Everyone loves free printables so here are a bunch of fun Holiday ones for you to download and print out. Enjoy!
Dear Santa Letter Printables for Preschoolers
Last week when Steve and I went out for our date night, we stopped at the mall to do a little bit of early (well I guess it’s not that early) Christmas shopping. I noticed a sign up near the Santa visiting palace that they were doing a Pet Photo with Santa night! Woo!! Back in the day when Angus and Zoey were young pups I took them to see Santa for a few years in a row.
We I was so excited about the possibility of getting a Santa photo with Ava AND all the dogs! So a couple nights ago, back we went to the mall for Pet Photo night (with all 3 dogs and Ava in tow). Despite it already being way past her bedtime, Ava was remarkably pretty happy. She was over the moon excited about being there with all these other dogs and we had to continuously go visit them as we were waiting in line as she happily announced “puppy!” to each of them.
4 years ago today Steve and I went on our very first official date – to Disneyland 🙂 We were in our first year in the Exotic Animal and Training Management program and at that point the only animals we had been allowed to touch or even talk to were the opossum, rabbit, chinchilla, emu and miniature horse. Oh and we did get to man a couple of the owls as well. Getting to work with the other (many of them larger, more exotic and some more dangerous) animals was still several months in the future and something we longed for. Getting to one day work at a facility with animals was something we thought constantly about, and one day having our very own facility – was a dream that seemed so far off in the distance.
3 years ago today Steve asked me to marry him. We spent the following day back at Disneyland when we got to eat at the exclusive Club 33. It was amazing.
2 years ago we found out I was pregnant with Ava, and we had just started our very own Animal Outreach Company.
and 1 year ago, we have our own little family and our own little zoo.
Today, only 4 years later, I realized how far we have come. Yes we’ve had ups and downs and things have been rough along the way, but I wouldn’t change anything.
Steve and I have a beautiful, amazing and hilarious toddler who brightens our world every single day. We have 75 animals that we adore and a career that we love even though it is a ton of work. And as we were all in the backyard this afternoon enjoying the perfect Fall day, I realized this is what I have been waiting my whole life for. This, right now. I watched Steve across the yard pulling Ava in the wagon, with Angus and Zoey sitting in there with her. Moose was joyfully running beside the wagon yet he didn’t want to get in, and Norman was off in the distance munching on grass while the chickens wandered around him. And even though I was doing the lovely task of picking up pig poop from the grass, it still was, the perfect moment. I am so very thankful for what we have, and I’m proud of us too. 4 years ago we never would have thought we would be as fortunate to be where we are today. We are blessed.
I just wanted to share these cute photos from last night:
That’s our baby raccoon “Russell” who made his first appearance in one of our animal shows last night! Russell is now 7 months old and I haven’t talked about him much on here yet but we have had him since he was a couple months old. We were asked to take him as he was orphaned at about 10 days old and hand raised, and he was way too friendly to release into the wild. So we have a raccoon! He’s a big boy too – way bigger than our Coatimundi (which is a close relative of the raccoon).
Now onto class stuff: my Snapshot 30 class is going great – I am loving seeing all the photos everyone is posting on Instagram! If you want to join in on the fun, you can still sign up 🙂 I just put today’s post up: Day 6
Well that’s it for now, it’s a gloomy and windy day here in Northern Illinois. It’s one of those days where you just want to curl up under a warm blanket, drink hot chocolate while watching a good movie. Too bad I don’t have time for any of that! lol. I can dream though. 🙂
All day today I kept writing “October” on everything by mistake, cause really – how can it possibly be NOVEMBER already? Feels like I blinked and it went from August to November.
But November is indeed here and that means it is less than 2 months until Christmas! Yikes. I might as well just throw all my fabulous ideas for Christmas crafts and projects right out the window. How will I possibly have time to get everything done in time? I must try though, I have been feeling the “craft” bug again so I need to give in. I did have a lot of fun with my recent Halloween crafty things, even though that wreath took WAY longer than I intended. (I was able to catch up on episodes of Switched at Birth though as that was one of the only shows I could find to watch on my laptop. Don’t laugh. Ok fine, laugh).
I’m hoping November will be a better month for us health wise. We have all been sick since the end of September. We just can’t kick this thing. Last night Ava woke up around 11 and the only way we could console her was bringing her to lie in our bed with us. She promptly fell asleep in my arms and I left her there for about 45 minutes telling Steve “I just want to make sure she is really asleep before we take her back to her crib. Less chance of her waking up”). In truth though, I just loved snuggling with her! 🙂
Something that is keeping me busy but I’m having a ton of fun with: my new Snapshot 30 class! Today’s post is here and I just have to say that there are some really talented people in the class. You can look at some of the photos that people are posting on Instagram by searching for #snapshot30. Every time I check into Instagram there are new photos posted by the class participants! So much fun! If you want to sign up you still can, and the class is free too – woo!
Oh I did want to share this quick recipe that I made tonight for dinner – it turned out really good – we ate every last morsel.
4 medium gold potatoes
4 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic like I do!)
1 – 2 slices of cheese (I used cheddar with a bit of asiago/parmesan blend)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1. peel and cut potatoes into cubes, place in saucepan of boiling water and boil until soft
2. Peel and slice garlic into thin slices
3. Saute garlic in a bit of olive oil in frying pan (I love using our cast iron pan for this)
4. Once potatoes have cooked, mix them into the garlic in the frying pan and stir fry. Add cheese (break into small pieces) and continue stirring. Add any spices that you wish.
5. Chop spinach leaves and mix those into the frying pan. Continue to stir everything together until cheese has melted and spinach has started to wilt.
Next time I am going to add broccoli and chicken to this mixture. But with what I had on hand tonight this was it, and it was really really good!
One last thing: here is a pic of my little monkey. We let her have a small piece of homemade chocolate cake (it was one of our friends birthdays and he sent home some cake with Steve today after they finished work). It was really yummy! As you can see, Ava quite enjoyed it.
I still can’t get over how fast she is growing, and the amount of new things she is learning each day. Today she was saying all kinds of things: puppy, kitty, bear, baby… and at one point she picked up a toy cell phone that she has, she put it to her ear and it totally sounded like she said “Hi Daddy” into the phone. I almost fell over.
She is so much fun and so sweet but then there is the lovely other side to toddler-hood. Like tantrums, at the worst times. Such as later this afternoon when I took her to JC Penney to quickly run in to get something. She did not want to be in the stroller so she hollered until I took her out. She did not want me to carry her so she hollered until I put her down. Bingo. That’s exactly what she wanted, and maybe I should not have been giving in, but when you’re in the middle of a department store, the last thing you want to have with you is a screaming toddler. Am I right? So I let her walk/run all around as I chased behind her with the stroller. I almost lost her in the winter coat section as she’s so short, I couldn’t see her amongst all the racks of coats. I had a brief wave of panic and then she appeared with a huge smile on her face, and as I stooped down to pick her up, she dodged me and ran away laughing. *sigh*
Time to leave. Once I caught up to her and grabbed her, she did the classic toddler “noodling” to make it very hard for me to get a hold of her. I then carried her to the checkout and at this point she was fine. Once we were in line however, she turned into a different child. There were about 6 people in front of me, and a few behind me, and it was this moment that my dear sweet toddler started screaming and screaming….and screaming. Nothing I could do was making it any better. I tried everything I had. Snack? nope. Toy? nope. ok, iphone? nope. What?? No iphone?? I picked her up, still screaming. I put her down, still screaming. By now everyone is looking at me probably thinking I am as horrible a mother as I felt at that moment. Then finally, the little boy standing behind us with his mother came to our rescue. He was holding a stuffed Snoopy dog and he held it up and waved it around in front of Ava (who I was holding again, and she was looking over my shoulder at this little boy). She stopped crying and said “puppy!” and for the next few minutes until we got up to the register, this wonderful little boy continued to entertain Ava with Snoopy. Funny enough, this is not the first time this has happened. A similar situation occurred in Target a couple months ago and another little boy came to our rescue and managed to get Ava to stop crying in the line up. Amazing. So to all you nice kids out there who help a frazzled mother get her crying toddler under control in a line up – thank you. It is very much appreciated. 🙂
Nope, we did not go trick or treating tonight. First of all we do not let Ava eat candy, and Steve doesn’t like candy, so I would end up eating all of it. Which I don’t need. Plus (and this was a major determining factor) it was pouring with rain. So we decided to order a pizza and have that instead, and now Steve wants to continue the tradition each year with the Halloween Pizza. Hmm.
We don’t get any trick or treaters at our house either. Long driveway, houses too far apart. Honestly I don’t blame them one bit. This was exactly the kind of house I avoided when I was a kid. My friends and I would look at the long driveway and then back at each other saying “Skip it! Keep going!” as we’d run to the next house (with a short driveway) clutching our pillow cases full of loot. Ah, those were the days.
We did visit the pumpkin patch finally – yesterday. We have been meaning to go for weeks but something has always come up – all 3 of us have been sick most of October so that had a lot to do with it. Or we were working, or the weather was awful. There was always something. So we get there the day before Halloween – and we had the entire place to ourselves. We walked around and visited the animals, browsed through the gift store – finding some unique things that we just had to have, and they even took us on our own private hay ride. Fun times. We chose a few pumpkins and got some hot chocolate (for us) and a pumpkin muffin (for Ava) to go, then we had to rush home as we were both working last night.
Now ask me this: did we carve those pumpkins? Heck no. They are “decorating” the entrance way outside our front door. Where they will probably remain for a couple weeks I imagine. We both got home too late last night to carve them and we were out most of the day today too. Oh well.
Ava did get to dress up in her costume though – she went as her most favorite thing right now – a puppy! I signed her up for the Halloween party at Gymboree today and she had a lot of fun – she just loves going there.
I just realized that I forgot to program the DVR to record It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown that was on earlier – for Ava. Boo. Ok fine, it was for me. It’s just one of those traditions, and even the fact that the cartoon is really not that good at all, I still watch it whenever it is on. And I think this is the first year that I did not purchase any Halloween candy at all! Even when we don’t get trick or treaters at our house, I always buy some anyway – just in case. (but really it’s just cause I want to eat the candy). No trick or treating, no pumpkin carving, no Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, and no candy…… sure sounds like we had a lame Halloween doesn’t it? 😉