I'm stressed. There are less than 15 days until Christmas Eve and I'm totally stressed. I'm usually more ahead of the game by this point but who knows what happened this year.
Our tree is up and the decorations are done but it's not that. I'm stressed because we haven't gotten our shopping done. No Christmas presents, toys, gifts...HOW are there less than 15 days left and we're so far behind?
I know some people who are not only done with their shopping, but their gifts are actually wrapped and ready to go. uggggggg...I'm so far behind.
Christmas isn't about the presents or how much you give/get, but I still want the kids to be able to have what they've hoped for on Christmas morning.
I'm learning that it was easier when they were younger and the tree was surrounded with huge toys that were big and bulky for toddlers. Now...thirty dollars will get you a tiny little game for their Nintendo DS that barely looks like anything under the tree. It feels like we're spending more and getting less.
I need to get on the ball and start shopping. I think next year I'll start in September.
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I'm going to go eat some chocolate.
You have to love a man who is willing to stay home with the kids. You can't always predict what will happen, but it's guaranteed to be something. Take for instance a couple of years ago on a summer evening when I was at work.
"How much Tylenol is too much?"
"HOW MUCH TYLENOL IS TOO MUCH?!"
This what I heard through my phone. My husband Adam was done with his day so when he came home from work, we high-fived and switched out.
After spending the day with four monkeys, it's nice to go to work to be able to focus on one thing at a time. In the back of my mind though, Adam and the kids are always there...and we all know what kids are capable of. I don't care who you are, it's impossible to be in four different places at one time - and that's usually how the fun begins.
Hence...the phone call.
"Okay. What do you mean with the Tylenol?"
"I don't know. The kids were all downstairs and Preston went upstairs. I went up to get him and he was standing in our bathroom holding an empty bottle of Tylenol with a smile on his face. I smelled him and he smells like freaking grape candy."
"I'm on my way."
Flying out of work, a thousand thoughts gutted me. How much did he drink? How much time did we have? Would they pump his stomach?
Getting home, Adam had all four kids in their car seats ready to go. I jumped in and we flew to the E.R. He took the bottle with us to show the doctor. Turning the bottle, I found the 1-800 number and called it as Adam sped.
A cool voice responded to my panic. "Ma'am, even if he drank the entire bottle, it's not going to kill him. You said it was a small bottle right?"
"He'll be fine. He might be tired, but he'll be okay. You're not even sure how much he took?"
"No. He just smells like grapes and he's smiling."
Hearing her try not to laugh on the other end, the woman reassured us that it would be alright.
Slowing down a little, Adam shot a look towards me. "What do you want to do? Do you still want to go or is it safe to head home?"
Turning around, I looked at our slap happy son who was around four years old at the time.
"Preston, HOW much did you drink?"
"I don't know, but it was good."
We decided to call ahead to the E.R. and they said to monitor him and bring him with signs of vomiting, etc.
Heading home, it was one more unnecessary reminder of how crazy fast things can happen. Which brings me to last night...
I met up with the girls from work for our Christmas dinner and gift exchange. Getting a text from Adam, I looked down to read this.
"There's a bird in our house."
"A bird. It's in the Christmas tree now but it keeps flying around the house."
"I'll tell you when you get home. I'm still trying to get him out and the kids are running around like it's a monster. I gotta go."
Yes, you have to love a man who is willing to stay home with the kids. You can't always predict what will happen, but it's guaranteed to be something.
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Have you ever seen that kid? You know, the one who's covered in bruises and scrapes? I used to worry when I saw this...and then we had our daughter.
I know since she's the youngest with three big brothers, she's going to have a bump or two. It's more than that though. She looks like a street fighter half the time. If she's not wrestling around with them, she's chasing after them only to wipe out at full speed.
Growing up, my Dad had two nicknames for me - "Grace" and "Ricochet". "Grace" because I had none - and "Ricochet" because there wasn't a wall or a door that I couldn't bounce off of. I'm beginning to wonder if this could actually be genetic.
Just last night, Lauren was running to the table for dinner. She slid on the floor and landed face first on her chair. She was quiet for a second which is either a good thing, or a reeeeally bad thing. This time it was bad. Catching her breath, she looked up holding her forehead and exploded with a blood curdling scream. Scooping her up, I walked around the room with her, trying to coax her to pull her hands down.
As a parent, this is when you prepare yourself for what you're about to see. There's either going to be a little bit of redness, an immediate goose egg, or a whole lot of blood. Winner, winner chicken dinner - we got the gushing blood flow.
The three boys jumped up from the table and started screaming. This of course made Lauren Elizabeth scream and sob even harder out of fear.
It suddenly became the equivalent of trying to hold a cat over water as I fought to hang onto her to see the degree of injury while she struggled to get out of my arms to find a mirror. With blood running down her face, Lauren and the boys were freaking out, I was freaking out, all while trying to get her to sit still long enough to finally find a tiny little cut right in her eyebrow. How can one small cut produce so much blood? I think it's one of nature's jokes on parenthood.
Needless to say. She'll go to Preschool today with a busted eye, a scratch across her throat from a wrestling match with her six year old brother, her scrapes on her arms and legs from I don't even know what...walking and chewing gum maybe...and that's how she'll roll.
All I really want to do, is teach her to say, "What happens in fight club, stays in fight club". Adam doesn't think that's a good idea though.
I guess I'll just have to start calling her "Grace".
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Editor's note: This is from last year. It's one of my favorites.
The whistle blew. Four little noses pressed against the car window as the kids screamed..."Look at the TRAIN!" Adam and I gave each other a grin of excitement and gathered them in their pajamas to hurry out through the cold air.
Boarding the train, we were welcomed with the warm scent of hot chocolate and cookies. Tables were arranged with baskets of goodies and glowing candles. Taking their seats, the whistle blew again and we were off.
The Conductor appeared asking for tickets. Little eyes watched in awe as he punched away with his clicker. Music was playing as the rhythm of the smooth glide of the train started to become more familiar. It soothingly rocked back and forth as we passed trees and rivers under the moon lit night.
Waiters arrived and began to dance down the aisle with cups of hot chocolate. The cream was so thick on top - you could eat it with a spoon.
As little bellies began to fill with goodies and drink, it was time to read "The Polar Express". The train became quiet as the children followed with their books and the magical story came to life.
When the reading was over, the train slowed. A glow of lights appeared outside as everyone shuffled to the windows to see. Santa himself stood waving as little mouths dropped in amazement. He walked toward the train making everyone wonder if he would come on board.
Hearing the sound of the whistle, the train shifted directions and slowly started to push back the way we came. "Did we miss him? Will he know we're here?" Our five year old questioned. All eyes were to the front of the train car as suddenly, he appeared.
Santa greeted each child and took time to give them the first gift of Christmas - a shiny bell tied with a red ribbon. The train car filled with the song of bells ringing as the smiles and wonder filled the air.
All of the children sang Christmas Carols on the journey back as they each held their bells tightly.
Waking up this morning, it seemed like a dream. The kids held their bells making us wonder if they would ever let them go.
No matter when that might be, I hope they will always hear the sound that rings from within...and Believe in the magic of Christmas.
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He's back. The Elf on the Shelf sits and holds his knees, taunting me. I've read the book though - and I've got his number. I know that if anyone touches him, he'll loose his magic. Not that I would ever dream of crushing the souls of my children, but if I could....just one little touch...well, here are the reasons why.
He scares our four year old little girl - make that - terrifies. From the minute he showed up with his big maniacal grin, she began looking over her shoulder in fear that he would haunt her. The elf added a whole new element of nighttime insanity with simply getting her to stay in her bed. A thousand times a night now, we have to reassure her that he is NOT going to show up in her room while she sleeps. He's watching...always watching...
This brings me to the second reason. I'm sure for every other family, the fact that they have their very own personal Santa connection must work wonders. Children across America must be sitting and reading books, coloring pictures and doing devotions. In our house? Ummmm, no. For whatever reason, the elf makes all three of our boys crazy...like psycho crazy. They run around the house doing Ninja flips from couch to couch as if they have a new audience. As they giggle and laugh they yell, "Hey! Watch THIS!" then throw a football across the living room while our four year old daughter runs around frantically screaming, "Make him go away!"
This begins early. Ridiculously early. The third reason I would like to touch the elf is because we haven't slept past 6:00 in the morning since he arrived. This wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't already been up half the night with our little girl, so as you can see, Mr. Elf is giving it to us on both ends. Evidently from now until Christmas morning, we will no longer need the use of an alarm. Like clockwork, a massive herd of elephants burst through our house at o' dark thirty as the boys trample from room to room looking for him. Sure enough, when they find him, a series of maddening screams echo through the house, announcing his new location. At this point, with a pillow over my head, I would like to throw a steak knife at him...where ever he is.
That leads to the most obvious reason. Location. There's nothing worse than the maternal guilt that builds as facebook post after post of elves, happily sit in their baths of marshmallows or cheerfully zip line across the room. As I see the other lucky elves covered in flour or drinking hot chocolate, I depressingly gaze at our sad little elf who is lucky enough to even find a different place to hide each night. That's usually after we remember around 3:00 am that he needs to come "back".
The final reason that I wish I could touch the elf, is as simple as his name. If you've noticed, our elf doesn't have one. Well, he doesn't have one actually, he has four. Refusing to get four different elves, our kids had to decide on naming the one elf. This is a right of passage for the elf and the kids took giving his name very seriously. So much so...that they wouldn't budge on their personal choices. We have everything from "Elfie" to "Mashed Potatoes", to "Colin Kaepernick". Lauren Elizabeth's choice was of course, "He scares me".
So there you have it. I could be the only mom in the world who wishes she could touch the elf, but at least now you can understand why.
And after one more sleepless night of him, followed by another painfully early morning screamfest of, "MASHED POTATOES, ELFIE, COLIN KAEPERNICK, HE SCARES ME!!!" I might just snap and do it.
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I've been pretty surprised with the bombardment of ads for "Black Friday" shopping this year that now seems to have nothing to do with "Friday" at all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all about a deal. I've been known to stand in that endless line of people at 3:00 in the morning on Black Friday. I've felt the rush of excitement in the midst of the freezing cold with my hot chocolate in hand, just hoping to get that "Amazing Deal"...and I loved it.
The big difference was, Thanksgiving was over. The dishes were piled in the sink and the leftovers were in the fridge...rather than still sitting on the table.
It seems like there are so few days when families have the opportunity to be together...REALLY together without the rest of the world getting in the way. Now it seems as though one more day will be falling by the wayside.
I'm all for the blowout sale and I can't blame anyone for loving the thrill of the chase. This Thanksgiving though, when 5:00 rolls around, I plan on sitting around the table to enjoy what we have - instead of standing in a line in hopes of what we can get.
Thanksgiving - the Wonderful day when we reflect and give thanks. It's a day where family and friends gather to partake of food and fellowship.
Growing up in Ohio, we had many traditional dishes for this fabulous day of stretchy pants...but the one dessert I had never experienced...was sweet potato pie.
When I moved to North Carolina, I took a job as a therapist in home health. This gave me the opportunity to really get to know how people from NC lived.
In one of my favorite homes, there was a woman I lovingly called "Grandma". She was the heart and soul of her family - and man could she cook.
She often laughed and shook her head at me saying, "Shug, you ain't never gonna keep no man unless you know how to feed him right". It was her mission to teach me and she began with this...the best sweet potato pie recipe...ever.
Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie
3 Big Sweet Potatoes
1 Stick of Butter
1 teaspoon of Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons of All-Spice
1 1/2 teaspoons of Ginger
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
1 Small Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
Quarter the sweet potatoes and boil them until they're soft.
Run them under cold water to peel the skin off.
With an electric beater, blend them until they're smooth, then add butter, egg, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, ginger and vanilla.
Slowly add the milk until it reaches the right consistency of pancake/cake batter.
Spoon filling into pie shell.
Bake at 300* for 20 minutes.
Recipe for Pie Crust
3/4 Cup of Shortening (Crisco)
2 Cups of Flour
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of cold water
Mix until a soft ball forms, roll out and place in pie plate. It's good to prick the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork, then put it in the preheated 300* oven for a few minutes to brown just a little.
From our home to yours, Have a Happy (and Delicious) Thanksgiving! God Bless!
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I'm not exactly sure why places have their Christmas open houses before Thanksgiving arrives, but the kids didn't seem to mind...
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"I'm tired of Tinkies." Our four year old little girl announced over dinner.
"You're tired of what?"
"Baby girl, what are tinkies?"
"They're in my lunch. I don't like them."
Switching my gaze towards my husband Adam, he noticeably lowered in his seat with a guilty grin.
Raising my eyebrows, I had to ask, "What are tinkies?"
"Ummmm, I'm guessing...'Twinkies?"
"TWINKIES?! She's getting Twinkies in her preschool lunch? What else is she eating?"
"I don't know. The usual lunch stuff. You know...like...chips, fruit roll ups, a pack of cookies...stuff like that. I pack good things too like a sandwich!"
Dropping my jaw, I watched as the four kids began giggling around the dinner table. "That's why we love it when Daddy packs our lunch! He's Awesome!"
Shooting a look back at Adam, I shook my head. "Do you want to throw a nice cold pop in there to wash it all down?"
"Yeah Dad!!! Can we drink pop at school?!"
Adam shot back, "No guys. Nobody's drinking pop at school." Smiling at me he said, "That would be crazy."
This is where I should say that I have the most Amazing husband in the world. God love him for even packing four school lunches in the morning. I know this.
He takes care of Monday through Wednesday lunches and I take Thursday/Friday's. It's how our schedules fall into place with our jobs due to who has to leave the house earlier in the morning.
With that being said, it makes sense now when the kids groan at the end of each week when I pack their lunches. Heaven forbid I put carrots and grapes in there when they COULD be having a bag o' sugar in a sea of confectioner bliss.
I didn't understand their moans when I thought I was being wild by giving them a frozen gogurt. MY Mom used to pack tree bark and saw dust in my lunch. I swear I was the only third grader on Earth who had prunes in her lunchbox. PRUNES people. My best friends to this day can attest to this. (Tricia, I'm talking to you.)
All in all, I hope the kids are getting some nutritional value, but it looks like we might have to work on our school lunch food pyramid a little.
Here's to all the Dads out there who do their best everyday no matter what it takes...Tinkies and all.
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It's Out! IT'S OUT!!! Little Preston jumped into the car after school with a new hole peeking through his mouth. He's six years old and he's never lost a tooth. All of his friends have lost their teeth, his two big brothers have lost a TON of teeth...but no matter how long he's waited...there's been no toothy luck at all - that is - until now.
Tucking him in his bed that evening, Preston kept his tooth safely in the Ziploc bag that he got from school. His big brother Ethan showed him how to put it under his pillow as Preston hoped with all that he had for the Tooth Fairy to finally make a visit that night - just for him.
Before giving him a kiss, we asked, "So tell us how it happened. How did your tooth finally fall out?"
As he smiled a holey grin, he began to giggle. "I got really, really tired of waiting so I had my very best friend at school hit me in the mouth."
As long as I live, so help me. I will never understand the mind of a boy.
Congratulations Little Man. We're happy for your very first lost tooth...and for your very best friend who gave it to you.
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