15 Simple Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Our Elf on the Shelf,  Gum Drop, is such a hit in my home. Every morning Neacel comes running down the stairs reminding me that we have to find Gum Drop. Moods have been better, listening has been amazing, and I will be extremely sad to see him leave. One thing I do is move him around the area the kids found him that morning...he might be found hanging on a picture, a couple of hrs later when kids are playing upstairs, I move him to the lamp. It helps that my oldest thinks he is moving around when we aren't looking. Neacel no longer thinks he is fake...thank goodness for the movie Toy Story! I will admit, when 11pm rolls around and I haven't thought about what Gum Drop will do that night I want to throw a fit. It's late and I'm tired, I don't want to think of something clever at that point. Gum Drop showed up on the 1st of Dec during naps and has been a family friend since and I have been able to come up with some fun thing for him to do. Here is a little list of 15 simple ideas that we have done, or that I plan on doing:

1. Make North Pole brownies (add Christmas sprinkles) and egg nog to drink. It's Christmas time you know you can make some brownies quickly.

2. Have him write the kids a note. I did this after a horrible day. The note explained that Santa was sad and because they were naughty that they needed to do something nice for 2 people in order to get on the Nice list again. My oldest is coloring pictures for a friend and his Sunday school teacher...plus some cookies for them too. He has even talked about doing something nice for everyone he knows (YES! This mom is proud of that!)

3. Dye milk green. North Pole Elf Milk, of course its from North Pole cows

4. Hide him in the Christmas shelf display. I have a ton of Christmas things on a shelf, we just hid him and told the boys he is probably playing hide n seek

5. Draw on pictures with a dye erase marker.

6. Cut out snowflakes and hang them around the living room, or you can use extra Christmas tree ornaments.

7. Wrap pictures for Christmas. Glad the elf will do this and not me....sigh.

8. Snowball fight with action guys and barbies (mini marshmallows)

9. Bring special cups from the North Pole (.87 at Walmart, Christmas cups) fill with hot cocoa packets and marshmallows.

10. Snow Angel in powdered sugar

11. TP the Christmas tree (I can't wait for this one)

12. Red party streamers in front of their bedroom doors so they have to break through (Do on Christmas morning)

13. Roast marshmallows over a candle. (Obviously, roast when kids are sleeping keep on tooth pick and blow out candle. We don't want a fire!)

14. Red lipstick on noses while sleeping....you have been Rudolphed! Every participates, even you and husbands!

15. Empty ice cream container in the freezer, while the elf is sitting next to it with a spoon. Elves love ice cream!

These are simple oops I forgot ideas of mine. If you want to see what else I come up with follow me on instagram: MandyBurt86. I post my Gum Drop elf ideas everyday.
I love what Gum Drop has done to my kids so far and we still have about 2 weeks left with him. I think I need to come up with something for the rest of the year, maybe an angel?

Kids Drawing Key Chain

Your child's drawing on key chain for DAD.
via Formia Design by Mia Van Beek

I came across this on pinterest, and had to share it with everyone. Who wouldn't want a kids drawing on a key chain? It's the perfect gift for any family member. I know I would love for my husband to get one of these done. What a perfect way to keep a loved drawing with you for years. That first drawing that they are beyond excited to show you. The first one that they spent so much time on, just perfecting every little feature. If you get the drawing on a key chain, it can't get ruined like that paper that it was originally on. Now I'm all for original being best, but if the original was ruined, I would be heartbroken. So if you haven't found a Christmas present for your hubby, wife or grandparents, hurry and have your kiddo draw a picture and get this key chain ordered before it's too late!

eDiaperCakes.com Gift Card Giveaway!

I was thrilled to be contacted about doing a giveaway. eDiaperCakes.com is offering 2 of you $25 gift cards! How awesome is that? eDiaperCakes.com is a mom-owned business that started in April of 2012.They sell a variety of diaper cakes that are designed with children’s books, stuff animals and baby products. All their diaper cakes are assembled by hand and they use brand name products to embellish them.

Here are my personal favorites:

Giveaway will run for 1 week and is for US residents only! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best Carrot Cake Ever!

Came across this gem on pinterest. Look at the picture, who wouldn't want to slave away in the kitchen to make this dreamy cake? Believe me, I let the kids go a little more crazy then usual just to make this cake. It does not disappoint. Thanks Cooking the Amazing
via Cooking the Amazing

2 c   All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 c   Sugar
1/4 c   Brown Sugar, packed (dark or light)
1  1/2 t   Baking Soda
1 t   Baking Powder
1 t  Salt
4 t  Cinnamon
1/4 t  Nutmeg
1/8 t  Ground Cloves 
1/4 t  Ground Ginger
2 c  Finely Grated Peeled Carrot, packed
1 c  Coconut Flakes, sweetened
1 c  Raisins (Optional)
1 can 8 oz  Crushed Pineapple, drained
       (reserve 1 T of drained Pineapple juice)
1 1/2 c  Walnuts or Pecans, chopped small pieces
1 c  Vegetable Oil
2 t  Vanilla Extract
1 T  Finely Grated Fresh Orange Zest 
3  Eggs, extra large
Pam non stick Cooking Spray

Total Prep and cooking time approx. 1 1/4 hr.
Total Cooling and Icing time approx. 2 1/2 hrs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by spraying with Vegetable non-stick spray (like Pam Spray) and line with a parchment paper round on the bottom then spray the top of the parchment.  Or spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with Vegetable non stick spray (like Pam Spray) or use 20 jumbo Cupcake liners in a Muffin tin without using Pam spray.
  3. In a large bowl whisk well:  Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, all Spices.
  4. Peel then Grate approx 5-6 medium Carrots to yield 2 cups packed.  Grate Carrots finely to no more than 1/4 inch pieces.  Or process in a food processor until finely grated but not mush.  It isimportant that you peel the Carrots before grating.  You do not want the tough skins in your cake.
  5. In a medium bowl or KitchenAid bowl add Carrots, Grated Fresh Orange Peel, Drained Pineapple, Raisins (optional), Coconut Flakes, Walnuts or Pecans and mix well with a big spoon.
  6. To this mixture add the Vegetable Oil, Vanilla Extract and Eggs one at a time mixing in well then add 1 T of the reserved Pineapple juice and mix well.  Scrape down bowl often.
  7. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid for  about 1 minute until well mixed.  Do not over mix.
  8. Pour divided into prepared (as above) 9 inch cake pans, or 9 X 13 pan, or approximately 20 Cupcake liners filled 3/4 full or a 9 X 13 baking sheet sprayed with Pam but no parchment paper needed. 
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins for Cupcakes,  35-40 minutes for 9 inch layer cakes and 45-50 mins for 9 X 13 in the center of the oven.  Half way through cooking rotate the pans for even cooking.  A toothpick will come out clean when done.  All ovens vary in timing so check at lowest time first and if not done put back in oven and recheck in 2- 3 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool completely in pan for 1-2 hrs. before removing to ice with Cream Cheese Icing.  Recipe below.  Place 1/4 of icing between the two layers and when placing the top cake layer on, put the flat side of the cake (the bottom when it was in the cake pan) facing up for a flat top which makes a more attractive cake and easier to ice.

    And to top it off here is the amazing Cream Cheese Frosting!

    2 sticks Butter, unsalted, softened
    16 oz. Cream Cheese, softened (2 bars)
    3 c Powdered Sugar
    4 t Vanilla Extract
    1/4 t Almond Extract
    1 small pinch Salt (very small pinch)

    Total Prep Time: 7 minutes (except time to soften butter and cream cheese.)
    1. Allow Butter and Cream Cheese to sit out until at room temperature and softened.
    2. In a large bowl, place the softened Butter.
    3. Cream the Butter with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Then add the Cream Cheese and cream for 2 minutes or so more until well mixed.
    4. 1 cup at a time, add the Powdered Sugar and blend well.
    5. Add Salt, Vanilla and Almond Extracts and mix well.  Taste and add more Powdered Sugar to be mnore sweet or more Cream Cheese to suit your taste.
    6. Keep Cream Cheese Icing at room temperature for the best consistency to ice Cakes.
    7. Refrigerate unused icing. To use again, bring to room temperature then mix with a hand mixer for about 1 minute before using.
    8. OPTION: For those that like a very strong Cream Cheese taste add another 4 oz. of Cream Cheese for a more intense flavor.

Opinions Wanted

Students Criticize Michelle Obama's School Lunch Regulations.

The other night I was talking to my husband and he was telling me about one of the kids he visits. We were talking about food in schools. This kid who will be named "Fred" and is a football player was saying that his school watches his calories now. Before for school breakfast he got a pint of milk, a pop tart and oatmeal. Not the healthiest but was food that he ate. Now that schools had changed their food he gets less then a pint of milk and a granola bar, and spends the day starving. People, I eat more then that, and I'm on a diet! Lunch is just as bad, Fred was saying that before kids would eat what they wanted, now its fruits, veggies and a main course but very very small portions. Many kids trash their food because they don't like it. Meaning, many kids go hungry throughout the school day because they don't have options at lunch, and the ones they do have, aren't ones that they like. Schools even got rid of salad bars! My husband remembers having one, I remember having one but according to Fred, schools aren't allowed to have them any more. Fred, as mentioned before is a football player. He needs calories... apparently, he is in a computer system that counts his daily intake. Poor Fred can't even have a small cookie at lunch because his food intake is watched so much at school. I think its with the school, but don't quote me on it. His parents also watch what he eats, because according to the system, our healthy, very active friend Fred, is obese! WHAT? According to my husband, Fred is a smaller guy, tall and very thin. It broke my heart to hear that his calories are being counted and that his food at school isn't enough. Food is needed to make the body function correctly, right? So why are schools controlling what children eat to this point? Sure we want our children healthy but I want them to have options to pick from that they like instead of starving. My opinion is that sure, they are thin and healthy now, but don't you think this will backfire? That as soon as kids are out of school and intake for a meal or 2 isn't controlled that they are going to binge on everything they haven't had before. Then we are really going to be dealing with obese people.

So I want your opinion on this situation. Do you agree that schools should continue controlling meals, or that kids should have more options? I understand Michelle Obama wants healthier lunches for kids, and that children won't always pick healthier options, but am I the only one who would rather my kids eat something unhealthy, then to throw away their lunch because they don't like it? I want healthy kids just like any mom, but I want them to learn to eat healthy, not be forced to eat healthy.

My Favorite Beauty Blog

 via maskcara.com
Raise your hand if you barely wear makeup? Raise your hand if your like me, and stick to simple because you are absolutely clueless on what your doing? Well, thanks to the wonderful world of pinterest, I have found my new favorite beauty blogger. Cara runs Maskcara and is amazing at what she does, she is confident, beautiful, honest and down to earth. Not to mention she is a mom too, so she knows how it is to try and look your best with a little one running around. I spent nap time one day reading and taking everything in. I learned so much and since then have tried a few new things. Not to mention found my new favorite eye liner and mascara thanks to her.

Here are a few of the must see posts of hers:
Mommy Makeup
Getting Started with Makeup
Twirl Curls (which I need to buy a curling iron to try)
Clad in Mom Clothing

Of course, there is months and months worth of good beauty information. You would need hours to read it all. Let's be honest though, what mom has hours to sit and read? Those are my personal favorite starter posts. She also will copy looks of celebrities and tell you how to do it and what makeup she used. Amazing isn't it? If there is a certain look you want to see, you can email her and might get lucky enough that she will try it. Here is a link to all her contact info: instagram, facebook, youtube etc. You know your interested and can't wait to go buy some new makeup to try things out.

Pardon the dust

This week I will be making some changes to the blog. New look and a new name. I'm doing this all on my own so things could get messy around here. I still will have at least one post a day, so make sure you come back and read all the good stuff. 
If anyone has any experience with doing all this, I can use all the advice and tips you can give! Just email me at: raisingdudes@yahoo.com

Now to decide what background I want!

Life With 3 Kids....

I heard it all before I had our little girl, "Three kids is a nightmare" "You will never want to have another" "you thought two was tough? Three will have you crying." Well, we are 2 months into having three kids and both hubby and I have said that three isn't as bad as people made it out to be. Yes, my house looks like Katrina came through here, and maybe a tornado in the middle of the night. Sure, my hair is always in a pony tail and I have little to no makeup on and my kids are in comfy clothes (aka clean pj's) but I haven't pulled any hair out yet. I do have more gray but that's ok, that's what blonde highlights are for! Neacel and Brody adore their sister, and even when they are being rough with each other, they watch out for her. The only thing that has been tough has been all the crazy adjustments. A week after I had her, Neacel started soccer, a week after that, hubby started his internship, the following week Neacel started preschool and then each week it seems hubby gets more clients. Of course, its great but there is no consistency and that's what makes it tough in the beginning  I love my kids, I love their smiles and giggles but running here and there, and trying to manage a house is a lot. I just started with keeping my kids, alive, fed and happy. You can't ask for much more right? Now I'm adding the house, actually I'm procrastinating with all I need to do today. Perfect time to start blogging again huh? When my house is begging me to clean it.

A little about our newest addition. Macey Reese was born on August 8th at 1:38pm. She was 7lbs 10oz and 21 inches long. She has dark hair and her eyes are going to to blue. I can tell only because they are identical to big brother Neacel's eyes when he was a baby. Praying she gets his bright blue eyes. She is such a calm baby. So different from my boys. She always wears a headband, and yes at 5 days I painted her toenails hot pink and paint her toenails often. Don't judge! After 2 boys, I couldn't resist. She is sleeping around 5 hr chunks at night, which is the biggest blessing of them all. She loves the colors pink and purple, her favorite food is milk and she loves smiling and sleeping. What more could I ask for? I am so wrapped around her little finger, there is something special about the bond between a mom and her daughter. Even the boys are in love with her. Brody is always giving her kisses, and Neacel is always talking about how much he loves her and how adorable she is. They are amazing big brothers, and I pray that all 3 of them always have the love for each other that they have now.

These newborn pictures were taken when she was only a week old by a good friend. She also did the top picture of the kids all together. Amazing aren't they? Rachael Cook Photography does amazing work, so if you are in the Akron area or willing to travel then have her do some pictures for you. I couldn't be happier with all my pictures. Tough part is, I have no idea which ones to print and put up around the house.

Liam's Loft

You know how you see a million cute things across the internet but when you see the price you keep wishing it was cheaper? Well, thanks to Liam's Loft, you can now get those really cute boutique inspired items for almost nothing! They have things for us moms and the kids. I love that they don't leave the boys out and have adorable stuff for them too. Every day (Mon-Fri) at 7am MST they post a new deal. It's a one day deal, so if you love it, grab it. Today they have a beautiful statement necklace for 60% off the original price. STEAL!!! I usually just tag my hubby in the picture of the deal for the day and tell him I want it for Christmas :-) You should also follow them on facebook and pinterest, just to make sure you don't miss a single thing. Also, the Friday deal usually runs through the weekend, but who wants to risk them running out? Grab it on Friday!

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

I know I haven't been around at all, with pregnancy, a new baby, preschool started and everything else, I couldn't manage my time very well. Good news, I am back and ready to roll. This blog will still be about raising dudes, but I'm adding girls, and just being a stay at home mom. I will post amazing deals I find, and anything and everything I love. I'm considering changing the name, so if you have any ideas let me know, but I will let you all know of any major changes.

I'm starting my come back with a recipe. Simple, easy and something everyone will love. I came across a recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes on pinterest and couldn't resist! Sounds amazing doesn't it? I can confirm that they are just as delish as they sound. We had them for dinner last night and no one complained. Instead of rolls or buns, I made them on a slice of bread to cut back on calories and carbs.

via A Taste of Home Cooking
 A Taste of Home Cooking has amazing recipes so once I saw she made this one, it was a must for me to try. If you don't already follow her, you need to start now! I love her recipes and use her blog often for dinner ideas. The recipe and directions are from her blog.

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
Adapted from Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 cup beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup provolone, shredded

In large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and then brown the ground beef, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.

Split open rolls and remove most of the soft insides, leaving a bed to hold the meat mixture. Toast the rolls and set aside. 

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk, bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the cheese. 

To serve, place a scoopful of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the rolls, then top with the cheese sauce and replace the top of the roll.

Vicks Vapor Rub

I wish I had thought of grabbing the camera last night but I didn't, so I'll fill you in on details to paint a picture. If I would have gotten a picture, this story would be sent to S*** My Kids Ruined!.

It's was about 10 at night and we were battling with the boys to get to bed (we are in the process of them sharing a room). Hubby runs upstairs while I sit downstairs on the computer enjoying some time on Pinterest. Then hubby said calmly "Mandy please get up here." Instantly, I know its not good. I keep saying to myself "this isn't good" over and over like a broken record. I got to the top of the stairs to see hubby sitting on the floor with Neacel in the corner. The smell hit me, menthol, then hubby pointed out the empty (use to be full) container of vicks. Then I got a better look of Neacel and see his head was covered in it. Literally, 100% covered. His head looks like a bucket of grease is covering it. It's hard to describe, but I'm sure you can figure it out. So instantly, I think that he got Broden too. Luckily, Broden was vicks free, the wall didn't have as much luck though. Whatever wasn't on his head was globbed on the wall next to his bed. The smell was sooooo overwhelming. I was able to wipe the wall down, but I'm pretty sure the smell will never fully go away. I had to get away from the smell because it was making me sick....stupid pregnancy sense of smell! Hubby gave Neacel a bath, after 3 shampoo's his forehead and hair are still pretty greasy. There is a film in the bathroom sink and tub from the vicks...any idea on how to get rid of it?

Nature Reserve with Shinko

Sitting on the sign for the park...
Of course he had to climb a tree
We have been trying to keep Shinko busy and show him everything we can in the area. We went on a little "hike" as Neacel calls it. It's really just a paved walk at a nature reserve, either way its really pretty. Shinko was a little concerned about other animals there, but we only ran into a dog.

Shinko loved the open area, and when he saw a tree, what do you think that monkey did? Climb it of course! He wanted to sit up there forever, but we couldn't let him, rain was coming and we were all starving! We just walked a shorter trail since it's been a while, but Neacel insisted on taking Shinko for the "hike."

The best picture of my monkey's with Shinko
Neacel kept running ahead of us, Broden enjoyed a nice stroll sitting in the stroller, and Shinko just moved around from person to person. Trying to get the best view of everything.

All in all, a perfect little "hike." This is something we do as a family a few days a week once the weather is nice. There are TONS of trails here in the Akron area, and so much to see. It's the one place I feel comfortable letting my boys go wild. They can just run free, and I just let them, feeling relaxed and enjoying nature.

Remember, if you want to have Shinko for a week go on over to Sock Monkey Trails, and contact Lynda.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

A few weeks ago, I noticed a posting on Facebook from As You Wish Creations wanting to have a sock monkey named Shinko visit all 50 states, and he was looking for host families. I thought this was an adorable idea and immediately wrote Lynda from Sock Monkey Trails about having this adorable little monkey come visit us.

All Aboard!
Shinko was able to join us on our first adventure on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Its a 3 1/2 hour train ride through the valley. Since we had never been on it, I packed a diaper, wipes, a bottle of water, and a bottle of milk. I didn't think about snacks because I keep a few main ones in my purse (trail mix, raisins, and some sweets). When we first got there we noticed everyone had bags full of snacks. Neacel, Brody and Shinko were already starting to say that they were hungry. I guess I should have packed more. Shinko got away for a minute  while we were waiting in line to board. Next thing we know he was sitting on a bar on the outside of the train. Crazy silly monkey!
Neacel and Shinko waiting to board
Shinko just hanging around
We got on the train and they were thrilled. Neacel and Shinko couldn't stop smiling and looking out the window. They would bounce around the seats and then stare out the window again for a while.There was plenty of trees to look at, not to mention the eagles nest close to the train yard. Luckily, there was a snack car so we filled the kids and monkey with some not so healthy, but yummy food. Pizza, carrots and celery, sweet tarts, fruit snacks, and some sour cream and onion chips. We didn't hear any complaints from them though. Shinko was sitting in his seat but then disappeared again. No one saw where he went. Then we looked above us....he had noticed the bars overhead to hold bags and what not, and must have thought they were monkey bars. What monkey could resist monkey bars or something that looks just like them??? Not Shinko.

Here are some other pictures from our train ride:

Mommy, Neacel and Shinko
Neacel and Shinko enjoying the veiw
Shinko waiting for lunch
Shinko sitting on Broden's head
Shinko has been a wonderful guest so far. Very polite, doesn't make many messes, plays well with the boys and always listens. I will admit that bananas keep going missing but I'm not going to point any fingers. If your interested in having Shinko come visit you for a week contact Lynda from Sock Monkey Trails. You get him for a week and get to show him a wonderful time in your area.

100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child

Tell to your child:
1. I love you.
2. love you no matter what.
3. I love you even when you are angry at me.
4. I love you even when I am angry with you.
5. I love you when you are far way.  My love for you can reach you wherever you are.
6. If I could pick any 4 year old (5 year old, 6 year old…) in the whole wide world, I’d pick you.
7. I love you to the moon and then around the stars and back again.
8. Thank you.
9. I enjoyed playing with you today.
10. My favorite part of the day was when I was with you and we were _______.
Tell them:
11. The story of their birth or adoption.
12. About how you cuddled them when they were a baby.
13. The story of how you chose their name.
14. A story about yourself when you were their age.
15. A story about how their grandparents met.
16. What your favorite color is.
17. That sometimes you struggle too.
18. That when you’re holding hands and you give three squeezes, it’s a secret code that means, “I love you”.
19. What the plan is.
20. What you’re doing right now.
21. Freeze Tag
22. Uno
23. Crazy 8s
24. Gin Rummy
25. Memory
26. Go Fish
27. I Spy- especially when you’re tired of driving and feel snappish
28. Catch
29. To catch their kiss and put it on your cheek.
30. That their tickle tank is empty and you have to fill it.
31. That their high five is so powerful it nearly knocks you over.
32. That you are super ticklish.
33. That you are explorers in the amazing new world of your backyard.
34. That it’s party day!  Decorate for no reason!
35. To get enough sleep.
36. To drink enough water.
37. To eat decent food.
38. Wearing earrings, or whatever makes you feel pretty.
39. Calling a friend the next time you feel like you are about to lose it with the kids.
40. Giving a gentle touch to show approval, rather than saying something.
41. Dancing in the kitchen.
42. To get your kids to bop to the music with you in the car.
43. Showing your kids that you can do a somersault or handstand or a cartwheel.
44. Keeping that sigh to yourself.  Just jump in and help clean up cheerfully.
45. Using a kind voice, even if you have to fake it.
46. A book of silly poems.
47. A book and then act it out. (Like “I’m going on a Bear Hunt”)
48. Your favorite childhood book to them.
49. When the afternoon is starting to go astray.
50. Outside under a tree.
51. In the library kids corner.
52. The comic book they love that you’re not so hot on.
53. About age appropriate behavior so you can keep your expectations realistic.
54. To your child in the car.
55. To that Lego description, and think how important it is to your child.
56. For that question that indicates your child really needs your input.
57. One second longer than you think you have patience for.
58. For the feelings behind your child’s words.
59. Why do you think that happens?
60. What do you think would happen if______?
61. How shall we find out?
62. What are you thinking about?
63. What was your favorite part of the day?
64. What do you think this tastes like?
65. Your child how to do something instead of banning them from it.
66. How to whistle with a blade of grass.
67. How to shuffle cards- make a bridge if you can!
68. How to cut food.
69. How to fold laundry.
70. How to look up information when you don’t know the answer.
71. Affection to your spouse.
72. That taking care of yourself is important.
Take Time:
73. To watch construction sites.
74. To look at the birds.
75. To allow your child to help you dump ingredients in the bowl.
76. To walk places together.
77. To dig in the dirt together.
78. To do a task at your child’s pace.
79. To just sit with you child while they play.
80. That your child is capable.
81. That you are the right parent for your child.
82. That you are enough.
83. That you can do what is right for your family.
Delight your child:
84. Clean your child’s room as a surprise.
85. Put chocolate chips in the pancakes.
86. Put a love note in their lunch.
87. Make their snack into a smile face shape.
88. Make sounds effects while you help them do something.
89. Sit on the floor with them to play.
Let Go:
90. Of the guilt.
91. Of how you thought it was going to be.
92. Of your need to be right.
93. A look with Kind Eyes to your child.
94. A smile when your child walks into the room.
95. A kind touch back when your child touches you.
96. The chance to connect before you correct so that your child can actually hear your words.
97. Your child a chance to work out their frustrations before helping them.
98. A bath when the day feels long.
99. A hug.
100. You get to choose the next one!  What is your favorite way to be kind to your child??

Source: http://creativewithkids.com

April Fools Meal Ideas

I just realized that April Fools is Sunday! Why have I not been planning already? Luckily, thanks to Pinterest, I have my April Fools Board, and dinner is planned. We will be enjoying Cat Poop Cake and Pizza Bundt Cake. I am so excited! Last year we had Chicken nuggets (oreo's covered in peanut butter rolled in smashed Special K cereal) carrots and corn (Startbursts) and mashed potatoes (vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and a yellow Starburst). For dessert we had meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting. I really enjoyed making the meal. This year, I'm even more excited since the prank will also be on my parents. Make sure to follow me on Pinterest, because all today, I will be getting plenty of April Fools ideas!

Here is a list of meals to prank your family with:
Cat Poop Cake
Mini Burgers
Chicken Nuggets
KFC Fried Chicken Bucket
Meatloaf Cupcakes
Fried Eggs
Grilled Cheese
Mashed Potato Sundae
Fish Sticks
French Fries
Corn on the Cob
Pizza Bundt Cake
Spaghetti Cupcakes

Thanks to Clean & Scentsible, here is a list of other fun pranks to play with the kids!

  • Fill half a bowl of cereal with milk and freeze overnight.  In the morning add a little cereal and milk on top and watch the kids try to figure out what's wrong.
  • After the kids are asleep, switch around their dresser drawers.  {I have also heard of a people swapping their kids in their beds but I don't think that would work around here!}
  • Bunch up toilet paper and stuff it in the kids' shoes.
  • Make a "milk shake" with chocolate syrup, baking soda, and water.  It looks like a tasty chocolate milkshake!  
  • Let your kids have backwards day with their clothing - wear their clothes backwards, inside out, or however they please!  My son did this with his preschool and had a great time coming up with crazy ideas! {You might want to save this one if you are heading out somewhere important for the day!}  It might also be fun for Mom and Dad to dress up in backwards clothing and see what the kids say.
  • Write a bathroom message.  Using a permanent marker, write a message on some toilet paper and place in the toilet.  This would work especially well for little boys that stand up to do their thing! {use longer toilet paper so the edges of the paper actually touch the rim of the toilet}
  • Set various alarms and timers throughout the house so one goes off every few minutes.  The kids will have fun running around trying to figure out where all of the beeping is coming from.
  • Switch the inner bags of cereal in their boxes.  I think an All Bran and Fruit Loops switch would work well!
  • Add dry yeast to a box of pancake mix and have your kids help your make breakfast.  The pancakes will keep growing and growing!

Have fun, and please please please share any other ideas you have!

Nikon Coolpix S8200 Review

Nikon COOLPIX 16.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 14x Optical Zoom NIKKOR ED Glass Lens and Full HD 1080p Video 
 I haven't had a nice digital camera since I can't remember. My last one broke sometime in November, it just quit working one day, and of course isn't under warranty anymore. Well, before we went to Utah I was telling hubby how its breaking my heart that I'm missing out on so many pictures of the boys and that we needed to buy a camera. After debating between a nikon and a canon, I picked up the Nikon Coolpix s8200 to waste time waiting for hubby, knowing it was about $30+tax more then we wanted to spend. Isn't there a rule about not looking at something you know you can't afford? I fell in love, it had features that we both liked. I had to give up some zoom but that's a small price to pay. This camera is awesome! My old camera gave me blinking pictures of my children all the time. All of Brody's pictures he either is "camera sleeping" or "camera drunk" I don't have many good pictures of him till now. No more blinking pictures. The shutter speed is quick enough that I get good pictures before they are gone. I love the micro mode, I'm getting the most beautiful close up pictures of clovers (my favorite). The video is awesome, and I'm not one to normally take videos, but I can hear them clearly and the picture is crisp. I can go on and on about how much I love this camera and about how awesome it truly is. I love the features, I love the way the pictures turn out, I love everything about it. If it's out of your price range...either save some more money or make the splurge to get it, it's worth every penny!
(I have not been asked to do this review, these are my own true opinions on the camera)

Here is info from the manufacturer that I got off of amazon.com:

 Catch those summer evening shots around the bonfire, or freeze the action of the winning goal. Fast, responsive and boasting an incredible 14x optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens, the Nikon COOLPIX S8200 will help you capture images you may previously have missed. Its 16.1-MP CMOS sensor crisply renders your view of the world—whether low light, far off fast action or sweeping panoramas. Capture sharp, clear photos and Full HD (1080p) movies using Nikon's incredible optics. Spice up stills and movies with special effects, and view everything on a 3-inch, ultra-high resolution (921,000 dot) display. 

16.1-MP CMOS sensorSee whats possible
 Capture what most cameras cannot If your old camera never quite captured the moment, the S8200 will! It boasts a high-resolution, 16.1-MP CMOS sensor so you get superb image quality—even in low light. With fast, versatile, continuous shooting modes, you can capture those spontaneous moments shot after shot. Then show family and friends your movies and still creations on the 3-inch ultra-high resolution (921,000 dot) display. Stylish and compact, the S8200 tucks into a pocket but packs brilliant performance and advanced features.

 From macro to mountains
14x optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass len  14x optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens Despite a slim profile of approximately 1.3-inches, the S8200 delivers amazing versatility with an incredible 14x zoom (25mm to 350mm equivalent). Imagine creating macro images of a bumblebee in a spring flower, then zooming out to frame a mountain range for a panorama. With the S8200, you can go from wide-angle to telephoto to macro/close-up views in an instant, preserving photos or movies of most everything from grandstand crowds to a stage performer's smile.

 Put your memories in motion 
Full HD (1080p) movies with stereo sound Full HD (1080p) movies with stereo sound A single photo may not always be enough to recreate the moment; sometimes memories are best shared with a movie. Portable and ready when important things happen, the COOLPIX S8200 lets you create stunning Full HD (1080p) movies with stereo sound at the touch of a button. You'll love its ability to zoom in and out at will—while keeping subjects in focus. Stylize your story with one of various special effects or by recording in 15, 60 or 120 fps for fast/motion effects. Life doesn't stand still; neither should your memories.

Innovative scene modes
 Automated versatility Easy Panorama, Night Modes, HDR and more! 
 Maybe you've wanted to create panoramic photos but thought they were too difficult. Maybe you've tried shooting photos at night but they never turn out. The S8200 takes the guesswork out of shots like these and more with handy Scene Modes at the ready. For sweeping panoramas, simply pan the camera and let it detect and automatically combine images to build a gorgeous vista. Going out at night? The S8200 takes great low-light photos. You can even create amazing HDR shots in-camera. The S8200 does the work.

 Discover your inner artist 
In-camera effects In-camera effects for unique results Let the artist in you go from ordinary to extraordinary! With a variety of in-camera effects, such as Low Key, High Key, Hard Monochrome, Nostalgia Sepia or Selective Color, your world takes on a new dimension. The S8200 provides you the tools to fashion photos and movies with more than just your great eye—just select an effect and go! For your still photography, bring out your creative side with a fisheye, miniature or even an artistic look. Finally, you can make the kinds of photos and movies you've always wanted to make.

High-speed continuous shooting High-speed continuous shooting 
 You'll never miss a shot with the S8200 because it starts right up, has a quick autofocus and shoots five shots in approximately one second at full resolution.

Best Shot Selector
Strength in numbers 
 You'll always get a great shot with Nikon's Best Shot Selector. Press the shutter once, and the S8200 takes up to ten shots and then selects and saves only the sharpest image.

Summer Frozen Fun


Want to find a way to keep the little dudes happy for a while? Even if it's really hot outside, this is a perfect way to keep those busy hands busy. Thank you to Counting Coconuts for the idea. I can imagine Neacel digging at this forever, Brody I don't think would care about much other then the feel of the ice, but that's OK. Still keeps them busy!

She freezes everything in layers and then gave her son different tools to try and break/melt the ice. (sugar, sand, hammer,  salt, warm water etc. I'm sure you have somethings around the house) So not only are they having fun, but learning from it too. You could do random toys or themed. The one pictured is water creatures and some gems. I would think you could spend $5 at the dollar store and have a ton. You could do this in a bowls, cups, plastic tubs...any size is perfect. I saw one comment on the post said she froze a few in cups and put them in the bathtub and they pretended they were icebergs! Genius for a rainy day fun....

Sidewalk Chalk Paint


Spring time is pounding on the door, and I love the sound. Today I've spent at least an hour outside with the boys. Just running around and enjoying the 80 degree weather here in Ohio. Being from Ohio, I know this isn't normal, but that's no reason to ignore it, you soak up every second and pray snow doesn't show up in May! One thing I want to do with the boys (which I know might make the neighbors upset but that's OK) is to make some sidewalk chalk paint and let them go to town with it. We live in town homes, its a small complex but our one set of neighbors aren't fans of kids. I didn't know it was possible to not enjoy the sounds of them laughing and playing but oh well. Anyways, I wanted to share a fun and easy way to make it. Thanks to Apartment Therapy, this is quick, simple and easy to clean up, a moms dream. I'm excited to see how many hours my boys spend doing this!

  • Not Enough Water: You shouldn't feel any drag from the cornstarch, but it shouldn't be too liquidy either. There's a fine line that once you start mixing will become quickly obvious. We used a different color here than we did outside, but you get the idea right?
  • Perfect Consistency: It should pour off a spoon and not leave a layer of cornstarch sludge at the bottom of the bowl or cup. Once you mix up a few batches you'll soon know exactly what we're talking about!
  • Painting Tools: We used silicone basting brushes this time around, although in the past we've used foam brushes with far greater success. The silicone cleaned up in a snap and was ok for some things, but didn't provide quite enough drag (although that didn't stop us, fingers work just fine as well!).
  • Clean Up: The best part about the whole process is the easy clean up. It simply washes free of dishware and utensils, concrete will wash clean if left for up to a week (we've never tested it for longer than that), and most clothing shouldn't have a problem. Upon returning in, we usually rinse anything that obtained "paint" on it in the warmest water the fabric can handle or pre-treat with a stain fighter (we like Shout). We usually wear play clothes so it's never much of a worry to begin with!
  • Have Fun!: This is a great time for 1 or for 100. It can be used for everything from birthday get togethers, sleep overs, or signs painted on the driveway or street (Happy Birthday, Welcome Home, exc). It does also work on concrete and masonry walls, although it will need to be washed off with a hose and not left up to the rain to remove.
  • How to Make a Single Serving of Cake

    Recipe for "3, 2, 1 Cake:"


    1 box - Angel Food Cake Mix
    1 box - Cake Mix (Any Flavor)
    2 Tbsp - Water


    In a zip-lock bag, combine the two cake mixes together and mix well.

    For each individual cake serving, take out 3 Tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix it with 2 Tablespoons of water in a small microwave-safe container.

    Microwave on high for 1 minute, and voila - enough cake just for you.

    Always remember, that one of the cake mixes MUST be Angel Food. The other can be any flavor. The Angel Food is the cake mix that has the eggs whites in it.

    Yield: 1 serving

    This recipe is called 3, 2, 1 Cake because all you need to remember is: 3 tablespoons mix,
    2 tablespoons water, 1 minute in the microwave.


    Over 40 Ways to Tie a Scarf

    Well, hey there! If you're looking for tips and tricks on how to tie a scarf, you're in the right place, my friend. It doesn't matter if you're stumped on how to tie an infinity scarf or if you're just looking for a resource to take your style full circle (pun intended), the Scarves Dot Net girls are here to help. Explore our Knot Library to learn how to tie neck scarves, how to wear skinny scarves, and everything in between. So sit down, explore the site, watch our scarf videos... and get all tied up with us!