Tag Archives: Christmas

TMNT Ornaments

Our tradition each year is to purchase an ornament for each of our kids.  The hope is that when they leave they will have 18 ornaments to take with them for their first tree.  The best part is finding that perfect ornament for them each year.  It can be tricky to find the one that fits their current likes.  Many times we visit the Hallmark store or PersonalCreations.com to find/create the perfect one.  This year neither of those places had what I was looking for.  Even Etsy didn’t have something for each of my five kiddos.

I had seen a really cute TMNT ornament on Pinterest that I had wanted to try but at the time my kids weren’t really into them.  That was until we moved to Iowa and lost the Disney Channel.  Now Turtles are their favorite show, even my little lady’s.  Since we now live near a few craft stores I can easily visit them when they have sales.  So… I made 4 Ninja Turtles and 1 girl turtle.  Did you know there was actually a girl turtle?  I didn’t.  Guess in some threads online there was a girl turtle by the name of Venus.  If I had done my research I would have had 2 blues turtles instead of 2 purple. Oh well, Haleigh’s favorite character is still Minnie Mouse and her favorite color is purple.  So that is what she got.

Turtle Ornaments

I think they turned out pretty cute!  They were super easy to make. It took me less than 20 minutes to create all 5.  I didn’t go into a ton of detail.  I know I could have made their mouths a bit different to create more aggressive turtles but that would mean I would have had to paint them all.  I opted for a little makers and ribbon instead.

My only dilemma was on how to package these individually so each kid could unwrap their own.  I certainly could leave them in the 6pk but there is no way 5 kids would open that gift without some elbows flying and frustration for us.  While I was out looking for cake stuff I noticed the individual cupcake boxes and thought they might work.

Turtle Ornaments packaged

They worked great!  So we had five little packages ready for five young ones to open Christmas morning.  They loved them.  🙂  Definitely a Pinterest item worth making.


Celebrating 12 Days of Christmas

I like to do nice things for my husband.  This year I wanted to try something new.  After leaving behind my cake business I found a lot of spare time on my hands.  I took to my favorite place… Pinterest to find something fun to do.  I found a cute “12 Days of Christmas” idea.  Here is a link to the page :http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2011/12/on-the-first-day-of-christmas-my-true-love-gave-to-me.html

I jumped on board and started planning.  It was a lot harder than I expected.  I was trying to stay in a small budget and still be creative and fun.  Originally my first gift to my true love was going to be a shadow box for our family ticket stubs from movies, games, and other events but on impulse I gave that to him for his early December birthday.

As December days passed I started to worry I wasn’t going to find enough things to fill up the calendar.  A few days before I started leaving gifts, he was raving about the Christmas blend of Starbucks coffee he had enjoyed.  Finally an idea I could use!

Day 1:  On the 1st day of Christmas his true love gave to him… A Bag of Coffee to brew.

So there you have it!

day 1 of 12


Yes I found it necessary to make each day rhyme.  That, and him sitting on the couch while I was working them out, made things interesting for sure!  He was quite surprised on the first day.  Actually I wasn’t sure if he liked the idea or not.

Day 2: Two Tasty Treats

Day two was supposed to be our son’s surgery day so I opted for something I could share with him at the hospital.  Of course the little man’s surgery got rescheduled so instead my husband got his Throwback Mt Dew and Reese’s Fastbreak at home.  The funny thing is I had purchased a bottle of pop a couple days earlier and then accidentally left it on the counter and he drank it.  When I saw him walk into the living room with it took all I had not to shake me head.  I had to make an emergency trip to the Casey’s to get another one.  It made for a fun and memorable day 2.

Sadly, I didn’t get pictures of each day.  Some were more personal than others, some less.  I did take pictures of a few of his favorites.

Day 3: Three Naughty Pics

By day 3 he was asking if there was a gift since I didn’t leave this one on the counter like the others.  Boudoir photos in an envelope on the seat of his car.  That was a winner.  Yeah and  sorry no pictures to share on this one 😉

Day 4:  Four Date Night Things

This was supposed to be day 5 or 6 but plans were to go out of town and I didn’t think I wanted to drag along a couple wine glasses, a bottle of wine, and some massage oil.  Lol… It just didn’t feel right.  So it became day four. Rather than purchase a new bottle of wine I chose to use one of the 3 bottles of the wine I still have from my bridal shower.   Six and a half years was not so friendly on the bottle we tried to drink.  It was ok but nothing great.  We probably should have drank it long ago but 4 kids in 5 years hasn’t allowed much time for enjoying a glass here and there.

Day 5: Five Ornaments

We have five kids in our arms so I thought it would be fun to enlist the help of the kids on this one.  Each of them painted their hands white and helped me create snowmen out of their handprints.  The turned out cute. *Another Pinterest idea*  My husband actually got to watch us create these over Thanksgiving while we were making other family gifts.

day 5 of 12 (2)

Day 5 of 12

Day 6: Six Beers for Drinking

There is nothing more weird than walking into a liquor store at 11 in the morning to purchase booze with three kids under the age of 5 in tow.  The guy at the counter snickered while we were digging in the cooler creating our mixed 6pk.  Or it could have been when my 5yo desperately wanted to carry the 6 glass bottles to the counter 2 at a time. Either way, we did a good job of picking a few favorites and a couple ones he had talked about trying.

Day 7: Seven Ways I Love You

The higher the day number the harder, and more creative, I had to be.  So for day 7 I opted for different candies.  I will admit I am creative however I am not good at creating many things completely from scratch.  I really wanted to attach little tags.  I had to google a while to find exactly what I was looking for but I finally located something I liked.  This sight is where I got the generic tags.  http://www.thedatingdivas.com/you-me/show-him-the-love/clever-candy-sayings-for-almost-every-occasion/ I wasn’t completely satisfied with just the tags to I included some special moments that we have shared together that make me love him more.

Day 7 of 12

Day 8: Eight Blocks for Building

The kids and I sifted through 2 totes of pictures to find enough to fill some cut up 2×4’s and 2×2’s.  We painted the 8 blocks and used mod podge to attach the pictures.  One side was pictures from our wedding and the other was our superheros.  I attached our special Dad quote to the main block.  I think the kids like them since they have already run off with them!

Day 9: Nine Years of Christmas

When I started this project I knew this day right away.  This year we celebrated our 9th holiday season.  While we were sifting through all our pictures I also located memories of our first two Christmas seasons as well as a picture card we have sent each year for the last seven.  When I gave this gift my husband’s exact words were, “I thought you didn’t like scrapbooking.”.  He is right, it really isn’t my thing but I will do something once if it might mean something to him.  I left a place for writing our memories later.  I thought that might be a fun way to spend a few date nights.

day 9 book

Day 9 of 12

Day 10: Ten Quotes Inspiring

I thought this day was going to be easy.  I was definitely wrong.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted bible verses or quotes.  There are good bible verses but I couldn’t quite find ones that fit the bill.  I googled and found lots of quotes too.  Again nothing quite was what I was looking for.  Instead I used some of the quotes that were close to what I needed and added/changed some words to make them more personal.  After the work I put into coming up with the quotes, I had no time to make them pretty.  Just some construction paper and scrapbook stickers.  I think he liked them just the same.

Day 10 of 12

Day 11: Eleven Favorite Cookies

This was supposed to be his very favorite homemade chocolate chip cookies but if you had seen my counter you would understand why he got a bag of oreo cookies and a rain check.  Christmas baking season and a holiday party filled the counter and 3 tupperware containers full of yummy treats.  I think I can fit his special treat in January when he can enjoy them.

Day 12: Twelve Date Nights Prepped

So my husband is not a date night planner and likely never will.  I decided to take day 12 to prepare a date night each month.  Since day 12 landed on Christmas, he got to open a small box to find 12 envelopes. Each envelope has cash to use during our date and a certificate and cash to pay our two older boys for their daycare services.  Each envelope has a date it must be used on.  I chose the 12th of each month, fitting I suppose.  According the to calendar it will only fall on a busy Friday or Saturday night once.  All the other 12th’s are on week days.  Now all we have to do is take turns deciding where to go or what to do.  I can’t wait until Jan 12!!

Day 12 of 12

My husband and I enjoyed this project enough I might try it again next year!  I was able to keep days 1-11 within my $50 budget by using things around the house and purchasing a few things as needed.  Now that I have a whole year to plan who knows what things I could find to do.  The hardest thing will be keeping it under budget. 😉


Christmas 2014

Nothing is better than celebrating the holidays with traditions and breaking a few.  This year was full of both.  After careful planning, Lincoln’s before Christmas surgery date still got pushed back to post holidays.  This meant we could carry on our tradition of hunkering down and being homebound again.  Who wouldn’t want to break that tradition we started in 2010?!?!
There is always next year, right?

Our next tradition we knew we wanted to keep was that of the Angel Tree.  Iowa City area does things a little differently and it took some time to find something similar.  Chris was able to find a place on the UI campus that let us choose an age range.  He picked a couple of tags and we went shopping or herding is the right word (that is what it is like with 5 kids at 7:30 at Walmart).  We walked the aisles searching for things that we thought we might have purchased for Clara.  We decided on a few Barbies, Connect Four, beading set, Minecraft, kids nail polish kit, and a cat Lego set.  When we got home and unpacked we realized we had purchased exactly 7 gifts.  The kids thought that was pretty cool, “1 gift from each of us!”.  I call them “whispers from Heaven”.


We broke tradition when it came to Christmas Church programs. This year we were able to attend Family Sunday and watch each of the kids sing.  It was the cutest thing to see them in front of a crowd.  We are fortunate to have found a welcoming church and a wonderfully healthy nursery.  To date Lincoln has never been as healthy as he has the past 3 months!  This peace of mind has allowed us to attend more regularly and break our traditional Christmas break from church.

CameraAfter months of asking for a fancy camera Chris and I found one we agreed on.  Thank you to woot.com for an amazing deal!  We are now proud owners of a Nikon D7000.  I am not doing many cakes now but I am sure I can find lots of other things to photograph and learn with.  Chris even found some free classes through the U for me.  I am not satisfied with just pointing and shooting and want to be able to use our device to the best of it’s abilities.  Guess I have just picked up a new hobby!  Anyway here are a couple of test images I took this past week.  Not bad to start with.


Clara Ornament

This year the big boys were not home with us.  We have that every other year so it was nothing new but it still felt different this year.  We opted to take the little ones to Build-A-Bear to create a critter for them to take to bed.  Haleigh already takes her “Baby” (Cabbage Patch) to bed and there has been a long standing argument between the boys on who gets to take the other “Strawberry” (the other Cabbage Patch) to bed with them.  We thought creating their own stuffed animal might be fun for all of us.  So on Christmas eve, after our traditional homemade pizza creating, we took the boys to the mall and had fun.  Both Lincoln and Preston picked out a Ninja Turtle.  While we were stuffing Chris and Haleigh disappeared to do a little last minute shopping.  The little boys seemed to have a lot of fun picking out weapons and a pair of Ninja Turtle pajama’s for each turtle.  We left Build-A-Bear about a $100 lighter but Mikey and Raph are well taken care of and provide lots of nighttime comfort.


Here is a little peak at Christmas morning too.  Santa left the kids a little Turtle playset and a table and chair set for the little ones and a nice pair of athletic pants for the older boys.  After sorting, packing, throwing, donating, and moving everyone agreed less is more.  Our kids saw fewer presents but more focus on God and giving.  I must say it was a much more peaceful holiday.


Although our holiday season isn’t over yet our tree is down.  Our tradition is broken once again but small home means space is critical 🙂

South Dakota friends and family, we are headed your way soon!
We miss you!
Sending lots of hugs.











and a whisper from our Little Angel in Heaven…
Elf Listens to Angel


Creating Our Meaningful Advent Calendar

We began the tradition of an Advent Calendar 2 years ago.  I created on using some of our old mismatched gloves and socks and for the past 2 years we have filled it with lots of treats.  The kids think it is awesome to guess what is in each one and I enjoy not searching through all the leftover mittens for a match.  #winwin


Advent Calendar (Ortman)

This year I decided to take a different approach with it.  Honestly it is what I should have done from the beginning.  I wanted to know the real meaning behind the advent calendar.  I wanted the kids to know too.  So this year we used our old tradition and added some learning.

After using my good friend google to search for kid friendly explanations on how the advent calendar began, I decided to print it out and display it with our calendar.  Here is where Pinterest gets involved… rather than store all my links in an email I will never again find, I opted for a new board to store and share links.



I really liked the idea of having bible verses for the kids each day.  It gives us a reference point for the little kids and a place for the big boys to dig deeper if they want.  I found a wonderful link with some very basic verses (it is pinned to my board).  They work very well for my little boys and are maybe a little too short for the older ones but again it is a starting point for the older ones.  Next year I might try to create the story line with verses that work a little better for us. 🙂

So my next problem was what to do with each verse throughout the month.  If they don’t have a place they will get forgotten and if forgotten they mean nothing.  We are a visual house.  I really couldn’t decide between placing snowflakes by my advent calendar or I had no idea.  So back to google.  I found a few “create your own calendars” but I didn’t want to create a new setup nor did I want to have to buy five stars, five babies, five angels, 10 rings to place in the different days.  I met in the middle.  I chose to use pictures to reference instead.  It will cost me far less to print what I need and I don’t have to worry about little objects being left on the floor for me to step on.

Visual Aid and Verse Card Holder

Each image is attached to a piece of construction paper.  For day 1 the angel comes to visit Mary so an angel was the image I printed.  Now the pre-picked verses I found don’t move along as quickly as some so there are a few days that are doubled up. My kids don’t seem to mind.  I tried to find images that very closely followed the verses so that my 3 and 4 yo could easily figure out what we were talking about.  After we read and talk about each day, we add it to the coordinating image.

Advent Calendar Week 1

Now that we are seven days into the calendar we have found a rhythm.  We also take time to review the previous days before we add the current day. This has been great for all.  On day one the angel visited and that is all they remembered.  Today they remember that the angel’s name was Gabriel and he came to tell Mary she was going to have a baby and His name was going to be Jesus.  By the end of the month they are going to be able to recite the story of Jesus!!

I can’t forget to share that while we opted for verses this year we still placed a small treat in each day.  The treat is only to be eaten after each verse has been read and talked about. Works perfectly for everyone except the 22 month old.  She just tries to eat it through the package!

After this Christmas Advent Calendar project I have a new appreciation for teachers and the time they put into creating lessons for their students.  It is worth it!

Merry Christmas!


Ortman Christmas Decorating Season #9

I can’t believe it either!  Chris and I have been decorating our Christmas tree and home together for 9 years.  Together we have decorated 1 apartment, 2 homes, and now a rental.  We also have way more helpers than we once had. It takes less time but it is still so fun.

Christmas Tree Decorating 2014

Our picture is a little blurry but I think you get the gist.  Of course Lincoln and Damon thought it was best to stand on the bar stools to hang ornaments.  Lucky for us no one was hurt during the duration of our decorating.

Christmas Tree 2014

In our home we have a fun tradition when it comes to Christmas ornaments.  Each year Chris and I gift to each kid an ornament that reflects them for the previous year.  Year 1 is always a baby’s first ornament.  Some years it has been Mickey Mouse, Transformers, sports, snowmen, cupcakes, Blues Clues, Toys Story, the list could go on!  It is fun to look back at them and reminisce about their interests and like during certain years.  In the end each of our kids will have at least 18 decorations to add to their first Christmas tree.  I think it will be interesting to see how many we can squeeze on our tree.  We have 7 more years with all five at home.  At that rate we will be adding another 35 plus 7 more that belong to Chris and I as we celebrate each year too.

Living Room

So now that our living room is decorated… and honestly very full… we are ready to relax and watch some Christmas movies together.  Up first was Mickey Mouse!


With little room for stockings I found a creative place to hang them.  This way I won’t have to worry about little hands pulling them down.  Oh and that silly lamp that I don’t really care for looks amazing on it’s “fragile” box.  I wonder what our neighbors think of it?  It does look nice and I am sure will be a conversation starter with the neighbors.

Well, just wanted to say Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas for the Ortman’s!
Hope your holidays are fun, exciting, and safe!


Giving in Memory of Clara

“…when we give what we can, and give it with joy, we don’t just renew the American tradition of giving, we also renew ourselves.”  Bill Clinton

We have always given to a child on the local Salvation Army Angel Tree.  After Clara passed we decided that each year we will find a child that is the same age Clara would be and go shopping.  For us it is healing to be able to walk through those girl aisles and look.  We get to purchase things we can imagine ourselves buying for her and give a gift to another child.  This year Chris and I did a date night and went shopping for our little girl.  “Taylor” was 5 and although Clara would have been 4 1/2 it was close enough for us.  We decided that we wanted to do clothes this year instead of toys.  We never really got a chance to buy any clothes for Clara.  Everything she wore before her death were gifts.  All the clothes we had purchased were still neatly on the hangers and although Haleigh did use some of them (and we donated a lot to the local shelter and teddy bear treasures program), it just isn’t the same.

It didn’t take us long to fall head over heals for a pretty dressy outfit.  We quickly realized that $25 isn’t much for clothes so we started searching for sales online.  Thanks to Black Friday (or Gray Thursday) we found a great sale at Children’s place.  I couldn’t help but get the “keep on smiling” shirt!!  The smile it brings to our hearts and faces to be able to give to another child in need is something we look forward to each Christmas.  We hope that “Taylor’s” smile is as big as ours this Christmas.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 10:31  


Crazy Mitten Overload

Dilema #1:

I found myself with 2 boys who loved their LEGO Advent Calendar last year and wanted another one this year.  I however couldn’t muster up the courage to spend $45 on the one they really wanted nor $30 on the less liked one.

Dilema #2:

After cleaning out my homes coat closet I found a couple dozen mismatched gloves and mittens.  I mean how many pairs can a family of 6 have??  Too many!!!  I guess you know kids…they lose matches faster than one can buy replacements.  My boys are now of the understanding if they lose the match they will, WILL, wear mismatched ones.  After playing the matching game I found myself with a heap of umatched and extra pairs.

What to do…

And then it struck me.  I could make my kids an advent calendar we can use each year…for pretty cheap!  I was thinking about the cute sock ones I had seen online.  Problem is that we seriously don’t have cute socks.  Umm, boys socks are really just athletic ones.  How many boys do you see where fancy Christmas ones or even pink, green, or red ones???  So my disappointingly ugly idea quickly transformed into a spectacular one.

Thank goodness my mom has a basement full of cute crafting leftovers that she so kindly shared a couple of years ago.  To create the calendar I honestly didn’t have to buy much more than the mini clothes pins and 3M Command hooks.  By the way, mini clothes pins are just that MINI!  They are barely an inch long but they have the best springs on them.

I would say it turned out pretty darn cute.  The “rope” is just twisted up pipe cleaners.  I simply started twisting in the middle of the red pipe cleaner.  This left half of the white one for me to twist with another red one.  It also left enough on each end to create a loop to put on the wall hook.

I decorated most of the gloves just because they didn’t look super Christmas/wintery.  I also added hand cut numbers to each one.  I would say I spent a good 2 hours creating but it was time well spent.

Need a project for all your mismatched mittens and gloves??

Need a project for all your mismatched mittens and gloves??

The boys were super excited about this project especially since now they will each get a small item/candy each day.  With the LEGO calendar they each could only open every other day.  Damon had odd numbered days, Mason even numbered days and then there was the prospect that Lincoln and Preston may want to help too 🙁

Now to fill with goodies!