Wednesday, December 7, 2011

North Pole Breakfast

The Christmas season is here and my favorite tradition around the Hart house is the Magic Elves....the are cute, mischevious, messy, sneaky and  FUN!  They come every year and spend an entire month 
with us...and we are always sad to see them leave.  This year they came on a very special day...Daniel's 10th birthday!  And he was so very excited!  We woke up on Saturday morning to find this mess in my den. 
The Elves had used my computer and printer to print off my North Pole Collection and had our dining room decorated for a NORTH POLE BREAKFAST!

They apparently had a GREAT time cutting, punching, and putting together...but the end result was a lot of fun!
Every year when the elves arrive they always have some display that says "We are Here!"  One year they wrote it in toothpaste on the counter.  This year they chose to hang a banner in the kitchen window, complete with lights and tinsel garland.
The table was decorated in red, white and green....and a feast awaited us....ok, it was an Elf Feast, but still breakfast on the table isn't something Mom will ever complain about.  

They brought us some Winter Wonderland Waffle Mix that we used to whip up a batch of waffles...which incidentally happens to be the birthday boys favorite breakfast food...they sure are smart elves.
We had chocolate covered donuts that looked like reindeer (use your imagination.....see it now?)             

Powdered Sugar Donuts
Blueberry muffins and chocolate chip muffins 

and North Pole Cupcakes...

Our 4 Elves...(yes, we have 4 and yes, there is a story behind why we have 4 when we only have 3 children)...were waiting for us on the table, with a note explaining the table.

This is Watkins...he was our very first elf and this is his 6th year to join us for the month of December.  The boys loved him from the first moment he came into our home and even fought over who got to sleep with him and play with the next year Santa sent Watkins and a friend, Cane.

This is Cane.  He is a rather large elf.  Because of his size he sometimes is needed back at the North Pole for emergencies.  One year the ball making machine broke and he had to go back and help Santa fix it.  Then another year he had to leave a few days early to help finish loading the sleigh...but that is the life of a larger elf.

This is Oliver and he was the 3rd elf that came to our house.  He was filling in for Cane on a year that he couldn't come and now he is a part of our family, so Santa lets him keep coming every year.

And last but not least this is Holly, Oliver's sister..she is the only girl elf and she came the year I was pregnant with Jaycee.  She didn't get to stay the whole month that year, but just came to meet us and let us know that she would be there the following year.  Jaycee is already attached to Holly and I am wondering how Holly going back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve will work for Jaycee...there might be tears.

The elves left notes for each of the kids at their spot at the table along with an ornament...Each letter was special telling what they had been up to, what Santa had told them about the kids, or what they were looking forward to about their visit to KY.  



 We didn't immediately see Cane, but there was a present on the floor for the birthday boy and when he looked inside there was Cane holding a special birthday present from the elves...

We found these cute little snowman milk bottles in the fridge waiting for the kids and then we sat down to enjoy a North Pole Breakfast for Daniel's Birthday!  

After Breakfast, Daniel couldn't wait to open his present...he had BEGGED for a 3D Twister and I must say it is REALLY COOL!

We had an amazing time welcoming our elves to our home and celebrating Daniel's 10th is is possible that he is already double digits?  Daniel was very kind to inform me that I better enjoy seeing him reach double digits because I wouldn't be around to see him reach triple digits....I hope he lives to see triple digits, because he is one amazing kiddo.  I know that if he is the great at 10, then he will be 10x better at 100!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

10 Years of Blessings...blessing others with Random Acts of Kindness

I hesitated writing a blog about this amazing day, because we stressed so much about the importance being "doing for others" and "not getting recognition or telling others about it."  But the more I thought about it, I decided that I wanted to share this day because it might just help increase the amount of kindness in our World....and let's face it, we need more kindness in the World today!

Several months ago I read a blog  about a woman celebrating her birthday by doing random acts of kindness, one for each year of her age.  I was amazed at the idea behind this and told my husband about it. I told him that I wanted to make that a new family tradition with our kids.  I couldn't think about any better way to celebrate our family members birthdays than to show kindness to others.  So the planning began.  Our oldest son was up first....he turned 10 on November 26.
Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday and spending time with our extended family we had to move our kindness day up a few days.

  There was a lot of preparation that went into our Kindness Day.  I sat down with the boys on Monday and we made a list of all the possible things that we could do.  It took a little time for them to understand the concept and to start throwing out ideas, but we eventually came up with a list of about 15 things.  Then we went through the list and narrowed down our list to 10 things.  After we had our list ready, we got to work.

The first thing that I did, was make some "Enjoy this Random Act of Kindness" Cards.  We wanted people to understand when they came across some of our things that they were intended for them to keep and use.  I printed these at Walgreen just like a 4x6 photo.  I even did some that were smaller and 2 fit on a 4x6 photo.  

I only took pictures as we were preparing for our Kindness Day, because I wanted to be fully involved and not behind the camera.

On Monday night, we made up some cookies, brownies, and cupcakes and fixed two big platters of goodies.  The boys also made two poster sized cards.

We got up on Tuesday morning and got ready for a day of giving to others.  I was amazed at how excited the boys were about this day....We gathered everything that we needed, loaded the van and set out.

Both of the boys went through their coin jars and took out all the silver coins and then sorted them by value.  We pulled all the quarters out since that is the coin accepted in machines and then we counted out the amount of the other coins and took them to the bank to exchange them for quarters.  With their money combined together they had $20 that they freely chose to give to others...I was proud of how they eagerly counted and got excited over the amount that they came up with.  

We attached 2-4 coins to several "Enjoy this Random Act of Kindness" Cards  and then put $2 worth into some baggies attached to the cards.  We then did several things with those quarters....

Random Act of Kindness #1: Leaving a treat in the Mailbox to tell our mailman thank you!
We took a little bag and filled it with Candy and attached a homemade card that the boys made saying "Thank you for delivering our mail."  When we were talking about ideas, they pointed out that the mailman has to deliver mail even in bad weather and that it was really nice of him to do we said thank you! It actually took a few days for him to collect his treat (glad it wasn't anything that would spoil) and the boys had to actually tell him there was something in the mailbox for him...guess he isn't used to being thanked with treats.

Random Act of Kindness #2:  Leaving coins attached to the game and ride
 machines at Wal-Mart

We headed to Wal-Mart and as we walked in the boys "snuck" over to the area where they have a room full of games and ride machines and the boys attached a card with enough money to play to the machines.  (the idea was not to be seen doing it so that we wouldn't receive any recognition...we were caught and told how sweet it was, but we tried to be sneaky!)

Random Act of Kindness #3:  Went shopping for food for the food pantry at Church.
  As we went through Wal-mart we gathered up as much food as we could get for the amount of money we had allotted for food for the food pantry.  I explained to the boys that we need to chose food that was both nutritious and a good value so that we could get more.  We left with 4 bags full of food that we took to the food Pantry.  When we dropped the food off we stayed and helped in the Caring and Sharing building to sort clothes, toys, and the boys favorite....break down boxes.

Random Act of Kindness #4:  Purchase toys for a Christmas Toy Drive . 
We headed to the toy department and the boys each got to help pick out toys for a child's name that we got from our Church Christmas Project.  They loved trying to guess what he might like...and of course the best value so that we could get him even more toys. 

Random Act of Kindness #4:  Hand out Silly Bands to kids
My boys love silly bands and they always smile when they get them.  They decided that they would give silly bands to any child that they saw today.  The asked the parents first and then handed them to the kids...the parents looked shocked...

Random Act of Kindness #5:  Thank the Police Officers for keeping us safe!

We stopped by the police station and took in this poster and a platter of goodies.  When we went in D took the plate up to the window and said "Thank you for keeping us safe!"  The lady at the counter was speechless and I found myself wiping tears away...

Random Act of Kindness #6:  Thank the Fire Fighters for keeping us safe!

Our next stop was the fire station with another platter of goodies and another card.  When the boys took the platter and card in to the station, they were treated to a special look at the fire trucks.  They came out talking about how cool it was, even though they had both seen one before, this was special because it was just the two of them...not a whole class.  

Random Act of Kindness #7:  Leaving Homemade Coloring Books and bags of crayons in the waiting rooms at the Hospital.

We printed off some coloring sheets and stapled about 20 pages together to make some coloring books. We taped a card on the back and left them in various waiting rooms around the hospital with about 10 crayons in a baggie.  

Random Act of Kindness #8:  Left the baggies with quarters and the Random Act of Kindness Cards on vending machines in the Hospital !

We explained to the boys that sometimes when people have a family member in the hospital, they are afraid to leave to get something to eat or drink.  So we left $2 in quarters on several's not much, but it would be a snack for someone.

Random Act of Kindness #9:  Visit people who were in the hospital and leave 
homemade cards for them
This might have been my favorite thing that we did.  My husband is a minister so he knew some people who were in the hospital, who were not contagious and would appreciate visits.  We went into their rooms and the boys gave them cards that they had made.  These were elaborate cards with moving parts and boys tend to get pretty creative when given the chance.  We stood and talked for a while in the rooms and as we were leaving the first room, D turned to the lady and said "I hope that you feel better soon, remember that God Loves you..."  Yes, Mom was in tears again.

Random Act of Kindness #10:  Visit Assisted Living Home and leave 
homemade cards for them
Our last stop was Glendale Place, this isn't a nursing home, but a place where meals are provided and there is someone there to check on them should they require help.  We went inside and visited a couple of people here.  The boys had also made a few cards to leave there and they were even treated here to a card trick....complete with instructions on how to do it.

We dropped my husband back off at the office and as we headed home I heard them talking in the backseat about how "AWESOME" today was.  They then said, "Hey Mom, thanks for letting us do this was fun helping others!"  Yep...there was a third time for tears.  I told them how proud I was of them for the things that they did today...and they began talking about what we can do next.  Next up is my little girl's 2nd birthday....