Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New

So?  What do you think?  Do you like it?

Yes, I gave my blog a complete make-over.  I figured if I want to start the year off with a new start, that meant that my blog should also get a new start.

It's just about the opposite of what it was before.  I mean, the blue was calming and there was a picture of a chick doing yoga as the background.  It was nice... but I wanted something different.  So I went with bright, girly, and cute.

Girly and cute aren't usually in my vocabulary.  Whenever I feel fat, the last thing I feel is "girly".  I usually hide in a pair of sweats, a t-shirt, and a ball cap.  I grunt, sometimes use foul language, and weird "manly" noises erupt from me.  But I want to feel girly I will be reminded of that every day when I open up my blog.

The header I designed myself.  I like it.  I used the new My Memories Suite software I won from Renee at Renee's Ramblings.  It's the bomb diggaty.  I'm not a scrapbooker, but this software lets me make cute stuff like this header.  It's going to get lots of use, I'm sure.

You'll notice that the pages section also got a bit of cleaning out done.  I condensed, and now display the pages that I know will get the most use.  I've updated my goals for 2012 - and you'll notice a new tab:  Reward Jar.

Being that I've decided that I'm not setting up a deadline for when I lose the weight, or setting an a certain amount of weight I want to lose, I've created a new rewards system for myself.

It basically comes down to earning myself $2 for every 1lb I lose.  Each week, when I weigh in I will post the amount of weight I lost.  I will then add double the amount in to my rewards jar.  I also get bonuses for each time that I complete each of my weekly mini-goals.  If I work-out three times, I get a $5 bonus.  If I plan my meals each week and stick to them I get another $5 bonus.  I've set a goal of running two 5K races in 2012.  After I complete each of them, I get a $20 bonus.

The money is not to be touched until I've reached my weight loss goal of getting in to a size 12 pant.  I can then make the decision at that point to either take the money and buy a new wardrobe, or hang on to the money and keep trying for a smaller size.  It will be up to me.  I'll know if I'm happy enough in the size 12 to keep maintaining that size, or if I still want to try for something smaller.  Make sense?

You will also notice that my weight loss ticker has been started over.  I recorded the total amount of weight I lost in 2010 and 2011 - because I think 58lbs is still a big deal.  But, I want a completely fresh start this year - so I've updated my information at My Fitness Pal, and starting this year off with a clean slate.

I weighed in this morning, because I won't be here tomorrow morning to do it.  I was not happy with what I saw, but I know that I won't see that number for much longer.

My starting weight for 2012 is....


Yep.  That's pretty bad.  I know that.  There's nothing I can do about it now.  Take a good look at that number, because I don't plan on ever recording it as my weight EVER again!!

Alright, time to get myself in gear.  I'm going out to eat breakfast with the kids and my family.  Call it the last hoorah before the new year.  Wait.  That doesn't sound right.  I'm not going to stuff my face silly right before the new year...if that's what that implied.  It's just a New Year's Eve breakfast with family.  Then, tonight I'll be spending the night at my mom's.  I will be waking up to a new me...a me that's all ready to get started right now, this very second - but I will wait one more day.

Happy New Year to all of my faithful followers, and those of you that have just joined me!!

Till next time. ;)

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Goals, The Wills, and The Won'ts... No New Year is Right Without Them

It's definitely that time of year.  The time that the ornaments are all put away, the house is cleaned up from the disaster fun that hit on Christmas Day, and the thoughts of new year resolutions and goals start to poke out their heads.

It's apparent just by walking in to all of the retail stores.  No longer do you see the pretty Christmas displays, oh no, they are replaced with work-out DVDs, exercise equipment, and weight loss aids.  The stores cash in this time of's the one time of year you can find just about any weight loss accessory you've ever wanted. 

I, like many other people this time of year, are making a goal list.  Not a list of resolutions, because my goals are all related to the same thing:  Losing weight.  If you want to call that a resolution, fine, but everything that's coming with it are not resolutions.

I told you all yesterday that I plan on looking back at the girl I was last year.  The girl that lost over 60lbs.  The girl that went from a size 24 to a size 16.  The girl that put herself through a military style boot camp.  The girl that went from not being able to walk 15 minutes to a girl that ran two 5Ks.  The girl that I wasn't this year.  I also told you yesterday that even though this year has been a major flop in the weight loss department, I really needed the failure to make me realize how much I wanted to lose weight.  It also helped with creating the list of goals that I'm going to share with you now.  I learned a lot this year.  I learned a lot last year.  Now, I have the opportunity to put the two years together and mash them in to what will hopefully be the year that I fulfill my weight loss dreams.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2012:
  • I want to lose a significant amount of weight
  • I want to run two 5Ks - the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure in April and the Cancer Challenge in July or August (can't remember when it is)
  • I want to end the year in a size 12
That's it.  Those are the goals that I have for the year.  Of course, there's more to it than that... but those are the major goals I want to achieve in 2012.  You'll notice I said a significant amount of weight versus putting an actual number up there.  There's a reason for that, and I'll get to it here in a few.

In order to reach those goals there are things that I have to do.  I'm calling them The Wills. 
  • I will eat healthy
  • I will plan my meals each week
  • I will exercise regularly
  • I will learn to love strength training as much as I love cardio
  • I will reward myself for my efforts and successes
  • I will continue to blog daily about my successes and failures
  • I will be honest with myself and everyone I share my successes and failures with
That's it.  Again, pretty simple right?  Now it's time to discuss the Won'ts.  The things I refuse to do because I've learned my lesson and they just didn't work for me.  These may surprise you a little, but stay with me...I'll explain.
  • I will not set a goal amount of weight to lose
  • I will not count calories
  • I will not set any deadlines on my progress
  • I will not be participating in any online weight loss challenges
  • I will not be joining any gyms 
  • I will not make any excuses
  • I will not give up
Now that you've read my won'ts, are you a little confused?  Well, there are valid reasons I chose to list each one of these things. 

First, setting a goal weight is kind of setting myself up for failure.  Having a deadline or a certain amount to lose in a certain time frame causes stress - and then I start to feel like a failure if I don't reach that set goal.  I'd rather leave myself open, and bask in the successes - no matter how small they are. Second, I really don't have a set goal weight in mind anymore.  I'm not sure the exact weight in which I feel is best for me.  I don't know if I'll know when I get there - but having an open door makes a lot more sense.  Maybe I'll be happy when I get down to 150, maybe I'll be happy at 160, maybe I'll want more than that... I just don't know, and I'm not going to know until I start seeing the small progress.  Make sense?

The counting calories thing?  Well, if you've read my blog for a while - like over a year - you'll know that I have never liked counting calories or logging all of the food I've eaten.  Last year, I had the most success with planning my meals out in advance and sticking to that plan.  I planned based on a 1 protein: 2 carbs ratio that was introduced to me in boot camp.  I focused on portion control, and that worked for me.  As soon as I started logging all of my food and counting all of my calories, I started stressing....and I didn't like it.  Not happening this year.

In regards to the weight loss challenges and the gym....well, looking back on my history with both of those things I realized that they caused more harm than good.  No offense to the challenges, I loved participating - but it kind of works hand in hand with the deadline pressure.  Pretty much every online challenge I've participated in, I noticed that I finish weighing the same or more than when I first started.  Not sure why, but it's a trend I don't want to get wrapped up in for 2012.  If I'm participating in a challenge, I'm in a competition to lose the weight - and I don't want to feel that pressure.  The gym memberships were always great, at first, but then they fizzled out - and I wasted money.  Being that I have to be very thrifty with my money this year, I'm going to stick to the vast amount of work-out equipment I have at my disposal in my house and on the streets around me.

Lastly, the excuses.  Boy, have I had my share of excuses this year.  The number one excuse going to not being able to find a teaching job this year.  Well, boo freakin' who. This next year, win or fail at finding a full time teaching job:  I'm not letting it be an excuse.  Instead, I'm going to try and channel some of the anxiety that job hunting brings and take it to the track.  If my memory serves me correctly, I got through the toughest and hardest part of school by releasing my stress while running....that's what I should have been doing this year, but I didn't.  No more excuses for me.  It's either put up or shut up...and you know I won't be shutting up any time soon.  That leads to the not giving up.  If I can still have the willpower to try again this next year after the awful year I had this year, then I know I can do it.  I just know it.

Alright, so there you have it.... the goals for 2012.  I have to admit, it's kind of psyching me up and getting me ready.  Just two more days. 
Till next time. ;)
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The One Situation Where Want is More Important than Need

We're just a few days away from 2012.  The year that I want to make a difference, get back on the weight loss rollercoaster, and drop all of the weight I've gained this year and then some.

I've been told it's called a resolution.  But I don't like to call it a resolution, because from my experience resolutions are made to be broken.  They last about a month or two and then they disappear, and are no longer important.

This year, I made the resolution to lose more weight than I lost last year.  For the first two months, I did great.  Then the resolution started being replaced with life - and I feel off the wagon.  It was all downhill from there, and I ended up gaining a ton of weight over the remainder of the year.  I don't want that to happen again.

Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation with Butter's counselor.  He's Butter's counselor, but he has made me realize that I probably need my own counselor.  We spend about half the time talking about Butter and the rest of the time talking about my problems.  Yesterday's discussion was about changing behaviors and routines. 

Not that I want to give out confidential information about Butter's counseling appointments, but this conversation was relevant to many situations in my life.  It was the topic of need versus want.

Using an example:  I'm a parent that says NO a lot.  Not in the context that my kids aren't allowed to do a lot, but when I don't want them to have or do what they're asking for, I just say no.  Professionally speaking (from the counselor's point of view), using the word "no" often sets off the anger mechanism in the brain of a child.  They hear the word and automatically feel like they're being denied something - and they don't like it.  Instead, choices should be given.  If I don't want one of my kids doing something, then I should give them two other choices of things they can do instead.  That's a great idea, but breaking the habit of saying no is a hard one to break.  He pointed out that I know I need to make the change, but I often don't want to - because it's just easier to say no.  I have to want to change more than I need to change.

As a teacher and as a mother, I've always been taught that need should always be more important than want.  My kids and I need food, but the chips and cookies aren't placed in to that category.  Those are wants, and wants are not important.  I need a job to support my family.  I may not be doing exactly what I want to be doing, but the need is more important and so I do it.  We need clothes, but the twenty pairs of heels that I never wear are most definitely wants that I could have done without.  Getting the point?  Needs have always been more important than wants.

When it comes to breaking a habit or changing behaviors, however?  The want has to be greater than the need.

For years, I've declared that I needed to lose weight.  I've needed to in order to better my health, to be there for my kids when they grow up, to be able to keep up with a classroom of kids, etc. 

Last year (2010), for the first time in forever, I wanted to lose weight.  I wanted to look better, I wanted to fit in smaller clothing, I wanted to feel better when going out with my friends, I wanted to be able to run in 5K races.  I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.  And you know what?  I succeeded.  For that year, anyway.

By the end of 2010, I had succeeded in all of those things.  I felt better about the way I looked, I loved going clothes shopping because I was able to buy clothes in the "regular" stores - and not the plus section, I went out with my friends with confidence and didn't feel like the elephant in the room, and I ran two 5K races that year.  I succeeded.

Then, in January 2011, I changed that want back to a need.  I needed to continue losing weight.  I needed to not let my school work and graduating college interfere.  I needed to take advantage of having so much time off of work during the summer to focus on working out.  There were lots of needs, but how many did I accomplish?  None.

It's no secret that this year has been a total failure - in terms of my weight loss.  I could sit here and feel all depressed about how much I failed.  But you know what?  I don't.  I needed this year to show me how much I want to lose weight.   I hate the fact that I've gained so much weight back, but it really helps me think about how great I felt last year when I'd lost so much and how great I felt and how I wanted to keep the momentum going. 

I could sit here and blame certain events that have taken place this year on my weight gain.  But that's not fair.  I had plenty of opportunities to change my behaviors, but the truth is - I didn't want to.  I was happy in a weird, depressing way.  I kind of took the weight gain as a crutch.  It was something I could make excuses for and other things, like finding a job, was much more important.  I wanted to find a teaching job much more than I wanted to continue losing weight.  The job became my top priority... my only priority in fact.  When that failed?  Well, I just felt like a failure - and didn't want to succeed in anything else. 

Now that I look back, there are no regrets.  I hate regretting the past.  I can't change it, so there's no point in dwelling on it.  All I can do is learn from it.  I now know how much I want to lose weight.  I don't like feeling the way I do right now.  I have clothes that are way too tight, I'm back to being winded after walking a mile, and I'm back to not wanting to go out with my friends.  I'm back to the girl I was in the beginning of 2010, the girl that wanted so much from my weight loss efforts.

In the next couple of days, I have some goals that I'm going to share about my plans for 2012.  Goals that may surprise you.  I'm going to focus my efforts, once again, on my wants rather than my needs.  It works.  I know that because I've done it.  So, bring it on 2012... I'm ready for ya!

Till next time. ;)
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Guest Post from Peanut - Yet This Time She Doesn't Realize It

Last week, my beautiful, smart, witty daughter wrote a guest post for my blog.  She loves to write - just like her Momma. 

When I say that Peanut is a mini-me, it's scary how much that is actually true.  Well, not scary as in I wish she wasn't, scary as in everything she does reminds me of what I was like when I was younger. 

I got her a tablet for Christmas because, like me, she likes to stay connected to people on Facebook and she likes to text.  I got her the tablet, however, because I hoped it would drag her away from the computer and give her more time with me...even if she was a little preoccupied by her 7" screen.  But, alas, the tablet just means that she can now sit in her room most of the day messing with it.

Sometimes it bugs me.  A lot.  I don't like the fact that she often likes to keep to herself, locked up in her room for hours on end.  It worries me, too, cause then I start to think that she doesn't want to be with her family.  Then, I get a harsh dose of reality and realize that she's acting the exact same way I did when I was that age...well, maybe a couple of years older.

When I was a tween, I spent a lot of time in my room.  I listened to music, I watched TV, I wrote in my journal, and I wrote poetry.  I wasn't a sad, depressed tween - I just liked my own company and enjoyed time by myself.  Being the oldest of six kids, the time I spent in my room was my sanctuary - the time I got to have some peace and quiet.  Peanut is the exact same way.

Christmas morning, I got one of the biggest surprises I've ever received.  Peanut wrote me a poem.  It was a poem so good that it actually made me cry like a baby.  I got Peanut's permission to post it here for you all to see.  So, here goes... My Christmas present from Peanut (that was inside the mini purse that she made for me):

Dear Mom...

I know it's been tough
But Christmas is here
The way you've acted
It's your favorite time of the year
I also know
How money's been scarce
Even though you haven't stopped
Climbing life's set of stairs
With a new job and even new friends
And with all the tough times
There always comes mends
I, as your daughter,
Want you to be
As happy today
And as twinkly as the tree
I've seen your spirit
Towards today
And I've also sensed the stress
Buy, Hey!
It's Christmas Day
And a time for cheer
Mom, you may have been stressed
For weeks, to months, and now a year
But the memories we'e made
Make the stress seem mere

Isn't that beautiful?  The girl has some poetic talent, that's for sure.  I want to say that she gets it from me, but I wasn't writing anything like this when I was 11.
It's little things like this that make me take a step back and realize that there's nothing wrong with Peanut wanting time to herself.  It doesn't mean she doesn't want to spend time with me - she just likes seclusion sometimes.  I know that she loves me - and little gestures like this one shows it more than sitting with me in the living room ever could.

Tomorrow, I'm starting my transition from Random Blog back to Weight Loss Blog.  I hope you're as excited as I am.  I want everything to start over come January 1st.  That may even mean a new look to the blog... but we'll have to see how far I get with that one.

Today, I have an appointment with Butter this morning and then I'm back to the couch to work on my new crochet projects.  I'm dabbling with character hats!  I'm about 2/3rds finished with an owl hat that I started last night.  I hope it comes out as cute as I hope... but we'll see.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!!

Till next time. ;)
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Last Post About Christmas

I'm Back!!!

Did you miss me?  I truly hope you didn't...and that's because I hope you were so busy with Christmas festivities - as I was - that you couldn't care less that I haven't posted in two days. 

The past couple of days were WONDERFUL!  I had a fantastic Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing much so, that I have to tell you all about it.  I will try my best to not let this post go on forever - but I doubt I'll be able to make a promise.  I could break it up in to two posts... but I want this to officially be the last post about Christmas.

Christmas Eve we left shortly after I finished my blog post.  We first headed to Missouri for a quick trip - so that Momma could buy a bottle of something that isn't sold in the county I live in.  Hey, it was Christmas.  I like to have a little sip of liquids not found in the dry county in which I live.  From there it was on to the in-laws to deliver some presents.  We spent a couple of hours with my in-laws before it was off to pseudo mother-in-law's house.

We were at PMIL's house all day and in to the evening.  The kids watched movies and played.  Hubby and I sat at the table with PMIL and visited.  We opened gifts and the kids were all very happy.  I got a manicure gift certificate and was super excited - it's been a while, and my nails are pretty neglected looking.  Hubby got a mixer - something he's been wanting for a while.  Peanut got a new down comforter and cover for her bed, Butter got a Hot Wheels race track that attaches to the wall, and Jelly got a V-Tech bike that she liked so much, she played with it for about an hour before it actually got hooked up to the TV.  Around 6:30, we decided we better get home, or the cookies for Santa would never get made.

Once we were home, Butter decided he really didn't want to make cookies.  He went to bed, and the girls and I stayed up to get the cookies made.  When I say that, I mean I got the girls started - but they did most of the cookie making.  They made two trays of cookies - and frosted one tray.  As soon as they were done, Jelly picked out four cookies to leave for Santa and poured him a glass of egg nog and they were off to bed.

Christmas morning, Peanut and Jelly were awake before 6am.  Usually, I'd be just as awake as they are at that time...but I wasn't.  I got up and went in to their room to see if they would be OK with waiting a little while before getting up.  Jelly was fine - she hooked up her new bike to the TV and Peanut was busy going through all of the stuff in the stocking that Santa had filled.  I went back to bed.

I couldn't really sleep after I went back to bed - which is pretty usual - so I got up a little before 7.  I just realized that I didn't get a picture of the tree and all of the presents before the kids started unwrapping.  That stinks.  But, oh well.  There were LOTS of gifts...lots more than the kids expected.  I think they all ended up with 13 gifts each...and there were a few extra for Daddy and I. 

For two hours we unwrapped presents.  Did you hear that?  I said TWO HOURS!  We stopped for a break here and there - so that I could start cooking breakfast and stuff... but the breaks were no more than a couple of minutes long.  The kids were so excited and happy with everything that they got.  In fact, each child got everything that they asked for - EVERYTHING.  Thankfully, the kids hadn't asked for any extravagant gifts, so they were quite content.  Peanut got an array of nail polish sets, a hair straightener, new sneakers, a few movies, etc.  Butter got the new clothes he'd wanted, new boots, a few toys he hadn't asked for, etc.  Jelly got the iPhone she'd asked for - and was quite content that it was only a toy, a new baby doll, a magna doodle, etc.  The fun came when they got to the last gifts to open.  These were the gifts that the kids hadn't asked for - but I knew they wanted.  Butter got a new DVD player, Jelly got a Leap Pad with a bunch of books and games, and Peanut?  Well, she got a new tablet...and when she opened it, was in such shock that she sat there stunned for a couple of minutes before saying anything.  She has wanted a cell phone for months and months - but Hubby and I weren't really ready to give her one.  She only wanted a cell phone, however, so that she could text her friends.  When I told her that there was an app she could install on the tablet so that she could text?  Well, there was no more wanting a cell phone for her.  Not only can she text, but she can use Facebook....the girl's dreams had all come true. 

Hubby really outdid himself this year with buying gifts for me from the kids.  I ended up with 6 gifts.  Way more than the amount I usually get.  The custom is that I buy a gift for Hubby and the kids buy one - the same for the reverse.  This year, however, Hubby thought it would be much better for each of the kids to get me a little something...and then one from all of them.  He bought them kits so that they could each make me a little purse.  I received 3 little wallet type purses that the kids all customized for me, and then they got together and made a big messenger type purse for me - that's even got my name on it!  Peanut went one step higher and wrote her own poem to put into the wallet she gave me.  As I started reading the poem, I knew I was going to cry.  I did.  Big time.  I couldn't even read it all without blubbering.  I will be sure to share it with you some time this week.  Hubby got me a pedicure gift certificate to go with the manicure gift certificate that PMIL got for me.  I was very happy.

After a couple of hours of letting the kids explore and try out their new stuff, it was off to Grandma's house.  Once we got there, we did another round of opening presents, and the kids then spent the day playing outside.  We were very lucky, weather wise.  It was cool, but not cold.  The kids were able to run around all day long - and stay out of the way of the adults that were busy preparing dinner. 

Christmas dinner was a huge success.  Everything was delicious, and my mom managed to squeeze 20 people in her dining room around one table - minus the four little kids that sat at their own table.  After dinner, it was an evening of talking, laughing, and enjoying time together.  I couldn't of asked for a better time. 

Yesterday, aka Boxing Day, I sat around in my PJ's all day.  Everyone had a pretty lazy day helping kids open toys out of boxes, and watching soccer.  My eyes were opened to the wonder of Angry Birds - which I had deliberately not installed on my phone for the reason that I knew I'd get addicted.... but I couldn't help myself.  My mom made the usual Boxing day dinner of left over meat, mashed potatoes, and pickles...and it was delicious.  After that, it was time to get ready and head home via a quick trip to Wal-Mart.

When we got home last night, I was exhausted and so was everyone else.  Everyone except for Hubby who managed to stay up until 1am playing a video game.  The kids went to bed early, and I made my way there around 11.  I was apparently so tired that I slept until 10:30 this morning.  That's VERY unusual for me.

Now, the kids have a couple of days to use their new toys and destroy my house before New Year's is upon us.  We are then repeating the whole Christmas thing by going to my parent's house.  Then it will be time to go back to work. 

This week I'm going to be very busy preparing my new plans for 2012.  As of January 1st, I'm making a promise to myself that the weight loss is going to happen.  It's back to eating right, working out, and being the girl I was in 2010.  The girl that lost almost 80lbs.  That's for later this week, however.  Now?  I'm off to post all of my Christmas pics to Facebook and enjoy some time with my kiddos.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!!

Till next time. ;)
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

You Better Not Pout, You Better Not Cry...Santa Claus is Coming to Town!!

It's Christmas Eve!!  Ah, I'm so excited.  I look forward to this day just as much as I do Christmas Day.  That's mostly because I start my Christmas festivities today.  Two Christmases scheduled today at the in-laws and pseudo mother-in-law's. 

Santa is already out hard at work.  As I'm writing this, Santa is currently in the Philippines and has delivered almost 500,000 gifts.  If you've got kids, open up Norad Santa and follow him as he makes his way over the world.  This website has been apart of my Christmas for as long as I can remember.  The kids absolutely love it - and it really helps keep the magic alive, cause it shows Santa making his way around the world delivering all of the gifts.  And it lines up with my telling the kids that Santa doesn't have one night to deliver gifts - he actually has 24 hours due to all of the time zones.

Jelly is already buzzing around the house singing her favorite Christmas song... Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  She's learned all of the words, and sings it over and over.  She's definitely excited.

I'm up before Hubby this morning, which is very unusual.  That usually only happens on Christmas Day - but I beat him this morning, too.  Not only am I up, but I'm showered, dressed, and have already had a cup of coffee.  I'm ready to get out of the door so that the day can start and be over with quickly.  Do I sound much like a child?  Good....that's the intention.

Our first stop today will be my in-laws house.  The kids buy them gifts every year, so we make an appearance on Christmas Eve to deliver the gifts.  I don't get to see my in-laws as much as I'd like.  Busy schedules have a lot to do with it.  It makes me sad, cause when Jelly was a baby my mother-in-law babysat each day...and we built quite a strong relationship.  I got to see her every day, and she got to see her granddaughter every day.  Since my last year of school required me to be teaching, I had to put Jelly into daycare - and that caused my visits to my in-laws to become very few and far between.

After a short visit with my in-laws, it's off to my pseudo mother-in-law's for the rest of the day.  PMIL makes dinner, and we spend the entire afternoon and evening at her house.  The kids love it, cause there's a lot of fun to have at "grammy's" house.  No doubt the kids will make some form of Christmas craft, they'll play with their new toys, and they'll play on the Wii...all the while Hubby and I are chit chatting with PMIL.  I love it!

After the kids are nice and worn out, we'll come home.  We have to make Christmas cookies for Santa before they can go to bed.  This is the one tradition I may have to tweak at some point.  The kids are usually so worn out by the time we get home, that the cookie making is more like a mad rush to get cookies made just so they can go to bed.  It's definitely not as fun as it used to be when they'd spend some time making crazy Christmas shapes with their cookies, and then decorating them how they want.  I almost broke out the cookie dough last night, but I was much too busy enjoying myself sitting on the couch.  I know I'll regret that decision about 8pm tonight when I'm trying to get the kids to enjoy making cookies.  Sigh.

Yesterday, the kids got their rooms nice and clean.  They had to.  Santa won't go in there and fill their stockings if the rooms aren't clean.  He can't take the chance of an accident - and how would the kids feel if they were the cause of a Santa accident that potentially ruins Christmas for all the kids that haven't received their gifts yet?  Yes, folks, that what I actually told my kids.  Don't judge - it works, by gosh!!  Of course, Jelly was ready with her quick wit... "Why don't we just hang our stockings on the fireplace, then?".  Ah, just gotta love the mind of a 4 year old.  Surprisingly enough, it was Peanut that came to my rescue when she told Jelly that if she has her stocking in her room, then she can open all of her stuff when she wakes up - no matter what time it is.

Speaking of Jelly's wit...I'm going to leave you with the brief conversation I had with her last night.  She likes to sleep on the couch - not sure why, but she does.  I told her yesterday that she has to sleep in her own bed on Christmas Eve....and this was the conversation before bed last night...

JellyHey, mom, I have to sleep in the living room tomorrow night

MeNo, we already had this discussion, you have to sleep in your own bed so that Santa can come.

Jelly That's why I have to sleep in the living room, I've got to talk to Santa

MeNo, you can't talk to Santa.  Santa won't come if you're not asleep.

Jelly I will pretend I'm asleep and just rest my eyes.  It's important, Momma... I have to talk to him.

MeWhy do you need to talk to him?

JellyI have to ask Santa for skates so that I can go skating with Sissy (Peanut).  You said that Santa might not bring me skates, so I'm going to ask him myself.

MeHoney, I think it's already too late for thatSanta will be bringing the gifts he's already picked out for you.

Jelly You said he was magic.  I can just tell him which present to take back, and he can switch it for skates.

MeNo, baby, it doesn't work that way.  If you wake up, he'll disappear.  You won't get to talk to him, and he might not leave you any presents.

JellyThat's not very nice.  Momma, are you just making scuses so that I can't ask Santa for skates?  

MeNo, I'm not making ex-cuses, I'm just saying that you can't sleep in here and you can't talk to him.

JellyFine.  I'll just call him tomorrow.  You have his number, right?

There's not tricking that 4 year old, she's too smart for her own good. 

Alright my friends.  Everyone have a wonderful Christmas Eve.  Be good.  No crying, no pouting.  Santa Claus is Coming...TONIGHT!!

Till next time. ;)
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Friday, December 23, 2011

It's the Little Things...

We're getting close, folks.  Just one more day before Christmas Eve is here, and the Christmas celebrations will commence.  My house is buzzing like an electrical outlet.  The kids are excited, I'm excited....we're all excited.

I will be honest and say that blogging about Christmas every day for 23 days has gotten to be a little difficult.  I mean, there's only so much a person can say about this time of year....yet, I've still been able to do it.  I'm sure you're all probably sick of hearing it by now.  I'm sorry for that.  Just a couple more days, and I'll be back to sharing random crap that doesn't really have a point - I promise.

I think I may have mentioned once or twice how excited I was about my winter break.  OK, so maybe I've mentioned it almost every day for 22 days.  Just want to make sure that the point really gets across, I guess.  And I'm making sure that I really make the most of it, this year.  If you remember, for the past four Christmases I was a college student.  The first couple of years weren't so bad.  I didn't have too much on my plate over the winter break while in school... but the last two years?  Well, that's a completely different story.  Even though I was in between semesters, I was still piled high with work and research and other stuff that I had to take care of...instead of being able to enjoy the atmosphere that was taking place around me.

This year, I vowed to myself and my family that I'd do what I could to make up for the past couple of Christmases.  Because I have such an amazing family, they assured me that I have nothing to make up for.  That was in the past, and it's only how I deal with the present that's important.  Doesn't that make you want to grab a box of Kleenexes?

This week, it's been about one thing and one thing only:  Spending time with the family.  Sure, I've had to do some running around here and there... but the rest of the time?  I've been curled up on the couch, Christmas movies playing (I've seen Jim Carrey as the Grinch about 5000 times, this year alone), and just enjoying the time with the kiddos.

They are not as in to the "family time" as I am.  Who could blame them?  What kid wants to spend all day every day on the couch?  No, they've still had their time.  Peanut has spent some time on the computer, Butter has been outside playing, Jelly has been destroying my living room by dragging out every toy she owns.... but it's been nice.  I've loved it.

I've been a busy bee with my crocheting, too.  I've made three scarves - and just have three pairs of matching gloves to make to go with them.  I only have today to make them, but I think I can do it.  Crocheting is my most favorite winter hobby.  It's about the only time I do it - just because I think it's awesome curling up on the couch when it's cold, crocheting.  It's definitely not so fun when it's 90 degrees outside.

Two nights ago, Peanut actually showed some interest and asked me if I'd show her how to crochet.  I was ecstatic.  Peanut is a mini-me, but she's at that age where she'd much rather be chatting to her friends online or talking on the phone or listening to music in her room.  I didn't reach that age until I was about 14 - but times have changed, I guess.  Kids are getting older much sooner.  I've tried my best to adapt, so when an opportunity like sharing a hobby comes in to play?  I'm on it like white on rice.

The entire evening, she sat with me on the couch learning how to crochet.  We laughed about some of the creations that were being made before her was her first time, there was some wild creations expected.  She was wrapped up in the blanket with me...and I could have held that spot in time forever.

It was special, that's for sure.  That's not to discount my other two children.  The difference is, Jelly snuggles with me on the couch many times per day.  Butter will come snuggle with me many evenings with his PSP in hand....he tries to play it cool, but I know what he's doing.  Peanut is different.  She's me through and through.  I was never much of a snuggler or an affectionate person growing up.  Don't get me wrong, I loved my parents... but curling up with them on the couch?  Urm.  No.  So, that's why it was so special to have that couple of hours where I had the little, affectionate version of Peanut back.

She's dabbled around with the crocheting the past couple of days, but just like her mother she has the patience of a flea.  She wants to be able to make things, like scarves, right now...and just doesn't understand that it takes a little practice before being able to start making stuff.  I know just how she feels, so I'm being supportive.  I'm trying to assure her that just a couple of days of practice and she'll be throwing scarves out in no time.  

She's even mentioned how she wants to help me make stuff so that we can sell them - and have our own little store, of sorts.  Isn't she sweet? A Mommy & Me crochet boutique would be great....I'm on board!!

OK, so I better get myself in gear if I plan on finishing up the gloves, finishing all of the wrapping, and cleaning my house in preparation for Santa's arrival - he won't come if the house is a mess...the kids are fully aware of this.  It's amazing how quickly they spring in to gear the day before Christmas Eve to clean the house...wish there was a way I could get this kind of cleaning excitement the rest of the year.

Today will be a long day - it always is.  I've managed to concoct ways of keeping the kids plenty busy on Christmas Eve - but Christmas Eve Eve?  That's a lot harder.  Oh well, I'll figure something out.

Everyone have a great Friday!!

Till next time. ;)
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Very Special Guest Post.... My Very Own Peanut!!

A week ago, I asked my Peanut if she'd write a guest post for my blog.  She's a great writer, and enjoys writing.  She's often asked about creating her own blog, but I'm not ready to give her that much freedom...just yet.  So, the next best thing?  She can write a guest post for me.  Of course, as you can imagine, she was thrilled.  HA!

This morning, after a little nudge, Peanut wrote her first guest post.  As I read the words she'd written, I couldn't help but get a little choked up.  I just wanted her to share her thoughts on Christmas.  I was pretty open with the could have gone any way... but it didn't.  It came out to be a very heartfelt, sincere post, and well....enough it is....

A Guest Post from Peanut:

My mom asked me to write a blog about why I love Christmas, so here goes.
I have always loved Christmas for so many reasons; the music, the lights everywhere, the thought of getting a break from school. I love how everyone tries so hard every year to out-do their last Christmas. There is loads of budgeting.  By budgeting, I mean people are saving their money so carefully so that they can spend it all on gifts for everyone. Also, there's a lot of sneaking around to “talk to Santa.” My mom makes a trip every year to "visit Santa".  That's a day she goes out all by herself and tells us that she has to speak to The Big Man in private.  Every year, we have received videos or letters from Santa, and on Christmas Eve Mom lets us track him while he is on his trip! It is just so interesting how all of this hype leads up to only one special day. There are thousands of movies, and songs dedicated to this one day. There are even books and games for this day, this holiday HAS to be the one holiday that everyone is with family. Since I was little, I have enjoyed taking all of the excitement in, and being the real me. Well, not exactly the real me, I think I am nicer around this time of year, because I can feel the care that is put into each gift and each moment. Note: I'm not sure why Peanut feels that she's not so nice for the rest of the year... but it's her words...she's nice pretty much all year long..just wanted to mention that.

A few things we may do differently than others on Christmas, is well, first…”Santa” brings all of our presents Christmas Eve, so we don’t get to see them until we are allowed out of our rooms on Christmas morning. I like it better this way, honestly, so we aren’t constantly trying to guess what our gifts are. Another tradition we have, is not keeping our stockings by the tree, but having them in our rooms. This way, while were waiting for our parents to get up, we can scavenge through our candy, and small gifts!

Want to hear a creative way my mom was “Santa,” without us or her knowing? Well, on Christmas Eve, I was awake late, because I didn’t want to sleep, until Santa was here. I was about 8 or 9. I was awake when he/she came in, and at that moment I screwed my eyes shut. Although, when he/she was turned around I opened them to take a quick peek. I saw a huge red fuzzy butt flashing my way! But, it just so happens my mom has the exact same robe, I just hadn’t pieced the pieces together until now. I swore for years, that I saw Santa that one special night!

Sure, I love the presents, and getting to know the stories of Old St. Nick. But, it’s even more fun being with my family. We get to play with all of our new toys, eat anything and everything, and we just get excited! One tradition we do only on that one day (Christmas Day) is we eat candy and cookies for breakfast. What child would not love that?
My mom may be grumpy at times, but during these few weeks of preparation, she will let nothing knock the smile off of her face. She is always happy around Christmas! My brother, sister, and I are always told that if we are bad around Christmas, its coal for us. So of course we are angels. HAHA! She wishes. But, I get to see my mom so happy, its just hard for us not to be. I’d just like to say, to everyone that I hope you all have as much of a great Christmas as we will this year. Even if we don’t get the greatest presents, we will still be doing things that matter! Take care this year, and if your driving somewhere drive safe!

Wasn't that sweet?  And we'll keep it between us that I've already told you all the story about Peanut seeing Santa...even though she swears it was a couple of years ago, and I'm pretty sure it was last year.  The last paragraph was very unexpected.  I never knew until this moment how she felt about me and Christmas.  My spirit must be contagious, or at least very noticeable....even though I may be grumpy at times.  HA!

I also love all of the quotations when referring to Santa.  It breaks my heart that she has reached the age of disbelief - but she still does what she can to keep the magic alive, for Jelly's sake.  She will be like me, I know it.  I'm 29 years old, and still believe in Santa - in my own way.  She's doing the same thing...and it melts my heart.

I wish I could hold on to this sweet moment forever, but the kids are now fighting....and it's up to me to go and extinguish it.  Ah, the joys of having time home before Christmas.  The grumpy me must have taken a vacation, cause instead of wanting to rush in there and start yelling to stop fighting, I can't help but feel sorry for them.  The excitement is being replaced with restlessness....I think this will require some hot chocolate and a Christmas movie.  Let's see if it works.

Everyone have a wonderful Thursday.  Just two more days until Christmas Eve!!

Till next time. ;)
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why Taking Kids Christmas Shopping is So Not a Good Idea

Yesterday, I'll admit Christmas Spirit took a sharp nose dive.  I was running pretty low by the afternoon's end.  I know what you're thinking.... what could have happened to the person that has blogged about Christmas for the past three weeks to ever make her lose a drop of Christmas spirit?

The answer to that?  I took my kids Christmas shopping. 

Each year, I like to take my kids shopping so that they can buy gifts for family members.  I think it's more meaningful if they've picked out the gifts that are going to be given on their behalf.  This year, I cheated just a little and bought a few gifts a head of time.  It's probably good that I did....cause we only had four people to buy for yesterday...and that took over 3 hours.  I can only imagine if I hadn't done any previous shopping and we still had 11 people to buy for. 

I really don't know why I bother.  Our trip to the stores usually consist of the kids looking at me with hopeless eyes waiting for me to give them ideas on what to buy.  It's not their fault.  Trying to buy gifts for my family is never easy.  It's even harder when they are put on a strict budget, yet everything in the store seems to have doubled in price since last year.

I remember the good old days when a $10 spending limit per person could buy some fantastic gifts.  Now?  Well, each person is lucky to get away with maybe a pair of socks or a Christmas mug with a tub of hot chocolate to go with it.  Even the bath sets and shaving collections that used to be a big hit with my kids are now closer to $20.  It's ridic.  And, of course, the kids don't really understand when I shut down the $20 gift's what they're used to buying, it's just not what I'm used to spending - and it's not what I'm going to spend because I'm not made of money, and when I have a dozen people to buy for, a $20 limit per person gets a little outrageous.

Anywho - the trip to the store yesterday was a can I say it?  Urm...strained?  Stressful?  Yes, those are good words.  The ordeal consisted of getting to the store and the kids looking to me for ideas.  In which I gave.  They then decided they didn't like my ideas, and wanted to look around.  So that meant back and forth through the store.  Did they want to buy clothes?  No, don't know the right sizes.  Let's go look at gift sets.  Gift sets too expensive?  Let's go look at tools.  Don't like any of the tools?  OK, we can go back to the gift sets.  Gift sets too expensive, still?  Let's go look at electronics.  Not a single electronic accessory that fits with any person on the list?  Well, then we can check out the candy gift sets.  Don't want to buy candy for anyone?  Then it's back to clothes.  Yes.  For three hours, this was my shopping experience.  And you know the ending to this story, don't you?  You guessed it - they ended up freakin' buying the gifts I had suggested in the first place.  UGH!!

Again, I stress it's not their fault.  Although, it would have been easier if I had just bought the gifts a head of time and let the kids wrap the gifts.  I'm sure they wouldn't have minded too much.  But they like being involved with the gift buying.  It's not really fair to take that all away from them. 

It wasn't just the kids that got me stressed out, yesterday.  I just love those other shoppers that make the experience that much more magical for me.  You know the ones.  The people that seem to have woken up and realized that there's only five days until Christmas and now have to make a mad dash to the store, run everyone over in their paths, and get all hateful and nasty with everyone in sight.  Really, people?  It's Christmas...I was up to my eyes with stress yesterday, but you didn't hear me huffing and puffing when every aisle I went down was blocked with carts.  I didn't get nasty and hateful when two people decided to have a nice chit chat right there in the middle of the aisle.  I wasn't the hateful one!!  There was actually people that got nasty with me if I asked them to "excuse me" in my most polite voice. 

OK, so I'm up there with the category of person that waits to the last minute to finish up their Christmas shopping, but I don't take it out on every other patron at the store.  I chose to go on a Tuesday, because I figured there were still people working, it would be a lot less crowded than if I decided to take the kids on Saturday.  Apparently, nobody in my area works the week before Christmas.  The store was pretty packed - but that's no reason to get all hateful with everyone. 

After three very long hours, the Christmas shopping was over.  I felt like I had run a marathon, and each of the kids were also feeling a little stressed and tense.  Poor things.  They are starting to figure out the fun to Christmas's not as fun as it looks!  They were so over the day when we got home, that they didn't even want to start wrapping.  They've decided to wait until today.  I don't blame them. 

So, food for thought for next year.  I'm writing this down so I can remind myself of my options for next year when I think it's a great idea to take the kids shopping for gifts:

A)  Leave them at home!! Do the shopping myself and then let them wrap the gifts

B)  Take them with me, but go a month before we're not dealing with the Grinches and Scrooges at the store a few days before Christmas


C)  Go to the store, give them each some money and tell them to meet me in an hour.  I'll be at the McDonald's enjoying a Mocha Latte and reading a book.....totally stress free.

I kind of like the last option...and by next year, they'll be old enough to walk around the store alone.  I'm pretty sure if we do Option C next year, I'll be able to pick Option A every year after!  HA!

Alright, I've got family coming over I better get my butt in gear and straighten out my house a little.  Everyone have a wonderful Wednesday.  Just 3 more days until Santa comes!!

Till next time. ;)
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

True Traditions Tuesday...Christmases Yet to Come

Can you believe that we've reached the final Tuesday before Christmas?  Only a few more days, and Jolly Ol' St. Nick will be sliding down the chimneys of children all across the world.  Santa's in luck, this year, Hubby cleaned out the chimney - so it's nice and clean, ready for his arrival.

For the past couple of weeks, I've ditched my usual True Confessions Tuesday and replaced it with True Traditions Tuesday - in the spirit of the holidays.  The picture that is usually at the top of the screen is a bull...I found this cupcake reindeer to be so much more fitting.  It kinda looks like the bull - but a much happier, festive version.  I started off telling you about the traditions of my Christmases Past, then last week I told you about my Christmases of the Present.  This year, you guessed it, I'm jumping in to a time machine and dishing out my hopes and dreams for Traditions of Christmases Yet to Come.

One of my biggest fears about my kids growing up is that I will no longer have any children at my house for Christmas.  It scares me.  Big time.  My whole life - all 29 years - I've been in a house with children for Christmas.  Whether it be siblings or my own children - there has always been the magic in which children bring to the occasion.  Thankfully, being that my kids are only 11, 10, and 4, I've still got several years before I have to worry about that.  Today, I'm jumping forward to the Christmas of 2031.  That's 20 years from now.  Wow...20 years...that is a long way to jump.  Peanut is 31, Butter is 30, and Jelly is 24.  I am 49...

Peanut - She's married to a wonderful man.  They have four children. (She'll flip if she reads this)  She met her Hubby in college - Harvard Law, of course.  She graduated, and her and her hubby are lawyers.  Good ones.  They have a nice house in Boston (she accepted a position there after graduating) - and she's doing very well for herself.  The day before Christmas Eve, her whole family will fly down to spend Christmas with me. 

Butter - He's also married to a very nice woman.  They have 2 children.  Butter went to college at my Alma Mata the University of Arkansas, and is a therapist - specializing in child psychology.  His wife is a teacher.... love her!!  His family live close by, and he works for the counseling agency that works with kids in the school that I teach (that's how he met his wife).  They like to spend Christmas Eve at his wife's parents house, and then they come to me for Christmas.

Jelly - Three for three, Jelly is also married - but no kids, yet.  She has been married for a year.  She is a teacher, teaching in the same school district as me.  This is her 2nd year teaching - and she's GREAT at it.  She teaches kindergarten.  She has remained a Mommy & Daddy's girl through and through, and she spends a great amount of time with us.  Her Hubby is very much like her dad was when I first met him, and doesn't really do a whole lot for Christmas - so we'll be welcoming him to the family by giving him the experience of a Christmas at our house.  She'll spend Christmas Eve at my house, so that she can spend some time with Peanut's kids - and doing the fun Christmas Eve stuff she loves.

Christmas Eve - In the afternoon, we'll load up the cars and head to my pseudo mother-in-law's house.  It's been a Christmas tradition for 25 years that we have Christmas Eve dinner at her house.  PMIL loves it when Peanut visits with the kids.  We have a lovely dinner, open gifts, and then it's back to my house for Christmas Eve stuff. 

Grandma - that's me - gets all the stuff out to make Christmas cookies for Santa.  Jelly loves this part - always has.  This time she drags her Hubby in to the fun, and her and her hubby help Peanut's kids cut and decorate the cookies, while Peanut and I observe from a close distance with a glass of Bailey's in hand.  Peanut's Hubby hangs out with my Hubby - talking manly stuff like work and projects on the house.  After the cookies, we all snuggle on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate, a couple of cookies, and a Christmas movie.  We then get out the kids' stockings and get them in their Christmas PJ's, ready for bed.  Once the kids are fast asleep, Peanut, Jelly, and I get all the gifts under the tree.  Peanut fills the stockings, and then us three girls sit down and have a reminiscent discussion of Christmases when they were growing up.  Then, it's off to bed for us cause we know it's going to be an early morning wake-up.

Christmas Morning - Jelly is up and has already made the coffee.  Her hubby is a little disheveled by what's taking place before his eyes.  She's trying to help Peanut keep the kids in the bedroom - opening their stockings.  I get Hubby out of bed, pour a couple cups of coffee, get out the Christmas cookies, and get ready in the living room.  Then the stampede commences, and the kids come rushing in.  Jelly designates herself as the person to hand out gifts, while her hubby is wrapped up around her, and Peanut and I sit with the cameras ready to capture all of the excitement about to take place.  Peanut's Hubby has designated himself as the flying trash catcher.  My Hubby has Youngest Grandchild curled up on his lap, cause she's just not sure about all of this craziness just yet...and has to be eased in to it.

Jelly hands out one gift at a time, just like it's always been done.  Each parent and grandparent gets to see the present, and then it's quickly on to the next.  Once all the gifts are open, the Hubbies go to work opening all of the toys from their packaging....that are still horrible to get out of the boxes.  You'd figure after 20 years, they'd have eased up on the Fort Knox style of boxing toys...but nope, not yet.  The girls all grab their cups of coffee and a couple of cookies and ooohhh and ahhh over all the new toys.

Early Christmas Afternoon - Butter arrives!  He's got his family and more gifts in tow.  We have another round of Christmas craziness.  His kids and Peanut's kids then show off to each other what Santa brought for them - and there are a few fights to extinguish.  This is where I get to remind my oldest two children of what it was like for me when they were growing up and always fighting.  It's so great when your children have children just like they were as kids!  We spend a little while talking - and then it's time to load up to Grandmother's house we go.  That would be my mother, the kids' grandmother, and their kids' great-grandmother.

Christmas Afternoon - Jesus, Mary and Bart the craziness that takes place at my mother's house for Christmas.  My mom has six of her own children that show up, about half a dozen grandchildren that show up (which is only about half of them) and then another dozen great-grandchildren that have shown up.  It is Christmas Pandemonium at it's finest.  My sister takes the job of handing out gifts to everyone, but there is no waiting patiently as one gift is opened at a, that takes too long.  It's a mad, crazy, frenzy of wrapping paper and gifts bags flying everywhere. 

After the gift opening, the girls all make their way to the kitchen to help my mom with the feast that will be taking place in a couple of hours.  The men are all designated the job of playing with the kids - which really means they put on their coats and take the kids outside to run wild...while they stand around talking with beers in hand.  Then, it's time for Christmas Dinner.  The kids all eat in one room, and the adults are all seated in another room....just because there's not enough room to sit 500 people in the same room.  It's loud, crazy, but my mom wouldn't have it any other way.  She loves it just as much as I do.

Christmas Night - As it's always been, everyone spends the night at my mother's house.  It's like a sea of sleeping bags and blow up mattresses as far as the eye can see.  The kids are all put to bed in a room, somewhere, and then the adults take some time to catch up - without kids flying around every which way.  There's a little drinking happening, a lot of talking about the good ol' days, and that's when Jelly takes the opportunity to announce to everyone that she's expecting her first child!!  My mother and I because I'm ecstatic that I'm going to be a grandma again, and my mother because she realizes that there will be yet another place at the dinner table she needs to make room for next Christmas. 

Boxing Day - The day after Christmas is celebrated the way it always is.  Lots of playing with toys, eating, and just having a great time.  We don't spend the night again, however.  This time, it's back to my house for some quality time with my kids and grandchildren.  Butter stays for a while, but soon leaves to get the kids home.  Jelly and her Hubby decide to spend another night with me.  Peanut, and her family are staying with me until New Year's.  Her kids are all exhausted, so they hit the sack early - and the rest of the evening, the adults have a few drinks (minus Jelly who is drinking apple juice) and play some of the kids' games.  It's the wee hours of the morning before we crash....and before I go to sleep, I count my blessings that I have such a perfect family and that Christmas was, yet again, another hit. 

This, my friends, is how I hope my Christmases will be spent 20 years from now.  Could there be a more perfect Christmas when your kids are all grown with kids of their own?  I don't think so.  

Alright - now back to this year.  Got to take the kids Christmas shopping today for gifts for family members.  They then get to wrap the gifts.  I'm sure they'll argue about it - and it will be another note to write in my list of things to remember to remind them about when they're older with fighting kids of their own.  

Everyone have a great Tuesday!!

Till next time. ;)

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

It feels very weird to be sitting at my computer at 7:40 on a Monday morning.  Normally, I'd have been up for a couple of hours, I'd have complained about it being Monday, I'd be just starting work and my blog would have been written about two hours ago.  But not today!

I'm now on Winter Break... but, you guys knew that.  I've been talking about it for the past two weeks.  Counting down, getting ready, whining that it wasn't getting here fast enough.  But, now it's here.  I don't have to show my happy face at work again until January 2nd. 

This weekend, I celebrated in style.  I took off from the house on Saturday morning - kid free - and spent the day finishing up my Christmas shopping.  I am done.  Completely.  Well, I still have to take the kids shopping for family members - but I'm done with everything else that I need.  If you want the run down on the Christmas shopping adventure, you can check out the story I wrote rhyming verse.

I'm so darn proud of myself.  Despite taking a job this year that pays WAY below what I've ever made in my entire life...I still managed to pull of buying all of the Christmas stuff without having to break out a credit card.  That's budgeting at it's finest, there folks.  Yes, Christmas will be at a much smaller scale than it's been in previous years...but I still managed to buy a few things that should keep the kids happy.  That's definitely a win in my books.  And I didn't leave myself completely broke or in debt doing it. 

After the shopping, I went and saw Hope.  She looked great, and was planning to get out of the house for a little while.  She has had no headaches for a couple of days - so that's a plus.  We sat and chatted a little about the fun she missed at work last week.  When I say fun, I really mean the craziness than ensued from running around trying to control a bunch of wild kids hyped up on sugar and Christmas dreams.  I was exhausted just telling her about it.

Once I got home, I kicked back on the couch, grabbed my crochet bag, and popped in a Christmas movie.  And that's where I stayed until dinner time.  I finished up a scarf, and started a new one.  I've got a few to make before Christmas - so I've got some work cut out for me.  Luckily, scarves are super easy to make, so they don't take very long.  I wanted to get a little more fancy this year with the crochet goods that I wanted to give a few attempts at making slippers that look like snow boots.... but I just couldn't get the pattern right and had to give up.  One year, I'll learn not to wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas to start my crocheting projects.  I'm putting it on my resolution list to keep crocheting throughout the year, so I'm well prepared for next year.  I've got sock monkey hats and snow boots on my to-do list.  I'm gonna need some time to get them right.

Yesterday morning, I took the kids to church, did a bit of wrapping, and then went and picked them up again.  Once I was home, I went straight back to the couch.  More Christmas movies, more crocheting, and I even snuck in a nap.  It was pure heaven.  Oh yes, it was!  Because of the nap, I was up late last night.  I didn't mind,'s not like I had to get up early this morning.  Which was kind of weird being that I was awake at 7am.  But, when you put things in perspective - I'm used to getting up at 4:30am on it was, indeed, sleeping in.

Today, I've got a few errands to run this morning.  Butter has a visit with his therapist, and Asia (my dog) has a visit with the groomer.  It's well overdue...the grooming, I mean.  That crazy dog has spent the past two weeks getting in to every sweet treat laying around the house - including a full cup of egg nog and a few candy canes.  I thought that she'd learn, one day, but apparently she enjoys the holidays just as much as the rest of us.  Because of the fact that her hair now looks like a huge fur ball, she's going to have to get a hair cut.  I don't like to get her hair cut this time of year - cause she gets cold - but it's her own fault this time. 

Alright, duty calls.  Time to get myself ready to go run errands.  Tomorrow, I'll share the final installment of True Traditions Tuesday.  I'm going to jump in to a time machine and tell you about the Christmases yet to come....well, my hopes for them, anyway.

Till next time. ;)
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Twas a Week Before Christmas...

I'm totally ripping off an idea that Drazil had when she wrote her own version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Mine's a little different, though...

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the stores,
The people were hunting, searching, looking for more
The carts were placed in the middle of the aisles with care
In hopes that everyone noticed they were stuck there

The children were running around acting insane
While visions of all the toys danced in their brain
And this Momma was the smart one and left her kids at home
She knew it was best to tackle the craziness alone

When one aisle over there arose such a clatter
I couldn't help but be nosy and see what was the matter
Away to the aisle I flew like a flash
And saw the devastation from the crash

The twinkling of glass from the new fallen mess
Gave the luster of a woman all in distress
I figured it best my wandering eyes disappear 
From the chaos that was happening up close, so near

I got in my car so lively and quick
And wished I could leave the rest to St. Nick
More rapid than eagles, I was on to the next store
And I sung and whistled hoping to not see what had happened before

"Hey Move it! "Please, excuse me"
"Please, move!" "I'm a fixin...
To ram this car, and my stuff..
Up Your..Whew, just missed them"
To the next stop light, to the front of the mall
Now move it or lose it, I've got a load to haul!

As the wild people look like a wild hurricane fly
I met many obstacles, and hoped I wouldn't die
On to the next store, I knew just what to do
I would weave in and out and push my way through

And then, in a twinkling I realized I was done
Had all of my loot, except for that one
As I drew in my head the thought to head home
I knew I had to go to more stores, again alone

I was dressed nice and comfy, from my head to my foot
But that didn't matter, I was tired and felt ka-put
A bundle of toys I had flung in the trunk
But more had to be placed, and wow, that stunk

My eyes no longer twinkled, my face not so merry
I was hot, and exhausted, my face as red as a cherry
My droll little mouth was as dry as a bone
I could feel in my throat the twinge of a moan

The remainder of the list, I held in my hand
It sucked me to the store like the pulling of quick sand
With my broad face, and my not so little round belly
I dragged and wobbled like a bowl full of jelly

I spoke not a word and went straight to my work
I found that missing gift, and ignored all the jerks
And laying my finger into my purse
I pulled out my card and let out a curse

I then sprang to my car and to myself gave a cheer
It was finally over, the end was now here
But I couldn't help but exclaim as I drove out of sight..

Merry Christmas to All!  And to all a good night!

Wow, that wasn't half bad.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  I'm a poet and didn't know it.  HA!

Everyone have a wonderful Sunday!!

Till next time. ;)
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Can It Be? Am I Really on Winter Break?

The day has arrived that I started to think was never going to come.  The first official day of Winter Break.  This past week has been the longest week EVA!!  But, now it's over...and I can enjoy a full week before Christmas doing fun, Christmassy things. 

Waking up at 6:40am on the first day of Winter Break was not on the to-do list, but apparently I was so dang excited - I just wanted to get an early start. 

Before I get to anything else, I've got to share the amazing week I had being part of Secret Santa at work.  It was so much fun, and I was totally wrong about who I thought my Secret Santa was.  The whole week, I was just sure that it had to be someone I didn't work too closely with, but close enough that the person knew a little about me.  I guessed one of the kindergarten teachers that I eat lunch with every day.  I don't work closely with them, but they talk to me - so they have a pretty good idea of who I am and the things I like.

The whole week, I was discussing my theories with one of the 3rd grade teachers.  I consider myself to be the closest with the 3rd grade team - because I spend the majority of my day in their classrooms, and also spend time planning with them and talking to them outside of work.  Every day she'd ask me if I'd received my Secret Santa gift, ask me what I'd gotten, and I'd tell her about the awesome stuff I was receiving. 

Yesterday morning, while everyone was disclosing their Secret Santa identities....I was caught completely off guard when my Secret Santa turned out to be the teacher I'd been talking to all week long.  That little toot.  She totally got me. 

On the first day of Secret Santa, she got me a mini Diet Dr. Pepper, a Santa memo book, and a plastic Christmas cup filled with mini chocolate bars.  On the second day, I received the coolest fabric coffee mug.  Here's a pic...

It had a mini Dr. Pepper and more mini chocolate bars in it.  She definitely knows me!!

On the third day, I received a bag of Keurig cups.  Our school has a new Keurig machine in the teacher's lounge, and she knows how much I love my morning coffee.  A mini sampler of different varieties of K-Cups is the best way to brighten my day.  On the fourth day, I received a mini Diet Dr. Pepper and a king size Almond Joy - my most favorite type of candy bar.  And yesterday, for the last day, she got me a cuddly, fleece Santa blanket.  I was excited about the blanket, but not nearly as excited as Jelly was when she saw it.  Since getting the blanket home, this has been Jelly...

She LOVES it!  I'm glad, cause that means she's finally given up the blanket she's had since she was a baby.  I never thought that would happen.

The whole experience was a great one - and I will totally be participating again.  Fingers and toes crossed I'm still in the same school next year, please.

Today, I get to have a kid-free day.  They don't happen very often, and when they do - I get a little giddy with excitement.  Especially when my kid-free day involves going Christmas shopping.  The goal for today is to finish up all of the Christmas shopping.  I'm not coming home until it's done.  It's a week before Christmas and I never wait this long to finish - so it has to be done today.  Thankfully, I only have a couple more things to I'm not too far behind.

I'm also going to go see my friend, Hope.  She's doing much better, and I hate the fact that I haven't been to see her all week.  It will be nice to visit for a little while, make sure she's OK, and give her all of the gifts that her wonderful kiddos got her for Christmas. 

Alright, I've already been sitting here for over an hour....time to get moving.

Everyone have a WONDERFUL Saturday!!

Till next time. ;)
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Friday, December 16, 2011

My Thoughts on Christmas Cards....And Other End of the Week Stuff

Aaaahhh......can you feel that?  Can you feel the excitement that's bubbling up inside of me?  Can you feel the waves of happiness that's pulsating through the computer screen this very second?  You should.  I'm almost shaking I'm so freaking excited about today.

Today is the official last day of school before Christmas break.  This is it.  After today, I get two wonderful weeks off to celebrate the holidays and spend time with my family.  I just can't control my excitement.

Before the day is over, however, I have so much stuff going on at work.  Today, I find out who my Secret Santa is.  I have a feeling I know who it is... but I only really figured it out yesterday.  That is, if I'm right.  All week long I've been going back and forth between a few people... but yesterday was the day I finally got an A-HA that made me think I'm right this time.  I know I said that I'd be sharing my gifts with you guys each day... but, well, you know how that went.  So, I decided that tomorrow, I'll fill you all in with the wonderful stuff I got.  I had an awesome Secret Santa....and she made my week very special with the little goodies I received each day.

Last night was Peanut's first Christmas program at her new school with her new band.  They were awesome!!  Peanut was in band at her old school.  Well, when I say band.  I mean that she played the clarinet and joined together with about 15 other kids who each played instruments.  They weren't bad.  Her old band was just....well...small.  It was such a small band that it was so hard to get a good sound - especially when it was 15 first year band students.

When I walked in to the gym for last night's performance, I was blown away with how many kids there were - and how many parents were in attendance.  Half of the gym was completely full.  And I mean all of the bleachers and the chairs that were set up in front of the bleachers.  It was a packed house.  The band was so big, and I was so far away, it was really hard to get a good photo of Peanut playing... but here's a pic of the band.

The band is compiled of all the kids in purple.  I know, it's hard to see.  But that's the best that I could do.  I even had to cut some kids out, there was so many of them. 

After the performance was over, all three kids and I had to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a things.  While we were there, Peanut asked if I'd buy her some Christmas Cards.  That got me thinking.  Should I be buying some Christmas cards?  Then I wondered why I was even thinking that.  I don't do Christmas cards.

Here's my take on Christmas cards.  I don't do them.  I'm not against Christmas cards.  I don't give out cards for any occasions.  I don't send birthday cards.  I don't give out anniversary cards.  Even when people are sick, I'd just go see them than have to find a card that says exactly what I want to say.  It's just too stressful.  Yes.  I said stressful.

I used to do cards.  Every year, I'd make out my list, buy the cards, spend hours writing them out...and then was excited to give them out the next day.  Then, I'd realize that I forgot someone.  Usually when it was too late to do anything about it.  Then, there was that awkwardness when I'd see the person then have to explain why everyone else around them got a card from me - but they didn't.  Or maybe I didn't forget anyone, but I'd feel like I did....and then spend my entire time off work worrying if I'd forgotten someone and I'd have to face that person once Christmas was over.  Just.  Too.  Stressful.  So I ditched card giving...all of it.  There's nothing worse than forgetting someone's birthday, either.

I'm not just talking extended family, co-workers, and friends either.  I'm talking everyone.  My own parents don't receive Christmas or birthday cards from me.  Why?  Because one year, I totally forgot my dad's birthday.  Then I had to live with the fact that I'd given everyone else a card, but forgot my dad.  How horrible is that?  So, now, I don't forget anyone.  I don't stress about it.  I don't feel like people will think less of me if they don't receive a card from me - because no one did.  I openly tell people that, too.  I tell them I don't do cards, because no one gets their feelings hurt when I forget them - because I know I'll forget someone.

So, I let Peanut buy some Christmas cards last night - and some candy canes to go with them.  She's still young...she's got a lot to learn.  I could already sense the stress last night when she realized she only had 32 cards...and had to remember everyone that needed one of those cards.  I kept my thoughts and opinions to myself - and let her go on.  It's not my place to decide whether or not she wants to give out cards.  Maybe she loves that kind of stuff.  And if so?  Good for her.  Butter's totally with me on this one, though.

Alright, I gots to dash.  This morning, I'm dressing myself up like a Christmas tree.  Don't worry - I'll be sure to take a pic to share with you tomorrow.  I'm completely decking myself out.  It's ugly sweater day at work - but I don't own an ugly sweater.  So, the next best thing?  Make myself look like a Christmas tree...with reindeer antlers.  Hey, cut me some slack...I'm excited about it.

Everyone have a WONDERFUL Friday.  And I believe my co-workers will be completely with me on this one... TGIF!!!

Till next time. ;)
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