Friday, December 23, 2011

Peter Arrived! (Elf on the Shelf)

Our Elf on the Shelf arrived... better late than never!  Lilian named him Peter (after we urged her to pick a new name, since we thought "Elfy" was kind of a crappy name.)  Day 1 he rode in on horseback with an army of horses (in case you don't know, Lilian is a horse fanatic).  Day 2 he camped out in our dining room.  And Day 3, we got to witness his superhero tryouts.  I can't wait to see how he surprises us the last two days (Christmas Eve morning and Christmas Day).  It is a surprise for me too, since Missy is the one to greet him and help him set up his scenarios after Lily and I go to sleep.  (And probably all her ideas, I bet Peter actually has little to do with them).

In case you arren't familiar with Elf on a Shelf... read about it here:   http://elfontheshelf.com/AboutUs/TheTradition.aspx

So, now for your viewing pleasure... Peter, Lilian's Elf on a Shelf.
(Click any photo to see it larger.  If you like our photos, i'd LOVE for you to PIN them on Pinterest, share the link, etc.  But please don't STEAL the photos and post them elsewhere without permission... that's not cool!)

DAY 1:







DAY 2:  (P.S. Except for the penguin, everything is EDIBLE!)




DAY 3:






(I'll update this same post when he reappears for Days 4 & 5 so please check back!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Books Recommendations?

I love to read. Always have.  I was the kind of kid that preferred buying books over toys, clothes, or shoes.  This year I read 110 books (so far).  I read a lot of good books... and a lot of really entertaining crap books too.

Every book I read between 2002 and 2010.


 Soon enough I'll be able to decisively say which my favorite books of 2011 were but I still have time to read a FEW more books this year...

So I need some recommendations.  Tell me, what are the BEST books you read this year????

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Contest Winner....

Random.org has chosen a winner for the $25 gift card from Amazon courtesy of WhitePages.com and Archives.com

The winner is...

The 10th comment belongs to Baba and Mama!  Please send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to the sponsers!

Thank you everyone for entering!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Something Annoying About Me

Wanna hear something about me that sucks?

I hate surprises.  I also hate uncertainty.
I enjoy anticipation... but i also have an underlying feeling of dread that accompanies it, fearing for a disappointment.

I'm a planner.  I want things written in my Filofax so i can see when exactly things will happen.  I may even be the last American to even USE a paper daily planner.  But something about seeing my weeks laid out before me in Pen is satisfying.

I'm OK with spontaenous.  But i hate the unpredictable.

Most of the time I just cruise through life, but every once in a while something pops up that i can't schedule or depend on... and i get anxious.

This is one of those weeks... and i'm anxious and not pleased about it.  But i also can't just wish it away.

Time is going by really really really really really slowly.  I think we're dead.
(If you get that reference, i love you a little more than everyone else.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dear Santa,

Recently I've had a couple of friends/family ask me for Christmas gift suggestions for Lilian.  Since she can't read, I think it's safe to post her about what Santa is bringing her and what she still may like...

Her big gift this year is going to be a train table.  She's been obsessed with them since she was a tiny thing (and I used to take her to play groups at the library where they had one) and building on the floor isn't always practical when you've got little chihuahuas running through your train set and knocking it down.  I'm not 100% sure which we're going to get, but we're leaning towards the Melissa & Doug one because of its simplicity (it also works for a dollhouse, blocks, etc. down the line) and its design (plain white will look better in our house than some multi-colored painted monstrosity.)

As for the train set, we're going to start building her a Thomas collection (Thomas the Tank Engine, wooden railway).  The pieces are kind of expensive, but very high quality, detailed, and as far as we can tell, the cutest around.  And it being a classic toy, we see it as an investment of sorts (for future kids/generations and/or a resale value).  Again, not sure which starter set we're going to get, but we'll get a few pieces/building/trains to start her off.

We also got her the Leapfrog Tag Junior reading kit.  It's basically a wand you put over the words on a book and it reads it outloud, it's a "learn to read" toy with great reviews.  It comes with one book and we have so far purchased one more (Disney princess book).  I'm not sure if the Tag Junior books are compatible with the regular Tag books, I have to research that, because she is mature enough for some of the Tag books.



*EDITED TO ADD* At a few mom's suggestions, I was able to exchange the Tag Junior and get the (regular) Tag. The regular Tag works with both sets of books, and this way she can use it for a long time...


Also this year we've been building her Lego collection.  She already has the pink bucket of Legos and the Bellvue horse set (see picture below).  But Legos are the kind of toy that you really need a bunch of sets in order to really build something cool.  (Note: we skipped the Duplos, and went straight for the Legos so her set will last her entire childhood.)

So for those asking, here are some gift ideas:

1.  Thomas wooden railway train set pieces.  Buildings/trains/trees/etc. 

2.  Leapfrog Tag Junior BOOKS

3.  Lego sets

She also likes stickers (so a sticker book would be adorable), baking (she asked for an Easy Bake oven but also kids baking accessories would be cute), painting (she already has an art desk), sports & balls, building, anything horses or seahorses, anything related to swimming/beach, she needs new Converse all stars (size 8, low tops), clothing size 3T for pants/tops/PJs, 4T sometimes works for tops if it's cut small.  She has also asked for a bathrobe like mine (terrycloth).

She has little to no interest in stuffed animals, dolls, Barbies, dress up things, party shoes, etc. She doesn't/won't wear hair accessories or hats or jewelry... and we have winter jacket, hat, gloves for her for this season.  She loves animals, but isn't much into any "human" toys (like Barbies).  And luckily for everyone, she's pretty much OVER her Dora obsession, so a Dora gift wouldn't really be age appropriate anymore.

Hope this helps!

Here are some photos of the Thomas trains and the Leapfrog Tag Junior in case you aren't sure what they look like.  (And the Lego horse set she has already)









*EDITED TO ADD* At a few mom's suggestions, I was able to exchange the Tag Junior and get the (regular) Tag. The regular Tag works with both sets of books, and this way she can use it for a long time...


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

I grew up in Jewish family.  We were only moderately religious (a very lousy version of reform I guess) and after dropping out of Hebrew school at age 11, I don't think my family ever went back to temple except for other people's Bar Mitzvah's and perhaps a funeral or two.  My religious life ended at age 11 or so, and our family now is one without religion.

That being said... as a kid, having the darkest house on the block in December, when many of the other houses were lit up with bright, twinkling lights was depressing.  As an adult, I knew I'd celebrate Christmas, not in the religious sense, but with beautifully decorated trees, sparkling lights, and presents on Christmas morning.  For me, it's just a holiday to celebrate the winter season and to show my loved ones my appreciation, and an excuse for family to get together.  We do talk to Lilian about Santa and reindeer, but when she's older, it'll just be a holiday to celebrate the season and family.

So, after 25 years of no Christmas decorations, as an adult, i LOVE to decorate for Christmas!  I love trees and lights and ornaments!  (Funny enough, my brother and his wife, who are both practicing Jews feel this way too... and even entered in some light-decorating contests where they live.)  I put up my first Christmas tree in 2004 and it's one of my favorite times of the year!  I didn't live in a house (we had a condo prior to 2007) until 2007, so I had no outside to decorate, but now that I do, it makes it even more fun!

So, for your viewing pleasure... my Christmas tree & lights this year... and years past!!!
(Click on any photo to see it larger).

Christmas Tree, 2011

Christmas Tree, 2011
 Our 2011 tree has a maroon/gold color palette, and a "nature" theme with ornaments that are acorns, pinecones, eggs, cardinals, birdhouses, snowflakes, deer, etc.
Christmas Tree, 2011 And Stockings for Dana, Missy, and Lilian

Christmas Tree, 2011 (M, D, and L ornaments.)

Christmas Tree, 2011


Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011 (from the street)

Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011


Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011

Christmas Lights, 2011

Please feel free to shower me with praise, because I think my tree took 15 hours to put up this year, and the outside lights probably about 2 hours.  And I love nothing more than praise.  Except chocolate.  And babies.  Then praise.

And here are Christmas trees of past years... actually EVERY single one of the Christmas trees I've ever had.

My very first Xmas tree, 2004.

My very first Xmas tree, 2004.

2005, Same tree, same spot - slightly different decor!

2005, Same tree, same spot - slightly different decor!

2006 - New color scheme!

2006 - New color scheme!

2007 we moved... and in the new house, I did this mini tree on Christmas eve.

In 2007, I was also newly pregnant.
2007 - First time in my OWN house = first OUTSIDE Xmas lights!

2007 - a red/white light theme

2007
2008 - Lily was a few months old, so only a mini tree again, green this year.

2008

2009 - Same mini tree, different color scheme.

2009
In 2008 I didn't bother with outside lights, but 2009 had a modest display.
2010 we moved again - a bigger house, and we got a BIG tree!

2010 - but I did the mini tree too!

The mini tree was blue/purple in 2010.

And the big tree had the same jewel tone color scheme as 2006 in 2010.

2010 didn't have any outside decorations either.
Click HERE to see our 2012 tree!

I think this year's tree is probably the best, along with 2006.  And this year's outside lights are definitely the best, my technique has improved some! 

Do you decorate for Christmas?  I'd love to see your photos - comment with a link to YOUR blog if you've posted them!

And while you're here... my blog is hosting a contest and a giveaway (December 2011)... go check it out and enter!  http://lilfamily13.blogspot.com/2011/11/contest-giveaway.html
Also - see the ads below this entry and on the right?  If you see one that looks interesting, please click! The advertisers like it, and it helps me out too!  One click!

Happy Holidays!  Keep checking back to see all the fun things we do for Christmas this year... including baking, visiting Santa, Christmas portraits, wrapping gifts, making cards, etc.
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