Friday, December 21, 2012

Sorry to say...

I'm sorry I have been MIA this week. I have had some issues come up in my personal and family life that require my full attention and devotion and I am going to have to take a leave of absence from blogging for the time being.  I hope to be able to blog about this journey I am on, in the future.  Thank you all for reading, leaving comments, and following me as post about nothing more exciting than my life as a mom to my three little smarties.  I appreciate each and every one of you!!!  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

God Bless-

Monday, December 17, 2012

What we've been up to...

Saying we have been busy this month would be an understatement.  I thought I would share what we have been up to in the Smart household through the eyes of my camera...

Archer got his 1st haircut ever.  I was tired of people asking me if he was a boy or a girl, so as much as I didn't want to cut off his cute curls, I did.  He went from looking like a baby to looking like a little boy in just a few minutes.  He wasn't too sure about sitting in that big chair all by himself but as soon as I handed him my car keys, he was good to go and did surprisingly great while the lady cut his hair.

Palmer's hair was getting out of control and is so hard to fix because of how fine it is.  It won't stay up in a pony tail or braid very well and when I leave it down, it just goes crazy.  She was very excited about getting her hair chopped off and it has been much easier to manage and fix.

I had no intention of Harper getting a haircut but after Archer and Palmer got theirs cut, she begged me to take her too.  So off we went.  I asked the lady to cut a little off...well she cut a LOT off but Harper was super happy with it and I liked it a lot better than I thought I would.  Her hair is VERY thick and this new cut has made it much easier to manage.  She also lost a front too about the same time as she got her haircut.  The  other front tooth is barely hanging on so I'm sure I'll have some toothless picture to post soon!

Graham Parks and Rec department put on a wonderful opportunity for the kids in the area.  For two weeks, they had a synthetic ice skating rink at the brand new Children's Museum and each night there would be a fun event.  We went on the two nights that you could skate with characters.  The girls got to skate for the very first time in their lives and meet Belle and Snow White (there was also Batman & Spiderman for the boys).  They had a blast doing it and Daddy, Archer and I had a fun time watching!

We finally had a night that we got to go pick out a tree and decorate it.  We get  a real tree every year as part of our family Christmas traditions and let the kids decorate it with all the ornaments we have.  It might not be a beautiful themed tree but I love having ornaments on there that mean something to us and watching the kids decorate is priceless.  Archer was pretty excited about his first chance to take part in this family tradition.

We got to attend our first family Christmas get together of the season at my aunt's house.  The girls were excited to get to play with their cousin.  A good time was had by both the kids and adults!

We have also been pretty busy creating, decorating, baking and crafting.  The girls love doing all these things and the fun activities help me keep them busy on the days Daddy is traveling.

What have you been up to this month?
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Favorite

I was checking out one of the blogs I like to follow and came across the cutest little cards to use with our Elf on the Shelf (Lucy Claire).  There are little notes that your elf can bring back from the North praises, warnings, and reminders from Santa Clause.  And there are also little "trick" cards.  They really help me to be creative with our elf.  I usually rack my brain, right before I go to bed, for something cute I can do with Lucy Claire.  And I have to say, my sleepy brain has not been able to come up with many cute ideas. Here are a few things I have done since getting the cards...
The little card next to her says, "Gone Fishing"

Christmas Movie Night with Lucy Claire
Apparently Lucy Claire loves band-aids! The girls thought this was hilarious!
The cards also come with some ideas incase you forget to move your I have done a couple times.  If you would like to get your own set of printable elf notes, tricks, or both (like I got) head on over to Print Your Party on Etsy.  

Elf Tricks Set:  $9-This contains 40 note cards...24 unique tricks and activities and 3 mini hunts (4 cards each) that lead your child on 3 searches to find missing household items. This kit includes directions and/or explanations for each "trick."
Elf Notes Set:  $9-This contains 40 note cards of both praise and warning that Elf brings back from Santa Claus.  This set includes personalization for 2 children.  Additional names can be done at $5 per set.
Elf Kit: $15- This contains both the Elf Tricks and Elf Notes (80 cards in all).

Where do you get your Elf on the Shelf ideas?  Have any really good ones you want to share?

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday's Tip of the Day...

Linking up with Apple of Mama's Eye
Several years ago, a friend gave us a tin full of homemade cookies.  I was excited and as soon as we got it, I opened it up and saw small pieces of bread in there amongst the cookies.  I guess she saw the perplexed look on my face and proceeded to explain.  She told one of the best little tidbits of info and I wanted to share seeing as it's the holidays and holidays are full of baked yummy goodness!  

If you add small pieces of bread all around your cookies, it will keep them soft.  The cookies take in the moisture from the bread and the bread pieces will turn hard while your cookies stay soft.  We just baked a bunch of sugar cookies to take to a family get together to let the kids decorate as an activity to keep them busy.  The only time we had to make them was several days before the party, so I threw in a torn up slice of bread and those cookies kept their softness!  

One time, I was getting ready to throw out the last few cookies someone had given us because we had them for a while and the last ones had gotten pretty hard.  Then I thought I'd try the bread trick, just to see if it might work. Well, it did!  

Maybe you already knew this trick and it's old news to you, but every time I give someone some homemade cookies and then explain why there are pieces of bread in there, they always say, "Really?! I have never heard of that before!" So I thought I'd share and hope you enjoy giving and receiving all those yummy cookies this holiday season!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tag You're It!

Welcome to Tag! You’re it ~ Christmas Style!


 (To get the button go here)

My goal is to get this to hop around all the different blogs and have everyone learn something about the blogs and people they follow ~ Christmas Style! So … pick five bloggers that you want to know more about their Christmas traditions. Tag the bloggers you picked and have them write up a post with answers to the 5 questions that you want to know about.

1. What makes Christmas such a special holiday for you and your family?
 It's that magic time of year when we have Christmas music playing constantly, do fun crafts and activities with the kids, wrap presents together, shop together and partake in family traditions.  I guess what it all adds up to is spending time with my own family as well as getting to spend time with family we don't see as often as we like to. 
2. Were you told the truth about Santa Claus by your parents or did you find out another way? you plan on lying to your kids (if you have them or plan on having them)?
 I found out in elementary school. I kinda had a feeling (I was 9 or 10) but when my teacher reminded us not to say anything to younger kids about there not being a Santa, my suspicions were confirmed and I was devestated. I don't consider it lying to my kids. I think believing in Santa makes Christmas more magical...heck I wish I still believed in him.  We also make sure our kids know that Santa isn't the reason we celebrate Christmas but that this is a holiday for Jesus. 

3. Real tree or Fake tree?
 Real!  It just doesn't feel like Christmas without a family trip to the tree lot to pick out a tree together.  We always did this when we were growing up and we have continued the tradition with our kids.  When they are all grown and out of the house, we might change to a fake tree but right now  we are going to stick with real.

4. Do you open presents on Christmas morning, Christmas Eve or both?
We used to spend Christmas Eve at my in-laws and open presents from them, aunts and uncles, and cousins.  We don't live 10 minutes down the road from them anymore so it will be different this Christmas Eve. We will let the kids open 1 gift from us (their Christmas pjs so they can wear them) and let them get the little thing they got for each other. But the rest is opened on Christmas morning.

5. What is your favorite Christmas movie to watch? Favorite Christmas song to sing or listen to? ( I know…technically two questions)
 Favorite animated movie is The Polar Express. Favorite classic is The Christmas Story.

I don't know if I have a favorite song...its the one time of year I don't mind listening to the same songs over and over by every artist out there.

For the inaugural Tag! You’re It Christmas Style ~ I am tagging the following five bloggers:

Lynsey-the Moores

Make sure you link back to Raising Reagan so we can all check out which blogs have participated and all say Hello! Make sure you do an initial post with the questions answered and then TAG your next five bloggers!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Organizing the pantry

Parlo and Logi

I like things to be nice, clean and organzied then I had three kids and the nice and clean pretty much went out the window.  I still manage to stay somewhat organzied otherwise I'd go nuts.  So the other day when I realized how cluttered my pantry had become, I knew something had to be done!
This was driving me crazy. I had no idea how many bags of pretzels we had or that I had a whole bag of flour that had been pushed to the back of a shelf.  I purchased some clear plastic containers (small ones for $1.97 and medium size ones for $2.97 at Wal-Mart) and went work sorting what we needed and throwing out old stuff. About 30-40 minutes later, I was much happier. 
Since taking this picture, I did add another container on the middle shelf and labeled a few more things.
Putting most things in a clear container really helps in several ways. First, I can see exactly what I have and what I am running low on.  Second, it's so easy when the kids ask for a snack to just grab the snack container or when I need a baking item, I just grab that container.  No more wondering where in the heck I put that food coloring or crossing my fingers and hoping I still have some peanut butter in there somewhere.  I also suggest labeling each container so anyone else can know where to look for something (and also where to put something back). I have to say, it's been about two weeks since I have done this and everything has stayed exactly where it goes, which is something to get excited about when you have a 4 & 6 year old and a husband who are constantly raiding the pantry!

What do you do to help your pantry stay organized?

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Liebster Award

Thank you to Parlo and Logi for nominating me for the Liebster Award!
leibster 150
~"Liebster" is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, or welcome. 
~The Liebster Award is granted to new, up and coming bloggers with great potential and fewer than 200 followers.
~According to the rules of the Liebster Award, I am to answer 11 questions posed at the nominating website, choose 11 people to whom I will pass on this honor, and then make up 11 more questions which the new recipients must then in turn answer.

11 questions:
1. Where is your favorite place to eat? 
 My mom's or mother-in-law's house...I love me a good home cooked meal.

2. Why did you start blogging? 
I love sharing ideas with other mommies and wanted to let people know about getting their family, their homes and their lives healthier with Shaklee. 

3. Who is your biggest inspiration? 
Biggest Momspiration is my mom and Biggest blogger/mom/business leader inspiration is Jaima at

4. What’s your favorite song? 
Too many favorites! 

5. What was your first ever screenname? 
I can't remember....maybe appsoccer7??

6. What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage? 
Light beer 

7. If you were stranded on a desert island would you rather have electricity and your gadgets, or the actor/singer of your dreams? 
electricity and my gadgets 

8. What do you do for a living?
I am a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. I help people make their lives healthier with Shaklee.

9. If you could change your name, what would you choose? 
When I was little I thought about this a lot because there were always a ton of other Sarahs in my classes and soccer teams and  I decided I like my name...I want all the other Sarahs to change theirs :)

10. Dinner or dessert? 

11. What high end/luxury item would you buy if money wasn’t an issue? 
My dream house

11 Random things about me:
1. I played soccer from the time I was 6 until I got pregnant with my third child.
2. I enjoy organizing.
3. I am the oldest of four children.
4. I think it would be fun to pack the family up in an RV and travel the county for a while.
5. I am such a southern sweet tea, grits, fried chicken, saying "Bless your heart" and "Yall."
6. My favorite number is 7 (my soccer number).
7. I am right handed but left footed.
8. I am not a winter person and would love for it to be 70 degrees all year long.
9. I just became a coffee I'm addicted.
10. I really want to learn to sew!
11. I said I would never be one of those moms who has a theme for their kids names...yet all three of my kids have an -er name and all of their middle names begin with an e.

11 questions for the nominees:
1. Do you like to cook/bake?
2. What is your favorite holiday?
3. Magazines or books?
4. What is your middle name (not maiden name)?
5. Do you have kids? 
6. Do you live in the same state you were born in?
7. What is the best vacation you ever took? (or want to take if you haven't had a favorite yet?)
8.  What is your favorite dessert? 
9.  Do you have a celebrity crush?
10. Do you have a favorite sport, if so what is it?
11. Mac or PC?

11 Blogs I nominated:
1.  The Moore Family
2.  Apple of Mama's Eye

3. Kumquats and Such

4. Patching Hearts
5. Secrets to Style
6. Holliebearies
7. Life as a Seed
8. The B Family Blog
9. Ramsay Grace

10. Mice in the Kitchen
11. keeping plus in a minus world

Here are the rules should you choose to except the award:
1. Thank your nominator and link back to the nominator’s blog in your post.
2. Answer the 11 questions posted by the nominator.
3. List 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
5. Nominate 11 other fabulous up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers for the Liebster Blog Award.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Favorite

Prayer Sticks

Not too long ago, one of my favorite blogs posted an idea about Prayer Magnets.  I loved this idea and thought how great it would be to do something similar for my young children.  We always end up saying the same few blessings over and over again at meal time.  How neat would it be to have 25 short little blessings to have on the table ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  

I used the prayers that Amy provided on her blog.  I printed them off, cut them out and then glued them onto large popcicle sticks.  The font the prayers are in is small enough that each strip of paper fit perfectly on the sticks.

Then I got a small mason jar and added a little decoration to make it cuter...
I had leftover fabric from the girls cowgirl birthday party last year and I always have twine in the art room for projects.

Now we have this jar sitting on our table so all we have to do it pull out a stick at mealtime and say the blessing.  My kindergartner has loved being able to read the blessings to us all by herself!

Does your family have any favorite meal time prayers?

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday's Tip of the Day...

Thankful All Year Round

I know many of you made a Thankful Tree for the Thanksgiving season.  We had so much fun making ours and talking about what we are thankful for, I just wasn't ready to put it away when it came time to get out the Christmas decorations.  So we made our tree into a Christmas/Winter Thankful Tree.  
Our Fall tree changed into our Winter tree
Why not think about how blessed we are all year not just at Thanksgiving!?! So we are going to leave our tree up all year and change it along with the seasons.  For winter, we made paper snowflakes together as a family (as part of our 25 Days of Christmas Fun) and as we hung them up we said something we were thankful for.  When Spring rolls around, we will do the same thing with handmade paper eggs (I haven't decided what I want to make for our Summer Tree yet). Any suggestions?

What are you thankful for this Christmas season?

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Christmas Traditions

Since our youngest smartie is a year old and we have completed our little family, I wanted to start some Christmas family traditions.  I, of course, hopped onto Pinterest to get some inspiration.  I came across some wonderful ideas from The Things I Love blog.  As soon as I read about some of the things she does with her family, I got to work getting things ready to do them with my family.

The first fun idea is reading a Christmas book every night.  I got all the Christmas books we already have (and bought a couple new ones) and each day I pick out a different book and put it a gift bag under the tree.  After bath time, the kids open the bag and get out the book for us to read as a bedtime story.  They get so excited about which book we will read that night. After we read the book, it gets put in the book basket in our living room.
The next tradition we started was the 25 Days of Christmas Fun.  I like the list on the blog I mentioned earlier so I decided to use some of those ideas but include some of our own too.  After I typed up our list and  printed it off, I framed it and have it sitting on a counter in the kitchen.  The kids like being able to check off our activity each day with a dry erase marker.
Something I like even better is her list of the 25 Days of Christmas Spirit list.  I  printed off her list and framed it too.  We have had such fun learning the reasons why we do certain things at Christmas. I am sharing what we learn each day on My little smarties Facebook page so you can learn things right along with us.

One of the things on our 25 Days of Christmas fun is to hang a family ornament on the Christmas tree.  I thought it would be fun to pick out one new ornament each year to add to our collection.  I want to get one with the year on it but this year, the girls picked out one that didn't have that on it so I wrote it on the back with paint pen.  I can just imagine how fun it will be to look back, when the kids are grown, and remember each ornament and hopefully a story or two about that Christmas.
Another new tradition we have started is called the Scripture Chain (also from blog mentioned earlier).  Each night at dinner, we will read a scripture and then add it to our paper chain.  On Christmas day, we will have 25 scriptures hanging in our kitchen entryway.  Here are the scriptures so you can print them off too. They are in no particular order.

I also came across these excellent ideas for Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar (on Pinterest) that I definitely want to start with my kids when they get a little older.  We will be doing some of these acts this year but since my kids are still small, some of them will be a little hard for us to do.  I did challenge my oldest (who's in kindergarten) to do a little RAK for someone at school every day. 

Here is our list of 25 Days of Christmas Fun but I encourage you to make your own list of things that your family would enjoy doing! I printed off our list onto cute Christmas paper and framed it...
25 Days of Christmas Fun
1. Start our Advent Calendar and set up Nativity scene
2. Make Christmas cookies
3. Have hot chocolate & cookies while watching a Christmas movie.
4. Make paper snowflakes and hang them from our Thankful Tree
5. Hang our new family ornament on the tree (pick a new organment out to add to our tree each year)
6. Go to Candle Tea at Old Salem
7. Take canned goods to church
8. Write/email letters to Santa
9. Make icecream cone Christmas trees
10. Shop for sibling gifts
11. Go see Christmas lights around town
12. Go see the Nutcracker or other Christmas play or movie as a family
13. Go iceskating
14. Attend a family Christmas gathering
15. Watch a movie about the birth of Christ 
16. Go visit Santa at a local store
17. Random Acts of Kindness Day-each person much choose at least one RAK to do for someone
18. Sing our favorite Christmas songs together as a family
19. Wrap presents together
20. Deliver gifts to neighbors
21. Go visit Daddy's family
22. Spend the day with family we don't see often
23. Make the cookies we will leave for Santa
24. Have a nice dinner together, put out cookies for Santa and carrots for Reindeer.
25. Have a wonderful Christmas Day spent with family.

What are some Christmas traditions you do with your family?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Christmas Gift for the Teacher Idea

Since I posted what my daughter is giving her kindergarten teacher yesterday, I thought I'd post what my preschooler will be giving her teachers today.  When we went to the Dollar Tree to get some of the items for the 12 Days of Christmas gifts, I saw these adorable travel mugs.  An idea instantly popped into my head.  After doing our shopping (yes me by myself with three kids shopping on a Saturday afternoon...exhausting but we had fun!)  Here is what we came up for my middle smarties preschool teachers and director:
Travel mug-stuffed with hot chocolate packets and some candy canes.  I thought about decorating the mug all Christmasy but then decided against it so the teachers can use it all year.  I did however use my daughter's thumb print to make a heart and then had her sign her name on the outside of the mug.  
I will also be making my mom's famous Derby Pie to go along with it.  I give these out every year and have had people (who have received them for several years) tell me that this is one of the things they look forward to getting at Christmas!  Yes they are that good!  Feel free to copy and paste the recipe.

Derby Pie
This has been a favorite in my family for as long as I can remember

-2 eggs, slightly beaten
-1 stick butter, melted
-1 cup English walnuts, chopped
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 (9in.) pie shell, unbaked

~Combine all ingredients
~Mix well
~Spread into pie shell
~Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees
~Delicious right out of the oven or refrigerated
~Add a scoop of vanilla icecream for an extra yummy treat 

 * You can get really cute bags to put pies in at Dollar Tree!

I found a free printable that I attached to each travel mug. You can find it here.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Gift for Teachers

When I was looking around for a cute idea for my daughter's kindergarten teacher, I came across the 12 Days of Christmas for Teachers on Pinterest.  I thought it was so adorable, I had to do it.  Over the weekend, we went out and got all the stuff we needed. My daughter will take one bag to school for the last 12 days before getting out for the holidays.  I love this idea because it's a little different and things the teacher can actually use. Here are the little rhymes that go with each day...

 For the 1st day Christmas,
something for you to use,
I’m giving you this clipboard,
so your papers you won’t lose!

For the 2nd day of Christmas,

Your students are busy, little bees…
You can correct their papers
with these 2 red sharpies!

For the 3rd day of Christmas,

I give 3 binder clips,
I’m sure it could be tempting
to use them on my lips!

For the 4th day of Christmas

Dry-eraser markers come in four…
As my ___ grade teacher,
You really help me soar!

For the 5th day of Christmas,

Some popcorn for a snack,
Sorry, that‘s all the food
I could fit in my backpack!

For the 6th day of Christmas,

cold hands, face, and toes,
Warm up with these 6 packs
of cocoa with marshmallows.

For the 7th day of Christmas,

I’ve brought you chewing gum,
It feels like Christmas break
is never going to come!

For the 8th day of Christmas,

here are 8 paperclips multiplied by 10,
Hope you’re enjoying this
’cause tomorrow I’ll do it again!

For the 9th day of Christmas,

9 canes of red and white…
Guess who my favorite teacher is…
if you guessed YOU, you’re right!

For the 10th day of Christmas,

10 magnets I bring to you,
You surprise me every day
with all the fun stuff we do!

For the 11th day of Christmas,

Some pencils I hope you’ll need,
(school name) is so lucky to have you, indeed!

For the 12th day of Christmas,

12 apples you’ll find in here,
I wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year!!
(I included two cans of condensed milk and instructions to make caramel to go with the apples.)
**I contacted the blogger who posted this idea, for her caramel recipe and she kindly emailed it to me so I could include with the apples on Day 12.

 Here's how our bags turned out...
Here are all 12 gifts
Here is a close up of the small bags and tags

Here's a list of what we found at the Dollar Tree:
-red sharpies
-binder clips
-dry erase markers
-candy canes
-plastic bowl to put apples in
-small bags for days 2-5, 7-11
-larger bags for days 1,6,12

We found the rest of the items at Wal-Mart:
-hot chocolate & marshmallows
-sweet & condensed milk
*they do have hot chocolate and popcorn at Dollar Tree but we have never tried it and we wanted to go with some we knew would be yummy
You can get printable cards with the little rhyme for days 1-6 here and days 7-12 here.
*Notice there is a blank on Day 4 for you to put your child's grade and Day 11 for you to put your child's school.
I didn't have any white cardstock to print the tags onto so I printed them off onto printer paper and then glued the whole sheet onto green cardstock before I cut each tag out.
  I didn't want to give a plain clipboard so I painted my daughter's hands red and she put her hands down to form a heart then added her name in the middle of the heart.

What are you giving for teacher gifts this year?

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