Michael Jeffrey Creel

Five years old!  You are five years old.  Mikey, Mikey, Mikey.  Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and the boy you are growing up to be.  You introduced us to the joy and unconditional and infinite love that comes with being a parent.  You taught us how to get by on sleepless nights and that we will do anything to get a child to laugh.

You are our oldest son and you are so good at it!  You are mature for your age and are such a helper with your little brothers.  You are sensitive and caring.  You love Ty Ty and Riley.  You are always asking if we can wake them up from their naps so you can play with them.  You are so good at making them laugh and you always laugh when you are with them.  It is so sweet to see you all together and it makes us very happy that you are such a good brother.

You have worked so hard this year at preschool and have gotten even smarter!  You are still so interested in dinosaurs and know more than we have ever known, but you have expanded your interests to space and nature and are interested in sounding out every word you see.  You can’t wait until you can read on your own!

You have the ability to sit and watch a movie or learn something, but you are also so full of energy.  You are always playing some sort of animal or power ranger or superhero.  Your latest thing is playing man vs wild and building rafts and skinning snakes.

You are obsessed with favorites.  You have a favorite of everything and you want to know what everyone else’s favorites are as well.  All day long you question us what our favorite color, food, meat-eating dinosaur, pterosaur, television show, etc.  You are so particular with details.  You want to know what tools professions use, what makes what or what goes into building certain things.

Your whole life you have wanted to do everything daddy does, but lately you have been including mommy.  The two things you wanted to do for your birthday were to go to a bookstore with mommy and play basketball with daddy.  You are interested in so many things and can learn things so quickly.  When you grow up you are going to be a paleontologist, a daddy, an enrollment counselor, and a teacher.

You have been so excited to turn five and go to Kindergarten but you also love Peter Pan and sometimes you tell us that you are going to live in Neverland and never grow up so you can stay this little forever with us.  You see that we have mixed feelings about you growing up 🙂  We are so proud of you and wish you a Happy Happy day.  Love you Mikey!

The 100 Workout

Since we have started our 8-week-challenge, I wanted to find new workouts so that I will continue to challenge myself and not get bored with the same old routine.  I found this workout on Pinterest, but there is no credit to who actually originated the routine.  This is a workout that I have ended up using more than once and will definitely use for a long time.  It doesn’t work out your arms so you have to work in some extra time to do those separate, but everything else feels the burn during this workout.

The 100 Workout

100 jumping jacks

90 abdominal crunches

80 squats

70 leg lifts (crunches with your legs)

60 jumping jacks

50 abdominal crunches

40 squats

30 leg lifts

20 jumping jacks

10 minutes of cardio (running, biking, jump roping, etc)

It ends up taking half an hour or so and the thing I love about it is after it starts getting easy then you can modify by adding weights or setting a time limit and racing against your old times.  It may seem like a lot, but give it a try.  You’ll love it!

Felt Cake and Ice Cream

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have somewhat of an obsession with felt.  I love the options for creativity that it offers!

Anyway, my kids have been talking a lot about ice cream lately, particularly since the ice cream truck is already running its rounds around our neighborhood on a daily basis.  I thought that it would be fun for them to have some felt ice cream cones to play with.  Cheap and easy fun!  I made a lot more than I had anticipated making because they both kept wanting me to cut out more and more cones and ice cream (especially the strawberry kind).  And since I happened to have plenty of felt for more, I happily consented. 🙂

I must say that Bryce enjoyed the cones a lot more than Lizzie did, although Lizzie certainly enjoyed it as well.

I didn’t get a picture of all of the cones that Bryce created, but there were quite a few spread across our carpet!

Since Bryce had so much fun with the ice cream cones, I wanted to make something fun for Lizzie too.  So I made her a felt tier cake for her to decorate.

I simply cut out 4 tiers with one piece of white felt,

as well as a bunch of random felt pieces that she could use to decorate her cake with, including the candles.

She really wanted pink flowers, but I made so many strawberry ice cream cones for Bryce that I ran out of pink felt!

Lizzie had fun decorating her own cake!

I made one for Bryce as well, but Lizzie ended up finishing it for him.

Fun stuff! 🙂

Peter Pan Party

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you still remember dreaming?  That’s where we spent last Saturday at our house.  We took the second star on the right straight on till morning and spent the day in Neverland.  My boys turn 3 and 5 a week apart from each other so we combined their party and hoped for the day that we wouldn’t grow up!

I had such a fun time putting this party together.  I wanted a natural feel to the party so I used paper bags for the goodie bags and brown paper for wrapping their presents.  We had fruit, veggies and crackers for snacks.  The treasure chest was filled with M&M cookies.  I put my favorite Peter Pan quotes on the walls.  Truthfully, I had my heart set on word garland, but at the last minute it didn’t work out, so we ended up just putting in on the walls.

I printed 5×7 silhouette pictures (to look like shadows) and placed them around the room.  I made a huge treasure map and we played pin the X on the treasure.  The boys helped me color it 🙂

I made pixie dust out of glitter and baby powder and we all thought happy thoughts and flew around the backyard.  We also played shadow freeze tag and Captain Hook Red Rover.

I used fondant to make the cake and got pirate cupcake toppers at Michaels.  We got to beat up a Pirate Pinata for stealing all our goodies!

We also invited the guests to dress up and that added to the imagination part of the party.  This was definitely one of my favorite parties I’ve ever put together and we all had a great time!

Chewy Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

These. Are. Delicious.

Enough said.

🙂

Chewy Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

8 ounces butter, slightly softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup flaked coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Mix the dry ingredients together, then stir in the oats.  Set aside.  Beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, then scrape down the bowl; add the honey and vanilla and beat until blended.  Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating each until well combined.  Stir in the cranberries.  Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheets.  Bake until the centers of the cookies are soft and no longer wet; about 9-11 minutes.  Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

Stromboli

I’m a little late posting today because we’ve had a busy week of birthdays (posts to follow) but I am not ignoring you!

This is also one of those meals that we have a lot.  I like to make meals that my kids ask for seconds of.  It makes me feel good about myself.

Mikey and Riley call this Strongboli and say that it’s food for Superheros.  Don’t think it will actually make you stronger, but it tastes good!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough

Pepperoni

2 ounces Pastrami

2 ounces Ham

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Start off by making my pizza dough or using refrigerated dough.  Whatever you have time for.

Roll out the dough onto a cookie sheet so it covers almost the whole thing.

Layer the pastrami, ham and pepperoni.

Then sprinkle the cheese on top.

 Then you just roll up the dough like a cinnamon roll, not like a burrito.  Hope that makes sense…

I like to top with grated parmesan cheese to add a little crunch and flavor on top.

Cook at 425 degrees for 25 minutes (or until dough is cooked through).

If you grow superheros in your family from eating this, I’ll take the blame.

 

We LOVE Dr. Suess

Oh, how I love my little Mason-Man!

We are obsessed with Dr. Suess at our house.  We have quite a few of his books and the kids adore them all.  Surprisingly, I never get sick of reading them to the kids either.  In fact, I like them so much that I often find myself begging my kids to allow me the opportunity of reading those books over any other book on our shelf (and we have quite the collection, thanks to the bi-annual local library book sales).

I thought that it would be fun to do a few Dr. Suess activities with the kids.  I looked on the internet (one of my best friends) and found a ton of ideas.  We spread the activities out over a few days and the kids really enjoyed them.  I had quite a few more activities planned as well but life got in the way and we never got around to them.  We’ll get to them soon though.  There’s no hurry. 🙂

I made “Cat in the Hat” pancakes for them one morning.  I just dyed pancake batter red and then put whipping cream on top for the stripes.  Since then, Bryce is always asking for “Cat Hat Pancakes”.

We made “Cat in the Hat” Pizza one day for lunch.  It was also a big hit with the kids.

I free-handed a picture of “Pop” from “Hop on Pop” onto an old table cloth.  I am NOT an artist, by any means, but my kids were somehow able to tell what it was supposed to resemble. 🙂

The kids had fun hopping on pop while chanting “Hop, hop, we like to hop.  We like to hop on top of pop.  Stop!  You must not hop on pop!” 🙂

We did a little goldfish graphing for “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”.

Recently, both of the kids have been obsessed with the book “The Lorax”.  Lizzie was able to watch the new movie in the theaters a few months ago with my parents.  I was so jealous. 🙂  We have been watching the old-school Lorax movie on YouTube and both of the kids love it.

I had no idea how much the kids would love these little simple Lorax puppets that I quickly threw together out of felt, googly eyes, and a bit of yarn.

I thought that it would be cool to make some truffula trees as well, so they made some by gluing some pom poms onto popsicle sticks.

Immediately after the glue dried, they started playing with them.  Lizzie gathered all of the characters from the book (a brown barbaloot, a swamee swan, a fish, the onceler, and a thneed), set up a stage on her bed, and acted out the book while I read it.  I was so amazed with how much of the book she has memorized.  There were plenty of times when I would start reading a sentence and then she would take over and finish the entire page all by herself.

She performed the play so many times.  She even made fake tickets and made me buy them before coming into her room to see the play.

I loved every minute of it.

My husband happened to have the camera at work that day, but I told Lizzie that she has to act it out again so that I can video tape it for posterity.

Anyway, these activities were all really easy to implement and they made the kids happy.  In fact, I quite enjoyed them myself. 🙂

Riley Easton Creel

Three years ago today, you surprised us and came almost six weeks early in what was such an easy labor that I thought I cheated somehow.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but it was how I felt.  You continued being such a sweet-natured baby.  You even gained the nickname of “Smiley Riley” because you were happy mostly all of the time.

You still are our little Smiley we just have to look quickly to catch it in your tornado of activity.  You are one bundle of energy!

If you aren’t sleeping, I don’t think you sit down for more than 10 minutes…and even that is rare.  You love to stuff your mouth, take a run, then stuff some more when you eat meals.  If you do attempt to watch a movie or show, you are walking or playing while you do so.  If I’m not careful, you will have moved on from legos, to trains, to Jenga, to playdough, to coloring, to cars, to dinosaurs and onto the next thing within a half an hour.

You are really good at building with legos.  You concentrate so hard with your little tongue sticking out of your mouth and you got a little OCD from your parents…everything you build is symmetrical!

You are really in the question stage of life.  You are always asking Where, Why, What, Who, etc.  You have learned so much in this last year and Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you!

I know that you will be getting rid of this soon, but I love the way you say your words that end in  ‘er’.  It comes out with you saying, I want some mowe(more), some laley(water), I am strongey (stronger).

You look up to Brubby (Mikey) so much.  You wait until he comes back from preschool just so you can show him all the things you did and you are always interested in what he learned at school.  You will do anything to get a laugh from him.

Or anyone.  You are such a little ham.  At least for our family.

You are still shy around big groups, but people are getting to know you little by little.

You love matching, counting, colors and are working on your alphabet.  If I can teach you something without you having to sit through it, you are so quick to learn!

Your snuggles are few and far between but they are so nice and we love when we get them.  You’ll snuggle me anytime if I scratch your back.  You love it!

I am a sucker for those huge eyes.  You get your way more often than not and we are working hard on getting you to clean up after yourself and not get so many treats because you are so darn cute!

Ty Ty looks up to you so much and you always know how to make him smile.  I know you can’t wait until he’s moving around so you can show him a few things, maybe get him into a little trouble 🙂

We love you Riley and are so blessed to have you in our family.  These last three years with you have been so fun-filled and adventurous and we hope you never change.  You are a silly, sweet, funny, loving gus who makes us proud to be your parents.

Happy Third Birthday!

Sick Day

I took a sick day today.  Rather, my husband took a sick day today so I could take a sick day.

Hoping it’s food poisoning and not the flu.

Because we are a show your love kind of family.

We hug, kiss and say I love you 99 times a day… at least

And if one of us gets it, we all go down.

Oreo Cookie Tantrum

It all started when Bryce asked for a piece of toast after he had already eaten a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  I denied him his request at first, but quickly relented because I realized that he is probably going through a growth spurt and is genuinely still hungry.  When he asked for another piece, I gave in again for the same reason.

When he asked for another one, however, I decided to turn him down.  I offered him a banana, an apple, a yogurt, salad, or carrots as alternative choices.  He didn’t care for any of those options and had a screaming fit.

I put him in his room for a little time out session.  I don’t necessarily like the fact that his designated time out spot is in his room, but it’s the easiest place for me right now.  There is a child lock on the inside of his door and he is trapped inside.  He hates being restrained anywhere, including his room full of toys, so it works out for us for the time being.

A few minutes later he stopped screaming and was ready to talk with me in a rational manner.  I told him that he wasn’t allowed more toast, but he could have any of the other options that I had mentioned previously.  He still denied any of the other options but he didn’t throw a fit this time.  Thankfully.

Anyway, I had a few errands that I needed to run in town that day and I was ready to get moving.  Mason was taking a nap in his crib (hallelujah!) and I had a few minutes to get myself ready.  I wanted to quickly rinse off in the shower.  Well, while I was rinsing off, Bryce managed to grab our large container of honey, unscrew the lid, and pour it all over the counter.  Luckily, a large portion of it landed on his plate that he had just used for his toast.  It was a sticky mess.  I was beyond frustrated.  But I blamed myself.  I was the one that left the honey on the counter in an easily accessible spot.  I know better than that.

I should have known at that moment that it just wasn’t a good day to take the kids out shopping.  But my husband and I were just talking the night before about how well behaved our kids are when we go shopping.  I should have knocked on wood.

We went to Target.  Bryce was sitting in the back of the shopping cart and Mason was in his car seat at the front of the cart.  We entered the store and I stopped at the dollar section first, as I usually do, to see if anything sparked my interest.  I didn’t see anything worth spending money on, but Bryce managed to grab a package of mini Oreo cookies.  He grabbed them before I could stop him and said “I got it!”.  I told Bryce that we could buy the Oreos if he behaved well during the shopping trip.  He agreed.

We began shopping.  I was taking a lot more time than necessary, I’m sure, to pick out the gifts that I needed to buy for an upcoming birthday party and baby shower.  I noticed that Bryce was trying to open up the package of Oreos and so I took it away from him.  I told him that I would hold it until the end of the shopping trip because I didn’t want him to eat any before we bought it.  He started having a tantrum.  I just looked at him and told him that if he was going to choose to act like that, than he didn’t deserve the cookies.  He didn’t change his behavior and so I placed the cookies on a shelf and began to walk away from them.

He completely snapped.

It was a nightmare, I tell you.

He started screaming at the top of his lungs and he just wouldn’t stop!  He tried to jump out of the back of the cart.  To prevent him from hurting himself I grabbed him and told him that he needed to walk next to me. 

Big mistake.

He took off at full speed, still screaming at the top of his lungs.  Lizzie began chasing him and yelling “Brycie, you have to stay by Mommy!”.  Mason was crying his “I need to be picked up right now” cry and I was at a complete loss as to how I should appropriately and gracefully handle the situation.  The quickest option would be to leave the cart and go sprinting after Bryce before some stranger decided to quiet him themselves.  But I couldn’t do that because Mason was in the cart and I wasn’t about to sacrifice him for his brothers sake.

So I did the next best thing and completely dropped the thought of looking sophisticated at all.  Besides, I’m the crazy woman who decided to have three kids so close together (and chose to take them all shopping at the same time), I should look and act the part.

Following the sounds of the scream, I took off as fast as I could.  I wasn’t exactly running, but close.  Bryce had gone in the clothes section and was running in, out, and around every little clothes rack.  Those Target carts are too big.  I was chasing him to the best of my ability and the cart kept getting stuck in those narrow pathways.  In my struggle to catch Bryce I happened to notice an elderly woman staring at me.  She had a half smile on her face and she was twitching.  Unfortunately, I think I caught a glimpse of my future self in her.

 I finally grabbed him.  He continued to scream and although I thought it impossible at the time, he managed to scream even louder.  By this time people were wondering if I had abused my child, I’m sure.  They were probably contemplating whether or not to call social services.  But I didn’t care.  I was completely innocent.  I was wondering, however, what number I could call to report parental abuse.  His tantrum was undoubtedly top-notch.

I gave up on attempting to purchase anything.  I placed the objects in my cart on the nearest shelf (hey, don’t judge…it’s something called “job security” for the target employers).  My new objective was to simply get the kids to the car in one piece.  I may as well have been running the last leg of a marathon.  Needless to say, it is extremely difficult trying to push a heavy shopping cart with one hand while concurrently carrying a kicking and screaming 2-year-old.

To make matters worse, other people in the store somehow neglected to realize my struggles and kept getting in my way, almost as if their only goal in life was to get run over by my cart.  At one point, I took too narrow of a turn and the wheels of my cart got stuck on a clothing rack.  I couldn’t wiggle it free for the life of me.  I was sweating bullets.

By this time, my sweet baby Bryce had morphed into a monster that I had never seen before.  He was pulling my hair, slapping my face, and kicking so uncontrollably that I had to keep putting him down.  His face was soaked with tears and snot.

We finally exited the store after what seemed like a lifetime.  The parking lot suddenly looked gigantic and our van seemed so very far away.  But after struggling and pushing and sweating some more, the kids were eventually trapped in their car seats.  Hallelujah.

Bryce spent quite a bit of time in his room when we got home.  I needed to calm myself down before I ended up doing something that would actually validate calling social services!

It is truly amazing to think that simply taking away a package of Oreo cookies could cause such a reaction.   I should write the Oreo Cookie company.  Perhaps Bryce could earn his millions by reenacting this scene for a commercial or something.

He had better give me at least half of the profit though.

I earned it!