Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - 2012

Today we did one of my favorite advent activities of the season - R.A.C.K., Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  We did it last year for the first time, you can read about it {here}.

This year, we hit the ground running.  When the boys found out we were doing RACK, they cleaned out their playroom toy closet and found things to donate.  Maddox decided he wanted to "paint pictures for people."

So we did a little bit of prep work at home (cleaning the toy closet & painting) then headed out.

1. At lunch, Maddox decided he wanted to give one of his paintings to our waitress.  She hadn't smiled much while waiting on us.  After the painting, she smiled every time she came to the table.

 2. After lunch, we went and donated our two bags of toys.  I truly do hope these toys will be blessings to others.

3. We went to Publix and bought a FOOD FOR SHARING meal for someone else to have food.

4. When we arrived at Publix.  First, we collected carts in the parking lot and took them in for the baggers.

5. We taped quarters to a Coke machine, so strangers could have a drink on us.

6. Brewer asked if we could take cookies to the fire station.  What a great idea!  And you know what, those firemen were WONDERFUL and even gave the boys a treat with a tour of their truck.

We had plans to go through a drive-thru and pay for the person's order who was behind us.  But our kids were "done" with this project after the fire station.  They really seemed to enjoy the afternoon, so I didn't want to push the issue.  After all, we can go and pay for someone's order any day.  I hope we do sometime soon.  The boys can be reminded of this simple act of kindness and realize it can be done not just at Christmas but all year long.

If you would like RACK cards to print, here you go.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yeah! for

Here is a trick that many people will want to know about.  I'm so happy, excited, thankful for it!!! now lets you make a collage!!  It's wonderful!

Here's what you do:
- Go to

You'll get this screen that I'm showing you above.  On the left, there are three boxes, select the third box, "CREATE A COLLAGE".

- You'll be taken to this screen:
On the far left you'll see an icon that looks like a group of mountains.  This is what you select when you want to upload your photos.  Below that there is an icon that looks like some blocks.  This is the format you will want -- two photos, horizontal/vertical; three photos; four photos; etc.  There is even a selection on here for your FB COVER.  The third icon looks like an art palette.  Here you will be able to size the boxes for your photos, add a background color, round the corners, etc.

- So start playing and see what you can come up with.

Here are some things I've done with it so far.
A. One of my favorite things is when I want to post two photos on FB but have them under the same post.  For example, I was asking for suggestions for our new playroom on displaying kid art.  I was able to make this collage and show what we have now vs. what we are thinking of doing and get feedback from people comparing the two.
B. I also made a new FB COVER photo.  
This is a great new feature of  Oh, and did I mention -- IT'S FREE!!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jake and The Neverland Pirate Party

Back in November, Maddox started talking about his 4th birthday party.  He wanted it at Pump It Up (a bouncy place we have locally), and he wanted it Jake and The Neverland Pirate theme.  I wasn't sure how I was going to combined the two, but it ended up working out great.

I can tell you with 100% certainity and well-researched, there was NOTHING out in the stores for Jake and The Neverland Pirates back in November 2011.  So became my new best friend. I found some centerpieces on etsy. You can order them {here}.

I also found some shirts on etsy.  You can check them out {here}.
Maddox was eating his cupcake like a pirate in this photo.  I posted it, because you can get the best view of the Jake shirt.  Maddox's brother had a Captain Hook shirt.
I ordered from both of these places before Christmas.

Then in the new year I kept looking...still nothing.  I ordered his invitation and thank you from etsy found {here} and had them printed locally.

Thank You Note
When I called to book Pump It Up, they were offering an add-on package of either Superheros or Pirates.  Well, the pirates would be yes, I booked that!

Pump It Up was supposed to have pirate music but when they called to confirm the week before the party, the girl told me the CD hadn't arrived from the head office.  So I made a pirate mix on our iPod and took it in for the party.  This way the kids could JUMP-JUMP-JUMP to pirate music.

I looked from November to February for some type of party favor.  I knew I could always fall back on the Pump It Up water bottle of treats.  But I wanted something pirate and specifically something Jake and The Neverland Pirate.  Pump It Up was giving the kids eye patches (as part of the treasure box find).  I ordered (from etsy found {here}) these Jake headbands.

And then I found these Jake plates at  The site now has several things to choose from but a few weeks ago, this was about it.  Yet, it was a perfect favor to give a group of 4-year-olds.  I added a "thank you" tag to the plate.  The tags can be found {here}.

So the kids got to take home a Disney plate, an eye patch, a headband, a swirly straw, and a Jake tattoo (I found those at Walmart also).

And wouldn't you know four days before the party, Walmart got their Jack and The Neverland Pirate party plates, napkins, etc in their stores.  Yipee!  We had some Jake stuff.

I purchased plastic cups and lids (I knew the drink they were serving was going to be red; hence, the lids), added a Jake sticker to the cup (a name tag sticker worked great because I could add the kids' names to the cups), and got swirly straws.  The tags for the cups can be found {here}.

Pump It Up did a great job.  The party host was dressed like a pirate.

The pirate's parrot came to visit us during the party.

And the kids searched for clues during the party so they could locate a key that would open the treasure box.

After jumping for 80-ish minutes, we went into the party room to eat pizza (Maddox's request), have cupcakes, and FIND THE TREASURE BOX!!!

These cupcake toppers are so cute. I found them on etsy (surprise, surprise).  You have to print and cut them yourself.  I would NOT suggest buying them if you do not have a Silhouette.  It was so easy to cut them on the Silhouette.  However, I would not want to hand cut these.  You can find the cupcake wrapper and toppers {here}.  The cupcake stand was found at HomeGoods and worked perfectly as it mimicked the top of a ship.  UPDATED TO ADD A NEW LINK FOR THE CUPCAKE WRAPPERS: {here}

The Happy Birthday banner was found at Walmart when I found the plates, napkins, & tattoos.  It all came together well.

Best of all, Maddox had a great time at his party.  Argh! Mateys! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Man, I've Got Your Back

February 1st was a day that rocked me.  I had a call that my dad was being taken to the ER due to his right hand not "working".  It was a day that could have been filled with fear, a feeling of loneliness, or distress.  Instead, I was at peace.  Before I stepped into the ER, I had already talked to a few friends as I was trying to get the afternoon for my kids situated.  Those people stopped what they were doing and went to take care of things for my kids...providing them lunch, childcare and more.  Those people started praying for me.  I emailed a group of girlfriends and texted some others.  Messages of prayer were pouring in.  That night, Dad was put in ICU.  Messages continued to pour in.  People wanting to know if they could help with the kids, provide meals, grocery shop for me, go to the house so Lou could meet me at the hospital,...Offer after offer were pouring in.  Everyday the support was amazing.  People showing up to hug us in the hospital, bring us meals, take my kids.  Generosity was pouring in.  

At the one week mark, the messages hadn't stopped.  The offers hadn't stopped.  The generosity hadn't stopped.  The prayers hadn't stopped.  

We're on day 9 and to be truthful, I'm exhausted.  The haul of the regular day plus spending large parts of the day in the hospital with Dad are starting to wear.  But I still have text messages asking what I need.  Encouraging emails popping up throughout the day, cards in the mail, baskets of food being delivered, offers for child care.  It has been tremendous.  Honestly, people may never know what an email that simply says, "Thinking of you" can do for a person's boost in the day.

Have you ever heard the saying, "Man, I've Got Your Back" or what about, "When times get rough, you'll know who your real friends are"????  Well, the last week had a huge blessing in the midst of this difficult trial.  When I stand with the unknown in front of me and my focus has to be on my dad, I turned around and there was a wall, a wall of friends supporting me.  A wall of friends standing shoulder to shoulder making sure everything was taken care of so that I could focus on my dad.  Praise God that these people had my back.  Praise God that these people didn't run when times got rough. Praise God (insert laugh) they still answer the phone when they see my number pop up because chances are, I'm not calling to talk about their day.  I'm calling for a favor (mainly for my kids to be taken care of).

We have a long recovery ahead of us with Dad.  But I know I don't have to go through it alone.  I have an army of friends...real friends...standing shoulder to shoulder with me.  Ready to help me take on this season of my life.

To those of you who have been there for me -- THANK YOU.  Words will never seem like enough to tell you how much I appreciate all you've done for me and my family!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
 9 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor: 

10 If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year with the Gift of Time


A few years ago, Lou and I implemented a date night for the two of us.  It has worked great and been something that we both look forward to.  Some nights our dates are special things such as a concert or show but most of the time it is playing tennis or trying a new restaurant or shopping or seeing a movie.  It really doesn't matter to us; we just like being together.

To kick off 2012, we gave dates to our kids.  Each month the boys will get a date with either Mom or Dad.  While Lou and I get plenty of time with the boys, this one-on-one time with the parent and child is important and something we don't get as much of.  Our boys have already opened their January envelopes and are super excited about their "dates".

The dates/outings throughout the year will be: go to the movies, go to the park, bake something of your choice, go to Adventure Landing, go to the book store, go out to breakfast, etc...  None of the activities "out of this world" but this time will be special for each of us.

Looking forward to having this one-on-one time with each of my kids this new year!

*This idea was not my own.  I saw something similar and tweaked it. :)