Christmas Tree Plan B

What do you do when you close on a new home about ten seconds into the new year, yet still want to make your home festive for your kids without unpacking and repacking all of your Christmas stuff?

Keep it all packed up nicely in the garage rafters and improvise! christmas tree ornaments

-Real tree.  More like a treelet so we can keep floor space open for the bins and boxes that will likely be piling up by then. Came in its own tree stand.

-string of lights $3. We’ll donate those with the tree stand if we don’t manage to throw it in while our other stuff is getting packed on the moving truck. Everything else is paper so we can recycle it.  Waste free and pack free-yay!!

photo(114) photo(113)

-Paper garland.  The boys’ attention span matched the necessary length.  Win!

-Beloved action figures as climbing the tree count as ornaments.  They do.  It’s about what you love and right now, this is what they love.  Included in our tree are an armless GI Joe, headless Spiderman, legless Spiderman, motorcycle-less Spiderman (meaning he looks like he’s pooping in the tree), 2 Darth Vaders a Stormtrooper and an Elvis.  The joy they felt decorating this tree was incomparable, as were the sound effects.

best ornaments for kids

-My favorite part is the star decorated by my oldest, which includes the word, “Pese” with a peace sign covered in what appears to be bacon.

We rocked it.  I haven’t loved a Christmas tree this much since I was stringing the sweet 70’s candy garland on my childhood Christmas tree with my family.  I’ll be sneaking one of Spideys into my purse, marking the year with a sharpie, and whether or not we do our Plan B tree next year, I’ll be hanging this memory on our tree for years to come.

What about you? What’s your favorite holiday decorating memory?


pin babies

***Update:  Kind readers have suggested that oil-based Sharpies and enamel-based paints made specifically for ceramics will make these dishwasher safe. Mine made with traditional Sharpie markers were not, even after baking. I hand washed one and it was fine, but none survived the dishwasher.  I’ve seen a few tutorials for these and none mentioned troublen so I just went for it.  I shouldn’t have assumed.  I’m sorry for any wasted mugs this may have caused : )  It still helped us undo our super cranky day, so I can’t call it a total loss.

What do you get when you add a guilty conscience to two simple Pinterest ideas? An apologetic Pin Baby!

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

It was a crummy day. The boys were inside all day because I was sick. Thank God my husband played with them for a couple of hours in between work sessions while I huddled under the blankets to shake the chill. They had an “entertain yourselves” kind of a day. That’s not a bad thing, they are quite capable of doing that. But they definitely needed more of my attention than I could give today. And I had zero patience at cleanup time. Coupled with their buckets of attitude, it was all kinds of cranky. I apologized. They cleaned up. We’ll all live. But I haaaate when I take their bad choices personally. It’s like I get offended by their whines before it occurs to me to redirect them. The ping pong of furrowed eyebrows gets us nowhere, and I’m better than that. I want them to be, too. It’s one thing to have a bad day, but it’s another to end a day on a bad note. I just can’t do that. So I wanted us back at the table: the magical place that is torturous at mealtime yet super sweet at play time.

Inspired by this DIY mug idea form Dollar Store Mom, we picked up some white mugs at the thrift store last week for 59 cents each. (Pier One too – yay us!) I was going to let them draw whatever they wanted for Christmas gifts, but that would take about 3 seconds and we needed more time with Pandora and Jack Johnson if we were going to change the tide. Then I remembered this pin of fun negative space (that seems to have lost its rightful owner. If someone has the source, can you please share?-thanks). The result was a cute little Pin Baby that did the trick for this grumpy evening.

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

I don’t have a ton of supplies other than paint, but I did happen to have a bunch of these dollar store letter stickers so we did some names and peeled them off when we were done decorating. (*note: the original pin/link has the instructions for baking and curing. 350 for 30 minutes and it should be good to go.) I really wanted to do some fun color combos, but we only had 2 Sharpies, and one of them was dying. Oh well, if I had gone to Target to get more Sharpies in fun colors, I would have surely bought a pity coffee, some sort of Rubbermaid storage container and a sweater. Because I was still cold. So look at that! I saved a bundle by sticking with simplicity. Aaaaand we ran out of m’s so Michael suggested “Ma” could work instead of Mom. Resourceful. I like it.

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie MugMy little guy enjoyed the dots for one minute, and then went to town destroying the stickers and playing with Legos. He was very proud of the doodling he did on the back of the initials. I was happy to get a couple of gifts done. My six year old ditched the dots and went with coloring and a thought bubble saying, “hey”. Yup, back to normal.

What about you? Do anything creative this week?

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

Good and Messy DIY Sharpie Mug

baby yawns

I’m finishing up a painting when I hear Jimmy muttering from his bed.  Surely he’s not awake because he is bold and loud when he is.  His hand must have fallen asleep so I lay him back down and snuggle next to him.  Propped up on one elbow, with my other arm rubbing the pins and needles out of his hand, I can’t deny how much of this bed he suddenly occupies.  There are long, capable limbs everywhere.  The weight of his new hair is starting to quiet his cowlicks and his generally roosterish hair-do isn’t very roosterish at all.

He is fitful and anxious, but still semi-asleep.  He flips his hand over mine to stop the motion and puts my hand on his belly, laying his hand over my forearm like a dog guarding a toy.  Amused that he is in as much command asleep as he is when awake, I look down at my boy as he yawns. It was that brand new baby yawn; their nose disappears into a teeny button and they let out a whispered roar that is so scrumptious it renders you defenseless to all of the abuse they are about bring in the form of relentless servitude.  That yawn.  My giant boy did that yawn.

I look down at all the brush strokes on my sleeve and remember wearing it the night before he was born.  I had been working on a painting and could only button three buttons before my giant belly burst out.  It was January and we lived on the third floor.  I was so ready to have him that I abandoned all sense of appropriate clothing choices.

It stopped my heart.  I’m a sucker for baby yawns, but this one just struck me.  My dad nicknamed Jimmy the White Tornado and it fits him perfectly.  His white blonde hair is a blur as he flies by. Afraid of nothing, with a penchant for adrenaline rushes, at age 2.5 this boy is lightyears away from babyhood.  I have such mixed feelings when I look back on that first year.  I fell so hard in love with him because it was the most extreme year of my life.  He was my second child, but my first tornado.

My first, Michael, was born a citizen of the world, eagercopyright to enjoy his people and the constant fun they were sure to provide him.  While he certainly enjoyed our company in the world, the presence of his parents was not crucial to his happiness or navigation.  After all, life is a parade and surely someone else would pass by if he needed help, right?  He was a simple equation, an open book, and through toddlerhood, he handed out answers more frequently than problems.  Michael was our Red Solo Cup in a Pull-up.

Our second, Jimmy, on the other hand, was born the citizen of his world.  My husband and I were necessary inhabitants, essential to the minute-to-minute operations of his world but with little actual control.  He was born with skepticism and an unwavering conviction in his own feelings.  We were the befuddled gatekeepers to his world, relying heavily on hunches and hope to dodge the meltdowns.

His physical need for me truly shocked me, and it took me a long time to even realize that the term “momma’s boy” didn’t begin to cover it.  He required touch in a completely different way than I ever expected.  He wanted to be tight in my arms or swinging from the chandelier.  Many times, I would just rock and sway and keep him company in the chaos of his little body.  I wasn’t so much a respected leader as I was a court jester.  He would kick me out and beg me to come back in the same breath.  As unpredictable he seemed at times, he was pure and rich, ooey gooey love.  His unabashed joy was so infectious that it kept us on a mad dash to find it again, desperate to keep the shit and the fan in separate corners.

We have shared several hundred 3 am’s. Somewhere in there, we found some things that make his world a better place, including hardcore workouts, loads of furry animals ready to be de-fuzzed strand by strand, intense thumb-sucking, and swapping lullabies for marching bands.  Why request a soft, “rock-a-bye baby” when your mom will sing Irish drinking songs while firmly drumming your back?  The lovely therapists from Early Intervention would later shed some light on sensory processing issues, and help us make sense of our hunches.  I wanted to kiss them.  But not before I kissed Jimmy some more.  Our little tornado knows how to keep on truckin’.

So tonight, as I look down at this little big guy and I’m struck by the fact that we are so far from where we were when that yawn belonged to a newborn or even a toddler.   He is laying in the scattered proof of a contented soul: wearing the pajama pants that sat in his drawer for year, warming up to them just in time for them to become shorts, his faded blue nail polish that he sat so still for, the stuffed chipmunk next to his head whose fuzzy tail is still intact, the book he hid under the blanket, the weighted blanket at his feet because he doesn’t need it on his body tonight. All of it, he is just so much comfier in his own body.  So many nights he just couldn’t rest, and he just couldn’t release me from his white-knuckle grip.  Tonight his palms are softly open, showing off a thumb sucker’s callous because it is nowhere near his mouth.

I can’t say we are free of our 3 am rendevous, but they are 1000 times more peaceful than they were.

Sweet Jimmy, thanks for the tiny snapshot of the old you.  I’m grateful to be in your joyful twister 🙂  And I’m even more grateful that you are, indeed, asleep.

not so fast

I hear his voice from the other room–the voice that suddenly seems so old to me, even though in real time he is six.  He’s not six to me.  It still feels like I just got him, and that he miraculously and freakishly aged from a newborn to an actual person who reads in some science fictionesque measurement of time and space.  He’s new and old all at once; his voice big and small.


“I’ll be right the-”

He comes bounding in the room, looks me straight in the eye.

“How ’bout we go outside and play football?  I’ll be the official and you can be the tackler.  I’m the official because I know how to play football the best of you and Jimmy and me and Dad.  Well, Dad’s a little better but he’s at work so I will tell you who wins.” He tucks his hand up under my elbow and sweetly curls his arm around mine, “Thank you for my pancakes, Mama. They were yummy.  Can we have more pancakes for dinner?  (jumps into robot voice) Pancakes for every dinner ever!!!! (jumps out of robot voice) You can even give me spinach. Just not inside the pancakes, but I’ll eat cold spinach next to my pancakes. Mama, can I have a kids’ show? Jimmy already got a kids’ show and it’s not fair if I don’t get one too. Jack at school loves the Blackhawks.” His cheek is pressed against mine when he starts singing, “We will, we will rock you! Sing it…” I can’t see him but I know he is making his rock out face.  I mean, really, how can you not when singing that song? “What are we gonna do today?” I can feel his little stinky breath near my ear as he tries to cuddle in closer, “how ’bout we have some tea?”

I love being privilege to his loveable ramblings, especially when he is in such a cuddly mood.

But here’s the thing.

I was sitting on the toilet.

A half a dozen topics covered, including meal planning, and not once did it occur to him that it wasn’t the time or the place.

So forgive me, dear future son, who will undoubtedly beg me to trust your judgement, who will likely groan with every caution I give on your way out the door, who will insist you know just as much, if not more, than me.  Forgive me for thinking you are still brand new.  Forgive me, but you didn’t even notice that I HAD NO PANTS ON!!!

So sorry, kid, it may be hard to trust your judgement.

socks, pops, and glasses. what’s your kid karma?

“They look even to me.  It’s time to go, Bridget.”

No, they are not! How can you not see the difference?!  This sock is sooooo slanty!  And totally lower than the other one!  Agh!  And it’s loooooossssseeeeeer.  I haaaate socks. Now it’s too high. Almost.  Almost.  Maybe. Ok. That’s better.

I’d finally stand up after forever on the floor only to be assaulted by gravity, one sock daring to move a millimeter out of place. Whaaaaaaa!

God bless my mother.

A few decades later and a piece of kid karma comes served on a silver platter in the form of shoelaces.  Michael’s shoelaces must be tied super tight, and equally tight.  And then a little bit tighter.  If his blood circulation isn’t threatened, we have to start over.  As much as I should empathize as a former footwear perfectionist, I admit it puts me right on the crazy train.

God bless his mother, right?

Kid karma must be really fun for grandparents.  I imagine teenage karma is even more satisfying, but kid karma is a nice appetizer.

My parents aren’t really tally people, don’t keep a scorecard of what is owed.  They don’t hold anything over our heads.  That said,  I’m willing to bet that when my mom was “marble-hunting” after I swallowed one, she looked forward to the day when I’d have to do some toilet sorting for my own kids. So when I heard the boys giggling and Michael yells, “Ewww, Jimmy has a booger!”, I should have felt another bit of karma coming my way.  Jimmy turns to me and I see a blob coming out of his nostril.  As I grab something to wipe it, they explode with laughter because it’s actually a well-placed Corn Pop.  I go to wipe it-because I know where this can lead-when I hear the dreaded, “SNIFF!”  Sigh. Welcome to the Random Crap Up The Nose Club!

It was amazing really. The Corn Pop was big, and a two year old’s nose is so small, yet it disappeared like nothin’.  I didn’t worry.  I mean, it was from his bowl which meant it probably had a bit of milk on it.  It would break down easily, right?  I figured it would make its way out little by little.  Being a modern mom, I shared the funny news with my facebook friends and kiddie class moms.  People quickly showed their RCUTNC membership cards, warning of expansion and smell and possible surgery.  Other friends gave removal tips. A dozen tales later and I couldn’t help but think of the grandparents laughing at their kids dealing with nose treasures.

This time was small fries in the world of kid karma.  More entertaining than stressful, it was comical trying to teach Jimmy to blow his nose. It just made him sniff it up further.   I tried the Woody Woodpecker pepper method to make him sneeze, but it only managed to crack Michael and I up while Jimmy got annoyed.  A few hours later my husband comes home and simply asks him to blow his nose and he did it.  Just like that.  One try.  I’m hoping that means my husband has some decent kid karma.  That’s important.  Here’s why…

You guys, I put my parents through something awful.  So awful that it made my marble swallowing and required marble hunting look like a party; like a Pinterest party with tissue paper poofs and mason jar centerpieces.

It all started with eyeglass envy.  I don’t remember what grade I was in, maybe second? My school full of Catholic uniforms was suddenly sprinkled with incrediblyfantasictotallyradicalsoveryamazing pastel eyeglasses.  Pink ones.  Purple ones.  Holy shit!  Pink faded into purple on the same pair of glasses!  Are you kidding me?!  All of that marvelous for one lucky girl!  Oh, how I wanted to be that girl. That girl also gets an eyeglass case, and if I dared to dream, my case would be just as beautiful as my glasses. Everywhere I went- the park, grocery store, church-I was doing field research, preparing for the day when I would get to choose my very own pastel glasses.

If only I didn’t have perfect vision.  I quickly realized that I couldn’t wait for sitting too close to tv to take its toll.  I had to take matters into my own hands.   A simple, “I’m seeing double” would do the trick, no?  No.  I passed the eye test.  I didn’t even get to try on a single frame from the Wall of Happiness and Joy.  I needed to take it up a notch so I sat on the attic stairs that went into the kitchen and I practiced the “blind hands” so I could feel my way to my mom since my eyes were failing.  I told her I was seeing triple and then, because I didn’t know the right “le”word, I told her I was “seeing fives.”  Gulp.  I was all in now.

As absurd as it sounds, my mission progressed.  I was a goodie goodie good kid so lying wasn’t in character for me.  And apparently, I was a solid little actress.  Sticking to my story, I answered over and over again, “It’s very blurry. Yes, sometimes I see fives.”  There were concerned looks, some suspicious, and some hushed phone calls.  Another appointment was made.

I was in complete denial of my liar, liar, pants on fireness.  I thought if I came out and asked for glasses, everyone would think I was silly and selfish.  But needing something?  Somehow that seemed like a much better approach.  I thought I’d get the fabulous glasses to fix my super bad eyes and we’d all live happily ever after.  Genius!  Except that when parents hear that their typically good daughter’s vision is rapidly changing and she is seeing double and then FIVES?! they don’t think she needs glasses.  They think she needs a brain scan.

Yup, I unwittingly faked a brain tumor in an effort to get pink glasses that I didn’t need.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I’ve got some serious shit coming my way, don’t you think?

p.s.  Let’s hear it for the doctor who called my bluff.  And for my parents for not abandoning me in his office.

Spill it.  What do you have coming your way?