Friday, December 27, 2013

‘Twas the Day After Christmas

‘Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the house
Paper, toys and boxes were strewn all about;
The stockings, once hung, lay in a pile on the floor,
Remnants of Saint Nicholas and gift-giving galore;
The children bounced ‘round, and launched cars to and fro;
While they dreamed of chocolate cake and sledding in snow;
And mamma in her slippers, and I with my energy zapped;
Just wish we could settle down for a long winter’s nap,
When out in the family room there arose such a clatter,
We grumbled up from our chairs to see what was the matter,
Away to the ruckus we struggled to go,
Walked through the hallway, and the mess down below,
When what to our tired old eyes did appear,
But a miniature Porsche launched high in the air,
Missing a driver it flew lively and quick,
We knew in a moment it must be the kids,
More rapid than jets, the objects they flew,
We swerved and we ducked then shouted out to the crew:
“Be careful! Aim that way! Watch out for the tree!
Move your arm! Stop launching before something hits me!
Watch out for the window! Watch out for the wall!
Stop crashing and bashing cars both big and small!
As rejected old pumpkins from past holidays fly,
When they meet with a trebuchet, mount to the sky;
So up to the ceiling, the autos they flew,
Vehicles, spinning wheels, and parts flying too,
And then in an instant, we saw on the spot the giggling and high-fiving of each little tot.
Our scowls melted to smiles,
And we beamed bright with glee,
A right joyous moment, it all seemed to be.
Until the kids scattered and grabbed more toys from the stack,
Their hands were again busy drawing this and building that.
They sprang up the stairs,
with cars, dolls and Legos too,
playing freely, without care,
like all kids should do.
But we heard them exclaim,
As they ran out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snowman Popcorn Cup Cuteness

Here is a picture of the Snowman Popcorn Cups I made for our school party. Our Room Mom found these in Pinterest, I also posted it to my board here. I wanted to make them since they were so adorable, and knew our daughter would help. 

They were a huge hit and the steps were pretty simple. So, it's a great idea for Holiday Parties, or even movie watching festivities. I mean, everyone gets their own cup so there is no fighting over the bowl, right?

The advice I have for anyone attempting this is: 
Make the cups in advance because cutting and tying ribbons took a little time. 
Pop lots of corn (depending on the number you are serving, we had nearly 30 to serve). I made like four or five big pans of the stuff, and put it in a large bowl to season. 
Keep one of the cups for measuring—I was so glad I did this because there was no way I was going to try and calculate the correct formula for kernels popped per cup with the measurements listed on our popcorn jar. Plus, you need to have enough popcorn for the larger snowman/mom/person. 
Use the cup to measure, fill popcorn to the top, and dump it in a large baggie or container for transporting. 
Stack the decorated cups, take the baggies, the big snowman and bring extra supplies just in case another kid shows up. It happened in our class, but we were prepared.

Enjoy, it's supposed to be fun after all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate-Caramel Covered Pretzels and Other Festive Foodie Gifts

This is melted chocolate in a cup…

And this is more…

I have my good friend Debbie to thank for the idea. She gave us these delicious homemade dipped pretzels a couple years ago, and I dreamed of making them ever since. 

This was our year. I really wanted to make something homemade for my child's teacher, and realized it might be fun to give a gift from our kitchen since we love food and cooking—when we have time and it's not an ordeal to get the right ingredients. I even love the occasional culinary challenge, but these days simpler is better. 

I bought gift tins at the craft store a few weeks ago. Then I searched for recipes and eventually narrowed it down to three to five possibles—and changed even those a couple days before the big cook-off. 

I drove out in the snow to a local baking supply store, thanks again to my friend for the idea to go there. It was so much fun to see all the packages of milk, dark and white chocolate, and the sprinkles, sanding sugar and caramel. YUM!

I bought the ingredients and my family all participated in creating these festive goodies. Within 24 hours we made these chewy and delicious Chocolate-Caramel Covered Pretzels, Super Sugar Cookies and Strawberry Oatmeal Bars. 

The stars must have been aligned, or maybe I should consider it a Christmas Miracle because this just doesn't happen any more. We don't usually have enough time, energy, resources and participation to make something like this happen. So, this year's holiday bake-off and  gift giving goes down in the books as a special event. If we're lucky, we'll repeat it again sometime in the future, or even next year. But, for now I'll sit back and enjoy one of the sugar cookies we didn't give away because it wasn't quite round enough, or some other reason, say thanks for our foodie success, and try not to think of how much more we need to finish before Santa Claus comes to town. 

Enjoy the Holiday Season!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas/Holiday Cards—A note on etiquette and why they are worth the hassle

Let me start by saying how thankful I am this year to have a loving family.

I am also thankful for a recent article by an etiquette master stating it IS okay to wish folks a Merry Christmas again. For a few years I’d stop myself mid-Merry even when wishing people I knew to be Christmas celebrants, because I did not want to insult anyone, and also because my brain was still catching up with the times.

Let’s be clear, it is probably not a good idea to wish your bubbe Merry Christmas. But, it does seem okay to wish folks Merry Christmas. Just try to be considerate when in the company of those you don’t know, makes sense.

You might wonder what all this has to do with cards. It means I can finally stop worrying so much when we send cards this year. We want to be respectful, but it’s also important to share an honest sentiment. So, send whatever holiday you celebrate cards to all your friends and family, and try to include a nice note. If you have a business contact or other person you aren’t sure about, send a more general holiday greeting.

Now, for the rest of the story. We almost did not get our annual holiday card photo this year. We take a photo because our kids are cute, and I force my husband and myself to participate so it feels like we’ve got at least one picture each year where we’re all together.

Moms, you know what I mean. There is a whole period of time where all the photos are of the child. Sleeping, smiling, crawling, crying, etc. There are probably thousands of our growing kids, but very few or none showing us. Okay, so I got a few with daddy doing sweet or silly stuff, but I was usually the one taking the photo—hiding my freakish hairdos and baggy eyes (at least a few months/years after baby’s arrival).

If nothing else, a once a year photo op like this forces me to get a haircut, shave my legs (although I sometimes wonder why) and buy/rediscover a nice shirt/outfit. Don’t ask me about shoes, it’s another story for another time (weeps a little).

So, this year we dragged a kid on the verge of a cold and another with a super case of the cranks, even though we discussed cancelling last minute, to the busiest place on earth this time of year and slapped our smiles on for the photog. A fun two hours later we packed the van with our exhausted, hungry family and headed home. Success! And Failure.

Would it have been wise to reschedule? Yes and no. Yes, but we were dressed and the car was warm. Rescheduling meant we probably would have missed our annual trek to the quickie pic place and an opportunity to see our children smile together, in the same picture, at the same time, with both eyes open and looking at the camera. Seriously, I don’t know how they do it, but they usually get some good shots no matter how hard we make it on them, and ourselves.

I say, pack the drinks, munchies, extra patience and a hairbrush and head to the studio. Or do it yourself, we did one year and it was hard and hilarious all at the same time. Your kids are probably growing faster than you realize. Just try to make the most with what you’ve got and smile. Say cheese! 

Note: This is not our actual holiday photo. It was taken on a good day in Frankenmuth though, and probably would have made a fun card.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Please don’t text while driving!

I don’t often get on my virtual soapbox, but when I do, it’s for good cause. This time is no different.

Many of you know the dangers of texting while driving. You’ve probably heard statistics like these, seen it portrayed on TV shows like this, or encountered it first-hand. So, let me ask you all to sit down with your kids and have a talk.

Maybe you had the birds and bees discussion, or the don’t do drugs talk, that’s great! But, it’s high time as parents, citizens, and adults, we have a talk with each other and our kids about the dangers of using phones while driving.

First, be an example. If they see you doing it, they are more likely to think it’s okay and either do it themselves, or not speak up if a friend is texting while driving. So, put the phone down, please!

Second, tell them you love them and that no appointment, test, date, party—NOTHING—is so important they can’t wait to text, or take time to pull over before sending a message.

The reason for my anxiety, and this PSA? Yesterday, I was driving with my two-year-old through your average suburban neighborhood. While on a quiet street, I noticed a car in a driveway and it appeared to be rolling backwards. Yes, rolling, not driving backwards. 

A teenage boy with his eyes glued to his Smartphone jumped into the passenger side, and I figured the first roll was due to an anxious friend trying to get his buddy’s attention. Note: I’m still driving toward this particular driveway. 

The next instance, I notice the car rolling backwards again, and I’m wary. So, I slow to a crawl and then stop as the car rolls all the way down the driveway and into the street while the driver is looking down at his phone the entire time. He never once looked up to see if it’s safe to back into the street, and he never noticed the huge baby-hauler approaching his driveway. 

If I had not stopped, we would have crashed. He could have rammed the side my kid was on, which makes me want to say STOP and THINK!

He was shocked to see me after he rolled completely out of the driveway and ended up facing our van. The look on his face told me he already knew his error. He knew he was wrong—yelling or throwing up would have only given him an excuse to focus on someone else’s poor judgment instead of his own. (I need to remember this when dealing with my own kids.)

I know we didn’t crash, but it’s because I was hyper-aware. This is only one example of a bigger modern day driving problem. If you need to locate something on your phone, view directions, a map, text, or even call someone, please pull over. Train your children to do and expect the same. Please!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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