Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How Lucky I am!

I know I have a wonderful life, and consider myself a lucky lady. I am married to a great husband and we have 2 amazing kids. Nothing new there.

However, on Christmas day I was struck by just how lucky I am that my kids are who they are. You see, we've made it a point NOT to spoil our kids with material things over the years. Believe me, they're  not deprived at all, or lacking in the toy department, but we try our best to keep it to a minimum. We set limits.

So when it came time to start talking about Christmas wish lists, here's what both girls came up with (for some reason they both wanted the same things).

  1. A sleeping Beauty baby doll
  2. A sleeping bag 
  3. Ear muffs.

That's it. Not a list as long as my arm full of toy after toy. In fact, that list only consists of ONE toy. They're 4 and 6, how can that be?!
Well, I must admit we got them all 3 things on their list, as well as some books, clothes, pajamas and slippers.
When we were done opening presents, my 4 year old said

"Santa was really listening. We got just what we wanted!"

And do you know what my 6 year old said to me today?

"Mom, we got SO MANY presents this year!".

This child got ONE toy and thinks she hit the jack pot. That makes me proud as a mom.

Look how happy Tia is when she realizes what's in the box
Nothing like a sleeping bag for movie time!
The much anticipated ear muffs

I view this as proof that you can have happy, well adjusted kids without showering them with thousands of dollars worth of gifts and gadgets.

Spoil your kids with hugs and kisses, and give them the gift of a college fund!

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Remembering Mema

Even though my Mom passed away more than 2 years ago, I'm proud to say that my kids still talk about her all the time. I make an effort to keep her memory alive in our house, especially around the holidays.

While decorating our Christmas tree, we used so many ornaments that were made by my Mom. We talked about her a lot that day.

Yesterday we made Christmas cookies and so many of our cookie cutters belonged to my Mom. I showed the girls all the ones that were Mema's, and they wanted to use them all.
My Mom had a pig cookie cutter, since at one time she collected pigs. We decided to make one piggy cookie in honor of Mema. We even colored it orange, her favorite color...

Once it was frosted it didn't look much like a pig any more, but we all know what it is and who it's for.

Since today is Christmas Eve, the girls got to see what kinds of goodies were waiting in their stockings. My Mom made those stockings by hand. She made one for everyone in our family. Each little bead and sequin was sewed on by her little arthritic hands. I make sure to tell the kids about all the hard work and love that went into making those stockings. They love them as much as I do.

We miss Mema every day, but her memory is still alive in our home.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What to do While Waiting for the Grandfolks to Arrive

Yesterday was a day of waiting for the grandparents to arrive. I knew there would be lots of questions like "how much longer" and "Are they coming NOW?". So I tackled the day with a plan.

In the morning we went to the library for a holiday music program. Then we headed to the gym, the kids to the play room, me to exercise.
After that we went out to lunch at the kids favorite restaurant which I think was a big mistake. Their cook went home sick and it took us 45 minutes to get pancakes. Then the questions went from "How long until they get here" to "Where is our food?". Oh the best laid plans!

Then the insane person in my head thought it would be a good idea to get some last minute grocery shopping done. Yeah, 2 kids in a busy grocery store. That was a great idea.

After all that and some much needed rest time (for me, not them), I pulled out the big guns.
I had picked up these giant gingerbread men at Trader Joe's and this was just the perfect occasion to keep them busy, making a big mess, while waiting...

Hard at work

so careful!

Tia's finished girl

Gia's finished boy
The kits were .99 each and I can say I think that was a well spent $2. It kept them busy for about an hour.
I'll have to keep this in mind for next time we're waiting for folks to arrive.

By the way, everyone arrived safely, and on time.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Christmas Pageant

Yesterday was the annual Christmas Pageant at Gia's preschool. There's nothing more precious than watching a room full of 4 year olds singing at the top of their lungs about the birth of baby Jesus.

I'm a little sad that this is the last year my kids will be able to do this. Next year it's on to public school where such things are no longer allowed.
For now though, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Before the show

Happy Birthday Dear Jesus!

A job well done

And for your viewing pleasure, here's a little clip of the show...


I hope you're all enjoying the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Fun

Every year we look forward to the Holiday Open House at our local library. It's so much fun for the kids. They have face painting, crafts, games, Santa is there, and best of all we all get free books!

A Wreath Please!

Tia chose to have hers on her hand

Gia's first time with Santa!

They're brave with each other
The girls both won lots of prizes including free meals at local restaurants. We'll be cashing those in over the Christmas break.
Santa's helpers gave each child a new, wrapped book which of course they love. Mommy and Daddy got to choose books too (ours weren't wrapped).

It was a fun night of wholesome family fun. We feel so fortunate to live in such a family friendly town. A great time was had by all!

Do you visit your local library?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trying to do Better

Yesterday I watched the documentary "Food Matters". My nephew recommended it a while ago and I just got around to it.
He was right, it was profound and definitely got me thinking.

If you haven't already seen it, I suggest you give it a shot. There's A LOT of information to digest, but most of it good, easy to understand basic stuff.

The main thing I took away from the documentary is how the cancer rates in the U.S. are so much higher than other nations. Think about it, we eat a lot of junk. I'm not just talking about fast food, but all the pre-packaged convenience foods that claim to be healthy but have a list of 40 ingredients you've never heard of. We put a lot of chemicals in our bodies every day.

We had already made some changes before I watched the documentary. For example, a couple years ago we made a decision for our family to get all the High Fructose Corn Syrup out of our diet at home. Once we started reading labels, we realized it's in just about everything. We did our home work and found brands we like, and now it's second nature to us. I know my kids will get corn syrup in their diet when they go places (parties, play dates, school, etc.) but we choose not to have it in our home. It was an easy transition for us.

How about going even further? Could I do better? I gave it a lot of thought last night and decided to do some shopping today, to see what changes I could make in our diets, especially for the kids.

It doesn't take more than a minute in the grocery store to see why people are reluctant to go organic. Organic food is expensive. VERY expensive. How can I justify paying $4/pound for grapes when I know I can get them for $1/pound? You know I'm cheap...REALLY cheap. So for me the shopping trip today was an agonizing experience.

However, here's what I did...

Tia takes apple sauce in her lunch every day. It's her favorite thing in the world to eat. I figured that was the best place to start. Although I always buy natural/no sugar added apple sauce, I decided to go a step further and give organic a try.

Do you know how much it killed me to pay the same price for this 4 pack that I normally pay for a 6 pack?! I'm trying real hard to think of the long term benefits of eliminating the chemicals in our food. (inhale...exhale).

And since we use a lot of apple sauce at home with dinner, and we use it to bake with (instead of oil), I had to get a jar...

The organic jar is half the size as the regular jar, but cost the same. Ugh! Deep breath. I can do this.

However, I have to tell you that when Gia tasted it she asked "Mom, did you make apple sauce today?". I told her no, I bought it at the grocery store just like always, and her response (as she was shoveling it in her mouth) was "Well, it's DELICIOUS!". I didn't taste it, I'm just taking her word for it. Looks like I'll be buying more.

So, what did I do about the grapes? Well, I just couldn't do it. If I paid $4 a pound for grapes, I'm sure I'd break out in some sort of hives. Have I mentioned that I'm cheap?

Instead, I bought the $1/pound grapes and washed them to death. I put them in a strainer in the sink and washed them about 4 times. In fact, every time I walked by the sink I'd spray them again and move them around. THEN, before I put them in the containers, I washed them AGAIN.
Now, I know the washing didn't do anything for the contaminated soil they were grown in, but at least I tried my best to get the pesticides off the skin.

Hey, you gotta' start somewhere, right?

Baby steps. This week it's apple sauce, maybe next week will be grapes.

How do you feed your kids?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Breakfast, Not With Santa

Our local school district puts on a big "Breakfast with Santa" event every year. I've heard from lots of friends that it's a great time, and I should bring the kids. I had to work but bought the tickets and had hubby bring them.

Well, let's just say they were excited to be there, just not about the big guy in the red suit. They're ages 4 1/2 and 6, and still afraid of Santa.

They did enjoy a muffin and a bunch of activities, and proclaimed a good time was had by all. Just no visit with Santa.

Ornament making

Face painting