‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 2015

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a Barbie in the dream house.

The stockings were hung by the fireplace with care, hoping to be filled with anything but silly underwear.

The children were nestled all snug in mommy and daddy’s bed (did you really thing they were going to sleep in their own beds?), while visions of Baby Alives and Barbie campers danced in their heads.

And Mama with her wine, and Daddy snoring fast asleep were so glad to finally not hear one peep.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I  didn’t feel like pausing the DVR and getting off the couch to see what was the matter.

So I peaked through the window, not really getting up, but I did see enough that made me actually want to jump.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, it couldn’t be Grandma, so it must be Saint Nick!

Santa is real! Does that mean the Elf on the Shelf is too? Let’s not get crazy, I’ll believe in one, not two.

Before I knew it, he was calling their names! This night was turning into anything but lame.

Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!

Then he said, I brought the Baby Alive so your daughter won’t bawl. She won’t visit it in Target and won’t bug you at all. You can thank me now because I saved you a trip to the mall.

I got that Barbie pop-up camper too. Hopefully your daughter will play with it for hours and not say boo. Yeah, yeah I know…you’re welcome for that one too.

I couldn’t bag up peace and quiet for you and the hubs. You can’t have everything. Maybe next year you’ll ask for some other grub.

It’s been fun, but it’s time for me to go. I have plenty more stops and lots of toys for these reindeers to tow.

Before I dash away, dash away, dash away all, I need to tell you one thing.

If you think that silly Elf on the Shelf comes to see me in the North Pole, then all that sleep deprivation has really taken its toll!

 

 

Lessons Learned from Toppled Trees & Broken Ornaments

Christmas trees are part of the season. Whether you have a fake one or are a sucker for a real one every year like me, the tree is one of the many symbols of the season. So, what happens when your tree topples over sprinkling shatter glass all over your living room?

You learn and teach a lesson. (and clean it up of course!)

Let me set the stage.

Our tree was on its second stand of the season. You see, we had to transport it into another stand when we realized our first stand was leaking water because it had a crack at the bottom. So, one night my husband and I took off all the breakable ornaments and carefully transported it into its new home. When my kids woke up the next morning and saw half the ornaments were gone, they didn’t know what to think. So, I spun it into a fun activity called “we get to decorate the tree all over again, won’t that be fun?” Thankfully they bought what I was selling. Little did I know I would soon be selling that line again…really soon.

We redecorated the tree. It was just as fun the second time around. Okay, not really, but I had to play the game for the sake of the kids. All was well until a couple of nights ago.

We stopped home quickly to pick up my daughter’s favorite little teddy that we forgot on the way out. We ran in and turned on the light not prepared for what we found. Our poor tree had toppled over. There was broken glass everywhere. A huge puddle of water created a mini-lake on my floor.

 

tree fall

Cue the high pitched screams and hysterical crying.

My kids were just as crushed as some of the ornaments, if not more. Honestly, so was I. I love my Christmas ornaments, even the stupid ones. But, I had to quickly go into “mom mode” and stop this ship from sinking.

After wiping tears and giving hugs to calm my girls, I asked them if they were hurt.

They looked at me as if I told them a crazy elf flies back and forth to the North Pole every night and reports back to Santa.

“No, mommy, we’re fine. We weren’t even home.”

Exactly…you’re fine. Then I pulled out some lines that surprisingly made it all better.

“Ornaments are just things. Things can be replaced. If something bad happened to you guys, I could never replace you. There will never be another you in the whole world. There can always be another ornament.”

Silence.

Those frowns turned upside down. There were smiles slowly creeping back onto their faces. As annoyed and aggravated that I was at the entire mess, I felt better too. There’s just something that puts a smile on your face when you know you were able to make your children feel better when they’re sad.

I was even more surprised when my four-year-old told me that the tree was tired from standing so it probably just needed a nap!

So when life gives you a toppled tree…you teach a lesson…and then go make a bunch of paper ornaments!

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Spoil Your Kids This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season of the “I wants” and the “I needs”. I know you know what I’m talking about. Every commercial your kid sees becomes something they think they can’t live without. It becomes downright annoying. While it may be tempting to give in because it is the holiday season, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t. Call me cheap or call me the Grinch, but I really don’t see why we have to give in to every want.

Don’t think that I’m not buying my kids Christmas gifts. I am. I’m just not going to tap the college funds just to put a smile on their faces Christmas morning. After all, Santa does have to buy for all the boys and girls around the globe, right? Unless Santa is working some serious OT, there’s no way he can afford to give in to what all the kids everywhere are dreaming about.

In case you are tempted to spoil your kids this holiday season, I’m here with five reasons why you should not. I repeat SHOULD NOT. Here goes…

 1. Create Experiences Instead of Buying More Stuff: Put aside whatever money you were planning on spending on another toy and use it on something you can do as a family. Whether it is a day trip to a local attraction or maybe even a trip to see their favorite movie, try to create experiences instead of buying more junk. Kids will remember the time you spent and the places you went more than a doll they’ll play with for five minutes.

2. Who needs the clutter?: More things just equal more clutter. Who needs it? Not this mom. There’s no need to buy every board game that Toys R Us sells. One or two will do the job. The truth is kids will play with their new toys for a couple of weeks. Then they’ll just join all the others who are just trying to survive in a toy box or playroom.

3. Teach the Lesson That We Can’t Get Everything We Want: Life is full of disappointments. We don’t always get what we want. As soon as your child realizes this, the better off they’ll be. I know this doesn’t sound like the warm and fuzzy Christmas message you want to be spreading, but it’s the truth Ruth. As parents we never want to see our child sad or disappointed. In order to learn coping skills, they’re going to need to learn what it feels like to not get what you want all the time. Why not start now?

4. Spoiling Them Now & They May Expect it Forever: Maybe I’ll just give in this once to make them happy and keep them quiet. What happens the next time? How are you going to deal with it then? Don’t get caught up in what could become a nasty pattern. Draw the battle lines now but just saying no. You’ll be a lot better off and so will your child even though they may not believe it.

5. Teach Them the Holidays are Not About Presents: This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. The holidays aren’t about the presents. Although this may be disappointing for your kids to hear, they need to know it. Although it may sound cliché, we should be teaching them the real meaning of the holiday season. We should teach them to be thankful for their families and for what they already do have. If they get presents, that’s a bonus. It shouldn’t be expected.

So, the next time you’re thinking about spoiling your kids, think about these reasons why shouldn’t. Your wallet will thank-you and so will your kids even though they may not know it yet.

 

 

 

Why Every Parent Has a Love/Hate Relationship with Their Elf on the Shelf

They say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But, if you’re a parent who has welcomed an Elf on the Shelf into their home it’s anything but wonderful. I know, I know. We do it to ourselves, so we shouldn’t complain. But, we do.

This is the time of year when parents everywhere search for new and interesting places to position their elf so that their kids will really think that this freakish looking doll with a perma-smile actually flew all the way to the North Pole and came all the way back each and every night. This is the time of year when parents lie in bed feeling as if they forgot to do something only to awake in a soaking night sweat when they realize they forget to move the dang elf.

In case you’ve been under a rock, the story is that these elves do Santa’s dirty work. If Santa was the Godfather, the elves on the shelf would be his soldiers. Every day they are Santa’s eyes and ears. They see everything your kids are doing. From the good stuff like setting the table to the downright nasty stuff like when your kids use each other as a tissue. When the kids go to bed, the elf goes back to the North Pole to tell Santa what he saw. Then he flies all the way back and parks it in a new spot in your house.

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

For the entire Christmas season.

In my house we start December 1st. The torture lasts 24 days.

God forbid the elf stays in the same place for two days. That would mean he didn’t go back to report to Santa. That would be bad. There’s also a catch. No one can touch the elf. If someone touches the elf, he loses his magic. This means he can’t report back to Santa. This means you have failed as a parent. Just kidding.

I have to give kudos to the creators of this torturous, addictive, but fun little creature. Kids eat this up! When our “Sweet Abigail” arrived this morning it was better than a Peppa Pig marathon on steroids. There was squealing and jumping and clapping. I’m sorry, did Jon Bon Jovi just enter my kitchen? Oh no, silly me. It’s just our elf.

My youngest daughter stared up at her in awe. She tried to have a conversation with her but soon realized it was useless. But, that didn’t stop her from continuing to tell Sweet Abigail what she wanted for Christmas. I quickly told her she had to be good or Sweet Abigail would tell Santa not to bring any presents. She didn’t question one word that came out of my mouth…for once.

My older daughter was just as happy to see our old friend. For her it was better than finding a dollar in a winter jacket. This was Sweet Abigail. This meant the Christmas season has officially begun in our house. Joy to the world!

During dinner time the girls were talking about where they thought they would find Sweet Abigail next. Thank God, because I know I am going to run out of ideas! But then my older daughter asked me if Sweet Abigail got hungry because she doesn’t eat all day. Good grief Charlie Brown! Is the mystery fading? Is she starting to doubt our mythical creature? Not a chance. I quickly told her Santa feeds her very well when she goes back to the North Pole so there was no need to worry.

She ate it up like apple pie on Thanksgiving. Crisis averted.

See what I mean? Kids believe in Elf on the Shelf just as much as Santa Claus. All kidding aside, it is fun to watch their innocence. Why wouldn’t kids believe that there is a jolly old man who brings toys to all the kids once a year? Why wouldn’t kids believe that there millions of elves that take the red eye back and forth to the North Pole every night? The answer is they have no reason not to…unless we mess it up for them…or unless they grow up. Bah humbug! We all know they are going to grow up one day and look back and laugh at their elf on the shelf days. When they do, we’ll all be wishing we could hide that dang elf for one more night.

 

 

 

Why Grandmothers Are So Important

In case you didn’t know, this coming Sunday is Grandparent’s Day. (You’re welcome…now you still have time to buy a plant or something) Sure, some may say it’s a “Hallmark Holiday” and perhaps they’re right. But, that still doesn’t mean grandparents shouldn’t be recognized. They are important people in our lives and the lives of our children.

While it’s important to give props to both grandfathers and grandmothers, I’m going to zero in on the grandmothers. No disrespect or anything, grandfathers are great. But, grandmothers have been weighing heavily on my mind lately. That’s because I lost mine a few weeks ago. She was 94 years old. She was sick for awhile, so her passing didn’t come as a huge shock. Nevertheless, it doesn’t making it any easier to deal with no matter how many times someone tells you, “She lived a good life.” That doesn’t make it all better. Trust me. There is still an empty space in your heart. That’s mainly because grandmothers are so very important.

Why?

Grandmothers always seem to have the patience that mothers don’t. As a mother now I can tell you that is the absolute truth! I don’t know where they get it from, but they are able to stay calm even during the worst temper tantrums that would have any mother running for the door.

Grandmothers let you get away with just about anything! I remember my grandmother letting me eat things I “shouldn’t”. I remember her buying me the silliest toys that my mother would never spend one cent on. That’s just what grandmothers do.

Grandmothers are the ultimate “fixers”. When my favorite Ken doll somehow became split in two my grandmother want into MacGyver mode and managed to wire his torso to his legs. With a little electrical tape as a corset, he was good as new. So good, in fact, that he lasted more than 30 years. My girls still play with this “broken” Ken.

Grandmothers have a way of making it all better. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. They always seem to have the right words at the right time no matter the situation.

Grandmothers make the same dish ten times better than your mother. No matter how you try to duplicate a recipe, it never comes out as good as your mother’s. It must be all that special “grandma” love they put into their food. Or perhaps the fact that they’re not yelling at the kids or packing tomorrow’s lunch while cooking dinner and unloading the dishwasher…all at the same time.

Grandmothers will play with you all the time. My grandmother would play endless games of “Monopoly” and “Life” with me. Although she complained about it years later, at the time, she would just go with it. She pretended to thoroughly enjoy each game. I see my girls do the same thing to my mother. They play restaurant and school for hours on end. My mother is always the happy customer or student no matter how many rounds they go.

Grandmothers always seem to have time for you. Don’t get me wrong, moms always have time for their kids too. But, grandmothers have that time that seems to never end.

Grandmothers just rock. Simply put. Mine sure did. So, don’t let this “Hallmark Holiday” go by without giving those grandparents in our lives some extra recognition. They sure do deserve it. As we all know, they won’t be here forever.

 

Why I Don’t Want Any Gifts for Mother’s Day

We all know Mother’s Day is coming up faster than you can say flowers and jewelry. You just have to look in an ad or go in a store if you weren’t sure.

“Look it’s _____ ,the perfect gift for Mom this Mother’s Day.” You can fill in the blank with the Mother’s Day typical gifts…flowers, perfume, jewelry, gift card, etc. Choose whichever one you think is going to make the Hallmark holiday one Mom will never, ever forget.

Ugh. Spare me.

I think I’ll pass on the one-day Mom lovefest.

Although I’ve written posts before about what I really wanted for Mother’s Day (peace, quiet, spa day, etc.), I’ve changed my mind this year.

I don’t want any gifts for Mother’s Day.

Now before you strip me of my Mommy crown, hear me out.

Sure, I love to get gifts and get pampered just as much as the next momma. Do I deserve gifts? Sure, why not. But, why do we have to guilt our kids and significant others to buy us something special, take us out to eat, and let us put our feet up on just one day?

Are they doing it out of the kindness of their hearts or because they feel like it’s the “right” thing to do?

Hmmm…

Flowers for Mother's Day? No thanks! How about on Tuesday?

Flowers for Mother’s Day?
No thanks!
How about on Tuesday?

I would much rather like a bouquet of flowers just because it’s Tuesday, rather than because it’s Mother’s Day.

Why? First of all, I wouldn’t be expecting it if it was just Tuesday. I would know that there was an actual thought behind it. It wasn’t an automated response to a day on the calendar.

How about some jewelry? No thanks!

How about some jewelry?
No thanks!

If I have to wait until the second Sunday in May for my kids to be nice to me or my husband to give me a break and let me just chill out, then I must be doing something wrong the other 364 days of the year. My kids should be nice to me everyday, okay, at least every other day. The same goes for the hubs. He shouldn’t have to wait until Mother’s Day to realize I don’t yearn to clean up after everyone 24/7.

Now, I know there are women out there who really enjoy and look forward to getting showered with gifts, cards, and flowers on Mother’s Day. They look forward to not having to cook and clean for one entire day.

That’s great.

I don’t mean to poop on your lovely bouquet of roses and day of relaxation, really I don’t. But, just think about what happens the other days of the year.

We all know being a mother is more than just getting props for one day.

My 5-year-old daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for Mother’s Day. When I answered, “nothing”, she looked at me as if I just told her Caillou was dead (now that would be a REAL gift).

I went on to tell her that Mommy doesn’t need any gifts and that she and her sister were my gifts. I know it may sound cheesy, but it’s the truth Ruth.

As much as they drive me nuts and make me scream in octaves I thought only opera singers could reach, they are my little booger-nosed, “mommy wipe my butt”, “can I have another cookie?”, filled treasures.

Although I won’t be looking for gifts, I will take all the hugs and kisses I can get when my kids and husband wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.

So, what are you looking forward to this Mother’s Day?

 

 

 

 

What’s in Mommy’s Easter Basket?

So, Easter is just a few days away and I’m sure a lot of you out there are busy putting the finishing touches on your children’s Easter baskets, if you do the bunny thing. My girls are old enough now to get “it” and look forward to a basket on Easter morning. Gone are the days of fearing the freaky little rodent at the mall. This year, they practically wanted to invite him over for dinner…but I digress.

When it comes to kids’ Easter baskets, there are plenty of staples. Chocolate bunnies, eggs, bubbles, jump ropes, stickers, chalk…they all are great basket fillers for the little ones.

But, what if mommies got baskets too? We don’t…or at least I don’t…and it’s totally fine…really it is. But, I can’t help thinking what I would ask the Easter bunny for if I, too, got a beautifully wrapped basket Easter morning. Hmmm…

Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you.

One (or Two) Bottle of Pinot Grigio- Yep, that’s my favorite wine; I don’t drink red. It would be great if the bunny would bring some, but he would probably get carded.

Flavored K-cups- French Vanilla, Hazelnut, etc. I like flavored coffee, but for some reason, I never buy the flavored cups. Maybe the Easter bunny could hop to it and grab me a box.

Spa Gift Card- It doesn’t matter what holiday it is, a spa gift card is always appreciated. It always fits, never goes bad, and is, by far, one of the best gifts. I always opt for the massage or the nails…I’m not a big fan of facials. There’s just something that’s not relaxing about someone squeezing your face until you’re red and ruddy. But, that’s just me.

Golden Ticket for 1 Good Night’s Sleep– It seems as though no matter what happens, there’s always the pitter patter of little feet around 3 a.m., followed by one, if not two, children climbing over me and into my bed. I just don’t have the energy to kick them out! It would be great to just sleep all night without getting a knee in the ribs or an elbow in the forehead. I guess that’s what sleepovers at grandma’s are for!

New Sneakers– I hate shopping for new sneakers. I never know what color I want, what brand, what style, etc. I usually end up liking the shoes designed for running, but never know if I should buy them because I don’t run. Ever. It would be great if the magical bunny could figure it all out and pop a pair in my basket. Just sayin.

So, that’s it. That’s what would be in my basket.

No chalk.

No jump ropes.

No candy. Please no candy!

So, what would be in your Easter basket if the bunny came your way?

 

 

 

 

 

Mom’s List to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know these lists are only supposed to be for the kids, but I think you know just as much as I do, us moms deserve a wish list too. We deal with the kids when they’re naughty, not just nice. I know you’ve been watching so you know what I’m talking about.

So Santa, do you think you can give me one day of peace and quiet? One day when I can actually watch a show without having to pause it every ten seconds. One day when I can have a phone conversation without having to clean up a spill or wipe a butt at the same time. I know that’s asking a lot.

Do you think you can make my older daughter stop playing school 24/7? I’m all for learning, but I can not take playing school for two hours every day when she comes home from being in school all day long! Santa, it drives me insane.

I would also love if I could have one night when I don’t have an elbow to my head or a knee in my side. I just want everyone to sleep in their own beds all night long. Please.

I know this sounds like a weird one, but can you give me some time to clean and organize my house in peace? You know how OCD I used to be and how it kills me when things get too out of control. I could be more efficient if I didn’t have to break up an argument every ten minutes or change Barbie’s outfits because her clothes are too darn tight.

Santa, can you help my little girl say the word “funk” better so when she’s singing “Uptown Funk” people don’t think she’s a truck driver? On the same page, can you help her with her “s” sound so that when she’s talking about “shows” people don’t think she’s talking about something else?

Can you also give me the energy to get up and go to the gym everyday so I don’t get a muffin top and there’s not more junk in my trunk?

I think that just about does it for now Santa. I know I’m asking for a lot here. I know you have to try to fulfill the wish lists of all the other mommy’s out there too. But, I’m sure our elf, Sweet Abigail, told you I’ve been a good girl this year. So, maybe you could move me up the list?

Thanks for listening Santa. I’m signing off now to try to finish the book I’ve been reading for two months now. Perhaps I’ll finish it before summer.

Merry Christmas!

-Kristina

 

 

Mommy, Why Doesn’t Our Elf Talk?

‘Tis the season for Christmas trees, candy canes, Santa Claus, and Elf on the Shelf, of course.

Ours just came to visit this week. We try to prolong it as long as we can so that we don’t run out of places to put her and don’t forget to move her every night.

Sweet Abigail, that’s what my kids named her, is the belle of the ball in my house. To say my girls love her would be an understatement. Forget, “Good Morning Mom”. It’s more like “Where is she?”

elf

I don’t even need to ask who they’re talking about because I know they’re looking for Sweet Abigail.

All was sugar and spice, coating with Christmas cookie goodness, until my five-year-old started asking questions. A lot of questions.

“Mommy, is she real?”

About as real as Santa and Tooth Fairy, I wanted to answer. Instead, I went with a simple “Of course she is honey”.

“Mommy, why can’t I touch her?”

“Because you can’t. That’s the rule, remember?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Mommy, if she’s real, why doesn’t she talk back to us?”

For the love of candy canes and gingerbread houses! Are you working undercover for the reindeer network or something little girl?

Trying to think of something quickly, I said, “Santa told her she can’t talk to the kids. She just has to watch and listen to what’s going on so she can go back to tell Santa.”

She’s not buying it.

“Are you sure she’s real?”

“Yes.”

Just a little white lie honey, sorry.

Please stop asking questions! Thank God my three-year-old isn’t as inquisitive. She takes more things at face value. A stuffed elf that’s real and flies back and forth to the North Pole every night. Sure Mommy, whatever you say.

But not my little detective in training. She’s not buying the magical story I’m selling. Let the elf be! Leave Sweet Abigail alone!

After my daughter finally stopped giving me the third degree about this little freaky being, I began thinking about the whole thing.

It is kind of crazy that we expect our kids to believe that this little elf flies all the way to the North Pole every night to report to Santa and makes it back inside their homes, finding a new place to park it for the day, only to do the same thing once night falls. Talk about some serious frequent flier miles! Not only does our elf do this, but so does every other elf on the shelf. It’s like they’re part of some crazy gang, minus the spray paint and secret handshakes. The whole thing sounds believable, right?

Then again, we tell our kids that a jolly old man named Santa works in the North Pole where he has more elves that make toys for the boys and girls. He somehow comes down the chimney, or finds another way to force his way into the house without turning on the alarm, just to leave toys. Somehow he makes all the rounds to all the kids….everywhere.

I’m not trying to be a kill joy or anything, but it is kinda funny if you think about it. So, maybe my daughter isn’t too far off asking me so many questions about our precious little Elf on the Shelf. I’ll be curious to see what other questions she comes up with as the season continues. Should be interesting!

 

Every Ornament Has a Story

I’m a sucker for Christmas. I love everything about it.

I love the feelings of tranquility and happiness of the season.

I love the decorations, the smell of a fresh tree, the shopping, the wrapping, the Christmas cards, the visits to Santa, and all the other special little events that go along with it.  If I could bottle up Christmas and save it all year long, I would.

One of my most favorite Christmas things to do is to decorate the tree. Now that my kids are old enough to help without me yelling (too much), it’s even more special.

As I was taking each ornament out of its box this year, I started to get really nostalgic. Of course we have the generic ball ornaments and candy canes, but while unwrapping the rest of the ornaments, I started to realize that each one has its own story. We don’t just buy ornaments to buy them. There’s always a reason behind them or a reason why someone else decided to buy them for us.

 

wedding ornamentThere’s the custom-made wedding ornament that my old college roommate and bridesmaid gave to me for my wedding shower. It has our names painted on it with out wedding date. It’s crazy to think that it’s now ten years old.

There’s the Santa in a hula skirt from our Hawaiian honeymoon. I think back and remember how we said we were going to go back on our five year anniversary. Safe to say, that did not happen!

santa ornament

There are the baby’s first Christmas ornaments. The ones with the girls’ pictures and the other ones with their names, dates of birth, and other information painted on. To say these are special would be an understatement.

baby ornament

 

There’s the “sisters” ornament that my old college friend gave to me. While we were away, we had our own “fake families” and she was my pretend sister.

There’s the “Mommy’s First Christmas” ornament that my friend of thirty years gave to me when my first daughter was born. I remember thinking how I had never seen an ornament like that for moms.

mom ornament

There’s the “Dirty Dancing” ornament that says quotes from the movie. I bought this one for myself because it’s one of my favorite movies and “no one puts baby in the corner”.

dancing ornament

There’s the Clark Griswold ornament that says “Alleluia” when the lights turn on. I bought this one for my husband because his love for Christmas lights reminds me of Clark Griswold.

There’s the sunflower ornament my aunt bought me because sunflowers are my favorite flower.

There are the handmade ornaments my girls made. They help me track their artistic progress each passing year.

There are the Dora and Doc McStuffins ornaments sprinkled about because those were there favorite characters last year. Funny how no “Frozen” ornaments made their way on the tree this year.

There are the countless Elvis ornaments because my husband loves Elvis.

elvis ornament

There’s the salami and deli meat ornaments…they’re a new addition…don’t ask!

salami ornament

 

Each ornament is not simply “just” a decoration. Each ornament has its own story, its own memory that will forever be engrained in my heart and mind.

Do you have special ornaments that tell a story?