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Category Archives: Holidays

Post-Holiday Chaotic Bliss (Complete With Sweatpants and Cardboard Boxes)

My husband was on vacation from the 17th through the 25th of this month. Coincidently I did not post on the blog during this time. Some may suspect that this lack of posting was because I was busy hanging out with my husband (which I suppose may be true). However, truly, my lack of posting can mostly be boiled down to a lack of material. As it turns out when my husband is home to help manage the chaos that tends to saturate my life, my life is actually a lot less chaotic. And as a result, less interesting. It’s times like these that I can rejoice in the fact that I don’t have a live in nanny. Can you imagine how boring my life would be? I wouldn’t get to experience any of the crazy antics that tend to ensue when I take my children out of the house by myself, and I would probably be out of excuses for my hair being in a permanent bun, and for wearing yoga pants (which unless you actually practice yoga, are pretty much sweat pants) a lot of the time. Kind of a no-win situation.

Now that my husbands vacation is over, the chaos is back in full swing. The munchkins and I have a nasty cold, which my in-no-way-medically-trained-mother diagnosed over the phone as either bronchitis or pneumonia. She couldn’t do an in-person diagnosis because she refused to come within 3 square miles of my germs. Regardless, due to our cold (which is not probable to be bronchitis or pneumonia), the kiddos and I have been hanging around the house, fighting over the new toys. I’d like to say that it’s just the kids fighting over the toys, but seriously, the Weeble Treehouse that we got for the baby is awesome! You know you want one.

Even with all of the new toys, the most popular playthings in our house this week have been the boxes. Which I think is great. Playing like this: fun!

This is The. Best. Toy. Ever.

 Finding your toddler has climbed atop the new kiddie table, crawled inside the box, and is about to fling himself (box and all) off the side onto his unsuspecting baby brother, significantly less fun. Sadly, there is no picture of this because I felt a need to stop bodily harm from occurring to either child. This scenario has further confirmed the suspicion that while my son has my blue eyes, and my awesome hair, he was entirely bestowed with Daddy’s reasoning skills.

Since Daddy is back to work, and since there are still tons of awesome boxes lying around, I predict that more chaos is to ensue. But, as I’ve made clear, chaos makes life interesting. So until school starts back up for me next week, I will be chilling in my yoga pants with messy hair, enjoying the chaos that my children create around me. Ahhh, back to normal.

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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Holidays, kids, Parenting

 

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O Christmas Tree (How to Make Your Own Christmas Memories in 14 Simple Steps)

When I was 12 my mom went out and bought a fake Christmas tree and a pretty set of coordinating decorations to go on it. She was excited. No yearly cost, no pine needles, no fire hazard. Plus, with the new decorations, our tree looked like a perfect department store model. You put it together when you are ready for it, and put it away when you are done. To me however, it was the end of an era. I missed the days of the real trees. Now, interestingly enough, I never can remember where we got our trees. I’m guessing they were from tree lots, but I honestly can’t be 100% sure. What I do remember is how once we got the tree home, my mom and my stepdad would wrestle the tree into a 5 gallon bucket, propping it into place with a variety of rocks found outside and saved for this purpose. My mom would videotape my stepdad as he tried to get the tree wrangled into the bucket, and he would yell at her to put down the dang camera and come help with the tree. With all of that energy required, I can see why she eventually went with the fake tree.

Once the tree was secured, he and my mom would sit back, and allow my sister and me to do most of the tree decorating. We would carefully deliberate over the placement of each ornament on our large collection, and inevitably every year we would manage to break one of these incredible delicate antique bird ornaments while trying to clip them onto the tree. We would blast either Christmas music or Tom Petty (what, those aren’t interchangeable in your house?), and it was a generally merry and good time.

When the fake tree, with its matching decor, came into our home everything changed. It wasn’t as fun to watch as my mom popped the color-coordinated branches into their spots, and each decoration had a specific place that it belonged. Decorating for Christmas became orderly and organized. It was no longer happy chaos, and therefore was much less fun. So as a child I vowed that I would always have a real Christmas tree when I had kids. And with the exception of Logan’s first Christmas (he was only 3 months old-what would he care), we have done a real tree every year. Our trees always come from different places. Sometimes we go to tree lots, and one year we got one that my dad cut down from his property. This year I wanted to do something different, a real memory maker. So we went to a place to cut our very own tree.

So this has been a very long-winded introduction to the real point at hand, which is a (not so) Super Mama tutorial on how to cut your own Christmas tree in 14 easy steps.

1. Do your research. Find a farm that allows you to cut your own tree. Call them to confirm their hours, and ask basic questions. An important question to as apparently is “do you provide the saws?” There was a tree farm that required you to bring your own saw, but we skipped that one because 1) we only have a circular saw and an ax, and neither of those seemed tree farm appropriate and 2) I wasn’t super comfortable letting my children run around in a place where strangers are wielding all sorts of various cutting implements.

2. From your research pick your farm. We selected a farm where all of the proceeds went to a local charity that benefits foster kids. I recommend this route. It allows you to feel good about yourself while destroying part of the environment.

3. Bundle up your kiddos to prepare for the cold December outdoors. Get distracted bundling them and forget to bundle yourself. Since you’re only wearing a sweater, prepare to be cold, very cold.

4. Bask in your childs excitement when you tell him it’s time to go get a Christmas tree. Both of you can be a little disappointed when you arrive at the tree farm and have to have the awkward conversation in which you realize that he was actually excited about Christmas treats not Christmas trees. Memory making fail.

5. Once your toddler finally gets into the excitement of picking a tree even though we can’t eat them, begin to wander the farm looking for your perfect tree. Once you pick a tree out head back to grab a saw from the proprietor. On your way back to the original tree, find a better tree. (No, it wasn’t better just because it was closer to the car…okay maybe that was a tiny part of it.)

6. Try to get your husband and children to pose in front of the tree. Regret doing this during what is supposed to be nap time because now your three year-old won’t stop pouting. Accept that this is the best photo that you will get.

Happy Daddy, Happy Baby, Pouty Toddler - Everything is as it should be

7. Do a quick ceremonial saw with your 3 year-old for a photo op:

I'm a wild tree-sawing lumberjack woman

8. Have husband actually saw down tree. When he is done he can put his foot up on it like he has conquered a mighty beast.

If you picture him wearing flannel instead of a hoodie, and that the toddler is actually an ox, he looks just like Paul Bunyan, don't you think?

9. Pay for your tree and have the girl who has no clue what she’s doing help you tie it to your car. Later lament that you forgot to take a picture of this. Spend the whole drive home praying that your tree doesn’t go flying off the top of your car, and that if it does that it doesn’t actually injure anyone.

10. Arrive home and put your tree in a tree stand. If your lucky, and your kids are still to little to get into the decorating, do it yourself while they are sleeping. String all of the lights onto the tree without checking to make sure they work first. Plug in the lights and realize that one strand is indeed dead. Unstring and replace the lights. Mutter a bit under your breath if necessary. While decorating, remember that a certain husband broke Liam’s first ornament last year. From the looks of it baby didn’t have a very good first Christmas:

Poor Baby

11. When all the decorating is done lay underneath the tree with your husband and enjoy the beautiful sparkly pine scented wonderfulness of the moment. Remember why you always have a real tree.

12. Spend the whole next morning trying to get your 3 year-old to stop touching the tree and your 1 year-old to stop eating the tree.

13. Realize that three days later none of the ornaments on the bottom half of the tree are where you originally put them. Never bother to fix it.

O Christmas Tree

14. Remember all the fun Christmas chaos as a child and hope that your children are building their own love of crazy chaos family time that they will eventually pass on to their own children.

O Christmas Tree, indeed.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in General, Holidays, kids, Parenting

 

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Yummy Christmas Treats in 15 (mostly) Easy (almost) Stress-Free Steps

So Logan and I had our very 1st mama-son baking extravaganza this weekend. I was a little stressed out to start because I like structure, and order, and to not have to screech “Logan, NO!” every 30 seconds or so. However, I braved the store to buy supplies, and last night we settled in to baking our treats. Logan actually loved it. He was very well-behaved, and made a point to remind me every few minutes that he was my “big-boy helper.” So without further ado, a picture tutorial on how to make some yummy Christmas treats (the 3 year-old edition):

Step 1: Realize that you plan on taking pictures for your blog, and take Captain Underpants into his room to put on some clothes. When he protests, remind him that we get to eat cookies when we are done. Emerge with pants on to commence baking.

Step 2: Lock the baby behind the baby gate so that you only have one kid underfoot in the kitchen at a time. Listen to him shriek about the indignity of it all.

Let me in! I want cookies too!

Step 3: Get ingredients out while 3 year-old salivates over his favorite treat in the world, “nener-nems.” Explain that the “nener-nems” are for later when we make the cookies so we can’ open them yet.

Forget the baking, Mama. Let's just eat these!

 
Step 4: Pre-measure ingredients, and allow 3 year-old to empty the measuring cups in the bowl. Try not to have a nervous breakdown that your toddler is the only thing standing between 2/3 of a cup of vegetable oil and your floor.

Careful....careful...careful!

 
Step 5: Allow child to help you stir, and wonder why you’re surprised when he takes the spoon away from you and doesn’t allow you to help at all. What’s that about children being like their parents?

I dooo it!

 
 
Step 6: Unwrap the candies to place inside the brownies. Explain repeatedly that the candies are to go into the bowl, not into mouths.

oooh...cannies!

 Step 7: Show 3 year-old how to line the mini-muffin tin with mini-muffin cups. When you notice what a good job he does, allow your mind to wander, while you try to think of all the other menial chores that you can now convince him are fun.

Look at my cute face instead of mom's messy counter!

 Step 8: Pour brownie mix into muffin cups, and have 3 year-old push a peanut-butter cup into the center of each one. Admire his skillful work.

Squish

 Step 9: Put brownie bites in the oven. While they are cooking, get all of the ingredients ready for the cookies. Watch as toddler becomes even more of a dictator, and demands to do ALL cookie batter assembly (of course with a big smile, saying, “I a GOOOOD helper, right Mama?”).

Sugar!

 Step 10 (OPTIONAL): Put the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften (unwrapped of course- that’s not moronic), and accidentally cook it for an entire 30 seconds because the kitchen chaos is stressing you out. Scrape as much butter out of the microwave as you can, while hissing under your breath at your husband (who is acting as your kitchen photographer) when he asks if you’d like him to take pictures of this particular mishap.What? No accompanying photo? Are you shocked!?

Step 11: Compliment your husband’s creative kitchen photography skills when he takes this beauty. Forget that the butter ugliness ever happened.

This is what Logan baking looks like to a bird flying through our kitchen.

 

 Step 12: Mix it. Mix it good.

Please note the chunks of sad, lumpy microwaved butter

 
Step 12: Take the brownie bites out of the oven while screeching “HOT! HOT! NO TOUCH!” and realize that you have nowhere to cool them. Then improvise.

Yep, those cooling racks are on top of my beautiful LG front-loader. I love it even more now that I've found out it can multi-task.

 
Step 13: Realize that making these treats takes more steps than overcoming alcohol addiction. After all this they’d better be good. Finally, let 3 year-old add his beloved nener-nems to the cookie mix. As you drop cookies on to the sheet, encourage his to add extra nener-nems to the top of each cookie.

One for the cookie...one for my mouth...one for the cookie...

 
Step 14: Bake cookies, and a short while later, enjoy!
Mmmm…cookie!
Step 15: The most important step. Wait until your kids are in bed and frost the brownie bites with peanut butter frosting. Eat a couple, and relax. You deserve it.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Cooking, Holidays, kids, Parenting

 

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Sweet Victories

So my NaBloPoMo tally:

Total posts:10

Slightly passive aggressive sentiments: 4

Posts about NaBloPoMo (including this one): 3

Not great, I admit. However if any of you would like to come over to watch my kids and do my laundry so that I have more time to blog, I’m all for it. Really though, I’m kidding, I don’t do laundry, that’s what husbands and dark-colored sweaters are for. Perhaps next year I will do better (on the blogging, not the laundry) or at least have more realistic expectations for myself. I’m going to now brag about myself so that I can feel that even though I was a NaBloPoMo failure, I am still successful in other parts of my life. So these are the highlights that I accomplished in November:

1. I finally figured out how to personalize the little sidebar thing on the right. admittedly, WordPress does try to make it easy for you, but for the last 6 months, I kept wondering what in the heck a widget was, and why my blog kept encouraging me to personalize them. I didn’t know what they were or how to personalize them, and the word widget kept creeping me out, so I just avoided my widgets all together. You may now take a moment to admire my personalized widgets. Aren’t they pretty?

2. I rocked my college Chemistry class. Technically, until I take my final, it’s not in the bag. However, I took the last regular test this week, and I feel really good about it, so I feel that a 4.0 may actually be within my reach. This is probably the thing that I’m the most proud of. I’m about 9 years older than the average student, so I feel pretty good about my old lady brain this month.

3. I made a new friend. Laugh if you want to, but stay at home mamas are not usually presented with tons of opportunities to make new friends. It’s not like elementary school where you can just run up to the kid with the awesome Teddy Ruxpin back pack and ask if they want to play kick ball at recess. Adult friendships take a bit more finesse. My lab partner and I hit it off, and we chat socially, as well as chemistry-ily (chemically?). Plus we already have a post final wine date planned. Which, may I mention, is another advantage to being an old lady student- I can have a drink after finals. Wahoo!

4. I got all my Christmas shopping done. Please refer to my Black Thursday post. It was both awful and awesome at the same time. But it’s done. Done, done, done. Okay, I’m done bragging. Done.

5. I have taught my 3-year-old all of his colors. All of them! It’s amazing. As of October, I was ready to take him to the doctor because I was SURE he was colorblind.

6. I’ve got my 3-year-old consistently pooing on the potty. I realize that you may not want to hear about his poo, but I most certainly didn’t want to ever clean it off my walls, so realize that these unpleasant truths just tend to be part of life, and give me this one. Although, I’ll be the first one to admit that the poo-training may have had less to do with my awesome parenting, and more to do with “sucker-treats” (or dum-dums, as you may call them). I’m still claiming the victory though.

7. I got to feel smarter than my computer for once. Pertussis, it’s a real thing, even if 07 Word doesn’t think so. Take that Windows Vista! I know more about childhood vaccines than you do. And I’m done gloating about being smarter than the spell-check. I feel the need to embrace spell check’s inadequacies, because it’s usually so condescending. It’s like “don’t you remember your 4th grade spelling tests, Nicole?” It’s rare that I get to mock spell check the way it mocks me, so you bet I’m going to run with it. (Edit: let’s not talk about how spell-check just nailed me for misspelling both ‘inadequacies” and “condescending.” And now I feel like I need to spell-check this sentence. AGH! I misspelled sentence. I probably misspelled “misspelled” and “AGH!” for that matter, but I’m leaving spell-check alone. I have pertussis on it, and that’s all I need.)

I’m celebrating the little victories right now. Because if there is anything I have learned from being a multi-tasking student-mama, it’s that I’ve got to take what I can get.

 

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Black…Thursday?

Ah… Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. Family, friends, turkey, what more do you really need? I’m proud to report that this year’s meal went off without a hitch. It was potentially the smoothest Thanksgiving in the history of the world. The turkey was finished right on schedule, unlike last year when the dang bird took an extra two hours over our estimated time. I remembered to buy milk this year, unlike two years ago when I had to run to the store as we were supposed to be sitting down for dinner because we didn’t have milk to make gravy with. Everything came together perfectly, and Gertrude (what, don’t you name your turkey each year?) was delicious.

Dinner ended, leftovers were put away, a quick slice of pie was eaten, and then I settled in for a relaxing evening of… shopping. Okay, not so relaxing. I do enjoy my Black Friday shopping, but it seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Two years ago stores opened at 5am, last year stores opened at 4am, and this year I was standing in line at Toys ‘R Us at 6:30 in the evening on Thanksgiving, waiting for the 9pm open time. Seriously, Gertrude wasn’t even digested yet and I was waiting in line. And to top it off, I forgot my Chemistry flash cards. My plans to study were thwarted (although I’m not sure how much I would have retained anyway).

So my shopping went well. I left my house at 6pm on Thursday and returned at about 8am of Friday. I felt like some sort of wild college coed, except I think wild college coeds are probably waiting in lines to get into clubs, rather than waiting in lines to purchase discounted train tables and Legos. Even so I felt pretty wild, staying out all night. And by wild I mean exhausted. Because seriously, I got up early, cooked a giant meal, and then spent the whole night on my feet, waiting in lines, trying not to get trampled, and doing a few sprints (yes, I may have actually full-out ran through Target to the electronics department to get my Kindle. What? I stood in the freezing cold line outside for over two hours. I certainly wasn’t going to give up that close to the finish line, so I broke the rules and ran inside – just don’t tell my kids.)

Anyway, the point is I was tired. And I fully attest that Black Friday needs to actually start on Friday. Starbucks wasn’t even open until 3am, and that’s just not okay. And complain as I might, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be doing the same thing next year. Even if the retailers go crazy and have sales starting at noon on Thanksgiving, I’ll still be there. I just hope my family won’t mind having a nice Thanksgiving dinner at 7am.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Holidays, NaBloPoMo

 

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