20 minute crafter - doily initial totes

Thought you might enjoy the super complicated process that it making one of these adorable doily initial totes....

You need a tote (I got these from consumercrafts.com), a doily (from Michaels) and some paint (I used acrylic). 
Place doily on tote, dab dab dab with a sponge brush...stencil like...
Remove doily...
...use a stencil to add an initial and fill in with paint. :)

Done! :) 


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teacher gifts 2012 {how to make hand warmers}

This year was a little challenging in the "teacher gift" area because I had seven lovely ladies who cared for my boys this year.  I still wanted to spoil them a bit because I fully believe in being good to any person who spends any amount of time with any of my guys but SEVEN was going to be tough.

But with some planning and starting early I was able to pull it all together with the last one being delivered today!

Each teacher/staff/bus driver got a chapstick cozy, a tissue cozy, a tote with their initial, a pouch, a tin of homemade cookies, a mini chalkboard and a set of hand warmers.  Aaron's teachers also got an ornament with snowmen made from his handprint. 

The result is a nice little package of homemade goodness, enough to say "We love you and thank you!"

Want to make some quick hand warmers?  They only take about ten minutes...ready?
You need two cotton 5 by 5in squares and two flannel 5 by 5in squares. 
Sandwich them together like this...
Sew around the edges, leave an opening....turn right side out and iron...
Fill with 1/2 cup rice and 1 tbs of dried lavender (optional).
I made a paper funnel for this part...
...once you add the lavender sew the opening closed.  Done!
They can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds and put in your coat pocket for warmth!

Have fun!
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40 ideas - Num 14 - Salt Dough Ornaments


I hope you didn't think I had forgotten this lovely idea of mine, did you?  I promise I didn't.  I will end this series with 40 actual ideas that you can use to have fun with your kids.  It just got put on hiatus for a bit because we moved our life a couple hours away, and then summer, and school, etc.

But it's not dead. :)
Recently I mentioned on Instagram (littlebitfunky) that the boys and I were making salt dough ornaments.  Overall, people replied with the terrible results they got when trying to make them themselves so I thought I would share the recipe and how-to that we used so maybe you could have some better results? 

Salt Doug Ornaments Recipe
4 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of salt
1 1/2cups of warm water

I combined the above items and used a wooden spoon to mix and then eventually got my hands in there to combine everything thoroughly.  Then knead, knead, knead until the dough is smooth and soft. I think this may be the area where issues arise.  The dough really needs to be kneaded for a good bit of time, using the base of your palm to push into the dough.

Once the dough is nice and smooth you will want to roll it out onto a well floured surface.  Somewhere between 1/4in and 1/8in is good thickness.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and if desired knead the scraps together and roll it out again. 

Bake at 325 for one hour.  Allow to cool and then paint with acrylics then seal with mod podge for best results.

We had perfect results.  I hope you find the same to be true for you! :)

xo
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Feelin' pretty {a Mary Kay Giveaway!}


I will openly admit I am not the girliest of girls. I don't fuss a lot with how I look. It took me 28 years to learn how to dry my hair in a way that beneficial to my hair, and I keep lip balm hidden through out the house.
Recently Mary Kay offered to send me a box of goodness to try out... I was game for something new. I was excited to get something just for me, something I probably wouldn't have gotten for myself...
Their packaging was fun; I felt like I was getting a gift just for me. The boys took one look at what was in the box and left me alone to enjoy what was in there. There was so much fun stuff in there... stuff I never would have indulged in on my own because let's face it, moms always come after everyone else's wants, right? Somehow items like this always keeps falling to the bottom of my list. I was excited.
The box was so full of so many pretty things... pretty colors to choose from to use to pamper myself, fun little compacts, mascara in pretty tubes, mirrors and lots of other happy, girly things.
There were even lots of pretty Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus™ Lip Gloss (in Mango Tango, Rock ‘n’ Red and CafĂ© Au Lait) I could add to my stash of hidden glosses all over the house. The bonus was lots of shades in colors I may not have been been brave enough to try on my own. I LOVED them all!
But my favorite, favorite, favorite thing by far was this little stash of goodies. I may not be the biggest girly girl, but I surely don't want to look old before my time. This little magic TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Set has already made a huge difference in my face... I LOVE it. The microderm step I keep in shower and have been using faithfully; it's made a big difference. The follow up Replenish step feels like silk going on... something to look forward to, as lame as that sounds.

Each and every product they sent felt like a treat for me. I loved it all and look forward to using it. I feel like I've been a little spoiled.

So when's the last time you spoiled yourself a little? Tell me your answer for an opportunity to win a fabulous Mary Kay gift basket, courtesy of BlogHer!
Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 19 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 12/17/12-12/31/12.
Be sure to visit the Mary Kay page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more opportunities to win!
I was provided with Mary Kay products to use and review, and was compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own.
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What I made for Monday - {salted caramel pretzel bark}

Before you make this you should know something....You won't want to give it away.  You'll want to keep it all and not share.  You'll want to curl up on the couch with some hot coffee and eat it all day long. 

In other words, make this when you have some spare will power, ok?

Still want to make some? 

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

You'll need:
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
bag of mini pretzels twists, squares, whatever makes you happy
12-oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  While butter is melting, line a baking pan/sheet (something with a lip on it) with aluminum foil, I love the non-stick variety for things like this. 

When butter is melted, add brown sugar.   Stir gently and bring it to a simmer.  You want to watch for it to start to turn amber-ish and you want all the grainy-ness to be gone.  Time will vary but just watch and wait for it to start to turn color...once it starts to turn you can check for the gritty feeling on the back of the spoon. 

Once your butter/sugar mixture is ready, you'll want to spoon it evenly over the layer of pretzels by drizzling it back and forth.  Work quickly but evenly.  Once you've covered your pretzels put the cookie sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  For best results do one sheet at a time if doing more than one batch.  

Once removed from the oven allow to harden for a minute or two then sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the top...when chips are shiny spread gently over the surface.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Refrigerate until hardened and break into pieces.  Or just eat in from the pan.  

Enjoy!

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Favorites, elf and winners!


 Hello!

"I apologize for my delay in getting back to you" is the beginning of every email I've sent lately.

And I really do apologize.  If I could hire someone to do ONE thing for me it would be to respond to emails, Instagram comments, and Facebook inquiries.  I do my best to keep up but dang.  It overwhelms me.  I promise that it's not because I'm lazy or choose to ignore emails...there are just a lot of them.

First off...the winner of the Less Ordinary Designs giveaway is YOU. :) Contact me to claim your prize! :)

This weekend I spent the whole time cooking and baking.  We had two big celebrations this weekend and one was for my sister in laws birthday.  
For her birthday I made chocolate cake (using this recipe but subbing in a devils food cake mix), chocolate ganache (recipe from Martha) and covered in the BEST frosting EVER...toasted marshmallow!

You should make some and eat it from the bowl with a spoon or cover some cake with it.

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/3 cups margarine room temp
7 oz tub marshmallow cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 -2 teaspoons milk
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar

Blend together margarine and marshmallow until smooth.  Add extracts.  Add sugar slowly and blend as you add.  If needed add milk a bit at a time.  (recipe via food.com
And our elf, Porkchop has been up to good this year...so far.  Baking cookies...

 Having a movie night...
 Shaving...
 Doing fly bys...
 Tire swinging...
 Recovering from too much candy...
 Zip-lining...
 And practicing his off season high wire act. :) The boys are having a great time with him. 
And my favorite boys were in the local parade.  Moses insisted on dressing like Santa and he got tons of compliments on his outfit. :)

Hope your season is LOVELY and stress free!  Go have some coffee and bake something! :)

xo

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have you tried this? (a sponsored post with a $100 giveaway!)


Procter & Gamble invited me to find and try a new product from their multitude of awesome products. (They didn't ask me to say that, I've always been a big fan of P&G products.)
There was a nice long list of things to choose from, everything to cover laundry needs to cleaning the house to taking care of your family. It was definitely a hard choice but I chose to try this new line from Pantene® because it was screaming my name due to my life long battle with fine hair.

I have always had finicky, FINE hair. Color doesn't like it, perms are a joke, curlers laugh at it ... it's always board straight no matter what you do to it. I have tried every volumizing product under the sun ... everything from the less expensive stuff to the spendy stuff at the salon.
Every time I would come back to a Pantene® product. The less expensive products did nothing for me; they were watery and useless. And the salon products weren't worth their weight in gold, which is about what they cost.

Up until recently I used the regular Pantene® Volumizing line with great results. I have done so almost consistently for year ... venturing into the cheap or spendy products every once in a while. No complaints here, my hair is about as full as is possible, plus Pantene® smells great and you can always get a good deal on it. Imagine my excitement when Pantene® stepped up their game and came out with this line ... Aqua Light.

It's like Pantene's® Volumizing products on steroids. I'm not sure what they did to bump up their game, but I like it. My hair feels, indeed, weightless, clean and not weighed down by extra ingredients that would normally offset the good effects of a volumizing product. I even noticed a difference when I blow dry, my hair has a noticeable amount of oomph I have yet to find elsewhere.

If you're a Pantene® girl with fine (don't you dare call it THIN) hair then give it a go! My search is over ... no more of the less expensive stuff or overpriced salon gold.
What is the Have You Tried This Yet? Program? (www.pgtryit.com): Have You Tried This Yet? from P&G is designed to highlight innovative products for yourself, family and home, each delivering great performance to improve your everyday.
Visit pgtryit.com to learn how you can stay in the know when it comes to beauty, family and home products. Here, you can also learn more about their Trend Trio, rate products and watch fun and innovative “how-to” video tutorials.
In addition, BlogHer is offering one of you a $100 Visa gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment letting me know how a P&G product could be used to make your life a little simpler.
Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
"b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the
following unique term in your tweet message: ""#SweepstakesEntry""; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post"
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 12/06 to 12/31
Be sure to visit the P&G Have You Tried This Yet? brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
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my best advice {a huggies post}


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Are you having your first baby? I wish we could sit and have coffee and I could share with you all my favorite advice, in a non "you have to do it my way" kind of way. I'd love to give you an honest account of childbirth (it hurts, A LOT) and motherhood (it's the best) and how your life is about to change.

We would talk about how your body will never be the same but how you will be OK with that. It can actually get pretty close to the way it was before but you need to be patient with yourself.

We would talk about how you have people in your life who are trying to tell you what to do, even if it feels wrong to you. I would tell you to listen to what you think is right because you are the one who has to live your life and become the mother you will be.

I would tell you about how scary being a mom can be. How you need to take a lot of deep breaths, breaks and cups of coffee.

I would tell you that it's OK to tell people to mind their own business and not let people tell you how to take care of your newborn. You have a lot to learn and the only way to do that is by jumping in and getting wet.

We would have an honest discussion about how you won't always like your baby but you will always love them. You will have hard moments where you'll cry together and feel hopeless. You will get through them all.

I would also tell you that if it's important to you, do it, you'll feel better. When I was a new mom people would tell me "forget the dishes" and "leave the laundry" you'll get to them someday. I hated that advice. Taking care of my home was important to me and a messy house would have made me miserable. Feel free to ignore any and all advice, including mine.

But mostly, as we drank coffee, I would let you ask me anything. I would tell you the truth. Any question that you wanted to know the REAL answer to, I would give it to you. Because you know what? The worst part of having a baby is that no one ever tells you the truth about it but rather try to fill you up with fluff and frills. I hated that too. Not a single friend told me the truth even when I asked for it.

I'll always tell you truth. Even if it's scary.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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the easiest part of kids {a huggies post}


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Having a baby is wild ride. From the moment you find out that you're pregnant to the moment you walk through the door with your new baby, you're in for a ride.

I've experienced nothing as life changing as having a baby. Nothing makes you as unselfish as quickly as a newborn in your arms. Nothing changes your priorities or rocks your world completely like a coming home with a new little person that you made.

And it's hard. From pregnancy to late nights to figuring out a feeding schedule to what to do to help them feel better when they're sick. People tell you freely how hard having a baby will be. They warn you about poop and puke and fevers. Friends tell you about late nights and early mornings. Once you are pregnant you will get all sorts of warnings about how your life will change with that baby.

But there is one HUGE thing that they never tell you. One thing that no mother I know has ever let me in on and I had to find out on my own.

The baby stage is the easy part. Crazy right? Crazy because the baby stage is SO hard. When you're in the midst of it nothing has ever seemed harder. I know that those 'middle of the night, trying to help your baby sleep when you haven't slept in days' is the hardest thing ever.

But, it's the easy part. Babies are easy. Crazy hard and easy. It only gets harder.

Babies need sleep, food and dry diapers. Easy, simple, no nonsense needs that are easily met.

Kids? Toddlers? Preschoolers? Oh man the needs are so much more complicated. There are emotions and opinions and talking back. There are no easy answers or solutions. Every day is a new challenge, a new stage and a new set of "rules". I've done some research with older mothers and guess what? The trend continues.

My point? Enjoy the baby stage. Don't wish it away because parenting never gets easier than feed, sleep and dry. If I could go back, I would stress out less and let go more.

Enjoy that little baby and his simple needs because one day you'll have to answer questions about physics and why cats have shiny eyes.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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why we LOVE Elf on the Shelf - a mom rant

**Warning-- "a cranky, I've had it rant" follows** Hang with me, OK? :)

Well here we are, not a day into the month of December and already I've seen more bitterness about what some moms do over others in terms of the Christmas season.  I've already read an ugly handful of articles that mock moms just like me, with dozens of people patting them on the back.

And you know what?  I'm already sick of it.  Sick of the idea that if someone decides something is right for THEIR family, that it must be how it should be done across the board, that somehow certain moms were granted with a supernatural knowledge that the rest of us poor souls were left without.  I'm sick of it being OK to mock any mother that goes above and beyond what "you" are choosing (or willing) to do.  To me, it equates to making fun of (bullying) the kids in school who did the extra credit (that would be me, all day long). 

It seems not so long ago that a moms principal job in life was "childhood/home/husband management", and she was celebrated for it.  Time spent making dinners, celebrating birthdays (in simple or over the top ways), decorating for Christmas, making memories was an important part of being a parent, a mom specifically.  And now it seems like, for those of us who continue to make this our top priority, we're judged harshly for it if you put too much effort into it...like our time is better spent making a buck or investing in anyone BUT our children.

Don't get me wrong, I completely believe that God calls women to all sorts of rolls in life (just read Proverbs 31) so I don't think it's a matter of working mom vs. stay at home mom, because I am both.  These "what some do vs. what others do" seem to come down to "I'm a better mom because I do/don't/avoid/go all out and if you think otherwise...you're wrong!"

Somewhere along the way, going above and beyond, no matter the reason, became showing off.  
Take my favorite example, the Elf on the Shelf.  It seems that not only do you love it or hate it but that you LOVE it, or you judge a mother who does it as a time waster, over the top show off who has nothing better to do with her time.  Yep, anyone who knows me knows that sounds JUST like me (sarcasm).

Well you know what?  My principle job in life is to create memories for my kids.  Happy ones.  My own childhood was full of darkness and I work hard to make sure there are as few dark corners in my children's lives as possible. 

Critics of the Elf tradition will tell you that it's:
--a waste of time
(it makes a lot of fun memories for my ENTIRE family, the opposite of a waste of time for me.  Doug and I would probably still do it if it was just us.)

--that it's a waste of money
(it doesn't have to cost anything - you can purchase any elf or doll to do it with, or make your own.)

--that it's for moms with nothing better to do with their time
(not only is making memories and orchestrating childhoods my main job, but I have several other part time jobs on top of that, I MAKE the time to do things that make my children happy.)

--that people use it to manipulate their children into behaving (not in this house, for us it's more like "Elf hide and seek", my kids have no connection between the elf and good behavior.  We address behavior in a constant 12 months a year kind of way.)

--that it adds to the lies that surrounds Christmas (my kids know the truth about Santa, have always known the truth and know that the elf is a fun Christmas game to play.  We have a general life policy about not lying to our children).

--that it creates an extra "chore" to do around the holidays (I don't see bringing joy to my kids as a chore, especially considering that people are FREE to choose their level of elf involvement, why else would we have birthday parties or egg hunts or Christmas trees?).  

What will I say about you if you don't "elf"?

Nothing.

It's not my business or concern what you do or don't do for your kids.  I'm too busy "wasting time" making memories for my kids to concern myself with what my neighbors are doing in that sense.

I won't stand here and mock any parents choice of holiday activities because I like to be a nice person and assume that we're all doing the best we can with the hardest job ever created (parenthood!!!).

I won't participate in the bully tactics that coordinate with questioning another parents choices, especially when it comes to something as silly as Elf on the shelf. 
What will I share about our "elf experience"?

It's way fun.  We spend 15-30 minutes a day on it.  We don't see it as a chore.  Our kids get their morning jobs done 1-2-3 because they want to RUN downstairs to find our what the elf is doing.  We don't use it to manipulate or scare our children into behaving.  They know he's not "real" but like they do with all of their stuffed animals and action figures, he becomes real to them.  He makes their season a little more festive and fun.  

Our kids will always remember it.  Their Christmases are a little happier, brighter, cheerier and it's become part of our Christmas experience.  We love it. 

And if you don't do it?  That's ok.  We can still be friends.  And I won't assume you're terrible. 

Promise.  End of rant.
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hohos for the holidays...

I've been busy making hohos...I try to get to two a day at the very least.
I've been selling them a little differently this year...by listing them "up for grabs" on my Instagram feed (you can find me under "littlebitfunky").   They sell out in seconds, so you have to be fast.
Out of all the things I've ever made...these are still my favorite.  I love how each has it's own little personality.  They're each one of a kind.  Wonky and wonderful.   
 Each one is made with some variety of soft "fur"...each perfectly (purposely) imperfect. 
 They're all happy little guys and gals and I've yet to get a bad review on one. :)
 My most popular ones so far are the "Star Wars" ones that I've been doing but I don't know that I could pick a favorite.  Each new one I make is my new favorite. 
Wanna snag one for yourself?  Come find me on Instagram {littlebitfunky}. I'll see you there!
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the firsts go on forever - a huggies post


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

From the first little twitch in your tummy, to the first time you look into his eyes, to the fist time you take him home, to the first time you leave him with a babysitter...once you have a baby, the firsts go on forever.

Before I had the boys, I felt like their life of "firsts" would be wrapped up in their first year or so. If you think about all the "big" things like teeth, and walking and laughing and the first smile, you think about a little bitty baby, fresh and new. And it's kind of true...except not really.

What no one ever tells you is that the "firsts" go on forever. You go on from teeth and smiles to the first time they say "I love you" and the first time they can spell their name. There's the tough ones like the first time you leave them with a sitter or the first time you drop them off at school. There's the first time they ride a bike without training wheels and the first time they can read on their own.

The firsts go on forever. The best part, the very best part, is that each first feels as good as the first one. The joy you have when that baby smiles at you is only paralleled by the next first and it doesn't matter if they're one or three or six. They all bring a mother's heart to bursting joy.

I have a feeling that I'll be enjoying the firsts of my boys for as long as I live...first college application, first love, first baby, so many things to look forward to living and experiencing as a mother.

And even though the passing of each stage brings grief that it's over, the constant of new and first comes with a steady flow as well, and mothers can take comfort in that.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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more elf...



Sorry for the back to back elf posts...but this one was too cute not to share with you right away!  Last night our elf brought the boys some elf sized kisses! 

(Psst--all I did was unwrap regular sized ones, cut the foil down to fourths, cut the streamer down to size and wrapped up some chocolate chips!).

The boys got a huge kick out of it!  Have fun!
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our elf is back!

 You remember Porkchop right?  Well he's back!  He started off his visit by bringing the boys their yearly Christmas ornament.  Moses was a little worried that he might not know how to find us in our new house but quickly decided that he could always get directions from Uncle Eric (where Porkchop had been before).
This year he had his very own door.  We've convinced the boys that it only works when an Elf uses it.
Before he made his debut, I gave him a little surgery.  Giving him bendy arms and legs required me removing his head completely, pulling out his stuffing and ripping out stitches.  Made me a little nervous but in the end...well worth it.  
 He's already up to no good and the boys love him more than ever.
Doug and I have just as much fun with him as the boys do!  I know there are many (many) people out there who don't "get it" or think it's a waste of time...but we have a blast!  The boys LOVE it, we LOVE it and to us, the extra time and "work" is well worth the joy it brings to the boys!

Are you "elfing" this year?
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