Family Nights: The Book Launch

Today is the day I launch my first ebook!  How exciting!  (Notice I said my first ebook?  That’s because there will be more.  Oh yes, there will be more.)

The book, titled Family Nights : Summer Season, is filled with 12 weeks of Family Nights, just like you’ve seen my family do on this here blog.  I’ve split them up into June, July, and August, so you can start as soon as next week!  Some of the themes are Camping, Father’s Day, Going Buggy, and Christmas in July Family Night.  Each night is broken down into crafts (you get a couple of choices with a list of materials and detailed instructions), dinner and dessert ideas (with recipes included in some of the nights), and activities to do together as a family.  I told you, it’s just like my family nights!

So, here’s the deal.  I published my book on lulu.com.  It’s a great site if you’ve never published a book before.  First of all, it’s free, unlike a lot of the other sites out there.  And secondly, they have all these tools to walk you through formatting and all that biz-nas.  The second I clicked the final button in the publishing process, I was actually published.  Yes, I am a published author.  (I know, I know, self-published… but so was the guy who wrote The Shack, so take that one home to your mama.)

The format that it is currently in is an e-publication.  That means that you can download it to your computer and print it out, BUT you can’t download it to your Nook or your i-whatever… yet.  It’s in the holding stall of being approved by Barnes and Noble and the Apple Bookstore, and I just heard that it could take weeks for their approval.

WEEKS?!?!

Yes, weeks.

We don’t have weeks!  This is a SUMMERTIME book, hence the title Family Nights: Summer Season.

Calm down, Erin.  Let’s just publish it as an e-pub and then when you get approval (because you WILL get approval) re-launch it for the folks who are super attached to their Nook or i-whatever.

(You just got a little glimpse of the conversations that happen inside this here head.  The magic behind the music, if you will.)

So, here’s the deal.  The book costs a whopping $2.99.  That’s it???  Yes, that’s it!  Less than your favorite drink at Starbucks (unless you drink drip coffee, and to you I say, why don’t you just brew your own?  Much cheaper.)

All the proceeds of this book will go toward our missions trip to Honduras this summer.  Well, unless we exceed our goal.  Then all the proceeds will go into my pocket.

So, please, go buy my book!  Just click this little button right here:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

And please share it will your friends!  Post it on your facebook page or tweet it or blog about it, but spread the word!  I would so appreciate it!

And, finally, I just gotta thank you guys.  If it wasn’t for your constant comments and encouragement I would have never kept writing like I have and I definitely wouldn’t have written this book.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
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May the force be with you

And all the Catholics in the house say, “And also with you.”  Right?

We had a Star Wars Family Night last Friday.  What is it about little boys and Star Wars?  I swear my boys were fanatics before they had even seen a single movie.  And now that they’ve seen all but episode three, ONE TIME EACH, they literally know every single character name and could pick them out of a line up.  Weird.

Then again, maybe I’m raising geniuses.

Anywho, Star Wars Night…

While Caden was at school Jacob and I whipped up a batch (or three) of Wookie Cookies.    I’m not entirely sure what makes them “Wookie.”  Maybe the cinnamon or extra vanilla, but I told Caden that it was because Chewbacca delivered them to our door.  (Jacob and I also have Caden convinced that the Sparkletts guy is made out of water.  He’s always bummed that he comes when he’s at school.  I guess he’ll find out the truth this summer.)

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Elijah is so cute eating his Wookie Cookie.  My little ewok.

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After our after-school snack, we made our very own light sabers.  One of my good friends made these for the boys last year and we loved them.  a) They don’t break.  b) It’s a weapon that they can’t actually hurt each other with.  Win, win.

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They are very easy to make… and cheap!  I got all the supplies at the 99 cent store for a grand total of $9 and some change.  It’s just pool noodles and duct tape (black and silver.)

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Here’s Caden with his Yoda Ears posing just like the real thing.

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See?

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I know.  The resemblance is uncanny.

I was Princess Leia, of course.  Although the buns look a lot like Ewok ears, so I could’ve gone either way.

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Jacob didn’t dress up, but we decided Geric was Chewbacca because he’s the tallest.  He didn’t dress up either but he walked around making Chewbacca noises.  I almost video taped it for you guys but he wouldn’t let me!  Darn it.

For dinner we had this:

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It’s Han-burgers with Vader taters, trees of Endor, and Yoda Soda.  And then I died because it was all just too cute!!!

After dinner, I had a couple of cute games planned.  One was light saber practice, where we were going to use our new light sabers to keep balloons up in the air.  And then we were goign to play, “Don’t Drop Yoda,” where I was going to have strips of papers with different actions that we had to complete without dropping a little Yoda doll.

BUT, Geric became the hero when we unveiled Star Wars: Episode II, which up until that point, the boys hadn’t seen.  So, we forwent the games and watched a movie instead.

Sidebar:  I totally tried to act all grossed out when Anakin and Queen Amidala were falling in love by saying, “Ewww, close your eyes!  Soooo gross!” and things of that nature.  But Caden pulled the mature card and said, “Mom, stop.  They just like each other, okay?”  Ummmm… okay.  Sorry, son.

Another successful Family night for the DeVincenzos!  I’m getting so good at it, that I wrote an entire book about ’em!  It’s actually already published!  (Crazy, right???)  I’m just waiting to hear back that’s it’s all formatted correctly for the Apple Bookstore and Barnes and Noble.  Hopefully soon you can download 12 fun-filled summer evenings of Family Night goodness to do with your own family.  Yay!

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Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
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Family Nights: The ebook

I’m SO excited, peeps!  I was up until 1am last night finishing up the writing part of my ebook!!!  Did you hear me… MY ebook!

I’ve been neglecting Jacob all day today (but he just told me that he likes watching TV, so he’s okay) to figure out how to get this baby published.  Fingers crossed and prayers lifted, that it’ll be ready to go and in your nook/kindle/ipad/pdf-formatted by the end of the week.  Eeek!

But until then, here’s a little preview of the cover I made.

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What do you think?

Family Night: Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Hola!  Me llamo Erin.  Tengo cuatro anos de espanol en la escuela y vivo in Honduras para tres meses.  Tambien, I was una maestra para muchos ninos que hablo mucho espanol, pero no hablo espanol muy bien.  No se como conjugate verbs correctly, especially in the past tense.  Que horror!  But I try.

I thought it would be awesome to have un noche de espanol during our Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but no one else in this house speaks as well as I do.  And that’s saying something, folks.  So I just threw in my favorite spanish phrases from time to time.  Senora Funk (mi maestra de espanol en la escuela secondaria) would be proud… and she would probably call Geric a tortuga, because he tends to do things at a slower pace than most.

We actually celebrated Cinco de Mayo on quatro de mayo.  The boys had a tickets to an Angels game on Cinco de Mayo so the celebrations had to take place a day early.

And I don’t know if you know the history of Cinco de Mayo and why it’s actually celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico, but I read up on it.  You should too.  Que interesante!

Jacob and I started the day off early while Elijah was napping and Caden was at school  We prepared our dessert… mexican brownies, that turned out asi, asi.  Not my favorite.  Even forgot to take a picture of the end product.

The boys worked together to make a pinata out of a paper bag,

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and Caden helped me make our first batch of homemade tortillas!  They were super easy to make, but if I do it again I think I’ll invest in a tortilla press, just for kicks.

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For dinner we ate Chipotle Bean Burritos.  Que delicioso!  We found a bunch of funny cheap dress up supplies at the party store (a sombrero, a flower for my hair, maracas, and a mustache) AND for our beverage… Margaritas!  I made them virgin margaritas, so the boys could have some too!

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The best part was Saturday morning when I asked Jacob what he wanted for breakfast and he said he wanted a margarita with his oatmeal.  Perhaps I should’ve changed the name… ay ay ay!

After dinner we went out back and hit the pinata.  (Just a side note: Elijah had a meltdown right before dinner, so he did not partake of family night.  Pobrecito.)  I didn’t want to fill it with candy, so I had let them each pick a toy from the toy section at the grocery store earlier that day.

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After the pinata fun, we went inside for a mexican hat dance.  So fun!  And so funny!  It started out with just some normal bailando, pero…

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Jacob got tired…

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and Caden chaneled his inner Billy Elliot!

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This one I’m saving for his senior yearbook!

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Oh, the hilarity!

Elijah woke up just in time to bust a move… although I think he thought the maracas were microphones.

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All in all, another fun family night!  To see the rest of our family nights, click here.  Feel free to steal one, I promise you will have a good time.  Que bueno!  

Claro que si!  

Adios amigos!

Hasta la vista!

Okay, seriously, bye!

 

 

The Candle of Hope: Family Night

Last year, we started a new family tradition of celebrating the season of advent, or the weeks that lead up to Christmas.

No, we’re not Catholic, but they’ve got some good traditions over there in their fancy churches.

Anywho, last year we got through three weeks and then I had to go throw a wrench in the plan and have a baby.  That put an end to the family nights for awhile.  This year, I am determined to family night it for all four weeks!

So, last night was the first candle in our advent candle holder. (We have a candle holder and not a wreath.)  It’s the candle of hope that symbolizes the hope the people had for the coming of a Savior, Jesus.

So, to start things off, yesterday afternoon I gathered the boys on the rug, and took their picture… because they’re so darn cute.  Right?

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Then we talked about how before Jesus was born, God had said that He was sending a Savior to the world and how the people were waiting, and hoping for that Savior to arrive.  I taught them Micah 7:7 from the New Living Translation as a memory verse (with hand motions that I made up to help them remember) and then we read the story of another man in the Bible who had hope in God, Daniel.  We read the story of Daniel and the lion’s den out of Jacob’s kid Bible and they were really into it.

Next, we did a little craft.  We made lion masks to help us remember that because Daniel hoped in God (not in himself or the king or the other men) God honored him by sending His angels and closing the mouths of the lions!

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Here’s the finished products.  Elijah was a little scared of the masks.  I don’t blame him.  They look a little more like cannibal warrior masks, than lions.  Maybe?

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Next, we prepared dessert for the night, zebra cake!

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We figured if the lions couldn’t eat Daniel, they were probably pretty hungry, so we needed to feed them lion food.  You know, zebras and stuff. I found this cake mix with chocolate and white cake in the same box, but you could easily buy a box of each and make it yourself.  Just prepare each batter and then take a 1/4 measuring cup and alternate scooping chocolate and white cake into the bottom of cake pan.  It should end up looking like a bulls eye, like this.

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We frosted the outside to make it look extra zebra-ish…

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and the inside looked really cool when it was finished!

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For dinner we ate meat, because those poor lions were starving.

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After dinner we talked about how Jesus is our hope for everything!  He is our hope for forgiveness (John 1:29), our hope for freedom (Romans 8:2), our hope for salvation (John 14:6), and our hope for all we need (Matthew 6:33.)  Then we worked together to make a poster titled “DeVincenzo Family Hopes for 2012” where we wrote out all our hopes for the upcoming year.

This is the part where I totally underestimated my kids.

I thought they would think of all concrete things, like “I hope for new legos!” or “I hope for a fast bike!”  Things like that.  So, I decided to start them off and said, “I hope for a fun vacation so we can spend fun time together as a family.”  (A little concrete thinking, mixed with a little abstract, right?)  Then Jacob said, “I have one!  I hope Lauren gets healed this year!”  Tears.  Lauren’s doing great with her new heart but she has been in and out of the hospital with low white blood cell counts and low platelets and getting sick and getting better, and we’ve been praying for her everyday, and it just overwhelmed me that she was the first thing my 4-year-old thought of when we were thinking of our hopes for the new year.  We must be doing something right. 

Here’s our finished poster.

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Then we lit our candle of hope.

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So, far this is my most favorite family tradition!  What’s your favorite family tradition during the holidays?

Are You Ready to Rumble???

Do you have sons?  Let’s talk for a sec.  What is with all the wrestling???  It’s a boy thing, right?  I grew up in a house with sisters and I don’t remember us doing any wrestling, but boys could wrestle morning, noon, and night.  And sometimes they do.

Unless there’s blood.

Then I stop it.

Last week, I decided to make the most of all the physical contact and we did a wrestling family night!

During the day the craft was pretty simple (for the boys.)  They made up wrestling names, that sounded very macho and intimidating and drew posters.

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And then we decided to draw mustaches on their faces with washable crayola markers. I don’t know why. Don’t ask.

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I, on the other hand, grabbed a couple of old piece of fabric I had used as table clothes for a luau party and a hot glue gun and whipped up a couple of wrestling outfits.  (It’s seriously amazing what can be done with a hot glue gun.  Can I get an Amen?)

So, here is Caden the Snake with his coach, Daddy.

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And here is Jacob the Giant with his coach, Elijah.

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I got to be the “round girl.”  Geric I discussed the possibility of me wearing a bikini and heels as I paraded around the living room holding “round” signs above my head… but we decided against it.  I feel like the baggage my boys have to carry into therapy is getting kinda heavy already, so it’s time to be choosy about what else we’re adding to it, you know?  So here I am (fully clothed) holding a round sign.

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Round 1 *DING* was thumb wrestling.

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Caden was victorious!  Those pesky fine motor skills, Jacob.  Soon enough yours will be strengthened, my son.

Round 2 *DING* was arm wrestling.

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After some coaching from Geric, Jacob was able to pin Caden a couple of times.  So we called this round a tie.

Next we took a small break for dinner.  We went Asian for dinner. (Gotta love the frozen section at Trader Joe’s!)

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I know what you’re thinking… Chinese food???  Wrestling???  I don’t get the connection.  Stayed tuned for round four.

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Just as cute in a headband!

Round 3 *DING* was good-old-fashioned-pin-you-to-the-mat wrestling.  And let me tell you, this was the most fun.  Seriously.  I think the boys thought I had lost my marbles when I actually encouraged them to wrestle, but they had so much fun.  And I realized that I need to relax a little on the wrestling thing.  There were times during this round that I was sure that Jacob was going to get hurt and burst into tears, but I think he had more fun than Caden!

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See how excited Jacob is!

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Then Daddy joined in.  He couldn’t help it.  It’s in his y chromosomal tendencies.

Round 4 *DING* was sumo wrestling!  (Get the dinner connection now????  I realize that sumo wrestling is actually from Japan, while our dinner originated in China, but they’re all from the same continent, okay?)

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Hilarious, right?

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This was by far the funniest round!

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Elijah felt left out so he got in the action when the boys took their sumo outfits off.

After the wrestling was over we headed down to Cherry on Top for some frozen yogurt, which has absolutely nothing to do with wrestling, but gosh darn it, it’s good!

Oh, and before I go, there’s a new link on the sidebar of my homepage.   (If you click HERE you’ll get back to my homepage.)  Anyway, I made a button that says “Family Nights” so you can find all the Family Nights we’ve done in one simple location.

You’re welcome.

Now go have a family night!

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Goodbye Summer Family Night

I was looking through my blog a few weeks ago and I realized that I was a way better mom before I had three kids.

Truth.

I’ve heard it from a lot of mommies.  Two is doable, manageable, one-on-one team formations.  Three?  Three throws you over the edge.  I have heard though that if you can get to three and survive, then four, five, six, and so on, are no big deal.  Just throw ’em on the pile!  (Not that I will be testing out that theory.  Rest assured, I will not.  But that’s what I’ve heard.)

Anywho, Elijah has only had one Family Night with us, because my mothering skillz have been less than stellar.  But I have decided to put a stop to that.

Family Nights are back in full effect!

We’ve had two already and I plan on posting them once-a-week-ish.  (Don’t hold me to it, k?)

Here’s our first.

I decided that since school was in full swing, we should say goodbye to summer.  I also thought saying goodbye would make the terrible heat go away, and it did work for a few days, but now it’s back.  Dreadful, I tell you.

Anyway, the afternoon craft was twofold.  First the boys painted a picture of their favorite part of summer.

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Here’s their finished products.

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Caden painted his Cousin Kristyn who spent the night at our house a few times.  Jacob painted himself.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “What did you paint Jacob?”

Jacob:  “Me!”

Me:  “You’re your favorite part of summer?”

Jacob:  “Yeah.”

Oh, if we could all have such great self-esteem.

It came out later (after some coaxing from Caden) that while it is a picture of Jacob, he is roasting marshmallows at Maw and Pop’s house, so he got the concept.  😉

The second part of the afternoon craft was writing a letter to Summer saying goodbye.  I wrote it (obviously) and then they went on a sight word hunt and found different words that I called out.  They had fun with that.

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Next we started dinner prep.  We decided we had to use the BBQ so it was chicken and veggie kabobs, brown rice, fruit salad, and homemade ice cream for dessert.  (Yum, yum!)

Here are the boys helping me chop the fruit for the fruit salad.

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And here is our spread.  How about a collective, “Mmmmmmmmmm!”

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For our activity we went swimming in the pool (that is slightly green… but nothing as bad as the actual ocean so I don’t really feel bad.)

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I found some water balloons to fill up and we had a little water balloon fight.  I seemed to be the target most of the time.

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And here is a picture of the whole family.  Now a collective, “Awwwwwww!”

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After our fun in the sun, we came inside, got ready for bed and had some yummy, yummy cookies n cream chocolate chip ice cream.  I didn’t get a picture.  I was too busy licking my bowl.

Now, go out and have your own family night this week!

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Love Day, Family Night

Before we get into family night, I thought I’d let you all know I settled on “Queen of the Jungle.”  Good call, Stef!  Love it!  Sums up my life pretty accurately.  🙂

Okay onto Valentine’s Day!  Yay!

I was never really a hater of Valentine’s Day, even when I was single.  Once I got married, Geric bombed our first Valentine’s Day BIG TIME!  And just because I’m declaring that publicly does not mean that I’m holding a grudge.  I swear.  Because since then, he has made it up.  In fact, I don’t really know why I decided to share that, but I did.

Anyway, my point is that since the kids have arrived, the day pretty much revolves around them.  And, honestly, it’s a lot more fun that way.

What does that say about my marriage?  Hmmmm…

Anywho, we started off the day with pink heart pancakes.  Always a hit!

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After breakfast Caden passed out heart stickers to everyone.  He asked if he could put one on Elijah and I said it probably wasn’t a good idea because he might pull it off and put it in his mouth and choke.  (I know, worst case scenario there, but you never know!!!)  Anyway, as I was putting Elijah in his swing later on, I noticed this:

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Caden said he put it in a spot where he wouldn’t grab it!  Hahaha!  And thats my only picture of Elijah on Valentines Day!  How sad!  But he seriously slept a lot, through most of the day actually.  No wait, here’s one from my phone:

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In the afternoon we started decorating for dinner.  We were supposed to watercolor, but since Caden and Jacob threw the watercolors over the fence into our neighbors yard (Seriously?  Seriously.) we decided to use crayons instead.  I had the boys think of everyone they loved and I wrote their names down on paper.  I cut out hearts around them and then we colored the hearts (they were supposed to paint here.)  We were going to hang all the hearts from the light above the table, but they thought of so many names that that seemed like a very daunting task.  I opted for taping them to the fireplace mantle instead.  Nice.

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We decorated our table with new valentines placemats (from Gammy), flowers (from Ger), candles, and fancy glasses.  Beautiful!

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For dinner we ate spaghetti and heart shaped meatballs.  Yummy!

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As we were eating we listened to Love Songs on the KOST, KOST 103.5.  Did you just sing that in your head?  Because I was singing it as I was typing.

We were going to play a game after dinner involving numbers and a dice and love, but time was running short and Caden has school tomorrow, so, we all went around and told each other something we loved about each other.  It was actually really sweet.  I got all teary eyed a few times.  Can someone say hormonal?

For dessert we ate chocolate covered strawberries.  The benefit of eating by candlelight is that you don’t realize how messy your children’s faces are… until the flash goes off!

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Yowza!

Here’s my sweetie and I!

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Then the boys and I cuddled on the couch for some “Be my Valentine, Charlie Brown” while Geric cleaned the kitchen. (Told you he made it up!)

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Fun!  Simple!  Great way to celebrate the day!  Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Grab a banana… it’s Monkey Night!

Last week we brought back Family Night for the first time since becoming a family of five.  And in honor or our newest little monkey (which is what I call all my boys) we decided it’s only fitting to have Monkey Night!!!

The day started off at the park, where the big boys climbed on the monkey bars,

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and swung in the trees!

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Elijah kicked it in the stroller.

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It was so hot when we got home, that we monkeyed around some more in the backyard.

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Seriously, have you ever encountered this much cuteness in one spot???  I didn’t think so.

We prepared our dessert for the evening, banana bread.  Yum!

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Once Geric got home, we got dressed in our money attire, which consisted of pajamas for the boys and I,

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and the cutest little hat for Elijah.

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For dinner we had leftover lasagna.  (Hey!  I have three kids now!  Cut me some slack!)  Plus, I call Caden my Monk-a-noodle.  It’s a cross between a monkey and a noodle.  So….

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And we made Monkey Bread!  Does anyone else remember when Little Ceasars served Monkey Bread?  I mean, before it was called Crazy Bread?  Or is that just what my Dad called it???

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When I was feeding Elijah, Geric read Curious George to the big boys.

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After dinner we played a game of banana hunt.  Jacob was actually REALLY good at this game.  Which makes me wonder, why is it that he can’t ever find his shoes on his own???  Hmmmmmmm….

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Another fun family night! Now, go plan one with your family! It’s fun! Go bananas! Ha!

Advent: Week 3

This week’s advent candle is the Candle of Joy.  This seemed so much easier to tackle than the Candle of Promise or the Candle of Preparation.  And it was in some ways, but it was just a hard day for me.  I’m SO ready to be done with this pregnancy that I kept having to remind myself to stay joyful throughout the day, otherwise, what’s the point, right?

The boys and I talked about what joy is and then we started to make a list of things that bring us joy.  After a few ideas, I thought I would spice things up a little bit and send them on a treasure hunt to find things that I knew brought joy to them.  So, I would give them a clue, and off they would run to find their “joyful surprise.”  They loved it!

First, they found Abby and Emma!  Look at Caden’s face!  So sweet!  After we put them on our list, he kept running over to their pictures and kissing them and saying, “They are soooooo cute, Mom!  I just can’t stop looking at them!”   Such a great cousin!  I hope he loves his littlest brother as much.  🙂

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Then they found stickers in the dryer,

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marshmallows under their pillows,

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a picture of themselves playing naked in the mud (got a few laughs!) in the hamper,

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and finally Jesus under the desk!

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We talked about how after Jesus was born, the angels came to the shepherds in the field and told them about the birth of our Savior and then sang for joy!  So we made a little angel craft using their feet and hands.

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For dinner we ate angel hair pasta with lemon chicken and broccoli and we had some angel food cupcakes for dessert that the boys had helped me bake.

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During dinner, Geric read us this part of the story from the Bible and we sang Joy to the World.

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Then, we talked about how Christmas isn’t just about getting presents under the tree, but it’s also about GIVING, and how we can experience joy through GIVING.  We told them that there are some boys and girls that won’t be getting anything for Christmas but we can help them by buying them gifts and giving them to our church.  We gave each kid $20 and went down to Target to go shopping.  It took a little convincing for them to experience the joy in buying someone else a present, but they did a great job!

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We dropped their toys off yesterday and they were really excited to do it!  So proud of them!

Next week is the Candle of Love, but I’m really hoping we have a new baby by then, so we might do something low key… like sit around and tell each other how much we love each other.  🙂