Cookies, Crafts, and Carols– Oh My!

Time: T-7days

The Contender: An on-the-mend wife of one, mother of two who just managed to get her Christmas tree up two days ago.

The Challenge: Coordinating a cookie decorating, holiday crafting, and Christmas caroling extravaganza with dozens of volunteers and children at a local homeless shelter.

My kids are still too young to appreciate the wonderful world of arts and crafts, so I can’t say that we’ve experimented with too many “kiddie” craft projects around my house. However, we all know that this big kid loves all things glue, scissors, baubles, and glitter. So naturally when I was asked to coordinate the pre-caroling craft stations, I happily volunteered for the job.

Care to help me choose a DIY for little fingers?

Paper Bag Reindeer Puppet

Handprint Holiday Wreath

Christmas Tree Ornament

Reindeer Hat

Which one do you like the best? I’ve got to say, I’d love it if a pack of wee ones came to my door singing Jingle Bells wearing handmade reindeer antlers. But maybe that’s just me.

Giddy up, Everybody!

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The White Man

We’ve been reviewing pedestrian traffic signals with Salem. When we walk to the corner, he instinctively asks if he can “push da button” indicating our need to cross the street. And then, we count the seconds until the orange hand gives way to the pedestrian crossing signal indicating it is safe to walk. There really is no other name appropriate to call it than “the White Man” as it is to a three-year-old clearly a man who is also white, therefore he is the White Man. Tell that to a group of inner-city middle schoolers who were boarding a bus outside of the Uptown library while my pre-Schooler shouted at the top of his lungs, “Mommy, where’s da White Man?!”

Offended crowd of Pre-teens. Blushing Mommy. Oblivious three-year-old.

It must be a Tuesday.

Christmas Casualty

You may soon be onwdering rto yourrself why in heavedns naem are thers so many typos in this blog post. Well, allow me to tell you why. Yesterdafy afterboon I attempted to force myself out of a head cold funk by getting into the holifay spirit. s so, while the little ones were safely seatef in thieir high chairs snacking on Ritz cravkers in the shape of nsowflakes and watching Disney’s EArth, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to work on my handwrittend  Chritmas cards. I found this adoratble free printable greeting card by Mufn INc. that I decided to adopt as our 2011 family holiday greeting. In my opinion, its cuter than anything I’ve seen available in stores. AND so, Genius MOmmy over here decided to pull out the self-healing mat, the rotary cutter, and the straight edge ruler in hopes of trimming my greeting cards to size and popping in tofay’s mail. Just as JAmes EArl Jones was delivering a riveting narration of the predator instincts of the male cheetah, it happened. I ran the rotary cutter right over my left index finger and let out a howl that Clark heard over a wailing guitar in a sound treated studio. =Me, Salem, and the cheetah are now all screaming. Clark is tearing apart the linen closet to find an appropriate towel to begin applying pressure to the wound while dialing our nurse friends becausre apparently we both skipped the day in health class whne they talked about what to do in the event one mistakenly runs over an appendage wtih a razor sharp quilting device. I’m still screaming. Salem is crying. Clark’s still dialing, and the gazelle is officially the heetash’s lunch. Thirty minutes later, I’m still bleeding and we’re on to the mating habits of mastodons when cClark says we need to see a doctor at which point, I start howling about co-pays and how we have free tickets to go see The Civil Wars that ngiht and how I don’t intend to miss the show… heellloooooo?! But husband knows best. We raced to see the doctor before the office closed. As I’m explaining to the nurse waht happened, I found muself actually hoping my wound would require a stitch because otherwise I’m convinced that they entire doctor’s office would likely start making cravcks among themselves about the Sissy Housewife with a papercut carrying on as though her arm was about to fall off. I felt like a complete moron. The docttr told me I didn’t need a stitch. Just a good cleanign and some sticky tape and a bandage that looks like an unwrapped tampon and “don’t get it wet for a week and oh yeah you need a tetanus shot”. It wsa all incredibly humiliating. The good news is, we made it home in time to wathc the killer whale leap in slow-mo and to make the Civil Wars’ show on time. Every time I applauded, my hand started to throb, so although I may not have looked like i was enjoying myself, the show was life-changimg. In fact, Clark and I have officially decided to quit making music after witnessing the divine brilliance of Joy Williams and her Johnny Dep-look-alike bandmate who mopped the floor with my heart and a Gibson hollow body.

Here’s to hoping your weekend holiday festivities are less painful than mine!

Mothers Speak: Not So Happy Helpers

There’s a perfectly good explanation for this…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I teach the children at my church on Sunday mornings. This particular apron was a recent prop used to “induct” pre-schoolers into the Happy Helpers Club, which is, as the title so aptly explains, a club that looks for ways to help others. We even had a cheer that was set to the tune of S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night. It was all very spiritual. {I tell my husband all the time that parents must be NUTS to leave impressionable young minds with me every Sunday, but I can assure them at the very least their kids will develop a healthy sense of humor.}

Anyway, last night I threw on the Happy Helpers Apron while I was making gourmet burgers, and I began doing that-thing-that-I-do-when-I-get-overwhelmed-and-I-have-a-lot-to-do thing that somebody should make pills for…. I tack on MORE STUFF TO DO. So while I’m handling raw meat, I’m also frosting cookies, trimming Christmas cards, picking up the play room, listening through songs and picking out vocal parts for a rehearsal scheduled to begin in one hour AT MY HOUSE, and fetching bits of mashed up blackberry stuck in the neck creases of my youngest child. Somewhere between Joy to the World and Mia’s 3rd chin, my gourmet burgers looked more like en flambe burgers. This marked the first Mommy Breakdown-While-Wearing-The-Happy-Helpers-Apron moment of the evening. With crusty spatula in hand, the words” I can’t DO it all” are still hanging from my lips, when Clark walks into the kitchen, takes one look at me and bursts out laughing. You would too if you had seen me in such a crazed state wearing an obnoxious smiley face on my chest. As soon as I settled down, we gave thanks for the Lord’s bountiful provision for the evening in the form of charred hockey pucks. No sooner than we cracked the last tooth, the band arrived at our house for rehearsal. By 9pm, Mia had misplaced the percussionists egg shaker and Salem was using my gingerbread oil reed diffusers as drumsticks and an unlit candle as a crash symbol. We concluded with a final round of O Come Let Us Adore Him when it occurs to me…I am still wearing the Happy Helpers Apron.  When the last musician finally left, I began making the 3o minute trek down the hall with little ones rather reluctant to go to bed. No sooner than Mia’s little head hit the pillow, she was asleep. Salem on the other hand needed water, Corduroy, prayers, a diaper change, and the Fear of God instilled in him if he even so much as thought about wandering out of his bed. While he is kicking the covers off of himself for the 3rd time, I hear myself say out loud, “Would you just lay your head on Bunny like a NORMAL KID?!” As you can imagine, this marked Clark’s second outburst of laughter in one evening as I am STILL wearing, you guessed it, the Happy Helpers Apron. Just as I am turning off the light and closing Salem’s bedroom door, I turn to enter the kitchen and I see the white grease on the skillet, the pink frosting on the countertops, the phonics magnets strewn across the floor, and the blackberries smeared on Mia’s high chair tray, and I start to cry.

I started CRY.ING!

What could be more emotionally disturbing than a grown woman crying in the middle of the kitchen over some dirty dishes and a few stray letter magnets? But I was done. Maxed. Tapped Out. On Empty.

AND I WAS STILL WEARING THE FRIGGIN’ HAPPY HELPERS APRON!!!!!!

Clark took one look at me and ordered me to go to bed. And when I say ordered, I mean he actually said, “If you don’t stop what you’re doing and go to bed, then no blogging for a week!” {That remark may very well have trumped my “lay-your-head-on-bunny-like-a-normal-kid” line.} So me and my tears and my Happy Helpers Apron went off to bed where I too hit the pillow and drifted off to sleep to the sound of Clark scrubbing and rinsing in my stead.

Clark always tells me that I don’t stop before I’ve completely depleted all of my emotional, physical, and “Nice Mommy” reserves and by that time it’s too late. Do you do the same thing? I recognize the warning signs of tiredness and tapped out-ness when they arise, but I plow through as though this time I might be able to beat the odds of an epic meltdown and accomplish just “one more thing”.How do you know when enough is enough? Do you let things wait until tomorrow or do you kill yourself trying to get them done today?

I think it’s a safe bet that I am hereby on probation with the Happy Helpers Club. And for the record… my kid is normal. His mother on the other hand…

Simple this Season

I have spent the better part of the afternoon addressing Christmas cards, frosting sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees and candy canes, and rehearsing Christmas tunes for a few upcoming holiday gatherings. And I must say, I feel great. I have felt the overwhelming need to keep things simple this holiday season. It is so easy to get stressed out this time of year, isn’t it? With all of the Christmas parties and shopping and wrapping and decorating…. and then there is the inevitable over-eating, over-spending, and relatives who over-stay their welcome. Most years I have at least one freak out moment where I want to just hide under the covers and tell Clark to wake me when it’s over. But not this year. I think I’ll stick with handwritten cards and homemade cookie tins. Maybe this year, I’ll be able to better savor the life and beauty the season brings and enjoy more moments like these…

Make a mess in the kitchen this holiday. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give to your friends and family is a grateful heart, a cheerful spirit and cookies…. lots and lots of cookies.

Cookie Cutter Christmas

Looking for some interesting holiday decor on the cheap? Me too!
How about stringing some cookie cutter garland with ribbon over a mantle or a countertop?

{Image via The Inspired Room}

Better yet, here are some fun cookie cutter craft ornaments…

{Image via Becky Shander}

{Image via Martha Stewart}

…a clever idea for old family photos, recycled holiday cards, or even sheet music!

Are you throwing a cookie party? Check out these free printable cookie cutter favor tags.
{image via Joy Ever After}

How are your holiday decorations shaping up so far? I have a sprig of mistletoe hung above a doorframe if that tells you anything. There may not be a lot of tree trimming happening currently, but at least there will be lots of smooching!

Hope this is a start to a great week!

Santa in London


{image via Pazeditions}

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear– Buddy the Elf.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Time Out Chair

image via Design Tripper

Talk about a functional statement piece. This Time Out chair by Ashley Longshore is exactly what my home needs {and if you come over at any time, chances are that you will find me sitting in it.}

Take time out today. Your family will thank you.

Trust me.