Let Him Sleep

One unplanned benefit to homeschooling is that I no longer have to deal with the morning rush to get both kids up and dressed in time to get to school, especially when coming off a week long holiday. I love that I can just let him sleep a little longer in the morning if he needs to.

I will always love to watch my children as they sleep. It just melts my heart. Although I try not to wake them, sometimes I just can't help but give them little kisses on their cheek or forehead and whisper sweet wishes or "I love you" in their ears.

EZ Sox for Toddlers - Win a Pair!

Toddlers around the age of two are pretty good at removing their clothing. Rachel is especially good at this when she gets in the car. She removes her shoes and socks within minutes of getting in her car seat. I've learned that I have to allow an extra few minutes anytime we go somewhere because I know that when we arrive at our destination, I'll need to locate her socks and shoes which have probably been tossed to different sides of the van and then get said socks and shoes back on to those wiggly little feet.

As talented as they are at removing their clothing, toddlers may not be able to completely dress themselves until they are three years old or even older. Rachel just turned 2 years old a month ago and although she tries to get dressed on her own, her desire to be independent and dress herself has come before her ability to actually do it. Unfortunately, this often leads to frustration for her. Usually she just gives up trying to do it herself and she asks me to help her (or she decides that she doesn't want to wear clothes at all that day, even if it is freezing outside).

When shopping for Rachel, I try to buy clothing that is as easy as possible to put on and take off so she can get that sense of accomplishment of doing it herself. I buy shirts that pull over her head instead of those with buttons and snaps, pull-on pants instead of skirts with tights and pants with zippers or buttons, and shoes that velcro on instead of those with buckles or shoe laces.

Of course, socks can be a big challenge for toddlers too. Here is Rachel's attempt to put on her own socks.

Rachel's frustration really stands out, "It's kind of hard....would you help me?"

As her mom, I want to encourage her to be independent and I want her to feel confident that she can do things on her own. So I was really excited to learn about EZ Sox (www.ezsox.com). These are the "I can do it" training socks for toddlers. They have two reinforced loops at the top of the socks that serve as handles for little fingers to pull them up with ease. They are the coolest socks I've ever seen and Rachel loves them.

Rachel just turned 2 a month ago but she can put her socks on all by herself now. She's so proud of herself...and so am I!

I love that they come with so many options for cute little animal faces.

Rachel loves her "piggy socks", as she calls them, but the face on the sock also helps her to realize which side of the sock goes on the top of her foot so it doesn't get all twisted around. But EZ Sox also come in solid colors for older kids or for when you want something more dressy for church.

Rachel likes to keep her shoes off as much as she can when we are just hanging out around the house so I love that EZ Sox have sticky grip bottoms to keep her from slipping and sliding on the hardwood floors.

Check out EZ Sox for your little one and put the fun into putting on socks! I think they might make for a fun stocking stuffer at Christmas :)

EZ Sox is giving away a free pair of EZ Sox to one of my readers!!

**To enter, just visit the EZ Sox website (www.ezsox.com) and then leave a comment here letting me know which EZ Sox you would like to win.

For additional entries...

* Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment here letting me know that you did

* "Like" EZ Sox on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know that you did

* Follow EZ Sox on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know that you did

* Post about this giveaway on your Facebook status and leave a comment here letting me know that you did (you can do this once a day)

* Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know that you did (you can do this once a day)

Contest ends Friday, December 10th at midnight CST. Winner will be selected by a random number generator at www.random.org. The winner will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to contact me with their mailing information before another winner is chosen. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only ages 18 years or older.

Note: EZ Sox provided me with a sample pair of socks for Rachel to try. My opinions and comments are all my own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We stayed home this year and had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at home, just the four of us.

We always use the brine roast turkey recipe from Alton Brown's Good Eats show on Food Network. It makes a perfect turkey every time! Check it out HERE. I highly recommend you try it next Thanksgiving.

We dusted off the china and crystal to make the meal even more special. Yes, for the kids too.

We made a full spread of turkey, dressing, sweet potato crunch, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pumpkin pie. Wine for adults, bubbly Sierra Mist for the little ones.

We have so many blessings to be thankful for. Thank you, Lord!

Fall Colors at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

What beautiful fall weather we have in North Texas! We just had to spend some time outdoors today so we visited the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. It is hidden treasure in the middle of the city. It's a 200 acre park with paved and unpaved trails, playground, restrooms, and picnic areas.

We spent most of our time hiking the trails today. Rachel enjoyed this piece of rock and dirt that had been cut into to make this trail. I showed her the layers of Earth and talked about how many thousands of years it took to build up that land.

She just wanted to poke at it with her stick.

She also picked up tons of rocks and leaves. For some reason, she was fascinated with the hole in this leaf. She kept looking at it and mumbling something about the hole that I never quite understood.

Both of my kids are fascinated with sticks and water. This little spot had a creek and lots of rocks to throw in the water. Splash!

The fall colors of the leaves were just beautiful. Red, orange, yellow, green, and brown...

The kids found a spot with thousands of fall leaves on the ground. At first they were throwing them up in the air. Then they decided to dig in them in case there was treasure buried underneath them. I hear that's a prime hiding spot for treasure these days.

We made it to another little creek and found lots of these little shells. Rachel did a great job counting them...1,2,3,1,4,2

We hiked a long way. I feel pretty confident the kids will sleep well tonight, especially Rachel :)

We made it back to the front of the property. I was so glad that there were restrooms on the property. Although I had brought plenty of water with us, Rachel was more interested in drinking from the water fountain. Well, at least TRYING to drink from the water fountain...

The kids ran and played in the tall grass for a while. Rachel thought it was fun running through the grass that was as tall as she was!

They were fascinated with the one purple flower they found. It's so tiny you can hardly see it in this picture but their keen little eyes found it right away.

We played at the playground for a little while before heading home. There is a big kid playground, a toddler playground, and lots of swings. It was super fun!

Carving Arrowheads Like A Native American Indian

With Thanksgiving approaching, Nicholas and I have been talking a lot about the Native American Indians. We learned about how they hunted for food and made all of their own supplies. We learned about how they made their own tools by carving them from wood and stones.

I thought about getting some soft wood that is used for whittling so I could show Nicholas how to carve. However, the tools used for whittling are sharp so he would only be able to watch me instead of actually participating himself.

Instead, I decided to use Ivory soap for our medium. It is softer than firm butter so you can easily cut through it with a plastic knife or appetizer spreader so it is safe for Nicholas to use without cutting himself.

You can start your carving by drawing a design on the soap with a marker or just scratching into the surface with your knife. Then you just start cutting. It is amazingly easy to cut into Ivory soap. Other soaps won't work as well because they are too firm.

Once you cut the rough shape of your design, then you can use a plastic spoon or fork or some plastic pumpkin carving tools to smooth out, round out, or make further details on your creation.

Nicholas is very proud of his hand carved arrowhead. He said he enjoys carving and wishes Mommy had bought more Ivory soap so we could do some more carving today.

Mommy had fun making arrowheads too. The soap is very soft though and the bottom of my large arrowhead broke as I was doing detail work on it. Like Nicholas, I wish I had bought more Ivory soap too. I'm feeling ambitious and want to carve a little turkey out of soap!

Soap carving with Ivory soap is incredibly easy and kids can do it! We had soap shavings all over the table though so be prepared for a little clean up afterwards. But it's soap so we have a very clean table now!

Not Your Average Christmas Card

If you are one of those overly ambitious people who have time to write an annual letter about all the wonderful blessings that your family has had over the last year to include with your Christmas card mailings, I applaud you. I'm doing good just to find time to make it to the post office to buy postage for our cards.

However, look what I found HERE at Shutterfly. These are called Holiday Story Cards. There are lots of beautiful designs to choose from and they are all big 5x7 cards. These Story Cards are special because they not only include one or more of your family pictures but they also let you customize the cards to tell your own story with highlights over the past year or whatever holiday greeting you would like to include.

My favorite Holiday Story Cards is the Top Ten Moments of 2010 card.

Isn't that adorable! It's a unique way to include your highlights for the year as well as family pictures. These are not your average Christmas card. And do you know what else I love? Shutterfly will actually stamp and mail any quantity of individual cards directly to my recipients so now I don't have to worry about that extra trip to the post office with two rowdy kids in tow!

If you want to go with a more simple Christmas card, then you can still choose from the traditional Christmas photo cards

You can also choose from their Religious Christmas cards.

But while I'm on their site, ordering my cards, I also plan to order some photo gifts. I particularly like their custom wall calendars.

Nicholas and Rachel will love looking at their own pictures each month on our family calendar. And I like that I can go ahead and have all of our birthdays, anniversaries, and special dates pre-printed on the calendar. We take so many picutures of our kids and they often just stay on the computer, never to be looked at again. I love that this calendar will help us to look at our family pictures all year long and hopefully keep us a little more organized at the same time.

Note: Shutterfly is providing me with free cards just for telling you about the Christmas cards I like the most. How cool is that?!

Elmo - Love Him or Fear Him?

We went to Learning Express toy store last weekend because I had learned that Elmo would be there. Yes, Elmo!! Can you believe it?

Rachel loves Elmo. She loved Elmo before she ever even saw Sesame Street on TV. Actually, for the longest time she called all furry looking characters "Elmo". Show her a picture of Barney and she'd say, "Elmo!" Recently she has started figuring out that all of those critters have different names and she can tell you who many of them are.

But she still loves Elmo.

...Until he comes too close to her at which time she will cower in fear.

About an hour later, after playing with lots of toys in the store and watching Elmo in passing several times, Rachel finally let Elmo come close to her as she pushed a baby doll around the store in a stroller.

I wonder how she will do with getting her picture taken with Santa Claus this year? I'm taking bets now...

Having Fun at Central Market

Earlier this week, we visited Central Market for a free cookie decorating party hosted by Playin' Around Town. Each child got 2 big sugar cookies to decorate. The kids were entranced by the huge tubs of icing.

We scooped some of each color icing into our own little cups and found a seat. Rachel started decorating her cookie with yellow icing.

The cookie was really just a tool to get a big scoop of icing to her mouth!

She finally got the idea of sprinkles and decorating the cookie BEFORE eating all the icing off.

It was cute watching them decorate their cookies...

...and continue to sample the decorations...

Rachel kept going back to eating the icing like it was manna from Heaven.

Nice looking, cookie!

Once the kids had a pound of sugar streaming through their veins, they took a break and did some artwork with the craft materials provided.

Rachel stuck stickers all over her page.

Nicholas cut out a heart and said, "This if for you, Mommy!" Awww!

But I wasn't going to be stuck with wound up, sugar-buzzed kids all day so we headed out to the Central Market playground. Yes, this grocery store has it's own playground!

Rachel was drawn to the slides, of course.

She also kept climbing up these things. She seemed a little timid about it but pushed forward. I'm sure it helped encourage her to watch big brother do it too.

Mommy was a little worried seeing her get so high but she did great!

Sitting on a cow...because they can.

Rachel was afraid of this climbing ladder. She watched other children climb up and but she didn't quite understand what to do and seemed nervous as I was trying to help up go up it. But after she made it up one time, she was up it in a flash, down the slide, then up the ladder again. I love how she pushes herself and overcomes her fears.

During the cookie party, the moms were given a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase at the store plus I had a $25 gift card that I was tired of carrying around so I decided to pick up dinner. Central Market has a great selection of pre-cooked foods. They are pricey but unique and not something I would typically cook at home for us.

We had a nice dinner of honey garlic marinated flank steak, green beans almondine, roasted fingerling potatoes in truffle oil, pumpernickel bread (selected by Nicholas), creme brulee, plus we picked up some cranberry walnut bread for breakfast toast.

These 6 items came to $48! I had a coupon AND a $25 gift card and I STILL had to pay $18 for dinner and a small loaf of breakfast bread. We could have gone to a restaurant for that price! It was a nice splurge but not something I can justify doing very often.