Saturday, January 31, 2009

When Do You Stop (or Start) Having Kids?

I have to copycat FishMama over at lifeasmom.com on this one since it seemed to be one of her biggest comment-getters.

It’s no secret that I’m a Kid Freak. I’ve always wanted a big family. It doesn’t hurt that I have relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries and that I get pregnant just by Aron giving me a certain look (yes, THAT’S how babies are made … now you know). It’s such a personal decision for every person.

I hear a lot of women say they decided their family was complete after they had an especially difficult pregnancy or delivery. Some weren’t so fond of babies or kids in the first place, so one kid is all they can handle. Some have 10 and would happily welcome another.

If you are done having kids, how did you decide to stop (or was it decided for you)?

If you aren’t done, how come?

If you don’t have kids yet (and want one), when do you think is the ideal time to start a family?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate Freak



What does it say about me that I am content and happy when I have chocolate in the house, hidden from the kids or not? It’s like Chocolate Valium. Individual Dove chocolates are my “dolls” (for those of you young-uns, see Valley of the Dolls).

That I look forward to the day after Valentine’s Day so I can race over to Target to buy Dove hearts at half price?

That the day after Christmas at the grocery store I drooled over a 5-POUND Hershey bar that was ½ off (originally $35)?

That I wish some company made chocolate pens, chocolate books, chocolate pillows, chocolate-covered French fries?

Yes, I know I’m headed for Diabetes-ville. That’s why I’m enjoying my sugar while I can. My grandma had to go off chocolate for many, many years because the doctor said the caffeine made her heart race (“poor woman”, we cluck our tongues, shake our heads and say).

Click here to see the caffeine content in chocolate versus tea or coffee or soda.

Do you love chocolate? What’s your favorite chocolate thing?

Enjoy!

P.S. I joined Weight Watchers (for the, ahem, THIRD time) back on the 20th so I’ll let you know how my chocolate addiction goes. Is there a 12-step program for that? Click here to read a review of the new sugar-free Dove chocolate, which you know I will be trying to find ASAP. And how do you get a gig reviewing chocolate? Count me in!

P.S. Dove has chocolate parties now. I just sent an e-mail to try to set one up. They'd better bring on the sugar-free stuff or there will be bloodshed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lord Help Me, I’ve Been TAGGED

I’be been Tagged by April over at The Crazy Green Cheapskate. I’m supposed to write 8 random things about me:

1. I’m an only child who was born in Germany.

2. I sucked my thumb until I was 30.

3. I didn’t get chicken pox until I was 17 and that’s why I think the chicken pox vaccine is a bunch of crap. Just keep your kid hydrated, watch their fever and you’re most likely good to go.

4. I used to go through men like tissues.

5. When I met Aron I jokingly jumped his case for double-dipping his tortilla chip, but I think he just thought I was a jerk (with nice legs, he says).

6. I love Nip/Tuck even though it’s a dark, dark, bad, evil show and I would probably never get plastic surgery.

7. I’ve been nursing for 7 ½ years straight.

8. When I’m on the treadmill I pretend I’m a runway model-in-training to kill the time.

Now here are the RULES for this tag:

1. Each blogger starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog post about their 8 things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose 8 people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and to read your blog.

5. For the recipients, leave a comment for the person who tagged you, so they can go and read your answers.

I'm Tagging:

Tresa from Triumphs, Tests and Tales, Told by Tresa because I know she’ll probably hate this!

Chris from Miss Chris … This is My Opus because she’s a digiscrapper.

Capello from No Appropriate Behavior because we used to work together a long, long time ago.

Debbie at Three Weddings because we went through some crazy crap together.

Annalyn at Venter’s Bureau because I love a woman who can gripe.

Jessica at Life as Mom because she’s a fellow writer and my like-it-or-not mentor.

Aimee at Journal of a Momma because she is cool.

Scary Mommy because I stumbled upon her and would love to know her answers … check out this post where she talks about putting her blog into book form for her kids.

More, just because I can't help myself:

The Glamorous Life of a Hausfrau, written by the Evil Twin's Wife (you gotta love that name! ... and she has a recipe blog, too.).

Christen at Nifty Things because we're eHow buddies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I keep forgetting to do this review, so I’m just gonna slap it together and make it half-assed as only I can do (although I do include links to a rockin' review and also some trailers). Sorry, and you’re welcome.

I compare this THREE-HOUR epic (a sorely overused word, but it fits here) to Forest Gump. Only the female lead (Daisy in Benjamin Button) turns out to totally come through in the end and proves to be a strong woman.

Everyone thought I wanted to see this movie so I could check out Brad Pitt, but he’s not really my speed (although he’d be the ideal person to hook up with since he clearly loves children!).

You gotta love an original idea (based on a SHORT story by F. Scott Fitzgerald), when there are so many crappy movies out there these days. A guy aging BACKWARDS? Don't get me started.

I recommend it to chicks especially. Here’s a better review and some trailers.

Bottom line: I give this movie 8 ½ Dove chocolate hearts. For me, it was a 4-Kleenex movie as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mini Massage

I have a business idea. The franchise stores would be called Mini Massage and would feature little kids giving 5-minute massages.

1. There would be background check to weed out perverts.

2. The massaging would occur over clothing.

3. The cost would be $20.

4. The stores would somehow comply with child labor laws.

Before you think I’m sick and crazy, have you ever had a sweet little kid give you a “massage” or put suntan lotion on your back? It is the best thing in the world. Their tiny hands barely touching you, and they are so sweet about it and so sure they are being helpful.

When’s the last time you had a normal massage, like at a paid place? Mine was a year ago, and I always have that pesky big-breast problem. Never mind the cutout for my FACE on the table (or some places even have tables with cut-outs for pregnant bellies); they need to make tables with breast cut-outs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Diary

My parents got me a diary for Christmas when I was 7 ½ years old. That’s how old my son is now!!! I recently dug it out from a big tub in the basement (I was looking for my junior high diaries for dirt on Jen), so I’ll be periodically baring my soul to ya’ll.

April 23, 1979
Tonight my mom and dad are going to see Jethro Tull. My aunt Santy is 18, and she is baby siting me. I am glad! I made Koolaid today. I like my friend Leslie and his brother little Cris. Today at school we had a substutute. Today in school we did geometry. We did not have centers.

Commentary
Anybody know what the heck “centers” is? And aren’t my parents so cool, going to see Jethro Tull (they were 28 years old)? Now my aunt Sandy’s daughter babysits for MY kids!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Facebook Love

Back in August I blogged about MySpace versus Facebook.

Since then some stuff has happened on Facebook. Allow me to share …

First of all, I contacted someone from junior high and apologized for being a jerk to her and prank-calling her all summer when we were, like 14 years old. She didn’t even really remember and has since moved to Italy.

Right after that, Jen contacts me to apologize for being a jerk to ME in junior high. I barely remembered that, so I let her off the hook. I do remember she always had the latest Sweet Valley High books, that b****. Anyway, we’ve been emailing and are going to meet up soon … she loves chocolate and coffee and has big boobs, so I love her for sure. A warning to you, Jen: someday I’ll go back and re-read my diaries from that time and you can bet your sweet butt I’ll be posting on this blog if I find anything about you in my diaries!

Finally, I want to let everyone know that Facebook is NOT just for kids and teens and college people. I’m thinking my oldest Facebook friend is over 60 (an ex-boyfriend, if you can believe it, and that is a story for another day!!!). It’s neat to find people my parents used to hang out with and connect with them. I love finding people I used to work with, go to school with, go dancing with, be naughty with. I love knowing in a second what my cousins are up to. I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends and their kids without having said pictures choke my e-mail in-box.

And the person who got me into Facebook in the first place isn’t even on it anymore.

I love you, all my Facebook Friends (but stop sending me Pokes and Flowers and requests because I just delete all that stuff)!!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Leaving Kids Alone

The sign at the library says not to leave kids under age 7 alone but it happens all the time. That’s okay if you are 5 feet away, but across the entire huge library? If I can’t see my kids, I’m in panic mode. Call me overprotective or call me a good mom. I don’t care. It’s just who I am.

Often the parents are at a computer playing video games while their kid runs wild or bugs the librarian. Hey, if you’re gonna use the library as a babysitter, why don’t you drop your kid off, go work a part-time job and buy your very own LAPTOP to play games on!!!!!

I was 11 when my parents left me home alone in the summer, but that was because I got kicked out of the babysitting situation I was in. I was kind of a smartass, apparently, and the woman who was babysitting was kind of a jerk (Sharon Harter, thanks for nothing). And my mom was about 2 miles away AND called all the time AND was only gone a few hours a day.

These days I hear about kids as young as 8 or 9 being left at home all day in the summer or even for a few hours after school AND taking care of younger siblings. Dear God! Back in my day that would warrant a call to Child Protective Services, but apparently these days nobody gives a crap. I realize it’s not grounds for taking a child out of the home, and I wouldn’t want that anyway for a family, but can’t some alternate situation be found so kids aren’t potentially burning down the house or inviting pedophiles over?

At what age did you start leaving your kids home alone? If you aren’t quite there yet, what age do you plan to start? I’m thinking age 25 will work for my kids.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Powerless Sunday Nights

A couple of weeks ago our power went out on a Sunday night. Luckily, Aron was in the middle of building a fire … it was a cold, windy night. Dinner was in the oven, but he was going to have to finish it off in the fireplace.

At first we weren’t sure what to do. Our power never goes out. The baby had just crashed on me, so my butt was stuck to the couch. Aron (being all resourceful) and the kids got flashlights and lit candles.

This taught us a lesson in appreciation for what we have (electricity). We couldn’t watch TV or use the laptop or listen to music. Michael was wondering if we could flush the toilet.

I read to the kids and we talked. Unfortunately, the power came on after about an hour.

We plan to turn off the Circuit Breaker again some Sunday night! We’ll build a fire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows and read by candlelight and flashlight. And tell stories.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Apothe-Kerrie

I like to dole out vitamins to my family and myself.

The kids are easy because they have those gummy vitamins. When we can afford it, I get them each their own bottle (Princess, Spiderman and Cars).

I give Aron a one-a-day vitamin, but they were out of the men-specific formula, so I also supplement him with either a fish oil capsule or a magnesium for his heart (his dad had a heart attack a couple of years ago, so that’s one more thing to worry about with Aron). If he’s been late to work a lot, I give him a B-12 vitamin, hoping he’ll sleep well and hop out of bed on time in the mornings.

I’m trickier. I always take a prenatal vitamin because I’m always either pregnant or nursing (going on 8 years). I also take a flaxseed oil capsule. If I remember and I’ve eaten enough to be able to keep it down (I’m such a waif!), I try to take magnesium (I have my own heart issues), B-12 and a B Super Complex. I’m working on not depending so much on coffee for my energy (but I’ll always love you, coffee).

If everyone around us is sick, I dole out extra chewable Vitamin C.

I’m open to a Juice Plus rep contacting me for sure. It might make my life easier to have fewer bottles to keep track of.

Do you believe in vitamins? Some believe prenatal vitamins MAKE a woman have morning sickness, but I don’t buy it. I guess I don’t feel much different either way.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Interview: Victoria Solsberry, Author

This sounds so Wayne’s World, but I interviewed my dad’s cousin about her new book that’s out called “Adoption for Singles.” I can’t wait to read it! It’s no secret I have a soft spot for kids, and it’s so sad to me that there are so many of them without parents. If I could, I’d adopt them all myself!

Kerrie: What is your writing process?
Vicki: My writing process is probably the opposite of what they teach in writing programs around the country, because I'm a horrible editor! Once I put my thoughts into writing, it's very difficult for me to change those words, for some reason. So I do my research, all my reading, and then I think about it for days and weeks. Then I go to the library or a coffee shop armed with my laptop and snacks, and I crank it out, almost without stopping. For instance, I wrote the first chapter of my book in one afternoon at the library, with some scratch-outs and phrase rewrites, but when I was done, it was done. At that point I'm totally exhausted and need a glass of wine and dinner.

I've always been an all-at-once writer, even in high school and college. I think it's because I have ADHD and I'm unable to write in bits and pieces because I need to be totally immersed in that world for hours to make it all come together. So I've always prepared mentally, and then I've sat down and started writing with the whole outline in my head. I come up for air some time later with a more coherent and organized paper than I would if I wrote over the course of weeks. In the mental health field we call it "hyperfocus" and it works for me!

Kerrie: Did you keep your "day job" while writing?
Vicki: Absolutely. I had to to survive financially. So most of my writing was done on Saturdays because I'm too tired in the evening after a full day at work. I did do some of the research in the evenings -- for instance, the Appendix of all of the countries in the world and their policies on adopting to American singles (100+ pages) was done at night because I didn't really have to think! I was scanning for certain facts and when I found them, they went into a format that I had designed. I could even listen to the television when I was working on the directory!

One of the chapters of the book is a compilation of Questions and Answers from adoptive parents and adoption professionals I even got the Executive Director of The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which felt like quite a coup for me! After an initial telephone call, the chapter was written by email, where I would send questions and the interviewees would answer, and then I'd follow up. It was great because I didn't have to record interviews and the interviewees were able to edit their words and say exactly what they wanted to say. It saved me a ton of work!

Kerrie: How did the idea for this book come to you?
Vicki: In addition to my training as a clinical social worker, I've been trained as a life coach. Several years ago I decided to focus on singles, not so much for dating support, but for support in all of the other areas of a successful single person's life. I knew that I needed money to pursue setting up a web community and hit on the idea of writing a short -- 40 pages or so -- electronic book about adoption to sell to make money for the new venture. But when I started researching the topic, I found that it was much more complicated that I had imagined, and that the adoption world is big and ever-changing. Every time I sat down to think about it, I thought of a new area that I thought needed to be addressed, because they were issues that I would want to know about if I were adopting or thinking about adoption. So the 40-page book turned into the book that ate New York, and I had to limit it to 288 pages with free white papers that can be downloaded from the web site. That way it would be less expensive for me to publish, and yet the additional forms that I designed to help with the adoption process, and other information about agencies, etc., would come with the book. And the electronic version is just one way to buy the book -- along the way I decided to actually print it!

Although I initially decided to write the book to make some money, it soon became clear to me that there are millions of children out there who need a parent. Here in the U.S., 129,000 kids' parents have had their parental rights terminated, and are waiting for parents. And there are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone! So it has become a crusade of sorts because I became aware of all of the children who are suffering, and I also found out that you can adopt for free if you're fairly open to all kinds of kids.

Kerrie: How long did it take you to write?
Vicki: It took about a year and a half, not because I wrote for hours each week, but because life got in the way and sometimes I would go for several months without writing at all. If I had been able to stop working and do my research and writing every day, I think it would have take several months to finish. Then the production process has been about 6 months long -- finding someone to do the graphics on the cover I designed and to format the text and get it digitally ready for printing (www.Accurance.com), proofreading many times, publishing and getting the ISBN number, having the cover and copyright page redone to reflect the ISBN number and publishing date. And setting up the book's web site so that it can be sold. I've learned an enormous amount about the production process, and I think that it will be much faster next time because I won't make the same mistakes!

Kerrie: What is the release date, a Web site, any other publicity information?
Vicki: The book is out right now (yeah!!!) and for sale at www.adoptionforsinglesbook.com. The book is a little more expensive than standard trade size paperbacks that you would find in your bookstore because it is a Print-on-Demand book. For those of you who aren't familiar with that process, it means that when you self-publish, as I did, you don't need to sign a contract and buy thousands of dollars worth of books that you sell and distribute yourself. I used www.lulu.com , a POD company that prints each book as it is ordered, charges a commission on each sale, and then sends me the royalty that I have put on each book. They make no money unless you sell your book and charge nothing more than that 20% commission, so it's quite a deal! They also offer a Distribution Package and submit the book to Amazon and Barnes and Noble for sale on their web sites. I had to price the book higher than I would like because Amazon and Barnes and Noble make 50% right off the top when a book is sold on their web sites. So I priced the book at $29.95 because the price has to be the same across all sales venues, and because A and B&N take $14.98. Anything lower would have meant that I would have to pay people to buy the book!

But, I think that if I were considering adoption, as busy as I am, I would be willing to pay someone $30 to do all of the research for me.

Vicki, I quite agree! Adoption is such a scary thought to so many people that they need a resource to guide them through the process. And I’m sure many singles don’t even think they have a chance at adoption. If they would just realize that (1) they don’t have to be perfect to adopt, (2) they don’t have to be rich to adopt and (3) there are many ages of kids to adopt that are just sitting in the System … they could be on their way to a whole new life as Parent!

Thanks for writing this book! Blog readers: please forward this post to anyone you know who is looking at adoption!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Housewives of Orange County

Sometimes I’m not sure why I watch “The Housewives of Orange County.” I mean, for one thing, most of them are not even housewives. One of them works her ever-living butt off about 23 hours a day selling insurance (and if she keeps treating her husband the way she does, she'll soon be a Divorcee). One sells homes. One season one of the chicks wasn’t even a WIFE. THIS season one chick isn’t even a WIFE.

Wait, I guess this season we have more actual housewives who do what they’re supposed to do: spend money on $2,000 dresses and spoil the crap out of their kids and make sure their teenage daughters are dressed like hookers.

Let’s just call it “The Extremely Annoying Women of Orange County.”

And yes, I’m being judgmental. And no, I’m not jealous. I’ll take my kids over money and jewelry any day. They’re snuggly warm and a hell of a lot more entertaining.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Big Families and Santa Claus

(I promise I'll quit beating the dead Christmas horse after this post!)

Whew. I got all the Christmas presents wrapped by 6:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

This year we put a limit on the number of presents (5 for each kid, and Santa has no problem giving a used gift if it’s something the kid will enjoy) and I tried to keep the cost the same for each kid (except the baby, who wants for nothing, so she got some cheaper gifts).

My sister-in-law just puts out all the gifts from Santa the night before UNWRAPPED, which sounds brilliant to me, but my husband won’t go for it. Of course, they also have buttloads of gifts for their kids from THEM. I guess nobody wants their kid thinking they didn’t get them a gift, but I don’t personally do this.

In case you’re wondering where we hide all 20 presents plus stockings, I’ll tell you. This year the “stockings” were plastic lap trays from Michael’s with “pockets” on either side of the tray. I put stuff in the pockets, like crafts, gum, a huge Hershey’s chocolate bar (I am the Sugar Mama, after all), Hannah Montana lip gloss for Callie, a ball and bath toys for the baby, rubber stamps and other junk. I stacked the lap trays and hid them in a corner of the basement, then covered it with Aron’s sleeping bag.

The smaller wrapped toys fit nicely in the huge cooler. The rest we put in the emptied-out Christmas tree box (what will we do next year when we have a live tree???), mostly stackable box-type gifts. Then I closed the box and stood it on end, opening to the wall.

For those of you with large families, I’m dying to know how you do the Santa thing (or if you even do it at all).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Digiscrapping

This post is by Guest Postess Chris, who is one of my husband’s rockin’ cousins.

Digiscrapping is for those who would like to preserve their memories in a scrapbook-type style, but for whatever reason do not want to work with traditional paper supplies. I do not want to bag on my fellow sister scrapbookers who work in paper, but for me the advantages to digital scrapping are numerous:

1. No mess! You don't have to drag out your supplies and pack them back up when finished.

2. The only storage you need is on your hard drive.

3. It is goof proof. Don't like what you just did? Hit undo and start over.

4. You can reuse all your supplies over and over and over again. Recolor them. Alter them. Change the shape, size, orientation.

5. There are a ton of free digital supplies out there. Yep, you read it right. FREE!

6. You do not have to print out your pictures to add them to layouts. You just use them straight from your digital camera. You can also edit them in creative ways.

7. Because your final product is digital, it is easy to share with family and friends. No need to drag your huge album around to show people your work. Just e-mail it!!

8. You can be so much more creative with good editing software than you can with paper. There is no limitation to this medium.

9. There is an amazing group of women (and a few men) involved in this hobby, and they are right there on-line whenever you need them. No need to go to a crop.

10. Did I mention no mess?

I could go on, but I will rest my case and leave it to you to decide if you are a paper or digi gal! (Or maybe you are hybrid, but that is a whole 'nother post!)

If you are thinking digi might be your thing there are a few things that you need to be able to get into the game. Obviously you need a computer and a digital camera. You need some sort of basic photo editing-type software. A good one that is not terribly expensive is Photoshop Elements. It is the baby brother to the huge -- and expensive -- Photoshop program. But it has great functionality, and the learning curve is not terribly steep. If your budget is super tight, Paint.net and Gimp are both free. I have heard that Gimp is feature rich, but pretty complicated. Paint.net is supposed to be great!

Once you have all of the aforementioned in place you are almost ready to get started. All you need now is pictures to scrap and your supplies. Digi supplies are just like paper supplies, just in a digital format. Where do you get this stuff? Well, I am glad you asked. There are literally a gabillion digi scrapping sites out there anxious to sell you their stuff. Two of my favorites are Plaindigitalwrapper and Scrapbookgraphics. I am a Creative Team Member for both sites and can vouch that they sell quality stuff. However, since you are new to this, lets start with freebies!!!! The best place to go for freebies is Ikea Goddess. She combs tons of digi-scrapping blogs everyday and posts the best freebies she finds for you to download. So, go to her site, troll around and download some things that catch your eye.

Now that you have supplies and photos you are ready to start. Open up your editing program. Bring in a background paper and start placing all of the things on your paper that you would like. How this is done varies from program to program. If you have no idea how to use your program, Google it. There are tutorials out there to get you started.

Well, those are the very basics. I am going to leave you with just a few more links.

The hub of the digiscrap community is digishoptalk. There are amazing forums to answer any questions you might have. Another good idea is to browse through the gallery to see some amazing digi layouts in person.

Hummiesworld is specifically geared towards PSE users (Photoshop Elements), but she has some great general tutorials. This site is where I got my start, and I recommend it for beginners.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spaving Money

Have you ever spaved money?

Like when I went to a store and spent $100, but actually remembered my 20% off card. So I SAVED $20.

But then I took the kids to Arby’s for lunch and SPENT $20.

So I SPAVED money. I saved it only to be able to spend it on something else.

This concept drives my husband crazy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The First Years Sippy Cups

My splurge at Target last week: Hefty Zoo Pals Cups and Lids. You get 14 8-ounce cups for $2. They’re extremely disposable and kinda small for my crowd. Kinda flimsy (like a thin film of Styrofoam over paper). It’s hard to get lid on tight without two hands, which not all of us have all the time.

I think I’ll stick with The First Years “disposable” cups and lids, which are hard plastic, go in the dishwasher and hold 10 ounces. They are more expensive, but they last forever. Problem: you have to buy lids as often as your kid chews on them and ruins them, but they still aren’t a bad deal. I love these because I don’t have to also keep track of a rubber stopper like I have to with regular sippy cups.

AND The First Years cups hold soda without exploding or leaking (as long as your kid doesn’t BLOW into them, God help me, because then you have a true fountain drink on your hands).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Movie Review: P.S. I Love You

I realize that being a travel or work widow is different from being an actual widow, and I pray I don’t offend anyone by referring to myself as such. When Aron is out of town I am always praying that he return safely to us. When he’s at work all day, just a few minutes from our home, I am praying that he comes home in one piece. Every now and then I allow myself to consider what life would be like if we lost him. It’s a dark place.

I’d heard about P.S. I Love You (based on the book by Cecelia Ahern), but didn’t know what it was about. I’m glad I didn’t know, so I’m not going to tell YOU, either (even though I've already hinted at it). I hope you haven’t heard much about it and run to the Red Box or get on Netflix.com or Blockbuster.com and order it, based purely on my stunningly sly yet half-assed review.

The movie stars Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Harry Connick, Jr., Gina Gershon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny from Gray’s Anatomy!!! … Aron became suspect about the 10th time I sighed “Denny Duchette!”) and Kathy Bates.

Bottom line: I give this movie 8 ½ (I took a bite out of one to get this rating) Dove chocolate hearts out of 10.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Week Revisited … Day Seven

I’m spent, but there’s church to go to and laundry and diapers to wash and dishes that have piled up and a layer of crumbs and God-knows-what on every carpeted surface (especially in the kitchen) and a budget to update and writing that’s calling my name and a dining room table covered in crafty-type toys, like:

Martian Matter

Pixos Super Studio (which Santa spent $30 on and it turns out Michael loves the cheapo Perler beads better!!!

Wooden treasure chests to paint

Wooden Jeeps to paint and assemble

Stained glass kits

Color with Markers shading book and pens

And Callie’s favorite thing: her Hannah Montana guitar from Tutu and Dave.

See ya next Christmas!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas Week Revisited … Day Six

Today we went to Lowry City, Missouri to “do Christmas” with my mom’s family.

After dinner and gifts, I scrapbooked for about an hour while my Aunt Sam held Eva. Any Attachment Parent knows this kind of thing is a rarity when your kid is so used to sleeping on or with you all the time. It was nice to sit and work on my albums while I visited with my cousin.

On the way back we stopped in Belton for a potty-break. FYI: the Burger King in Belton does NOT have a baby-changing station and has VERY small bathrooms. I was tempted to change Eva on a table in the main dining area so I wouldn’t have to put her on the floor in the bathroom. I’m not a germophobe, but COME ON!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas Week Revisited … Day Five

Kansas City is the perfect place for a Gemini to live because the weather is just like us. Yesterday was freezing cold; today is 60 degrees and could easily be mistaken for spring.

Ran out ALONE (I always capitalize that because it’s a rarity, but I seem to do it more since I’ve had my 4th kid than any other time). I had to get Cousin Lindsay’s Border’s gift card since we’re celebrating Christmas over the weekend with my mom’s family. I waited until the last minute to make sure she had been nice instead of naughty.

Then I ran to Whole Foods for Hyland’s Teething Tablets, Veggie Straws and some Cream-on-Top yogurt.

Then my old friend Paul, who was in town from San Jose to visit his family, came for a short visit. I’ve known him since I was 16, and we dated off and on through the years. Lately we’ve become good friends via e-mail, so he came to meet my family. Aron is so sweet he even offered to take a picture of us:


Then Aron took the kids and their Tonka Bounce Back Racers to the park while Eva napped on me.

After it got dark, we put hot chocolate in a Thermos and drove around looking at Christmas lights FINALLY. The new thing is something Aron’s jealous of: a light show hooked up to a computer and broadcast to music over a radio station. If you haven’t check out 103rd and Metcalf at Christmastime, you have to in 2009. Park at the church on the west side of the street and rock out!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Week Revisited … Day Four (Christmas!)

CHRISTMAS DEFINITIONS
Christmas carnage: The aftermath of Christmas, which includes wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, hard plastic, soft plastic bags, wires, tape, cardboard boxes and toys strewn about the house.

Christmas caucus: When Aron and I get together FINALLY to discuss “the plan” for Christmas, e.g., how much to spend, how many gifts each kid gets, how much we will spend on each other (he ALWAYS goes over), what I’ll make for breakfast, what he’ll make for dinner and how many more kids we can handle before going crazy.

I am telling you there is nothing like a day spent taking 200 pictures to make you wanna scrapbook!

Today Mom and Dave came over for breakfast and to do Christmas at our house. We don’t do the “free-for-all” opening of the gifts ceremony; we all take turns nice and slow. Too slow, some might say, but who cares about them (sorry,Dave!)?

We started with stockings, then breakfast, then presents.


Eva got her hands on a chocolate bar:


I got my hands on a European facial and scalp massage (read: time away to relax for real!):


Michael made sure all his baby pandas slept with their Mommy:


And a nice reindeer family photo (headbands courtesy of Mom):

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Week Revisited … Wednesday

Christmas Eve.

Round 3 of gift wrapping. So they wouldn’t get suspicious, I told the kids Mommy was going crazy and needed some time alone in Daddy’s workshop.

Went to noradsanta.org to start tracking Santa’s route across the world.

8 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. Tresa asked me if we go to Midnight Mass. I asked her if she was off her meds (just kidding; Tresa is not medicated except for those natural stress-relief tabs). My saint of a mother-in-law may have dragged 5 kids to MM every year, but we are NOT the same caliber of woman. Besides, Midnight Mass at my church is in SPANISH. Not Latin, friends, but Spanish. I love me some Spanish, but not THAT much.

Once we got home, we tracked Santa some more on NORAD’s site until he was in Florida, then the kids freaked out and hurried to put out cookies, milk and notes for Santa. Then they raced to brush their teeth and get into bed. Aron read to them until they fell asleep while I knocked out the girls, then made sure he knew where all the gifts were located so he could put them under the tree.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas Turds

Found out today that Tresa got a PINK laptop for Christmas (early) from her husband and joked to her that I will have to be extra-friendly to her man now so maybe he’ll buy me the same NEXT Christmas. Informed my husband of this latest development so he’ll understand when I’m flirting with with his cousin's man.

Later in the day Callie says, out of the blue, “God! Do I have to do everything myself?” Wonder where she heard THAT one?

Went to see Santa at the mall. Based on the way 3 out of 4 of my kids look in their Santa photos, you’d think Santa was bringing them Christmas turds this year. Last year Aron snuck photos with our camera (they don’t let you take photos of your own kid with your own camera unless you buy a package – the cheapest being $16). This year we sucked it up and got some wallet pics to share with family.


In line for Santa, I spotted Motherhood Maternity and decided I’d LOVE to have a black nursing dress. I wear skirts sometimes, but haven’t worn a dress since Nixon was president. Aron told me he’s always okay with me buying clothes for myself. WOW. I’m heading to the nearest Dolce and Gabbana, Prada and Chanel stores tout de suite! No nursing dresses at Motherhood Maternity. Isn’t nursing a big part of motherhood for a lot of women?

Joel got to go on this huge set-up at the mall where he got harnessed in and kind of bungee-jumped up from a trampoline for $7 for a few minutes.

Later, I wrapped presents in what was hopefully a stealth manner. I put up a blanket over Aron’s workshop window and then locked myself in. Round 1 went well, but then I locked myself OUT OF the woodshop, for which there is NO KEY, so Aron had to break in. Round 2 was good, but unfinished. They all wanted to bug me, but I finally came up and told them I needed some alone time for my sanity and that I was down there praying.

Aron and kids made Christmas sugar cookies later, since he is so much more patient with the mixture of cooking and children than I am.

Topped off the night by Aron/Joel watching the movie “Prince Caspian” while Michael, Callie, Eva and I got drunk on Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream as we sat on the upstairs landing. Like Hannah Montana says, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.”

I say, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it choc.”

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crown Center, Fritz's and Crayola Cafe Christmas

Aron was supposed to be off work today but had to go in to work in the afternoon. We were supposed to go to Crown Center the week before at night, but – you guessed it – he also had to work every single night that week.

So we set off for Fritz’s restaurant at Crown Center. Your food comes to you via a little train! So cool! But once we got there, it was clear we would have to change our plans if Daddy was going to get to work. The line was at least a 45-minute wait (I’m a little annoyed as I write this, as I just discovered Aron deleted my precious pix of the HUGE line at Fritz’s).

We forgot it was the first day of Christmas break and that every good parent had taken the day off to take their kid to Fritz’s, not to mention all the tourists and out-of-town visitors. (Yes, smart-alleck people NOT from KC … we have tourists!!!).

Okay, so on to Plan B. I had Aron run up to see if Crayola CafĂ© had a line. He came back down and said no line. So we ate there … yummy! The kids didn’t whine, and I promised them we’d come back to Fritz’s in 2009. Here’s a pic, with the building where I used to work in the background (ah, soul-sucking Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations). That lady needs to get out of my shot.


Then on to see Santa and play leisurely at CrayolaLand (a big play area made up of huge plastic and rubber crayons).

No dice.

The line for THAT was about an hour or so, and the kids would only get ONCE around the obstacle course of CrayolaLand.

My kids are awesome. I told them anyone standing in that line was insane and they could play on the escalators instead and that we’d go see Santa at the mall close to our house sometime before Christmas. Then Aron bought us Sheridan’s, and we were good to go. Have you ever had a Sheridan’s mocha wowiechino??? Heaven.

Once home, Aron went to work and I took Joel to Ellen’s to play with her kids since he was dying for some social time. Later I hit the Red Box ALONE and got 5 movies and went to the grocery store for a few things. I forgot I could walk so fast through a store!

We usually go see Santa in early December. Last year we waited until Eva was born to go. This year lethargy set in. What can I say? We discovered the pool, Aron had to work a lot, we did lots of other fun things.

When do/did you go see Santa? Where? Gimme a link back to your blog in the Comments section if you have a photo or post to share.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

When Is the Santa Jig Up? Part Deux

More on the farce that is Santa.

I personally pretended to believe in him until I was about 13 years old, but I was an only child.

WRAPPING
A few years ago Joel noticed that Santa had wrapped presents in the same wrapping paper that Mommy and Daddy have. Crap! So I told him Santa sometimes has to wrap things when he gets to a kid’s house.

Now we TRY to have separate “Santa” paper from regular paper, but it gets confusing dealing with THAT while also trying to keep 4 kids fed, watered, alive, occupied, educated and clean (my mom will argue with me on the “clean” point).

We usually frantically wrap gifts the night before Christmas. It stinks. Or else I hand off duties to my husband and assume he knows what’s up even though he hasn’t been around. Poor guy. This year I got my crap together and snuck downstairs and wrapped stuff BEFORE the 24th … yeah, me!

How about some humorous stories or tips?

Friday, January 2, 2009

When Is the Santa Jig Up?

I live in fear of my kids finding out the real deal about Santa. I know a family who never did the Santa thing with their oldest kid, but now they ARE doing it with their 3-year-old. I know a man who told his son the real deal about Santa WITHOUT discussing it with his wife first! We’ve always tried to do the Santa thing, and it is exhausting.

SHOPPING
Ever try to shop for your kids when your husband is out of town or working all the time? I used to be able to sneak stuff in the cart under my coat, but Security always looked at me funny. Most of the time I have to run out with only a baby in tow while my mom looks after the kids. Without my mom, I swear there would be no Christmas at my house some years.

After Eva was born I had to go to Toys R Us … Sweet Baby Jesus!!! I took Callie because she was still attached to me and didn’t grasp the concept of Christmas yet, and I took Eva because she was nursing. Yeah, NURSING. As in, (make sure you get the visual on this one) I’m walking through the Toys R Us pushing Callie in a cart full of stuff, holding a list to make sure I get the right stuff, navigating through throngs of stupid people acting like they’ve never seen a damn toy before, and I’m NURSING the baby one-armed while trying not to show too much of my back fat (never mind my boob … back fat is way more embarrassing).

STORING
My house is not a mansion. And I have kids who love to play hide and seek. Whatever will fit on top of our commercial freezer in the basement gets stuck there. The rest … well, I’d have to refer you to my husband on that one because I don’t know.

Mom, where did you hide my gifts? And tell the nice people in Blog World about that concept of non-instant gratification called LAYAWAY!

Tomorrow we’ll discuss the wrapping of said gifts.

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