Christmas Music and other minutiae

Since I’m feeling all Christmas-y at the moment, and since (more importantly) I have a huge leg up on my Christmas shopping (and wrapping) this year, I decided to write a little more about Christmas.  Here are some random thoughts:

  1. When I was wrapping up the gifts I’d bought so far this year, I had the presence of mind (for once) to get out the Christmas CD’s and play a little mood music. My favorite is the one that my son made for my husband for his birthday last year, “Alternative Christmas Songs“. Best. Christmas. CD. EVER. Consider breaking out your own Christmas music this year…you know, before Christmas is over.
  2. Nothing beats a cup of mulled cider while you’re wrapping, unless it’s a cup of hot chocolate with tons of whipped cream crammed into the cup. If it’s evening and you’re done driving for the day, consider putting a shot of Amaretto in your hot chocolate…yay!
  3. What to buy? For me, this year is (essentially) a Gift Card Christmas. Yep; I gave the issue of gifting enormous thought and then decided that most people want either a) money or b) the equivalent thereof. How do I know this? Scientific research. Everyone that I asked said they wanted either money or a gift card to (fill in the blank). Be honest. That’s what you really want too, right?
  4. FOR YOUR KIDS:  Apart from the gift card strategy, which I am applying to (almost) all of the people for whom I am shopping, I have a sort of a formula that I use for buying for my two kids. After all: gift cards under the tree, even if it’s several hundred dollars worth (note to husband: It’s not! It’s not!) doesn’t look very impressive or generate much excitement on Christmas morn. Here’s my basic formula for the kids: a book, a new set of pajama’s, a new outfit, a game (for Wii, Nintendo 3DS, or whatever they have). 
  5. I like to have one joint gift for the kids to open on Christmas Eve, sort of a family gift, like tickets to an event, or a game that everyone (hopefully) will like. :)

Also this year: I am trying to just use what I have already for gift bags and wrapping paper. I have a roll of pink Santa paper that I bought to wrap my daughter’s presents and blue Santa paper to (you guessed it!) wrap my son’s years ago. Using this eliminates the need for name tags.

Making Gingerbread Houses

I admit it: prior to yesterday I was a Gingerbread House Virgin. Through twenty-plus years of motherhood, I’d managed to avoid ever baking, never mind decorating, a gingerbread house. The desire just was not there. I couldn’t have been less interested.

Then something incredible happened: I wanted to make one.  Something shifted inside me and I really wanted to do it…and then…

I got lucky.

:)

Tip: do it for the first time with someone who knows what they are doing!

Okay, enough double entendre. My friend Kristen (see her blog here) is a fabulous baker and she invited my daughter and me to be part of her (tenth, I think) annual ritual of baking and decorating a Gingerbread House with her son, something I’d never done with my own son in his childhood (but hey, we did make dozens—dozens!–of Christmas cookies over the years! Just sayin’.).

Our jobs were to bring something flat to put the house on the day prior, and to buy some candy to contribute to the stash of building supplies.
Oh, and to show up. :)

The end result? Amazing. The ideas the kids came up with were so creative–it was just wonderful to watch their minds working. Plus, my friend and I got to chat virtually uninterrupted for at least an hour.

This is definitely an activity I would like to do again next year.

The irony? My son was making his first Gingerbread House at the same time at his girlfriend’s house with her family. Go figure.

Watch the slideshow that follows to see what we used for materials. :)

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Mother’s monkey mind

On a recent episode of The Middle, the mom Frankie got it wrong. For mother’s day, she thought she wanted the entire day to herself, free of husband and children, to do whatever she wanted to. This was a classic episode of “be careful what you wish for” because all she managed to do that day was fix things that were broken, defrosting things that were frozen, clean things that were dirty. By the time she finally sat down on the couch with her magazine and her baked goods, the fam came home.  The day was over. Frankie was bereft.

Frankie got it wrong because having the whole day off when you never have the whole day to yourself is just too overwhelming to be fully appreciated without some advance planning. She was not given enough notice and did not give the day enough forethought to do it right. I am completely familiar with this phenomenon. I routinely screw up unscheduled blocks of time that I unexpectedly have to myself because…because there are just so many things that I want to do that I don’t have the time for in everyday, workaday life!


Have the gift of an unscheduled block of time? Enter the monkey mind, and all can be lost in a heartbeat. This monkey mind mayhem can be wreaked on any special day, not just Mother’s Day. Just thinking about all of the things I want to do: read? Write? Knit? Practice a little yoga? Bake a batch of cupcakes/brownies/cookies? Work in the garden? Sometimes it becomes like diagnosing an illness: a ruling out process that takes so long that by the time an activity is decided upon the time you had in which to engage in it has passed (like what happened to Frankie).

The truth is this: when our family members are not with us, we may have a small undercurrent of worry (What are they doing? Are they safe?), or at least of distraction that gets in the way.

In the end, she got it right. She did want her family around, just (barely) within earshot and eyeshot in the next room, working on a puzzle together, getting along with each other. They had strict instructions not to talk to her or try to engage her in any way whatsoever.

She had the best couple of hours ever.

Post Easter Post

The baskets

Easter is one of my favorite holidays, having somehow escaped the drama and bad memories with which  many of the other major holidays are fraught  for me.

Although the bunny is now known to be Mom and Dad by both kids, we continue the traditions that we started when they were little. We fill a basket (or receptacle of some sort) for each  one and have an egg hunt. In the leaner years we used chocolate pirate coins to fill the plastic eggs for the hunt, otherwise we filled them with cash.

In the baskets? Candy, of course, gum, Tic Tacs, beef jerky (for the boy), lip gloss (for the girl), gift cards…things like that. What was not in the baskets? The dreaded plastic Easter grass, banned after the year that Dad was still finding it in various household crevices in December. :)

We were lucky to have a nice day weather-wise: sunny and in the low 70’s. The day before and after Easter it snowed! We had dinner with family, got to visit Dad at work and bring him some dinner, and still got home early enough for a normal bedtime for the tween (it was, after all, a “school night”).

Hope you all had a nice day too!

What this woman got: Valentine edition, part 3

First order of business: skip the gym.

White chocolate chip, chocolate chip, and craisin cookies for bake off

My husband and I had planned to celebrate the day during the child-free hours we had, from 7am until about 3:30pm (the school day). There was a medical appointment (mine) at 10:30am, but that was quick and we didn’t let it mess up our day.

Which was good, because there were other things ready and waiting to do that.  My daughter’s school is having a bake- off today and we thought that the cookies she was entering had to be there by 2pm Tuesday. Wrong. She called me at 9am to say the cookies actually had to be there by 2pm Monday, the day before.

Valentine’s Day. The day of our date. So, I scrambled to get the dough made before my appointment, then rushed home to bake them after my appointment. Got them to school at 1pm, ahead of the deadline, but that left us only a little part of the day to celebrate.

We had lunch a quick lunch at Jake’s Seafood on route one, then headed to the Harbor Candy store where (surprise!) they did NOT have any chocolate dipped strawberries, which was my purpose for going there. I was on a mission! That was the thing that I wanted. :( Plus, it was a little disconcerting to see that they had more Easter candy for sale than Valentine’s Day candy. Huh? When is Easter, anyway? (Hel-lo? It’s more than two months from now!)

Dark chocolate dipped strawberry from VFM

I always get a dark chocolate covered cherry and eat it at the counter when I go to Harbor Candy, but today was an exception. I was too annoyed. We left without buying anything, and we went into the Village Food Market in Ogunquit (just a few doors down) and (hurray!) they had a whole tray of them! Something finally went our way. They were even dipped in dark chocolate, my favorite, but  Bill? not so much. I swear I’m going to convert him to the dark side, but my efforts thus far (with the dark side of candy, at least :)) have met with failure.

Next, to Ogunquit Beach to look at the ocean. Can you believe that it was 51 degrees at 2pm on Monday?? That was the best gift of all, dont’ you think?

Then we were headed home with about an hour left before the tween got off the bus from school when (surprise again!) she sent me a text saying that the after school activity was canceled and she was on her way home.

I mean, are you kidding me?

After homework, supper, laundry, and tween bedtime we  got into bed to watch our Netflix movie: Glee: Season one: Disc one. Well, I laughed, I cried, yada yada. But hey, really, what better way to end your Valentine’s Day than a little Glee in bed? Ha!

Today was  a day where not much went according to plan, so not the best Valentine’s Day ever, but that’s okay, because I have the best Valentine ever: my husband!

P.S. It’s day 5 but my bouquet is still looking great!

What do women want? Valentine edition Part 1

Maybe you’ve been happily married for many years, and have successfully navigated several Valentine’s Day holidays. Maybe you’ve had some great successes with figuring out what your spouse might like, and then actually being able to deliver it.

One thing that you can do for your female significant other that will almost definitely be well received is to take her out to (read: spare her the chore of making and cleaning up from) dinner.

Varano’s in Wells will have a special Valentine’s Day menu (sorry, no prices included on the website). They open up at 4:30p and really, you can’t get a bad meal at Varano’s.

Duffy’s in Kennebunk (currently hidden behind all of the bridge construction) is offering a 3 course dinner for $29.99 for two that includes a shared appetizer and dessert and two main courses (choose from 3). This is available Saturday and Sunday as well as Monday, so if you are working on the actual day, or just an overachiever who wants to get a jump on things, this may be a good bet for you.

If you are not the most punctual sort of suitor, all is not lost: Angelina’s is having a special Winter Wine Dinner for $65 per person on February 24th at 6pm. Same sort of idea with a fixed menu from which to choose but with wine (hence the additional cost) added. They are also open on Valentine’s Day but no special menu is mentioned in their ad.

So, if going out to eat is your idea of a great date, there’s plenty of choices to entice you to venture out into the freezing, freezing cold dark to get some great food.

You, Mii, and Wii

Hate exercise? Mii too.  Well, I do if you are referring to

  1. Going to the gym
  2. Jogging
  3. Stairmaster
  4. Shoveling

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you are not shocked by this admission. I do to practice yoga and like to hula hoop, but getting exercise is a byproduct (for me) of the activity, not the goal.

Enter Christmas. Enter the Wii. Now, when I used to go to Curves, some of the older (than me) women would talk about how much they enjoyed exercising with their Wii Fit games. I was interested in their stories, but not motivated in finding out any more about it.

Then I went to my brother’s house for Christmas and they were using their Wii and the kids were having so much fun that I thought, “Hey, maybe there is something to this…” When my 12-year-old niece persuaded my brother to get off the couch and dance to “Viva Las Vegas” with her, I made up my mind to get that game for my family.

I’ve never looked back. After I bought the console to play the games, which came with one controller and one nunchuk, I sprang for an additional controller and nunchuk. You need two of each to play against each other in boxing, and my daughter wanted to box with me (should I read anything into that??).

It’s really only me and my tween daughter (and her friends) using the Wii right now, but I’m hopeful that my husband will join in at some point (hey, virtual boxing with your spouse could expel a lot of demons, don’t you think?). I made a “Mii” for him already (and he’s a hunk!) so he’ll be all set to go.

Can’t wait to knock him out.

:)

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