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Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Card Memory Book {or It's Over}

Hello from the land of HOLIDAY DREAMS!!!

Oh, how I have enjoyed it!
Not only have I spent more time with the "immediate Squirrels", I was able to spend some time with "distant Squirrels".

Ok, so they aren't really THAT distant. In fact, they all live in town and one of them lives next door.
BUT I did get to spend the holiday in a much different way than I ever have before. And it was because of what I DIDN'T do vs. what I DID do.

This year, the Squirrels hosted the FIRST ANNUAL NOTHING!!!

It was Heaven kind of nice. We didn't have to deep clean prep the house. We didn't have to cook at all prepare any large meals. We didn't have to make nice and pretend that we weren't about to fall over dead because we were ready for everyone to leave wait on guests.

This was our first time to do things a little differently. So we didn't host anything. We traveled to my sister's (she lives next door), had some snacks, exchanged with them and my parents, and we were back home by 9:00pm!

And Christmas morning- We didn't go anywhere either!!!
We exchanged with each other and we saw what Santa had for us. Then we made a huge breakfast, played with toys, watched movies and went out for Christmas dinner. It truly was beautiful!

Not that we are trying to be unsocial squirrels-- on the contrary we are very social. "We" are also tired.
****Disclaimer- I just want to be sure that the reader knows that all "we"s aforementioned in this post actually means "ME". *****

Cause I am the one who prepares for guests and cooks and preps the house.
Who knows, maybe next year we will be on the party circuit again....but I am kinda doubting it. At least, "we" have no plans to host :)

Now that it is over though, we did have to do some big cleaning. And they were involved in that one!!!

One of the things we had to do was take down the Christmas Cards.
I love getting them in the mail! Like seriously, the whole family does. When we get home in the afternoon we are like Charlie Brown on Valentine's Day! Constantly checking the mailbox.
I love to see who sends one. I love to see how the kiddos have changed. The type of card that is sent. I love all of it- so much so that I can't bear to get rid of them.
I mean, someone took the time to write it out or take that picture or drive to the post office- i just feel like throwing it out into the trash is mean and "Un"christmas-like!
So this is what I do! I took pictures- and posted a flipagram on the fanpage earlier.

I had already take a few down before I thought to share this with you.

I stack them up- doesn't matter the size- they all just have to be opening in the same direction.
And then I bust out my 2 hole staple from the 60s !HA! And right in the middle of the "spines" I punch the holes.

I thread a yarn needle with some pretty ribbon.

And I go through all the holes. Starting from the front- that way I have ribbon to tie at the end.
When I get to the end I come back through- and I take each side and go through again- that way if it comes untied at any point it is still safe.

After I have going through twice, I tie it off into a pretty bow! And I always put our family card on top because it has the year on it !

And now I have a nice little Christmas Card book to go through. I store them with my decorations, and when next year comes I can compare pics and really see how my friends and family have grown and changed.

Here's me flipping through this year's, rereading one from My "Boo".
I {puffy heart} Boo.

Before I started doing this, in the past I would cut the fronts off of the cards and use them in the classroom for Christmas crafts and for them to use to make cards.
This was all before I realized all the love that comes in a card. Also before I realized how much freakin effort goes into getting them photographed, printed, addressed, stamped, and mailed. Now they are considered Christmas Gold!

So yes, the making of a Christmas Card Memory Book means that it's over. It means the decorations are on their way back into the attic. Goodbye Little Squirrels! Calm down! They are just ornaments.
Ornaments! Ornaments!
You didn't think I was putting MY Squirrels in the attic ? :)

Ha! Ha!
Hope you have had fabulous celebrations- whether you were guest or host!

I would love to hear what you do with your Christmas Cards once the season is over- tell us in the comments below!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five for Friday {Dec 6}

Happy Snow Day!! 
What!?! You didn't have a snow day- well then I apologize for bringing it up- doesn't mean I didn't love my day any less though!!
It wasn't even really a "snow day" - it was an "inclement weather" day.
The roads were going to be too treacherous to be on- okay.
I'll take that. As long as I don't have to drive on it, it could be covered in meatballs or sushi or pudding- don't care!
Just call it a "----- day" and I'll turn my alarm off and enjoy the freebie!! 

It was warm and cozy inside. I kept busy by cooking and a little cleaning-but mostly EATING!! 
Like really, all day. I am pretty sure I exceeded the number of calories I should have TIMES 3!!!
I had Mac and cheese - the whole box, a bunch of boiled eggs, chicken Alfredo, a few slices of cinnamon toast, an ice cream sandwich, half a dozen cake cookies and more. I will make an incredible football player with all the bulking up I'm doing!!! 

I did some browsing online between snacks (and during) and I found these little lovelies in Etsy. Don't tell Chickadee, but I'm thinking we need these matching squirrel necklaces!! My little squirrel-girl!
I figured I would direct The Mr. to a few wishlists online...


I also found this one. He should spare no cost when it comes to showing his Squirrel Love! Wow!

I guess I will have to wait until Christmas morning to see what little gem of squirrewerly I might be receiving.
One piece that I have recently added is this sweet little Charm a Day Advent calendar that my mother in law sent to me! The bracelet itself is day 1 and then after that I get a new charm to add to it everyday until Christmas!! 

There are two days left to my weekend and there's a good chance that I'm gonna be stuck in the house for most of it .  Booooooo!! 

I hope wherever you are, you are warm and toasty (and you have access to yummy snacks )!!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday {and Tuesday} Sale!

I am pretty sure that the scream "heard 'round the world" is coming from my house right now!
Can you hear it?
It's the scream that accompanies the overwhelming sorrow that Thanksgiving break is over!!!
So back to  the grind we go...

I know that I will be super overwhelmed tomorrow and Tuesday preparing for an event at school, so tonight I am setting up my Tpt cart! That way all I have to do in the morning is click submit!!

 If you have a similar plan, here are a few items that you will want to make sure you don't forget to add! Especially if you are working on fluency and "parts" of numbers!

These Super Hero Themed games for Fluency are great in tubs and small groups!
I made these Super Facts early on in the year and I loved watching them "play' these games and learn!


 These Fry Phrase Rings have been a hit for awhile- It's fun to listen to them decided who gets to carry it  and who is charge of holding up the phrases! It's great to hear them Whisper Yell while reading vs. NOT WHISPERING and JUST YELLING in the hall !! :)

Don't stay up too late shopping tonight!
I have to set a bedtime for the whole Squirrel Crew- or it WILL be NUTS around here in the morning! :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday {Nov 29}

I cannot believe it's Friday!!  
Although we have done a ton of stuff in just a few days- including E.A.T!

All that walking I have done has only prepared me for the grub fest I had yesterday and today!

We did walk a little of it off when we went to the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. Very interesting. 
While we were there we learned the Cherokee word for squirrel. 

We also saw some beautiful woodland stained glass- 

(See the squirrel?)

Afterwards we stopped by to stock up on some more Benton's bacon- if you have never had it- you are missing out!! 
You can smell it for miles! I can also smell it in the Littles!! Littlest Little just happened to be wearing his Benton's bacon shirt- yes- he wore the band shirt to the concert! 
Chickadee got one for herself - it seriously takes like a year of washing it to get the bacon smell out. But we are 10lbs of bacon richer - so who cares if your children smell like a smokehouse, right???

Afterwards, we ditched the boys and headed to the antique stores in the downtown district.

Take a look at these finds- I WAS DESTINED TO SHOP TODAY!!!

Is he not adorable???? That was one shop.

Here's another!!! Are you kidding me??? Amazing!! 
I told the Mr I will eventually need a special cabinet for all my squirrel salt and pepper shakers.

And my one last fabulous find: 

In L.O.V.E.!!! As soon as I saw it, I thought of my FAVORITE sweet-cheeked girl!! Her Auntie Squirrels will be sending it to her soon!! ❤️❤️❤️

After reading the tag/business card from the woman who made it, I found her Etsy shop. It's called Birdie Mae Boutique. (I will link once I get home to my computer) . It's a good thing I don't have a little pint- sized squirrel girl of my own anymore-I would be broke!!

So it was a day filled with my favorite things- 
Squirrels and bacon.
Oh, yeah and 
Family and food!! 

Hope your Black Friday was a bright one!! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and What's By Your Wallet?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Are you sweating next to the oven right now or are you crammed in a car on your way to the madness? 
Maybe you have just awakened to head down the stairs and watch the parade? 

I wanted to watch the parade this am- but I only caught glimpses as I rushed past the tv to add things to a travel bag:(

I love the parade!! All the floats and balloons and the bands!! Man I love the bands! 
And I especially love it when a group stops right in front of the Macys door to perform and they do one of those arial shots ! And all the sparkly stuff makes designs..... Gosh I love a parade!!!! Maybe next year I can plan to take all the Littles to NY to stand there and watch it in person! Wowee wow wow! I could only imagine what that must be like....

It has to be very different than what I am doing today! 

We finished our packing and I heard the words that I always hear before we get in the van to leave:
"Mom, can I just put this in your purse?"


I hate that my purse catches everyone else's crap all the time!! It never fails! 
I took a picture of my purse before they started bringing stuff to me: 

My purse is relatively neat and empty when I don't have it filled with their junk. See, just the essentials- Squirrel wallet ,soda money, some Squirrel Bling, and my prescription of "mommy-takes-this-so -she-doesn't-hurt-people" meds. Ha ha!! 

Now look what they have done to it: 

They have added three phone chargers, there's a phone in a ziploc, germx in case  we eat in the van, and I added the bottle of aspirin just in case the other bottle doesn't kick in on time!! And now that I am looking, the dollar is missing!!! 

Little thieves!! 

The Mr. has pretty big pockets, I am going to start having them load him down  with crap!

We are now about two hours from our destination and 2/3 of the Littles are asleep. Whew! That's a successful voyage for us! 
I hope everyone has an amazing day today, filled with lots o turkey and pie- but mostly with lots of love! 


(Heads up!! For Black Friday Shoppers!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frosty Fact Rings

This morning was a glorious morning in the Squirrel household. Why? With all the phones, ipads, computers, and clocks in the house- not one alarm could be heard in these halls! Even the pooches slept in this morning as if to say, "Hey guys- this is our gift to you!"
We were grateful!
Sleeping in is a wondrous thing- but sleeping in on a weekday is purely magical! 

I did a little laundry and planned some baking for later in the afternoon, but my main focus was to finish an idea that struck me a couple of weeks ago! And after a couple of hours all alone in "comfy chair" with my laptop, I was able to finally finish!

One of the big focuses for our firsties last year was to build fluency for facts to ten. Having that practice at the tip of your fingers at any given time would be a great asset. After I remembered  a different ringed product that I made a couple of years ago, I was struck by the thinking bug! Why not put those math facts at my fingertips, too???

We used the Fry Phrase Rings EVERYDAY! Sometimes we were in small groups, sometimes it was
  1 to 1 interventions- but most of the time it was in the line heading to lunch or waiting to get into PE. They loved being able to "Whisper Yell" the phrases. We kept the rings on hooks by the door and they would be so excited to be the first one to the line quietly so they could be the one to carry and hold it up!

And that is what inspired me to create these Frosty Fact Rings!
These rings can be used in whole group, small groups, 1 to 1, in centers, and at the front of the line!

They can be grouped on their rings according to addends or sums! And each set of facts has matching cards with ten frame addition for visual learners! Students can use these in centers as they write and wipe with dry erase, too.

There are also a set of coordinating ten frame counters for each set of facts.

They can use these mats to place their counters on or to check themselves if they are working alone.

There are also practice pages that correspond with rings to have in math tubs!

Anything that builds their fluency and is easy to get to is a winner in my book! Not to mention (but I will) that while they are great practice, they are also quick prep. And while they are cute and fun for the holiday and winter, they are also ink-friendly!

To share my excitement with having it finished and posted to my Tpt store I am sending it to the
 first three people who comment and and leave an email addy!

I am sure my Thanksgiving Dinner will leave me lots of material for a great WTH Wednesday post- I hope yours does, too!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Coffee Winner and Mystery Pile Solved

The weekend has officially ended.
You know the weekend is over when all the family time stops and you find yourself in front of the  glowing screen of your computer putting those final touches on your plans for the following week.

No matter how far ahead you think you are, do you always find yourself in the same place on Sunday night?

The good news on my end is, I am getting myself all planned ahead so that when I am enjoying all the Thanksgiving leftovers, I will already be prepared for the week that follows.

Before I got started, I realized that while I had posted in a few other places, I had not posted my Coffee = Smiles Giveaway winner here on the blog.

I do thank you all for entering! The Yummy Coffee Card is headed to Wendy from 1st Grade Fireworks. Congratulations- maybe you will get lucky and there will be another BOGO on holiday drinks!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

At the bottom of the giveaway post last week, there was a pic of pile o' puppy hair.
It all used to belong to Truman. Poor Truman.
He was starting to look like he needed to be the mascot pooch for the Duck Commanders! Him and The Mr were having a beard growing contest. And while they are both just as adorable as they can be, The Mr can brush his own beard, and Truman doesn't like it that much- so his had to go.
Anyone else notice the tongue- he has quite the attitude for the a pup.

I have heard a few of you are off for the entire week and some of us only have a few days until we get to give thanks with the ones we love- whichever category you fall into- I hope your week is a wonderful one!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Coffee = Smiles Giveaway

I have decided that if I am ever given the opportunity to change what I am doing, I am going to go back to school to become a meteorologist. 
I am completely convinced that is the only way that I will ever be able to understand the weather.
One day we can't go outside for recess because it is below 40 and then within the next couple of days, they are stacking their coats a mile high because it is too hot to play with them on!!!!

Day before yesterday, I was power walking with no jacket at all! Today I wasn't able to go because I was wrapped up in a tiny ball at the foot of my bed - just trying to contain my body heat and stay warm!! AND we are under a tornado warning tonight!!!!

This weather is crazy! I just wish that a season would come and stay for the three or so months it is supposed to be here. 
Take a look off of my deck.

Do you see the "naked trees"? They aren't supposed to be naked yet! We have a whole other month until winter. We are supposed to see all those pretty colors for just a few more weeks :( 
(yum! See that big bowl of sweet potatoes we just dug up? Delicious!)

It's just starting to look so desolate and drab. Pretty soon it will all be bare.
There are only a few things that can bring me out of a cold, gloomy day fog. 
Movies. Chocolate. Foot rubs. Naps. 
And the reminder that it is 
The Mr. and I are actually leaving the house here in just a few to take advantage of a BOGO for holiday drinks. Just the thought of it makes my day a little warmer and a little brighter.

Are you feeling it too?
Well, you are in luck!
Since I know it makes me feel better- I'm sharing the love!
Follow the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a $15 Starbucks Gift Card - and you can help prove the fact that Coffee=Smiles!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When you come back to see if you won, I will also reveal who the "Naked Pup" is! It's definitely sweater time for this guy!!!
Have a Warm and Wonderful Week!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Christmas List (a masterpiece by Littlest Little)

Hello Squirrel-friends! Are you sitting down? You need to be sitting down. I have some news for you!
Are you aware that there are only 39 days until Christmas???? THIRTY-NINE!!!
WTH?!?! We were just at the beach! And now here we are trying to decipher this madness that is a Christmas list!
There are three papers shown below- THEY ALL BELONG TO ONE LITTLE!!!!
He is V.E.R.Y. thorough!
The list has been growing for awhile. I guess I should be happy that he makes it a little easier for us because there is no question as to what he wants. He knows exactly what he wants to open!
He even puts like things together. I mean, how considerate is that?? 

And over all the mommy years, one of the hardest things can be telling other family members what your child wants for Christmas! With a list like this, I can send only portions of it to family out of state. I can take pictures of part of it to send to family that we will be with over the holiday.  And I can ensure there aren't any duplicate purchases!! It just makes it so much easier when they have a list.
(Unless they have the handwriting of Littlest Little- good gravy)!
As you are reading through this, pay close attention to #7.

#7 reads:
"7. New Books (jk lol Who Reads?)"

Are you getting the enormity of this list??? It is like he has kept it by his bedside and added to it everytime he has seen a commercial for something that he might like.
Hold on, let me ask him....

Ok, it appears that he does, in fact, keep this list by his bedside and adds to it when he sees a commercial for things he might like.

Either way, it is efficient and he is a front runner for getting the things he wants!
Not because we have deemed him our favorite- that would be wrong! You don't have favorites (well you're not supposed to). We love all of our children equally.
But no one else has produced so much as an item on a post-it note, let alone this 
Christmas Catalog of Wishes!!
He even references that Skylanders Swapforce appears on the list more than once "to show how much he wants it"
Look at his use of punctuation and how he visually gets his point across by writing in all caps.
This child has a plan.

If I have taught my Littles anything (other than apparent greed), I have taught them that how other people feel is very important. And that you should always take that into consideration when you are communicating with others.
So he may have seen that this was a tad overwhelming. He knows I "get it", but what about Dad, the Grandmas, the Aunt Tillys (we don't have an Aunt Tilly, but it ended that sentence nicely).
He predicted their frustrations- so to make it EVEN EASIER- he referenced the BIG list on this much smaller, abridged TOP TEN MOST WANTED list.

Thank goodness! Because now we can strategically (as parents) purchase items from the TOP TEN MOST WANTED list and earn major points as the BEST GIFT GIVERS EVER!!!! 

So many benefits to the list. I have pictures of it on my phone  (along with a notepad list on the app) and when The Mr. and I are out we make notes of prices and packaging/bundle deals. The actual "list" itself is "not allowed to leave the house" per the author. Who could blame him? This is his "Treasure Island"! There are awards to be won for such a list!!

It will all come together (before our 39 days are up). It always does.
Even if the older two only mumble possible gifts as they mope past us in the hall. Every once in awhile we hear a "oh, that's cool" during a commercial and we have to make a mental note to add it to the notepad later.
I believe that next year, we are going to farm out listing responsibilities to lil Mr Steinbeck. He will be in charge of grilling the other two, making observations, and recording them. We will of course compensate him for his duties by ensuring that items from the TOP TEN MOST WANTED list are covered first:) This could be a very lucrative endeavor, indeed.

Putting so much effort into Littlest Little's list has sent me down memory lane...

What was on your list when you were nine?  I had to think back- way back. And I had to google search some pictures because I don't have quick access to pics from my childhood Christmases.
I searched for the Barbie Dream Boat that I loved so much that has been in a landfill now for the last 30 years and lo and behold I found these! 
Isn't it grand? 
I have to be honest and say that I don't actually remember if it was my gift or my sisters? But I do remember hours and hours and hours of playing with it. And how I would have Barbie stand at the sink and wash those tiny little yellow dishes and put them away in the cabinet below!!!! Either Barbie or I had a lil touch of OCD. And I remember being so upset because the dishes were never straight like they were when I took the boat out again!!! 
(I think it was Ken).

It was $11.99 in this catalog?!?!?!?  Whew, inflation!!  Barbie can't rent a shoe box under the bed for that anymore!!!

What was the one thing that you remember as your favorite gift from a Christmas list when you were young? Tell us and leave a link to a picture if you can!
And then get on the ball people because you only have THIRTY-NINE days left!!!

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