappointed with myself with Zach’s valentines. They were really not up to my standards and I could not let that happen again.

So when I spotted these eye rings, I knew they were perfect and just what I was going to do.


I used my Silhouette machine to create the sunglasses and cut them out. However, I am having trouble with the machine and had to cut most of them by hand. I can’t even talk about it. What will I do if that machine breaks?? Cry? Pass out? Don’t even talk to me about it.

I obviously didn’t even ask Zach if he liked it. That is such a benefit of raising a mini-Alex; I know he does not care. But he did really like the idea once I showed him these completed ones. He then asked if he could help me with the rest. Bless. I don’t think other children have to ask to help their mom with their valentines…I think it is the other way around.


Don’t worry, I said of course he could help. We sorted them into colors for the boys and girls and he wanted to use black string for the boys and red for the girls. I am thinking it will be good bow tying practice since I need him to learn to tie his shoes like yesterday.

I included a pdf in case anyone would like to use the tags. Just click here to download it.

Halloween with a Power Ranger and Ninja Turtle

Zach and James were pretty set on their Halloween costumes this year. James insisted on being the red power ranger and Zach wanted to be the red ninja turtle. I didn’t post the photos on Facebook because I started drinking and forgot to take photos of my children. Luckily I have a new friend who saved me. These are her twins in the photo as a Texan and a Skylander.

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We hit two Halloween parties (because we like to challenge ourselves) which only served to pump the boys up even more for the trick or treating. At the second one we tried to force a piece of pizza in their faces, but I think I was the only one who ate. As soon as it was dusk, it was on.

You guys, it was all Lord of the Flies in our ‘hood.  Zach, the twins and some other boys were sprinting house to house up and down the street. People were everywhere and some streets were closed to cars. Parents were pulling wagons for little kids or coolers, or both in our case. We kept running into kids from both the boys schools and other random friends. It was like one long block party.

I legitimately lost Zach for about 10 minutes. Lost. No clue where he was. We were on my street, but a block down. We all know that I am not a hoverer, but even I was getting slightly concerned. Luckily he was still with the gang of boys. They had stopped for a candy break in an open lawn. I am sure the neighbors were thrilled.

Halloween 2014_6

James and the twin’s little sister were slower on the take. James kept falling down in his costume (I don’t think he could see) then rolling around the yards just for fun. Finally he got the idea and he too started running house to house. I put Alex on him as clearly I am not fit to be in charge in the dark.

Halloween 2014_7

When we decided to head back home, we ran into one of Zach’s classmates and his dad. We convinced him (with an alcoholic beverage) to trick or treat down to our house. The boys were so cute handing out candy, including some from their own bags. They sat out on the front stairs and forced everyone walking by to take some.

I can safely say this was the best Halloween so far. Everyone could basically do it on their own, the weather was perfectly cool and they could make it staying up so late. Except I do miss the angry parrot from three years ago…

Goal for next year – arm Zach with something to call me with when I lose him. Good thing he knows my number.

Everyone needs a monogrammed pumpkin

And some greenery to nestle it in. Clearly.


Last year around this time I was gifted with the cutting machine that would change my life. I know I am prone to exaggeration, but not this time. When my friend Courtney asked if I wanted her Silhouette machine I had no idea how much I would love it or use it. As in, I use it all the time.

Since she would not let me pay her for it, I made her a monogrammed pumpkin. How else would one say “thank you”?

Then, I made myself a little one to go next to my purple skeleton head and glass jar of more mini-pumpkins on the mantle. Alex just pretended like his life was not happening. But it is, ALEX. You have a purple glass skeleton head on your mantle.


This year, I made one for my sister as you know I don’t like for her to be left out/she needs more decorations.


And for my friend Maria. She is part of the Blue Pumpkin Project, which raises awareness of kids with food allergies. I love how the pumpkins look together!

If you don’t have a monogrammed pumpkin, now is the time to get one. The fake pumpkins are on sale at every craft store and the vinyl letters are so inexpensive on Etsy.

Why does someone always end up shirtless?

Seriously, it is Easter, James.

Easter. Where is your shirt??

Well, anyway, Easter was fun this year. I think I got more excited than the boys about hunting for eggs and might have set my alarm for a tad early. Did you know it is still dark at 6:00 am? Me neither. Well it is, so I just laid there until 6:30 when I could sneak out and hide the eggs. Where was Alex you ask? Passed out like a drunk person (he was not) next to me. He said he would get up, but him being “quiet” is like a moose being quiet and I was not ready to explain why I was carrying a bag full of eggs to Zachary. Wayyyyy too many questions.

When they did wake up they immediately took out the inflatable punching gloves the Easter bunny brought them.

They also received the finest toys Walgreens had to offer. A dino water gun, an Easter skateboard key chain and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that lights up. Oh and some minion eggs the Easter bunny forgot to do and didn’t finish until midnight before Easter. That bunny really needs to work on time management.

Oh, sweet matching shirts with monograms….hidden by giant punching gloves and mohawks. Can you hear my sighing all the way over there?

 Later that morning the Sonderfan/Gallun’s came over for our annual Easter brunch. I love this tradition we started. We all bring food and the kids just play and play, which we means we can chat and chat.

I, of course, tried to get crafty and made cupcakes with green frosting, like my mom used to. I put out all sorts of toppings and let the kids decorate. All was fine, if messy, until Harper put a gum egg in her mouth. This is a photo of her doing just that.

She is so, so proud of herself.

Until Jennifer had to go digging it out making her very angry at Jennifer’s choices.

The morning culminated with the annual smash-the-confetti-eggs-on-Grandpa Bruce’s head. As the boys are getting bigger this tradition is getting a tad more rough. But still amusing.

Quiet a difference from two years ago

Masking Tape Eggs – 2014

Last year I wrote the below post about masking tape eggs. Well, we tried them again this year and it worked so much better. Zach loved it and made, not only eggs, but letters as well. I wanted to re-post with the instructions in case anyone wanted to give it another go. With older children. Which I recommend.
PS look how tinyfat James was!
One of the things I miss the most about working part time is the extra time I had in the afternoons. I could go to the grocery store, the craft store, get dinner made or spend a extra time with my children. Which was technically the point. 
So now that it is light later I decided to do a quick art project with the boys after they were already in their pajamas. I saw this wet chalk craft and knew I had to do it. Partly because my boys love anything with water and also because I love peeling away tape and seeing a crisp white line. Normal.
I cut quick egg shapes out of card stock and taped them to their table. They loved wetting down the chalk. I believe the instructions said to just dip the top in but both boys preferred a full chalk dunking – you can see various pieces of chalk being submerged in this photo.

 Look how serious that baby is! And how he is not screaming at me! It was glorious.

Such fat, fat fingers. The better for pinching your legs when you do not do as he says.

Once the eggs had dried I peeled off the tape and voila! Zach’s is on the right and James’ is on the left. Isn’t my baby advanced? Doesn’t it look like a 35 year old woman who could not stand to not have it filled in, did it? I know; we are advanced applying to Harvard.

Spring Break tried to kill me

I do not know how you people do this. And by “you people” I mean people who spend an entire week with their children, voluntarily. Every other spring break I have had the luxury of daycare still being in session. So, I would take a few days off, pretend I was a stay at home mom, then send them back to school.

Then came this year. Spring Break was three weeks ago and just now can I bring myself to think about it.

By Friday I could not even look at my children. When Alex left for work that morning I asked when he would be home and when he replied “normal time” (which is stupid as he does not have a normal time), I might have shrieked at him “IT HAS BEEN A VERY LONG WEEK!!!”. He then ran down the sidewalk to his car. I can’t imagine why.

Oh the week started with the best of intentions. We went to Galveston, had a great time but were a bit sick of each other by Sunday. Please recognize that as foreshadowing.

I had signed Zach up for three half day camps Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and planned to leave James with a babysitter on Friday to spend some time with just him. I really thought I had this all under control. You know how I do.

Let me break down where it all went wrong…..

Monday – We had to go to the Rodeo. And I mean HAD to go. KK made me purchase half price carnival tickets from Uncle Chris (whom I still have not paid back, whoops) so I had 150 carnival tickets to burn. On the first day of spring break. Do you feel the anxiety in your belly too?

Well, turns out it was actually a perfect day. The weather started off bad which scared people off so no one was there. We didn’t wait for any ride, spent all our tickets and came home with about five stuffed salamanders.

First stop was to get Zach a new cowboy hat. James has taken over his old one, as it was too tight for that big Wall head.

I heart this picture so much. That is the smile I am always trying to get out of him.

The boys rode the ponies.

Saw some baby chicks being born,

And rode mini-tractors and mopeds.

We came home and our baby sitter came early so Alex and I could go to dinner.

Monday = excellent.

Tuesday, Zach had his first day of gymnastics camp so we dropped him off, along with his friend Charley. Ashley, Annie, James and I headed to the Y to exercise. We got our cars washed and ate a Carraba’s, then scooped up the big kids and headed home for naps.

I got a bit cocky after Tuesday, I admit it. Two days in and we were having a great time!

Wednesday ruined the entire week. Zach went back to gymnastics camp (which was awesome, PS and he loved it) and James and I hit the grocery, had lunch, then picked up Zach. As mentioned, I got cocky and thought we could, for sure, go downtown to meet Alex for lunch at 12:30, still getting James home in time to nap AND for Zach’s friend to come over at 2:30. I was so, so wrong.

Alex was in a meeting, that claimed he could not get out of, so he was running late. By the time we got home it was 2:00 and I had 30 minutes to try to straighten the house, make Zach rest his body a bit and put James down.

Disaster. James could hear all the commotion when the friend came over and refused to sleep. I didn’t even fight him on it. Zach’s friend from school had not done anything that day so he was wound up and ready to run while my child had been running since 9am and was done. It was our worst play date by far. So many tears. We finally took them all up to a local frozen yogurt place just to see if a change of scenery would be helpful. It was, a little.

I was now terrified. I had two more days plus the weekend with these children and I clearly did not know what I was doing.

Thursday, Zach was at Art Mix until noon, so Ashley, Annie, James and I recreated Tuesday and went to the Y. We decided to pick up the big kids and take them to Toyokohana, which is like Benihana. That was a hit. James would eat rice for every meal, and Zach liked watching them cook his chicken right in front of him.

Look how beat down I look. Terrible.

We met friends at the park after nap and that night we celebrated with chocolate ice cream, Oreos and chocolate sauce.

Only one more day!!

Oh, but the last day was Friday and Ashley and I had big plans. We had a babysitter to watch the little ones so we could take Zach and Charley roller skating. There is a skating rink in West Houston that does a Toddler Skate every Friday from 10-12 for 5 and under kids. You can bring scooters and ride on toys. Zach received skates from Santa and was super excited to try them out.

You guys, this skating rink has clearly not changed since the 70’s. It looked just like Spinning Wheels where I spent every Friday night of my 5th grade year.

The actual roller skating did not go over well. Though you would not know Charley had been crying and clutching at Ashley prior to turning on the smile in this photo.

Ugh, girls. No talk of poop or penises and they know how to smile.

Anyway, both kids gave skating a valiant effort, but ended up speeding around the rink on the scooters I brought with us.

He is only smiling because I whispered “poop sandwiches” in his ear and I am only smiling because my week is almost over.

We ended the week with ice cream at a local place near Ashley’s house where the kids ate inside (“It is too bright!”) and we stayed outside. Good luck to you ice cream shop employee.

Can you spot where I went so wrong? Was it the gazillion activities I crammed into basically four hours a day? Bingo.

I am still learning and that was a very painful lesson. I will know better next time. Don’t try to do anything with me, I will not be available.

The school was trying to make me sweat

For some reason the boy’s school does Teacher Appreciation Week the same week as Valentine’s day. I think it is on purpose to make the room moms regret they volunteered for this position. And, you all know I love teacher appreciation week. I have an entire Pinterest board for it. I love making things for people (Love Language = gifts) and especially for the teachers. But man, that love was tested back in February.

I had to really plan it out this year to get everything done and even though it was ridiculously overwhelming (moderately self-brought on) I loved it. I thought these could be good ideas for end of the year gifts, or if you have an appreciation week coming up.

I copied the theme from the last time I was room mom, in the Honeybees class and started with a poster with all the kids names on it. The class name is Hummingbird, to state the obvious. I came up with the slogan myself (Sloan totally guilted me into NOT just stealing one from Pinterest) and used my cutting tool to make it happen.

Zach insisted on helping with the hummingbirds which gave me a large case of crafting anxiety, but I pushed it down. I ended up letting him put glue on them and picking which side they flew towards the feeder from. And told him they needed to alternate colors (yellow and green). I am a gem.

Tuesday, they received a plant with a tag from the entire class (James’ teachers got this for their gift)

Wednesday was hand sanitizer and I loved this one. So cute and useful.

Thursday was the countdown calendar, printed and put into an inexpensive 5×7 frame. All they have to do is wipe it off and countdown to anything. I hear they are counting down to Spring Break currently.

And Friday was a gift card in a funny card. You all know my feeling on using the majority of the money for gift cards and this was no exception. The one on top is my favorite.

It says, “I looked for teacher appreciation ideas on Pinterest, so I got out the Mod Podge, the Circut machine and thirty-two shades of glitter. Then I decided a gift card is better.”

So, so me, no? But as if I own 32 shades of glitter….only 32 shades of sequins. That is not funny.

The teachers said they felt so appreciated and the kids had fun giving them to them each day. The kids also like to look at the Hummingbirds with their names on them. Next time I am going to figure out how to make my handwriting better.

 That is really the main thing missing in my craft arsenal.

Look what still fits and is still not a rainbow

I was cooking dinner when I hear, “Mommy look at me” and turned around to see this.
I have James’ closet locked for just such a reason. His closet is huge and is where I store all their old costumes, toys I have not brought out yet and baby items. You might remember this from Zach’s first Halloween when he was 10 months old.

And the whole caterpillar vs. rainbow debate. The exact reason James did not wear it his first Halloween.

Yes, that is a 6-12 month baby costume. And was the cutest caterpillar ever.

He is 5. And still not a rainbow. He thought it was a flower costume. That is not much better Zachary.

10 Steps to Crafting Happiness

As I mentioned in this post, my Valentine’s for the teachers this year was a minimum of 10 steps. Which is clearly what I prefer.

But this was not my vision. This one was my vision. However, my vision crashed and burned at 9:30 a.m. the day before Valentine’s day.

Let me break down the steps for you.
1. Find a printable online and immediately scale them and print them out, disregarding the time or the fact it is a week before V day.
2. Research a variety of s’mores mix on Pinterest. Scoff at most of them except this one.
3. Realize you have a delicious s’mores cookie recipe and wonder if those fit into the jars?
4. Decide they in fact can fit if you make them small enough and whip up two batches to freeze until you are ready to bake.
5. Order handled mason jars on Amazon and get very annoyed they will not arrive until the 12th. And yes, you need 12 because, of course you do.
6. Realize they don’t come with lids (WHAT??) and that you have to drag your two year old to Target the day before Valentine’s day in search of lids.
7. Find lids and $100 worth of stuff you didn’t have on your list and arrive home to find that not only did you just buy the lids, not the sealers, but they are the wrong size.
8. Have a pity party for yourself because you have real problems. Debate dragging both children back to Target after nap time, then realize that is ridiculous since you have perfectly good bags ready to be used. Feel very proud of yourself for letting go of the original vision.
9. Put cookies in bags, tie a bow in the baker’s twine (tell yourself it is totally fine that you only have red; no one will notice that you should have used pink) and staple it all to the bag.
10. Clip the tag on with the teeny tiny clothes pins you have been hoarding for years and try not die at the cuteness.

I would like to point out that while I used these for Valentine’s day they don’t actually say Happy Valentine’s Day so you could use them for any teacher gift, at any time. Just make sure you have time to complete the steps.

Also, the blogger made some that just say “There is no one I love S’more than you” to be used for anyone, anytime! That is what I used for the director at the boy’s school. .

But do buy some pink bakers twine when you make these. You will not regret it and I will need to borrow it immediately.