Thursday, December 29, 2011


A new camera+new compuer (RIP to my previous blogging tools) and an insane week leading up to Christmas resulted in minimal posting. Time to remedy. I took hardly any photos but want to recap our fun week.

Out of work Friday afternoon, December 16, and my student teacher presented me with this gingerbread house she made of our school. I keep finding more details! After a nap at home I headed to our staff party, and then topped the night off with a late night visit to Target - the last before the holiday.

The next day was lots of fun - we headed to Livermore for our family hair cut and style outing, shopped for stocking stuffers, lunched at Fuddruckers, and hit the jackpot at Old Navy - I think we made money. Then it was off to my aunt and uncle's party where we celebrated with my dad and other relatives. We stayed with my mom and stepdad and went sledding the next day and then I had the yummiest Pasta Carbonara ever at Wine and Roses.

We hightailed it home with just enough time to unpack before we met up with two of my awesome girlfriends and their kiddos. We took the pack of all boys + Paige to a trampoline place and then over to my gf's house for a yummy potluck (who am I kidding - she did everything.) I do not see these girls enough, so this get-together was a huge treat!

Then Miss P had her girlfriend time. I had promised her a baking playdate with a small group of friends, but with everything going on we compromised on one friend and her little brother. It was such a cozy day, baking cut-out sugar cookies and doing crafts. Paige's bf's mom stayed =ing more girlfriend time for me!

The girlfriend bonding continued with a night out at another bestie's house celebrating friendship, good cheer, and her brand new kitchen! We ended up putting the kids to bed, watching a movie and sleeping over. The girls were so stoked. Here they are (with Paige in her dress from the night before).

In between all of this craziness I made about five ('this is the final') trips to Target, wrapped all of the gifts, readied the guests quarters, and then the 23rd was upon us! We visited with some other longtime friends at an eggnog party and came home in time to welcome my brother/sister in-law and their clan.

Christmas Eve was morning was spent getting the whole family together at Ed's dad's house, then the younger troops moved on to our house. Football, crafts, movie watching and cookie decorating ensued.

After more eating, drinking, gift opening, etc., most of the gang went home, and it was time to prep for the big guy! Paige never went to sleep so fast!

Here she is Christmas morning!

She loves her new leappad, playmobile pool set, and Cookie dog. We had a great Christmas day and bid our last guests adieu in the afternoon.

This week has been all about cleaning up, and catching up. I have even been into work twice to ready Room 2 for 2012. Resolution/goals post upcoming!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Paige's favorite Christmas movie

Never fails to make us laugh!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Husband gift

Guess I'm doing a bit of a gift theme. Ed's big gift this year was fitting both of our cars in the garage last weekend - 'a Christmas miracle!' This morning Paige and I were brainstorming something else for him - he is sooo hard to buy for. We had the same idea at the same time - Giants tickets! However, her guess was that they would be $6 a piece. Late this afternoon I entered my classroom after meeting briefly with someone to find the little miss on my computer skimming the Giants website! She crowed when she found out that there were some games with ticket prices starting at $8. However we did a little better than that. : ) Club level, baby!

colleague gift

The last week of school before holiday break, I figured all the staff would be stretched thin like me! So this year I baked muffins for a quick and easy breakfast on the go. No pictures of the actual muffins : ( (use your imagination), but they rose up to perfect cones on top. Tupperware from Target (they have a parking space their for me now.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011


On Friday we had an awards assembly at school. Paige earned an award for reading! Here she is with some of her good gal pals and their awards.

She won an award at this exact same time last year for reading also, along with one of the same friends, pictured below. Happy reading, girls!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fun Little Neighbor Gift

I love coming up with fun, inexpensive, and useful gifts for colleagues (we do a lot of gift exchanging at school) and neighbors. Recently, I found a to die for treat on Pinterest - chocolate peanut butter pretzels - and I gave them a holiday spin with these red and green M&Ms.

Popped in a festive red take-out food container ($1 at Micheal's) and a little play on words gift tag, and you have yourself a happy holiday gift!

Here's the oh-so-easy recipe. One of the best parts - Kids can help!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites


1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp softened butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar


1 bag chocolate chips

red and green M&Ms (you could do blue and white for Hannukah)


Combine peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl. Add the sugars and mix. Next, roll the butter/sugar mixture into little balls and sandwich between two pretzles on a cookie sheet. Stick the tray into the freezer for about half an hour.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each halfway into the melted chocolate. When all are dipped, return to freezer to set up completely. Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Advent

I have been leading a dual life lately. Hardworking teacher juggling 3-D shapes and reading strategies during the week, and Santa's elf on Saturday and Sunday. My big project last weekend was getting my take on Paige's advent calendar ready.

I had been setting aside cute little holiday things for awile (long sleeved tees from Old Navy, holiday books) and just wrapped them in this red and rustic color scheme I'm liking and added these white numbers.

She loves it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Is Santa real?

Paige (age 7) has been asking me the age old question, 'Is Santa real?' I had been replying with variations of 'yes,' 'tell me why you are wondering?', and 'do you think he is real?' Finally, about a week ago, I told her: 'OK, daddy and I are the ones doing the presents. But it is Santa that represents the idea of giving and caring.' We talked about St. Nicholas and how he, Jesus, and God are what inspires the acts of Christmas. I just came across this letter on the site from Martha Brockenbrough of Marthabee that does a beautiful job of explaining this in a letter, much more eloquently (than I did on the fly in the car). Martha and her daughter regularly exchange letters - what a great idea! Here it is:

Dear Lucy,
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.

Advent Calendar Love

The Christmas spirit is alive and well here at the Riley household! Immediately following Thanksgiving I was actually dreading some of the work involved (bah, humbug!) It may have been the ridiculous amout of hours I spent creating our cards, or the inordinate amount of time I mulled over co-worker gifts, (move on, sister.)

Last night I atteneded my first seasonal shindig, with girlfriends no less, and had a ball. I now have a burst of energy and with music playing and BHG as my inspiration, I'm ready to deck the halls. One of my big to-do's this weekend - figuring out an advent calendar/gift display. Here are some of my favorites!

Finally! An advent calendar that might work for me! I've been giving Miss P gifts one by one, as I've tried to come up with a homemade display. If I can get it right, I'll post my results.

Books for advent!

Do you know how 'me' this is???

Thursday, December 1, 2011