Curly Crafty Mom: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Most Popular Post, Crafts, Recipes and My Favorite Picks in 2013

Ok, I am a little late on this post... but, it took me awhile to pull it together.

2013 was a good year for me... I realized a lot this year. I feel so at one with my husband, with my kids... this is important to me. I've made some great strides in personal goals. I feel I've made some good decisions on how to move into the next year. I have been really pleased with my little blog here, too. I am grateful for all of you that stop by to read, those of you that leave comments, or send me emails... Its been a wonderful ride this year and I thank all of you!! This blog is my hobby, I enjoy it so much... I hope you see that in my posts!

So, to wrap up 2013 on the blog... I decided to share with you my top 5 craft posts, top 5 recipe posts and my 5 favorite events I did this year!

My Most Popular Post of the Year...


Frozen Breakfast Burritos

My Favorite Picks (My 5 Favorite Blog Posts)
Our Disney Vacation Day 2 – Magic KingdomSo proud of us! We did it! 4 hour bike tour of Chicago! Def. one of the coolest things I've ever done!
The COOLEST part of our Chicago trip — Bobby's Bikes, Bites and Brews Tour in Chicago

My FIRST 30x30 Challenge (in May), I continued to do TWO more 30x30 Challenges this year, one in the month of August and November.

Well, I did it!  Another PR, finished in 2:09:20. This is a  before pic, my phone died so after pics are on Brian's phone. It was fun, but I'm def. a little sore.

Monday, December 30, 2013

GULP. How I did on my 2013 Goals.

Well, 2013 is almost gone. Can you believe it? I had wayyyyyyyy too many goals for myself in 2013. A little crazy to throw all of this on myself, what was I thinking?

Well, I think I accomplished about 50% of them. And, in 2014 I am going to try to stick to 1-3 goals for myself (and they won't have subcategories like the ones below! LOL!).

I am the most proud of my running PR's. Somehow I met these and I honestly did not think I would... and, on the half I PR'ed at more then 10 minutes less then I had hoped. Not sure why I improved on my running times so much this year, it may be that I ran over 700 miles this year... normally I run just a little over 500 miles. It may be that I've been running a quarter of each mile I run at a faster pace and I've continued to do hill training. I'm just not sure. I'm still trying to think about what I want to accomplish in 2014, do I want to set more running goals for myself? Do I want to try a triathlon? I'm not sure yet. I am not sure if running will be a major focus of mine in 2014... 

I do want to try a little variety in my workouts, all I do is run... and, it is getting a little boring... I hate to say that, but it is. But, I don't want to give up what I've built up so far with my runs... so, I am sort of stuck on what to do next. Sigh. Also, there are some other reasons why running may not be on the agenda for 2014...

I do want to make prayer and my relationship with God a priority in 2014. I really did not put my full self into this in 2013. Yes, I go to church a lot... yes, I pray with the kids... but, I need to pray on my own. I feel I need to get involved in a bible study... I want more one on one time with God. I also want to pray for others more, too.

Blog books. Ugh. Three words. 'I give up!!!!!'

On the blog front... I made great progress in 2013. I do wish I had more time to do more 'crafts and decor' for the blog, but I plan to work on that next year. I would love to grow my Bloglovin readers to 200 by the end of 2014... I didn't have a professional design, FB page or anything prior to close to the end of this year... so, I've accomplished that. I feel I have made some wonderful bloggy friendships through the 30x30 Challenge, Trendy Tot Tuesday and with just other bloggers that blog about similar things as I do. I have some great ideas for the blog this year that I cannot wait to share. I am also planning to open up an Etsy shop in the Fall of 2014. I know exactly what I want to sell and market and all I need now is time to figure everything out. 

Career Growth... more on that later.

I did follow ONE TV Show this year... EARLY this year, Downton Abbey. Loved it! I would like to get into a couple more shows. Oh, I miss shows! I am sort of keeping up with my magazine overload... I read them in the bath or on work lunches.

I have a lot of decorating to do at home still, most of the rooms I have started and haven't finished. UGH. I really need to tidy up the clutter in the basement... it is like ToysRUs vomited down there.

We went on several lovely trips last year... YMCA Trout Lodge, Disney, Chicago...

I did a Mondo Beyondo class last January, I would love to do this once a year. I am thinking about taking another class maybe in the middle of this year. It sort of helped me face up to what I really wanted in my life... fear was stopping me from expressing what I really wanted out of my life. More on that soon.

I didn't learn anything new about my camera this year. Arghf. I would like to work on that in 2014. I did partipate in the FMS Photo a Day this month... but, it is just iPhone photos. I really want to get better at using my DSLR.

Fashion/Clothes/30x30 - I really feel like I've learned what clothes I love to wear this year and what sort of style I want to continue. The 30x30 Challenge really helped me with this and also I have had a little more money to throw away on clothes/jewelry... I sort of feel like I wore rags before this last year, I feel like my clothes now are truly ME. People at work have told me this last year that I am just glowing, that my clothes are so much more cheerier and not just dark colors or the same ole all the time. They've also told me I am just so much happier, I think they are right. :) 

Anyway, if you care to read... the details are below... I'll probably announce my 2014 goals soon... once I figure them out. But, trust me. It will be a MUCH shorter list in 2014!!! 2014 is making me a little nervous... just a lot of big changes... exciting changes... but, BIG. Can I GULP again? :)

1. Running Goals:
- Run Go! Half Marathon this April and Rock N Roll Half Marathon in October.
- Run a 10K and a few 5K's (Color Run, Tulip Trot, Make Tracks at the Zoo, Oktoberfest, Go! Halloween (10K)).
- 2:20 or below Half Marathon PR. Killed this with a PR at Rock N Roll Half at 2:09:19!!!!
- 27 or below 5K PR. or just a 5K PR in general. PR'ed at Oktoberfest 5K at 27:00!!

2. Other Work Out Goals:
- Weights DVD 1-2x a week. I did really good with this at the beginning of the year, then stopped! And, I really need to tone up my upper body!
- Look into a kettle bell DVD Need to be more regular with working out to it, tho!
- Check out the Pilates gym (Keep saying I will, haven't yet! Now I really want to try a Barre Gym)

3. Religious Goals:
- Pray more. Pray more with kids. I need to work on daily prayers still!
- Take a bible study class at our church. Haven't had time to do this, I am reading Jesus Calling, a devotional book. I do plan to do an online bible study in 2014.

4. Make blog books:
- 2012 (Work on January-March)
- 2011 (Work on April-June)
- 2010 (Work on July-September)
- 2009 (Work on October-December)


5. Figure out how I would like to continue my blog Had Smitten Design create a new blog design, more DIY, Fashion, etc.

6. Career Growth - Fail

7. Get into a TV show (I miss TV!!), keep up with my magazines instead of tossing them after they've been unread for 5 months. Watched Downton Abbey.

8. Goals for the Home:

- Revamp Family Room. Worked on a gallery wall. Organize DVDs next? Still not done.
- Paint Master Bathroom (MLK weekend?) Now I need to finish the decor! I did finish a few decorating projects in the room, tho.
- Finish up Master Bedroom decor - Fail

- Clean/organize finished part of basement - Fail
- Clean/organize unfinished part of basement - Fail

10. Trips:
- Plan Disney trip with kids for this July Went to Disney in July!
- Take kids camping at YMCA Trout Lodge during their Spring Break or Mother's Day weekend Went on Memorial Day Weekend!
- Chicago to meet Wine Girls in Fall? No trip was planned for Wine Girls, but went to Chicago with Brian. Would love to do a girls weekend sometime

13. Mondo in January

14. Online Photography Classes I want to complete: Fail on this one, maybe in 2014.
- Our Fifth House
- Its Over Flowing

15. Change my primary DR to one that is at Mercy - Fail

17. Fashion/clothes. I would like to pretty myself up a little more this year. I wear the same jewelry every day and I have never been to Sephora. It would be nice to treat myself a little more. :) I've definitely updated my closet with clothes I love and new accessories... I want to continue to do this... Still need to plan a trip to Sephora!

18. Do a 30x30 Challenge (30 items out of my closet for 30 days). I am intrigued by this... I think it would be fun because it would take me out of my comfort zone. Did a May, August and November 30x30 Challenge. WHEW.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What I Read in 2013.

It is time for my annual 'What I Read In {Insert Year}' post... Last year (2012) I made it one of my resolutions to read 24 books that year... and, I did it. 26 books, actually... and one of them was the BIBLE. Since I felt it was a little difficult for me to read 2 books every month, I decided in 2013 I wouldn't set a number... I knew I was reading again and I would just read what I had time to read! I normally read while I am running on the dreadmill and while I am putting Autumn to bed. I do my normal bedtime routine with Autumn (read her a book, snuggle with her in bed, etc., etc.) and then I sit in the rocking chair in her room until she falls asleep. Not sure if I should still be 'sitting' in her room till she falls asleep since she is now 5, but that is where we are at... and, well... it gives me a little time to read.

If you want to see what I read in 2012, click HERE.

Also, if you a friend of mine on Goodreads, you can find me HERE. I love Goodreads, it lets you see what your friends are reading and it also lets you keep track of what you've read, you're reading and what you want to read.

Ok, so what did I read in 2013?

1. World Without End (The Pillars of the Earth, #2), Ken Follett (5 Stars)

2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1), Ransom Riggs (5 Stars)

3. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (4 Stars)

4. Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1), E.L. James (3 Stars)

5. Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2), E.L. James (3 Stars)

6. Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3), E.L. James (3 Stars)

7. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1), George R.R. Martin (5 Stars)

8. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe Superathletes, and the Greates Race the World Has Never Seen, Christoper McDouggall (5 Stars)

9. The Paris Wife, Paula McLain (4 Stars)

10. Allegiant (Divergent, #3), Veronica Roth (3 Stars)

11. Finding Sanctuary (The Halcyon Legacy #2), Cacey Hopper (5 Stars)

12. The Wishing Year: An Experiment in Desire, Noelle Oxenhandler (4 Stars)

13. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cherl Strayed (4 Stars)

14. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed (4 Stars)

15. Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter (4 Stars)

16. Wife 22, Melanie Gideon (3 Stars)

17. Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph and Everyday Joy, Stephanie Nielson (5 Stars)

17 books! 9 less then I read last year, but I am ok with it. I am currently reading Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young, which is a daily devotional that I started mid-year... so, I will count that as a book I finish in 2014.

Out of all of these books, I would say these are the ones I would recommend:

Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson. Wow. This book is written by a blogger who is Mormon and suffered a plane crash with Mr. Nielson (her husband/love of her life, etc.) It goes into how she met her husband, up to how she has bread dough rising while the plane crashed... and her memory of her youngest, her son clinging to her and telling her not to go. What I loved about this book is her faith in God, in her family... her love for her husband and devotion to her kids. I love her style of writing and how beautiful she describes Utah and its mountains... She went through A LOT and almost died... her children were terrified of how she looked afterwards, her youngest had forgotten who she was. But, she got through it and has had another child since the crash (she had feared she wouldn't be able to) and is moving into a new home. You can follow her blog HERE. I just cannot stop reading about her little life, how beautiful she is even though she has scars from the burns... Just an amazing story and person.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe Superathletes, and the Greates Race the World Has Never Seen, Christoper McDouggall. I am a runner, not a superathlete that would run 30, 50, etc. mile races... but, I have run a handful of half marathons. This book is very inspiring in that it is about a man that seeks out how to run the ultimate race and the friends and dangers he encounters along the way.  Which, I would sort of compare Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed in the same context as Born to Run... but, yet it is different in its own way as it is a woman's/Cheryl's description of hiking (not running) along the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Both of these are stories of accomplishments in the wild, of endurance and wanting to complete a goal that they had set for themselves. Cheryl's story I feel is a lot more personal as she wants to accomplish it alone and it goes into how her Mother's death affects her. Both are really, really good reads and I highly recommend them.

I also loved Cheryl's book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed. I would love to read this book again and highlight passages from it that I would like to look back on again later. So much good advice in this book!

Finding Sanctuary, the 2nd book of the The Halcyon Legacy, my friend Cacey wrote this book. :) Can't wait to read the third book.

Other books that I read this year that I keep thinking about:
The Paris Wife... I never really read up on Hemingway, but this book really sparked my interest in finding out more about him. I live in St. Louis and there was a lot of references to STL in the book and also of Paris, which my husband and I had just visited... It really was a nice read, but I did pity his wife throughout much of the book... even though they did take a lot of vacations, had a Nanny for their child, etc. However, I did pity her for what she went through with Hemingway and his other 'girl'.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children...This book is told through antique 'photos' that the author had from his own collection or had borrowed/purchased. It is such a fascinating story and how he tied it in with all of these photos is simply amazing. He has a sequal to this book coming out soon and I plan to read it.

Wife 22
... I didn't give this book 5 stars, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is about a wife that is nearing a mid-life crisis and wondering what happened to the spark her and her husband once shared. She gets an email to do a confidential marriage survey/answer session and lands up... falling for man leading the survey! They even become FB friends... I won't give the story away, but I was happy with how this book ended.

The Poisonwood Bible. This book will have your skin crawling. But, wow... it was a good read.

Books I wouldn't read again...
I read the Fifty Shades of Grey books... out of curiosity. They weren't as bad as everyone had told me they'd be, but... I really... wouldn't read them again. I would say I read these books as a light, fluffy summer read... and, I'll leave it at that. :)

Allegiance (Divergent #3). This book was so ho hum. It really got interesting in the last 20% of the book... but, I did not like the ending. AT ALL. So, BLEH. I loved the first book (Divergent).

WAY too LONG... but, worth it.

World Without End, this was the second book to Pillars of the Earth. I thought it was a great read... but, wow. It was long. It was worth reading, though.

A Game of Thrones. My husband is a HUGE George R.R. Martin fan... has read ALL his books. I know A Game of Thrones is so popular now because of the hit show on HBO. I haven't seen the show, but I decided to read the first book. It was great, so many characters... but, wow. It was long. Forever long. My husband says the first 3 books are the best... so, I may try to read the first 3 out of the 6?? or is it 5?? total. Maybe I'll make it a goal to read one a year... cause... wow... long. No wonder why they are worried he may not finish his current book before he dies (cause he is getting up there!). I think it is like book #8 or #9.. geesh.

Have you read any of these books? Which were your faves? Any books to recommend to me for 2014? I tend to go for the popular ones! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Recap (Photo Overload!!)

Flat Stanley arrives in Rolla, MO for a Christmas celebration. #whatidoformysonsschoolprojects #brr
We had THREE Christmas celebrations this year... The first one was in Rolla on Christmas Eve with Brian's family. Nathan's class just finished reading the Flat Stanley book and one of our 'projects' over Christmas break is to take Stanley with us to places and take photos of him. So, here is Flat Stanley by a sign for the historic shopping in Downtown Rolla. Then, after Rolla we headed back home to St. Louis and went to the 11:00 p.m. candle light service at church later that evening. I went straight to bed! Whew! I love going to the candle light service though, I would never miss it.

Day 24. Wrapped. Santa came!! So excited to see Nathan and Autumn's smiling faces tomorrow!! Brathes is photobombing! Isn't Airimn's fabric tent adorns?! #fmsphotoaday
Here is the tree decked with gifts after Santa came! I just love the different fabric patterns on Autumn's teepee from Little Birds Boutique. She even sent me a free fabric key chain with the tent!

Day 25. Best Bit Of Your Day. Being with my family today. Christmas photo of us in front of the tree!! Merry Christmas!! #fmsphotoaday
On Christmas morning we had my parents over for brunch and they got to see the kids open their Christmas gifts for the first time ever. We've just never had them over for that before, but my Mom really enjoyed getting to see them open their Santa gifts.

We kept the food pretty simple for Christmas brunch, I made a breakfast casserole that I have made a hundred times and Brian made his delicious cinnamon rolls (from SCRATCH!). And, for fruit I made Grinch treats.

Someone got a hamster!!! 
The gifts... Nathan has been wanting a pet hamster for quite some time... ever since I told him that I used to have a pet hamster as a kid and I forgot to feed it (oops!) and, well... he told me he wants a hamster, so he can take really good of it... Soooooo. After much thought and several visits to the pet store, we decided that Santa would bring the boy a hamster. Well, he was THRILLED. Even told us that this was the BEST Christmas he ever had... Nathan would love a puppy, but due to his asthma and allergies to dogs, he cannot have one. We did get approval for a hamster, though! I think this hamster will be getting A LOT of love!

The hamster has a pretty cool cage. Except... all it wanted to do was sleep all day. I know, I know... they are nocturnal. But, we did wake it up a couple of times so Nathan could play with it. And, then... of course... after Nathan went to bed I could hear the hamster on its wheel for a couple hours! Man! That hamster needs a 26.2 marathon sticker!

Autumn with Caroline, her new Saige doll and fabric teepee!!
Autumn got another American Girl doll, Saige (the girl of the year) and she is in front of her new fabric teepee with Saige and Caroline (her AG doll from her birthday).

We are finally opening gifts!! Autumn got all the princesses!!!
Here is Autumn with all of her new princesses! Such a cute picture of Auttie with Brian!

Unwrapping presents inside her tent. LOL.

Rainbow loom love. I am so addicted!! Anyone else playing with their kids Christmas gifts? Autumn told me she wants to make bracelets alllll night long!' Oh boy!! She is getting the hang of it and now Nathan wants to try it.
Autumn also got a rainbow loom, I was surprised when Nathan told me he had been wanting one! I guess it is popular with boys too, as he said two boys in his class have one. He really wants to make a necklace, so I need to figure out how to do something other then a bracelet on it... somehow I lost the direction book already (maybe it got tossed in the wrapping paper chaos?), so I need to look online. Nathan and Autumn did help me make several bracelets, tho!

I have enough Lush to last me a year!! This box smelled SO good when I opened it up!! I especially love the penguin bath bomb on upper left corner. There is also a Secret Santa bath bomb that has a secret gift inside!! My man knows what my body needs!!! ❤
My gifts... Brian got me this HUUUUUUGE Lush bath set! Oh, I love it, I do, I do!! I am a huge Lush fan... I really think this set my last me an entire year on baths! I love the Penguin bath bomb on the top left and then there is even a Secret Santa bath bomb in it that has a secret surprise in it when it melts in the hot bath water. Ahhhhh!

Not the best picture... But, this is my new black quilted Michael Kors purse. I love the gold/black chain handles and the gold MK keychain logo on it. Def. Has a nice leather smell, too! You just can't beat MK! Thanks, hubby!!! ❤️❤️❤️ #michaelkors
My BIG gift from Brian was this black quilted Michael Kors purse. I really needed a new black purse, my old one is a very outdated Coach one that was just too small for my needs. I am really not as into Coach anymore, is it just me? However, I do still use my Coach wristlet a lot and I use it as a wallet. I really love MK's style and I am just digging this new purse with all of the pockets, the middle inner zipper pouch, etc. The handles on it are so comfortable, too and I love the gold/black chains and the little MK logo key chain on the outside of the purse.

A close up up my new purse, so you can see the quilted leather.

What can I say? I am a girl that likes me some bags! :) I also got this gorgeous
Vera Bradley Mandy bag in Canterberry Magenta, it will be the perfect casual purse to stick my DSLR camera in when we are outside or for sporting activities with the kids, etc. A purse that can be knocked around a bit and still look cute. :)
I also got the new Pioneer Woman cookbook, it is SO thick... I cannot wait to try her recipes, especially the GREEN smoothie. I've been wanting to try out a green smoothie! There is also numerous other 'unhealthy' recipes I want to try out in her new book. Yum!

Celebrating the end of this Christmas night with my love. We picked up these silly candy cane shot glasses at the store a few weeks ago. Enjoying a shot and a kiss for all the hard work we put in to make this kids Christmas extra special. So nice to sit a 
Then we finished Christmas night off with a couple of shots in candy cane shot glasses (a silly purchase we made at the grocery store weeks ago) and with our feet up on the couch.

Then, the day after Christmas we had another celebration with my parents, brother and SIL! Here is a photo that my Mom snatched of me, Brian and the kids.

Last year Brian went all out on a hot cocoa bar, but this year seemed to be a little more hectic so we whipped up this quickie hot cocoa bar in 5 minutes! LOL! We had all of these different marshmallows, chocolates, candy canes and licquor right in the pantry!

We were going to serve the food buffet style, but last minute we decided to set it all out on a table... so, nothing fancy... but, the food was tasty!!!!!!! Brian made a fancy Beef Stroganoff (I forget the actual name) with a red wine sauce and HOMEMADE noodles to go with it (yep, he made the noodles from scratch..). Then, I made funeral potatoes... yep, they are called funeral potatoes. They are ALL over Pinterest and I like them even better then my normal potato casserole I make. Brian also made homemade rolls and my Mom made a veggie tray. I made the dessert which is a chocolate sundae cake with a hot fudge sauce in the crock pot and it was delicious (I make it every Christmas!).

Here is a close up photo of the funeral potatoes that I made, and HERE is the recipe for them from Pinterest. I think what I love about this recipe is (1) it is a mix all together and dump in a casserole dish and bake kind of dish and (2) it uses Southern style hashbrowns which are little chunky bits instead of the regular thin hashbrowns. Yum! Try it, you'll like it!

Jeff and Tracy brought the wine. Which is nice, because they get the good stuff!

Like I said, it was a hectic month so I didn't really do a lot of decorating ideas for this party... but, here is how I set the table. I may have poured a little too much wine in those glasses. lol. My Mom and Dad sat elsewhere, we so need a bigger table/dining room when we move!

The kids table... Autumn wanted to eat in her new teepee, and we may have let her for breakfast... BUT, not for this special occasion! :)  Rose, our rag doll kitty wants to sit at the table, too! Such a cute snapshot I got of her! (BTW, she thinks Autumn's teepee is her new house!)

After eating, we opened gifts. Here is a picture of the kids with my brother and SIL.

Tracy got some cute dog slippers... not sure of the name of this famous dog.

My parents got me my first pair of Hunter boots!! In red!!

Nathan finally named his hamster, it is Snowflake Hammy Buddy. I think that is what it is... ugh, he had so much trouble deciding on a name it really has three names. But, we mostly call it Snowflake or Hammy. Isn't the little play area cute that he set up for him?

Well, that was our Christmas in a nutshell. Today I am back at work and we're going to see Frozen with 3 of Autumn's classmates and 1 of Nathan's friends tonight. Should be fun.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Grinch Treats and Nathan's Class Party

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!! We put the kids to bed and they fell asleep rather quickly, I think they were exhausted from opening all of the gifts! We still have one Christmas gathering tomorrow, so I am going to do a recap of our Christmas after that so I can do it all in one big post. PLUS, I still haven't done a post on Nathan's class party. :)

Grinch treats for Nathan! #theboylovesthegrinch! #healthychristmassnacks
For Nathan's class party, I wanted to make these GRINCH treats that are all over Pinterest. I had everything bought to make them, but I didn't have enough time to make them up fresh before the party due to work (argh!). So, I actually made them today for our Christmas brunch and the kids loved them! I even found a Grinch ornament from off the tree and put it on the middle of the plate. Aren't they cute? The grape is supposed to be the Grinch's head and then the banana, strawberry and mini marshmallow are the Santa hat on top of Grinch's head.

Before I get into the party, Nathan's teacher wrapped up some gifts from Nathan to me and sent them home. He made me a card, a photo frame, a hand print wreath and a snowman ornament! Oh, I just love homemade crafts! My Mom actually saw Nathan (while she was picking up Autumn) in the hallway with a 'green' hand last week and was wondering what craft project he was up to!

I was in charge of Nathan's class party this time, because the Mom that usually does it couldn't since she had to work. It was kind of fun working with his teacher to plan the party, she wanted the kids to bring in a $5 gift for Toys for Toys instead of Christmas gifts for each other. Here is Nathan and his class next to the gifts the brought in for Toys for Tots.

Here is a closer look of the toys they brought in for Toys for Tots.

Then, I had the idea of doing a White Elephant gift exchange with the kids, for fun. None of these kids had ever done a White Elephant gift exchange before, so it was really fun to show them what it was all about. I even found a 'nativity' story online instead of the regular White Elephant story. We had the boys bring in gifts for boys, girls gifts for girls and then we had the boys go first while the girls played a different game. The nativity story goes on about the birth of Jesus and I had the boys sit in a circle and they would pass the gifts left or right, whenever I said those words. Then at the end I drew names and if I drew their name they could steal a gift from someone. It was a lot of fun! Then they opened the gifts and everyone loved their old yet new to them toys! This is a picture of Nathan playing with his new toys, a couple of dinosaurs and a pokemon figure

One of the boys got this huge battery operated dinosaur. It was quite a hit at the party. One of the girls got a kiddie digital camera, it was amazing what some of the kids brought in for White Elephant gifts!

Then, the kids also got to see Santa during the party! There is a Grandpa up at school and he does SO much for the kids. Nathan is wearing his Spongebob santa hat, the kids didn't need to wear their uniform clothes, they were able to wear jeans, red/green and Santa hats! What fun!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for stopping by!
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