Thursday, December 31, 2009

Toys my kids ACTUALLY play with

I love this idea, but usually don't remember to post, and since we got all these wonderful new toys for Christmas this is the perfect time to share.  So here goes:

Christmas,opening presents

1.  Imaginenext Batman toys-  I am sure this is no surprise these are very popular in our house.  We have a lot of the various toys in this line through several birthday, Christmas, and their using their allowance.  At this point I think we have about 10 Batmans, 3 Robins, 1 Joker, 1 Mr Freeze, and 1 Superman (who I think is lost at a grandparent's house, not sure on that one). The link is to the entire product line, the feature in the carousel is what Batman got for Christmas.  I should add, we also got several of their other sets, including a whole slew of hand-me-down toys my kids are thrilled to pieces about.

2. Disney Favorite Moments Castle- This is the first of 2 castles Princess got this year.  She loves this one and carries it around, and now is working towards earning the Ariel that goes with this.  Why?  Because on the picture in the box it shows Ariel taking a bath, so now she NEEDS, did you hear me?  NEEDS Ariel.

3.  Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Princess Castle- This is actually the second castle by them we have.  And I'm not complaining.  I like this one because it came with furniture and a few more dolls than the original one we got, and it's a bit more compact.  I'm thinking this could be a great toy to bring with us on car trips.  The link at the beginning is to their various castle products.  Currently we have the Castle doll set, the Fold and Go and what I'm guessing is now a discontinued plain old boring non-gender specific castle.  I'm thinking for the boys birthday in a few months of going by Michael's and getting them some of the figures they have their Safari LTD figures.  Every time we go to Michaels this is the bribe for being good while I get my stuff, they get to play  with them in the store.  These figures are also the first thing they worked to save up for.  They saved for a couple of months to get $10 to buy a knight and his horse.

4.  Scooby Doo Haunted House Game- I'll admit I was dubious of this game when I saw it.  Gimmick games, and games based on TV shows or movies are usually not that good.  I can think of two now that I like, and this is one of them.  It's a pain in the rear to set up because of all the complicated pieces, but it's fun to play.  You're playing the characters from the show, and trying to get up to the top to see who is the ghost.  Along the way you trigger traps that might send you back.  This is VERY popular in our house.

5.  Legos-  I'm sure you're shocked my kids got Legos.  Batman got 2 Star Wars sets, Superman got a Star Wars set and a Castle set, and Princess got the Lego Camper set.  And it sells for a lot less at the store than it's selling for on Amazon, I mean half price.  Seriously.  I like the camper best because it stands up to my kids playing with it.  Most of the Star Wars Lego sets once the kids start playing with them break.  They're more made to be looked at than played with.

6.  Playmobil- Santa gave each of the kids a Playmobil set.  I really like the smaller Playmobil sets because they have lots of interesting stuff, but don't take too much space.  Of course my kids are trying to convince me to buy the Pyramid and the Victorian Mansion and every other HUGE set......  Instead they got a vet clinic, a pirate set, a smaller Egyptian set, and the kid's room.  I really wanted, I mean, Santa really wanted to get Princess the Pet Clinic but, it was sold out at every store I went to, and I went to several.  Sigh, oh well another time.  Superman tried to convince me we needed the Family Camper because he could take it with him to hotels.  This just means there are things to get them for future birthdays and Christmases.  It's all good.

7.  Leapster-  The kids each got a Leapster from my Mom, if this morning is any indication these are going to be super popular.  Superman spent all morning playing with his Star Wars game.  Next thing to do is start teaching them the boundaries and rules of having a toy like this.  That's for another day, right now it's new and we're giving a little slack.

For more ideas of what people got their kids go over to My Bilingual Boys.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guess where I got to go?


They put in a Lego store up at the mall near my in-laws.  Can I just say this was SOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun!

There was an area where you could put together your own set of Lego guys, and then the entire back wall was filled up with different types of Legos that you could build your own set by filling up a cup.  And you could buy Star Wars Lego guys on magnets.

IT WAS AWESOME!  I'm not a big fan of shopping, I have to admit, but I happily spent a good half hour in that store just wandering around looking at all of the different sets they had.  Sigh, so happy.

And having stopped by there turned out to be very fortuitous because after that Superman slipped and we went to the ER, and it was very handy to have a thing full of Legos for his brother and sister to play with while waiting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mailboxes and Dolls

dolls,sewing,Mommy crafts

Sadly, I don't have a better picture of my mailboxes.  I'm sure they'll be shown a lot more often because I plan to make that part of our school, writing letters.

Jackie over at Pocketful of Posies also has a crafting blog called: Blessings Overflowing where I found out about this idea.  I have to say hers are probably much cuter because she followed the pattern a bit better than I did.  As I was getting close to finishing I was running short on time, so I didn't put the little flag for the mailbox on, or something so it would stay closed.  Oh well, the kids love it.

And here's a close-up of the dolls:

dolls,sewing,Mommy crafts

This is a new outfit for Princess' birthday doll.  It's a new pattern from You Can Make This.  I'm super excited because I also won a couple of patterns for making pants for me and kids from Katie's Nesting Spot, that I'm going to be using a lot of paper and printer ink printing them out.

dolls,sewing,Mommy crafts

This is Superman's clone trooper.  I pretty much did what I did for his Halloween costume, except I haven't yet figured out a helmet.  Superman is convinced he needs a helmet.

dolls,sewing,Mommy crafts

Here's Superman without the clone trooper outfit on.  I had to make him a whole new doll because his original doll was Diego, and he's not as into Diego now.

dolls,sewing,Mommy crafts

Batman got an Anakin Skywalker doll.  I'm possibly going to remake the pants because the pants he has on right now have a tendency to fall off.  And that's not really good.

The boys are both convince that I still need to make their dolls boots to go with their outfits.  Which I'll probably do at some point, I have an easy way to make it on my embroidery machine, so it's a five minute project per set of boots.  It's just getting it done......

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas at our house

This is going to be one of those long posts with lots of pictures.  I'll warn you right now, it's "silly Mommy pic's" as I like to call it, that I love and my family will love.  So read on at your own risk, or some other silly warning.

Our family tradition is to open our family presents on Christmas Eve.  Jeff swears this was his family tradition growing up and he loves that tradition.  I was willing to sacrifice opening on Christmas morning and the opening of one present on Christmas Eve, because that meant I got MY Christmas Eve service.  That, and we've discovered this often makes scheduling with the different families much easier.


How do you end up with zillions of presents under a tree?  Well, there's five of us, if we each get 4 presents that's twenty presents.  Then there's a couple of presents for the various aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.  That probably added another 20 presents all told.  Then my kids started wrapping their own toys to put under the tree (I kid you not).  And if you notice there is some store bought paper under the tree, we ran out part way through and I didn't get a chance to make enough more.

Christmas,opening presents

Christmas,opening presents

The kids came downstairs to discover the mailboxes I'd made them (that's going to be my post tomorrow), and inside was their dolls with new outfits).  Ironically, the boys seem to be bigger fans of their dolls than Princess has ever been.

Christmas,opening presents

Batman got his much treasured Batmobile with a cage and Batman AND Robin.  Because we really needed another Batman.  Honestly I think we have 10 different ImagineNext Batmans.

Christmas,opening presents

Superman "helping" Princess open her present from Batman.  Since then they've emptied it of the food and use it to haul around whatever toys they're playing with right then.  This replaces the doll stroller for most efficient way to haul toys.  Second seems to be their new mailboxes......

Christmas,opening presents

Sigh, I'm going to blame this picture on Superman.  I think it looks "visually interesting," but there's no face.  We got a Wii for Christmas from my Mom, and I knew this would be a hug family hit.  And it has been.  Mind it takes about 10 minutes a lap for my boys, and they think the best part is when they fall off the road and have to be fished out.  I kid you not.

Christmas,opening presents

Jeff finally got to see the horrible wonderful presents the kids picked out for him.  I asked them what they wanted to get their father, and they said "clothes and work stuff and shoes and pajamas."  I dissuaded them from getting the crazy shirts they wanted to get.  I was not able to change their minds about his NEED, "he needs shoes Mommy," for dress shoes.  And the smurf pajamas.  I'm sorry Jeff, I tried, really I did.  I tried to steer him to the cool dragon pajamas, but Superman's response, "NO Mommy, those are scary.  Dad wants these."  Jeff did a much better job than I did at getting the kids to pick stuff I like.  They got me slipper socks (I will not run out for a LONG time), and lotions, and bubble bath!

Christmas,opening presents

The rest of the morning was spent in leisurely play.  We've actually managed to not open all of the presents yet.  I'm slowly opening them for the kids, to cut down on the mess.

Christmas,opening presents

Princess convinced Mimi (my Mom) to read her one of her Christmas presents.  I'm sure my Mom REALLY appreciates me sharing this picture, but I think it's cute.

Christmas,Christmas Eve,Uncle Sean

Christmas,Christmas Eve,Uncle Sean

That night we went to the Christmas Eve service.  I think this was the kids' favorite part: trying to make Uncle Sean fall.  Sadly my camera phone just doesn't get very good shots of moving people.  I think my favorite part of that was when Princess then sat on her brother as they were being dragged by Uncle Sean.

My proudest moment of the night came as we talked about what our present was to God for the year.  We talked about how we could give our time, or give to God learning more about Him.  Princess decided she was going to give God her candy cane she had just gotten (this is a half eaten at this point candy cane), but you could tell she thought this was a big gift for God.

That's PART ONE of our Christmas celebrations.  Part two comes as soon as I get it written.  I figure it's just mean to write an insanely long post about this.

Meh, decided to not make a part two, so I'm editing this to add it all as one.

Christmas,opening presents

Note to self, never leave your camera out in the cold car and then bring it in to take pictures.  It takes foggy pictures for the first few minutes.  The kids came downstairs and discovered Santa had eaten all of their cookies.  Santa showed great restraint in not eating up every single crumb from the plate.  I also hear that Santa shared one of the cookies that night when he came, very generous.  VERY generous, they're yummy cookies.

Christmas,opening presents

Santa brings to our house a stocking full of little presents, a video, and one bigger toy.  In this case each kiddo got a Playmobil set.  Which they were very disappointed to learn they couldn't open right away because they were going over to Mimi's house to open more presents.

Christmas,opening presents

Our family also has a tradition of turning whatever is handy into wrapping paper if you haven't wrapped your present in time.  This time it was paper bags turned upside down over the present.  Most common is a towel, blanket or shirt just kind of bundled around it.

Christmas,opening presents

The kids made Noco (my Mom's dog) a new doggy bed, and so they spent about five minutes chasing him around the house and trying to MAKE him lay on that bed.  They weren't really all that successful.

Christmas,opening presents

That's my sister-in-law Jenn opening her present.  I included this shot because it amused me so much that we got each other the same presents.  We both got the other Harry Potter movies.

Christmas,opening presents

My Mom gave the kids Leapsters.  In general I'm not a great fan of handheld game systems because I've seen too many kids completely ignore everything around them, but my thought was this could be a great thing for them to use on car trips, and for rest time.  We'll see.  I'm giving this a try.  And, it was a huge help for the drive up to Dallas that day.

Christmas,opening presents

And what would be a Christmas without a Lego set?  I don't think it would be Christmas without getting at least one Lego set.  I know I got them for Christmas through at least part of high school.  Yes, hi, I'm Ticia and I'm a nerd.

Christmas,opening presents

Princess got a Batgirl Barbie.  My Mom's fiancee found it, and I have to say it is SUPER cool.

Now our pictures start taking place in Dallas, where people constantly got in the way of my shots.  So, most of mine were backs of heads and such, but here's a few fun ones.

Christmas,opening presents,Wii

Christmas,opening presents,Wii

Playing Mario Kart, I didn't know the proper way to play is with your feet.

Christmas,opening presents

I love this shot of Batman wearing Superman's Christmas present.

Christmas,opening presents

The boys got LOTS of ImagineNext toys for Christmas, and they also got a big HUGE tub of hand me down ones.  So, they're set for toys for a while.


Here's one of my few successful pictures of someone.  This is my brother and sister-in-law, and they gave my kids some awesome presents.  Actually, everyone did, it was so much fun.


And my most successful present for my nephew.  Star Wars toys, he then proceeded to open it and spent the rest of the night playing with it.  Score!

That was our wonderful Christmas.  Of course the day after was spent in the ER, silly Superman, but all in all it was a wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Science Sunday: Experiencing REAL snow

For those of you who live in Northern climates this may not be a big deal to you.  But, for those of us down South it is.

It snowed up in Dallas and my kids got to find out what real snow feels like.

Their opinion:  it's fun and cold, and as Peter found out later that day it can also be slippery and lead to ER visits......  We are now going to have to start our ER visit count over.

snow,Christmas,science sunday

Here's what they discovered about snow: it's cold, that you can throw it.  If you pack the snow tighter it can be thrown farther.  They also discovered it's fun to throw it at Mom and Dad.  I wasn't quite so thrilled about that.

snow,Christmas,science sunday

Their Dad led them in an impromptu experiment about ice: Does it float in water?  Superman and Princess thought it would and Batman didn't.  They threw it in and it did float.  Then they had to repeat the experiment several times.

Then they tried walking on ice.....  That didn't end so well.  Superman, who you can happily see standing up there eventually slipped, and gave us quite a scare when he said he couldn't see.  In case you're wondering a child who has lost his sight gets quite hysterical, I mean REALLY hysterical.

So, then we got to see if the ER up here is any good, and I'm happy to report we had a great experience at the ER (well as happy as you can be about an ER trip).  Superman's CT scan came back clear, and the doctor said he has a very nice looking brain with no visible signs of swelling or bruising, and after he slept for an hour or so his vision did come back and we calmed down a lot after that.

I was actually originally going to be writing about the Chia pet we started, but this seemed like a much more timely post all things considered (seeing as how I"m editing this at 12:30 tonight, and I really should be sleeping.....).

So, anyone else do anything this week? 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What my kids are reading as of Christmas, or their Christmas books

You'll notice most of these are Tag books.  My kids love their Tag readers and play with them a lot, and they're great for car trips.

Clone Wars and Spiderman- we already have a copy of each of these books, but this cuts down on fight with the boys over who gets the current favorite.  So far Superman has played with the Clone Wars book 1 hour 33 minutes, and last time he took the quiz questions he got 84% right.  I'm sure you wanted to know that detail.

Princess and the Frog- we went to see the movie last Saturday, and it was AWESOME!  I loved the music, and the Princess had a lot of character and spunk.  I saw there was a Tag version of it, and knew Princess would love it.

The early readers- I honestly don't think they'll help with reading anywhere near as much as the books claim it will, but I do think they'll be good for the kids to take some time with it periodically.

Clone Wars Trade Paperback- I bought two of these, and it wasn't the one I linked to, but my kids love comics.  They also love their "Space show," but the actual show is getting too violent for them to watch.  This lets them get their fix and lets them read it.

I Am Batman- Because let's face it I have 3 superhero fans in my family, even though I call my little girl Princess she would really much rather be a hero.  She has actually told me her name is not really _______ (her real name) but Batman.

I know I'm getting them some others for Christmas, but they're wrapped up, and I don't have a clue exactly what they were.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A meal that went completely wrong and still tasted good

So really, I don't know how this meal could have gone much more wrong than it did, but here goes:

Mexican Enchilada Suiza Lasagna


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or beef stock, because when I got to that step I discovered I was out of chicken)
  • 1/2 pound shredded pepper jack cheese (ummmm, and then I found out I didn't have the right cheese, so it was colby jack and cheddar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 18 corn tortillas (I bought flour)
  • 4 cups cooked cubed or bite size chicken meat  (I used cooked chicken fajitas)
  • 2 teaspoons Emeril's Southwest Essence (oops, forgot to get this)
  • 6 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (oops, forgot to get this)
  • 1 cup chopped green onions (oops, forgot to get this didn't chop it up and put it in)
  • 3/4 pound (3 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (sigh was out of it, so cheddar again)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (was going to substitute Rotel, but was out of that, so I used salsa, and then the next day I broke the big huge bottle, it was a really bad week)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnishing, if desired (I always leave this out because my husband hates it, and has threatened to go major in bio-engineering to figure out how to destroy the "detestable weed," on this we'll disagree)
  • 4 ounces Queso Anejo, shredded (substitute Parmesan if unavailable), completely forgot this
So, as you can see I made a few changes.  Let me walk through what I did, and where I went wrong.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Melt butter, and then whisk in the flour in a medium large saucepan.  No problems here.

2.  Whisk in milk little by little, as you do so notice that this pan won't be nearly large enough.  This step it really does help to do it little by little, and I was very glad I actually LISTENED to directions.

3.  Add the chicken beef stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so and let it thicken.

4.  Add the cheese, wonder how with 10 minutes to get the cheese ready you're still needing to grind it up as you add it in.  Really, this day was horrible.  Stir until melted.

5.  Turn off heat and let rest while you get the rest of the stuff together.

6.  He has you heat the tortillas, because you know I had time for this while the kids were upstairs screaming, so we had cold tortillas.

7.  Grease a 9x13 casserole dish.  Or if you're stupid brilliant like me, decide you don't want a bunch of leftovers, and do this in an 8x8 pan.

8.  Pour about 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Cover this with a layer of tortillas.  Top with half the chicken and the seasoning I forgot to buy, the peppers I didn't get, and the onions I totally spaced on  salsa, and some cheese.  Start seriously thinking about cursing as you notice some green cheese, and you scoop off this entire layer, and do it over again.  Then add more sauce.

9.  Repeat step 8 until you've got a couple of nice layers.  Put one last layer of tortillas on, and then pour more sauce on and top it off with some more cheese.  Now, if you'd put this in a larger dish you'd have plenty of room to be able to put on the aluminum foil and not worry about it pulling off the cheese.  I didn't do that.

10.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 45 minutes, remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling.  In reality I baked it for 20 minutes, and then pulled it out of the oven because we needed to eat before we went to small group, and this day really couldn't get much worse.

FINAL VERDICT: despite the fact that I don't think I made it anywhere near how it was intended the sauce was pretty good.  Jeff would have preferred it as chicken and egg noodles with the sauce served over it, kind of like gravy.  It really was very tasty, but like a lot of things that day nothing went quite right, but we did eventually get to small group REALLY late, and had a LOT OF FUN.

Check out more great recipes over at I Blame My Mother.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Art Box: hodge podge

Okay, so I don't do well at just letting my kids have at the art supplies, mainly because they're not great at cleaning up. I do let them have some access, and here's what I've got so far:



They decorated the cover of their making words notebooks. I gave them stickers, glue, crayons, markers, and old worksheets to do what they wanted with. It was fun to see what they came up with. Batman is in the top picture, and Superman is in the bottom one. Hmmm.... strangely enough the pictures are all blurry.

But, here's some things I want to let them have access to:

pipe cleaners
stamp pads (this I do occasionally, but I've learned to keep them out of reach in general because of this, umm washable is not always washable)
water colors
colored pencils
stickers/collage materials

So, I'm going to do my best to get this moving........  We'll see how we do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Science Sunday: Umm I did nothing this week

I had great plans, honestly I did.  These plans were not really achievable with everything else going on.  I spent Monday doing shopping for my friend with cancer.  Tuesday was spent at their house cleaning and decorating it for Christmas.   I honestly have no memory of Wednesday beyond the boys well-check appointment.  Thursday was spent in the doctor for Princess' well check, and then trying to get follow-ups with an orthopedic surgeon for Princess' toe.......  Then Friday we spent forever cleaning up their rice mess, and just general house cleaning, and today we went to see Princess and the Frog (which by the way was EXCELLENT).

Instead I want to tell you about an awesome site I found a little while ago that has provided me with many excellent ideas Nature Detectives.  It has so many AWESOME ideas, and I could spend forever just wandering through their site drooling over the pictures and pretending that I am that much of a nature person.

And right now they have an Advent Calendar going.  You can look through previous days, and there are so many awesome ideas.  I will warn you, some of them aren't as applicable because it's a UK site, and so we may not have the particular tree or plant they're spotlighting, but still it's fun to read.  I really loved their Winter Twig guide from the Advent Calendar.

So, was anyone else actually able to get something done?  I have a couple of ideas for next week involving ice, or the airplane models we got at the Christmas party.

For more about Science Sunday and participating go here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Outing: Buying presents for your brother and sister

One tradition we started last year was each of us taking one kid and having a day out with them.  We'd take them to dinner somewhere they enjoy (and us mean parents rule out McDonalds, Mimi is much nicer and is willing to take them).  Then we go to a store and wander around and buy presents for their brother and sister.  And we go wrap all the presents then.

Last year I went with Princess, and this year I went with her again (luck of the draw).

night out

Princess and I went to Olive Garden and we colored pictures.

night out

We shared a salad and "White noodles," also known as fettuccine Alfredo.  And I learned from Princess remembered that food stolen from someone else's plate tastes much better.

night out

Then we went to Wal-Mart and got the boys Christmas presents and some extra pajamas, because who doesn't love footed pajamas?  Princess insisted that she needs to push the cart, which is a little exciting....

night out

And Princess showed me how to exercise using the shopping cart.  Oh to be a kid again, when hanging from a cart is the most fun you can have.

Of course the instant we saw her brother she had to tell them exactly what she bought them.  We're still working on the concept of secrets, as in none of my kids has any concept of it.

I love traditions like this.  Anyone have any fun Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Preschool Corner: Christmas Craft

The Candymaker's Gift- I read this to the kids about a week or so ago, and they haven't stopped talking about it since then.

The basic story is a candymaker wants to make a candy to help all the kids know the real reason for Christmas.

Ever since then my kids have been telling me nonstop about how a candy cane looks like a J and a shepherd's staff.

Supplies needed: red and white pipe cleaners (I had long ones I cut in half)

Christmas,craft,pipe cleaner

This is a great craft to do on the go, and it entertains your kids in the car, while waiting at doctor's offices......

All you do is hand them a red and a white pipe cleaner and have them twist it to make it look striped, and then bend it into a candy cane shape.

As simple as that.  This is great for fine motor skills and developing those finger and hand muscles.Christmas,craft,pipe cleaner


As you can see this demands great concentration.

And that's about the extent of our school this week, and for much of this month.  We've just had too much life school going on........

Oh, and for those of you who are curious, my kids did clean up their rice mess and it took the three of them almost an hour:



Sigh, kids......

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