My 8-year old has been busy coloring and cutting this paper nativity for the past few days. I love it set up on our table inside one of the Quran boxes that we brought back from Abu Dhabi. I’m thinking today of my parents and sister who are on their way to Israel to spend Christmas walking where the Savior walked. I hope they have an amazing trip.

I’ve loved all the free printables I’ve found online this year. The “Wise Men Still Seek Him” print was found here, and the paper nativity was found here. It’s almost time to make preparations for our Christmas Eve meal – homemade rolls (with cinnamon rolls set aside for Christmas morning), and chicken and noodles. I’m planning on pigs in a blanket for dinner on Christmas, and my kids are thrilled.

I also love watching our card wall grow. It’s so fun to get cards in the mail. If you look at our tree closely, you can see the line where babies can’t reach. Visitors enjoy our half-decorated tree. I think in a couple years the ornaments might just stay on the whole tree the whole season. Tonight we will drive around town looking at lights. That is something I know the babies and big kids will love, since we so rarely go out at night!


We had another impromptu photo shoot today. It’s been fun playing with the glowing Christmas lights.

The Professor has been hard at work since winter break started – putting in our new kitchen floor. We moved into our home with it’s kitchen and dining room carpet, knowing it would be a challenge with babies and all their food-dropping, until we could replace it with something more practical for our family.

We are so happy with our new laminate floor. It looks gorgeous, and is so nice to wipe a spill with a washcloth, rather than plucking and scrubbing at the carpet. It’s been a crazy week with all the mess in our most-used room in the house, but very worth it in the end.

Made a new batch of lemon-lime playdough this morning. It is luscious (and perfect for Christmas tree cut outs).

1 1/4 c flour

1/4 c salt

1 (1/4 ounce) pkg Kool-Aid

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 c boiling water

1 1/2 TBSP oil

Mix dry ingredients, then stir in wet. When cool enough to handle, knead well. Store in an airtight container. Make a rainbow of colors and scents!

This week’s challenge at iheartfaces is “self portrait”. I took this photo this morning with my remote (thanks, dad!), thinking how this is my life – all the kid activites on the table, baby on my lap, and toddler crying on the stairs because I told her not to touch the camera. Life.

There are many great self portraits here. Go see!

I watched kids for a friend today, and took advantage of the moment to take some photos of her youngest. Such a beautiful baby!

Thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving today. The girls made some apple turkeys – the candy on which has long since been eaten, and the apples are now waiting patiently in the fridge to be consumed.

Thankful for candy and apples and happy girls to eat them.

Thankful for a family that pulls together when I need help.

I hurt my back yesterday while bending over to scoop up my baby – so most of dinner prep was up to everyone else. The Professor threw the turkey in the oven and the girls whipped up a mountain of mashed potatoes. The inside of this little specimen had a smiley face! It was a prized possession until it turned brown.

Thankful for food, cozy houses and smiling faces (even on potatoes).

Thankful for family and friends, near and far.

My mom convinced me to buy a couple pies to make my day a little easier. It did. Meijer makes a good pumpkin. We ate our pies and watched “The Last Airbender” as a family.

We have so much to be thankful for.

We have started a new reward system at our house. We have tried lots of things in the past to help our kids do their jobs (and be happy about it)! These ideas have all worked great for awhile, but eventually lose their ability to motivate. We are back to the tried and true reward box, with a token system to act as payment and encouragement for a job well done. I also hand out tokens for other kind, helpful and loving behavior.

I started out by punching large circles out a few pages of shrinky dink plastic. I put my girls’ initials on them, so each child has their own set of tokens. My girls wanted to add more of their own distinctive designs, so they also made tokens to add to our supply. After designing our tokens, we punched a hole in each one, and baked to shrink. My oldest daughter made a bracelet for the charms she earns with memory wire. My other girls keep their charms in special tiny boxes.

I have a big box of prizes which can be redeemed with tokens. Each token represents around 25 cents, so I price the items in the box accordingly, using a strip of making tape. Items in the box range from 2 – 16 tokens.

I also made some coupons that go in the box, that have lots of fun rewards that can be exchanged for tokens, or  I may give one with a big hug to someone who has really done something wonderful – without asking for tokens as payment. I love how these tokens and coupons help me to focus on the positive!

I was inspired for the tokens and coupons here, and used a lot of her actual coupon wording. If you’d like to download my coupons, you can click here.

The theme at i heart faces this week is paper, so I made some paper rain for a little photo shoot with my daughter this morning. She is actually pretty thrilled to be wearing her new rain boots – but it looks like she is ready for the rain to clear. :) There are lots of really great paper inspiration photos this week. Go check it out!

I recently learned about iheartfaces, which has weekly photography contests. This week’s theme is “orange”, and I had a ton of fun looking for orange beauty and photographing it. I love so many of my orange photos, but can only enter one – so I’m going with the one above, with my daughter in her orange hat, exploring this pretty tree. Some of my other favorites are posted below!

This photo of my daughter with her birthday balloons, holding her daddy’s hand was my other big contender. Love the little details. Orange is awesome.

My daughters all voted for the gnome photo. He is gorgeous – I can’t leave him outside because I like having him around so much. He lives on my desk, when not out frolicking in the autumn leaves.