Elf on the Shelf Ideas

I love watching the girls look for their elf, Joy, every morning to see what she has done🙂

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Making a grand entrance to say hello at the beginning of the season is a must!
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Always respect the local toys or else🙂
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Tic Tac Toe on the window with tape is a fun game to play with your elf🙂

Sometimes your elf might be a little rotten…upsetting a child by drawing on their pictures…

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Messes can happen
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Just going to hang out here for awhile
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We all need a reminder🙂

“Daddy, I’m going to be ok”

The last week has been a crazy ride on an emotional roller coaster for our family that began the day before Thanksgiving. I guess I knew but did not really know how bad the surgery, risks and recovery would be for my oldest daughter. While I completely appreciated the honesty, it was hard to hear about your baby girl having a high chance of being paralyzed or even worse, not making it through the surgery at all. As much as I wanted to cry I knew that I couldn’t. There were 4 little girls next door I would have to face in a few minutes that would have known we got horrible news about their big sister if daddy walked in upset. The rest of that day was really hard but as my wife and I always do, we pulled together to make sure we made many more happy memories, just in case.

We had an amazing, fun Thanksgiving with all the kids each making several things for dinner. Friday, Cheyenne a.k.a. BumlePrime got a special delivery from Santa that contained her Picachu pajamas she really wanted. Cheyenne began to worry that maybe she wouldn’t be home or feel well enough for Christmas so on Saturday we celebrated Chey’s Christmas with lots of presents and a full Transformers stocking, just in case.

Chey was a little down and didn’t seem to have her usual smile. She understood the surgery might rob her of the one thing she feared losing…her ability to move. I was concerned about her mindset moving forward. Our family would have never guessed that a few days later there would be such an outpouring of support, love, encouragement and prayers from our local community for Cheyenne that completely lifted her spirits and more importantly, made her believe she could defy the odds again. On the way to school while we were talking about how many people were thinking of her, Cheyenne said the greatest thing to me: “Daddy, I’m going to be ok”

I have no doubt that Cheyenne will be ok, no matter the outcome. The girl has overcome so much in her 15 years and always adapts. The upcoming surgery will be the biggest challenge Chey has ever faced. It will be extremely dangerous, painful and life altering to everyone. This is the time of year when Cheyenne and her sisters should be worried about many other things, not this. I try to block out my pain, stay strong and keep smiling so the girls won’t worry…it is harder for me this time around.

I guess I struggle with the fact that it could have all been avoided so easily. I don’t understand how Cheyenne went 3 years without a simple scan to monitor her other brain tumor. Insurance would have paid for it and the new tumor would have been detected when there were easy treatment options. I don’t understand how she was abused and neglected for years while so many people turned the other way. I don’t understand how the courts and departments that are suppose to protect children did nothing while Cheyenne suffered. I don’t understand how money can be more important to a state than a child’s life. I don’t understand a lot of things that have led up to Cheyenne being down to a last ditch “hail mary” surgery to save her life. It is all so unfair to her…

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Two-Layer Pumpkin Pie

Don’t get me wrong, I love a traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving but sometimes you lack the energy or time it requires to make a homemade from scratch pie. This no bake two-layer pumpkin pie recipe still gives you that great pumpkin pie taste without all the work🙂

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1 cup and 1 tablespoon milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed cool whip
  • 6 ounce ready-to-use graham cracker pie crust
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 2 packages of vanilla instant pudding mix (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • dash of ground cloves, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Beat Neufchatel, 1 Tbsp. milk and sugar in a medium bowl with whisk until blended.
  2. Stir in cool whip.
  3. Spread mixture onto bottom of crust.
  4. Beat pumpkin, pudding mix, spices and remaining milk with whisk for 2 min. (Mixture will be thick.)
  5. Spread over cool whip layer.
  6. Refrigerate 4-5 hours before enjoying.

Recipe adapted from http://www.kraftrecipes.com 

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5 Cup Salad

5 cup salad has always been one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner. Easy to make and tastes yummy🙂

Ingredients:

8oz package cream cheese (softened)

1 cup mandarin oranges

1 cup crushed pineapple (I use 1/2 cup)

1 cup coconut flakes (I use 1/2 cup)

1 cup marshmallows (I use 1.5 cups)

Directions: Stir all 5 ingredients in medium bowl until well mixed. Refrigerate overnight, stir before serving

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Cranberry Sauce

This is a very simple and quick recipe for cranberry sauce. While not my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner it is a tradition that I enjoy🙂

Ingredients:

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup water

3/4-1 cup sugar

4 cups (12 oz package) fresh cranberries

Directions:

1. Rinse cranberries making sure to pick out any damaged or bruised ones at this time.

2. Bring orange juice, water and sugar to boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

3. Add cranberries to pan and bring back to boil.

4. Lower heat and simmer 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally until most of the cranberries have popped open.

5. Remove pan from heat and allow sauce to cool completely at room temperature.

6. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate overnight.

7. Enjoy🙂

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Easy Tuna Casserole

This Easy Tuna Casserole recipe makes those busy weeknights a little easier and the leftovers are just as yummy🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2-6 ounce cans tuna, drained
  • 2-10.75 ounce cans cream of chicken soup
  • 14.5 ounce can of sweet peas, drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 6 ounce can of French’s fried onions

Directions:

  1. Boil elbow macaroni 7-8 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a 9×13 dish, combine the macaroni, tuna, soup and peas making sure to mix together well.
  4. Top with cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle top with fried onions and bake additional 5 minutes.

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Crockpot Chili

The beginning of November seems like the perfect time to make some chili🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • medium white onion, diced
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 16 ounce can pinto chili beans in sauce, undrained
  • 16 ounce can red kidney chili beans in sauce, undrained
  • 8.75 ounce of corn, drained
  • 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Brown beef and onions in a skillet then add to large crockpot.
  2. Mix in all remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Serve with crackers, sour cream, cheese, green onions or your favorite toppings.

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