Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Sponsorship Blessings

I was reminded by a friend's post this morning that I have neglected to blog ... and especially about the Christmas Blessings that were open to sponsorship through New Day Foster Home. And let me tell ya, I am so out of blog-practice, this is hard to string thoughts together and it may seem a bit choppy as I try to get back into the swing of things!

I will admit, that with creating the buttons for the Christmas sponsor's pages (like the one above) and some of the National Adoption Month images that were posted on ND's facebook page this last month too ... along with regular life with 3 boys, hockey travel and my little sewing business, I've been CRAMMED busy!

Thankfully ALL the children were sponsored (3 times a piece) as well as each of the staff members. It is one of the most fun times of the year for me ... I think we've participated for 4 year now? And each of our past sponsored children are in a forever family of their own now or on their way to them very soon! I have no doubt that by this time next year our this year's Christmas sponsor child, Lydia, will be too. (Wow, that's sweet to think about!)

There is an edge of sadness though as I remember the Sponsorship buttons. The sweet little boy in the above button is celebrating now in Heaven as he died unexpectedly in his sleep about a week ago. His face just bubbled sunshine and I fell in love with him instantly and I know many others did as well. I'm glad we were able to celebrate him for the short while he was here. How many other children will slip beyond our sight this season though? He was only at ND for less than 2 months ... and before that he, as special as he is, was one of the many, many nameless, faceless numbers. That hurts. I'm so glad he was loved. I am so glad that I got to love him ... even if it was from far away and for only for a few minutes here and there. He was used to impact hearts and left a fingerprint on this world.

When I took our sponsorship packages to the post office before Thanksgiving, the clerk mentioned HOW EXPENSIVE it was going to be and wanted to know if I had family overseas or something. That gave me such a warm feeling in my heart. Hmmm, family? Well, "No" I explained, but we sponsor a foster home and these were toys and goodies for the children. The clerk chuckled and said, the postage was going to be more than the contents no doubt. Well ... maybe (although I cram as much as I can in those flat rate boxes let me tell ya!) But her words kinda stuck with me all day, floating above my head. They kinda bothered me, wondering if that was a wise use of my dollars ... and then I heard a message that reassured my heart. When giving should we be so worried about the little things or should we give extravagantly and from our heart?

Of course we need to be responsible financially ... but within the means that we have, what a blessing it is to give ... and maybe even little "extravagantly." I know that there is nothing that I really can give that is as extravagant as the gift that God gave to us in His son. But in little ways God is allowing me to stretch my heart in giving in small ways. And I can almost feel my heart pinging a little like the Grinch when his heart suddenly grew 2 full sizes.

You can donate to New Day's Surgery Fund if you feel led and make a huge impact in the life of a child. Or If you're looking for a unique gift to give someone that already has everything, it's not too late to make a donation to New Day Foster Home, where there are several ways to bless.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Happiest Shopper

It's really too bad when a family only has only boy or only girl children ... because without the other gendered siblings, there's no borrowing of those gender-specific type toys. Oh yeah, I know, girls can play with cars and toy guns and wear blue ... but really ... dad's get really queezy when they see their sons playing with dolls and strollers and things that are pink.

It does warm my heart when my boys cuddle their stuffed animals and "fatherly" nurture them ... or even (shhhhh) borrow one of my dollies and sweetly rock it or give it a kiss! (melt this momma's heart.)

This week when the two older boys were playing out their y-gene aggressions on the hockey ice at the ice arena, Nolan and I hit the grocery store to get some food to fill these hungry boys.
That is when ...
Nolan spotted the child-sized green carts. With only a short list and a big sigh of relief that he wasn't begging for one of those bus-sized car-carts that he sits in for about the first 2 aisles of the store and then decides to walk I was more than happy to let him "man" the cart! :-)
 Seriously, I don't think this boy could have been happier or more proud to walk the aisles and help me shop! And I will say, there is one lucky little gal out there who in about 20 years will be getting her groceries brought home by her man. (hee hee)

Definitely, with this smaller cart basket, our grocery bill will go down quick, ha! (But the number of trips to the store will most certainly go up.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Magic Bubble Blower

I have to share this fun idea ... maybe I'm the last person to have experienced this, but I'm gonna share just in case you haven't seen this yet ...
I must admit that when we showed up to Story Hour at the library last year and they said they were going to make these "Magic Bubblers" I instantly got a knot in my stomach imagining my then-3 yr. old drinking the soapy liquid instead of blowing into it.
Maybe it's just my kids ... but give them a cup, a straw and liquid ... and they're going to naturally drink.

THANKFULLY ...
There isn't any bubble-liquid involved with this ... and it is really fun.

  • First take a styrofoam cup
  • You can decorate it with stickers or markers if you'd like
  • Poke a hole with a regular straw (I only had a curly straw on hand for photo day and we unfortunately lost the original one that we made for it, but it works best with a regular straw.
  • MAKE SURE THE HOLE IS NOT BIGGER THAN THE STRAW (my replacement curly straw was skinnier than the original and I had to block the extra space with my thumb to make it work for the photos.)
  • Take a dollar-store wash cloth and cut it into a 5x5" square (you could also use a really worn out one, but make sure that whatever you use is thin so it's easier to blow through and the terry cloth texture might be necessary for the bubbles, I've not tried anything else.)
  • Wet washcloth piece and secure with a rubber band.
  • Put a few drops of DAWN or other liquid dishwashing detergent on the top of the wet washcloth and rub vigorously across the entire top.
  • Then blow into the straw.

 I usually start the bubbles by blowing first just to make sure it has enough soap. This way folks don't get disappointed and frustrated too early ...
 If it doesn't work, add a little more soap, a little more water and a little more rubbing.
 Soon  you'll have a lovely bubble beard (or Marge Simpson hair) forming much to the delight of your little one AND THERE'S NOTHING THEY'RE GONNA SWALLOW (yay!)
(*We've restained our deck since these photos were taken, it looks so much nicer now, honest)
If bubbles decrease, add more water, soap and rubbing to replenish.

You can try this outside if it's not to windy or cold (it seemed to do better if it was warmer though) and would be perfect in the bathtub if it's winter or if you are kinda fussy about bubbles in your house like we are.

When the fun is done, simply put it in the cupboard for another day OR recycle the cup and keep the washcloth for another fun day down the road.
Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Samuel:100 Good Wishes Bai Jia Bei Quilt

It's taken a year and a half ... but I've finally finished Samuel's 100 Good Wishes Bai Jia Bei Quilt! 
What is a 100 Good Wishes Quilt?To welcome and celebrate a new life, there is a tradition in the northern part of China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a creative memory notebook with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.

Samuel was placed on my heart the moment I first saw his photo upon his arrival at New Day. He struck my heart SO deeply just looking into his eyes, not even knowing what his special medical need might be. My heart knew his biggest need immediately without being told. 
He needed a momma. 
My heart was so deeply ... moved. It shouldn't have surprised me ... I had been praying for God to lead us to a specific child to sponsor and pray for at New Day. I just didn't expect it to be a boy or to be so overwhelmed with the sense that I needed to pray for him--deeply pray for him--as if he were a part of our immediate family. I wasn't sure what I expected really from that prayer. But I do know that God hears ... and He answers. (And it is so funny that this child's name, "Samuel," means "God Heard." Oh yes He did!
You can find past posts about this time here and here and here. (and probably elsewhere in my post history if you dig around.)

What a blessing it was to keep Samuel in our prayers and to join with others as prayer warriors over him as his forever parents were called and heard, listened and obeyed that call to step forward in faith. It still gives me goosebumps to look back over when it was hardest to pray or when illnesses and mountains arose on our own home-front and how strangely they coincided with things happening in the family being called and their journey. There is most definitely a Spiritual War going on beyond what we can see, this journey more than confirmed it for me! It also confirmed that God is in the details and that He is more than sufficient to provide for our needs.

It's not a huge quilt. (perfect for the top of a twin bed as an accent quilt or even better for a toddler bed.) But I do know that it should fit perfectly for cuddling this fall and winter and hopefully will be a keepsake for him always! Thank you to EACH of you who prayed over Samuel and for his forever family and for those who went one step further and contributed to his quilt!! All of the notes and envelopes and pages/wishes will be forwarded on to Samuel's parents for them to keep for Samuel! I am certain they will treasure each prayer that was said over their dear son, Samuel!

Samuel you are so loved! There are well over 100 good wishes for you and this is only a slice of them. Your future will be brilliant and so will your Today!

Samuel's Bai Jia Bei Quilt Front

 Back

Back Detail

Label/Back

Samuel's Quilt Dedication Label

The Four Corners: Faith, Love, Happiness and Success
Faith

Love


Happiness


Success


Patches Up Close (can you find yours?)

Quilt draped over a chair ... ready for some snuggling!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Little Willow Tree Sew Swap


At the risk of pushing back my sewing schedule a bit, <> I dared to participate in a Sew-Swap that is being revealed this week. Ya, probably a bit self-indulgent ... but I really am excited to get a "little-sewn-something" just for me in the mail from another fabric lover that I don't even know!

For the swap we filled out a small question/answer form telling a little bit about ourselves and what colors/fabrics/fabric designers we liked and submitted it with our name/address. In return, the following week we received an assignment of someone for whom to sew something. (Kinda a Daisy Chain Swapping, not a direct to-from swap if you can follow that. So I'll end up "meeting" two sewing folks! The one who gave me something and the one to whom I gave something.) As it turns out, the assignment came while I was traveling to see family out of state ... and the WEEK that I had to create something ... got shortened to FOUR DAYS.

FOUR DAYS.
ack!

At least I knew this in advance that this would be the case and I tried my best to get some ideas rolling around in my head so as soon as I returned home I could hit the ground running. Somehow I had a feeling that I was going to be using turquoise and red and I was SO happy to find out that those were some of my assignments Fav colors! (God was covering me on that one no doubt!)

So here it is. Ya, it was a little more intense than I originally thought it would be ... but that's usually how it rolls with me.
A 24" x 24" Table Topper.
 It turned out pretty well. Hope my sew-swap-partner enjoys it! It was fun making it (even under a little pressure.)

Showing a little bit of the back fabric (no, the doily behind it is not part of it)


 
 Up Closer


And closer yet

I have to say, it didn't photograph very well. It looks much better in real life. BUT ... that maybe was because it was night time and my digital camera doesn't do very with low light.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Smile For Lydia

There is the sweetest little bundle at an orphanage in China.
(I wish I could post her photo, but due to CCAA rules I really need you to go here to see it.)
Her name is "Si Shu"--a name that caught my heart almost as immediately as did her sweet face.

Her English name is "Lydia."

She was born with medical special needs, in fact, some of which were unknown when she received her first emergency surgery through the compassion of Love Without Boundaries. If the complexity of her condition had been known at that time, she probably would not have received that first surgery because the risks would have been thought to be too high.

She shouldn't be alive in fact ... but God has brought her through time and time again, against the odds ... against all medical logic ...
and she is growing ... and I'm praying for thriving.
She is waiting for her FIRST smile ... nearly TEN months old ... and still waiting?

But at least now she is gaining strength and hopefully it will come soon, brilliantly like a sunrise over the horizon after a dark night.

Praying that perhaps this may bring it?
This doll is making its way to her via a sweet friend who will be traveling very SOON to receive her own beautiful daughter from that same foster home--a daughter that had a similar beginning surrounded and buoyed in prayer and hope and trust.

This is Lydia Love, a doll inspired by that real Lydia Love. (sorry for the graininess, it's terribly humid here!)
 She is 100% cotton and softly stuffed, with real knot pony tails and hand-embroidered eyes and face. She even sports her own little heart emblem on her right leg and panda bears on her tummy.
You can order your own at http://www.ruffledfeatherscompany.blogspot.com/
 Each one is hand-made and a tiny bit different from the last or next ...

But this one is even more special because it's for Lydia.
Dear Sweet Lydia.
Who is worth every last risk, every last hope, every last prayer.
Her doll will be more special than any other ... hers has a special patch with the scripture that was placed on my heart days BEFORE her emergency heart surgery was ever announced ... when I was so scared to pray for her healing, to think it could even be possible.
 She is a bundle of miracles and so many are praying for her. Thank you if you are one of them!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Let's Ruffle Some Feathers!!

My little sewing company, "Ruffled Feathers Company," is the "Monday Montage" feature this week at Scarlet Threads! 

You are probably well aware of the beautiful aprons, jewelry and other delightful things that Scarlet Threads creates as a fair trade company benefiting women and their families in China ... and if you haven't heard of them, you NEED TO CHECK IT OUT pronto! And as an extra incentive, if you mention the code "lex25" for reading about them here, you will receive a discount on your Scarlet Threads purchase! You can find Scarlet Threads by clicking the colored text above or here: http://blog.scarletthreads.org/2012/08/monday-montage-ruffled-feathers.html

I would be thrilled if you would hop on over and read the post about Ruffled Feathers Company at the link above. It's pretty exciting to see so many of my thoughts in print in one place with some of my most favorite items and reasons why I love to sew! And quite honestly, since I advertise mostly through word of mouth and happy customers sharing my name with others please pass along the link to others!

And remember to check out Ruffled Feathers Company here: http://www.ruffledfeatherscompany.blogspot.com/
I'm trying to get a few things sewn for the start of an etsy shop, so bookmark me so you hear when that opens.
In the meantime, here are my latest things I'd like to share ...

"Tangerine Dreams: Asian Inspiration"
This is its debut post, and it is still available for purchase! (as is some more yardage for another dress or two in case you need a different size.) This one is a 3T and makes me wish I was a 3T.

Blooming Hearts Knot Dress ($38)

Knot Top ($28) and Ruffle Pants ($22)

HOPE Knot Dress
(This is also available for immediate purchase and is a size 3T)


 Matching AG Bitty Baby dress ($18) and shirt ($6)
(also available AG 18" doll outfits)

Hot Daisies Knot Dress ($38)

Lydia Love Dolls ($35)
(pattern base from Bit Of Whimsy Dolls)


Also available: Coordinating Skirts and Ruffle Tops with Lydia Love Dolls
(To dress your little doll and her little doll)


I have lots of things from skirts, knot dresses, dolls, long sleeve shirts with ruffles, tank tops with ruffles, ruffle pants, ruffle shorts, doll outfits (dresses and skirts) Leave me a comment or email me with your wishes and I'd be happy to make some sweet and special just for you! :-)

*And remember, it's never too early to be thinking ahead to Christmas. Since all my things are hand made they do take a bit of time to create (especially when hockey season starts up for my boys!) If you think you might be interested in something, feel free to put a bug in my ear. I'm always looking for started ideas when I want to make something but I'm just pulling sizes or fabric combos out of the air.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer into Fall--Catching Up

Where has the summer flown? Apparently no where near my blog, and maybe that's a good thing. At least for our boys ... but even though we made good use of our pool pass, made friends with many toads in our yard, took a week and a half long vacation to the cabin Up North (and not only survived but had fun) the summer, as always, went by way too fast. It was capped off by watching the Summer Olympics--we enjoyed it so much, in fact, that Brayden and Easton started trying some things out on their own. Thankfully they didn't try out the gymnastic moves (which they love to watch thanks to Shawn Johnson four years ago.) Instead, BOTH boys learned how to do flip-turns at the end of the pool just by watching Michael Phelps race! I can't even do flip-turns, so I'm in awe.

Brayden jumping from the rope swing 
(the family cabin is across the lake) 
and yes, the water is deeper than it looks here!)


This is Cody-the-Toady who the boys fed bugs. 
He got really big!  One of many lucky toads
they took under their wing this summer (let me mention in 
particular "Slippery and Victory" 2 special toads they found
at the rope swing Up North.) LOVE the names they gave them.



Nolan and Sasha on the boatride back from the rope swing
I LOVE Sasha's ears flying in the wind!
Entitled this one "Flyin' Home"


The older boys, believe it or not, have been back in school for ONE WEEK now! (Ya, I have a lot of photo posting to do in order to catch up, eh?) And Nolan has been adamant in keeping me on my toes with his "homeschooling." Since he has a summer birthday, we've decided to not put him in preschool this year, but to wait one more year. Not that he isn't ready socially or educationally, oh boy, that kid is READY ... but we've made the choice to not push him along and have him be the youngest kid in the class, and instead to have a wealth of confidence to draw from with that extra year behind him ... and as a survivor of graduating at 17 and heading to college at barely-by-the-skin-of-my-teeth 18, I don't regret that decision at all.

And we're having a good deal of fun together too. We've run into some shopping these last few days since the older boys have been back in school. Mainly at fabric shops (poor Nolan!) Let me tell you, that boy has PATIENCE beyond his years! What a blessing. And I was so thrilled that after waiting forever for me while choosing fabric and trim we stumbled across THIS sweet find FOR HIM.
THIRTY-FIVE dollars!
SwEeT!
We recently took our first family bike ride on a local trail right before my birthday earlier in August. It quite honestly was pretty fun. But Nolan is not ready to pedal (our kids do not excel in peddling at an early age which is beyond me since I lived on my trike and bicycle from an early age. So I'm going to say this is an Almquist gene, ha!) 
Jeff gerry-rigged our jogging stroller into a bike-child-carrier and although it worked okay ... I was a bit freaked out with the safety factor. (chalk that up to "mother-worry" I'm sure it was fine, Jeff is an engineer ... right?)

 We're hoping to get a lot of use out of these new wheels!
I hope to be more frequent in posting going into the fall and hope I still have at least someone who still reads my blog. If you haven't been over to Ruffled Feathers Company lately (my little sewing business) I'd welcome you to stop by. There's been some crazy-fun ruffling going on over there lately.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nerf Nose: The Wanna Be Wordless Wednesday Post

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones where you are for sure you've lost your mind because things have unraveled severely.
That day was yesterday around here and I'm not sure what started it all. I'm thinking it may have had to do with my failing to prioritize correctly and skipping my quiet time with God ... which come to speak of it ... I'm not off to the best start this morning either.

But after a 10:30pm to 2:30am trip to W@lmart to refocus myself and lose my thoughts in dodging the aisles around stockmen and boxes and actually getting to read a label and consciously consider what I was putting in my cart ... it was heavenly bliss--(Not to mention the DQ Cappacino-Heath Blizzarrd that I stopped for prior to the only other store open at that hour in these parts)--I think I've recovered.

I think back over yesterday and I can see the slow erosion of my patience over the course of the day along with the continual build of boys picking on boys in true summer fashion. (Did I mention that ALL the school supplies are out now in the stores? Hmmm ... maybe I should have taken the boys WITH me and threatened reminded them how dear these days are at home with mom.) It is not easy being a mom sometimes ... especially of all boys. It can be downright lonely and frustrating ...

And then I come across a photo like this from Sunday ....
Ahhh ... and I'm reminded how sweet they are--even if they at times are snips and snails and puppy dog tails ... oh yes, and nerf suction-cup bullets.

All is right with the world once again.
I think I'll make sure to get my prioritizing right today from the start. I'd hate to miss out on a moment like this.

*I just came across this on a friend's blog (thanks Shannon!) and I have to put it here ... 
I'm going to chew on this today.

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."--Matthew 5 (The Message translation)


May you live today in the knowledge of just how blessed you really are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our RV *aka: We are not red-necks ... really

So Jeff has been looking for an RV for about 4 years now. He's been an Airstre@m fan ever since staying in his brother's during hunting trips in South Dakota and further out west. In fact, soon (we're talking within the first THREE weeks) of Nolan's life we camped overnight in Jeff's brother's Airstre@m at a camper park up the road from us. Ya, all of us, including a wee little 3 week old baby! There was also a tornado that night ... THANK GOODNESS we were in that sturdy silver bullet (Airstre@ms are those RV's that are giant silver metal, rounded retro looking campers) and thatfully God was watching over us and kept us safe!

So we're not impulsive shoppers ... and we've walked through quite a few crummy "fixer-upper" units that were definitely not our cuppa tea! So when this one showed up in Jeff's path ... and at an incredible price ... it was kinda a done deal. (in fact I'm still kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop ... like hmmm ... what's really wrong with it??)

So we tried it out last weekend ... when it was INCREDIBLY hot outside! Believe it or not, it has AC and was cooler than our house. Crazy.
And the RV park up the road (7 miles)--no, we didn't go far ha!-- has that putt-putt golf course that you may remember that I've mentioned before. (No one was injured this trip btw)
The boys had a super time with that!
And it is pretty cush I will admit.

 And suddenly Jeff's dream of taking the boys out west hunting and having ME go along (to cook and watercolor paint and sew NOT hunt mind you) isn't quite so crazy.

It's ABSOLUTELY huge though ... we're still trying to come to grips with its enormous mass. One thing is for sure ... I'm glad Jeff's driving ;-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

The look of NINE: Brayden

And continuing back even further yet ... just before school let out and things got REALLY busy around here with flag football and baseball for TWO boys and THREE boys all home from school all day for the summer ... Brayden turned NINE.

Despite the fact that his birthday parties in the past have been slightly ... challenging--huh,  kinda like his birth come to think of it, we had a get together for a small group of guys at the local PlayStation and then to a park for pizza. (In case you missed his Birthday #6  when he got hit in the head with a golf club at a mini-putt-putt course and ended the party in the ER getting stitches you can click on the link above. Also, I will also note that the boys are still BEST of friends and it was just a terribly misfortunate accident. Who knew Putt-Putt Golf could be so dangerous?)

It's hard to believe that these boys have already grown

to be THESE boys!
What attitude!

This year his most favorite gift was chosen by his dad. Yup, no more mom-trips to the Walm@rt toy section are going to suffice I fear. This is the look of a very happy birthday boy and his first bow.
Hopefully there will be many safe hunting stories in store with his dad and this bow.
We love you Brayden!
Happy Birthday!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nolan--The BIG Four!

So, continuing to work backwards through time ... before Jeff's birthday/Father's Day, it was Nolan's birthday!

Sadly, a couple of days before the BIG day ... I came down with a doozy of a cold. (three weeks of suffering later, last week in fact, I buckled and finally went to the doctor and found out it had blossomed into a nasty sinus infection--Ug. Just a side note.)
Ya, like wipe me out on the couch for a day-fever-soar throat-aches-sneezing-congestion-cough-puking (ewww TMI) I think the recovery time should have been three days which never can happen to a mom--Jeff considered out loud Saturday night if I would need to go to the hospital? REALLY JEFF?! 
I couldn't tell if he was being concerned or trying to flush out a bluff?? (shea, bluffing? I'm not that good of an actress!)
I rallied (aka: faked that I was maybe getting better) the day before the birthday in order to make Nolan's cake ... but my big plans to have the older boys help make a Lightening McQueen pinata had to be ditched. And the yearly poster with the boys' name and age and favorite thing on it ... that wasn't even in the running of getting done.

And yet, we all survived.

Since his birthday was on a Sunday this year, we had church and Sunday School in the morning and then went from there to Easton's baseball game and FINALLY got to celebrate upon our return home around 4:30 pm ... and you know what? We celebrated by having cake first before anything else, even supper.

I must say, I think the cake (a homemade DQ Peanut Buster Parfait cake that is SO, SO, SO good and a family favorite!) turned out pretty well despite the lack of coherence on my part while making and decorating it.
I can post the recipe if there is any interest. (The really great thing about this cake is that any leftovers go back in the fridge and last for weeks ... although ... it generally has a hard time not getting eaten in that time frame. And it is the ONE ice cream dessert that inspires my husband, that YES we should have ice cream tonight. haha!)

That's crumbled oreo for the dirt by the way--Oreos make SUCH nice faux dirt especially over a few boulders of Chocolate Chip ice cream for added height!

And there were gifts that followed the cake ... so all was good even if it wasn't as I had hoped it would be filled with.
This is one of the TREASURED items along with his Power Rangers Samuri Sword that he also received 
(he truly wanted "a Fire Smasher" ... but they were $30 and not all that different in my book. I just wasn't convinced I needed a $30 toy in time-out on top of my fridge ... I was much more comfortable with a $14 toy up there ...)

boy + sword + brothers = toy in time out 
on top of fridge and boy in corner was my fear 

But amongst the sword and the race track and some clothes from Grandma, this other present that was a BIG fav is a "Happy Napper Penguin" from W@lm@rt--it was the last one left ... no price tag ... and I ended up resorting to asking a passing clerk for help. Luckily she was a manager and asked me what I wanted to pay for it ... 
although I was silently thinking maybe hmmm ... a dollar? 
I was more than happy when she said $2. But really, hearing the "Happy Napper" commercial over and over again in your house ... 
that's priceless.

The family

The family