DIY Advent Calendar

Nov 29, 2011

This is the year....the year when holiday traditions start to "stick."


Up until now Nora has been too little to participate in much of anything in terms of traditions around the holidays. Of course we've read her the Christmas story, bought her a stocking and have done a number of other things to celebrate the coming of Jesus. But let's be honest - she hasn't really noticed many of those things the past two Decembers.

Well that's all about to change - I can't wait!

Along with a number of other traditions our family will do, I wanted to create our own family advent calendar. I figured Nora would love the routine of opening a box each day as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus's Birthday on December 25th. And what kid doesn't love an advent calendar tradition?

I immediately went to the best place to go for ideas - Pinterest. Thankfully I found an advent calendar that I loved. It was beautiful and easy to re-duplicate. Perfect!

Here's what I did...

Items Needed for DIY Advent Calendar ::
  • Avery Print-to-the-Edge Square Labels 22806 (I found these at Office Max. Please note that they are not among the normal mailing labels as they are designed more for packaging needs. I found them in the stationary/postcard section)
  • Favor Boxes (We found ours at Michaels - they are 2x2x2)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Items to put inside

Directions ::

Here are a couple notes for the DIYer ::
- Favor Boxes come in packages of 100 - so it's ideal to split the pack with 4 other friends. Host a little Girls Night Out (that's what I did at least).
- Boxes can be glued in a square or a tree formation.
- When gluing boxes be very mindful of getting the boxes very close and tight together.
- Some of my friends who did this project also adhered their boxes to a painted canvas or a canvas wrapped in fabric. Super cute.
- I'm working on making little ornaments to go in each box. The ornaments will include a verse from the Christmas Story that we'll read each day. I'm thinking I'll either write the verse on the ornament or do something like this
The verses are as such:

Day 1: Luke 1:5-10

Day 2: Luke 1:11-13

Day 3: Luke 1:14-17

Day 4: Luke 1: 18-20

Day 5: Luke 1:21-22

Day 6: Luke 1:23-25

Day 7: Luke 1: 26-28

Day 8: Luke 1:29-33

Day 9: Luke 1:34-35

Day 10: Luke 1:36-38

Day 11: Luke 1:39-43

Day 12: Luke 1:44-45

Day 13: Luke 1:46-56

Day 14: Luke 1:57-58

Day 15: Luke 1:59-61

Day 16: Luke 1:62-64

Day 17: Luke 1:65-66

Day 18: Luke 1:67-71

Day 19: Luke 1:72-75

Day 20: Luke 1:76-80

Day 21: Luke 2:1-7

Day 22: Luke 2:8-14

Day 23: Luke 2:15-20

Day 24: Luke 1:5-2:20

What do you think? Nice, huh?!

Can't wait for December 1st!


sister comparison pic | 5(ish) months

Nov 26, 2011

This is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. I love looking back at pics of Nora and trying to reduplicate them with Elsie. It's not as easy as you'd think but it's still fun to try.

If you missed their 4 month pics or their 3 month pics be sure to click back over to see how they both changed in such a short period of time.

Without further's the girls both at 5 months old.

What do you think?

I just want to eat 'em up!! Such cuteness!

(Note :: Yes - if you look really close you can see two little teeth poking through in Ms. Elsie's mouth)


Giving Thanks (for the kids we have) | Raising Your Spirited Child : Part One Review

Nov 23, 2011

I remember a conversation I had with a friend recently about how tempting it is to compare our lives to our friend’s/neighbor’s/co-worker’s (really anyone’s) lives.

We hear about how their 6 week old is sleeping through the night – I’ll take that please!

We can’t help but notice when another mommy down the street has the newest, most amazing double stroller on the market – where do I get one of those?!

We see a friend roll up to a play date in her brand new luxury car – yes, pretty please.

Then we hear about another friend’s 10-day vacation to Fiji sans kiddo’s – um, YES! Who wants to watch my kids (and pay for said vacation)?

We start thinking – if only I had THAT stroller, THAT car, THAT vacation and THAT baby – I’d be much happier. More thankful.

Over and over again we’re left feeling worse and worse about our own lives.

I think this is especially true of moms raising spirited children. At least it’s true for me. Please tell me I’m not alone with this. Have you felt this way?

Between the intense “Am I the only one with a spirited child?!” feelings and the jealousy that so quickly sneaks into our hearts, we’re left oftentimes wanting more.

Thankfully much of what author, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, writes about in the first part of Raising Your Spirited Child is encouraging parents of spirited children the have the freedom to celebrate and enjoy the delights of our spirited child(ren).

In her A Credo for Parents of Spirited Children she sets the tone for the rest of the book and highlights 5 specific things we must embrace in order to effectively raise our spirited child(ren).

A Credo for Parents of Spirited Children

  1. You’re not alone.
  2. You did not make your child spirited.
  3. You are not powerless.
  4. You have permission to take care of yourself.
  5. You may celebrate and enjoy the delights of your spirited child.

Spirited Children (all children really) are a GREAT gift and there is much to celebrate and enjoy in all of their spirit.

Coincidentally a lot of these thoughts that I’ve been processing have come at a great time of year – Thanksgiving - A national holiday in which we’re legally forced to take time to reflect on that which we’re thankful for.

Isn’t it so easy to peak into the “bags” God has packed for everyone else? Their strollers, their cars, their vacations and their sleeping babies. So quickly we forget that God has packed a “bag” for us that is filled with so much to enjoy and be thankful for.

With that in mind, this Thanksgiving I’ve decided it’s time to give thanks for what’s in my bag…

I’m thankful for…

…my sweet little Elsie who still wakes up at least 1x/night for special mommy snuggles. Because I just never know when our girls will be too big for snuggle time.

…my double stroller which was a gift from my parents and does the job in hauling my two little girlies around.

…our Toyota Highlander which despite looking like a cheerio bomb exploded in it, is able to fit all four of us and the above mentioned stroller comfortably. It’s exactly what we need.

…the vacations that are still yet to come (maybe not to Fiji but somewhere out of our zip code).

… and finally, for my spirited little Nora who everyday reminds me that there is MUCH to celebrate in this life.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Steph's Pick | Toddler Backpacks

Nov 17, 2011

After Elsie's arrival, one of my new mommy dilema's was what to do with my diaper bag situation at the church nursery. You see I only have one diaper bag (yes - for those of you super observant type - I did get a new bag when Elsie was born) for both girls. But when dropping the girls off at church, they are in different rooms and thus the one bag/two room situation just wasn't working.

Now of course I'd love to say that this inspired me to potty train Nora - but no - not so much. Although a potty trained kid requires no bag, we aren't exactly ready for that transition just yet.

So off I went (and by "went" I mean my fingers went a searching on trusty ole looking for a preschool/toddler backpack.

Here were my requirements :
- Personalization available
- Cute
- Side pocket for sippy
- Toddler Size (nothing too large for Ms. Nora)

After lots of research we finally decided on one of Pottery Barn's Preschool Backpacks.

I couldn't wait to get it in the mail!

Thankfully this sweet little bag didn't disappoint. It was just as cute as I'd hoped and Nora loves it too. She calls it her "hap-back."

Let's just say there may be a couple of these under our tree for some special nieces this year ;) What can I say? I'm a total sucker for personalized gifts!

And I'm throwing in this last picture for sentimental reasons. How in the world is she getting so old???!! Tear.


Steph's Pick | i♥phone

Nov 11, 2011

Guess who's getting one of these??!!!

Me, Me, ME, ME!!!

I'm FINALLY getting an iPhone and I couldn't be happier. Alan just ordered the 4s for me yesterday and you can bet I'll be waiting at the door each day the mail is delivered waiting with (much) eagerness for this sweet little gift to arrive.

Now there are all sorts of online resources that recommend the "must-have" apps for an iPhone (including this great post by Sarah on Scottsdale Moms Blog - iLove my iPhone) but I want to hear from YOU!

Spill it... what apps are must haves for a mommy of a toddler and baby?


a weekend in minnesota + a wedding

Nov 6, 2011

This past weekend Alan, Elsie and I traveled to Minnesota.

Yes... you read that right.... just us two...
plus this little cutie patootie...

We left Nora behind in AZ to spend a long weekend (we referred to it as an uber long slumber party) with Laura & Phil E (you may even remember them from hosting Nora's 1st Birthday).

While she had the time of her life with L&P, we flew to Minnesota to attend the wedding of these two (gorgeous) people - Tom & Elyse.

Of course we managed to do a few additional things as well...

Like.... introducing Elsie to her Aunt Sara, Uncle Kyle and Cousin Ella.
Nick also flew to MN this weekend and got to snuggle Elsie for the first time as well (sorry - no pics of Nick and Elsie).

And of course we had LOTS of people to catch up with at the wedding (love a good college reunion/wedding) :)

All in all it was an amazing weekend - full of lots of great memories.

Blessings to Tom and Elyse as they start their lives together!

And in case you wondered ... or just want a good laugh...

Yes - I did take the above pic of Elsie at the Minneapolis airport. :)

That's what you get when you have decent light, no toddler, a happy baby and a little extra time on your hands.


Raising your Spirited Child Book club

Nov 2, 2011

A number of you have heard me mention that Nora is a spirited child. In fact I've even written about it on a number of occasions over on Scottsdale Moms Blog : Rejoicing in your Spirited Child and Rejoicing in your Spirited Toddler.

Wondering if you too have a spirited child? Here are a few ways Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (author of Raising your Spirited Child) describes a spirited child

"Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls. Other kids bounce three feet off the ground. Every bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling."

"Spirited children are more intense, more sensitive, more perceptive, more persistent and more energetic."

"Spirited behavior truly falls within the range of typical human behavior - more but normal."

As Nora gets older and is interacting more and more with me, I continue to be encouraged to embrace this sweet gift of her spirted-ness.

My desire (and prayer) these first years of her life is to better understand Nora's personality and help guide her so that all of her spirit ends up being a real strength of hers in her future. God knew exactly what He was doing when He created her - spirit and all - and so I'm choosing to believe that He has great things in store for her.

Now I'm not saying it's been easy. As most parents of spirited children will say - raising a spirited child is EXHAUSTING. Raising kids is tiring for anyone but a spirited child cranks up the energy need even more.

It's also been very easy for me to feel like I'm the only person raising a spirited child. Well I'm not! And you're not! There are millions of parents that are in the exact same boat!

This is exactly why I decided to start a book club/support group for other moms of spirited children. I figured it was time I surround myself with people (online and in person) that I can link arms with in trying to better understand Ms. Nora.

So I invite you to read Raising your Spirited Child along with me.

Here's our plan :: The book is already divided into four parts. We'll read one section/month for the next four months. I'll post about my thoughts in the middle of the month and we'll use the comments section to encourage one another as we try to better understand our sweet-as-pie spirited children.

Part One :: November
Part Two :: December
Part Three :: January
Part Four :: February

So who's in?

{Oh - and yes - I am actually doing this with a group of local moms so if you're interested please email me and I'll send you the details}

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