Thursday, December 31, 2009
I really don't do a lot for Christmas. I bought presents for 6 people - Todd, Ethan, Micah, my 2 SILs and my MIL. I got some gift cards for the lady who cleans our house and the babysitter we pay and our pastors, but that's it. Pam was wondering how I get by with only buying for 6 people. Well, first of all, Todd's siblings and I draw names, so that's 2 right there. We always buy for his mom because she's his mom and of course we're going to buy for each other and our kids. I'm an only child, my father is dead, and my mother and I are estranged. It's not such a happy story when it comes to my side of the family. So when people say Christmas is about being with your family, well, that kind of makes me feel like crap. I have to make sure I focus on my "real" family - Todd, Ethan, and Micah, and Todd's family, because they make me feel like I've always been a part of them.
I decorate, but not heavily. I don't bake (except 1 batch of no-bake cookies for MOPS) and the only cooking I did was a quiche for breakfast Christmas morning and a pecan pie for dessert that night. So Christmas is not about goodies and big dinners and parties and it sure ain't about snow and cold weather, because I live in Central Florida.
And has anyone ever noticed how many people get sick around Christmas? That kind of puts a damper on the whole "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" idea. Micah woke up Christmas morning with a fever of 101. And did I mention Ethan has a broken leg?
I enjoyed watching the boys open their gifts and I'm not going to lie, I enjoyed opening my own presents. But the shopping, the few days I went to stores and didn't do it online, the shopping made me feel kind of hollow inside. I don't want to just be a consumer!
We watched Christmas specials with our kids, Charlie Brown and The Grinch (we do not like The Grinch) and Dora and Rudolph and The Backyardigans and I think even the Wonder Pets had a Christmas special and it was all, "Christmas is about giving," and "Christmas is about Santa," and "Christmas is about helping others," and while those are all noble ideas, even the Santa one, I wanted to scream at the TV, "No, it's not! Christmas is about Jesus!"
I don't want to be a crazy religious person, giving up the tree because it was a pagan symbol and Santa because he's not real and the gifts because we have so much stuff we have nowhere to put it and there are people in the world who don't even have clean water. I don't want to be like that, really. I see the value in all those things. But I want something MORE out of Christmas. Or maybe, maybe what I want is less. Maybe all I want is to see the Christ child. So maybe I should, on the cusp of this New Year, make a (ugh, I can hardly say it) "resolution" to focus on Him every day, and not wait until Christmas to "make it all about Him." That's a lot of pressure for 1 day. And I need Him more than 1 day out of the year. Trust me, I need Him A LOT.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 28, 2008
On that note, a few years ago I decided to stop making resolutions. It worked for a while, but it's very un-perfectionist-like to not do something that everyone else is doing, so I took a different approach to the resolution issue. My new list of resolutions each year is made up of intentions that I should have no trouble keeping. It goes a little something like this:
1. This year I will not eat escargot.
2. This year I will not go bungee jumping or cliff diving.
3. This year I will not join an ice hockey team.
4. This year I will not run for president.
I should probably add "voluntarily" to the end of each of those, but I think you get the picture.
There you go--it's a no-fail list, and at the end of the year I can look back with pride and say, indeed, I kept all of my resolutions!
What about you? What's on your list this year?"
Monday, December 28, 2009
We still have to purchase and open our gifts, and I still have Christmas cards to mail! I even have a few more things I need to finish making! Alex is strung out from eating his weight in food additives and preservatives, and I am too shell-shocked to even decide when Santa should leave his gift for Alex.
Last year, we celebrated our Christmas on the Orthodox Christmas in January because we were traveling and that is when most Russians celebrate Christmas. That way we could incorporate some of Alex's Russian heritage. While that is a good plan, I am wondering if Alex is missing out on something by not being at his own home for Christmas...?
The only thing I know for sure is that I can NEVER celebrate Christmas like this again. Does anyone have good ideas for balancing Christmas with extended families who live out of town? I hope your Christmas was merry and bright no matter where you were, and I would love to hear your ideas - good or bad :)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.
The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes were placed outside churches used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
And I always thought that Boxing Day was a Day to get rid of your Christmas gift boxes... I was WAY off!
Here at my house the day after Christmas is a calm relaxing day. A day to stay in our PJ's and try out some of the new stuff we got. My Little King is playing with his new toys and pretty excited about them too. I got a couple of new books that I want to read, and a new sweater to wear! (There are few things better than new clothes- to me). We don't have to rush out anywhere or have a big agenda to follow. I LOVE Christmas morning (I am the one who gets us all up at 7AM to open gifts) I love the excitement, the anticipation, the family, food and fun... but it is nice to have an uneventful day the day after to recuperate!
What do you do on the Day After Christmas?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Paul just went out there to quiet them down...for the fifth time. He hasn't come back and it's been 10 minutes. I'm thinking he's probably camping out on the couch tonight.
If I were Rachel, I'd be writing myself a note for next Christmas: "Dear Donna, Regarding the Christmas campout...DON'T DO IT!"
Saturday, December 19, 2009
All you need is:
2 paper squares (One about 1/4" smaller than the other)
I thought about doing a picture tutorial but it is some times hard to see the folds so I made a video for you all! This box take less than 10 minutes to make (The video is 9 min... and that is with me showing you!) The video is not perfect (my phone rings half way through) but does a pretty good job of showing you how to make it, so here it is! I hope you enjoy!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
So many of our favorite DVD's are now unwatchable due to imperceptible (sometimes quite OBVIOUS) scratches. Are you really just supposed to keep rebuying these things? I've copied our music and audiobooks onto the computer (see my recent post Our Listening Library is "Ripped!"), but you can't do that with DVDs...can you?
We've tried the scratch repair kits which, for the most part, do NOT work. We don't usually allow our kids to handle the DVD's, but when KID 1 occassionally does, he's very careful. The disks still end up scratched.
I've seen these things called "D-Skins" on the market, but they're expensive. Has anyone tried them?
How do you keep your DVD movies scratch-free?
Monday, December 14, 2009
Alex first saw Santa after being in our country for only two weeks, and he was instantly drawn to him. We were still cocooning, and we weren't really supposed to let anyone else hold him, but Alex reached out for the kind old sole. We celebrate Santa, or more accurately stalk him each holiday season. As Alex grows, I hope to teach him that God gave us his greatest gift, Jesus, on Christmas Day. In that spirit, just as Santa gives gifts, we share our love with others by giving gifts for Christmas. I found a reprint of the infamous letter from dear little Virginia at http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/, and I thought you might enjoy reading it again today.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
The answer was written by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church, and was originally printed in the New York's Sun as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
A Car Roll - it is the same idea as a crayon roll but for toy cars. (**Note** I have seen other car rolls out there... this is MY version!)
1. Iron your fabric. Pick out which one you want to be the pocket, fold it in half and iron across the crease.
Here is what you will need:
3 - 13.5 X 7 inch rectangles of fabric. I used denim from a pair of old jeans, black flannel (for the road), and a car flannel
ribbon (yellow works great to be part of the road)
Sewing machine (with other sewing tools: scissors, thread, etc..)
Optional: Fusible fleece
2.) Optional: I also ironed on the fusible Fleece to the top of the back side of the black flannel. This was to give the "road" a little more stability and cushion. In the end the denim is pretty sturdy so I don't know if this is totally necessary!
Here is what the back looks like:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
It's as if my very efforts at making the season merry and bright are what sabotage the whole thing. How does that happen?
By January, I'm usually determined to become a recluse. I've been overstimulated throughout December with dinners, parties, service "opportunities," shopping malls, holiday events, and all the trappings of the season, originally conceived to get us in the "Christmas Spirit" in the first place.
This year, I'm pulling the brakes on this express train, lest it go barreling through all of my good intentions of happy holiday cheer. I really want to enjoy Christmas, rather than pass out from exhaustion on the big day, thankful that it's finally over (sound familiar?). This blessed season has so much to offer, but I'm learning to let go of some of the wonderful opportunities that present themselves in order to truly enjoy and appreciate a select few.
No more Christmas sabotage for me. Keeping focused on the Greatest Gift will be the greatest gift I can offer my family at Christmas.
How do you stay focused on the true "reason for the season?"
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I can't even say that without gagging. Last year, I made a huge mistake. I tried to be perfect. I tried to make Martha Stewart-complicated cookie recipes that required too many steps and strange ingredients, and I was out of the holiday mood before the end of the first week of Advent. I was so frustrated in January that I left myself a little note to remind me to keep it simple so that I could enjoy the season this time around instead of drowning in eggs and flour. My gift to you is a short list of ideas to impress others without driving yourself crazy.
1. Don't bake, embellish. The lovely morsels in the picture at the top of this article are actually Amaretti cookies that I purchased. I dipped them in chocolate, and they became yummier and prettier. Had I wanted to really impress, I could have sprinkled them with holiday sprinkles or slivered almonds. The Amaretti cookie company makes their cookies far better than I ever could, so why not let them do it? Besides, technically when I added the chocolate I created ownership in the cookies, so I think saying I made them is not completely false. ;) So, find a good dipping chocolate and some fancy cookies, and dip away! I won't tell if you won't!
2. People who bake from scratch are great, but I don't have time. I also don't want to wash too many dishes. When I was grocery shopping the other day I noticed the holiday baking aisle agrees with me--they have a mix for pretty much everything these days. Snowball cookies, peanut butter ball candy, every cookie imaginable...it's impressive. These great mixes are a sanity-saver when I really just have time to dump and stir, not measure. Once baked, I recommend going back to tip #1--embellish, embellish, embellish. This Thursday is our MOPS Cookie Swap meeting, and my plan is to make sugar cookies from a mix that I have, dip them in white chocolate, and sprinkle crushed candy canes on them. Sure beats the from scratch Black Forest Cookie fiasco of last year, they will probably taste much better, and it's going to cost a lot less, too. (Also, I am making the sugar cookies from a mix because I already have it. I would totally get refrigerated sugar cookie dough for this otherwise!)
Enjoy the season this year, and take it easy on yourself! Got any tips for me? The easier the better!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I'm pretty happy with my dollar store Advent calendar! Now those little boxes are just begging to be filled! Our dollar store had small bags of chocolate coins and wrapped Christmas chocolates that will be perfect treats, and I've already got my list of daily Advent activities written on slips of scrapbook paper to stuff into each box. We're having so much fun with our Advent countdown!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Here is what you will need:
Big chunky beads
Double sided tape
Wallet size photo (I printed mine on paper)
Twine or Ribbon
an Exacto Knife (not pictured... I tried my hole punch but it would not reach)
1.) Cut your cards in to 3X3 inch squares and group them by color. You need 6 squares for each ornament.
2.) On the back side of each square find mark the midpoint on each side (at 1.5 inches)
9.) Pull your twine up through your tube and through your top piece. Connect your top piece to the rest of the ornament.
I entered in a tutorial contest over at See Mommy Sew.
I entered my leg warmers, Monogram plate and Wine gift bag from my Fireflies and Jellybeans blog. So far, the leg warmers has the most votes (for me) so that is my best chance to win.
PLEASE vote for me... please please pretty please! Please support this Motley Mom! It would really mean a lot to me!
See all the tutorials HERE and vote Here
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I know, I know - you're squeamish. You don't like needles, you don't like hospitals, you don't like blood. But seriously, moms, don't we come in contact with a lot of stuff on a regular basis that makes us squeamish but we deal with it anyway? I am a major sissy when it comes to bodily fluids, and I can give blood.
It's totally safe. They only use the needles and other equipment once, so there's no chance of infection. You undergo a short medical screening to make sure donating blood won't be hazardous to your health. People who work at blood banks are usually phlebotomists who stick people all the time, so they are gentle and complications are rare. The worst complication is most likely fainting and that can usually be prevented by eating regular meals before you donate and hanging out for a few minutes after you give to get your sea legs back.
This is what will happen if you give blood: You'll answer some questions, fill out some paperwork, have your temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure checked. The phlebotomist will prick your finger and put a drop of your blood in a solution to see if it sinks quickly - if it does, you're not anemic and can give. If it floats (which usually happens to me), she'll put it in a centrifuge and then check it. Then, once you've been cleared, you'll sit in a reclining chair and the donation will begin. (I'm not going to go into great detail because of those of you who really are squeamish.) I'm not going to lie - it hurts to have a needle stuck in your arm. But it's temporary and not that bad. After a few minutes, she takes out the needle and holds pressure on your arm, then bandages it up. You drink a Coke, eat some cookies, get a free t-shirt, and go home. You might feel a little woozy, so keep activity light for the rest of the day and make sure you eat a good supper. I like to eat steak or another red meat to help replenish the iron I lost. Speaking of replenishing, your body starts to replenish your blood supply immediately. All fluids are replaced within 24 hours and red blood cells are back within 56 days. I've found that the more often I give (every 8 weeks - the limit), the less tired I feel afterward.
There's another reason why I give. My dad was religious about donating blood. His blood type was O-, which means he could give to anyone. He even had some special thing in his blood that allowed him to donate to fetuses. He gave gallons and gallons of blood throughout his life. So not only do I get a free Coke and t-shirt, I get to help people and honor my dad's memory.
This is my challenge to you this Christmas - give. Give money, give food, give toys, give clothes, and give away a part of yourself, a part you don't even really need - give a pint of blood. You never know when you might need someone else to give a pint to you.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Dec. 6th: A small gift awaits if you follow the clue - It rests in a place where you do, too! (Each gets a special ornament that represents them somehow...our 5-yr-old loves soccer and our 3-yr-old learned how to swing by herself. I found both ornaments at Hallmark, balked at the price, then paid it so I could be done...thanks for the advice, Liz!)
Dec. 7th: Make Pine Cone Ornaments: Spray with fake snow, dab with white, gold or silver paint, add glitter...there are lots of ways to dress up a pinecone!
Dec. 8th: Sing a Christmas carol for Daddy and Mommy tonight - be sure to practice together first!
Dec. 9th: Wrap up your presents for family
And gently place them under the tree.
Dec. 10th: Bake some special cookies to share with our neighbors. (We'll do something easy like these Molasses Crinkles)
Dec. 11th: Let's make a Christmas pizza with RED, WHITE, and GREEN toppings to share with Grammy! We'll watch a Christmas movie, too!
Dec. 12th: Disney decks it's hotels lavishly for Christmas. Let's go ride the monorail and enjoy the decorations...I bet we'll find hot chocolate at the Wilderness Lodge!
Dec. 13th: A brand new Christmas book for Ben and Emma to handle
Sits in a warm, cozy spot up on the _____________. (answer: mantle)
That's all I've got for now...I will plan the rest when we get a little closer to Christmas. As events pop up that I don't know about, I will just swap out that day's activity and replace it with the event (like on Dec. 12th...is that the day of the city Christmas parade?)
What sorts of activities do you do during Advent?