The Busy Mom’s Guide to Elf on the Shelf

We’ve had an Elf on the Shelf for three years now, before the popularity exploded all over the Internet with ideas for how to introduce your elf, how to pose your elf, and how to name your elf. This year will be the fourth year that Elfie (my son was pretty creative with that name) visits our house to keep an eye on my sons’ behavior. The day after Thanksgiving, our elf on the shelf happily arrives somewhere in our living room to the joy of the little boys. We get out the book that accompanies him and review the reason for him being there and the idea that he flies back home to the north pole every single night to report to Santa.

The Busy Mom's Guide to Elf on the Shelf

I know there are several calendars out there to help moms be creative every night with their Elf on the Shelf. I thought I’d share my ideas too. These ideas are different though. They’re not your typical Elf on the Shelf naughtiness. Why? Because the last thing my boys need is an excuse to be naughty: “I wrote all over the mirror cause the elf did it.” No, thank you!

Also, as a full time working mom, I don’t have the time to set up elaborate tableaus each night only to clean up the huge mess the next day to prepare for another scene. The moms who do that are amazing and creative and probably tired as all get out. I, on the other hand, tuck my boys in at night and almost immediately get in bed myself. I wake up before they do the next morning and head to work before they’re even awake. So, without further ado, here is my Elf on the Shelf Guide for Busy Moms.

  • Day One: After getting the kids to bed, locate your Elf on the Shelf. Hopefully you remember where you shoved his box last year. Find a place in your living room to place your Elf. It could be on a shelf or on the TV or on the bookcase. Anywhere that the kids will find him easily will work.
  • Day Two: Move your elf to a new location. Don’t worry about setting up a special scene. Seriously, just move him to a different place. The kids will find him in the morning.
  • Day Three: Find a new location for the elf. Maybe this time he’s on top of the fridge. At least attempt to make it look like he’s sitting up so he can spy on the kids.
  • Days Four – Christmas: Just move that little sucker to a new place every night. Let the kids find him in the morning.

The end. It’s that easy. My kids seriously don’t give a rat’s ass about all of the marshmallow fights, the pranks, or the special gifts. They just want to find their Elf on the Shelf in a different location every day. That way, they know he flew to the North Pole that night, reported to Santa, and returned to keep an eye on them. If you forget to move him one night, just tell them he must’ve liked that comfortable position too much to find a new one. The kids have fun and you’re not left broke, exhausted, and wanting to send that jerk straight to the garbage disposal.

Ipsy Glam Bag Review – November

November’s Ipsy Glam Bag’s theme was Girl Meets Glitter. I was a bit worried, because I’m not a huge fan of glitter. I did not want a bag full of glitter nail polish and eyeshadow, because they would be wasted on me. However, Ipsy did not disappoint. Check out my Ipsy Glam Bag Review for November!

Ipsy Glam Bag Review - November

The bag this month is silver, shiny glitter with a pink zipper. The texture is very smooth instead of rough as you would expect a glitter bag to be. The tag on the inside of the bag says, “Forever21 Cosmetics for Ipsy.” I’ve been using my bags for different purposes, so I’m excited to see how I can use this new one.

  1. be Delectable from Cake Beauty Ultra Nourishing Hand Cream – I received this hand cream in the Lemon & Cream scent. You have to smell this product. It is absolutely delicious! After I rubbed it in, I kept smelling my own hands and I began craving lemon cake. The product was smooth and not sticky (a pet peeve of mine with hand lotion). It’s also absolutely affordable if I want to pick up more from Kohl’s or Target.
  2. Clarisea Sea Salt Solutions Instant Glow Powder Exfoliant – This product is interesting because you mix it with your own face cleanser. I like that the exfoliant is all natural, so tiny beads of plastic are not ripping into your skin. The exfoliant was gentle, but made my skin nice and smooth. I wouldn’t say I was “glowing” afterward, but my face definitely felt cleaner.
  3. J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint – They sent this to me in the “Mad Splatter” color. It looks horrible on me. It’s way too dark and fuchsia colored. The “paint” is also way too messy. I was scrubbing it off my finger for a couple of minutes. Some other users suggested using a lip brush, but I can’t find mine (I think one of the boys stole it).
  4. Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil – I like that this product goes on smoothly. They sent me the color Ultra Olive which is a nice golden tone. I don’t like that the pencil flakes a bit when applying. Also, the sparkle gets everywhere on my face and is hard to remove.
  5. Temptu S/B Highlighter – I don’t really understand the point of this product. I followed the directions and placed it on my cheeks. All it did was rub my foundation around. I couldn’t see a difference other than the fact that I looked like I had erased the makeup from that part of my face. I don’t think it’s meant to be used on a clean face, but I won’t be using it either way.

Three out of the five products are things I’ll actually use. I’m hoping next month is more successful. I am still having fun trying new products. Thinking of signing up? Use my referral link so I can gain some points. Are you already a subscriber? What did you get in your bag this month? Or leave a link to your Ipsy Glam Bag Review.

When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friends

Has your child every brought over a friend to play that you just couldn’t stand? What happens when you don’t like your child’s friends? You could forbid them to be friends with that kid, but most likely, your child will either resent you or ignore you. I have disliked some of my own children’s friends, and I’ve had to create a delicate balance of how to handle these situations. Here are a few examples and what worked for me.

When You Don't Like Your Child's Friends

My stepdaughter had a friend that my husband and I could not stand in third or fourth grade. Her friend was very immature for her age. She was the youngest sibling with a very large gap in age between her older siblings and her. Everyone in her family treated her like the baby, so she acted like one. She talked like a baby, she expected everyone to do things for her, and she never understood appropriate times to call the house. When she joined us for dinner, she didn’t have any table manners and basically drove my husband and I crazy.

My oldest son had a friend that became a huge problem. He grew up as an only child in his home and had difficulties with the lack of a father figure in his life. He was very bossy and possessive. He would come to our house, boss our son around, and hog all of the toys. He would refuse to clean his mess, he’d constantly lie about incidents that occurred, and several times, he was mean to our son.

So, we did not like these friends. We did not enjoy having them in our house. We didn’t really want our children around them. However, they were in our lives whether we liked them or not. We chose to invite them into our homes, and we dealt with their behavior. Like us, here’s what you can do when you don’t like your child’s friends:

  1.  Invite the friend to your house. If your child is hanging out with this friend when you are not around, there’s no telling what kind of influence they are having on your child’s behavior. Chances are, if you don’t like the way they act around you, you really wouldn’t like the way they act in a comfortable environment like their own home.
  2. Explain the rules of your house to the friend. If a friend acts out in a way that you deem inappropriate for your house, gently explain to them that your family does things differently. Describe how you expect children to behave in your house.
  3. Maintain your own expectations for your child. The friend acting out of control is no excuse for your own child to do the same. Let your child know that even though a friend is over, they are expected to follow the rules of the house. Perhaps seeing a positive example of how to behave is just what the friend needs to get back in line.
  4. Debrief with your child after the friend leaves. Ask them how they felt about the time spent together. If the friend acted up, ask your child how they felt about that behavior. If you feel it’s appropriate, you can tell your child some of the behaviors that you did not like. Make sure they understand that these types of conversations should stay at home though. You don’t want them running off to tell their friend what a bad kid you think they are.

Chances are, if the friend doesn’t place the same values on behaviors you continue to expect in your home, either they or your child will eventually find an end to the friendship. Both of the friends that I mentioned above were not around long. My stepdaughter and my son both saw that these friends were not ideal. But, we never told them they couldn’t be friends or couldn’t invite them over. We knew they had to see for themselves who they wanted to spend time with. The steps we took helped them to see some of the behaviors, but ultimately it was their decision to no longer ask these friends over.

Do your children have friends that you can’t stand? What do you do when you don’t like your child’s friends? Share with me in the comments below!

Five on Friday

I’ve had one hell of a week. Not in a good way. A sick kid, behavior problems with another kid, a backup of papers to grade…it’s been a rough ride. I wasn’t sure what to share on the blog this week, but I stumbled upon a fun group of ladies who share five thinks every Friday. It can be five things they love, five things that happened that week, or five of anything you want. What fun! I needed something fun! So, without further ado, I present to you my first “Five on Friday.”

1. Karate – Miles began Karate this week. He no longer wanted to dance, which was upsetting for me. However, we found a groupon deal for him to try out a local karate program. He’s been twice now and seems to enjoy it so far. I’m excited for him to try something new and hoping he learns a little discipline and self-control.

Five On Friday: Karate
2. Humor – I need a laugh when I’m feeling overwhelmed. This video by Esther Anderson had me laughing so hard. It’s funny, because it’s true.

3. Semester’s End – I am officially done with all of my school library media specialist classes except for my internship and class. It felt amazing to submit the final assignment last night.

4. Chocolate Cake – I stayed home today with Emerson. I ordered lunch. I also ordered this giant piece of cake. I may have eaten most of it myself.

Five on Friday: Chocolate Cake
5. Siddhartha – I started reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse with my students this week. I’ve never taught this book before, so it’s fun to rediscover a book I read in high school through the eyes of my students. I’m hoping they continue to stay interested in the ideas and story.

What have you been up to this week? Share five things with me in the comments below or link up your blog post!

Stupid Questions: They Do Exist

“There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”

Whoever is telling this to the youth of America is straight up lying to them. I understand the reasoning behind it. We don’t want to discourage kids from asking questions. We don’t want them sitting in class wanting to ask something so badly but feeling like it’s a stupid question so they’d rather have it go unanswered.

Stupid Questions: They Do Exist

However, there ARE stupid questions. And they’re being asked everyday in classes and in meetings. Kids are told there are no stupid questions, which in turn creates adults who think there are no stupid questions. Is your question stupid? Check the list below. If it falls into one of these categories, keep your mouth shut:

Questions that have already been answered.If you were too busy talking to someone, staring out the window, or doodling in your notebook to pay attention the first time information was given, you DO NOT have the right to ask a question. Chances are, the question was already answered. You no longer have question-asking privileges.

Questions that have nothing to do with what’s being currently discussed.
We’re discussing quantum physics, and you ask who wrote Hamlet. We’re comparing sales charts, and you want to know when the next vacation day is. You get the point.  Your question is officially stupid, because it is irrelevant. Wait to ask it until we’re actually discussing what you want to know. The question might even be answered later or has already been answered (see above).

Questions that are personal to you but are addressed in the larger group.
I know this for a fact: the most annoying thing in a meeting EVER is when it could have ended long ago, but people keep asking questions that only pertain to them. If you are one of these people, everyone hates you and is dreaming of ending your life in some complex and violent manner. SHUT. UP.

Let’s spread the word. No more stupid questions! Learn it. Love it. Live it.


A new month means a new link up with Anne over at In Residence and Jenna at Dearest Love to share what I’m currently reading, wishlisting, loving, appreciating, and creating. Come play with us and share your “currently” list.

What I'm currently reading, wishlisting, loving, appreciating, and creating.

Reading: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I am obsessed with this book. I picked it up at the school library on Friday, and I’m almost done with it already. I wanted an easy mystery novel, and this one is so good, I can’t stop reading!!! It’s written by JK Rowling under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It’s about a private detective, Cormoran Strike, who is asked to investigate the apparent suicide of a famous model. I’m on the edge of my seat trying to figure out “who dunnit.” I’ll definitely have to pick up the second book when I’m finished.

Wishlisting: Mala Meditation Beads. This necklace of 108 beads is used during meditation to keep count during mantras. I learned about them at a meditation workshop at my yoga studio, but the price of the necklaces were out of my budget at that time. So, I’m adding them to my Christmas wishlist.

Loving: Miles’s kindergarten teacher. She’s absolutely amazing. She has so much patience with him and offers great ideas to teach him expected behavior and patience. I am so happy she’s in his life. She has made this year so much less stressful.

Appreciating: My husband! I read an article circulating around lately about “The Default Parent,” and it made me grateful for all he does. We definitely share in the duties around the house and with the boys. I don’t think either of us could be called “the default parent.” There are certain things he takes care of and certain things I take care of, but they’re all equally important in maintaining a household and raising our sons.

Creating: Custom wine glasses. We made these at my yoga retreat amid lots of laughs and jokes about how terrible mine looked. In the end, I loved the result and would like to make some as Christmas gifts this year.

Share your currently list below, especially what you’re reading! I love book recommendations!

Stitch Fix Review

I scheduled my next Stitch Fix for the end of October since I only kept two of the items from the last box. Two seems to be the magic number for me as that’s the number of items I usually decide to purchase. This time, I asked for some winter classics to wear to work.

Stitch Fix Review

I found the choices quite interesting. I think I need to go back and update my Style Profile a bit. I feel like my stylist might think I’m more “bohemian” than I actually am. I’m not sure when I’ll schedule my next box, because I feel like I don’t really need anything right now. I recently purchased some jeans and slacks from Express, and Stitch Fix has been a big miss with sending me pants. I’m considering adding some accessories back into my box to see if I get some fun new pieces. Check out what they sent me:

Kut from the Kloth Katherine High Rise Boot Cut Jeans and Collective Concepts Lisette Dot Print Blouse

Bootcut Jeans and Print Blouse

I actually really liked these Katherine High Rise Bootcut Jeans from Kut from the Kloth. The fit is definitely something I would choose on my own. However, they sent me a size too small. Holy muffin top! I could button them, but sitting and wearing them all day would prove uncomfortable. Not to mention, I’d need some major muffin top hiding skills. Also, I have long legs and always purchase tall or long length. These hit just right in the length, but I worried after one wash, they’d be too short. The price was perfect at $58, but the fit didn’t work for me, so they were sent back.

The Lisette Dot Print Blouse by Collective Concepts was cute. It’s a button up sleeveless shirt. I found it a bit low cut and definitely impractical for an Alaskan winter. While I could layer it with some cardigans, I didn’t love it enough to pay $68 for it. I sent this blouse back.

Daniel Rainn London Tie Front Peasant Blouse

Peasant Blouse

Calling Wendy Darling! This London Tie Front Peasant Blouse by Daniel Rainn made me feel like I was waiting for Peter Pan in my night shirt. I’m not a huge peasant blouse fan anyway, but this one definitely wasn’t one I would purchase, especially at $74. It went back.

Kensie Adolfo Faux Leather Elbow Patch Sweater

Leather Patch Sweater

Warm wool? Check. Front pocket? Check. Elbow patches??? Check! I fell in love with this Adolfo Faux Leather Elbow Patch Sweater by Kensie the moment I pulled it out of the box. I love a warm winter sweater, and this one is absolutely perfect! Check out that cowl neck! Swoon! This sweater went straight to my closet. It was $98.

Parkhurst Layton Faux Leather Trim Cardigan

Faux Leather Trim Cardigan

I struggled with this Layton Faux Leather Trim Cardigan by Parkhurst. It was very comfortable and looked cute, but I wasn’t sure about the collar. I also wish it had a closure on the front like a button that would pull it closed and make it more fitted. Since I had only chosen one other item to keep, however, I decided to also keep this one. I think it will be fun to wear when it gets really cold in the classroom, and I can see pairing it with some colorful tops. It was a bit pricey at $108, but I hung it in my closet for future use.

I only kept two items. Together they were $206, minus my $20 styling fee for a total of $186. What do you think? Did I make the right choices? What should I ask for in my next box? Check out Stitch Fix for yourself and sign up for a box of personalized fashion delivered straight to your door. And check out what I got in my last box here.

eBook Review and Giveaway: Chaos to Clutter-Free

My house is cluttered. We have junk I know we don’t need. There are piles of stuff to go through. Don’t even ask about my closet. I need HELP, and if I could afford to pay someone to come help me, I totally would. I’ve found the next best thing: Davonne Parks’s eBook, Chaos to Clutter-Free: 16 Realistic Steps to an Organized Home.

Chaos to Clutter Free by Davonne Parks Davonne writes a blog about organization, simplicity, and motherhood. In her eBook, she gives a simple-to-follow plan to help you declutter your living space. Each chapter is a step to help you get started. And each step is broken down into encouragement, a tip, some tasks, and maintenance. Davonne even shares some embarrassing moments from her own life which led her to declutter her own home.

Davonne Parks, Chaos to Clutter Free I’m looking forward to starting on some of my goals using Davonne’s book. I’ve asked my husband to read it as well so we can tackle the chaos together. Davonne breaks the cleaning and organizing down so easily, I’m not feeling as overwhelmed about what we have to accomplish. I think we can roll up our sleeves and get started soon!

Want to join us? Get your copy of Chaos to Clutter-Free: 16 Realistic Steps to an Organized Home over on Amazon. Better yet, want a free copy? Davonne has graciously agreed to give away FIVE free copies of her book away to my readers. What do you have to do to win? Head on over to my Facbook Page, make sure you give it a “like,” and leave me a message on my wall telling me why YOU need help decluttering. On Monday, if I have more than five responses, I’ll pull five names from a hat to see who the lucky winners are! Good luck! Edited: I only had two people enter, so you still have time! I’ll pull winners on Friday, November 7.

Traditions: Pumpkin Carving

I love holidays, because they’re so rife with traditions. Traditions, for me, are something for my boys to anchor their childhood memories to. When the years have past, I want them to remember the times we spent together as a family enjoying each other, laughing, and having fun. Traditions: Pumpkin Carving

Every year, like most families in America, the kids each pick out a pumpkin to carve. My husband and I help them carve their pumpkins. Usually, this involves them sketching out or telling me an idea, me transferring the design to the pumpkin, and all of us taking turns carving (except Emerson…no knives for him).  Traditions: Carving Pumpkins I love seeing their creativity in their designs and every year they come out different. Emerson told me he wanted a scary face (RAWR!). Miles drew a happy face. Sinjin opted for a Dalek from Dr. Who. They all turned out great.

Traditions: Carving Pumpkins

Do you have Halloween traditions? Does everyone in your family carve a pumpkin every year? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about your traditions!


National Brush Day and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

If you’re anything like me, you hate getting your kids to brush their teeth. It’s a struggle, and I’ll admit I often forget. After three cavities filled for my five-year-old, I know I have to be better at getting them to brush. Parenting is hard; but if we can remember two minutes, twice a day, we know we’re doing at least one thing right. Check out this hilarious video about parenting and brushing.

Need some extra help?

Check out these fun two minute videos to keep your kids brushing for 2 whole minutes twice a day at 2min2x.

Sign up for text alerts to remind your kids to brush twice a day for two minutes each.

Download the Toothsavers Brushing Game to make brushing a fun challenge for your little ones.

Giveaway Details for $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway:

In honor of National Brush Day (, Untrained Housewife and fellow bloggers are hosting a giveaway to help parents teach their children all those daily tasks that are so important to health and well-being. One lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card just in time for the holidays. The giveaway starts on October 27, 2014 and will end 11:59pm on November 3, 2014. Open to US residents, 18 and older only and void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary – chances of winning depend on number of entries received. a Rafflecopter giveaway