Friday, December 24, 2010

No Chimney? No Worries.

Little did we know when we were house hunting, that having a fireplace should have been on top of the must-have list. For all of you prospective home buyers, if you have small children or are planning on starting a family, don't forget that Santa needs to get in through the chimney. So what are we going to do? We could leave a window unlocked but it wouldn't be safe, besides there is no way Santa's overweight body will fit through our windows. We need Santa's magic key!!!

A very smart secret Santa gave Eileen a Magic key so Santa will be able to come into our small-windowed-chimneyless-house.
I don't know if it was bought but it can be easily made.
Here is a picture of it.

The text reads:
"We'll hang our stockings on the wall.
We have no fireplace at all.
We'll leave out our Santa key,
plainly for you to see.
Your magic will make the key fit right,
so you can enter our house tonight."

So tonight, Matthew, John and Grace will leave some (Mrs. Fields) cookies (Santa's favorite), a glass of milk (and they'll hang Santa's magic key out the door.
See, No chimney, no worries.
I wish you all a very happy, safe, merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday cards, prints, calendars and more...

If you are (like a lot of people) a little bit on the procrastinating side and you are looking for some last minute gifts and greeting cards visit my store by clicking here.
Here are a few samples of what you can find.

Greeting Cards

Note Cards
Calendar Print
And much more.
So go ahead, have fun splurging and help keeping this blog going!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recycled crayons stocking stuffers

This is certainly not a new idea and I have seen it done many different ways, but here is how I recycled our crayons.
  • Unwrap the crayons and sort them by color. You can also mix some colors together for a funkier look.
  • Melt your crayons in a "bain marie" (in a container dipped in boiling water).
  • Once melted pour the wax into a candy mold.
  • Let it cool down, you can stick them in the freezer to save time. Once cool they will pop right out of the molds.
  • Put them in a box or bag with a little message. Mine will say "Have a colorful Christmas with these crayons." You can also add a coloring page that you can download from the internet. Click here for some free pages.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Personalized gifts from Glaze Pottery & Art Studio.

Here is a great gift idea for Christmas (or any occasion for that matter): a personalized pottery.
So we took our three little ones to Glaze yesterday, where they painted some plates and mugs for my family and they had a great time doing it.

I could not say enough about this pottery and art studio. Not only the owners and staff are very friendly but they are very patient and helpful with kids.
The quality of the pottery is excellent, Eileen had the boys decorate a mug for me for Valentine's day two years ago that I use almost every day, and there are so many different pieces to chose from, it is almost overwhelming.
So again, even if you are not from the area, take a drive up (or down) to Orangeburg, stop at Glaze and have the kids and yourself decorate a pottery and create some memories that will last a lifetime.

The Elf on the shelf.

It all started last year, as we came back from our Thanksgiving feast, we had a new bed time story to read to the kids. "The elf on the shelf" started a new tradition in our family, and from then on announces the start of the Christmas season.
It is supposed to make them behave since the elf is pretty much Santa's spy, and they want Santa to know that they are not being naughty. But most of all, it gives them something to look forward to. The first thing they do in the morning is look for the elf and then throughout the day they talk to him and interact with him. He is after all their way to communicate with old Saint Nick.
So if you do not already have one, I strongly recommend you get your own elf. The children will have a great time naming him; ours is Redstock, a combination of the color red and Woodstock (they are Charlie Brown fans after all), talking to him, welcoming him as a part of the household for the next few weeks and it will make them want to be nice. Will they succeed?

Friday, November 26, 2010

MommyO's Gobbly Cupcakes.

I often get on Eileen's case about her cooking skills but I have to hand it to her when it comes to her cupcakes. She can make some very cool (and good) ones.
Just check out the alien cupcakes she made for John's birthday party.
And since Thanksgiving is no exception we all got to enjoy her great turkey cupcakes.
What a way to end a great dinner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble-good turkey casserole

Matthew just came back from school with a very nice collage of a turkey. Inside is a recipe card that I would like to share with everyone. He even said that he would try it so I guess we will make it sometime this weekend.
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1 can cream of celery soup
-1 package onion soup mix
-1 cup rice
-11/2 cups milk
-2 or 3 cups leftover turkey
Combine all the ingredients in a large casserole dish.
Bake covered 45 minutes at 350ยบ.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas before Thanksgiving!?

Christmas is my favorite holiday, especially since we have kids. And as I am driving John to school this morning I can see that a lot of people have decorated their houses, the nativity scenes are in the front yards, as are the inflatable Santas and light-up Rudolph. However somehow I cannot quite get into the Christmas spirit. So I am starting to wonder what is wrong with me? Before I open the yellow book in search of the best shrink around, I look at my watch and realize that nothing is wrong. I know why I cannot get into the Christmas spirit yet. Today is November 23rd, we are more than a month away from Christmas, we have not celebrated Thanksgiving yet and Santa is already at the mall!!
I understand the commercial circus that Christmas has become (some people who have never set foot in a church celebrate Christmas nowadays) and that in a bad economy businesses are trying to capitalize on it as soon as possible. But please let us enjoy Thanksgiving first. It is one of the rare holiday that has not yet been tarnished by greedy business owners, one of the rare holiday where gifts are not involved. A day to be thankful for what we have, a day to stop for a few minutes, look at our children and be thankful for their health and ours, a day to thank everyone who help us (a big shout out to my in-laws who are at the top of the list), and if possible a day to help others.

So let us at least wait for black (or mayhem) Friday to start thinking about Christmas.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Behavior chart.

We have always considered ourselves lucky because our children are very well behaved in public. At least as well as kids their age can be.
At home, however the behavior is less than exemplary. Th
e boys spend pretty much 99% of the time fighting and getting them to clean up the playroom is more of a chore for us than for them, etc, etc...
So Eileen and I decided to start a behavior chart for Matthew that you can download for free by clicking here.
At the end of each day if he reached his goal(s) he gets to put a magnet in the corresponding box(es).
By the end of the week he needs at least 15 boxes filled to get a reward.
The reward does not have to be the same every week, it could be extra c
omputer time, TV time, a baseball or football card, a play date...
we will see how long it takes for the novelty to wear off but so far he has made a real effort to improve his behavior. So now we are going to work on a simplified one for John.
To make it more fun I made the chart magnetic and here is how you can do it yourself.

Using ModPodge, glue the chart on a 12x12 sheet of galvanized steel that you can find at any home improvement store. Make sure not to use aluminum.
Let it dry and apply 2 to 3 coats of ModPodge over it.
For the magnets I used some stickers that I found in the boys stic
ker box, stuck them on a sheet of magnetic paper and I simply cut around them.
I stuck it to the side of the fridge and here it is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Give Thanks Blocks

Time to get ready for Thanksgiving, and here is an easy project: "Give Thanks" blocks.Here is what you will need:
One piece of 3 by 3 lumber about 36 inch long.
Acrylic paint. (Fall colors; I used orange, green, red and golden brown.)
Gold acrylic paint or a gold paint pen.
Letter stencils.
Sand paper.

Cut your piece of lumber in 3inch pieces and sand the edges. You can skip this step by buying some blocks at your local craft store but how much fun would that be.
Paint the blocks in different colors and let them dry.
Using the gold paint pen, write the letters that spell "GIVE THANKS
" on the blocks.
If like me you are not good enough free handed, use the stencil and golden paint.
Let everything dry and display the blocks on a shelf or mantel.
Ours look great on the piano.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trick or Treat!!

This year's Halloween was great. The kids are really able to enjoy it now, even Grace, although she does not really know what is going on, but she loves following her big brothers.
What was so nice about this Halloween is that (almost) all the cousins were trick-or-treating together and they had a blast. They are all very close in age and they get along very well. I hope their friendship will last a long time.There is something about watching your little ones all dressed up in their costumes and walk up to a stranger's door to ask for candy. Then they run to you to show you what they got, and you can't wait to put them to bed and start binging on their KitKats and Milky Ways. And since the boys are great fans of Charlie Brown, they were relieved to see that no rocks were given as treats!The day was capped by a fantastic dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house; could not have been better.
With Halloween come and gone, it is now time to get ready for the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recycling some old boxes.

The other day, Matthew said he wanted to use an old shoe box to store some toys.
So I told him that we should make it look nicer.
I grabbed the comics page from the newspaper and glued it on the box with Mod Podge.
I applied four coats of Mod Podge leaving plenty of time to dry between each coat.
And we went from a boring old shoebox to a fun box that will look good in the play room.
When I was done with that project I had the idea to recycle a smaller box that I could use to hold a pipe cleaner flower arrangement. I wrapped it with an old sheet music using the same technique as for the shoebox.
Once it was done, I arranged a bunch of pipe cleaner roses in it and I left it on Eileen's night stand.
It's the little things...

Monday, October 25, 2010

I need some Zs!

According to Wikipedia, sleep deprivation is characterized by having too little sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. Long-term sleep deprivation has caused death in lab animals. Thank god I am not a lab animal. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. I wish the weight loss thing worked though.
Google "sleep deprivation" and you will get about 4,610,000 results!? I do not have to read all this material to know why I only get about 4 hours of sleep a night (on a good night).
Here is why: my days are too long hence my nights are too short. I still get the usual stupid comment "but you don't work during the day! How can you be tired?" blah, blah, blah.
As a little reminder, taking care of three kids ages 18 months, 3 and 5 IS work. And when most people's day is over I leave my shift as stay at home dad to go work my shift as restaurant manager where I will also deal with tantrums!! You should refer to "the fabulous life".
All jokes aside, lack of sleep can affect you big time. I am usually extremely patient, however lately I will admit that I 've had a short fuse. Tiredness can cause some loss of memory too. Some nights I look for my car for a good ten minutes before remembering that I parked it in a different parking lot. I am pretty sure that I'm not the only one in this situation. And unfortunately there is nothing we can really do about it. We do have to make ends meet somehow and if it means being a little overtired then so be it. I thought for half a second about selling the house, downsizing (if it is at all possible) and move the family under the TZ bridge but it did not sound so good. At least I get to spend some good quality time with my kids and I get to see them grow. So yes, sometimes on my way to the mailbox I forget that I am going to get the mail and end up wandering aimlessly in the driveway but I don't care I have 3 good reassons to be tired.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween memory game.

Here is an inexpensive and fun craft project. And since we live on a very tight budget we like inexpensive.
The list:

11/2 inch wooden discs

Halloween themed rub-on decals (or stickers)

Mod podge (or another sealant)

1 tin container

tissue paper

Start by wiping the discs with a lightly wet cloth to make sure they are free of dust.

Slowly rub the decals onto the discs. This step can be tedious so do not rush it.

Once this is done, you can apply the sealant. That will help preventing scratches.

Apply a few coats of sealant and and allow plenty of time to dry.

I found a container at the craft store that is just a little wider than the discs, so I decided to line it with some tissue paper. And there you have it.

The great thing about this project is that you can make it for any occasion and it makes a very nice hand made gift.
While I was waiting for the last coat of mod podge to dry I took a plastic golf ball from the kids toy box. I cut a small opening and glued it on top of a battery operated tea light. Using some small pieces of black stickers I glued on a face and made a tiny Golf-O-lantern!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Here is a a good alternative to the traditional Jack-o-lantern.Start by collecting some empty cans. You can use empty paint cans or I opted for some half gallon sized tomato sauce and juice cans.With a marker, draw some spooky faces on the cans. Remember that the more details on your faces, the harder it will be to cut out so keep it simple.Using a pair of utility snips cut out the faces. Remember to wear gloves, you are working with sharp objects. Or make sure you have plenty of band aid in stock and that your tetanus shots are up to date. I go for the gloves.Once all your faces are cut it is time to move to the paint booth.
Use some (outdoor) orange paint and spray your cans. One coat should be enough.
Once all the cans are dry line the them up along your driveway or display them in your yard with some tea lights inside. I use battery operated tea lights. I do not want to be known as the idiot who burnt down his house with his Halloween decorations. Plus they have a timer so I do not have to turn them on and off everyday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Halloween Craft. Pipe cleaner Frankenstein.

We are about a month away from Halloween which means that within the upcoming month I will try to post a lot of easy to make craft ideas.
Today let's start with some pipe cleaner fun.
Here is what you will need:
  • 2 green pipe cleaners.
  • 1 black pipe cleaner
  • 2 googly eyes
  • glue
  • nail clippers or scissors
Bend one of the green pipe cleaners into a square for his head. It does not have to be a perfect square. Twist the ends together to complete the square.
Wrap the excess pipe cleaner around the square. Use the second green pipe cleaner if needed until you have covered the entire square with green pipe cleaner.Using the nail clipper or scissors cut off a small piece of black pipe cleaner. We will use it for the mouth.
Take the black pipe cleaner and wrap it around the top of the head
. Again, it does not have to be perfect (we are making Frankenstein).Once you are done wrapping the hair, glue on the googly eyes. I glued one horizontal and the other vertical, he is a monster after all.
Glue on the small piece of black pipe cleaner for the mouth and voila!!
Now you can use it as a magnet, a pin or hang it for a nice ornament.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The fabulous life of DaddyO

Around 6:30am, I extract myself from bed and help Matthew get dressed, not that he cannot do it by himself but it will be quicker this way. Eileen already gave him his breakfast and she is leaving for work.

I boil some water for my first cup of tea (since you all follow my blog attentively you know that I quit drinking coffee about six years ago). I put a few (frozen) waffles in the toaster oven for John and Grace's breakfast.

7:10am, time to wake John and Grace and get them ready.

7:25am, the minivan is loaded and we are on our way to the bus stop.

7:35am, I kiss Matthew good bye and wish him a great day; I am so proud of him.

We are back home 5 minutes later, John and Grace enjoy (or not) their breakfast.

While they eat their waffles, the first load of laundry (today there will be only one, sometimes there are a lot more) gets into the machine and it is time for a second cup of tea.

While I clean up breakfast, they get to play (or argue and scream at each other).

8:45am the laundry is in the dryer and since the weather is beautiful, it is time to go outside.

The little ones play until around 10:00am.

After a couple of diaper changes (John is toilet training but...) we are on our way to the library.

We read a few stories play with a puzzle and after running after Grace for a few minutes it is time to pick up a few educational DVDs and head back home.

11:30am, Lunch time. Grilled cheese sandwich for one, chicken nuggets and pasta for the other.

Yogurts for desserts.

After lunch we watch a French educational DVD that we picked up this morning.

12:30pm, after another pit stop (diaper change!), it is nap time.

Grace falls asleep almost instantly, John will be another story.

I clean up lunch, fold the Laundry and it is time for a cup tea (my drink of choice in the afternoon).

I check my emails, get on the net, relax for a few minutes and at about 1:45pm, it is time to get myself ready.

At 2:25pm, I wake up John and Grace from their naps (we will pay for this later), change their diapers and we are on our way to pick up Matthew at the bus stop. In the afternoon we walk there. Actually I walk and they sit in the stroller. I always take a bag of Goldfish with us so they don't fuss. Our little kindergartner gets off the bus and we are back home a few minutes later.

2:55pm, snack time.

3:00pm, mayhem. Matthew and John keep arguing, John hits Matthew, he hits him back, Matthew is sent upstairs to his room and John in time out. I take a deep, no a very deep breath and boil more water (for my green tea!!!)

I get ready for work, I trade the shorts and Tshirt for a suit and tie. Matthew and John are back to normal but i know it is just a matter of time...

We all go outside, Matthew plays baseball and John rides his bike while I am running after Grace who tries to get out on the street.

Around 4:00pm, Mommy's here, I pass the baton and the crazyness.

I am now on my way to my "real" job; like the last ten hours I just spent were a walk in the park!!!

From 5:30pm to around midnight, I will be dealing with another kind of crazyness, trying to satisfy a bunch of spoiled people whose main problem in life is n over (or under) cooked dish.

I will be back home around 1:15am relax a bit watch the tube for a little while, get my ass in bed around 2:00 and we will do it again in about four and a half hours.

And this is the fabulous life of DaddyO, King of all Daddys.