Elf on the Shelf 2016: Installment 1

Iroh is back for more shenanigans. Mom can barely keep up this year!

Iroh brought some sweet treats for the kids. There were some cool games inside too.

Sweet Treats

Iroh brought the kids new waterbottles to encourage some healthy habits.

Importance of Hydration

Iroh found a good spot to see all the goings on

Bird’s eye view

Our new mouse, Brownie, was very entertaining for Iroh.

Checking out the new addition

Iroh found our sucker stash and dug right in.

Sucker anyone?

The Books A Million catalog featured a lot of nice toy options.

Browsing for toys

Iroh got off to a good start this Christmas season. We’ll wait and see what other mischief he can get in to.

A Day at Epcot

It’s been months since we were in Florida, but I still remember how much fun we had! Then I looked and realized I never fully blogged about our trip. Bad Stevie! I did briefly talk about Epcot, and how we drank our way around the world. There is so much more that we did that day!This trip to Disney started with a lot of planning. Our first Disney trip, Epcot was a half day, boring stop. After hitting Pinterest, I came up with the following itinerary.

Mine was handwritten, then my mom did her thing to make it pretty.

I usually try not to start days like this in the gift shop, but we needed to so we could buy the kids passports.

The passports come with stickers, featuring the flag and different sites from that country. As you go around the world showcase, you stop at each KidCot station and someone will write a little note in the native language. 

If you don’t want to get the passport, you can pick up a Duffy fan for free at any station. Chiara wanted the fan, as well as her passport, mainly so she could color it!

The itinerary was set, but as usual, we didn’t get to everything, but here was our day by country:

MEXICO: Here we only stopped for a drink, churros

NORWAY: Norway included a visit with Anna and Elsa, easily the most beautiful Elsa I’ve ever seen. My brother was enchanted.

We also rode the ride Frozen Ever After, it’s a really fun log ride! KidCot station, drink and moving on!

CHINA: China was a fun country. KidCot, drink, but with the addition of a lunch stop. Who doesn’t love Chinese food? Then we made a stop at the gift shop for some fans. If you buy a fan, be sure to ask the workers to write your name in Chinese on the fan. Here is mine:

AFRICAN TRADING POST: There was no KidCot station here, but Chiara had a lot of fun playing the drums while the grownups enjoyed their drinks. It’s vacation and we’re outside, play on!

GERMANY: I was really looking forward to Germany because I read about a shop called Karamel-Küche. I think it is really expensive, even for Disney, since this delicious strawberry cost $5 alone! Tony was really excited to find liqueur chocolates at another stand too. KidCot, drink, and moving on!

ITALY: Italy is a personal favorite, after all, I married an Italian! 

The kids enjoyed gelato while the adults had their drinks. Quick stop at the KidCot station before moving on.

THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE: This was a time of catch our breath and let the adults recover from the drinking. Arthur enjoyed copying Uncle Josh’s meditative rest. Then it was KidCot, an American beer and onward!

JAPAN: Chiara really enjoyed Japan! When traveling through, we stopped at Mitsukoshi. Here, you get to pick out an oyster and keep the pearl found inside. Chiara got a very pretty silver colored pearl and she chose a small glass bottle I think purple sand or hold it. They have many settings available for your pearl, including Cinderella’s carriage! KidCot, alcohol, then moving on.

MOROCCO: Sadly we missed the meet and greet with Aladdin and Jasmine, but we enjoyed the mosaic work here. KidCot was fun, I especially enjoyed learning the words they featured. Drinks and then onward.

***We backtracked to Norway at this point for dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for our princess dinner. This was another big treat for Chiara because we met Belle at the door and during dinner, four different princesses came to our table.

Dinner was delicious, meeting the princesses was really fun, then we were on our way again.***

FRANCE: Walling to France after dinner (that’s fun to say), Chiara saw Aurora, then the Princess took her hand and led her right to the front of the meet and greet line. Chiara was in heaven! I always love seeing he mini Eiffle Tower in France! The fountains and architecture here are very beautiful as well. My brother treated us to mini eclairs while here and they were delicious. KidCot, alcohol and continue on.

UNITED KINGDOM: Those of us that were drinking hit the Rose and Crown Pub for our beverages and the pub itself was beautiful. Exactly what I think a pub would look like in England! The kids enjoyed playing in the phone booth before we hit the KidCot station and then we were off of our last country.

CANADA: Canada wasn’t super thrilling, mainly because we lived near Canada for so long. We did however meet some really fun French guys, who worked at Epcot, and had a nice long talk with them before the light show began. KidCot, a beer before last call, then off to find our place for the Illuminations show.

The light show was fabulous! The giant globe on the water moves around, lasers shooting through the air, fireworks, music and projection images on spraying water. Definitely worth staying late for the show!

It was such an amazing day! With a little planning Epcot can be so much until, so take a little time, make your own itinerary and enjoy!

Family Halloween

Sometimes being a parent is tough. Diapers, potty training, making them believe that vegetables have to be eaten! Ugh! Halloween is one of the many things that makes it worth it! 

My kids have been great at cooperating on family themed Halloween. I love family themed costumes. Some of our themes have included:

2016 Star Wars: Myself as Rey, Tony as Luke, Arthur as Kylo Ren, Chiara as Captain Phasma.

2015 TMNT: Myself as Donatello, Tony as Raphael, Arthur as Leonardo, Chiara as Michelangelo.

2014 Amazing Archers: Myself as Katniss  (Hunger Games), Tony as Alec Lightwood  (Mortal Instruments), Arthur as Hawkeye (Avengers), Chiara as Merida (Brave).

2013 we had to go with separate themes because we couldn’t find a costume we were looking for. Our themes were Avengers for Arthur and I, Captain America and Black Widow. Oz, the Great and powerful for Tony and Chiara, Oz and the China Doll.

2012 Batman: Myself as Harley Quinn (before it was cool), Tony as the Joker (better than this new one), Arthur as Batman, Chiara as Batgirl.

2011 we were a pirate family. This was a personal favorite!

2010 Star Wars: Tony and I didn’t dress up this year (bad mommy and daddy), but  Arthur was Darth Vader and Chiara was Leia. Funniest thing about this year was Chiara’s costume coming from Build-a-Bear!

Have you ever had a fun family Halloween theme? What was your favorite?

Three Cheers For Animals

Does anyone know what a Daisy Journey is? I had no idea until last year when they were mentioned, and this year we just completed our first one: Three Cheers For Animals. The point of the journey is to teach girls how to take care of themselves by learning how to care for animals.

This journey takes place over several events and meetings. Our first outing as a troop on this journey was a trip to Giant Eagle, a grocery store, for a tour. This was where our troop was led through the different areas of the store, such as produce, meats, bakery, and shown how they relate to the “healthy plate”. The girls were able to sample pieces of watermelon, a delicious pizza and we finished off with a dessert, reminding the girls that it needs to be in moderation. A very informative and very fun outing!

Our next event was girl scout day at the Cleveland Zoo. Aside from crafts that were set up for us, there were many “meet the keeper” opportunities. This gave the girls the opportunity to talk to zoo workers about what goes in to caring for an animal. Things like habitat care, proper diet and exercise. All things that we as people need. A trip to the zoo is always fun for first graders!

Our first meeting focused on healthy eating. This involved making “snack bugs”. Yes, we encouraged the girls to play with their food. The girls had a lot of fun!

Our last outing, and the “service” portion of this journey was an outing to Kitten Krazy, a local shelter for cats. The girls were told about how the cats require food, cleaning up after, and of course play time. This was the best part for the kids, getting to play with kittens!

The girls also got to drop off the cat toys we had made in one of our meetings.

Another meeting involved yoga and some simple exercises. This was a lot of fun because it was a lot of moving around!

The journey had a lot of fun opportunities for the girls, and the leaders. This journey has been a blast and has made me look forward to the next one!

This is the patch that the girls earned by completing their journey.

Travel Doodle Kit

Chiara has been so insistent that I make her a “mint kit”, ever since I made Arthur’s Lego Kit. So I browsed around on this amazing site until I found the perfect one. 

My little girl is an artist at heart. She is constantly drawing or painting, so I knew a travel doodle kit was perfect!

All you need is an Altoids tin, crayons and a post-it pad, or two. I was arguing with myself about buying new crayons, but I decided to, even though I have a huge bag of old crayons. She can at least start out with fresh ones. The post-it pad was hardest to acquire. I was hoping to find one pad, but ended up finding a 4-pack of small ones. Two pads fit at a time which gives her color options.

Another positive part of this is while you’re traveling, the post-its can be stuck to the door of the vehicle while traveling, but easily removed later. Much easier than stickers anyway! She’s already started doodling on her notepads, so happy to have her own kit.

Simple, fun and ready for summer road trips! 

Lego Kit


My son saw this on one of my Pinterest boards and latched on to the idea. He is a Lego fanatic, and this was “an amazing thing” that had to be done!


Start simple with an Altoids tin and a flat base Lego piece. I used hot glue to attach it.


Then you let your kid(s) pick the pieces they want in their kit. Super simple, but such a great idea!

The idea came from this site which I know I’ll be pulling other ideas from!

This little kit is perfect to take to restaurants or anyplace you may be stuck cooling your heels. It gives your little master builder something to do that has the side benefit of keeping them quiet. All that in a little, pocket sized tin? Yes please!

Planning Summer Fun


Have you ever faced the problem of how to keep your kids busy over the summer? It can be hard to do, especially if you and your spouse both work full time jobs. Last year, my husband was a stay-home dad for most of the summer, so it was fairly easy to keep them occupied. Then I went to a third shift position, my husband went back to work and the last bit of their summer was spent watching movies or playing on their tablets, only leaving the house on my days off.

I knew I didn’t want to do that to them this summer! I’m still working third shift, hopefully my last summer on this shift, so it will take some work on my part.

I started by making a list of some things we could do this summer:


It was a quick list I made at a friend’s house, so I was just listing everything that popped into my head.

Later on, at home, I made my board:


You could make yours to show the week, as I did, or if you wanted, you could do an entire month. I figured if I did a week at a time, it would allow the kids to pick the activities they wanted for that week.

Then the fun part, make your activity cards:


These were the ones I made to start. I already know I’ll be making more, including some blank ones for one time activities. For instance, we’ll be making a day trip later this summer to meet my favorite author again, but that won’t need a permanent card. Or when we throw my husband out of an airplane this summer for his turn at skydiving! Dry erase markers to the rescue!

Originally I was going to attach the board to a cookie sheet and use magnets to attach they activities, then Tony had a brilliant idea. Velcro:


Now I can hang the board up anywhere! Thanks honey.

It’s going to be a busy summer, trying to squeeze sleep into this delightful mix I’ve thought up. What’s a little lost sleep compared to a great summer for my kids though?

Happy summer all!

Lego Birthday Party


I’ve talked about all of the games, but somehow I overlooked the general summary. Bad mommy. I’ve been horrible about blogging here recently, but summer, and the time to do stuff, is fast approaching!
Do you like the cake? Arthur sure did! It’s super simple to make too!


Basic 9×13 cake pan, up to 8 mini muffins then assemble as shown above. You will need to cut the tops off the muffins to make them lay flat. Then just ice the cake as desired. Arthur’s favorite color is green, so that’s what we went with.


The invitations were fun and simple. I found the template online, the best place to find anything, then just filled in necessary information. Afterwards you can have them printed anywhere, even at home.
That pretty much sums up the rest of Arthur’s birthday party.
Check out my other posts on the subject:
•Pass the Lego
•Lego Toss
•Pin the Lego Head

Pass the Lego


This was a super easy game to do. I bought 3 boxes of the $.98 candy at Walmart. I wrapped them up in construction paper and made eight little circles of the same color. I wrote the word Lego on each circle and attached them with a dab of glue. The glue gave them a little pop.
After I had my Lego prizes put together, it was time to play! I chose the song “Everything is Awesome” because nothing says Lego fun better than that song.
The rules are classic hot potato. Start the song and pass the brick from kid to kid. Whoever is holding the potato when the song stops is out. Start the song again, when it stops, whoever is holding it is out. When the last kid is out, the remaining kid wins the candy.
This can be a tough game on little kids. Delicate feelings and all that. I made sure to have small candy bags for the ones who didn’t win.

Happy gaming all!

Lego Toss Game


Super easy and the kids love it. Is there a better kind of birthday game? No there isn’t!

All you need is construction paper and 3 (option of more) Lego pieces. I printed my numbers off the computer, mainly because I don’t draw well. By not well, I mean my 5 year old is a better artist!

I started with my center ring, made with one piece of construction paper. Folded in half, width – wise, then I stapled the ends together to form a ring. That was my 15 – point ring, so I attached that number. The 10 – point ring was made of 2 sheets, folded in thirds, width – wise, and stapled together to form one larger ring. The 5 – point ring was made of 3 sheets folded in quarters width -wise and stapled to form an even larger ring. Then I attached the rings together in the back, with the numbers facing forward.

When you’re ready to play, have the kids stand a predetermined distance from the rings and toss the Lego pieces. I gave the kids 3 pieces each to toss. This game can get a little tricky on hard surfaces, such as wood or tile floors, which is why I have a blanket under my rings. The Legos bounce too much otherwise.

Have fun with it guys! We sure did!