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I’m No Martha Stewart…

…but, I do consider myself a crafty gal. And I try my darnedest to make cute things for the kids that also keep them occupied, and figure there are many others who may feel the same way. Then again, maybe not.

My eldest had to decorate a shoebox for Valentine’s Day to use as a mailbox for school as a family project. They had about two weeks or so to do them, and, procrastinator that I am, combined with out-of-town husband, we started working on it the weekend before it was due (which was still a good four or five days in advance). As we bedazzled said box, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that her box was going to be the worst one (at age 4), because other people had already brought theirs in, and they had colored paper instead of white. I didn’t have enough of any non-Christmas paper left to cover this box, so I just used white packing paper to cover it for a base, so she could color, glue, and embellish to her heart’s (badum-bum) content. We had that thing covered with glitter, confetti (both put on contact paper then put on the box so we wouldn’t have it fall off and make a mess (for the teacher as much as for me…glitter multiplies like rabbits around here), paper flowers, foam cutouts, doilies, printouts, coloring…you name it, it was on there. Dad’s contribution was a picture of St. Valentine, which was like playing Where’s Waldo trying to find it among the other fancy-schmancy stuff. Though he was front and center.

She was so convinced that she needed more stuff (even on the bottom that no one would see), that she asked me to stick on a few more things she left out before bed the night before it was due. We’re talking a good four solid days of working on this thing. That’s how much stuff.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at school for their party to find that the other boxes had been wrapped in paper and, some, not all, with a few other doo-dads, but that was it. She still is convinced that her’s could have been better. Maybe we needed lights?

Color My World

This past week, the kids and I have been busy peeling the papers off crayons so we can melt them into hearts for Valentine’s Day cards for my oldest’s classmates.  The rest of the year, I find shreds of crayon paper all over the house, but give the green light to the two year old, and those things stay wrapped up like a tamale.

At any rate, the Valentines came out really cute, and they were super-easy and inexpensive, not to mention involved no candy. A bonus in my book…we still have Halloween candy (even good stuff) that keeps calling my name. And it’s rude to ignore that.

Homemade Valentine Heary Crayons

We separated the crayons by color family and put them in tin cans that were then melted double-boiler style on the stove. To make it easier to pour, I squeezed the top of each can to make a pour-spout, and used skewers as stir-sticks to make the color even and make sure there were no chunks.

The, I filled the cavities in a mini-heart candy mold, popped them in the freezer, and within a few minutes, they were completely cooled and I could tap them out and get the next batch in. I don’t need or want more than one of those molds, so this sped up the process, and it was just enough time to make sure the wax that had cooled could melt again. (A tip for freezing: Make sure the cavities are dry and have no condensation from the freezer, otherwise the next batch will have holes and need to be remelted. Not usually a problem, but if you see a drop of water in there, get rid of it!)

Then, I used some clipart that came with my computer to print the actual cards. I just used some four-to-a-sheet postcards that I have hanging around and popped them through the printer. The front of the card is two graphics, the big square with the floating hearts and whatever was in teh center of that, with the words, “Happy Valentine.” I blocked out the animal or whatever was there with some white shapes, found another piece of clipart that had a couple of kids hugging the Earth with a heart beneath it (coudl that have been more perfect?), and added “You Color My World” at the top. I also saved the top inch, give or take, of the card for a fold-over, so put some hearts and “From” upside down and printed them out.

On the back, I found some color blocks with hearts in the center, and just pasted it so it filled the whole side. Then, I got nervous that some kid was going to think they were candy, so I put a disclaimer, “Contents: Heart-Shaped Crayons,” at the bottom.

Then, the kids and I put different colors of the hearts in cellophane treat bags, folded them, stuck them in the folded card, and stapled. Easy-peasy.

They ended up really cute, kept us busy for a bit, and were only slightly more than the regular boxed cards. Heck, the mold was only $1 after the half-off coupon at Michael’s, and that’s reusable, I had the postcard sheets laying around, used pouches of broken crayons, and spent $1 on a bag of 100 small cellophane treat bags, and I still have 80 left. I can handle that.

SuPURGEatory

As any normal mother of young children will tell you, life is consumed by keeping the kids clean, fed, occupied, injury-free…you get the idea. Due to the nature of my day (and night) job, my bosses have had more clout on where we end up journeying when a new boss is added to the mix. It has become increasingly more difficult to just get up and go to places that are not child-centric now that I have three bosses.

The result? The kids are really well dressed, and I have found myself in need of some clothing since much of my time over the past several years I have not been my normal size, due to either pregnancy (all-over) or nursing (make room for the girls). Needless to say, I took a look at my wardrobe and some of the tops that were acceptable before children/ when I was a few years younger just don’t cut it anymore. Now I’m at the point where I like my shirts to fall a little lower than just over the top of my waistband, and don’t really want to flash a bit of belly when I reach for something.

Thankfully, I have not had any problems getting back to my normal size, but girlfriend needed some new tops, aside from the fact that I’m not a t-shirt and sweatpants girl. I own one pair of yoga pants, and even those only see the light of day when I am exercising or, very occasionally, tossing something on fast to bring my daughter to school in the early AM. Even then, I get changed once I return home. I always tell my husband that if I ever buy a pair of sweatpants, lounge pants, or anything velour to wear outside of the house or for not-PJs to just shoot me, because at that point I will officially be done. (I used to be asked why I was “slumming” in college on any day I wore jeans. That was before they really became trendy in a not-just-the-easiest-thing-to-put-on sort of way.)

Ahem, I digress.

So, I found myself looking through my closet at all of the things that I would probably never wear again, but I hate to throw things out, especially if I have even a glimmer of thought that I could wear it again. There was a skirt that I had held onto from high school days that came in handy just two years ago for part of the perfect Halloween costume, and my nieces have been able to get some new wardrobe pieces that have come into style again, so it’s not that far-fetched. And I hate having to buy something that I know I already have, so I find myself in what I’ll call, supurgeatory.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours solo last week, though, and scored some cute tops and skirts, promising myself that I would remove at least one item per thing I purchased from my closet. It was harder than I thought…just because of that whole could-I-possibly-wear-it-again thing (see above).

My husband and I cleared out a bunch of things a couple of years ago in a joint effort to clean house. We ended up donating 8 bags between the two of us, and knew we could have probably purged more, even then. Plus, I had the nieces over to “shop” through things before making any donations, so there was even more than that. I have to get on one of those bents again. Clothing? Gone. Shoes? Adios. (Though I do love, Love, LOVE me some shoes.)

Let’s see how it goes.

Murphy’s Law

This morning, I set my alarm extra early so I could cut up some apples for my oldest’s class since we were assigned to bring the snack today. Nine apples, a bag of carrots, and eighteen zip-loc bags…shouldn’t have taken more than about ten minutes. Silly me…

I set my alarm for 6:00am, knowing full well that I probably wouldn’t get a shower in before taking her to school at 7:45. My two-year-old gets up by 6:30 at the latest, so I figured half an hour shoudl be plenty. Off went the alarm, signaling me to scoot to the kitchen.

First things first. I have three cutting boards, two of which are plastic ones that can take a tri pthrough the dishwasher, and I couldn’t find either, despite knowing that one was just removed from the dishwasher and put away within the past two days. Since this was really bothering me, I kept looking for at least one of them for several minutes, until my son came down the stair sto greet me, not a second past 6:10. My older daughter following within minutes, and still no board, hence no cutting. At least I had washed the things by this point.

To my son’s room to change his bottom and dress him for the day, and get him to start his turn of brushing teeth. Then, to have my daughter start on her teeth, and get some clothes out for her. (Thank goodness she can completely dress herself.) Did I mention that the baby woke up and wanted to eat right after the other two woek up? Yeah, that happened, too, so I went to her room next, changed, dressed, and fed her, then put her back down so I could finish brushing teeth and get things ready for school.

Back to the kitchen to get the kids breakfast.  I finally found one of the boards, after asking my husband where they were stashed (not in the usual place, and one is still missing). Everything was bagged, drinks and paper products in a bag and out to the car (not to mention the important show-and-tell bag for the day), and finally I was ready to get myself somewhat presentable. Then the baby started crying.

Blowout city. Really, baby? You were already dressed for the day, and couldn’t hold that in for any more than fifteen minutes? And you rolled over so it was all squished up the front, and all over your sheets? Awesome. Oh, and while I was rinsing poop-clothes in the sink, my husband mentioned that he had to be in for an early meeting, so couldn’t be much help. (I will say he is usually very helpful, and I’m lucky that I am afforded the opportunity to stay home to raise our children. That being said, girlfriend still stays up way too late to put in a couple of hours for my own job each night, and needs a nap. Which the kids have not been taking at all this week.) 

Long story short (or as short as it’s going to get), I managed to get myself dressed, get everyone out the door, and make it to school with minutes to spare. We actually had to wait in the lot for them to open the doors, we were that early. How did that happen?!?

Out the Door

As [almost] any parent will attest (anybody catch the Tracy Gold Celebrity Wife Swap this past week? Never late, not even once? Really?), sometimes we just can’t get out the door when we planned. This morning was a good illustration of how that happens.

Sunday mornings are reserved for a usually leisurely breakfast, reading the paper, playtime, then getting ready to head out to Noon Mass. We live exactly one mile from Church, so it should be easy. Somehow, we are still scrambling to get out the door and in the pew before the bells start ringing, and we’re usually in the pew right as Mass starts, occasionally with even a few minutes to spare. This morning, though, left us a wee bit late.

My husband bathed the kids while I changed the baby, got her dressed, and picked out the older two’s clothing and my own. Then he showered and dressed while I took care of the other two, then I head to get ready. While I’m finishing up and we’re doing the everybody-head-downstairs-roundup, we tell the oldest to go to the potty, to find that the outfit that I had her put only not even 30 minutes before had been removed to make way for dress-up clothes. The result is never as simple as just getting the other clothes on, we have to find her regular clothes among the dress-up options, which is exactly why I had them stored on a high shelf for a couple of months until a friend came to play the other day.

While we’re headed into Church on this unseasonably warm day, I noticed, since her jacket was open, that her shirt was actually on backwards. It’s a cute little gymboree number with a “necklace” that attached to buttons, but the closure buttons from the back were on the front, and the necklace was backwards. That was help from dad. She wanted to hit the bathroom before we headed in to switch it, but we were already late, so I figured no one would notice.

Otherwise, things were pretty smooth. Until I picked up the baby and she pooped through. I guess that *technically* that was smooth, too.

At least we were not the last ones in. So there’s that.

The Final Countdown

I still have several gifts to purchase, and just received word that the main gift I ordered for my husband several weeks ago will likely not come until next week. What the what? I received a shipment notice early last week, so, logically, it shoudl be here already. I received the other item in my order over a week ago. Why bother ordering early? (okay, okay, so it wasn’t that early, but it was still single-digit December.) Needless to say, I have to hit the store tomorrow.

I wish it were as easy as it seemed for my daughter’s teacher. I made bracelets for her teacher and teacher’s assistant (and took pictures because I wouldn’t mind recreating them…I always say that the best gift to give someone is something you would like to keep for yourself (but, obviously, don’t), unless someone has their heart set on something that you find really repulsive. Another post, another day). We also made a frame for her teacher, which had crayons all around the border (and ended up really cute for a teacher gift, I think), and gave each of teh hall monitors a bag of hershey kisses (had the earlier incident occured, well, earlier, it would have been helpful. I have lots of LBS. of those things around the house now).

So..we head to my in-laws and a family friend’s house for Christmas Eve, meaning tomorrow, my day consists of the following [deep breath]:

1. Finish baking. Not just cookies — Lord knows that the nine or ten varieties I already have done are in no way enough — but cakes/pies/tarts…something else for desserts on Christmas day.
b. Help the kids decorate their gingerbread house. My daughter did a really good job on one when she was my son’s age, though she was also much more patient than he.
III. Shop for gifts (see above).
4. Finish my eldest’s Christmas stocking. It’s dangerously close, so much so that I could just put the back on and be done. But I don’t want to do that.
Oh, and maybe I shoudl work a little on the younger ones, just so there is something to tack to a regular stocking until I finish theirs.
E. Make a couple of presents, because I’ve thought of things to make, but not to purchase for some.
6. Wrap presents. I mean everything. Except for those that already went to my brother and his family. They were wrapped in teh wee hours before packing them up to ship.
7. Fix the start from our tree. It won’t light this year, and when I tried to open the door on it to get the lights out, the stand for it came off. Go figure.
H. Find something suitable to wear for Christmas Day. I will say that I’ve been back down to my regular size for a while following baby three, but my shape isn’t quite teh same as usual in all areas, and I wore the one dress I know fit me to a wedding about a month or so ago, and I keep forgetting to bring it to the cleaners. And I refuse to wear slacks (yes, slacks) on Christmas.
9. Clean my house. No, noone is being hosted here, except Big Red himself, but girlfriend just needs to vacuum and sweep. No breaks from the kids this week…none.
X. Sleep. I’m not very good at that lately. Well, I’m a champ at sleeeping, not so much with actually going to sleep. Hopefully that will change after Christmas.

Speaking of…off to bed. I have to rest up!

That’s HOW Much?!?

The children are all nestled snug in their beds (well, one may be reading) for a little nap after getting back from running some errands and coming home for lunch. Let’s just say mama could use a glass of vino.

Kids are kids, and it seems that the only place that they were on 100% don’t-touch-anything behavior was the one shop where there were no less than three screaming children having a fit on the floor. I felt so badly for the moms, and told one of them I just had the same sitation in the supermarket 5 minutes before…which makes me think the terrible two’s are accurate for boys, and the girls provide mental anguish later in life. I digress…

Fast-forward to Michaels, where they seemed to be fine until right before we got in line. Bags of Christmas candy in the aisle, candy on the counter…that place is littered with the stuff by the checkout. And it’s all at kid-level.

My two-year-old proceeds to say he wants a treat, runs and grabs a bag of Hershey Kisses, and tears it open before I can get to him. He didn’t get to any of the candy, but the bag was torn. (Peanut gallery passers-by chimed in with a much appreciated, “tell her you need it, not that you want it!”) Guilty conscience that I have, I head to the checkout and tell the lady I’ll pay for it (while he grabs one of those stinking eye-height truffles by the counter…which was already unwrapped by some other kid and put back. Luckily, the man behind me verified to the cashier that it was already open. Have I mentioned that several of the casiers at the local store are not very friendly? ‘Cause they’re not).

Now, it’s happened once or twice in my life — well before my children came along — that something has been broken or fell off of a precarious shelf when I was looking at something, I’ve brought it to the counter, let them know what happened, offer to pay, and am told that they just damage the item out of the system. Easy, since I’ve seen a LOT of damaged items left to rot on a sales floor. So, it’s not so much that I had to pay for the bag of candy, it was that:

1. She said, “well, what am I going to do with it?” With a little bit of ‘tude.
b. Apparently, Michael’s sells Hershey Kisses for $5.99/bag. Come again? $6 for the same bag I can get (and did) on sale for $1.50 before any coupons at CVS?

I’d have felt better about it if the response was even just a sorry about your luck, or even no comment at all. I already had them with me in line, just shocked at the price for the things. But clearly I was not in a mood for attitude on top of it with a baby in a stroller, a little girl who checked out before me who insisted on puchasing her own stickers for a chain letter she received (it was a cute letter, but we spent a lot of time carefully picking a pack that her little friend would especially like), and a little boy who was having hulk-like cravings for chocolate.

Anybody want Hershey Kisses, come to my house.  I have lots.

Getting Old(er)

My birthday was last week, and I think I’m not along when I say that I’m not the only one who has to sit and think for a minute when someone asks my age. I figure once someone’s married and has kids, keeping tabs on that sort of thing are the least of their worries.

My husband ratted me out to our 4-year-old and told her my actual age. A could of years ago, i asked how old she thought I was, and she told me 22. Last year on my birthday, she said, “you’re 23 now, right?” I didn’t want to discourage her addition skills, so I applauded how smart she was and said that was exactly correct…if I were 22 the year before. What’s a few years, give or take?

Fast -forward to last night, when I was watching A Chipmunk Christmas, the same one from when I was young, and mentioned to said 4-year-old that it was teh same one I watched when I was a little girl. Her response? “Oh, how is it still in color?”

Then she laughed.

Back in the Saddle

It only took about a week, but my internet is now up (hooray! Finally!). Nothing like having my connection down in the midst of trying to get Christmas gifts ordered last minute. Then again, I guess there’s nothing like waiting until the last minute, so… Either way, in the words of Gene Autry, I’m back in the saddle.

On tap for today: Cookies! [Hopefully] lots and lots of cookies. I made a few small batches over the weekend to bring to some distant relatives that I was meeting for the first time, so I made small batches, and they are out of the house. Well, except for a dozen or two I stashed in the freezer. I have a long way to go.

In other news, I’m sitting here and noticed my Christmas cards — also sitting. I still have time for those, right?

TGI(almost)F

So…I haven’t written in a while, and, even now, I’m on borrowed time. Literally.

My internet service has been down since Sunday, so I’m borrowing someone’s unsecured wi-fi from the neighborhood. Not sure who’s, but thanks! If it weren’t for the, albeit weak, signal, I would have been in quite a pickle, especially for my actual for-pay job. Which brings me to my next point.

Thanks, ISP!  That $60/month is really paying off, especially the uber-reliable fiber-optic connection, which has resulted in at least a half-dozen (conservatively speaking) service calls in the past year. I especially like sitting for days waiting for service to come fix it.  What about those who work in an office? I’d be even more ticked if I had to take several well-earned vacation days, just this week, to wait.  And wait.

So far, service went out Sunday, I called Monday and was told they didn’t need in the house but would call ahead if they did. Instead of missing an appointment for my kids, I went, and, naturally, someone came during that hour. Called my husband’s cell, not mine, which I left for the service ticket, so were long gone by the time I got home to let them in.  I called again that afternoon to set up for the next day, was told they would be here between noon and 5 (“because they go home at 6”), and…nothing. I had to pick my daughter up from school today, so imagine my surprise when there was a “sorry I missed you…please leave a cell # with customer service when you call back” note in my door when I got home.  Seriously?  It’s been five days now. And I left my cell number.  I have no other number to leave. And the company has done this before, but actually never showed up for several days, after several calls letting them know that noone has been showing up. And they don’t issue credits to the account. Fabulous!

The shame is that the repair guy(s) who routinely come to our house are very nice and helpful. The phone reps? Another issue, apparently.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Rant done.

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