Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Placemat Pillows!

We interrupt the vlog that was supposed to be here today (technical difficulties!) to bring you something that is sure to sure to put a little happy in your holidays.

Well, maybe not for you if this totally is not your thing, but we sure have been having fun with it!

Placemat pillows. They have been floating around on DIY blogs for years, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why we didn't jump on this bandwagon sooner.

I wanted to buy a few new Christmas throw pillows this year, and when I started my search I was reminded of just how much those stuffed little decorative puffs can cost. Just to buy four coordinating pillows I was about to drop about $50...on sale...with a coupon. And that's when I remembered the old placemat pillow trick. I immediately diverted my search from pillows to placemats. Oh, $3.99 before coupon? Don't mind if I do.

If you haven't heard of this trick before, it's quite simple really. Most cloth placemats have a front and back piece of cloth which are sewn together. With a seam ripper you can easily open up five or six inches or so and then stuff that baby full of Poly-fil. Sew it back up, and bada bing bada boom...you've got yourself a cute new throw pillow that is super duper inexpensive.

Both placemats!

The best part is, there are TONS of stinkin cute placemats out there. In fact, when I was searching around for a few to turn into pillows I seriously thought some of them looked more appropriate for a sofa than for sitting under plates and cups. That "Adventure is Out There" placemat was just screaming to be a throw pillow. You can get them in any pattern imaginable, and of course they come themed for any holiday.

Let me just say, I am NOT a sewer. I can barely thread a bobbin to save my life on a sewing machine. I got the chicken pox and was out of Home Ec for two weeks during this unit. That's not a joke, it really happened and I nearly failed. I am a near sewing failure. But even I can take a needle and thread and sew a seam back up by hand. If I can do it, you can do it.

Sewn back up, and you can barely even tell!

We've been going placemat pillow crazy here. Gracie LOVES to help out with the stuffing. We ordered a ten pound box of it. Haha! It was $20 on Amazon, and here's a hint. If you want more for your money, buy a box of Poly-fil, not the bags that you get in the store. When you buy a box it comes air tight and when you open it up it literally expands and nearly doubles in size. You get a TON of it. But in the store, the air is already in the bags. What you see is what you get.

We seriously have enough Poly-fil now to open up our own Build-A-Bear Workshop. I may never ever buy a throw pillow again. We've stuffed 8 pillows so far, and still haven't even made a dent. I have four more placemats that we've been anxiously waiting to arrive tomorrow. Metallic snowflakes...so excited! After my coupons I paid about $27 for 12 placemats and I've used maybe $3-$4 of stuffing so far...maybe. In all, that comes to about $2.50 a pillow. You are never going to beat that!

These are so easy and fun to make for yourself, but they would also make great gifts on the cheap. Who doesn't love a good pillow, I mean who? If you are someone who likes to be really coordinated you could even consider buying extras of the same design, and...you know...actually use them as placemats.

Just don't look too closely at the tags on a few our pillows that say "Food Network" on them. Haha. Shhh...it's our little secret.

Let me know if you try this project, and we can help each other find the best placemats for every season and occasion. I'm already excited for Spring! Kohl's and Target are great places to start your search. Happy napping! I mean...crafting! ;)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Grace's Christmas Program Weekend

Eric is in the process of updating my computer and this thing is running slow as molasses. I almost didn't blog today, but man, if I didn't I would fall even more behind than I already am. So we're just going to drag ourselves through!

On Friday Grace got to take her turn at the school's Christmas program. Both of our oldest girls are creative types...Evelyn is the artist, and Gracie is the performer. She takes these things very seriously. :) The girl LOVES to sing! Thankfully Eric did not have to go back to New York last week (and likely not until the new year...hooray!) so he took a half day to come and see Gracie do what Gracie does best.

It was cuteness overload. 

She knew the words, she knew the motions, she had it down. We expected nothing less. All of the students were adorable once again! As a mom, I just live for this stuff. My favorite! Every year that I sign my kids up for school, I daydream of Christmas programs and field trips as I scribble information on a million sheets of paper. I don't think much has changed in my head since I was a kid. :)

And once again, we stopped for a picture before we left that afternoon. 

Another of my favorite parts of these days is that we get Eric home with us unusually early, which means we typically go out and do a little something fun that night with the kids. Last year we took a trip to see Santa, and this year we decided on dinner and some shopping. The kids were thrilled just to hang out at the mall for a little while. It really doesn't take much, haha.

Evelyn turned to me and said, "There's a JC Penney here mom, what do you say?" :D She LOVES JC Penney. I have no idea what it is, but we were happy to oblige her, haha. It was a really good night. When the kids got gum balls from the quarter machine Grace exclaimed that it was the best day of her life. She says that all of the time. Every good day is the best day of her life. :) 

On Saturday morning we were up and out the door to continue our goodies baking with my mom. There were still cookies to be baked and other favorite holiday treats to be made. We still didn't get it all done!

The kids' favorite is always cut out sugar cookies. They love the decorating. But holy moly...what a mess we made! We cut out some cookies and mixed up some icing....

Then we let them have at it!

And it got messier and messier and messier. 

Yummy? :)
Let's just say, this mom doesn't eat a lot of the sugar cookies, haha.

In addition to some more cookies, we made one of my personal favorites, cheerio bars.

Better than rice krispie treats. Way better!

Stopped for some chicken 'n dumplings...because despite my jokes, we don't actually gorge on sugar all of the time. ;)

Then we tried our hands at dipping some pretzels. 

It was another successful day! We swirled up enough sweetness that I'm pretty sure cotton candy clouds were beginning to form overhead. That's when you know you are doing it right.

Saturday night was date night, and on Sunday we spent the morning at church and the afternoon cleaning the house. I hadn't been home much over the past couple of days, and you know how that goes. You can't afford to go too long without doing laundry in this house. It's an every day event. :) 

I cannot believe we have begun the last week of school before Christmas vacation for the kids. I feel like they are getting an extra long break this year...like three whole weeks. I clearly remember years that we went to school all the way up to the 23rd of December and were right back on January 2nd. They get out on the 18th and don't go back until January 5th, lucky ducks!

So I'm taking advantage of these last days of our normal schedule before I have all of the kiddos home all day every day, and of course throwing in the craziness of the holidays. But it's the best kind of crazy there is!

Have a sweet day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Evelyn's Christmas Program 2015

When we found out the date of Evelyn's Christmas program at school this year, we began praying for a little bit of a miracle in order for Eric to be there. He was set to come back from New York on the same evening, and in order for him to make it, there needed to be no delays whatsoever. If there's one thing we've learned over the past seven months, it's that no delays on a flight from New York is a little bit of a miracle in and of itself, haha. He really wanted to be there, but we were all pretty much accepting of the fact that it just might not happen.

For Eric to make it to the program he would first have to make it through rush hour traffic and then the hour long drive from the airport to the school. Still...we were hopeful! And Evelyn was ready to sing her little heart out.

We were at the school pretty early, but soon they were calling all first graders to take their spot in the bleachers. 

Evelyn was cracking me up! Apparently the kids were told they weren't allowed to wave at their parents. I'm sure there was a reason for this, but okay. So instead Evelyn would smile at me and mouth very dramatically I CAN'T WAVE AT YOU. Haha. I'm not sure that was any less distracting. :D And I'm pretty sure that's what is happening in this picture while the other kids were doing their little "quiet down" exercise....

That's my kid, front and center. :)

It was 6:25 and Eric still wasn't in his seat. Five minutes to go, and I texted him, "They are about to start." Meanwhile he was finding the very last parking spot at our old church building across the street, and he literally ran to the school in his suit. My heart did a cartwheel when I saw him walk through the door of the gym. He sat down one minute before the program started. Yay!

Evelyn was busy jabbering with her friends (I don't know the boy on her left, but she sure was talking his ear off!) when she caught sight of her dad sitting next to me, and she gave us a classic Evelyn expression. Ahaha...she was SURPRISED! for one second, then turned back to her friends acting like it was no big deal...hey, my dad is here and all is right with the world, let's do this thing. That's Evie!

Of course I captured the moment on video, and have it right here in a short clip for you:

We were dying. The whole program was so very cute. The elementary school has a new music teacher this year after decades with the former teacher (our beloved Ms. Black!) and I was very curious about how different this program would be from year's past.... Well, it was pretty different! When we walked in and noticed there was no piano in the room I knew we were in for a change. The kids performed songs to pre-recorded music, and there was much more emphasis on the hand motions and expressions. It felt very much like the Christmas musicals our church used to do when I was a kid. 

The girls had been singing Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for weeks, so I assumed we were in for more of those standards, but nope. Most of the songs were completely new and original. It was definitely entertaining. The new music teacher did a swell job. :)

It also happened to be John's program last night, and I did manage to sneak a couple of photos of him without his hands over his face. :)

He looked so cute in his little tie...which he totally resented my mom for making him wear. :D 

But who am I kidding, it was half of the town's Christmas program last night, haha! So many of my friends had kiddos in this program, too. We saw them all, and I thought they ALL looked so adorable!! And they all did a really great job. 

When it was over Evelyn was finally able to reunite with her daddy.

We took a few pictures before making our exit. My dad was at home with all three of our other kids, and I had no clue how Charlotte would be for him, haha. (Thanks dad for watching them for us!)

I hope to share more of this program in a future vlog, and Grace will take her turn later this week! Once again, we are hoping Eric doesn't get called back to New York between now and then. If he does, he'll be making a mad dash home on Friday morning. ;) 

I loved being in the Christmas programs when I was kid, and I think I love being the parent even more. So fun! Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Decking the Halls Vlog

There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to when we finally purchase a home, and one of those things is finally being able to buy "real" decor for the holidays. Both Eric and I agree that we want to wait before spending a bunch of money on holiday decorations until we are in a place we're going to be for a while. Every house has it's own nook and crannies and spaces to fill, and until we know where we're living we are making ourselves hold off. But we're used to waiting for things, haha. Story of our lives! Still...I'm getting antsy. This is likely our last Christmas in this place...I only wish I knew where we were going so I could grab up deals after the holidays this year. ;)

We always make do with what we have, and there's only so much space in this place to fill anyway. This year we've put out a few pretty things to enjoy, and that's what we're sharing here today.

In today's vlog we are sharing footage from the night we put up our Christmas tree as well as the transformation of the girls' dollhouse for Christmas. :) They are pretty excited about that. Even our plastic people like to deck the halls! We're also sharing a few other touches, like our favorite decorations and even the Playmobil advent calendar that the kids have been LOVING! Every day they get to open up a new piece to add to the Santa's workshop scene. Well...you'll see it!

I love seeing other people's decorations! It definitely inspires me for our own home...someday.... :) Hope you have a great day!

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Very Christmas Weekend!

We had a wonderful Christmassy whirlwind weekend! We're trying to keep the fun of the season alive even in the middle of all of the conversion craziness that Eric is dealing with right now. The kids and I joined up with various family members and kept ourselves busy visiting Santa Clauses and having fun at church...and then Eric snuck home from New York for a short time so that we could even have a date night on Saturday. :)

On Friday we joined up with my mom and little brother John to see Santa and Mrs. Claus in Rocher. My mom always likes to take John to see this Santa, because there is never any line. And no one wants to stand in line with four or five kids forever before trying to take pictures of happy people...no one. This would be Charlotte's very first exposure to the big guy!

Grace was first to just jump right up on his lap! And soon the other kids joined in for a little group session with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

 Evelyn had no problem at all telling Santa what she hopes to get for Christmas. 

Then John joined the crew. :)

Santa gave him a fist bump. I don't know why this cracks me up so much, but it does!

And as you can see, Charlotte was just as content as can be on Mrs. Claus's lap. Makes me wish there was always a Mrs. Claus with the Mister! :) This was actually a really great meet, and my mom joked that I probably shouldn't put this experience on the blog, because she quite likes that hardly anyone is ever there. :D 

Too much excitement for this kid.

We had a surprise waiting for us when we got home this night. While we were visiting the jolly couple, Eric was making his way home to spend some time with us for a while. We were all so thankful for the little break he had to come home for a day! He still had to work at the radio station on Saturday, so really...we didn't get to see him that much while he was here, haha. Work work work.

While Eric was producing radio shows, I took the kids to a special day our church hosted for a little Christmas fun!

There was lots of food and fun crafts for the kids to do. Different stations were set up with activities. They decorated Christmas trees and made bird feeders....

Reagan insisted on keeping that hat on. :)

I think this is the only picture I got of Charlotte. She was in my arms most of the time. ;)

We now have three new feeders smothered in sunbutter and birdseed hanging for our feathered friends.

They decorated cookies and strung beaded ornaments....

And of course, there was lots of running around and general mayhem on the basketball courts. The girls can't get enough of the scooters, and as soon as Reagan spots the Cozy Coupe, forget it. That's all he will want to do all day long. 

It was a fun time, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who had a hand in hosting it. Our kids did not want to leave!

That evening Eric and I were able to go out and do our normal errands and spend a little time with our two youngest while the girls went to play with John for a while. It was a nice evening of eating and shopping and soaking up a little time with him. And let's talk about the $8.50 Bath and Body Works 3-wick sale. Woot! :D It was a madhouse, but it was worth it. Haha. Five 3-wicks AND a pedestal candle holder for less than $30...cause let's be real...I also had some awesome coupons. :)

Then there was Sunday.... Eric had to hop a plane in the morning. Boo. But last night was the KC Christmas party, and the kids always have a great time there. I debated whether or not I wanted to do the night without Eric, but I knew the kids would really enjoy it, so I sucked it up and off we went!

Charlotte was quite pleased with herself that she had snatched a present from under the tree. The girls went shopping at Santa's Cottage at school last week, and now their gifts sit in a jumbled mess under the tree. I didn't arrange them nicely for you in these pictures. :)

At the party there was all of the usual fun. Lots of eating...

Singing for dollars....

And then of course, Santa made his arrival. 

Gracie's name was one of the first ones called.

Next up was Evelyn!

She really gets a kick out of this stuff, as you can tell.

When they called Charlotte's name I was kind of taken by surprise. I don't know why, haha. But it hit me all in one rushing moment that this was going to be her very first solo trip visiting Santa Claus. I had no idea how she would react.

She took one look up at that fluffy white beard...

...gave a shifty-eyed glance at her present....

...and then...

Nnnope. Nope nope nope.

Grandma swooped in to rescue her. :)

Reagan was the second to last name that they called that night. It was a long and agonizing wait for the little man. I think he thought they were just skipping him entirely, because at one point his big blue eyes welled up with tears, haha. I felt so bad for him. So I assured him his turn was still coming, and he kept himself entertained....

When they finally called his name, he was READY!

I was so proud of the big girls, who had waited the whole time to open their own gifts until Reagan got his, too. :) I am sure they really wanted to know what was in those bags, haha! But they love and look out for their little bro. The kids had a fantastic time!

Before we left for the night, we took one last group photo with Santa Claus. Charlotte still wanted nothing to do with him! Poor kid...even in my arms she wanted to be far. away. 

And then when no one was paying attention, Reagan hopped himself right back up on Santa's lap again. He couldn't get enough of him! He became Santa's little buddy. :)

He was just jabbering away about something. I don't know what, but something! Later as I was buckling Reagan's seatbelt in the car, I saw his eyes get really big and he was looking over my shoulder. "Hey! Where's Santa going?!" Santa was clear across the block walking down the sidewalk, but Reagan would have spotted his new friend from a mile away. Haha. He is a big fan this year!

I didn't mean for this to turn into a MONSTER post, but whoopsy daisy! We have to do something while Eric is gone. *Hopefully* he won't have to do a lot more traveling before the holidays. There may be one more trip...we hope not...at worst...two more...oh, who am I kidding. That's just our life now. It might be a little bit crazy, but we're still so thankful for it!

Hope YOUR weekend was swell! And a big Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating! I am a little jealous that your festivities have officially begun. :D Hope you are enjoying your family time and that your kiddos are having a blast! Happy day, all!


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