Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fun Times at Home

Lauren loves to dress up. She received a princess dress-up box a few years ago with 5 costumes that are now tattered. She dressed up as Tinker Bell every day for over a year...that was money well spent. Now Abby dresses up too. Well, yesterday Lauren had on her Ariel skirt and was upstairs when I heard a banging noise. I waited for crying and instead heard, "Help? Help. Help!" When I got upstairs, Lauren was stuck under my underwear drawer. I asked what she was doing and she matter-of-factly answered, "Dressing up as Ariel!" Like, duh! So I asked more specifically what she was doing in my drawer. She answered, "I needed a bra for my Ariel costume."

After convincing her that mine was too big, she got some paper, markers, and scissors, and made her own shells, cut them out, and taped them on.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Anyone there?

I could go on and on in this post since I haven't posted in such a long time. We are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and trying to keep it real with the true reason for the season. Stephen's work schedule is really getting in the way of some things and we have been lucky so far that his bosses are so flexible. I don't know about you but I just don't think I am going to get it all done in time. We haven't bought one present yet and with our weekends being filled with parties and such, I don't know when we'll get the time. Oh yes, the 24th!

This Sunday will be our 6th anniversary. I can't believe it. I didn't think we were going to find a sitter but I got word yesterday that one of our sitters is available.

I have a Christmas party the afternoon of the 10th and am grateful that my boss and Stephen's boss are letting us adjust our schedules.

My faculty party is the evening of the 11th and even if Stephen can take off, I don't have a sitter secured yet.

The 12th is up in the air. We've been invited to a caroling party and back to the host's house for treats and hot chocolate.

The 13th Lauren has a Girl Scouts event.

The 15th is her Girl Scouts party.
The 16th is her dance party.
The 18th is her class party.

What will happen when Caleb starts scouts or sports?
And that's all the time I have for this post...time to go home in the snow flurries and plan a fun evening for the kids.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Fall Y'all

This is the first time I can ever remember it feeling like Fall when Fall has begun. Yesterday I opened my windows, lit a candle, and made some awesome Pampered Chef (freeze ahead) Tortilla Soup. I'll be posting that recipe later on my cooking blog. Abby (my 21 month old) ate 2 huge bowls! Caleb never eats anything other than peanut butter and jelly, quesadillas, toast, and fish sticks so I melted cheese on some tortilla chips in the microwave and surprise of all surprises...he liked the nachos. When I say that's about all Caleb likes, trust me. We have tried months and months of serving him what the rest of us were having but I realized when he didn't even like some desserts that he is just a very picky eater. What kids refuses cookies and Strawbery Cake?

So anyway, I am so excited about this cooler weather, I've been reviewing my Crock Pot and soup recipes. I am an obsessive recipe collector. I already have 28 Crock Pot recipes and 24 soup recipes, but that doesn't seem like enough. If you have a favorite recipe or two, please let me know.

Another thing I am excited about it playing outside. I feel like my kids have been so deprived because I can't take the heat and we spent most of June, July, and August indoors. Now our patio cover is built and we've been going outside (even in yesterday's rain) as much as possible. I hope to get the kids out for walks and bike rides as well but we always seem rushed when Lauren gets home from school. See, if I have the dinner in the Crock Pot, I can spend the rest of the afternoon playing! you have any soup or Crock Pot recipes to share?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our First Aggie Game as a Family

In case you didn't know, I am an Aggie. My blood runs maroon. DEEP maroon. As a student, I attended every home game and tons of away games including Houston, LSU, Tech, many at Texas, OU, Baylor, and 3 Cotton Bowls. I dreamed of marrying an Aggie because lets face it, it takes one to know one. When I graduated in '96, I did not want to leave Aggieland. I had to move back to Fort Worth, but my heart remained in Aggieland. I was a teacher making only $24,000 my first year. So sad what they pay us...but I couldn't afford to go to many games. Once in awhile a friend would have an extra ticket and I would gladly make the 3 hour drive to watch the Aggies beat the ever livin'..... (it's an Aggie thang). Each year I vowed that I would move back to College Station and in '02 I made up my mind and put my house on the market. Then I met my husband...who is not an Aggie. Yep, I married him anyway. We have lived in Aggieland since '03 but there has always been something keeping us from the games. Up until last year it was MONEY plus having small children that would need a sitter. Stephen works for A&M and just this one time, they were offering half-price tickets to staff. So I finally got to take my family to their first Aggie game.A quick family picture before the game. We set the timer on the camera and I kid you not, this was the first picture!
Then we took this one of the kids. Another great pic on the first try. Lauren wasn't too happy that I wouldn't let her twirl her 12th Man towel after smacking the lady in front of us.
Abby started clapping right away.

Stephen asked me for my phone so he could take these pics. I was so proud. I think that means he liked the band!

The two of us.

The long walk around and around. Caleb said we were lost and never going to get home because we were going in circles.

My sweet lil Aggies.

There's always a sweet Ag around to see that the husband is taking the pic and offers to take a pic of everyone.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I don't know the last time I posted pics on my blog. I am so into Facebook now. I need to bring some more pictures to work and upload them onto my computer. Here is Lauren on the first day of KG and it just so happened to be her 5th birthday! She absolutely loves school. I love having her here with me. Every day I have to go pick up another Kindergartener as they are all coming back from CAMP (Computers Art Music PE) so I try to hide and watch her. I am so proud. She is always following directions, hands in a "Gator Tail" (tucked neatly behind her back), and a "bubble in her mouth" so she is not talking.
Her first day of Religious Education (Sunday School) was yesterday and when I picked her up her teacher sweetly smiled and said Lauren loves to talk, he he. Just like me!


I am a little worried about Lauren. She cries almost every day at school. She is not crying because she wants to be at home. She is not crying because she wants her Mommy. She cries because of things others do or say. For example, on the 1st day of school, another little girl was not following playground rules. Lauren reminded her that she was not supposed to be doing what ever it was she was doing and the girl didn't care so Lauren started crying. Maybe Lauren just didn't want little girl "R" to get in trouble.

Another time, "R" said she didn't want to be Lauren's friend because Lauren couldn't climb to the top of the playground rock wall. Maybe Lauren is scared...she fell off of a rockwall and onto her face in March and I thought she may have even broken her nose.

Another time in art, there was a sub so they watched a video. Lauren was laughing and a little boy didn't like it so he pinched her. I guess I'd have cried too.

Last week (in art again) a boy said, "Car riders STINK!" and that made her cry too.

Over the summer, she was eating a strawberry that Caleb wanted. Little boy that he is told her he was going to take it out of her mouth. Tears!

A friend brought her boys to spend a few days with us and the one Lauren's age was playing some Star Wars type game where he said, "Die" and that set her off. She has never played with friends who play Star Wars types of games.

She has a tender heart, I have known that for awhile. Last year in dance class, her best friend Katie wasn't there. She was sooo worried. I told her that maybe Katie was sick and that's all it took, Lauren was in tears because her best friend might be sick.

Apparently we have taught her compassion a little too well!

Oh the drama!

I have tried reasoning with her and explaining that those are not reasons to cry but that hasn't worked at all. I think she has gotten it from me. For years my mom told me that when she took my neighbor and me to see Benji and Benji got locked in the school, I cried hysterically and the whole theater laughed.

So...any thoughts on how to stop the crying?

Edited to add: I just realized that Lauren went all last year in dance and Religious Education classes without crying about something that someone else said or did. Hmm...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It feels like Fall

Yesterday some drizzle came to town and cooled things down a bit. Now, it's muggy, but I'll take muggy and coolER over Fire Hot any day. This weather has been getting me in the mood for open windows, candles, decorating, and cooking some Fall recipes. I keep thinking about chili, soup, and Crock Pot cookin. Plus, I just found out we have about 20 lbs of chicken in the freezer so I'd better start grilling it and freezing it for future chicken recipes.

Yesterday was "one of those days." Lauren started dance classes again. Now that Abby is too big to keep her in her stroller, I planned ahead and took activities for Caleb and Abby to do while we waited. But there was NO ROOM to walk, much less do activities. I could not stand how crowded it was so I finally told the kids we were going to wait for Lauren in the van. I let them play on the sidewalk instead. I set the timer on my cell phone so I wouldn't lose track of time. I watched as several people left so when the timer rang I felt better about going inside. While waiting for her class to end, Caleb announced he had to potty. So off to the bathroom we went. I thought we'd be quick. Then Caleb knocked an industrial size roll of toilet paper on my neck and into the toilet it went.

When we went to get Lauren, her classroom was empty but her shoes were still in there. As we were walking out to find her, she came back into the building crying. I was concerned that she went outside...she never does this, but a parent took her to find me. Then I needed her to put her shoes on and there was no where for her to sit to change shoes. When we got home, it took forever to get them all corralled into the house. Caleb decided to stop and put his trains in his backpack. Abby was at the door to the house and started crying. She didn't fall, I have no idea what happened. Then they went inside and Abby stopped to climb in the washing maching (we have front loading). I was rushing to make dinner since it was almost 7 and we eat at 6. Bedtime is at 7:30. It was one thing after another. Lauren needed to go to the bathroom and then flipped out because she thought she was going to go in her leotard. I got the kids to the table and realized Caleb's cup was in the van. Luckily, the man who is working on our patio cover decided to come back and he was in the driveway.

YES! Another adult!

And as I sat down to eat, I spilled my diet coke all over my clothes, the dining room chair, and the floor. I didn't even change clothes. I just cleaned it up and hurried to get them fed and off to bed. Needless to say the kids didn't brush their teeth and I picked the shortest story I could find.

Not sure I like dance nights anymore!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blogger Police

The blogger police contacted me to inform me that I had not posted since July 17. I guess you could say Facebook has really taken over. Here is the latest in our lives:

Lauren started KG on her 5th birthday last Monday. She loves it just like I knew she would. She has a fabulous teacher and I do my best not to go by the Kindergarten "pod" just to see what Lauren is doing. I can't wait for her class to start their reading skills because Lauren is already reading basic 3 letter words as well as sounding them out to write them. Makes this Momma proud. Don't get me wrong, I do not want a genius! No, no, no. I just don't want her to struggle to understand when new concepts are being taught. My mom worked with me and I want to hand that down to my children. We do not sit and have lessons at home. We make it fun. We have tons of different alphabet letters such as the Word Whammers that go on the fridge. We have lots and lots of puzzles and we play a lot of educational games on the computer. Add to that all the educational TV shows and not only does Lauren know all her letters and their sounds, but Caleb does too and he is 3. Abby counts up to about 15. After that is hard to understand but it is just precious. She is 20 months old.

With the start of school came my return to work but only half days! What a difference it makes. I love my job and have always wondered what would happen if I did get to stay home full time. I would take a big risk in there not being an ESL position available when I'd return to work. Now I get to work in the mornings and be home in the afternoons. Don't be fooled though. Afternoons are short! I get home...feed Caleb and Abby lunch, get it cleaned up, and put them down for their naps so they have a decent nap before we have to leave to pick Lauren up. During the kids' naps, my goal is to get some serious housecleaning done but I have to admit that I've given into naps a few times. But I do get more housework done than before and so I think I'll get there eventually. Before my nap today, I forced myself to pick up 100 things that were out of place. Before you gasp at the thought of 100 things being out of place, keep in mind all the kids' toys, hair bows, a piece of trash on the floor, a washcloth that needs to go in the dirty clothes hamper, etc... If I can do that every day, I should have an immaculate house in..........say..........17 years when Abby is in college! Baby steps, right?

Stephen officially began his new full-time position at TAMU on Sept. 1. He loves his job, loves what he does, and he was lucky enough that they let him set his hours around our needs to be home with the kids. So he works 12-9 M-F and is still taking classes online plus his video business! One day our lives will slow down just a bit.

One day!

What else? We are building a patio cover...just in time for cooler weather. A friend of ours is building it on the weekends and he promises it will be done before our first cookout on Sept. 12.

Friday, July 17, 2009

2 Days in a row!

Lauren and Caleb are at VBS and Abby is taking a nap. This has been a good time for me to catch up on some housework but because of the cool weather, I spent 45 minutes pulling weeds so I owe it to myself to relax for a minute, don'tcha think?

It is so hard to believe it is July 17 and I have to report back to work in less than a month. In case you haven't heard, God has blessed us with big changes for this upcoming school year and even though there will be major time constraints, I am looking forward to it. I get to go half time this year! That is because Stephen's boss wanted him full time and since he didn't have the budget to give him a salary where I could stay home full time, he was very flexible about Stephen's hours. So I will work 7:30-11:30 and Stephen will work 12-9. Not too great for family time but I am hopeful that this is temporary. Stephen is advancing quickly at the Health Science Center while working on his degree.

I get to teach at the new school (where they only need a half-time ESL Specialist) and Lauren starts KG this year at the same school so it is obvious that God had His plan. Lauren is so ready for KG. She has been reading 3 letter words since about April and she does simple addition and subtraction all the time. She loves doing anything with crayons, markers, scissors, and glue so I am not at all worried about her being a big girl. Check back on the 1st day and we'll see how I am doing then.

Caleb turned 3 in March and I'm so proud of him. He had us worried last year but he has become a sweet, loving little boy. He has learned his alphabet (upper and lowercase) by watching his sister and playing her games. He even knows the sounds of most of them. He loves to count to the 20s and sometimes counts backwards. Caleb loves to sing and if you say a certain word, he starts singing a song with that word. For example, if I say 'chest', he sings, "John Brown's baby had a cold upon his chest." He has enjoyed going to VBS even though he has had a problem staying with the group in large room settings.

Abby is just amazing. She is almost 19 months and a little chatterbox. She has so many words in her vocabulary that I can't even count. She knows to go get the stool when it is time to brush her teeth. She loves to climb up Lauren's loft bed and knows she isn't supposed to so she gets in the furthest corner so I can't reach her. She loves babies and her baby dolls. She will be a great big sister. She sings and can keep a tune very well. Her latest thing is saying the words to a show she has been watching in the van. Amazing!

And in case you haven't heard, I am pregnant with #4 and due in January. See, it is going to be an exciting end to 2009.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Time, oh give me time!

I can not believe I haven't posted since June 6. I've become a Facebook junkie, that's my only excuse. Somehow I thought I'd have more time to blog since I don't work in the summer but it has been quite the opposite. I had a rough June with the pregnancy and now I'm trying desperately to catch up on housework and that list of things to do around the house in the summer. So, who knows when I'll be back. If you'd like to touch base through FB, send me a comment and I'll email you with my last name.

Enjoy what's left of the summer. I report back to work in less than a month, ugh!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dawg Tired!

Call off the search party. I'm okay. Not great, but okay.

I haven't shared the good news. I am 8 weeks pregnant and after losing a baby at 12 weeks last December, and miscarrying around April 4, I think this is a strong pregnancy. I have been exhausted...walking up the stairs makes my legs tired. I have been taking naps every day, sometimes 2! It must be the combination of being 37 and having 3 small children.

Last week was the end of school for me and usually a time of excitement, but not this year. Not only did I have to pack all of my belongings to go to a new school next year, I also had to pack all the other materials because the new teacher will be in a different classroom. On top of that, I was behind schedule and 3 times an "emergency situation" occurred which put me even further behind. That meant I could not check out on Friday and I'd have to return the next week to finish up. So the combination of it all plus my hormones gave me some anxiety. I didn't have time to check email or blog.

So I tried to put it all behind me and enjoy myself at my cousin's graduation last Friday. I was excited to be with all my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins. I knew my children would be well taken care of and it would lessen my responsibilities. Friday night was a late one. The ceremony didn't even start until 8 and it was about 45 minutes from the house. Afterwards we were going to go straight to our hotel but I really wanted to spend quality time with my aunts and uncles so we let the kids stay up late.

Saturday morning we headed over to my aunt and uncle's house and stayed with them through Tuesday where we swam in their pool every day and went out on the lake. The kids got to go tubing with Stephen and my cousin. We got to go for evening rides on the lake. It was wonderful...but I felt the depression coming on in spite of it all.

When we got back into town on Tuesday we went straight to my classroom and spent an hour trying to pack. I had to go back on Wednesday. Meanwhile, I was too anxious to even turn the computer on. I am serious. No Facebook. No blog. No email. The hormones really did a number on me. I can't say that I've done much this week. The house has suffered and the emails are piling up...unanswered. But it is a huge step for me to be here right now. I have managed to take the kids to the pool 4 days in a myself on Wednesday. I knew the sun would be good for me.

Through it all, Stephen has been wonderful. He has taken care of the kids more. He has made sure I have eaten and has not questioned my food aversions (anything in our fridge). My other pregnancies have not been this hard. I will be devastated if I lose this one because I don't think I can go through this all over again. A friend advised me to take some fish oil supplements and I am starting to feel a little better every day. I just want to be myself again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An invitation to you

Wanna go crazy with me? Cuz that's where I'm headed these next few weeks. I am sure you are experiencing some craziness in your household too, but here is how my week is going:

All week I have front porch duty from 7:40-8:00, definitely a thankless job!
Monday: I gathered, stuffed, and signed 196 student folders...all day! I had to make a doctor's appointment with a new doctor and fax paperwork back....oops, I haven't done that yet. I rushed home so my husband could go to work early and did my wifely and motherly duties at home.

Tuesday: The incident I posted about yesterday. Met my family at Central Office to have my son's speech evaluated...again. He did great! He has 90% accuracy which seems pretty high to me. Had lunch with the family. On the way back to work, my husband called me to tell me to stop so he could come get the parking pass out of my van since we were trading vehicles that night... I had a sitter going to the house after work so I could help give a baby shower at work. If Stephen was going to have the new van...he'd have the car seats too and I needed to take Lauren to dance. The OLD van, which is the one I'd have, had Stephen's heavy video equipment in the back. We finally decided to leave his equipment in my classroom since he is filming at school Friday anyway. Problem solved. Went to the class...passed out. Until Caleb woke us up at around 1:00 with a dirty pull-up. Then when we drifted off to sleep, Caleb woke us up again with a bloody foot from the scab he peeled off.

Today: I had to give a long test to 3 students. One was appointment. Now I have to schedule a make-up. Grr. Rush to register kids for VBS. Lauren's class full. Late for a 10:15 meeting because I was on the phone with church. Ran to the meeting, no one there. Meeting postponed til 1:30. the sitter for Friday with directions to the house...mail birthday cards...try to figure out who'll watch the dog when we're out of blog....make a much needed hair appointment...find someone to take my front porch duty on Friday because I can't leave the house until the sitter gets there on Friday at 7:30!

Tomorrow: What I know so far is tomorrow looks good. Maybe I can get some cleaning and packing done since I am going to be at a different school next year.

Friday: Prepare for sitter. Rush to school for a meeting at 8:00. Be home by 10:30 to relieve sitter while Stephen films the talent show at my school. Feed the kids and take them back to school with me so they can watch the talent show.

Saturday: hair appointment, yea!

I keep reminding myself, one day at a time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You don't do this, do you?

This is my last week of front porch duty at the school where I teach. Front porch duty is such a pain and it's upsetting when parents CHOOSE to ignore you or not follow the rules we have in place for the safety of their children. This morning I witnessed something I haven't seen in the 6 years I've been at this campus. A parent pulled up in the street in front of the school (not the circular drive) and didn't even park along the curb. She left her car the street...and left her 2 year old child in the back while she took her 2nd grader in. I was the one holding the STOP sign in the circle and I thought surely she was just crossing her 2nd grader and then she'd walk right back out to the car. I was wrong. She walked into the school. Then I thought maybe she is just walking him to the doors. Wrong again. She was gone for several minutes and I definitely lost focus of my job to direct the cars and cross the people safely across the crosswalk. A parent that I know rather well came to the crosswalk and I mentioned the child left in the car. She took her phone out of her pocket, called the police, and handed me the phone. At least 5 minutes had gone by. I told the dispatch officer what I knew and gave the phone back to the owner and asked her to go get the license plate of the car.

All this time, the parent was still in the school. Can you imagine? We have had a car accident right in the very spot where the car was sitting. The parent finally went back to the car and I could tell by her body language that she was telling the parent on the phone with the police and the other traffic director that she had done nothing wrong. When my duty was over, I walked over to them to support the other traffic person, the parent on the phone had left. We waited forever for the police to arrive. The child had unbuckled himself. I told the mother that I have a 4 year old, 3 year old, and 1 year old and I know how hard it is to unbuckle them and haul them all into a building but child safety comes first and it was very dangerous to leave her child in the car for even a minute. I don't even leave my kids in the van in the driveway. If I've left something inside and can't go without it, I turn the van off and take them all inside with me.

The woman was upset because...get this... she was supposed to be following her 2nd grader's busses on a field trip to Waco. She was upset because they were going to leave without her. I'm not sure that she understood that we were more worried about her child than she was.

I don't know about you but if I see someone putting their child in harm's way, like not buckling them up, I call the police every time. The children can't speak for themselves.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I was late to work this morning

Yesterday our neighbors came to play with my kids. They are 7 and 9 years old and do really well with all 3 of my kids but I'm not ready to leave Abby with such young children so I sat outside and watched them play. They were having such a great time that I let them stay up way past their bedtime. I was also secretly hoping that it would wear Caleb out so much that he'd actually sleep past his normal 6:15 am.

Well, he DID sleep until 6:40. Then he brought his pillow into my bed and sweetly told me it was not for me to lay on. Then Stephen brought Abby into bed with us and she crawled across Caleb to get to me and just stopped right across him. Now, these kids can be really sweet and loving to each other A LOT, but my heart just melted. Caleb loved thiat his baby sister was snuggling with him. He patted her on the back and smiled. When she sat up on his stomach, he put his hands on her cheeks and gave her the most loving kiss. I just wanted to savor the moment so I stayed in bed and didn't get up until the sibling love was ready to move on. I am so ready for another baby!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I have an addiction!

Hello! My name is Stephanie and I'm a money saving addict!
Yes, I've been neglecting my family blog in order to keep up with my new money savings blog. I have really gotten into the whole coupon 'thang' too. Last night I sat in bed with my newly printed coupons from and Target and as I cut them out, I paired them so that I could be armed when I go into Target and Kroger this afternoon. I have been amazed at the tricks I've learned from the other savings blogs and I am ready to go try them out for myself. For example, Ritz crackers are $2.50. I have a $1 Target coupon AND a $1 coupon I printed myself. So...I am going to pay .50 for a box of Ritz. Cool, huh? Triscuit costs $2.04. I have a Target coupon $1 off of 2. Then I printed 2 $1 coupons (because I am buying 2 boxes) so I should be paying$1.08 for 3 boxes. AND Hershey Bliss Candy is .99 but I have a coupon for $1.00. Who doesn't like free chocolate?

I promise the newness will wear off soon and I'll be back to posting pictures of all the fun we're having now that we can swim.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lauren's Dance Recital

Saturday night was Lauren's first dance recital. It was really cute to see all the little girls try to complete a routine they have been working on since September.

She really seems to be following along.

But this is what she did at least 10 times. I'll count when I get the video. She kept blowing kisses to her teachers.

Lauren and her best friend Katie. Don't they look like they've been doing this for years?

What a cute little pose. I want to know if the other girls are right and Lauren is wrong or if Lauren is right and the others are wrong.

Time to celebrate with her pal.

Lauren's first roses!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I did it

I asked some friends and family if they thought I should keep the "savings" posts here or start a separate blog and I had a pretty good response that I should start a separate blog.

So I did.

It's Aggieland Mommy Saves Money.

I've already removed the savings links section here and put it on my new blog. Thanks for your input!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Freebies

Go here to get your free samples. You might get an error message the first time you try because there seems to be high traffic on this site. Just keep trying! Go to the right hand side and click on "English."

Friday, May 1, 2009

I really want you to tell me....

Lately I've been devoting a LOT of time to finding coupons, great deals, and freebies. I have added the links I've found to the column on the right but I am getting no feedback from my readers. Maybe that's because I have no readers, I don't know.

I've been considering taking all my savings info and starting a "frugal" blog so that this blog can remain as it started out to be...updates about my family.

So I want to hear from you. Why do you visit my blog? What will keep you coming back?

Please check out my friend's blog: Aggieland Bargain Mom.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oink Oink!

What's all the hype about? Thousands died of the regular flu. Right?

That's what a mommy of 3 Kindergarteners said to me this morning as she went to teach at the high school.

Are you kidding me? Now, I am not panicked or freaked out YET, but here is what I know so far:

1) a 23 month old little boy from Mexico City died at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. He was visiting family in Brownsville, TX, a border town.
2) there is a confirmed case at McLean Middle School in Fort Worth and the school district of 80,000 students and who knows how many on staff closed schools until May 11.
3) my friend who is a diagnostician in Carrolton-Farmers Branch near Dallas had to take her 5 year old to be tested because there are 3 possible cases at his pre-school in Lewisville.
4)the state of Texas has shut down all UIL activities until May 11.
5)other districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area have closings too such as Cleburne, Irving, and Oak Cliff and Richardson. This is according to channel 5 in D/FW.
6)many other school districts have cancelled any field trips. Think about it, if your child's grade level is going to the zoo, how many other schools might be visiting too?
7)you don't start to show symptoms for days after you have come in contact with the virus

Just thinking about Aggieland: There are over 45,000 students at Texas A&M and many of them went out of town last weekend. Many are from DFW, Houston, and border towns such as Brownsville. How do we know that they did not come into contact with the virus and have brought it back with them and they are sitting in classrooms with hundreds of other students....grabbing doorknobs, pushing buttons on the coke or snack machines that others will touch after them? How many Aggies volunteer with the children in the public schools here in town? How many of them substitute at our public schools? Lots!

We are all connected!

According to an article on

-This is a new strain of the flu, which means there is no available vaccine to prevent it.

-When a new strain of flu starts infecting people, and when it acquires the ability to pass from person to person, it can spark a pandemic. The last pandemic was in 1968 and killed about a million people. Think about how people travel today and how much more we interact with people.

Lauren's first dance recital is this Saturday and I have been thinking of all the family members who will be travelling from out of town to watch this special event. I would not be upset at all if it was cancelled.

Who wants to take that chance? Not me. Like I said, I'm not freaking out yet. If that were the case, I wouldn't be at school and I wouldn't have let Stephen take the kids to Wal-Mart this morning to get more Pull-Ups (I made him take Clorox wipes for the shopping cart and he is buying sanitizer). I reminded him to wash the kids' hands the minute they walk in the door too.
We should all be careful and become "germ-a-phobes" until this passes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

FREE Breakfast Sandwich at Sonic

Go here to register for your coupon for a free CroisSonic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FREE stuff

I found a new site today, Being Frugal is Fabulous. She said that tomorrow you can get Baskin-Robbins ice cream for .31 a scoop. For those of you in Aggieland, there is a Baskin Robbins next to the new Target.

Also, this link has links to sign up for free stuff. I just signed up for a free sample of Dove deodorant. I have used the same deodorant for 19 years but I'm willing to give it a try since it's free.

Wal-Mart has a free samples page here. Right now they are offering free Gain laundry detergent and samples of Good Nights pants.

Update on my coupon organization. I bought a little file folder and sorted all my coupons. I have a spreadsheet where I have over 300 items listed and I've been tracking prices at Wal-Mart, HEB, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, and Sam's. The list is going to take a LONG time to complete. I wish a friend out here in Aggieland could hit one of the stores for me. Anyway, each time I get a coupon, I write it down next to the item on the spreadsheet. It helps me know what I need to buy when planning my meals. For example, I have a lot of Pillsbury coupons. I plan on buying crescent rolls with a coupon and making Taco Ring. There is another coupon for Pillsbury pizza dough. I will add homemade pizza to my menu plan. Otherwise, I'll wait until an item goes on sale and then use the coupon on top of the sale.

I really wish I had time to go to CVS and Walgreens. I plan on taking advantage of all the "free" deals there this summer when I am not working.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saving Money

I have added several links to my link list on the right. Please let me know if you find this info helpful!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Make Your Wife Feel Like A Queen on Mother's Day

Ladies, this is obviously a post made for your significant others. It's just a little something to help out the men and if you want to add to it, by all means, please do!

So men, if you want to treat your wife like a queen on Mother's Day or her birthday, here are just a few things we like:

1) Surprise her with breakfast in bed, don't forget the flowers (even if we say we don't want flowers) and the tiara. Let us know we are special today (and every day). Don't forget to TELL her Happy Mother's Day or Happy Birthday, even if you said it at midnight.
2) Don't let your wife lift a finger cleaning, remember, she is the queen today.
3) If your wife works outside of the home, do everything you can to make sure she comes home to a clean house. Make it look like the housekeeper just left and if you have to, get a housekeeper to come. Make sure the laundry is done and PLEASE, pick up all of your clothes off the floor!
4) Make us light up when we get home. Even if you have to take off of work early, have a few inexpensive decorations to greet us as we come in such as balloons and a sign that says, "Happy ________, we love you." Remember to ask how her day has been so far.
5) Make sure your children know it Mother's Day or her birthday so they can make it a special day too. If possible, help the kids call her at work and tell her Happy Birthday.
6) Besides lavishing us with presents from you, make sure the kids have something special for their mom too. Even if we say we don't want anything, we DO! A gift certificate to a spa would be nice or a shopping spree at her favorite store. Take the kids to a pottery place and let them design something she'll cherish forever. Be creative! And WRAP THEM! Leave them out so she knows you didn't forget about her. Let her wonder all day long what she is getting.
7) Take her somewhere special, hire a sitter if you can and invite a few of her friends to meet you there. Do NOT wear jeans and YOUR favorite shirt, wear nice pants and her favorite shirt on you.
8) Make sure you have a cake. Try to pick something special that tells her how much you love her and appreciate her.
9) Wrap your arms around her and tell her how much you love her. Tell her things you used to say before the kids came like she means the world to you.
10) At the end of the day, ask her if her day was special. Maybe she needs a break from the kids, draw a bath with candles and tell her you have bedtime covered.

Two weeks ahead: Hire a sitter and invite some of her friends to join you for dinner. Call a housekeeper.

One week ahead: order cake and flowers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The 3 Little Stinkers

Once upon a time.....
Don't you ever feel like writing a book about your adventures with your children? I think that's why some of us blog. Did you know we can actually print a book from our blog?

A few nights ago, my kids formed their own circle, with Abby, and started playing Ring Around the Rosy. I'll post pics later. I was worried that they might yank Abby down but she learned very quickly how to play and she laughed and laughed. I stood in awe! These are the moments that wash away all the struggles we have with our children. They played over and over and over.

I had some more fun last night with my 3 Little Stinkers. Abby has been learning to climb and has only managed to climb up on Caleb's bed. I am training Lauren and Caleb to close Caleb's door when no one is in there so that Abby doesn't get hurt. So last night, after dinner, I was busy doing something in the living room with Lauren and when I went to check on Abby, I saw this precious little smiling face sitting in her daddy's chair at the dining room table, pretending to be working on his laptop. She saw me and must have known she wasn't supposed to be there because she immediately stood up and tried to climb on the table. She just about lost her footing right as I was picking her up.

I called Stephen to tell him how cute it was and that he'd better push in his chair or else! Then I saw Caleb at the top of the stairs already in his jammies. I told him he needed to tee-tee in the potty first and he said he already did. Knowing that I had left the bowl and penis protector in the sink, I was worried. When I got upstairs, I saw that Caleb had put the potty chair together all by himself and yes he did potty before putting on his jammies!

Again I called Stephen. When I hung up the phone I started looking for Abby. I found her ON CALEB'S BED, playing with his cars like she just knew what she was doing. Wish I had the camera.

They're so cute that sometimes I let them stay up after their bedtime just so I can watch them play together. Caleb will be lost next year when Lauren starts Kindergarten.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Change of Direction

It seems like my posts have taken a turn in their content lately. I've become obsessed with saving money and just in time. We bought a new van Saturday night which means another car payment. We traded in our 2 seater truck which was a gift so we had no payments on that. We kept our Honda Odyssey (yes, we have 2 vans) and it has 5 payments left so I'm back to pinching pennies, TIGHTLY!

I finally bought a coupon organizer and sat down yesterday with the Sunday paper to sort them and update my grocery price list. I am now comparing prices at CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, HEB, and Wal-Mart. I hope to start using the coupons at our next grocery store run.

I just found a few more coupon blogs called A Thrifty Mom, Bargain Briana and 918 Coupon Queen. And TARGET has web coupons, who knew? I've already added the links to my list of money saving links. I don't know if any of my readers are using these links or not but they sure help me take my links with me when I'm at home or work.

To view all of my posts on saving money, click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

FREE Diaper samples

Go here to register for a free Huggies sample. While you're at it, might as well ask your parents to sign up to and get even more? Even if YOU don't have babies anymore, I bet you know someone else who does. Heck, send them to me...

At the bottom they ask if you want to sign up for the newsletter. I am signed up and get coupons in the mail pretty often. It wouldn't hurt to check Huggies' site too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Do You Think?

I have been so excited about the warm weather lately. Last October, we more than doubled the size of our patio in hopes of having MANY wonderful days and nights of fun with the kids and our friends. Lately we've been looking for the right patio furniture, trying to decide if we want "lounge" type seating or a full-sized table and chairs. Now I'm on the hunt for the best grilling recipes around. I've even played with the idea of starting a new blog with just grilling recipes and outdoor party ideas and tips. So what do you think? As my faithful readers, I want to hear from each of you, would you be interested in a grilling blog?

How to Peel a Potato

Have you seen this? No more peelers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Activities For Your Family

The Jelly Bean Prayer
Red is for the blood He gave
Green is for the grass He made
Yellow is for the sun so bright
Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made
White is for the grace He gave
Purple is for His hour of sorrow
Pink is for our new tomorrow
A bag full of jelly beans colorful and sweet,
Is a prayer, is a promise, is a special treat
May the joy of Christ's resurrection
Fill your heart and bless your life

More Easter ideas I posted last year.

Resurrection Eggs idea here.

Easter Story Cookies
To be made the evening before Easter (with older children). You can do this with younger children and leave out some of the information that they are not ready for.

1 c whole pecans
3 egg whites
1 c sugar
wooden spoon
1 t vinegar
pinch salt
zipper baggie

1. Preheat oven to 300 (This is important, don't wait until you are half done with the recipe). Place pecans in zipper baggieand let children beat them with wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.
2. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 t into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
3. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27
5. So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 c sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
6. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity of God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:13.
7. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoonful on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
8. Put the cookie sheet in the oven. Close the oven door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
9. Go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
10. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Ways to Save You Money

I know I haven't been myself lately. I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like to but there are a lot of crazy things going on right now and hopefully they will settle down in the next few weeks. I'm not sure yet if the topics are appropriate to tell the whole world on my blog so for now, I won't.

I have been getting the Sunday newspaper and clipping those coupons. Yep, they're tossed over on a storage tub next to my bed. Isn't that great? I plan on getting a binder to organize them as soon as life slows down just a little bit.

Meanwhile, I have thought of a few others ways that I save money:

Hobby Lobby- I never pay full price for anything over $1 at HL, which is my FAVORITE store by the way. I am on their email list and almost every other week, they have a 40% off coupon. I print off at least 2 and drag my husband in to buy whatever I need.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond- My 2nd favorite store mails out coupons all the time plus you can find them in some magazines like Better Homes & Gardens. These coupons have an expiration date but they will take them no matter how old they are AND, you can use all the coupons you have at one time.

Another grocery coupon blog: On the way back to work just a few minutes ago, KSBJ radio announced that a special guest was about to be on from Southwest Coupon Clipper. I rushed into my classroom and tried to listen online but KSBJ has been blocked for some reason. So I did a search and here is the link: Southwest Coupon Clipper Blog. I haven't had time to read much yey but the first article is about how it looked like a sale price of $4.50 for laundry detergent was a good deal but she got it for $1. So go check out her site and keep coming back here for more tips on saving money.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Check out this craftsmanship!

A friend of mine is trying to get word out about his beautiful wood creations. He ships all over the world so please go see his site for yourself!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Lately we've been listening to a lot of CDs in the van because the DVD player isn't working. That's fine with me until we have to take a long trip. Anyway, I have tons of childrens' CDs that the kids have grown to love and as a teacher, I appreciate their value to the kids' education.

Sunday night we were on our way to grab a quick bite and one of the kids asked to listen to the Aggie War Hymn. Made this momma so proud. We were on 2818, getting ready to turn onto Wellborn Road and had full view of A&M's Kyle Field just about 2 miles up the road.

The song began with the deep boom of, "Recall! Step Off! On! Hullabaloo!"
Lauren asked, "Mommy, who is that?" I told her the Aggies. She asked where they were and I told her to look out the window. I said that's where the Aggies play football and that's where the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band plays that wonderful song. Her reply was, "Wow, they sure are loud cuz I can hear them all the way in the van!"

I am not sure why but lately Caleb randomly bursts out with, "Some may boast...of prowess bold." Then he stops and says, "Now you!"

That is one song I won't get tired of singing to the kids over and over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tips on Saving Money

Earlier this month I posted this about my new infatuation with saving more money. I have always been pretty frugal. I don't usually buy trendy things because I know they'll be out of style soon and I can't justify spending money on something that I won't be using for very long.

Anyway, here is what I have found out about saving money:
*Kroger and H-E-B ads come out on Wednesday so maybe Wednesday should be the designated menu planning day.
*Kroger has a link to printing coupons where you download coupons to your shopper card. Hmm...interesting.
*Wal-Mart's ad is here, type in your zip
*Pillsbury offers great coupons
*Betty Crocker does too
*McCormick has recipes that "fit your budget" under $3
*Kraft has a section called Budget Wi$e
*When you use a coupon for BOGO, use 2 coupons, you are getting 2 products!
*Here's the link to Proctor & Gamble coupons
*Walgreens has a link to coupons on their site.
*Link to CVS and to their in-store coupons.
*Smartsource coupons

There are TONS of blogs out there about saving money.

You should never pay full price for paper products because there are always coupons out there.

Don't be afraid to ask other stores if they take competitors' coupons, it's not their money!

The biggest lesson I've learned is that this is a BIG, BIG project for me.

More to come.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Summer Preview

Spring Break was a nice tease for what is to come over Summer break. I had so many things I wanted to get done, I wrote them each on a note card and taped them to a cabinet. As I completed them, I moved the card to the other side of the cabinet. I didn't finish them all but I was able to get A LOT done. I washed every cloth in the house...comforters, bath mats, mattress pads, etc.. I cleaned out the kids' closets and most of their drawers. I decluttered the top of the microwave and the window sill. I somehow kept the kitchen clean and the sink was empty after every meal. Toys were all put away each night. It was such a great feeling. Oh, did I mention that Stephen was at a wedding ALL day Saturday and left for California on Sunday? I don't have any idea how I did this by myself. I do know that when he got home, it was all a mess again. We won't go there!

Monday I took the kids to the neighborhood playground.

Tuesday morning, after shamrock shaped French Toast with green sprinkles, we went to a friend's for a playdate before naps. After naps, we met another friend at a park. Lauren fell from the top of a plastic rockwall...onto her face! This was at about 4:30. I took her home and tried to get her to keep ice on it while I prepared dinner. I was getting ready to take her and the other 2 in tow to the urgent care office which is 20 minutes away...right before myself! After much debating, I decided to wait until the next day. She was pressing on it and said it didn't hurt.

Wednesday, Stephen returned and we had a much needed date night. We saw the move Taken. It was fabulous!

Thursday we ran errands and took the kids to the playground. I'm sure we did more, just can't remember.

Friday I took the kids to Wal-Mart to buy flowers. That night we cooked out and enjoyed watching the kids play in the yard.

Saturday morning?? Saturday afternoon we took the pictures in the bluebonnets and went out for dinner.

Sunday we worked in the yard most of the day. The flower beds and planters look great! I now have my own rosemary, cilantro, basil, and strawberry plants. I hope to keep them alive through the summer. Late last night, LAuren, Caleb, and I ran to Toys R Us to get a trampoline! We have already spent so much time in our backyard and we plan to spend MANY more days and nights back there as a family so we feel like it is a good investment. We hope to be the one house that all the kids in the neighborhood want to spend their time at. When we got home, Stephen threw some fabulous chicken on the grill along with some corn on the cob that I dressed with some of my very own rosemary.

See? We didn't have to leave town or spend a lot of money to have a GREAT, memorable Spring Break. I just can't wait for the summer!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's a Texas Tradition


If you haven't ever been to Texas in late March/early April, then you're really missing out. That's about the time that our highways are lined with these beautiful bluebonnets. They are the state flower and we Texans take great pride in them. Bluebonnets are to Texas what shamrocks are to Ireland. A day doesn't go by when you don't see cars parked on the side of the road so families can capture pictures like these. You could say that this Texas tradition was started by Lady Bird Johnson, after her return from Washington, D.C. as First Lady to President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Lady Bird persuaded the government of the State of Texas to seed bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the highways throughout the state. Every spring the flowers return as a legacy of the First Lady.
Here is one website with info. And in case you didn't know, the Aggies have developed a maroon bluebonnet species, oh yes we have! Here is a little more history.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ya!

Wow, I can't believe it has been a week since I blogged. I am just enjoying being home with my kids for Spring Break. More on that later.

I've had the house decorated for St. Patrick's Day for a few weeks now. I picked up tons of stuff on clearance at Hobby Lobby last year. We have cute little figurines, wooden signs, a banner, and window clings. This morning we started our day with shamrock shaped French toast on green plates. Yup, French on the day of the Irish. Anyway, I let the kids sprinkle..I mean pour green sprinkles on top and they all devoured them. Abby had 1 full piece of bread plus scraps, Lauren had 2 shamrocks, and Caleb had 3 which is unusual for him because all he eats is peanut butter and quesadillas.

I made some green Jello. I hate to admit that I have never made Jello for my kids before. My mom made it for me all the time. I thought about making jigglers and using the shamrock cookie cutter again but there was just too much going on. For lunch we're going to a friend's house and we'll have shamrock shaped sandwiches. Then the kids will have cookies and if we're really brave, we'll let the kids decorate them.

I don't have anything special planned for dinner...ran out of creative juices.... but we'll have mint chocolate ice cream for dessert.

On to a boring topic- Spring Break and cleaning. Saturday morning I jumped up and started cleaning. I must have done 10 loads of laundry because I decided to do ALL the linens...mattress pads included. Between loads I started working on the kids' bookshelves and decluttering. I don't know what got into me, I just didn't stop. Sunday morning I kept going. I just don't want to spend my ENTIRE break cleaning. I just want to get it done. I made notecards of all that I want to accomplish. I put tape on the back and taped them in a column on one of the kitchen cabinets. As I complete a chore, I move the card over to the right. I can not believe that the kitchen looks a little better every day and I've managed to have an empty sink before bed each night. I have decluttered the top of the microwave as well as the window sill above the sink. I just hope I can keep it that way.

I have really enjoyed being a stay at home mom this week. I love being with the kids. It seems like Caleb is obeying more and more every day and Lauren is obeying less. Well, only on the days she doesn't nap. Abby has started talking. At 14 months old! I'll have to look in Lauren's book to see when she was talking but I don't think it was this early. She has been saying, "Boo Boo" for baby and "buh buh" for bubbles. Yesterday while doing the sign for 'bath,' she said, "baaa." And in the tub, she wanted the ball so she said, "Bah." I also noticed that she calls Lauren, "Ahhhh Nahhhh." I could hear her in the monitor when she was in her crib and Lauren was in her bed in the same room. Later I tested her by calling Lauren and that's what she said.

Right before bed last night, Abby was walking and just fell. I thought she caught herself with her hands but when I picked her up, her mouth was bleeding. I felt horrible. She split that piece of skin from her lip to her gums. It looks awful. I wonder if her bottom teeth came up and split it and if it will grow back together. We all showered her with kisses until she felt better.

The break will be gone before I know it. We still want to get out and take pictures in the bluebonnets, plant flowers in the front flowerbed, get Caleb's 3rd birthday pictures taken, take the kids bowling, and go on a date ourselves. So if I'm not back for a few days, you'll know I'm just enjoying my family!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Caleb's Thomas the Train Birthday Party

What a fabulous party. I wish I had time to do more (becuase I'm OCD like that) but here is how it went:

Even though we found great ideas for homemade invitations that looked like train tickets or boarding passes, we opted for the store bought just so we could focus our time on making the games. Besides, I'm worried that if I sent the boarding passes, no one would remember to bring them to the party.

As guests arrived, they followed the tracks we made with sidewalk chalk to the door and were greeted with blue and red balloons, a green arrow sign with white letters which read "Caleb's Party" and pointed to the door. We had Thomas music playing at the door and a RR crossing sign on the door which read "Welcome to Caleb's party." A large Sir Topham Hatt (made out of poster paper and painted by me) was standing at the door to greet everyone.

Indoor decorations included blue and red streamers and a store bought Thomas birthday banner plus more balloons. I traced big circles on yellow paper and made several RR crossing signs. I made several other white RR signs that said, "Refueling Station" (by the food), and "Freight Drop Off" by the presents. I cut white letters and glued them onto green posterboard to make signs for, "Tidmouth Shed", "Brendam Docks", "The Quarry." We bought a Thomas tablecloth as well as a solid blue one.

Activities: The first station was the Thomas mask making station. The second station was the coloring station where each child received their very own coloring book (I made by gathering tons of activity pages online). The 3rd station was Thomas Memory (which I made on the computer).

Other station ideas I had but did not have time to prepare: Doorknob hanger and Thomas puzzle, decorate your own train cookie, paint your own clay ornament shaped like a train.

To begin the party, I was going to have someone ring the doorbell and leave some packages wrapped in brown paper but we were all in the backyard so I just blew the train whistle, gathered all the kids around, and told them that Sir Topham left a package. It was a book from Sir Topham Hatt. When I made the book, I made sure it had a pocket for the boarding passes and a pocket at the end for the certificates. I printed the cover of the book from Here is what it said:

Dear Caleb and Friends,
I have some very important jobs for you to do today on the Island of Sodor. First you need your boarding pass. (I gave each child a boarding pass that my husband made).

If you received your coloring book, someone will punch your pass for you. (I used a cloud punch that looked like the Thomas logo. My wonderful Aunt Joanie did all the punching).

You will get another punch for making your Thomas mask (

Next, I need you to go to the quarry. You have an important job to do. James has been having a lot of trouble with Troublesome Trucks. They have spilled out all of his coal. Can you help to put it back? "Toss the coal back into the Troublesome Trucks"- My husband created the TTs out of gray poster board and a box. We used black bean bags.

(punch tickets)Next, there is one piece of coal that rolled away. Caleb’s mom is going to show you how to play, “Pass the Coal” so that you all can help get that last piece back into the Troublesome Truck. "Pass the Coal" was played using a black bean bag my MIL made. The kids sat in a circle and passed the coal to Thomas music. When the music stopped, the child holding the coal was 'out.'

(punch tickets) Uh-oh, Thomas had a wash down and his number is fading. Will you help with Thomas’s number? We’re going to play “Pin the Number on Thomas.” "Pin the Number on Thomas. " I made the poster using a transparency and then I painted the poster at home. The numbers were cut using a die-cut machine at the school where I teach.

(punch ticket)Our last game is Thomas Bingo. Please sit down in a circle and you will get your game card.

(punch ticket) You’ve worked very hard today, I have a certificate for each of you ( click on fun stuff).

Now it’s time for Caleb to open his gifts and then we’re off to the refueling station for some cake. Don't forget your goody bag and a balloon when you leave. Caleb says thanks for coming!

Other game ideas: Sir Topham Hatt says (make a hat out of black construction paper)
Bowling- cover each pin with pictures of the different trains
Thomas dominoes

Caleb loved every single gift. His Granny made him the shirt he is wearing. He got some new trains, some Thomas books and a coloring book, a Thomas Color Wonders, a soccer ball, a remote control Thomas, skates, and too many more to mention. He seems to love them all too!

Food: I made the Thomas cake and attached Annie. We created a train (we covered shoeboxes with gray paper to look like Troublesome Trucks) to hold the food and one of the cars (blue) held the "logs" (pretzel rods). We used one of Caleb's toy Thomas' as the engine.

We had Thomas plates and napkins mixed in with blue plates and napkins just to save a little. We had blue utensils and red and blue cups.

Other food ideas: blue jello jigglers cut with train cookie cutters sandwiches cut with train cookie cutters.

Goody Bags- Each child received a red bag containing Thomas stickers, bubbles, candy shaped like Thomas, and a miniature puzzle. Each family received a Thomas CD with Thomas music and a picture of Caleb on the cover. Each family also received a Thomas matching game of their own.

Other ideas not used: rent a party train to come
make a plywood "tossing" game and paint to like Thomas
Save BIG boxes. Cut and paint each to look like trains and let the children wear them...Race?
Printable Thomas calendar pages at DLTK website
Make doorknob hanger-see DLTK website
Make a huge Cranky the Crane as well as "waves" using 3 different sized cardboard cut-outs. Then say that Cranky the Crane has dumped his freight into the water and needs help getting it out. The kids can "fish" it out with a fishing pole.

There are tons of Thomas websites out there. You can find online activities, calendars, paper models, and more. Here are a few:

Please feel free to leave your ideas or comments below. Click on "comments."