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Archive for the ‘holidays’ tag

September 15th, 2014 at 10:31 am

100 Days ‘Til Christmas


Can you believe there are only 100 days until Christmas? You are probably booing me right now….but with little kids, the more preparation time you have the better! Plus, the more you have done once Thanksgiving approaches, the more you can actually enjoy yourself during the month of December.

Here are some ways to get organized and prepared ahead of time:

Start your Christmas shopping list now. List each person that you need to buy for. If you have any ideas, great, list those too! Make sure to assign a dollar amount to them also.

Determine your Christmas budget. Add up the dollar amounts from your list above, but be sure to add a little extra. There are always gifts that come up last minute that you forget about.  Think about decorations, food, and all the other things that go into celebrating the holiday season.

Plan out items you need to make. Do you need to plan out your Christmas cards? If you have the picture you are using then you can get your card made and printed. They can be signed and ready to send out at a certain time. Are you making any gifts? Can these be started early? Make a list of things you may need to make these items.

Clean out your kids’ toys. The presents your children receive can take up a lot of extra space that you might not have,  so take the time now to start weeding out the old ones. Donate toys that they’ve outgrown or are are no longer interested in, and throw away  broken toys or toys with missing pieces that cant be replaced to make some room for the new ones. While you are doing this, take into account what things your children already have so you don’t buy something similar.

Start writing lists. Write a list of clothing needs, grocery lists, cookie choices and recipes, cleaning expectations, and more! Make your own holiday notebook to keep all these lists organized.

Christmas goes a lot smoother when things are organized, so get a head start today!




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July 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am

Why I Love the 4th of July


The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a kid, I woke up early and sang songs like the Star Spangled Banner and This Land Is Your Land at the top of my lungs.  I would unroll the family flag and my sister and I would have a flag ceremony where we would march from the back door to the front flag stand. We would hang the flag and then say the pledge of allegiance.

Here are some of the reasons I love the 4th of July…..

  • the colors – red, white and blue
  • parades
  • patriotic music played by bands
  • kids waving flags
  • decorated bikes and strollers
  • pinnacle of summer
  • barbecuing
  • s’more brownies
  • fireworks
  • lawn games
  • special outfits  to show patriotism
  • my mom wears her flag pin
  • snow cones
  • family gathered together
  • water games
  • God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood

What are your favorite things about the 4th of July?



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February 10th, 2014 at 10:25 am

Favorite Valentine’s Day Books

ValentinebooksOne of my favorite things to do to prepare for Valentine’s Day is to share stories of love with my little ones. A tradition of ours is to snuggle on the couch with some fresh chocolate chip cookies and milk while we read some of our favorite Valentine’s Day books. I wanted to share a list of some of our favorites that we have shared through the years.

The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond

One day it rains hearts, and Cornelia Augusta catches them. Each heart is special in its own way, and Cornelia Augusta knows exactly who to send them to.

Happy Valentine’s Day Curious George! by N. Di Angelo

George and his friend celebrate Valentine’s Day with decorating, card making and the kind of mischief that only a monkey can make!

Clifford’s First Valentine’s Day by Norman Bridwell

When Clifford was a baby he got into so much trouble on Valentine’s Day, but continues to be Emily Elizabeth’s favorite year after year.

Hedgehug, A Sharp Lesson in Love by Dan Pinto

A great story that you have to find the right person to love you for who you are.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Our favorite mouse from If you Give a Mouse a Cookie celebrates Valentine’s Day.

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane de Groat

The story of a prank gone wrong changes the pranksters heart in the end.

The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting

An old favorite from my childhood shows that even if you have never celebrated Valentine’s Day you can always start!

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Rose! by Lucille Colandro

If you have read any of the books in this series you know that this book makes the classic song come alive in a different manner.

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

This book shows that a mother’s unconditional love will never be changed.

Olive, My Love by Vivian Walsh

We love the book Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh so were excited to see this title.  This funny story is a great example that anything can happen if you follow your heart.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam Mc Bratney

My boys have heard this story since they were first born. They love the story of the endless amounts of love a father and son can have for one another.

Pete the Cat Valentines Day is Cool by Kimberly and James Dean

Pete discovers how special Valentines can be and makes Valentines for everyone.

Print this list and take it to your local library, then snuggle up and enjoy the stories of love with your little ones all this week!

 Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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December 27th, 2013 at 10:46 am

Preparing for Next Year’s Holiday Season

dec26Once the presents are opened, the cookies are eaten, and the family has gone home, it is time to start to decompress and evaluate the holiday season.

First you have to think about what things you would add, change or keep the same. Think about some of these things:

  • What were your favorite things this season that you wouldn’t change?
  • What changes would you make to have the holidays go a little easier?
  • What did you absolutely dread doing this holiday season and how can you make it better next year?
  • Do you feel like your family left the season experiencing the magic and joy of the season? How can you change things to recapture these feelings?
  • Were you calm or stressed during the season?
  • What things do you wish to add to next year’s season?

This is a great way to remember changes or additions when the holiday season planning rolls around next year! While you are taking down decorations, write of a list of supplies you may need and decor that needs to be replaced. This is also a great time to think about recipes you came across and want to try and ones you don’t want to make again.

It’s never too early to start thinking about lists! Make a list of all the different people you purchase or make gifts for  and write down ideas as the year goes on. I also make a list of ideas for our Elf on the Shelf, Alex, and fun activity ideas we want to try next year. I like to keep all these things stored in Evernote, but a written list works just as well.

Enjoy the magic of these last few days, but also take some time to reflect on how to make next year’s season more enjoyable!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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December 23rd, 2013 at 8:24 am

Christmas Morning Breakfast

DSC05382Christmas morning is always spent out our house. The kids get up early and rush in to tell us that Santa had arrived! Typically we go downstairs, read the letter that Santa left and open presents. I usually like to have an easy breakfast that I can have ready to bake while we are opening the presents that Santa left for the boys.

One of my favorite things to make is breakfast casseroles. The best part of these is that you have to assemble them the night before and just bake them in the morning. That makes these super easy  and ready to go. Here are some of my favorite variations:

Baked French Toast Casserole

Egg and Sausage Casserole

Mexican Breakfast Casserole

Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Bananas and Chocolate

Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole

If you want to spend a little more time in the kitchen on Christmas morning there are other options. Last year my husband made homemade waffles.

Breakfast Pizza

Fruit Compote

Pecan or Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Christmas Hat Fruit Skewers

Puffy Pancake

This year we are having pecan and cream cheese cinnamon rolls in the shape of a christmas tree, bacon and sausage (my oldest’s request) and fresh fruit salad. What are your favorites for Christmas Breakfast?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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December 20th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Easy Holiday Appetizers

holida-appetizersMy favorite thing at Christmas is all the appetizers and snacks. The best part is on Christmas Eve when we have a buffet of appetizers while we open presents. We all have favorites that have to be there every year, but then we fill in with some new things. When I was growing up that was my favorite part of the evening, even though the buffet didn’t come out until after 10 pm. Now, we have this instead of dinner. My mom likes to keep some of the same things every year, whether anyone really eats them or not.  It’s our tradition to fill your plate with bite size food. That’s how I associate Christmas the most.

Here are some of my favorite appetizers:

Veggie Pizza

Tortilla Roll Ups

Chicken Baseballs

Taco Dip

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Stuffed Mushrooms

For more ideas check out my pinterest board.

What are some of your favorites?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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December 17th, 2013 at 7:57 am

Gifts That Give Twice

helping handsTis the season for shopping and giving. Love it or hate it, it’s hard not to get swept up in the materialism of buying things for people. Not to mention the difficulty of finding just the right gift for everyone.

It’s great to give this season’s must-have toys or electronics, but giving opportunity to someone in need can really capture the spirit of giving, especially for those on our list who really don’t need any more “things”. And there are many ways to do that.

If you want to give locally, consider donating to a local school’s classroom project with Support literacy by donating to Reach Out and Read, which provides free books to families via their pediatricians. Both of these sites allow you to find needs right in your community and allow you to choose where your gift is actually going.

Most communities have a Meals on Wheels Program that provides nutritious meals for seniors and the housebound. There’s also God’s Love We Deliver in the tri-state area that provides meals for those who are sick.

Toys for Tots and the USPS Letters to Santa programs are great ways to help provide toys to needy children to make their Christmas special.

Global organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam and Heifer International make it easy for you to donate mosquito nets, vaccinations, goats, bees and other sustainable gifts that can give a struggling family a chance to pull themselves up.

Also, look to your favorite stores and brands for opportunities to give back by buying items that include a charitable donation as part of the purchase price. TOMS shoes provide a pair to someone in need for every pair purchased. (Red) has a wide range of items that provide a portion of the proceeds to fight HIV/AIDS.

There are teachers, children, seniors, veterans, disadvantaged women and youth in your community and around the world that need a helping hand. And there are many ways you can do just that. And from my own experiences, the response to a charitable gift is much more gratifying than the response to a tie or iPhone case. That’s the spirit!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 13th, 2013 at 7:49 am

Making Christmas Treats with the Kids

cookiesEven since my nieces and nephews were little (they are grown adults now) I loved our tradition of making Christmas cookies together. I now do this with my own boys and love the interaction. This is an activity that kids of any age can participate in. They look forward to helping make the treats and having their certain jobs. Not only do they gain baking knowledge, we throw in a little math lesson without them knowing. They take such pride in their work when they see the finished product and are happy to share them with everyone. Plus, the baker and baker’s assistant always get to taste the product first. That’s the best part!

Here are some easy treats to make with your kids…

Puppy Chow - my boys can eat bags of this!

Sugar Cookies - these are so good!

Pretzel Turtles – easy treat that makes a great gift

Bugle Bites - we make ours with milk chocolate

Rice Krispie Wreaths

Peanut Butter Kisses

Make it more fun by having special aprons for you and your children. Take lots of pictures and don’t worry about the sprinkles all over your kitchen. Those make the best memories!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.




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December 6th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Handmade Gift Tags

photoEvery gift needs a to and from tag. You see stacks of expensive gift tags to buy. Did you ever think of making your own?

Now, I know some of you are saying – I’m not creative or crafty, but I have some easy options for you. Or you can put the kids to work!

I like to purchase either the large or small address labels found in the office supple stores. There are so many things you can do with these to make them fun for the holidays!

Add Stickers: Buy some holiday themed stickers for the kids to apply.

Color on them: Let the kids go crazy and decorate each with a photo or scribble all over the page.  If you are more adventurous get out the paints!

Print a picture: Take a photo of the kids and add it to decorate the label. Even better, have the kids color a christmas picture, scan, shrink and put it on each label and print out!

Glue on fun things: Use old buttons, ribbons, and other fun things to decorate the gift tag

Get crazy – there are so many fun options to decorate tags. Just ask your kids to be creative!

If you want something not made by kids check out these printable options:

Printable Holiday Tags

Bright Gift Tags

Fun Gift Tags

Mixture of Gift Tags

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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December 2nd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Handmade Gifts Children Can Make

handmade-ornamentsMy favorite gift to receive from my children is always a handmade one. It is so fun to see all the care they put into it to make it special just for me! Here are some ideas for easy gifts that are perfect for your kids to make for teachers, family and friends.

Ornaments – The possibilities are endless. Use paper and photos, pipe cleaners or practically anything found in your craft box. Be adventurous and make salt dough ornaments you can paint.

Soap Dispenser - Use art work as the design for the transparency. Shrink it down and color copy it for an amazing design.

Candle  - I love this idea using children’s artwork on tissue paper. Great idea to spruce up a regular chunky candle.

Handprint Art – Pinterest has an amazing collection of everything and anything you can make with your hand. Make something and frame or upload to a calendar design. It’s great to collect kids handprints so you can remember when they were so little. I made adorable reindeer out of feet here.

Custom Canvas – Buy some white canvas and paint and have your child young and old create a custom wall hanging.

Food – Work with your child to create some cookies, bread, jarred mix, or even christmas candies or fudge to share. Snap a picture while they are helping and use it as part of the gift tag.

Now, I need to get start working on some gifts for my family. Be creative and have fun! It isn’t just about the gift but the quality time that you spend with your child while creating these!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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