Monday, November 29, 2010

What? Another Giveaway? Get out!

Did you know today is Cyber Monday?  I didn't.  Is that new?  I mean, I'm thinking it wasn't around in say, 1992.  But was it around last year?  I need to do some research.

But wouldn't it be more fun to do another giveaway?  I think so, and since it's allegedly Cyber Monday, how about we talk about CSN stores.  I think you can find just about anything on this site.  It's got really cute cookware, purses, kids' toys and crafts, even children's luggage!  I also noticed they're having all kinds of sales right now, so I'm just sayin' if you were participating in Cyber Monday, you might want to check it out.
Or, if you were feeling a little freaked out about turning 35 in 7 days, perhaps you'd want to buy yourself a "you don't have as much grey hair as you think you do" present. 

I'm just throwing ideas around.

Anyway, how about a $35 gift certificate to this website?  Wouldn't that be splendid?  I have one for ya!  Would you like it?  Then keep reading.

Callie's getting creative again, folks.  No, I'm not baking brownies, and I'm not going to try and make a mobile for one of Hadley's friends.  But this time of year brings out the Martha in me, and I want to make creative gifts for people.  So here's what I came up with:  Hadley colors or draws about 456 pictures a day.  I can't keep track of them all.  I save a few in a scrapbook, but the rest I have been collecting to giveaway as Christmas presents.
I thought Hadley would enjoy being part of the giving part of Christmas, so I rolled up several of her masterpieces, and tied yarn around them, and told her she would be giving them to some of her friends and family.  We made little cards to attach to them with the family member's, teacher, or friend's name on it.  Then I asked Hadley to tell me one thing that she wants to say to this person, and I wrote it down.  After that she signed her name to the card.

This proved to be quite a successful activity.  First, because it was really easy for someone who likes creative projects, but doesn't always seem to be able to follow through.  Second, it was cheap!  I had all the materials, and really, Hadley did the hard work.  And third, Hadley loved telling me what she wanted to say to each person she was giving a picture to.  After awhile she said, "Mom, I think they are really going to like these notes!"  She really enjoyed trying to come up with something to say to each person, and I loved what she came up with (I would share some of what she said, but I don't want to ruin it for the people who are getting them and might read this blog).

Creative. Easy. Free.  That's what we're thinking about here, people.  So tell me.  What is the most creative gift you gave? Did it involve your kids?  Are you planning on creating a gift this season?  Did you get a gift that you thought was handmade and you loved? 

For a chance to win the gift certificate, leave a comment on this post with an idea you have for giving creative gifts. If you're a blogger, and you want to write your own post with a picture of what you did, let me know in the comment, and link my post to your blog.  I'll pick the one I like the best.  That's right, guys.  It's not going to be random ths time.  Ol' Callie's the judge.

How about we keep the contest open until Thursday, December 2?  That sounds good to me.  I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the Winner Is.....

Thanks to everyone who left a comment, or followed me on Twitter or this blog!  The winner of my first giveaway is Wendy!  Shoot me an email, and I'll send one of Sarah's adorable Coffee Hugs your way.  For those of you haven't checked her shop out, these things are so cute.  I just ordered three for Christmas presents, but I may have to reconsider keeping them for myself because how cute would it be to match your Coffee Hug to your outfit?  The styles these days are all about accessories, right?

At any rate, I'd like to thank Sarah for helping me out with this project.  I can't think of anyone better I'd like to show products off for. 

Moving forward.  Oh boy, are we moving forward, folks.  Here's a picture of what the girls and I did yesterday afternoon:

We walked to Dunkin' Donuts to have a treat.  I suppose that isn't really out of the ordinary considering my love of donuts, however, the reason we went to double D's is because for three nights now Hadley has slept without her beloved OG.  ("OG" is a pacifier, not "original gangster" as some might assume.)
I know!

This was not something that was planned.  Quite honestly, I was thinking Hadley would have it for several more years, maybe graduate from high school with it.  We'd been telling her she would have to get rid of it, but then bedtime comes and neither one of us is in the mood to follow through with it.

Except that Saturday Hadley dropped it in the toilet.  And that was the last one.  Talk about cold turkey.

Do you remember that scene in Mr. Mom where Micheal Keaton tells his son he has to get rid of his blanket?  We kind of lived that Saturday night. 

So yeah, I took her out for donuts yesterday afternoon because by jove, I'm proud of her.  I know she's four.  I know speech pathologists everywhere are banging their heads on their desks, or parenting experts are screaming "SPOILED" into their Twitter accounts.  But we all have our faults. For years, I slept in my parents bedroom because I was convinced someone whose name rhymes with Teddy Freuger was going to come get me and turn me into something that resembles pasta sauce.  But look at me now!  I turned out juuuuuuussst fine. 

Harper still uses a pacifier.  I don't think getting rid of it will go over as well as it did with Hadley.  It's just a hunch I have.  That's OK, though.  We'll deal with it when that one falls into the toilet, too.

I keep this little log to remember stuff like this, and also so that Hadley and Harper can remember too.  I don't whether Hadley will remember her first night without an OG, but what I would like to remember was that evening after she'd calmed down a bit, she and I were lying on the bed talking for a bit.  She had this look on her face that I imagine resembled what I looked like before I gave birth.  There are just some things we all have to do by ourselves, and going to sleep without an OG is one of them.  But Hadley did it, and she doesn't seem worse for the wear.  I hope that, like I felt before I gave birth, despite being afraid, she could take this next step because she feels supported by me and Jesse.  I hope she knows that we think she can do anything, even the scary stuff.  That's what my family does for me, and that's what I want to do for Hadley.

Yes, I believe I did just compare giving birth to getting rid of a pacifier.  Just wait until I write the post about teaching the girls how to pluck their eyebrows.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful in 2010

Does anyone else do this?  You are getting ready for an event, say, Thanksgiving, and you think about what you were doing last year at this time?  I do this all the time.  It relaxes me for some reason. 

So last year, I was really sick.  Oh my goodness, I was so sick.  The only thing that kept my head up was that I was furiously reading through the Twilight series and I couldn't be bothered with painful earaches or fevers or whatever because I was wrapped up in a story about a vampire and a werewolf for Pete's sake. 

Anyway, I think about being sick, and the Twilight series, and my cousin and her family coming to visit that weekend.  Even though I wasn't feeling well, it was a fun weekend.  I think my favorite memory was hanging out at the hotel Tara and Pete were staying in, and ordering pizza.  My girls and their boys were running around like crazies outside the hotel room, and the four adults got to sit, eat pizza, and have a beer.  I remember we laughed a lot.

So I think about that, and then I look at this post.  Then I go ahead and think about what I'm thankful for this year. 

I'm thankful that Hadley and Harper spend more and more time playing together.  It is so fun watching them learn how to communicate with each other.  They do a lot of coloring and reading books together.  This is one of their favorite afternoon activities:

They're having a "Booknic."  I put down a blanket and they get a bunch of books to read.  And of course, a snack.  You can't read books without having a snack. While we're on the subject of reading, I'm thankful I get to review Story Time for Me books.  Hadley enjoys playing on the computer when we let her, so I thought she'd like reading these stories from their website.  Turns out, Harper likes them, too.

They are reading a story called Fern Meets Some Animals.  This program is very easy to navigate.  The girls loved listening to the story, and I liked that it focuses on telling the story.  The options at the bottom of the screen make it easy for Hadley to turn pages if she needs to, and while there is a little animation while telling the story, there is an option to turn that off.  I appreicated that.  But what the girls liked was reading a book about animals.  And when an elephant came into the story, they were mesmerized.  Here they are trying to sound like an elephant:

If you want to check these stories out, you can click here and get two free stories.   I'd say it's worth a look especially if you want to see if your kids will try and sound like an elephant. 

I'm pretty thankful that I got this published.  And it made the cover, as a matter of fact.  (No, that's not Hadley on the cover.  Just her name.) 

While I'm bragging about myself, I may as well say that I'm thankful that over the weekend on Twitter, this post got retweeted with the plug, "the most adorable DC mama blogger ever."  Not too shabby, huh?  Thanks Bethany, for the plug!  (Click the link to find some of her writing.  She's all over DC writing about fun stuff.  And she got in Christian Science Monitor).

I'm thankful for a lot this year.  I'm thankful for preschool, and ballet lessons, the library, and all the parks we have around our area.  I'm thankful for our babysitter, who, I believe is probably the best babysitter in the world.  I'm thankful that I have a husband who lets me take his computer to Starbucks so I can pretend to write really important things on it.  All these things are good because they allow me to be a better mom.  Which is good because what I am most thankful for is my children.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Very First Giveaway

Have you ever read The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series?  They're fabulous books.  They're about jeans.  And friendships.  And a really cute guy named Kostas.  I read them along with two great friends I met teaching, Lisa and Sarah.  The three of us got in a bit of trouble once talking about the books during our lunch break.  We were discussing the "rules" of the pants the four main characters have to follow while wearing them.  Our administrator overheard us and said, "WHAT ARE YOU GUYS READING?!?!  YOU BETTER NOT BE READING THOSE BOOKS OUTLOUD IN CLASS!!"  He wasn't a quiet fellow.

And we were reading them outloud in class.

These stories are so intertwined with my friendship with Lisa and Sarah.  One Friday morning before school started, Lisa and Sarah walked into my classroom to chat, and Lisa was wearing the coolest pair of jeans I'd ever seen.  She was telling me a story about something and I said, "I'm sorry Lisa, I am not paying attention to a word you're saying because I love your jeans!"  And Sarah agreed.  We needed a pair ourselves. 

That Friday was a half-day of school. So later that day, when I think we were supposed to be working on curriculum, Lisa, Sarah, and I went to the mall and bought a pair of jeans just like Lisa.  They're my very own "sisterhood jeans."  I bought them in 2002 and I still have them. I won't get rid of them because when I put them on I feel brave, and I remember the risk I took in leaving my first job and going to teach at Goshen Middle School. And I remember meeting Sarah and Lisa. 

Taking risks is scary.  Putting yourself in a different environment is nerve racking.  You might not like it.  You might fail.  But you might also find some friends that make you laugh so hard you think you might die.  And you might walk away from that situation with a great pair of jeans that reminds you to take risks and be brave because you have friends rooting for you, even when they're far away.

Thankfully, I'm still in touch with Sarah and Lisa.  I work on a pretty cool project with Lisa, and today, I want to talk about these adorable Coffee Hugs that Sarah makes.

You can find her Etsy shop here.  These things are so cute, and I'm thinking about using them as stocking stuffers, maybe wrap 'em around a Starbucks gift card or something like that.  I love the patterns she chooses, but I think the buttons are my favorite.

Sarah came up with the idea for a Coffee Hug after a trip to Starbucks.  "I had taken the plain brown cardboard sleeve off the cup and was playing around with it. It came apart easily, and when layed flat, the shape was very simple. I realized that I could make one from fabric. I spent most of that afternoon making a pattern and sewing my first Coffee Hug. I made the first one with button and loop closures, and I now make reversible Coffee Hugs that close with velcro as well." 

Did I say the best part was the buttons?  Maybe I should take that back.  The best part is drinking my coffee while folding laundry....
...and having a touch of style added to my morning made by a good friend. 

Or having a reminder on an otherwise "normal" day.....

...that I have some stories to tell my daughters about the friends I made when I was a teacher. 

However, NFN readers, you might think the best part is that Sarah wants to give one of her Coffee Hugs away for free!  That's right, folks.  I have one that she sent that is wrapped in a pretty bow with her Coffee Hugs tag on it.

Want one?  Here's what you can do:

1)Leave a comment on this blog.
2)Be a "follower" of this blog.  Geez.  That sounds so Junior High.  Well, I used to teach those kiddos, so there you go.
3)Follow me on Twitter: @calliefeyen

Heck, do all three!  I'll pick someone at random, so the more times you enter, the better your chances are.  I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, November 23. 

In the meantime, go pour yourself a cup of coffee and be thankful for the friends you have that make you laugh until you cry, or cheer you on when you're doing something difficult, or bring out a talent that you didn't know you had.  I know that's what I'm going to do....just as soon as I change Harper's diaper.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paper Dolls

About a month ago, Hadley was looking through a coloring book and found a picture of Oscar the Grouch that she wanted to color.  She walked up to Jesse and I and said, "I'm going to color this picture.  Can you rip it out of the book for me?"  We did, and about 45 minutes later she brought it back to us.
All I'm saying is that seeing your child do something for the first time never gets old.  This was the first time Hadley colored inside the lines, and since then she colors about five pictures every day.  It's her activity of choice. 

Recently, she's gotten into the "color by number" pictures.  She likes to figure out which crayons are needed to complete the picture, and then put them in a special "coloring bucket" for easy access.  She takes this stuff really seriously.

Basically, Hadley has become very interested in creating things, so when I had a chance to check out these Christmas Paper Dolls created by Python-Printable Games, I was quite interested in seeing what Hadley would think of them.

We got two sets of paper dolls and Christmas outfits to play with.  The first set is colored, so all you have to do is cut them out.
(I cut each outfit out, then put them in envelopes with a little description so we'd be able to use them again easily).

The second set we could color ourselves.  Guess which set Hadley wanted to work on?

Once I cut out the outfits, Hadley had fun dressing her doll up.  Let me just say that my four year old has a much easier time dressing a paper doll then dressing a Barbie.  She just folds the paper tags over the appropriate body parts and she's good to go.

In this picture, Hadley is taking her doll to a party.  She had a whole story line going where the girl had to take a shower first, and then put on her dress.

Hadley and I had a great time playing with these paper dolls.  I think Hadley liked making up stories to go along with the outfits the best.  I like the variety of outfits this doll had.  There were party dresses, ski and ice-skating outfits, santa suits, elf suits, even headbands and gloves.  You get these out and you're on your way to a Winter Wonderland.  It's gonna be great.

Python Printable Games gave me a link to some *FREE* printables.  If you'd like to check them out, click here.

[Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Over the Weekend......

We made funny faces in our Notre Dame t-shirts.

Had some treats.

And read some stories.

It was a quite productive couple of days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All Hail the Playdate

Our friends Emily and Neil had a baby girl last month, and since Emily was more than willing to show me around DC the first year we lived here, I thought it was only fair to welcome her into the world of playdates. Seems like a fair trade.  Emily introduces me to Politics and Prose, Colorado Kitchen, Kramerbooks, all sorts of interesting places, and I have her over for some coffee and mass chaos.

 Harper was quite welcoming.  Here she is waving and saying, "Hi Katherine!"

And Hadley thought it would be nice to read Global Babies to Katherine while she ate.  Here she is showing her a baby from Malawi.

Dinner and a show, right?  You are welcome, Emily! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harper's Two

Yestereday, Harper turned two years old, so we thought it appropriate to do a little celebratin'.

We went to Panera for a birthday bagel.
While we were eating breakfast, Harper entertained us with "knock knock" jokes.  Here is her formula:
Harper: Knock! Knock!
Me: Who's there?
Harper: Banana Cookie
Me: Banana Cookie who?
Harper: Banana Cookie Mama!
It's gentle comedy, no?

Hadley had school, so after we dropped her off, Harper decided to do a little artwork.
We opened presents.
We got Harper some baby accessories and a stroller.
Hadley loved them.
Despite taking Harper's birthday present hostage, Hadley was very excited to celebrate her sister's birthday.  Without any prompting, Hadley told me on Monday that she wanted to get a present for Harper. I asked her what she wanted to get her, and she said, "I don't know.  I guess I'm just going to have to go to Target and look around."

So Jesse took her to Target, and Hadley picked out a Hello Kitty notebook, and a little Diego and Baby Jaguar toy.  Harper loves Diego and Baby Jaguar, so I think Hadley picked out some great gifts.

Hadley also wanted to make wrapping paper for the presents, so on Monday night she made these designs:

Hadley made the heart because, in her words, "I love Harper soooooo much." 

Diego and Baby Jaguar were a hit.
So were the baby things once she got them away from Hadley.

And of course, we had birthday cake.

It's a gingerbread cake, and after I made it I realized it looks just like a chocolate cake.  If the girls saw that and thought it was chocolate, they would be really mad once they found out it wasn't.  So I covered it with powdered sugar and sprinkles. I learned this "sprinkle tactic" from my friend Alison. When we were on a sort of student council in college together, and would have to make signs for events, she would say that if you didn't think your sign was attractive enough you should just put polka dots all over it.  I thought of her yesterday when I was decorating the cake, and I'm mentioning her on this post since she terrorized me on Facebook with some extremely dirty words because I didn't include her in my post about Round as a Mooncake.

I like 2.  I like it better then 2 weeks or 2 months.  I'm looking forward to what Harper does with her toddler years.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Should be called "Daylight Wasting Time"

I have a vivid memory of sitting at my desk at Longfellow Elementary School, looking at the clock on a day or two after Daylights Savings occured.  I was thinking, "Last week at this time, we would've been eating lunch but now we have to wait a whole hour."  Or, "If it were last week, I would've been finished with this long division worksheet and on to the next thing."  (I'm not sure that is true.  I don't know if I've ever finished a long division worksheet no matter how much time I've had.  It's a wonder I made it to high school.)

This desire to get things done (or eat) isn't something that has crept up over time with the stress of term papers or jobs, or whatever.  I was born with it.  So when Daylights Savings comes around and everyone is hooting and hollering about that extra hour of sleep, I'm thinking, "Sleep?  Why would I want to sleep? I could get so much more done!"  It's sick, but it's who I am. 

I appreciate that Jesse has this same issue.  He and I both got up early on Sunday morning with the giddiness of getting things done.  The thing is, the other two members in the family had items on their agenda as well, and woke up early too.  So Sunday ended up looking something like this:
And this:

Getting things done indeed.

While we're thinking about checking off items on a list, organizing, and that sort of thing, I have been asked to write a product review for Oliver's Labels.  This is a company that makes labels for kids' stuff.  You name it, they have a label for it.  I was particularly interested in trying these labels out because now that Hadley is in school, I have to label everything.  Lunchboxes, shoes, jackets, gloves, hats, extra clothing, etc.  I am not used to this.  When we get "gentle reminders" sent home saying, "Make sure you label your kids' stuff", they are talking directly to me.

So I was able to test these guys out on Hadley's stuff and see whether they stand the test of a preschoolers' way of life. 

The "Stick-Eez" Clothing Labels work well and you can run them through the washing machine and dryer.

The original labels can go on things that you want to run through the dishwasher, or put in the fridge.
And these are my favorite:
Note that their shoe labels are in the shape of feet!  I think that's so cute!  Oliver's Labels suggested I use the right sticker for the right shoe, and the left sitcker for the left shoe, but I was too excited about the cuteness of the labels and just stuck them on Hadley's shoes without thinking.  So far, it hasn't been a problem for Hadley.

Another nice feature that this company provides is stickers for food allergies.  You can order labels that say "no nuts," "no dairy," etc.  Plus, there are several designs to choose from.  I had a hard time deciding between the "Animal Faces" and the design that is in the pictures above.

The nicest thing for me, though, is that I don't have to write Hadley's name on everything with a Sharpie.  My handwriting ends up looking like I was writing my daughter's name while in a hurricane.  You just slap these on and you're good to go.  Haven't you always wanted to be good to go?

So for those parents who need to keep track of their kids' things, you might like to hop over to Oliver's Labels and check out their product.  After all, you have that extra hour now.

[Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ain't No Party Like A Grand Rapids Party

'Cuz a Grand Rapids party don't stop. 

Here are pictures to prove it.

We partied at Boo at the Zoo (or was it the Zoo goes Boo?  I get it mixed up with the DC Zoo).

We tried to start a dance party at 25, a restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids.

Watch closely, folks.  You're not going to want to miss this fancy footwork.
If you were inclined to watch it again and perhaps sing a-long, the words are as follows: "Dance with me on the floor!  Move your feet just like this."  And then you just make stuff up that rhymes.

But the party doesn't stop there!  Oh no.  We made cupcakes.
And we ATE cupcakes!

And there were presents.  Lots and lots of presents.
And the party is STILL not over.  We have the "Big 2" next week, so we're all trying to keep things nice and calm before our next bash.  Halloween candy does not help in executing this objective.