Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas is Over For Another Year

Christmas went much better than expected this year.  There was less bickering, less fighting and definitely less tears.  We opened our presents, had a marvelous Christmas breakfast of waffles with blueberries and whip cream along with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon and headed off to "faraway" nana for more presents and Christmas dinner.  It was a lovely day only marred by a leak in our bathroom ceiling. 

Boxing day was a lovely day of relaxation and Monday was back to the business of sorting and putting away Christmas presents.  Fortunately, we cut back our spending this year, not only from a necessity but because our children truly do not need so much.  It doesn't make sense to buy them a ton of new toys when I'm constantly getting mad at them for not picking up their old ones. 

On top of the two presents Santa brought each of my 3 children, we bought them each a new quilt for their bed and one craft project.   Do you know what?  The kids never even noticed that there was less this year.  I think it's a good thing we cut back now so they get used to it.  It's a lot more difficult to make those sorts of changes when they get older and have been used to more.

I don't know why I've had such high expectations in Christmases past.  Somewhere down the road of childhood, it had been drilled into me that Christmas was a time of not only good will towards all men but also of good behaviour. 

Yet, why I wonder should I expect my children to behave any differently on Christmas Day than any other day of the year? After all, I have vague recollections of mouthing off to my mother and being sent to my room where in my resentment at being smacked, I packed up all my gifts and gave them back to her.  I also have one funny memory of singing Deck the Halls only when I was supposed to sing "Tis the Season to be Merry", I sung..Tis the Season to be Horny".  Of course I was only like 9 so I had no clue what that word meant but I sure figured out it was a no no fast from my mother's look. 

So I swore that this year I would not use vague threats of Santa not coming to get my children to behave.  Why turn Santa into the boogeyman?  However, when I got pooped out from trying to entertain the little monsters and tired of refereeing for the umpteenth time who sat in who's spot on the couch, I broke down and used Santa's good name in vain. 

Still, I wish I could learn to not sweat the small stuff and to some how respond to my children's bickering with a hell of a lot more grace.  More than once I've been reduced to a shrieking banshee to get my way. Not a lot unlike my 3 year old.

So if there is one thing I will be asking for in the New Year, it will be an extra measure of peace and a reign on my temper.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Sex?

Do you remember, you know before kids, when any sort of holiday usually meant celebrating it with a little nookie?  Christmas stockings were filled with all sorts of naughty goodness? ;) 

These days, we're lucky if we can stay awake enough to change into our jammies and slip between the sheets.  If it isn't hubby nodding off on the couch then it's me.  Then too, sex wasn't strictly regulated to the bedroom.  Four years of living with the in-laws will dampen your creativity. 

Sigh.  I miss those days.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas, 
and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Doings

My girls had their Christmas concerts last week at school.  I was very proud to learn that my girls had been learning to play the xylophone since Halloween and never once told me.  I was amazed at what the music teacher was able to do with a group of kindergarteners and indeed the whole school.  As much as I have been posting about my frustration with my children, it was nice to see that other side of them and experience some motherly pride. 

My eldest E, was dressed in her best and waited patiently for her class to sing.  She learned her lines and played her xylophone marvelously.  It amazed me because this was my girl who has trouble learning new things especially something that is so particular like playing the correct notes.  Not only did she learn a new instrument but she's learned several new songs in Choir, half of which are in Spanish.  She has done amazingly well and it's such a joy to see the growth she has achieved.   One lady actually stopped us in the hallway to compliment us on our daughter and the efforts that she had taken with her appearance for the concert.

My middle child, J, who is in kindergarten surprised me as well.  She is normally shy and retiring and generally refuses to talk to all strange adults.  It's taken some time for her to open up to her teacher and she even refused to participate in a recent school hearing test.  But there she was standing with her class in front of a whole gym full of parents and not only did she stand up and sing her... "Mary had a baby, Shout for Joy" but she did the actions and waved and smiled at us and was all around a delight.  She too got to play the xylophone and the whole class did it with so much charm and energy I am sure no one noticed any wrong notes or missed lyrics. 

I was also surprised to find myself a wee bit teary when I saw J sing but then I realized that this was her first concert and she's becoming such a big little girl.  She's no longer a baby but a little lady with her own identity, strengths and weaknesses.  E takes up so much energy that sometimes it's easy to overlook the fact that this second child of mine is developing her own personality.  Fortunately, she's learning that sometimes you need to push forward to get yourself heard. 

Even O got to do his own little xmas concert this morning at preschool.  Stage fright hit him at the last moment while I saved the day by agreeing to sit with him and his little friends on the carpet.  I got it all on video, mostly of him not singing but hey... he's only 3 1/2.  Still it was sweet to see my little man all dressed up in his best. 

It's the last day of school today and I am so glad.  It will be nice to not have to get up so early and make lunches.  Of course, I had to make myself even crazier by comitting to making chocolates for the girls to give their school chums for Christmas.  I haven't had the funds and didn't get around buy anything interesting for crafts or cards so I thought it'd be neat to make some chocolates.

While it's a simple task to melt chocolate and pour it into molds, it is a whole nother thing to have three children "help" you and then find out you can't find the other molds you had so you can only make six at a time.  And when each kid has twenty something in the class.. that takes a little time for the chocolates to set etc.  Before I knew it I was out running around last night looking for cellophane bags to put the chocolates in only to find out I should have gone to the store earlier because it closed.  I had to wrap everything in saran wrap and hope for the best.  Then I decided to switch gears and make chocolate covered marshmallows for J's class because I knew I didn't have time to make and set 20 chocolates.  So there was hubby and I melting, dipping and rolling marshmallowes at 10:00 at night and by the time we finished wrapping and tagging the other ones, we were more than ready for bed.  Then I had to get up first thing, makes tags and wrap and roll the marshmallows that had set over night.

This is where I tell myself that I will be more prepared next year and not leave everything to the last minute.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAaaaaa. 

On the other hand..... my girls were the only ones who gave out home made chocolates.  I bet there were moms out there that wanted to smack me. It's so nice to be on the other side for a change. (LOL)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Good Intention Goes Unpunished

As part of the goals I'm trying to achieve with my whole new Diabetes lifestyle, I'm trying to get more exercise.  My husband graciously rose to the occasion and with some heavy lifting, shifting, dismantling and reassembling, we managed to get our treadmill from the garage upstairs to our bedroom.  The idea being I'd be more likely to use it if I saw it. 

So I can't let all his hard work go to waste and since I've already shed several pounds (in thanks I am sure to the adverse side effects of my medication), I'm all the more eager to use it.  Until today.

My five year old was home sick having complained of a headache last night and a headache this morning and what appears to be a nasty sinus cold.  Of course, once the advil kicked in she perked up and was happily playing with her brother.  They had set up a game on the living room floor and I figured surely I could steal 10 minutes on the treadmill. I told them what I was doing and then reminded them that they were to behave and not do anything they weren't supposed to.

Eventually they came upstairs and I thought nothing of it... even when they closed the bedroom door.  You see they like to play house in the hallway landing and will close all the doors so it will be dark and then get out their flashlights.  No so today.  When I was done my time and did some cool down stretching, I walked into the hallway only to be greeted with stripes of black felt all across the carpet.  They led a path into each of their three bedrooms.  Aghast I turned only to see wild black felt scribblings all along the wall.  A quick glance downstairs showed me the offending felt marker lying on the floor. 

Well, you can imagine that I lost it.  My five year old daughter swore up and down that O did it all himself and that she told him to stop.  She didn't seem to get it that I was just in the room next door and she could easily have told me what was going on.  Going downstairs (after banishing the offenders to their rooms), I found more striped carpet on the stairs and could all but follow the line of felt markers all around my kitchen, living room and family room, picking up felts and caps along the way.

I will admit that I lost it.  Not only did each of them get a good swat on their butts and sent to their rooms, I broke down and cried.  Must be all the endorphins because I was furious.  They have been told and told and told.  I've tried yelling, I've tried talking firmly to O, I've made him wash walls, given time outs.  All markers have been banned from being upstairs even accidentally to avoid temptations.   Because the main culprit is generally O.  He just can't seem to get the message.  And J is just as bad.  I think she figures by O doing all the bad work, that she can live through him vicariously and so escape all responsibility.  So far it hasn't worked for her so I don't get why she persists in playing dumb.  Especially when as they started cleaning, there was ink mixed in with all the felt.  Guess who was the pen wielder?  Yup.  She still justified herself by saying that she only did a little bit. 

Now I know that O occasionally gets up to mischief while I'm busy or distracted but usually it's pretty harmless and usually it's when he's on his own.  My mistake was in thinking that because his sister was there, that it would be alright. 

Don't worry, I'm not about to let this stop my exercising. He will just be sitting in the rocking chair under close supervision in my room while I'm on the treadmill.   Poor hubby he came home to clean the carpets for me.

BTW I'm sorry but I didn't take any photos of the crime scene.  I was just too angry at the time to even think about blogging.  I figured I would strike while the iron was hot in getting the little monsters to wash the walls etc and ended up getting carried away in cleaning myself.  Imagine... getting carried away with cleaning.  sigh.

So the big question is... we were going to do Christmas cookies after school today.  Do I still do them?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Worst Birthday Party EVER!

Life has been so crazy this week that I haven't had much chance to post and funnily enough, I actually have enough fodder for several posts this week.

I will start today with J's birthday.  My middle child, J, turned 5 on December 2nd.  As her birthday fell on a week day, we took her to the movie Tangled for a special birthday treat and held her party on the Saturday.  BTW, I have to say Tangled was a GREAT movie.  We absolutely loved it. And the kids did too. ;)

Beef #1 : RSVPS.  Why do people not bother to take the time to let you know whether or not their child is coming?  Because it can go either way, you still have to do up goody bags for everyone that was invited.. just in case. 

Beef #2:  Arrive on time. We had one kid show up 20 minutes before hand and one kid show up 20 minutes late.  The late kid I knew was definitely coming so we were waiting for him.  Then you figure well if they're late maybe a non RSVP'd kid was going to be late too.  You just don't know.

Those are all minor hiccups though.  The real problems started when guest kid #1 saw guest kid #2 arriving and immediately started having a panic attack because guest kid #2 apparently isn't nice to them (these are all kids from the same class).  Crap.  So my oldest takes guest kid #1 upstairs to play away from #2.  I'm feeling sorry for kid #1 because I know #2 is pretty energetic and bouncy kind of kid and #1 was pretty sweet. 

However, I quickly learned that          Sweet = High Maintenance

It turned out that both kid #1 and kid #2 are control freaks, want everything their own way and that's why they are clashing all the time.  Only kid #1 is more sensitive and prone to break down and cry while #2 brushes it off.

Still the first half of the party goes pretty well except that kid #1 doesn't want to do anything except play the piano.  So J is complaining that #1 isn't playing with her.  Add to that my three year old, O.  His friend Josh had come to the party, he is almost 5 himself and went to preschool with J as well and is now going with O.  Josh is just about the cutest little boy on the planet.  O suddenly decides that whatever Josh is playing with O has to take away.


It was supposed to be a cupcake party but I forgot from last year... just how quickly the little munchkins can decorate and eat two cupcakes.  Kinda makes the hours I spent baking cupcakes, coloring icing and setting out pretty bowls with sprinkles etc seem like a waste of time.  I could just slopped everything on the table and told them to have at it.  The results would have been the same.

Then my oldest (7) E has to get into the picture.  She wants the kids to play her games.  None of the kids wnat to play her games.  So she starts to whine about how no one wants to play and she's sick of playing these baby games.  (the party has only been on for like 1/2 hour).  Then the entire time J was opening her presents I get to listen to E whine about how J's presents were better than what she got and how she never gets such nice presents or she really wanted a pink zhu zhu pet too.  THE ENTIRE TIME.  I'm not kidding, E got sent to her room twice, had daddy yelling and reading her the riot act while she was up there only to come down sulking and pouting.

Kid #1 is mad because everyone is being too noisy for us to hear her play the piano.  All the kids decide they have to rip open J's presents immediately and play tea party to which I become some sort of maid fetching them water and mopping up spills.  They then decided to dump skittles into their "tea" and when I finally call a halt to the game... kid #2 defies me by dumping all the skittle water from the tea cups  back into the tea pot so she can reserve it all and then proceeds to run around the house with a water filled tea potty dumping enough water on the floor that it is literally making puddles.  Kid #1 starts to cry and whine about wanting to go home but her dad was the only parent I forgot to get a phone number for. 

The two boys J invited were the best kids ever.  I am sure they were glad to go home and get away from our noisy chaotic home.  Hmm both those boys were only children...... a connection?  I'm just saying.

So the whole party was spent refereeing two kids from fighting, dealing with a grumpy E and trying to convince O that it was okay for Josh to play with the Dora chairs.

It was the longest two hours I have ever spent in my life.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oliver's Labels - A Review

Remember that talk about my kid's losing their lunch stuff? Well the same goes for their jackets.  By the end of September, I think I had made five trips to the lost and found bin at their school looking for jackets left on the playground.  Easy enough to do except when your kid owns the the jacket that was on sale at Wal-Mart and 25% of the school is wearing the same one.  So when I had an opportunity to review name labels for kids by Oliver's Labels, I jumped at the chance.

Fantasy

Sports Theme

Dinosaurs

Oliver's Labels provides durable name labels for kids.  Not just for clothing though, they run the gamut from mini-labels for things like pencils and sunglasses, to shoe labels, bag tags, safety wristbands and more.  The labels come in a variety of colours and design themes to choose from.  They even have allergy alert labels and Found-It Tracking System which provides a free-online lost-and-found.  If someone finds your item, they can go online at Oliver's Labels and enter in your unique code.  From there Oliver's Labels intermediates between you and the finder so that you never have to share your personal information.

Transportation
For my son, I chose the Transportation theme as he's into cars and trucks right now.  The labels all come on an easy-to-peel  sheet with instructions for their recommended use.  I certainly discovered that while the labels feel flimsy and light, they certainly were strong.  The clothing labels actually are bendable and fairly soft which is important so they don't cause chaffing on kid's sensitive skin.  I really liked these labels and found them to be bright and colourful .  O was certainly proud to have them in his clothes and couldn't wait to show his pre-school teacher the cool label in his coat. 
Even the shoe labels are designed with left and right foot shapes, making it easier for my 3 year old to put on his shoes properly.

Teachers really appreciate clothing and personal items being labelled.  In my children's school, the policy is if it has the child's full name on it, they will actually return it to that child's class.  Otherwise, it all ends up in the lost and found and unless you are at the school nagging them to go find their stuff, it often stays there until donated. 

I've used the original labels on snack boxes and while I hesitated to put it through the dishwasher, it went through with flying colours.  It's really helped keep my son focused on grabbing his belongings and found that things that had their names on it actually ended up in his lunch bag more often than not.  Go figure. 

As for pricing, it's actually pretty reasonable.  You can order individually or take advantage of one of their packages starting at $26.99.  You actually get a lot of labels for that price and I found a little goes a long way.  Oliver's Labels also offers free shipping on orders over $30.00.

I think it's definitely a worthwhile investment.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Not Easy Going Green

I, like most moms out there, am becoming increasingly concerned about the environment and my family's impact upon it.  It seems like everything out there comes in multiple packaged layers.  Cookies are no longer just in the bag, they have to be in a plastic tray covered with another layer of plastic film.  We can buy snack foods individually packaged for our so-called convenience (which are more expensive than their bulk version).   Even some breads come covered in a plastic film and then a bag. 

AND I am ashamed to admit that at first I was pretty much forced into recycling by the increasing laws and requirements of my community.  If you're around my age, perhaps you can relate to when "recycling" first started to really be promoted.  You know, back in the days when recycling was voluntary.  'What's the big deal?' my youthful self thought?  The old phrase "with maturity comes wisdom" springs to mind and I lament the fact that it is all too true.  I'm sad to say that my young and hip self couldn't be bothered to recycle because I lived in an apartment building and no one required us to separate our garbage. 

It's only gradually over the years that I've began to put more and more effort into recycling and again, I have to admit that it was really because I was being forced to.  If I didn't want my gargabe dumped on my lawn and a $250.00 fine, I better make sure I don't have any recycables in it.  Being forced to recycle actually forced me to become more aware and to somewhat quote Martha Stewart "That's a good thing."

Now, I am proud of how much I am able recycle and by how much we've reduced our garbage output.  I've realized that it's not just about recycling but it's also about reducing our consumables.  My husband has finally convinced me to buy the large tub of yoghurt instead of the individual serving cups, even though it's more convenient to simply hand out to my kids one cup at a time.  I always figured the extra expense was worth the convenience but being on a restricted budget really gave me some perspective.

So it was with some good intentions that I researched my lunch options for my children prior to the start of this school year.  I researched lunch systems, bento boxes, laptop lunches, enviro friendly lunch bags... you name it. Know what I discovered?  They're all damn expensive. 

Sure I know I'm supposedly going to save big bucks by making this one time investment but how can I really justify spending $40 or $50 on a lunch system PER KID?  I see a ton of great ideas out there by mompreneurs for re-usable snack sacks, cloth napkins etc.  How can a budget tight mom afford this stuff?  It's a lot easier to fork out $2.00 for 50 plastic baggies now and then than to try and justify to my husband why we should spend $7.00 (plus shipping) for ONE cloth snack bag.  Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea.  I just wish I could afford it.  It seems that being Green really is more for those hip and trendy people with disposable cash.

So what did I do?  I ended up buying the standard kid's licensed lunch kits instead and managed to find something similar to bento boxes at Wal-mart for $7.00 a set.  I bought the girls rubber maid watter bottles (they look like juice boxes), labelled everything and we were good to go. 

Or so I thought.  What ended up happening is three months of ... "Where's the lid to your sandwich case?", "Did you bring your water bottle home?", "Why not?".   "Where's your spoon?".   I went from having 4 water bottles to two.

My oldest child, I've given up on packing her lunch in the containers and have reverted to wrapping it loosely in a cloth snack wrap I bought years ago.  For some reason, that makes it home almost every time.  If it wasn't for a no juice policy at her school, I'd toss juice boxes into her lunch instead.  Her water bottle has been at school for a week now.  She's reassured me yes she's washing it out at school and putting fresh water into it.  Um yeah.  I really believe that she's not drinking stale water.  Fortunately, our tap water here is alright. 

So while I may have the best of intentions of trying to be more green, my kids really are doing their best to discourage me and I have to say .. they're doing a pretty darn good job.

How are you making going green successful at your house?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Top 5 Baby Toys For Christmas

Suzy is the editor of SureBaby.com, the ultimate guide on parenting and pregnancy symptoms. She loves to share her knowledge with fellow parenting experts, as she believes that sharing is the only way to make this world a better place.


5 Most Popular Baby Toys for the Holiday Season



Gifts to keep kids babies and toddlers happy
The holiday season is here, and the great toy scramble is on. While the trendiest dolls, trucks and electronics are great picks for many school-aged kids, there is a whole other arena of toys for the younger kids on your list. This year's popular toys for babies and toddlers feature some old stand-bys as well as some innovative designs to stimulate learning and interaction. Here are the top five baby toys for this holiday season, and why your baby or toddler will fall in love with them:

Best Baby Toys to Give this Year


1. Baby Einstein's Takealong Tunes. This incredibly compact and stimulating toy has topped many popular toy lists for a couple of years now, and that's no surprise. The Baby Einstein brand has made a name for itself with their adaptation of classical music combined with pleasant sights and colors, which has an impressive effect on baby comfort and development. The Takealong Tunes accessory will promote auditory development and keep your little one entertained with colorful lights that dance to the music, and at around $10 this engaging toy won't break your holiday budget.

2. Singamajigs from Fisher Price. If you're not a Fisher Price devotee yet, you just may become one after witnessing the newest musical addition to their family of baby toys. Appealing to kids of all ages, these brightly colored plush toys will spring to life at the touch of their tummies, offering energetic chatter or a song. Each of the 13 Singamajigs has its own personality and song to sing, and though one singamajig will make a lovely gift, they work best when you have a few to operate the harmony singing mode.

3. Fisher Price Brilliant Baby's First Blocks. Stacking blocks are timeless choices for babies and toddlers, and though the basic design has endured for centuries, some brands have taken blocks to the next level. These Fisher Price blocks are perfect for babies, with a variety of bright colors and large, curved shapes with matching holes to encourage comprehension and motor skills. The handle makes it easy to tote around and the durable plastic will ensure this block set lasts well beyond the holiday season.


4. Pillow Pets from Ontel Products. These are really just what the name implies – large, soft stuffed animals that are cleverly designed to flatten out like a pillow or pull together in the middle to resemble a traditional stuffed animal. With a wide range of animals to choose from and a super soft material to snuggle up against, these pillows are perfect for travel or to use within the house. Also, since they feature a Velcro closure you don't have to worry about parts falling off or protruding from the toy.


5. Dance Star Mickey from Fisher Price. One of the most popular toys for toddlers and young kids this season has a familiar face. Dance star Mickey is a mobile incarnation of the beloved cartoon figure, with modes that let him walk, talk and dance. A repertoire of several songs means that you won't have to listen to the same tune over and over, and the interactive nature of the toy will keep your child dancing and laughing for a while.