Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Countdown Calendar

From the looks of it, I may be one of 10 people NOT doing the "Elf on a Shelf" thing. I'm jealous. It looks like fun. Maybe next year. 

Have no fear, though. We're having a blast enjoying the Christmas season our own way; that is the nerdy, thrifty, and crafty way.

While at my in-laws house over the Thanksgiving holiday, where I get to see my kids only when they need to sleep, I had enough time alone to actually plan my life a few weeks in advance, as opposed to the minute-by-minute survival mode we run on most of the time. 

I browsed a few community calendars, made a few notes and voilĂ  our Christmas Activity Countdown Calendar for 2012 was written.

When we got home, I designed a quick print, hubby nailed 3 rows of string into the wall, then we printed all the envelopes and filled them with the daily activities. 

Here is what our Christmas Activity Countdown Calendar looks like on the wall. 

Since my kids are ages 3 and 5, we focus on age-appropriate activities and use pictures in the descriptions so they can "read" what we're doing. They can't wait for Daddy to get home every day so we can go to the calendar wall as a family to open the day's envelope and find out what's in store for us. 

I alternate between food crafts, paper crafts, outings/experiences, and Christmas movie nights, which are usually on Mondays to give Mommy a much needed break from our action-packed weekends.

As they open the envelopes, we hang the activity card back on the wall to remember the fun things we've done together. 

Here a re a few photos of the things we've enjoyed the first 11 days. (Inspiration credits at the end of the post)

Day 1 - Youth Chorus Concert
Day 2 - My Niece's Birthday

Day 3 - Movie Night (VeggieTales St. Nicholas)
Day 4 - Christmas Tree Craft

Day 5 - Handprint Tree Canvas painting
Day 6 - Christmas Card Making
Day 7 - Christmas Play
Day 8 - Christmas Parade

Day 9 - Orchestra Concert - They had fake snow indoors. That is how we roll in FL. Don't hate.
Day 10 -Movie Night (VeggieTales - It's a Meaningful Life)
Day 11 - Brownie Santa Hats (she HAD to have a goldfish on top)

Setting it up was time-consuming, but's it's been completely worth it! 

To keep things organized for myself, since the envelopes are sealed and I want to make sure I have the right supplies for the activity on hand, I typed everything out on our iCal. I sent a link to the calendar to my parents and sisters so they know they are welcome to join us whenever they can. 

I'm one of those people who loves everything about the Christmas season. I enjoy it all! From the crazy schedules to the unbearable crowds, late night shopping, cooking marathons, parties every day, a decorated house, a full house, a trashed house, and of course Christmas MUSIC!!! 

God bless my husband's soul, he is not like me, AT ALL, but he's a great sport. He's happy to miss a football game for a middle school chorus concert if it means we're enjoying ourselves together as a family.

I'll be back soon to update you about our next set of adventures.

Thanks for reading!

Inspiration Credits:
Christmas Tree Craft - Via Pinterest from Homemaking Fun
Christmas Tree Canvas - via Pinterest from The Other White House
Christmas Cards - via pinterest from MudPie Studio
Community Calendar for Gainesville Found at

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Tale of the Curly Hair

 Once upon a time, there was a lucky mom who birthed the most beautiful baby girl ever. This little girl had a full head of the cutest, softest hair swirled up into a natural mohawk. She was born cool.

 That lucky mom, enjoyed playing with the little girl's hair and the little girl's hair grew and grew. Over the months, the texture of the girl's hair began to change and become even more beautiful until, alas, a gorgeous teeny fro was upon her head.

You may have seen her.
 The mother tried to persuade the little one to try straight hair, but the little one always answered "No thanks. I like my hair cuh-lly." When her mom asked her how she wanted it styled, she assuredly answered, "I want it loose."

Then, one day, the little girl's grandmother, with long, thick, shiny, silky straight hair watched her for the evening. When the mother returned home and bathed the little girl, she said, "I want my hair straight like Abuelita's!"

Shocked and excited, her vulnerable mother (who had at this point bypassed all reason), whisked the little girl away to her bathroom before she changed her mind. There, with only a few drops of silk hair serum, she began to flat iron the curls.

Oh, how pretty the little girl was with straight hair! The mom was relieved to have a few days off from un-hip people asking her why she didn't comb the girl's hair.

When Daddy got home that night, he wasn't happy. He missed the little girl's natural curls, but upon much pleading, agreed to roll with it.

After a few days, Daddy had had it. See, Daddy is the one who gets her ready for church on Sunday mornings because Mommy goes in early to sing. Daddy wasn't down with flat ironing the hair himself.

Admittedly, Mom had had enough too. It was very high-maintenance. With both parents on the same page, mom went to wash her hair.

This is where our happy story turns into a tragedy… The hair would NOT curl again. As the water saturated it, it simply rested limp and wet over the little girl's back.

Three weeks of natural remedy trials later, and the hair is still limp. NO CURLS.

This weekend, the mother learned her fate. The hair was fried. Fried like Kentucky Fried Chicken. All she can do (unless you know another option, which momma would LOVE to hear) is trim it and wait for it to grow out.

Let this be a lesson to all that experimenting with beauty and fashion has its price. One day, I'm sure we'll all look back on this and laugh. Today, while searching for photos for this post, I could've cried.

In other news, I'm now looking for a hair model, while mine recovers. I've got lots of cute ponytails, clips, and headbands in the works. Email me if you're in the Gainesville, FL area or if you are a photog anywhere in the country.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 20, 2012

First day of home-preschooling

Today was the first day of my new journey as a home pre-school teacher. I gotta admit I'm pretty stoked about spending my days with my kiddos, although it took me a while to get to the place of appreciating the blessing of being home. After considering a variety of options, I know without a doubt home is where I'm supposed to be this year.

I plan on updating the blog a bit more often now that I'll actually have cool things to share! Nothing worse than reading a blog about nothing. I'll finally share more from my wife, mother, and teacher side, rather than focusing solely on creativity.

Thank you so much for joining my family on this ride. I pray you are enlightened, encouraged, and empowered by what I share.

Today, the kids and I took it easy (a little laundry, a little water table time, a little reading...). It was day 1 and, of course, I wasn't quite ready. I had every intention on starting today and I was not about to stall so, we did do a little school work related to what we were already learning about last week. (I know myself, if I didn't start today, I would've started in September) 

A few weeks ago, I heard my 4 year old, Joa, correctly name all the money coins to a friend of ours who gave him an impromptu quiz at the ice cream shop. I was floored because I had no idea he knew money. So I did what I always do, I started setting up opportunities for him to play with money. By allowing him to engage on his own, I draw interest and curiosity without forcing a topic on him.

Last night while cleaning the counter clutter, I ran into an empty crate of Ferrero Rocher chocolates from my mom's 60th birthday party last weekend. An idea for a game popped into my head. I decided to write different cent amounts inside each opening of the crate and create a matching/sorting game.
After breakfast, Joa went to play with his money and I just laid the crate next to him. He was curious and so I explained the game to him. He could name all the coins but, I noticed that he struggled a bit with the amounts, so I made a cheat sheet for him.
Not to be left out, baby sister got an ice cube tray which she had to fill up with matching coins. She may not know which one is which, but she was exposed to the coin names.  It was also a great way to practice the concept of same and different. Toward the end of our time she was actually naming the penny correctly every time.
So there you have it. 1 down. Many more to go. I must say my favorite part is watching them engage in learning while wearing pajamas and underwear!

Hopefully, I will insert some rhyme and reason into daily schedule soon. For now, I think we're all thriving on our free spirited nature. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ice Cream Party - 3 Scoops of Sweetness!

July has always been a favorite month in our household. Not only is it my birthday, but it's also National Ice Cream month. When my daughter was born the day after my birthday three years ago, I knew I wanted to have an ice cream themed party for her. 

Since her name means "one whose light cannot be hidden," I opted for a Sunshine theme for her first birthday. Then for her second, of course, I had to do something with tutus! It was only fitting that for her third, we celebrated three years of sweetness with three scoops of ice cream!

I designed the invitations inspired by Zia's personality and my love of subway art prints. I wanted them to be fun and free, just like her! I attached and hand stamped wooden spoon with some baker's twine to each invite to give it a unique touch. 
As an event stylist, details are my thing! I must admit, though, the morning of her event I woke up at 7am, the time she was born, and burst into tears. My husband went out to run some errands and the kids were asleep. That alone time got me thinking about how much I love that girl and how much our lives have changed for the better because of her. For each member of our family, the world is a brighter place because of her. If you follow my posts on Facebook you read my nostalgic messages. This party is all about the up-close and personal elements. 

When guests entered the pool area, they were greeted by a tassel garland from The Flair Exchange and a wave of satin ribbons in pinks and greens waving in the wind. Although I created these myself, you can buy them made at A to Zebra Celebrations on etsy. Just below the ribbon garland was a small table with ice cream cone bubbles and a note that read, 
"Welcome to my party, I'm happy that you're here. Grab yourself some bubbles and fill my day with cheer. but if you run out, don't pout! No need for frustration. Just bring them back to the refill station."

There's just something about kids and bubbles, we will never understand. They LOVE them! The Bubble Refill Station, set up like and ice cream stand with sprinkles-filled "bubbles"and stocked with solution, extra bubble wands, and sun screen, was the perfect way to keep the kids happy and engaged throughout the day. 

At the pool, families were wowed by a sea of over 20 pink and green floating rings covering the surface of the pool. The kids wasted no time jumping in the water and relaxing in their floaties. 
My husband and father in law brought the grill on site and cooked some healthy turkey hot dogs for us. We garnished those with home made chili, relish, peppers, and tomato toppings served in mason jars. To accompany the dogs, we had sweet potato fries and fresh fruit skewers. For dessert we enjoyed the ice cream bar complete with all of Zia's favorite toppings. 

Guests could read the whole menu on a custom board made by our friend, Kelsi Candelaria, inspired by a print from Moulage Collection on etsy.

Of course there were touches of tulle throughout the whole affair. These triple scoop tulle cones decorated the main food area. The favor display was also decorated with a tulle garland. For favors, kids took home sundae cups, with personalized wood spoons.

Of course, the best part of the day was watching the birthday girl dance ballet as we all sang the "Happy Birthday" song for her! She's such a hoot! We ADORE her!

 Thank you for reading about our event!
Check out more party pics at Catch my Party!

Special thanks to our team:
Birthday Girl's Shirt - Claudia of Tini Posh 
Polka Dot Table Runners - Nancy of A to Zebra Celebrations
Tassel garland - Carmen of The Flair Exchange
Styling, Printables and tulle poms - Debra Walters of TiTi's TuTu's
Balloons, photos, rentals and set-up assistance - Andrea from the little shop

My husband - though he's not a vendor - had his hand in everything!
Friends and family (Cristina, Sara, Ariel, Papi, Amarilis) for their hours of cutting and crafting with me.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Behind the Camera

Hello, Friends! 

Here are a few shots of what I've been working on during my time away from etsy.  

Originally, I was just going to upload these photos to my Facebook album, but after a phone conversation with a friend, I decided to go ahead and write a full post about it.

See, over the few minutes that we were on the phone, my children came to interrupt me more than a couple of times (mind you, I care for three children). Frustrated, I joked about needing a sitter for the day to save my children from my own crankiness. Last night, hubby had an engagement so I didn't get my usual -and much needed- break from parenting duties.

We laughed together about how many times we've had to apologize to our children for snapping at them in frustration. 

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I took them outside to snap a few pictures when suddenly I heard water running. I turned around to find them playing in the water faucet. Being the chill mom that I am, I laughed and kept snapping away. I had to run inside the house for a second and when I got back outside, I found mud splattered on the side of the house. Again, being the chill mom that I am, I took it in stride and just rinsed it off with a brief lecture on keeping mud on the ground.

It was all fun and games until I was done with the photos. I went inside the house to put things back for what felt like a nanosecond. That's when my son ran up to the porch's screen with chunks dripping from the mud pie on his head, "MOMMY! We're putting mud on each other's head because it's fun!!!"

Deep breaths, Mrs. Chill Mom.

I had just washed my daughter's mini-Diana Ross fro the night before. And mud doesn't mix well with that! Besides, they knew better!

I quickly shut down the party and dunked both of them in the bath. I gave them a harsh lecture and didn't do it with a smile.

Later on, I had to apologize for overreacting. We snuggled on the beanbag together to read a few books, and I lead the three of us in a prayer. We asked God to help us treat each other with love and to erase the first part of our day so we could start over.

Ah! The joys of being a Mom!

I'm so glad I'm not alone in this journey and that I have friends who are willing to be honest enough to encourage me.  

So there you have it! The pictures may appear perfect, but behind the camera is a work in progress.

Thanks for reading, 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

{Crafting with the Kiddos} Homemade Birthday Cards

Earlier this week, I learned someone whom my children love would be spending their birthday inside a rehab facility. It made me sad, but I knew immediately this was a great opportunity to make a difference in someone's life and expose my children to the joy of caring for others. The fact that this also turned out to be an all-morning-long craft was the icing on the cake. Summer days can be long, so I appreciate activities that can keep 3 kids ages 2 through 9 engaged for more than 20 minutes.
During our morning devotional time this week, the kids and I have been examining our thought life and perspective. 
(In toddler terms: "What you think, becomes your attitude and behavior. If you think about bad things, you'll feel sad. If you think about the good things in your life, you'll feel happy. For example, if you complain 'Ugh! Mommy gave me white milk but I wanted chocolate milk' then you'll be upset. If you say 'Thank you, Mommy, for giving my something to drink, I'm not thirsty anymore.' Then your thankful attitude will make you a happy person.") 

We've also been talking about the love of God: receiving it, accepting it, and sharing it. 

I enlisted the kids to help me create three beautiful birthday cards to send to our loved one. My 2 year old said she wanted her card to make our loved one feel better. My 4 year old said he wanted to make our loved one laugh because laughing makes you feel good. My 9 year old niece said she wanted our loved one to make better choices. 

With the purpose of the card clear in their minds, they went to town. I must say, their designs turned out even more beautiful than I imagined: 
Zia, Age 2
I gave my littlest designer some white paper to scribble on. She insisted on water colors, so I busted out the paintbrushes and let her go at it. When she completed one sheet, she would ask me to hang it up to dry and give her another sheet. Three sheets and a few tragic water holes later, she was satisfied.

Inspired by an old pin, I cut the sheets into petals to create a few flowers. Green ribbon for the stems and a free-hand cut vase out of scrapbooking paper and voila!

The message she asked me to write on the inside of her card just read "I'm sending you a hug." Fitting since her goal was to make the person feel better.

Joakim, Age 4
Joakim wanted to send presents, so I cut a few squares out of the papers he chose then let him glue them on the card. I must admit I was proud of his color choices and positioning. He picked the ribbon and I made bows for him to attach. 

The inside of his card had a joke. A joke that makes no sense. Which is his trademark. And those of us who adore him think it's pretty freaking hilarious. So, indulge me. 

Our loved one once made a joke at a restaurant that he never forgot. Today he asked me, "remember when [name] said nobody was there and then didn't say anything?" 
"Knock, Knock" 
"Who's there?"
 "Nobody who?"

He remembered sharing laughs with this person and wanted to send a few more their way. So here's what the inside of his card looked like:

I love that fun kid.

My niece designed a card with a bouquet of balloons. She picked out her favorite papers and punched 1" circles out of them for the balloons. Then, using skinny strips of paper scraps, she made the strings. The inside of her card had the verse from John 3:16 written out in her handwriting. Hopefully, that knowledge will indeed empower them to make better choices. 

Tyara, Age 9

What a fun craft to do with the kiddos! My favorite part was that it was free! I already owned every single supply we used. It was rewarding to finally put scraps of scrap booking paper from my daughter's party last summer to use. "See Honey, I do have a purpose for saving them..." LOL! 

Thanks for reading!