Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Snowman Breakfast 2016

This morning we had our second annual Snowman Breakfast. I like to have it on a Saturday so we can relax and enjoy ourselves and not rush. 

This year, instead of making the snowman donuts with faces, etc. and serving them that way, I gave the boys all the pieces to make them on their own. They were confused by this at first, but quickly got into the "food craft." 

This seems like a big production, but really, all I did was decorate the table the night before after they were in bed. I used a white tablecloth in my stash and some Christmas wrapping paper from the Target $1 section. Done. (We already keep those snowmen on the breakfast table as part of our Christmas decorations.)

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Monday, January 02, 2017

2017 Goals

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Yesterday, January 1, I decided I didn't really want to write down any goals this year. And today, January 2 - my birthday - I decided I did want to. I like having my birthday at the beginning of the year...it's like a new year for me in several ways. 

First, I always like to read last year's goals and see how I did:

I could have done better on catching up with photos and photo books, but I did ok. I did read...63 or so books. The boys did learn new life skills. We traveled. I was actually active more than I have been in the past 6 years. So, check. I did reorganize the whole house. Slowly, but I got it done. I did not really write more. And I did get IN more photos, but not as many as I could have. 

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Although I could pretty much copy and paste last year's goals almost exactly, I'm going to simplify this year and really focus on 1-3 things I really want to accomplish. I'm leaving out the things that I feel like I've already made a regular part of my routine now (hello, reading).

1. Catch Up on Photo Editing and Photo Books. This is #1 for a reason. I really, really, really, want to do it. I want to be all caught up, get them all organized, and complete more books. This is my year. 

2. Continue being Active. Like I said above, I actually did pretty well with this in 2016. I'm making it a goal for 2017 because it's really easy for me to let this drop...and I don't want to. 

And...that's it, I think. I'm really narrowing it down this year so I can FOCUS on these two. Let's go, 2017!

2017 Books

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (9)

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher (6)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (8)

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016

Today we made our Christmas cookies...like we do every year. Two will be for Santa and the rest will be for us! This endeavor started out a little rocky for the boys (and me, by extension). They were cranky (for some unknown reason) and therefore, fought with each other quite a bit during the dough-making part. It was so much fun (insert eye roll).

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They cut up their own sticks of butter this year. Any recipe that starts out with two sticks of butter is a winner in my book. 

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They took turns with the mixer. They're getting good at not flinging food all over the place when they use it. 

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They each got to crack an egg and we had no shells that we had to fish out. So, good job, boys. 

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They had to share the rolling pin too. Every year I think, "we should get another rolling pin so they can do this at the same time." And then a whole year goes by before we use the rolling pin again so I forget about it. And really, we don't need another one. 

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They've got this part down now...rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies. 

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We added a few new cookie cutters to our stash this year: a mitten, Christmas light, stocking, and present.

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Ethan wanted to transfer his cookies to the baking sheet all by himself. I only ended up having to help him a little bit.

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So, after we took a break for the cookies to bake and cool, the boys mellowed out and didn't fight any more - hallelujah. They're checking out their cookies here to see how they baked. 

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A couple of hours later when the cookies were completely cooled and we were ready to get back in the kitchen, they decorated their cookies. The icing was a little runny at first, but it actually firmed up as we went along. So the first couple of cookies look peculiar (but tasted great!). Ethan wanted to make an "E" cookie, so I used a knife to cut that out. 

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I did an "L" for Logan too. They didn't need too much help with the icing...it came out of the bottles pretty well. 

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I spy Duke trying to get anything he possibly can that's dropped...which did happen, of course. 

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Logan kept sneaking tastes of icing. He did the same with the cookie dough. He probably had the equivalent of three cookies with icing before we were all done!

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So serious...

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The boys let me decorate a few cookies too. It's fun! This was my tray. I really liked how that snowflake turned out and I also enjoyed doing the Christmas lights. See how our icing was a little runny? We do not worry about such things. It's fine. They tasted wonderful!

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These are Ethan's cookies...

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And these are Logan's. I know it's only three days until Christmas, but it might not be easy to save two of these for Santa!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

This was a new activity for us this year and the boys totally loved it. They were with me when we bought the modeling clay at Michael's a while ago, but I told them it would be a surprise when we used it. They were so excited to see it on the coffee table today for our snowman craft.

I just happened to find little "snowman kits" at Hobby Lobby on sale (50% off) that had the stick arms and nose. (Before I found the kits, I was planning to use real sticks and candy corn.) We already had the buttons, the ribbon for the scarves, and the googly eyes.

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The magic model clay is really easy for kids to work with, so I didn't have to help them at all. And it dries a little after you leave it to set up. Perfect for sculpting.

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Duke wanted to know what was going on and if there was food involved.

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Ethan wanted me to cut his stick arms a little shorter so they didn't poke through the other side. Then he used the scraps to make an "E" on the bottom of his snowman. 

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Logan started out having a little trouble rolling balls, but then he got the hang of it.

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We put their two cute little snowmen over by the gingerbread houses. (Logan's snowman is holding a snowball!)

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Our Polar Express

We have an awesome heritage center near the downtown area of our town. Several historic buildings...and trains. We've been coming here for years, especially for photos, and the boys have always loved the trains. So today, just a few days before Christmas, I asked them if they wanted to help create some magical photos like the Polar Express. 

It has been cloudy ALL day today, which was perfect because I knew I wanted to add snow in post-processing. It looks a little weird to have snow falling with a bright shining sun. And wouldn't you know, just before sunset, the clouds broke and there was a gorgeous sky with pinks, blues, and purples. Normally absolutely perfect for a sunset shoot...but not if you were counting on the clouds to make your fake snow look authentic. Oh, well. We were already out there and shooting, so it is what it is!

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The boys wore their "classic" Christmas PJs and their moose slippers. They were thrilled at being allowed to wear their slippers outside! They don't have dressing robes otherwise we would have brought those...very authentic to the Polar Express illustrations. 

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We did bring along our "Harry Potter" lantern that I got for Ethan's wizarding birthday party two years ago. The boys still play with it when they play Harry Potter. It was perfect for this. (I did add the light burst in post - the actual light looks really dim in real life unless it's super dark!)

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This shoot was really easy and quite fun. They didn't have to look at the camera and smile very much.

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One more thing I brought was the actual Polar Express book. We love, love, love it and I'm so glad we got to capture a photo like this together. 

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Even though I am glad I got in the photo, I really love this next one because of their expressions!

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After I was done shooting, I was ready to pack up and go, but the boys wanted to play "Polar Express" before we left. It was really mild outside so I agreed...and kept my camera on. They did the whole thing...here they are helping the little boy onto the train before he misses it. This was more movie than book, but it was really cute to watch them.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Grinch Night 2016

This year I decided to change up a few of the Christmas activities...or add to them, really. We always make a night out of reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas and then watching the animated movie. But this year we added cookies! Because you can never have to many cookies at Christmas. Actually, I saw the idea on Pinterest for Grinch cookies and I loved it. 

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These cookies could not have been easier. We just used a store-bought sugar cookie mix and added green food coloring before baking. The boys loved doing that. They each got to add a few drops of the coloring and watch the dough change as we mixed. I had purchased these Valentines over-sized heart confetti and we used one heart for each cookie - as the Grinch's heart. Super fun, super easy, and super tasty!

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I didn't photograph us watching the movie, but that was fun too. The boys somehow  noticed this year that How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a really short movie! (It's around 25 minutes!)

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Tree 2016

I have several Christmas photo traditions...and taking some of the boys in front of the tree is at the top of the list. It's a keepsake I have of every year. 

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Duke just could not stay out of the photos. Nor could he keep his tail still enough to not be blurred by my lower shutter speeds. 

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I also included the fireplace. I have a few new decorations there this year and also, we love to sit there and enjoy it. 

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And we have TWO trees this year. This one in the foyer is new and hold all of our photo ornaments. I love it and those two cuties on the stairs. 

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