Rainbow Cake Redux

08.06.17

You may recall, four years ago I attempted to make (Spearmint Baby’s) Rainbow Cupcakes for Holdy’s First Birthday. It did not go well. This year, because she is Holdy who loves rainbows and being difficult, Holdy requested a Rainbow Cake for her Fifth Birthday. So here we go again.

This time, I was gifted Wilton’s Easy Layers! 6 Inch Round Cake Pan Set to ease the process a bit.

Rainbow Layer Cake Easy Layers! 6 Inch Round Cake Pan Set @ohbotherblog

These five smaller pans make one whole cake box. I made a box cake according to the instructions and split the batter “equally” into five different bowls.

Make a Rainbow Birthday Cake @ohbotherblog

Make a Rainbow Birthday Cake @ohbotherblog

We used a combination of McCormick Neon Food Coloring and Traditional Food Coloring to achieve our desired color combos in each bowl of batter.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

I greased each pan with butter and cut circles of wax paper to fit in the bottom of each pan. I then “equally” filled each of the five baking pans with their respective colored batters and baked at 350 degrees. 

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

I checked them after 10 minutes and left them in for a total of 15 minutes.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

The cakes all came out of the pans really easily and I set them to cool on a wire rack.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

I then followed The Bearfoot Baker’s instructions on how to freeze a (layer) cake before frosting it. I wrapped each layer of cake in two layers of plastic wrap, one layer of foil, and placed them in large ziploc bags (two to a bag).

The next day, I thawed the cakes in their wrappings for about 20 minutes. I then leveled the tops of each layer with a serrated knife, cutting off the “dome” to make them flat for stacking.

I stacked the layers on top of each other, with a (big ol’) smear of icing in between each layer.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

Because the layer pans make the sides rounded off, I also levels the sides with a serrated knife to make the “tower” even.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

If you’ll notice, my cake tower is already leaning a bit. Oh well.

You’ll also notice that your cake looks like a hot mess at this point. This is where the Crumb Coat comes in.

Spread a thin layer of icing all over the cake–it’s okay that cake crumbs get smeared in because you’ll be doing the “real” layer of icing later.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

Pop that sucker into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set.

Then take ‘er out and add your icing.

Make a Rainbow Layer Cake @ohbotherblog

I should note that the humidity and the transportation of my cake took a bit of a toll on the tower and it started to sag slightly on the backside, I guess collapsing on the weight of itself? Possibly I should have smooshed the layers down a bit firmer on top of each other?

Make a Rainbow Cake @ohbotherblog

So yeah, it looked a little saggy, lol. But it doesn’t matter, because all the glory comes when you cut into that bad boy.

Make a Rainbow Cake @ohbotherblog

Make a Rainbow Cake @ohbotherblog

Note: it is not easy to cut thin slices of this cake because of its height, and the top-heaviness. So big slices it is!

Make a Rainbow Cake @ohbotherblog

The cake was a huge hit. And bonus: it tasted great too!

Make a Rainbow Cake @ohbotherblog

Rainbow Layer Cake
Yields 8
A beautiful 5-layered cake that's fun and colorful
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Ingredients
  1. Wilton Easy Layers! 6 Inch Round Cake Pan Set
  2. Butter (for pan greasing)
  3. 1 box cake mix
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 cup water
  6. 1/2 cup oil
  7. Serrated knife
  8. 2 jars of white icing
  9. Food coloring (McCormick Neon for Pastel Colors)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut 5 circles out of wax paper to fit bottoms of pans
  3. Grease pans with butter and place wax paper in bottom
  4. Follow cake mix instructions
  5. Split batter as evenly as possible into 5 bowls
  6. Add food coloring to each bowl to achieve desired color
  7. Pour colored batter into each respective cake pan
  8. Bake in oven at 350 degrees
  9. Check after 10 minutes
  10. (Total bake time should be around 15 minutes)
  11. Cool in pan for 5 minutes
  12. Remove cakes from pans and cool on wire rack until completely cool
  13. Wrap each cake layer in 2 layers of plastic wrap, 1 layer of foil and place in ziploc freezer bags
  14. Place cakes in freezer for anywhere from 20 minutes to longer (overnight)
  15. Remove cakes from freezer and allow to thaw in wrap for about 15-20 minutes
  16. Unwrap cakes and level layers by cutting the domes off the top with a serrated knife
  17. Stack layers in desired order with a layer of icing in between
  18. Press down gently on layers to limit space between layers
  19. With serrated knife, vertically level layers to remove individual rounded edges and make even
  20. Apply thin layer of icing -- "Crumb Coat"
  21. Place in fridge for 20 minutes to allow Crumb Coat to set
  22. Final layer of icing on the tower
  23. Decorate as desired
oh, bother. blog | a working mom in a Pinterest world. http://ohbotherblog.com/

a letter to my daughter on her fifth birthday

07.06.17

A letter to my daughter on her fifth birthday @ohbotherblog

Holdy, oh Holdy. You are five years old today. The most stylish, silliest, songful five year old I know. “Precocious” doesn’t even come close to describing you.

You are graduating from Pre-K this week. This year has been such a fundamental year for your growth and development and you’re really thriving at school.

 

Graduation photo day. This kid will be a pre-k graduate in a month! #whatholdywore

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Your teachers at York Day Nursery are Miss Sarah, Miss Kristy, Miss Evelyn and Mr. Cody. You love your friends and there’s not a day we walk into you classroom that at least one kid doesn’t yell your name and come running for a hug. We rocked the “100 Book Challenge” this year, reading more than 400 books. 

You’ll be starting Kindergarten at York Academy in the fall, after spending your summer at the YMCA’s Camp Spirit. You were so excited to get accepted into York Academy that you wore a uniform to Pre-K the rest of the week after the lottery.

 

#whatholdywore Someone wanted to get a jumpstart on wearing a uniform next year to @yorkacademycharter

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I’m hoping that excitement continues into the fall and that the uniform doesn’t cramp your unique sense of personal style too much.

 

My daughter has become an Olsen Twin. #whatholdywore

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Kid, you’re pretty much a style icon. Your outfits of the day are always outrageous but you rock them with pride. I even bought the URL www.whatholdywore.com to go with your #whatholdywore hashtag. As soon as you’re old enough to start using the internet, let’s figure out how to make you an Instagram star so I can retire.

You asked me the other day if I want you to be a “superstar” when you grow up. You may not realize it now, but you already are.

 

Our own backyard concert. #whatholdywore

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You’d rather sing than talk. I’m thinking some vocal lessons may be in your future.

You love to make art and your favorite thing to draw (and wear) is rainbows.

 

Invisible Strings #whatholdymade

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Rainbows everywhere.

 

#whatholdywore Super Rainbow and… Frankenstein? (Photo credit: Nanny)

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#whatholdywore

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You insist I paint your fingernails “a rainbow,” using a different color for each nail. We just started experimenting with fun hair colors.

 

Pinkhairdontcare #whatholdywore

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Hair dye, nail polish, kindergarten. You are growing up so fast.

This was a challenging year for us. Last summer, you were officially diagnosed as having ADHD and ODD and we’ve spent this year, along with your teachers, finding ways to support you as you learn and grow. We all love you and want to make sure you have all the tools possible to help you develop into the amazing human we know you’re going to be.

 

Drinking for a cause at the @dreamwrightstheatre fundraiser at @holyhoundtaproom #weefees

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This year we also had a new addition to our family: our 130-lb puppy, Brutus. Oh man, you guys are so cute together. As in most aspects of your life, you’re fearless around him and quickly showed him who’s boss.

 

#danesofinstagram

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When you’re sent home sick from school but you have a big-ass dog to lie on top of you. #danesofinstagram

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Your best friend continues to be your brother.

 

Valentines #whatholdywore #mrgatsby #ohbotherblog 🍯

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You guys share a bed at night because you “keep him safe.” You guys also fight like cats and dogs and drive me crazy on a nightly basis. But every morning, you hug him goodbye at school and blow him kisses through his classroom window. You’re sweet like that.

You asked for a “pink sparkly” desk for your birthday and of course I obliged.

Today you are responding to everyone who wishes you a Happy Birthday by saying, “and Happy Unbirthday to you.” You’re also giving everyone high 5’s because you’re five. Nanny is going to come to school and take you out to lunch today–will you choose McDonald’s or pancakes?

Tonight, we’re going to make bath fizzies at Sunrise Soap Company with your brother and cousins, followed by Rainbow PB&J’s and Rainbow Cake (which you and your brother “helped” make) at the Pretzel Shop.

You’re going to have an amazing summer, Buddy, and an amazing first year of Kindergarten. I’m so proud, thrilled and honored to watch you grow. Your joy is infectious and you’re so fun to be around, even when you’re making me nuts. Reach for the rainbows, Kid. We love you. Happy Birthday.

 

Princess Climbing Rock #whatholdywore

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the c-word and the invisible string

28.04.17

Someone we love very much was recently diagnosed with cancer. And as tough as it has been to grapple with the news and emotions myself, realizing that I had to tell the kids was some next-level worry. The five days between receiving the diagnosis and telling them was terrible; I felt like I was lying to them (and not just the normal lying like, “you ate all the candy already” or “I don’t know what happened to those leggings with the permanently brown knees.”)

I googled “how to talk to kids about cancer” and found some helpful sites, like this one from cancercare.org. There are tips like:

  • Prepare what you want to say.
  • Set the tone. 
  • Consider your child’s age.
  • Ask professionals for guidance.

But none of them gave me the actual words to say. How do you tell a 3-year-old and almost-5-year-old that someone they love so much has a very scary disease that could possibly kill them?

I did some Amazon research and found some well-reviewed books to add to my arsenal, which all proved to be pretty age-appropriate books to start the conversation about illness, grief, death and loved ones.

Books to help children understand death @ohbotherblog

I informed the Director of their Early Learning Center and their teachers, to help build a support team for the kids in advance. I informed Holdy’s therapist.

I called Olivia’s House, an absolutely wonderful grief and loss center in our city, and made an appointment to talk with a grief specialist. She armed me with a kit from PBS Kids called “When Families Grieve,” some wonderful coloring books about feelings, confirmation that I had selected the appropriate books, and most importantly, the confidence that I am doing the right thing, a reminder to take care of myself and her open door and phone line.

With the biggest pits in our stomachs, we prepped ourselves for a very serious conversation, not knowing what to expect. What we found was:

  • An interrupting poop break
  • A mid-hug fart
  • A question regarding The Incredible Hulk

The levity was brought almost immediately and the conversation became much easier. I reminded myself that these are 3 and 4-year-olds. I tried to be as open and honest as I could.

Because I couldn’t find any actual words in my search, here is some of what I said, in case it’s of help to anyone who finds themselves in this same terrible situation:

  • ____ is very sick, and it’s not sick like a cough or cold like you had. It’s a sickness called cancer.
  • They have bad stuff inside their body that stops their body from working like it should (prompting the Hulk question).
  • I don’t know if they’re going to die. I hope not. They have very smart doctors who are working to help them the best they can.
  • I am sad. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling.
  • Cancer is not contagious. You can still touch them and hug them and kiss them and they’ll want you to do all those things.
  • If you have any questions, I am here to answer them.
  • I will be honest with you and tell you the truth the best I can.
  • Your teachers know and they will also be here to support you.

After telling them, I took the kids to visit our loved one, so that they could see that they’re still here with us, that they can still hug and kiss them, and that it’s okay to ask them questions, even questions about their death. The grief counselor from Olivia’s House told us it’s okay to have these conversations, and that it’s actually freeing for our sick loved one to be able to talk about it. What can be more freeing than a 4-year-old asking you if you’re going to die?

Later, we read The Invisible String, which really resonated with Holdy. It teaches kids that we all have invisible strings coming from our hearts that connect us with our loved ones. And nothing: not time, distance, anger, or death can break that string.

Holdy took to the book so much that when she had to work on a school art project later that night, she wanted to represent the Invisible Strings.

The Invisible String, an interpretation by Holdy @ohbotherblog

She drew the strings between the dinosaurs’ hearts and also to the dead dinosaur up in the sky. I sent the book along to school with her the next day to provide a frame of reference for her teachers.

The next morning, Holdy asked if she could take her string to school with her. She wanted to wear a shirt that she thought looked like strings coming from her heart. 

She presented her art project to her teachers and friends and she told them all about the Invisible Strings.

The kids continue to have questions and will continue to have questions. I continue and will continue to answer them as openly and honestly as I possibly can. I still can’t tell them if our loved one is going to die.

We don’t know what the coming days, weeks and months are going to bring. But we do know that we’re stronger together. And that we’ll always have our strings.

*May 19, 2017 Update: It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with some exploratory surgeries and tests and meetings with doctors at both WellSpan and at Johns Hopkins, but overall we’re feeling much more positive now than when I first wrote this post. It seems that the cancer is definitely treatable and the Cancer Team feels comfortable they can “get it all” with some aggressive treatment. So we have a rough summer ahead, but we all have a lot of great support and we’re hoping to hear the words “Cancer Free” come fall.

 

a letter to my son on his third birthday

23.03.17

GB, Geebs, Geebo–

Well, kid, you’re three. A threenager, as they say nowadays, and boy does it show. I was rereading last year’s letter and it seems at two you were just practicing for the horror that was to come.

We both feel today has been too much one-on-one time. #pottytraining #mrgatsby #ohbotherblog 🍯

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I’ll be honest: the past month or so has been pretty rough. You get, um, explosively emotional sometimes and it seems most of your ire is directed at me. I say sometimes that you’re like an abusive boyfriend–you go from yelling and hitting me one second, to stroking my face and telling me I’m pretty the next. Sometimes, though, you’re very calm and you’re telling me and Holdy, “it’ll be alright.” So my sweet GB is still in there somewhere, but he’s a little more hidden than he used to be. It’s sort of a Bruce Banner/The Hulk situation, I guess.

"GB, why did you take your clothes off?" "To be like Bruce Banner." #hulkout

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Speaking of The Hulk, you are obsessed with superheroes. Spider-Man and Captain America mostly. You know all of the Avengers’ first names and like to use them: “Spider-Man Peter Parker” (or Petuh Pawkah in your accent), “Tony Iron Man.” You like to pretend you can climb the wall and you have Spider-Man shoes, shirts, hoodie and underpants.

Spidey testing out his climbing abilities. #ohbotherblog

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Weirdo #giventhecamelback

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Ah… underpants. We just did our potty-training bootcamp this weekend and it actually went pretty well. I did have to take home several bags of wet clothes from yesterday’s first attempt at school, but we’ll get there. You’re refusing Pull-Ups now, saying, “I’m big” with a shrug. It’s true, you are.

You started school this year at York Day Nursery. Your teachers are Miss Jennifer, Miss Sheryl and Miss Latasha. You thrive at school. You like to work with your hands and you are so creative. Your school likes to send little notes home with interesting things you’ve said throughout the day. The latest was when you were coloring with a yellow crayon you said, “I’m making sunshine!” You speak in complex sentences and you have an impressively large vocabulary.

York Day Nursery Valentine's Day party

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Of course, that vocabulary also includes curse words. Man, you have a filthy mouth; way worse than your sister ever had. The other weekend you were having a morning meltdown in my face so I removed you from my presence. You sat outside my bedroom, banging on the door, repeatedly moaning for me to, “open the fucking door.” Two days later, you were angry at me for not getting your milk (and I was angry at you for not asking nicely), and you yelled at me to, “get the milk, fucker!” I mean, you were using the terms correctly which makes me secretly proud, but obviously that’s not cool, dude. We’re working on it.

Your favorite food is scrambled eggs. You and your sister would eat breakfast for dinner every night if you could… and during Restaurant Week this year you literally did. You love “white milk” and “bars” and that’s about it. You need to eat, kid! Your lack of appetite drives me nuts.

Valentines #whatholdywore #mrgatsby #ohbotherblog 🍯

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Your sister is your best friend but you guys fight like cats and dogs. You’re at each others necks (sometimes literally) all night, and yet somehow you both choose to sleep together in the same bed every night. I’m so glad that you guys have each other and I hope you stay just as close as you grow… though it does make for some crazy evenings at our house.

Good morning. #ohbotherblog 🍯

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You’ve grown to love Sally, who sleeps with you guys every night. You’re warming to Brutus, though I understand having a large creature who’s literally 100 pounds larger than you bounding at your being might be a little frightening.

Best buds both had a big weekend. #brutus #mrgatsby

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You’re warm and curious and thoughtful. You’re funny. You’re reserved with people you don’t know. You’re my buddy. You really are a mama’s boy. Sometimes it’s a little ridiculous–you really should be wiping your own nose by now. But I’m glad you still like to give hugs and kisses and I’m secretly happy to still carry you around (sometimes. Not when my hands are full of bags and whatnot). 

Watchin' superheroes.

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Happy Birthday, Buddy. We love you.

 

potty-training GB

19.03.17

It was time.

 

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Time to pottytrain GB. The kid will be three next week. We had waited long enough.

One of the most frequent questions you hear when it comes to potty training (besides, “why the hell isn’t there a magical way to just make this happen?”) is, “how do you know when they’re ready?”

In our case, I’ve been making GB change his own Pull-Up after he’s peed himself for about a month. So, yeah, if the kid is changing their own diaper, it’s probably time for potty training.

 

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With Holdy, I did the Potty Training Bootcamp Weekend method, as made popular by The Moes Family and Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Because the kids are with their Dad every weekend, this was going to take some planning, but as it turns out, the kids were going to be with me this weekend so we decided to go for it.

Here’s how it works, in a nutshell:

  • Give the kid a lot to drink.
  • Set a timer for every 15-20 minutes.
  • Take ’em to the potty.
  • Reward them when they go (Avengers stickers here).

I like to have the kids wear just underpants so that they can experience the feeling of wet pants… and hopefully want to avoid it.

Absolutely clutch this time around was that both Philip and my parents helped by keeping Holden out of the house all day (and overnight) so I could focus on GB.

 

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GB and I currently have a love-hate relationship (as I’ll share in my upcoming birthday letter to him), so I wasn’t sure how this weekend would go. In all honesty, it’s been great. We’ve been getting along–with the exception of one fight yesterday at naptime–he hasn’t been resisting the potty and he only had three accidents on Saturday morning… and none thereafter (yet).

He was even dry during his nap, during which he refused to wear a Pull-Up. He also refused to sleep on top of a bedwetting mat thingy… until I agreed to draw Spider-Man on it. For the record, he did wear a Pull-Up to bed but he was also dry overnight.

Potty-training GB @ohbotherblog

One of my biggest questions about potty training is how they magically switch from being taken to the potty every 20 minutes to knowing when they have to go themselves, but somehow it just happens. 

Today he was preparing to take a walk with Philip and Brutus and I said he had to go potty first. He said, “I already did mom! Just now! By myself!” And he had. No idea how that happens.

potty-training gb @ohbotherblog

Of course, he hasn’t pooped at all yet. Like at all, at all. We’ll see how that goes.

making emergency kits for refugees

11.02.17

Assembling Emergency School Kits for Refugees @ohbotherblog

Since January 20, 2017, I have personally been trying to make small, positive efforts when I feel appalled about current events.

On January 27, I started a monthly gift to Planned Parenthood because I believe we all should have access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare. On January 29, I started a monthly gift to the ACLU because I believe that the rights and liberties of all people matter. This week, I purchased some Spanish-language early-learner novels to donate to our local public school district in response to the appointment of the current Secretary of Education. 

I’ve also been working on a project with some friends since the January 28 announcement of a certain “travel ban.” Feeling helpless, I googled ways that I could help refugees in my own small way and I found IOCC, International Orthodox Christian Charities.

IOCC offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination. An average of 92 cents on every dollar donated goes directly to assisting the people IOCC serves, in areas like Syria, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Haiti, the United States and more.

One of IOCC’s initiatives is the Donation of Emergency Kits. Emergency kits are small packages of essential supplies assembled in the United States and shipped to people in need around the world.

Types of Kits

  1. Health / Hygiene Kits – Curb the spread of disease by donating basic hygiene items.
  2. School Kits – Give a child the tools needed to succeed at school.
  3. Clean-up Buckets – Help people clean up after a natural disaster.

I bought enough materials to make 12 School Kits for about $100, including the canvas bags. I wanted to make it an activity I could do with my kids, so I showed Holdy this video before we got started to help frame the conversation:

Assembling and Sending Emergency Kits:

  1. Choose which type of kit (or kits) you wish to assemble and only include items specified on each list.
  2. Download the IOCC Emergency Kits Return Shipping Label to fill out an include one on the outside of each box.
  3. You can plan on $2-$3 per kit to cover the cost of shipping to the warehouse. Mail all kits to one of the below addresses.
USPS Shipments FedEx or UPS Shipments
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
PO Box 188
New Windsor, MD 21776
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
New Windsor, MD 21776

With the help of my friends, Kevan, Emily, Sara, Andy, Sarah and Jennifer, I delivered 32 School Kits and 14 Hygiene Kits to IOCC this morning.

I’ll continue to take action when and how I can. If you find yourself feeling angry and helpless, I encourage you to do the same.

chatbooks

14.01.17

I was browsing Facebook today, when I came across a video that resonated with me:

I love photo books but have absolutely no time to make them. I still haven’t finished GB’s baby book on Shutterfly and he’ll be three in March. So I decided to give Chatbooks a try.

Chatbooks links with your Instagram, Facebook or iPhone favorites to automatically populate a photo book. When you get to 60 photos, your book is made. 

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

You can go in and exclude any photos you don’t want to have printed. I post a lot of food photos, apparently, and obviously don’t need a printed book of all the food I’ve eaten, thank you.

You can also edit your cover photos, choose not to include your Instagram captions, etc.

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

And then… you order your book! The standard book comes with a soft cover and costs $8. You can upgrade to a hard cover for $5.

Chatbooks works on a subscription system as you fill your books: you can indicate if you want books immediately sent out once filled, 1 a month, 5 a month or 10 a month. 

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

I spent about an hour this morning setting up my account and excluding all of my Instagram photos from the past 5 and a half years (that’s a lot of food photos). Because I had about 15 books’ worth of photos, I signed up for the “5 a month” subscription to get myself caught up. If’/when you want to change your subscription level, you can do that at any time.

You can also order individual prints and seasonal books!

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

We all know we post our “best” photos on social media, so looking back, these seemed to be a pretty fair representation of our life for the past five years.

If you’re a hot mess like me, I have a feeling Chatbooks will work for you. Give it a shot!

*Disclosure: these links to Chatbooks are “Friends” links. You’ll get your first book free and if I get five friends to sign up, I’ll get a free 5-year subscription to Chatbooks!

Happy Ohbotherdays 2016

19.12.16

Okay, so the printing and sending of Christmas cards is not happening this year, but we did manage a tripod-timer photo shoot, so give me some points for that.

So it’s my pleasure to present the (digital) 2016 ohbotherblog Christmas Card:

christmas-card-2016

Here are past years’ cards so you can see how we’ve grown:

Christmas Card Photos 2015 @ohbotherblog

the oh bother christmas card 2014 @ohbotherblog

Merry Merry!

Hello Belsnickel, Goodbye Elf on the Shelf

05.12.16

Last year, my partner introduced the kids and me to the character of Belsnickel, Santa’s grouchy “cousin.”

Legend has it: Shortly before Christmas, a dirty, disheveled, cranky man wearing furs would arrive at your house. He held a hickory switch in one hand and a sack full of candy and nuts in the other.

He would call the children forward and asked them to recite a poem, a Bible verse or math equations. He’d warn them to behave. Then he’d toss the goodies on the floor — and if the greedy kids dove for the candy, he’d hit them on the back with the switch. 

Belsnickel (also Belschnickel, Belznickle, Belznickel, Pelznikel, Pelznickel) is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities. ~ Wikipedia

Basically, the whole thing was to scare kids into behaving… for Santa. Not unlike a certain other Christmas character who sits on a shelf.

Unsurprisingly, Holden LOVES Belsnickel… so much in fact that she asked for a Belsnickel doll this year.

So I’m doing her one better: I’m replacing our Elf on the Shelf with Belsnickel. I despise the Elf on the Shelf. I have written about how terrible I am at participating in the Elf on the Shelf Christmas bullshit. I think a dirty, fur-wearing, crotchety old man is a much better ploy for getting my kids to behave during the holidays. And I don’t have to put him in any ridiculous positions.

Belsnickel Doll for Christmas @ohbotherblog

I bought this awesome Nordic Gnome from DaVinci Doll Designs on etsy and I’ll glue a little stick into his hand. And that, my friends, is my Elf on the Shelf replacement, Belsnickel.

I also bought this awesome Belsnickel card from Famous Last Cards on etsy that I’m going to frame as part of my holiday decor:

Belsnickel Card @ohbotherblog

That’s your boy, Dwight Schrute, who also happens to love Belsnickel:

Happy Holidays! Hope you’re kids are more admirable than impish!

a magical freaking december

02.12.16

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

I’m trying really hard to make Christmas magical this year, so I’ve decided we’re going to have a magical freaking December.

I found this Threshold Stocking Advent Calendar Garland on clearance at Target the day after Christmas last year and held on to it for a whole year to hatch this plan.

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

Every day, the kids will remove a slip of paper from the numbered stocking to reveal what fun Christmasy thing we’re doing that night.

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

For the First of December, we went Christmas decoration shopping (hey, sometimes you have to throw some practicality into the mix).

I’ll be honest, a lot of our “activities” consisted of me cross-referencing the Freeform 25 Days of Christmas schedule for holiday movies that are playing each night.

Other activities will include our Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony, visits to various Christmas lights displays, making gingerbread houses, baking cookies, and probably just a good old fashioned piling in the car to look at Christmas lights.

Magical Freaking December, here we come.

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