Thursday, December 24, 2009
But I admit, at times, the girls have been bored. So we've done lots of arts & crafts. Lots of painting at the easel. Lots of cutting up magazines and making collages. Lots and lots of drawing. And finally, tired with the usual, Hazel told me she wanted to make a real craft project..."with glitter!"
I immediately turned to my email folder of Kids Craft Weekly, which if you don't subscribe to, you should. (We don't do crafts weekly like she does, but I save the emails so I always have them to turn to when I need help.) The latest had easy Christmas crafts, and yes, there was one with glitter. Bless the woman!
So we went down to the fridge and confiscated two sour cream lids (put the sour cream in a tupperware.) Also grabbed some food coloring. Came back up to the office and got out white glue, sequins, buttons, and GLITTER. We made some red glue and the girls painted it on the lids. We stuck buttons and sequins on and sprinkled with glitter galore. Let dry overnight. In the morning we punched a hole, made a yarn loop, and voila! Two more ornaments for the tree, and the need for glitter satisfied...for now.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
How Much Ribbon? I read an article on gift-wrapping in the newspaper a few weeks ago and finally learned the invaluable answer to this plaguing question. When you're wrapping a gift with the ribbon going around four sides and a big simple bow, you measure out 7 times the length of the box. I've used this trick all month and it works every time!!! For example, on a shirt box, I measure out about 4 times the long way and 3 times the short way. For a big square like this, I measure 7 times the length from halfway up one side, over the top, to halfway down the other side. Obviously it varies for different size/shapes, but 7 is the magic number!!!
Christmas Card Display Awesomeness - I saw something like this in a store in England last May and thought, That's the perfect way to display Christmas cards! I'll have to find it online and order some when I get home. An intense internet search ensued (just couldn't figure out the right search words!) and I was about to give up when I finally came across a review that led me to Photojojo and The Astounding Magnetic Photo Rope. Displays everything without tape; the wires just hang from a nail or tack; weighted bottom so they don't fly around. Super strong magnets hold even those multi-layered handmade cards. And the ropes couldn't be smaller or easier to store! Best Christmas investment I made this year (except the tree skirt below.) If you don't see your Christmas card in the picture, it's either because
2) You are LAME and haven't sent me one, or
3) I don't like you enough to hang it up.
David Archuleta's Christmas CD - It's called Christmas from the Heart and the cover is oh-so-cheesey. And I'm not an Idol fan at all. But I like to get at least one or two new Christmas albums each year and this looked promising from the reviews. Well we got it about a month and a half ago and it's all we've listened to that whole time. We all have our favorites - the girls like "Angels We Have Heard on High" for the Glooooooooooria part (and Hazel goes around the house singing it with the alternative melody he uses.) Me, I usually judge an album by the way they do "Oh Holy Night" and his is fabulous. He's also got a seriously peppy tune I'd never heard called "Pat-a-pan" and we all dance like fools to it in the car.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We stayed home, played in the snow, watched movies, baked like crazy, took naps, and had totally uninterrupted family time. Not a single errand was run in two days by anyone - now THAT is a new record!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I'll do my best to explain. The crawl space under the stairs in my parents' house is called The Box Place because that's where empty boxes of all sizes are tossed. Then at Christmas time we would all rummage around in there for boxes to wrap our gifts in. One year, maybe around the late 80's, someone found The Party Pots Box. My mom had gotten the Party Pots at a white elephant party once and promptly left the box - with the pots inside - in the Box Place.
The Party Pots was a set of clear glass dishes shaped to look like flower pots. One was large and had a metal ring that went around the top. A smaller pot hung on that ring, to create a chip-and-dip scenario for all your party needs. The box had pictures on all four sides, in 70's colors and film quality, of different ways you could use the pots. For example, potato chips and onion dip. Shrimp and cocktail sauce. Triscuits and some freaky dip with red dots in it. And of course you could always put flowers in them.
The box was super colorful, the pictures and really the whole idea ridiculous. But it was a great size and shape for wrapping all kinds of things in. So it got used over and over and over, year after year, and became a running joke and eventually a tradition. It was like winning a prize if you unwrapped a gift in it -
"Yay! The Party Pots!" everyone would exclaim. And that's how traditions get started.
After awhile the poor box - it was kind of flimsy - had been taped nearly to death and when we all moved away from home it fell out if circulation. As I wrote this post it was just killing me that I didn't have a picture, or closure, so I called my mom to see if she still had the box. Not only did she, but she knew exactly where it was. The next time I was over there, I took a picture.
I give you...the Party Pots box!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
My friend told me about a tradition she read on some blogs, and wants to start this year - that of collecting 25 great children's Christmas books, wrapping them, and opening one each night with her kids, like a book advent. I followed the links she mentioned, which then led to hours and hours of browsing on Amazon, of course.
So a few months ago I started to collect - I bought one or two a week. Sometimes hardcover, sometimes used, sometimes soft. I got many from used sellers and many on 4-for-3 deals. Reading reviews helped me narrow my list. Including the books I already had, I do have twenty-five or more, but I'm not doing the one-a-day thing. As I looked through the stacks critically, I pulled out the books I think are too long or mature for my kids. At 2 and 4 this year they can sit through and understand more complex stories than last year, but we still have to keep the pages turning at a steady clip. So that leaves us with about 15, which I probably will wrap and open one each night until they are all open; then we can spend the rest of the month enjoying and re-reading them.
So here's the list so far. I have a "Still To Get" list that I'll work on over the year, or the next few years since some are for older readers. And as always, I welcome and encourage you to share your favorite Christmas reads so we can all spend more money at Amazon.
My Very Favorites for Kids age 2-6
The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda (eventually we will probably have to get every Christmas book by him - gorgeous - but we're starting with this one - small pop-ups mean less likely to rip, and each is behind a "door" - fun for kids to open!)
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (kind of perfectly up my alley - baking and vocabulary combined in a children's book!)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
The Little Shepherd Girl by Juliann Henry (I love, love, love this book, especially as a mother of daughters)
Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson (one of the few on my list you can get with the 4-for-3 promo as a hardback)
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Night Tree by Eve Bunting (after reading this book, my sister in Vermont actually adopted this story as a family Christmas tradition - one of the best I've ever heard)
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
Others for age 2-6 that We Will Read This Year
B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet Board Book by Bob Harman
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (another one that is 4-for-3 eligible in hardback)
Fancy Nancy Spendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor (yes, I had to go there)
Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Jingle Bells by Isa Trapani
The Legend of the Poinsetta by Tomie dePaola
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki
Snowmen at Christmas by Carolyn Buehner
A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate
My Other Personal Favs from our Collection
Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John Updike and Edward Gorey (I just can't resist those cynical cold pricklies amongst all the sappy warm fuzzies of the other books!)
Good Ones I'm Saving Until They're a Little Older
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Tooney by Susan Wojciechowski
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers
The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
"Still To Get"
A Christmas Bell for Anya by Christ Stewart
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck
A Christmas Dress for Ellen by Thomas S. Monson
The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo
The Donkey's Dream by Barbar Berger
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans
The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes by Deborah Pace Rowley
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Dick Schneider
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Then 25 minutes of previews started, including 5 minutes of straight screaming during the trailer for another Rob Pattinson film. I almost screamed myself, I was so caught up in the mood, and that was only the first time.
Then there's a black screen pause. The title appears. Bella starts speaking. And we all enter two hours of total, unadulterated and unapologetic adolescent fantasy. The audience screamed. I reservedly clapped. My friend and I did a lot of elbow-nudging and shoulder-slapping. Girls in a swoon yelled, "I love you, Jacob!" Stick-in-the-mud moms, who made me ashamed to be one, yelled for people to shut up. If I'd been able to tear my eyes from the screen I would have rolled them at both.
Thank goodness the first movie, which was ok, was such a success, warranting a much bigger budget - and a new director - for the second, which was honestly, seriously, like SO GOOD! Better acting and directing, awesome special effects, excellent storytelling and frankly way better than the book, which I just read to get me from Twilight to Eclipse, not because I liked it. By the end, it even had my friend switching from Team Edward to Jacob, which I could understand but never do myself.
I am so totally going to see it a hundred more times! With any any anyone who wants to go. And then there will have to be a DVD release party. Love love love it! And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"Whatever. I'm not one of those 'Twilight' fans." (Even though I got pre-sale tickets to "New Moon" tomorrow night with some friends.)
"No, it's about women who love it but don't want it admit it. It's about you. Just read it."
On the front page? OK, I guess I can spare the time...
"'Twilight', the love that dare not speak its shame" is about older women (like older than 17) who got sucked into the black hole, loving and hating every minute of it. Wow. Very, very, embarrassingly accurate. Go read it if you care; maybe it applies to you, too. If not, here are a few choice quotes:
1)...they thought "Twilight" could not come for them. They were too literary. They didn't do vampires. They were feminists.
"Prior to 'Twilight,' my favorite books were by Anthony Burgess" and Ayn Rand, says Jenny West, 32, who had never heard of the series until she saw ads for the movie last year. "I bought 'Twilight' [the book] with the full intention of ripping it apart." Then she read it. In one night. Bought "New Moon" the next day. "I was kind of horrified with myself, and I had to keep going." When she finished the last book, she reopened the first one and started again.**************************************
2) One minute you're a functioning member of society, the next you're succumbing to the dark side, wondering how deep you're willing to go -- and what that longing says about you.*******************************
3) The women who have succumbed to "Twilight" have heard all of these arguments before. They wrote those arguments. This self-awareness is what makes the experience of loving "Twilight" a conflicting one, as if they had all been taught proper skin-care routines but chose instead to rub their faces with a big pizza every night.**************************************
4) Men feel perfectly comfortable slathering their chests in greasepaint and screaming like half-naked ninnies at football games, but women too often over-explain their passions, apologizing for being too girly or liking something too trashy.Yeah, ok, so I did resist for a long time, scorning the popularity and obvious pathetic-ness of it all. I did read all four books in a week, staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning and neglecting every adult responsibility in my life. And yes, I immediately went back and re-read books 1 and 4 when I was done, and then part of 1 again and then 'Midnight Sun' on Stephanie Meyer's blog. Yeah, ok, so I admit it made me feel 17 again, emotionally intense and alive.
The grown women of "Twilight" will no longer apologize. They will go to those midnight "New Moon" screenings.
But as for telling them how silly they're being, how Edward is not real and neither is Jacob, how their brains are rotting and their sense of reality is being distorted and this obsession is crazy, just crazy? There's really no need.They already know.**************************************
But since I'm grasping for things in my favor, I'm going to the 7pm Friday show, not the one on Thursday at midnight. I have not visited Forks, nor do I have immediate plans to. I own no 'Twilight' paraphenalia or clothing. I have joined no Twi-hard fan sites or blogs, much less started my own. And if our baby is a girl, neither Bella, Rosalie nor Renesmee will be in the name.
However, if it's a boy, and the middle name happens to be Edward, well that would be after his Dad, and not the books, wouldn't it?
Saturday, November 07, 2009
That's right, sports fans, we're switching to zone defense. Little Hickman #3 will be joining us around - or hopefully before - the end of April.
Which should explain an entire month of no blog posts in September and October, when any free moment I had was spent lying down, and the idea of sitting in front of the computer forming rational thoughts was abhorrent. The last two months are pretty much a blur of survival, fatigue, nausea, seltzer, and Blow-Pops but since I know so many others that have had it worse, that's all I'll say about that. Except that I've been going to bed early and only re-reading favorite books - I just can't spare the focus required to follow something new.
But crossing into the second trimester has cleared my mind a bit. Enough to enjoy food smells again - sometimes -, to think about the nursery and to start a baby registry on Amazon. You'd think by a third baby a family would have all they need. But you would be wrong, very wrong.
Around New Year's we can find out what kind of kiddo we've got in there. No question - I want to know what I'm dealing with, and do as much planning and preparing as possible before the little bundle of screaming disoriented nerves arrives, and the work starts all over again. Besides, finding out at the end if the ultrasound was actually correct is almost as surprising as not having one.
It's also never too early to think about names. If you know me well, you know that I consider naming one of the main reasons to have kids in the first place. If it's a girl, she's all set. I've got a couple of great ones that have been waiting in the wings for just the right time. If it's a boy, he's also all set. The Boy List has been whittled and honed with each pregnancy, and any of the top three or four contenders would make a boy - and his Mom - proud.
In the meantime, for the next few months it shall be known as...Superfly. I heard it in a song on the radio one night when I was having profound thoughts about the baby. I knew it would never pass a committee vote as an actual name, but gestational nicknames don't even go to vote, so it's set.
We told the girls the other morning and they already have their own ideas about names, needs, and how they will "help." I will have to do another post on the girls' names; they're awesome in a cute-but-we-would-never-actually-use-them way. Hazel has decided her job will be to hold the baby as much as possible, and Ginger would like to tickle it and put the bath toys in.
You can probably expect several pregnancy and baby related posts in the upcoming months; I've got a few composing themselves in the old noggin, but I promise not to obsess. Lots of other stuff going on, too, to write about. I just wanted to officially announce. And although I know as well or better than anyone how hard, uncomfortable, exhausting, inconvenient, and sometimes embarrassing pregnancy, birth and new babies can be, I am deeply thrilled in a way that is impossible to explain, to have another one. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
But the funny thing about night is that at the end is morning. And we have to get up. And it's cold. And it's especially cold in the bathroom. And even more so if you strip down, get in the shower, and get wet.
But some genius previously involved with our house, bless them forever, had the same problem, and installed heat lamps in all three of our full bathrooms. You know, the kind you find in hotels - you switch it on, it casts a high-energy yellow or orange hot light accompanied by a buzzing fan sound. And it heats up a closed bathroom quick like. It's not something you might expect, or require, in a house. And in these energy-efficient times, you may not ever go to the trouble and expense to have them installed.But every single morning this last week I have sent silent thank-you's out into the universe to whoever put those in our house. By the time I'm showered and dressed I'm almost too hot, and have to turn it off and cool off in the bedroom before drying my hair. It's a problem I'm all too happy to have.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I mean, obviously most people are thinking about gifts and who to get what, and how to budget the next few paychecks. Christmas card pictures must be ordered (or taken and ordered), letters written. Travel is arranged. Party invitations are starting to arrive. There are stocking stuffers to collect, meals to plan and packages to mail. Which is EXACTLY why I'm starting now. Because last year, despite best efforts, I woke December 26 a little disappointed. The Christmas season, and especially that week, had been a little too busy, and not meaningful enough for my taste. So I'm trying to pace myself - get a lot of the To-Do's done in November, keep the December calendar a little more open, and seek traditions to test drive. I'm a bit aimless in the traditions department, but I have an appreciation for their role, especially around Christmas, so I'm searching.
I've been playing Christmas music, and putting a few new CD's on my wish list. Collecting children's Christmas books like a bandit - that will have its own post soon. Planning gifts (on a spreadsheet, using a code for Ed's gifts in case he sees the list, but every time I can barely remember how to decipher the code myself - lame!) Got my gift wrap ordered from the school fundraiser.
I just remember last year thinking, "Note to self: the kids got too much stuff, and December was too hectic." So I'm making very, very sure to scale back on the kids' things this year. What do they really need? Not much. And maybe December will always feel hectic to The Mom, but if I go into it with more To-Do's checked off, and a better plan for celebration and relaxation, maybe I - and everyone - can get more out of it. Or maybe I'll have to start even earlier next year.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We picked it up yesterday and assembled it this morning. It was quite the cause for excitement around our house. The girls could be distracted by neither treat nor TV; they wanted to HELP. So Ed found an empty box (yes, we are still unpacking) and told them if they were going to be in our room, they had to stay in the box. The instructions came in both French and English so we gave them the French instructions and told them to supervise.When we'd gotten a little further along and were working on the corner feet and brackets, we let them out of the box. They brought in their plastic tools and worked on the styrofoam the bed had been packed in.
The assembly was quick and basically painless. It helped that the bed wasn't from IKEA. It's not quite the finished product yet - we still plan to get the headboard and nightstands, just on a different paycheck - but it feels like a new room. And I'm pretty sure tomorrow, when I only have to get up from a sitting position rather than a squat, I will feel like a new woman. Yes, we're getting there, bit by bit.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Last weekend, while Ed was off hunting in Colorado - successfully, I might add - the girls and I packed up and headed out to The Cabin for the weekend. Here's how a typical weekend at the cabin might go:
You arrive late Friday night. Bring in sleeping kids, tuck them in. Adults sit around in the living room drinking cocoa and catching up in quiet tones until someone (or everyone) starts to doze off. Go to bed. You might stay up late at this point, reading a favorite book and relishing in the fact that you have two whole days away from your house and all its chores.
Saturday morning Grandpa makes pancakes for breakfast - plenty for everyone and then some. You bundle up in warm jackets and go outside for the morning "chores" which consist of riding around the property in Grandma's supped up custom golf cart refilling bird feeders and bird baths.Then you might take some time to play in the new treehouse Grandpa and Uncle Dave built last summer. It's not exactly in a tree, but it is in the trees, and up high. Structurally sound to boot. Every grandchild to visit thinks s/he owns the treehouse, and has made good use of the pully bucket, speaking tube, spy glass and kid-size broom. My girls got in there and immediately claimed, "I'm so busy! I have a million chores to do!" These included sweeping the leaves out, and bringing up acorns in the bucket.
After the treehouse you might ride the golf cart up the gravel driveway to a location called "the beach" - a sandy area Grandma keeps stocked with weather-resistent hoo-haw from thrift stores like stone sandcastle statues and plastic dolphin knick knacks. After clearing the area of leaves, you might try to relax and not get bothered that your kids are getting covered in wet sand while they dig and play for awhile. You might go to your happy place and remember how magical childhood is or something like that.
After a busy morning you'll have a good lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips and yogurt. Then you'll take advantage of Grandma's big heart and sneak off for a nap at the same time as your 2-year-old. Your non-napper will have a great time doing drawing, stickers, reading books, and playing checkers with Grandma. After naps your kids will play downstairs with Grandma's collection of toys, mostly leftover from your own childhood, and they'll end up giggling and playing in the papasan that used to be in your room as a teenager.Before long, it's time to go outside again. Your kids will play "soccer" with a ball and cones. They'll swing in the hammock and pick flowers.
When they see you wandering off for a quiet walk in the perfect fall weather, they'll want to hold your hands and go with you, only to complain after three minutes that they're tired and want you to carry them back.
Grandma will make something FABULOUS for dinner, like a hearty stew that everyone gobbles up, and then Grandpa will go out back and build an impressive fire for sitting around, and later, for roasting marshmallows. You'll discover that your kids only like the idea of roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores, that in fact they prefer to eat plain marshmallows, chocolate pieces and graham crackers separately while walking on the log benches like balance beams and making up cute songs about camping. No matter, more s'mores for you, done just right with the chocolate getting melty on the graham cracker strategically placed on a stone near the fire while you roast your marshmallows to perfection. You might eat...more than one of these.
You'll stay up late again, reading your favorite book again, loving your little vacation and how happy and healthy your children seem out here.
Sunday morning is pretty straightforward - leave at 8:30 for church, a tiny congregation in the nearby town, and return around lunchtime. Eat lunch, more naps. Wake up and it's time to pack up again. Maybe one more romp to the treehouse; a quick trip to the beach to pick up the buckets and shovels left yesterday. Pack the car while Grandma and Grandpa close up the house - trash out, food put away, mice traps set, beds stripped, water shut off, etc.
Drive home to the chorus of, "When can we go back to the cabin???"