Monday, December 24, 2012

Dear Santa

Dear Santa, 

I know this is last-minute, but I'm sure you'll understand that I've been a bit busy lately, what with the working and baking and cleaning and shopping and wrapping.  But I have a feeling that you work well under pressure and last-minute demands. 

I've been a really good girl this year. I've hardly gotten into any trouble at all and I've done many good things. Remember when I listened for an hour to Brooklyn singing her made-up song that only contained the lyrics do be do be do? And this year I've done 748 loads of laundry. That alone has got to count for something, right? Maybe a new pair of jeans for myself? I not only washed, dried, and folded the laundry, but I got almost all of it sorted into the right piles for the kids. (Although it was pretty funny when Savannah tried to put on Jackson's jeans and thought she'd gained weight overnight.)


Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Top Ten Christmas Movies

One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching Christmas movies with my kids. There's just something about all those old classics that puts me in the Christmas spirit.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Need Last Minute Ideas?

1. LAUREN'S HOPE This medical id jewelry is gorgeous and functional! With such a huge variety of styles and colors, there's something to suit everyone's tastes. They're the perfect gift for anyone who has a medical condition like diabetes, asthma, allergies, etc. Use code "6PACK" at check out to save 10% now until December 31st!
(Starting around $12.00 and up.)
2. EOS LIP BALM These make great stocking stuffers! EOS (evolution of smooth) makes these lip balms in a variety of flavors like strawberry sorbet, sweet mint, and pomegranate raspberry. I love the packaging! The sphere shape makes them glide on beautifully. And you'll smile knowing they're 95% organic, 100% natural, paraben, petrolatum and phthalate free, and packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, soothing shea butter and jojoba oil. At retailers near you.
3. LANDS' END DOUBLE CANVAS WINE TOTE Order a few of these to have on hand because they make perfect hostess gifts. You can order these totes plain or have them monogrammed with whatever you'd like. After enjoying the bottles of wine (and really, who doesn't like wine?!), your hostess can reuse this sturdy tote again and again. Choose from red or navy trim and save $12 when you order four! Lands' End has fabulous lists of Christmas gifts to make it easy to shop for everyone on your list. Order by December 17th and you can still get guaranteed Christmas delivery with monogramming or gift boxing.
(Available at Lands' End for $25.00)

4. TIME for kids: THAT'S STRANGE BUT TRUE  My kids (especially the boys) love this hard cover book. Anything that talks about weird or bizarre facts is right up their alley. And when these oddities are accompanied by full color photos, that makes it even better! I'm forever hearing, "Mom, did you know . . .?" My kids could probably win a game of Jeopardy with all their random knowledge!
(Available at retailers like for less than $15.)

5. STICKYGRAM Turn your Instagram photos into cute magnets! It's super-easy to do! Just upload your favorite Instagram pics, choose which ones you wanted made into magnets, and voila! Instant fridge or locker decorations! These make great stocking stuffers and gifts for grandparents! Just click the Stickygram link to get started! If it's too late to ship, no problem! Order a gift certificate instead. Use code: FRIENDFJGX to receive $2.00 off your order!
($14.99 for a sheet of 9 with free international shipping.)
6. 4. WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY FOR XBOX So much fun for the whole family! Even my little kids like to play Wheel of Fortune and have fun guessing the words. Next family game night, ditch the board games and gather around the TV to play these interactive games! Just like the TV show (except you don't actually win any money, unfortunately.) Both games are available at retailers near you.
(Retails for about $30.00 each)
7. SAFETY TATS These should be in every parent's stocking on Christmas morning. They're such an awesome mom-invented way to keep your kids safe! Simply write your cell phone number (or other information) on the tattoos and place them on your small child's arm when you're at an amusement park, zoo, shopping mall, or other place where you could get separated. Safety Tats give you peace of mind when you're out and kids love to wear them too!
(Prices start at $9.00 a pack)
8. GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS    My kids love this hard cover book! And this year, the 2013 edition comes with a free download of an augmented reality app that lets you see records in amazing 3D.  There are about 4000 records with great photos and interesting facts throughout the book that will keep you entertained for the year. Or search the book for ideas on setting your own record!
(Find it at retailers like Target, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon for less than $20.)
9. BECAUSE I SAID SO & YOU'LL LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT Of course my books should be on everyone's Christmas list! You can't help but laugh with gems like these:
 • I was a little at a loss. I mean, those parenting books don’t tell you how to break up a fight over an imaginary friend.
• Moms aren’t allowed to get sick more than one day a year. Single moms aren’t allowed to get sick ever.
• Before you have children you can’t imagine yourself saying things like “Don’t put chocolate milk in your pants,” “Take the hot dog out of your nose,” or “Because I said so!”
If you’re a mom-to-be or a mom in the trenches, you’ll love knowing that you’re not the only one out there who sometimes just figures it out as you go along—and sometimes can’t figure it out at all. But in the end, Dawn has these words of encouragement just for you: “Enjoy this time. Even when they make you crazy, these are the best days of your life.” And they really are, aren’t they?
(Available on Amazon)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why you Should Never Play Dolls with your Brother

This weekend, my 6-year-old daughter pulled out the doll house and asked her 8-year-old brother if he'd play with her. He was perfectly willing to play dolls with her. A cool thing about having boys and girls is that we have a variety of toys with which the kids can play. Now and then, the boys like to check out the "girl toys" and now and then the girls like to check out the "boy toys". So, yesterday the kids were playing with this doll house while I was baking (and eavesdropping on them). Here's a transcript of the conversation they had while playing:

BROOKLYN: Here, Clay, you can be the dad and the boy. I’ll be the mom and the girl.

(Clay grabbed the dolls and held the boy upside down by his feet.)

BROOKLYN: No, Clay. You have to hold him this way. (demonstrating the proper doll-holding technique that’s inherent to little girls)

CLAYTON: (acquiescing to the proper doll-holding technique) Can the boy have super-powers?

BROOKLYN: (authoritative) No.

CLAYTON: (flying the boy around the family room) He can fly! He’ll save you from eeeeevil!

BROOKLYN: (annoyed) Clayton! You’re not playing right! They’re going to have breakfast now. (in the requisite high-pitched ‘doll voice’) Come here and sit down, honey.

CLAYTON: (obligingly sitting down) Can I have ice cream?

BROOKLYN:  No, you have to have a healthy breakfast.

CLAYTON: (making crazy gulping, chomping noises) I’m done! Now it’s time to go to work. (putting his doll into the bathtub and making engine revving noises) Get out of my way! I’m driving to work!

BROOKLYN: That’s not a car! It’s a bathtub, Clayton.

CLAYTON: No, it’s a car and it shoots bullets too. (holding shower head like a gun and aiming it at Brooklyn while making shooting noises like every boy is apparently born knowing how to make)

BROOKLYN: (giving him her best ‘I am not amused’ look) Stop shooting, Clayton. That is not a gun. You have to get ready to go to the dance. (in the ‘doll voice‘) Let’s get ready, honey. Pretend like you’re putting on fancy clothes.

CLAYTON: (firing off a few more rounds with his shower head gun while speeding around the house in his bathtub) Woo Hoo!

BROOKLYN:  Clayton!

CLAYTON:  Parkour, parkour! (taking the boy doll and making him jump off the roof)

BROOKLYN:  Clayton!

At this point, Clay took off with the doll, running through the house like a gibbon on crack, and Brooklyn fired him, replacing him with Lexi, who understands the concept of talking in a ‘doll voice’ and getting ready for dances instead of shooting people with a bathtub.

Christmas on a Budget

Christmas carols are playing, there's a nip in the air (well, except here in Florida where it still feels like summer), the scent of gingerbread and eggnog fills the air, and lights are twinkling on trees and houses everywhere. There's no denying that Christmas is in the air. But the tight budgets that many of us are on this year can put a real damper on Christmas spirit and cause a lot of stress, wondering how we're going to be able to shop with limited finances. I've compiled a few tips below to help take the stress out of holiday shopping and to stretch that holiday dollar just a little bit further.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Weebles, Sea Wees, Spirograph, & Other Hot Toys from the 70s & 80s

When I was looking through the Target catalog at the top 20 toys this season, I thought of the hot toys back when I was a kid. I tried explaining some of these to my own children, but they had a hard time understanding the concept of some of my old toys.

"Weebles? But what do they DO? They just wobble?"

"Yes!" I said excitedly. "But they don't fall down!"

sound of crickets


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why Increasing School Hours Won't Solve the Education Problem in America

Kids (and I bet a fair number of parents) in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee are groaning tonight. These five states will be adding another 300 hours to the school year in 2013. The reason? To make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level. Now I'm no expert, but I don't believe that adding another 300 hours is going to do much to help American students to compete with their Indian and Asian peers. I do, however, see how this is going to tick off a lot of teachers.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

An Interview with my Daughter About Christmas Joy

I awoke with a sense of doom. I grabbed my phone and checked the date. December 2. Whew! It was only a dream (or rather a nightmare). In my dream, it was Christmas morning and my kids were all disappointed because I had failed to buy presents for four of them. I had been waiting until I had money with which to shop and before I knew it, it was Christmas day. I ran around like crazy, trying to find a store so I could get my kids something, but no place was open. It was an awful feeling. After I got up, I decided I'd better get an idea of what my kids want for Christmas, so I asked Brooklyn. 

ME: Do you like Christmas? 

BROOKLYN: Yes! It’s my favorite. 

ME: What do you like about Christmas? 

BROOKLYN: Because Santa comes and brings presents. And everyone loves the Christmas joy. 

ME: What’s the Christmas joy? 

BROOKLYN: When everyone sings. Oh Christmas joy, oh Christmas joy, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock. And bring us fiddy pudding, bring us fiddy pudding or we won’t go home.


Surviving the School Year: Taking Care of Yourself

I wrote about some of my top tips for surviving the school year HERE. And when I checked out the Tyson Any'tizers Snacks School Year Survival Guide, I found a couple other tips to try. The Facebook page suggests making time for yourself. As parents, we tend to center our lives around our children (which, in my opinion, is how it should be), but now and then we need a little break. Doing something for ourselves is an important step that so many of us overlook. I know I do! The thing is - if you find a few minutes for yourself every day, it renews and rejuvenates you so that you can be at your best for your kids.

The Tyson page suggests making a list of your favorite activities and then doing them. In fact, most experts agree that parents need to make time for themselves and they suggest things like taking ballroom dancing lessons, scrapbooking, joining a gym and working out several times a week, etc. They're great ideas, but I know that (here in the real world) these things aren't always possible. For those of us living on a tight budget, joining a gym or signing up for lessons, for example, isn't feasible. But even though you may be limited on possibilities, you can still take time for yourself. Here are a few low-cost/free ideas.

1.  Create a dinner swap group. Get a group of friends together. Each of you cooks a dinner entree with sides that will feed however many people are in your group. For example, if you have 6 people in the group, you might make 6 lasagnas, while another person makes 6 batches of Swedish meatballs, and another person makes 6 pans of enchiladas, etc. Then once a month, get together and swap your dishes.. You can do this on whatever size scale works for you. The once a month (or once a week) get-together can be a fun outlet to break open a bottle of wine, pop some Any'tizer Chicken and Bacon Bruschetta in the oven, and enjoy the company of your friends. Meanwhile, you're only spending the money you would ordinarily be spending on feeding your family. Plus, you're gaining a variety of dinners that are easy to pop in the oven on a busy night!

2.  Instead of joining a gym, buy an exercise DVD and lock yourself in your room (so your kids can't laugh at your lack of coordination and groaning) and take half an hour to take care of yourself. Or recruit a friend or two to go for a walk with you after the kids are in bed.

3.  Escape into a good book. Take time to read. After helping your child with their ABCs, enjoy disappearing into a story of your own choosing. It's great to unwind with a couple chapters of a book that doesn't including green eggs or ham.

4.  Meet a friend for a cup of coffee or a drink. It doesn't take a lot of time or money, but it can be highly enjoyable to get together and talk and laugh and just unwind.

5.  Laugh! Go see a comedian, watch a funny DVD, or read a humorous story. Laughing is such a great way to forget about your problems and melt the stress away, even if only for a little while.

For more ideas on surviving the school year, check out Tyson Any'tizer page HERE. And add your own ideas!

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