Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Favorites

Happy Friday!!  I have lots of favorite moments to share with you this week.  We were busy with Santa, doing Christmas baking, enjoying cold days at home, going to Christmas programs and parties.  It definitely is a busy time of year!!

Christmas cookies are my FAVORITE!
I am really enjoy baking, eating and sharing Christmas cookies this month!  I'm all done baking to give away so now I just get to bake things for my family to enjoy.  I've made sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels and hope to make some cinnamon rolls this coming week.

Lists are my favorite.
I am always a big list writer, but this year I have a million lists going to make sure everything gets done.  I'm a little behind schedule with my shopping.  I'm usually done by early December and this year I'm still not 100% done.  I'm not stressing about it, just trying to enjoy the holidays and slowly cross all the things off my to do list. I've always been a last minute wrapper so I will probably do the same this year.  How are you doing with your shopping and wrapping??

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley is a definite favorite!
If you haven't added this to your Christmas wish list you should!  It's a great book for women of all ages and stages of life.  I loved Emily's first book Grace, Not Perfection and this second book is even better than the first.  The book contains beautiful candid shots of Ley's family and real life moments around her house.  The chapters are filled with practical advice to simplify your life so that the most important things get the most attention.  I'm a very organized person so I already did several of the things she mentioned in the book.  Ley addresses home organization, marriage, date nights, thoughtfully loving your family, parenting, career advice and everything in between.  I love that each chapter has pages for note taking and questions that get you thinking on ways to simplify your own life.  It's so nice that you aren't being asked to buy more or buy into an expensive system.  You're just being asked to look at your current life and make changes to simplify.  I was so motivated to declutter, only fill my house with things I love, create routines and to spend my time creating traditions with my family.  I love the habits, routines and self care that she talks about throughout the book and have a list of ways I'm hoping to implement a simplified life in my home for the coming year.  Buy this book for any women left on your Christmas shopping list!
  *I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

Olive's 1st Christmas Program was my Favorite.
She was so excited to perform her songs and I may have shed a few tears and she walked on stage with her class.  She was so proud and so happy to have us there.  It was fun to see all of her Christmas art, her classmates and be at school with her.  My mom and MIL made the quick road trip up to see us for the day.  Olive couldn't have been happier to have us all at her school for the morning.  Also, her buffalo check dress is my favorite.  Wish I could find a dress or skirt to match her.

Mornings with Fletcher are my favorite.
He's such a good sidekick happily tagging along 99% of the time.  He'd say that sampling all the items in my shopping cart is his favorite activity.  My blocks of cheese, cucumbers and bananas got sampled this trip.  We've Christmas shopped, grocery shopped, gone to the library and had fun with friends this month while Olive's been at school.

This Collapsible Market Basket is my FAVORITE!!
It is so handy and I use it all the time.  I loaded it up with party supplies for Olive's class party this week.  I've given it as a gift, have one of my own and think everyone could benefit from having one.  It's under $15 and makes a great gift for any busy lady in your life.

Cookie Decorating with Friends
Our friends invited us over for a morning of cookie baking & decorating.  It was so much fun!  We just had to show up and everything was ready to go.  Each kid had a cookie station with an apron.  Fletcher was the only boy and he didn't mind one bit.  The kids ate, decorated, played and the moms got to visit.  We went home with plates of pretty cookies.  Keep this in mind for a really fun play date option with your kids this month!

Staying on the nice list is a lot of work :)
Fletcher loves puppies.  He loves to point them out and say hello when we see them.

This week on Polka-Dotty Place:
DIY Playdoh Christmas trees have been so much fun this week!  Head to Thursday's post to see more.

Monday: Cranberry Goodness
Tuesday: JOY & LOVE Filled Family Pictures
Wednesday: Brunching with Santa & His Reindeer
Thursday: Christmas Fun & Games

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!  We are roadtripping to see some friends, going to a birthday party and going to enjoy some time watching Christmas movies at home!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Fun & Games

I have several fun Christmas activities to share with you today.

I bet you've already got lots of the supplies for them in your craft closets.

I had a lot of fun coordinating Olive preK Christmas party earlier this week.  I planned a craft and then came up with some games that I thought the kids would love.  We ended up only having time for the craft and snacks so we've been playing the games at home this week.  They were tons of fun and really easy to pull together.


I made 4 batches of green  playdoh and divided each batch into fourths.  Each kid got a baseball sized ball of green playdoh for their tree.  You could definitely buy playdoh instead of make it, but I was going for a cheaper option since I had to have enough playdoh for a classroom of kids.

I used my mom's playdoh recipe.  I have good childhood memories of her making playdoh for us and letting us pick the color she'd make.

1 cup water
1 cup flour
1/2 c salt
green food coloring
2 t cream of tartar
1 T vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat up.  Stir until it's blended and then when it thickens up knead it together until smooth.  The dough will be hot so let it cool a bit before you start kneading.

These are the materials that each kid got:
The bags of decorations had sequins, pony beads, jewels, pipe cleaner & a plastic knife.
The brown bag was an oversized lunch bag that they could use to take home all of their supplies.

I had envisioned the kids making tall Christmas trees, but most of them wanted to design flat ones.  Both work great with the playdoh.

Another mom made these cute snowman popcorn cups for a snack

Give each kid a straw and a giant pom pom.
Let two kids race by blowing the pom pom nose down the table.

Grab a package of green streamer paper and take turns wrapping kids up like a Christmas tree.  You could add bows for decorations.

Build Santa a new hat out of red solo cups.  Try to get them as tall as possible and add a giant pom pom on top.  You could race, give a time limit or just build for fun.  My kids LOVE this one.  Knocking it down was just as much fun as building.

Our local library hosted a fun Christmas craft night so I signed Olive up for it.  It was free and we had a great time trying out some new crafts.

Painted Tea Towel - use Christmas stickers to stick to the towel.  They had precut stickers from a cricut machine for us to pick from.  Add fabric paint around it making sure to coat all the edges.  Once you've done it, remove the sticker and let it dry.  Olive picked sparkly gold for her towel.

Christmas Wooden Spoon - Tape a line on the spoon so the kids know where to stop painting the handle.  Let them paint the handle on all sides with Christmas colors.  Some people taped off stripes.  Olive wanted to do her own design.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Brunching with Santa & His Reindeer

We had our annual Santa brunch at the country club on Sunday and it was our best one yet. 

The kids were excited and we all had a fun time.  It wasn't perfect... Olive ran away from Santa the first time through the line so we had to go back a second time.  She'd only go near him if I agreed to hold her hand.  No professional photographer this year so our pictures aren't as good.  But, we got to spend the morning with friends eating delicious brunchy food and getting excited for Christmas.

The live reindeer are always a big hit.  These were baby reindeer at 8 months old.

 Fletcher got a little close and ended up spooking the reindeer.  Their owner was reminding kids not to touch the reindeer or they'd lose some of their Christmas magic.

Santa & Fletcher trying to convince Olive to come over and talk.

Silly Santa has a tickly beard

The chef worked on a special Christmas surprise.  This giant gingerbread house was so cool!  It smelled amazing and the kids could go inside.  It was really impressive.

 Cookie decorating station.

Santa round 2.  Fletcher happily hung out on his lap and Olive was chatty.  She told Santa her Christmas wish list and what Fletcher wanted, too.

Santa Brunch 2016

Santa Brunch 2015

Have you taken your kids to see Santa yet??

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

JOY & LOVE Filled Family Pictures

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

Wishing you loves of JOY & LOVE this holiday season!!

I was SO happy with how our cards turned out this year.  I have ordered our cards from Sams for YEARS.  I plan my holidays around ordering during their Black Friday sale every year.  You can get 100 cards and envelopes for just $15!!  They're 6x8 on photo paper.  Mark your calendars for next year to take advantage of it.  PS If you're ordering 150+ it's cheapest to order 2 sets of 100 instead of 150.  If you order them in 100s you only pay $15 per set instead of $40 for 200.

I also wanted to share our 2017 family pictures with you today.  My sweet cousin Lacey has taken our pictures for years.  She puts up with our whole crew, looks at our inspiration photos for poses and we're so lucky to have her in the family.  We book her every other year and give my mom a gift card for the photo session for Mother's Day.  We all love to get updated pictures even if it's a lot of work to pull together.

Here are 4 tips we've learned over the years:

1. Pick 3 colors for pictures and then work in lots of neutrals - jeans, khakis, black pants, etc.  WE did black, pink and green this year.  Find an inspiration picture or outfit to base all of the outfits off of and share it with all the moms in the group since they're usually doing the shopping.

2. Scout out your location ahead of time and pick your favorite spots.  Set bar stools, benches, blankets out in advance so they're ready to go for the shoot.  Also scope out pinterest poses ahead of time and screen shot them on your phone.  We always do pictures at my parents house.

3. Make it quick!  The quicker you can get everyone in their spots the better.  As all of the kids are getting older it's easier.  We used to shoot for being done in 30 minutes, but now with the kids being older we say we get all the pictures done in an hour.

4. Try to pick a cooler time of year.  We've done pictures in August and they were HOT.  We love to do Fall pics so we're all pretty comfy while taking pictures.

We all agreed these were our easiest, best family pictures to date!

My parents

The original 5 :)

My parent's Christmas card:

All the grandkids with Mimi & Papaw

This line up of the 9 kids is so sweet!  I think we may just make them do this now for every family picture.

My brother and his family

My sister and her crew

These three girls are all about the same age.  Olive will join them in the 5 year old club in May.

How often do you do family pictures??
They're a lot of work, but always worth the effort.

PS If you're looking for the usual Tuesday Talk link up... it has been retired.  We had some people decide to bow out along some changes with the link up system rules so we are no longer hosting a big weekly link up.  We had a great Tuesday Talk run and loved linking up with you for the past few years.  Thank you!  Happy blogging!!