Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, part 4

The final post about Christmas. Here's what we did the rest of the holiday. Photo credit on pictures 2-5 and 8, goes to Larry Hatteberg (otherwise known as Dad or Papa).

Ate at Fritz.

Stopped by Union Station to see the trains. See us? Mom is in green. And that's little Matthew.

Took a family photo. The extended Dyer clan.

Texted, Facebooked, and twittered. CrackBerry users and one teen. 'Nough said.

Drank coffee.

Played Monopoly City...Adam's new favorite game. (Thanks Grammy & Grandpa!) And Blokus.

Wii bowled. And played Super Mario Bros. And had fun creating many different Miis. Is anyone else intrigued by the soothing music that plays while you create a Mii?

Laughed. A six year old cannot take a *normal* picture.

Took close up *eye* pictures. Don't ask.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I'm dreaming of white Christmas, part 2

Christmas Day 11 am - 5:30 pm

We headed for Kansas City about 11 am. At Matfield Green, a sign informed us McDonald's was "closed due to inclement weather." The convenience store was open, and I've never seen so many people in line with hot dogs, sandwiches, chips and other gas station food. We almost got stuck in the parking lot, but Scott's expert driving got us out.

The roads became worse as we traveled closer to Kansas City, but nothing to be concerned about. We were still able to make good time. We stopped once in Olathe for a gas/bathroom/battery emergency break. Sherry texted me asking if we could stop for AA batteries for the Air Hogs radio controlled helicopter, a favorite Christmas gift. An emergency indeed.

Once we got close to Sherry's house, the roads were considerable worse. Scott joined a group of six others who were helping a 4x4 truck out of a snow drift. The boys and I stayed in the car and laughed as the snow flew up from the spinning tires. In Sherry's neighborhood, we could not get into her driveway, so we went around the block and gunned it through the snow and parked on the street. The boys played with the aforementioned helicopter and the Wii. We ate chocolate and cinnamon rolls, a healthy snack to tide us over until Christmas dinner at the Dyers.

We did get stuck trying to leave. Scott shoveled us out, while I saw a photo op. However, once we started the van going, we didn't want to stop and risk getting stuck again, so I had to run in the snow, with my expensive camera and no coat and jump in while the van moved slowly. Katie and Jake provided the laugh track.

Sherry took this picture from inside.

On a fashion note: I did find out that the boots I bought at Target were not a sensible choice... despite the very definition of boot (an overshoe made of waterproof material). Next time I will wear this pair of boots in cold, DRY weather.

We helped one more person before heading out of the neighborhood. We saw two more people stuck on the roads, and even saw a snowplow in the ditch on 50 Highway.

We ate Christmas dinner with Grammy and Grandpa and opened presents. The boys played with Grandpa's remote controlled helicopter and tied ropes to the upstairs bannister rods.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, part 1

Christmas Eve to 11 am Christmas Day
It was a white Christmas this year. Not exactly the perfect snow you see in all the Christmas movies...with 35-50 mph winds and actual temperatures in the teens, it was more like windy ice blowing around.

Because of the weather situation we could not go outside, so the boys played on (Star Wars games, and we uploaded more creations to their online gallery), watched The Polar Express and other shows on TV. We also passed the time by tracking Santa on the NORAD website. We attended the 3 pm Christmas Eve service and ate dinner at Oma and Papa's...beef stew, pasta, vegetables and ice cream for dessert. Papa had to do all four newscasts (4 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm and 10 pm), but was able to come home between the 6 and 10 pm news and eat dinner with us.

Christmas Day the boys woke up at 4:59 am. I know this because they came into our room and Zach said "Santa left us $1 in our stocking!" We deterred them to watching TV for about 30 minutes, but couldn't hold them back any longer.

Opening the LEGO set.

In their stockings were seven pairs of socks each (Santa knew we were in desperate need of socks), a mini LEGO racer, balloon racer car, mini markers, a notepad, chapstick, candy and $3.

We were done opening presents about 6 am. The boys disappeared downstairs to put together the LEGO set. I got ready for the day and did a little cooking. Scott cleaned. We had three and half hours to kill before brunch! 

We ate a Christmas brunch of pancakes, egg casserole, fruit salad and garlic hash browns with Oma and Papa, Grandma Agnes and Great Aunt Virginia.

Adam and Zach showing Great Aunt Virginia, Great Grandma Agnes and Oma the completed LEGO construction site.
Despite the Kansas Department of Transportation's online road map, which showed I-35 interstate ice and snow packed, we decided to start to Kansas City anyway. I did pack peanut butter sandwiches, snacks and extra know...just in case.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not exactly a Pottery Barn Christmas

Every year I get the Pottery Barn holiday catalog. As I browse through the perfectly decorated trees in varying shades of blue and silver with matching ornaments, ever so simple yet elegant table centerpieces and matching holiday comforters, I just sigh.

Don't get me wrong. I love decorating for Christmas. But my decor is definitely not suitable for the pages of a glossy magazine.

Let's start with the tree. I let the boys hang the ornaments. They have not mastered the art of spacing them out and a single branch may hold three to five ornaments. The ornaments also move around from one day to the next, and new ones appear. Like this:

I find unusual objects in the Christmas a yardstick,

LEGOs (this was a big space ship, but by the time I took this picture, just a few LEGO bricks remained),

and a sock.

I also find festive handmade decorations taped on doors, cabinets and walls throughout the house.

We call this one "mean Santa."

A LEGO candle stands next to our small kitchen Christmas tree. It IS safer than a real candle.

A countdown Santa with an interesting arrow pointing to the wall outlet. A warning, maybe?

A winter penguin with no eyes taped to the banister stairs.

And my favorite wood snowman, now inside a red box with tiny candy cane stickers on the side.

I make fun of it all, but I like my hodge podge, mismatched, willy-nilly decor. It makes me laugh. Every day there is something new. And I know sooner rather than later, I'll be able to decorate however I wish, and yardsticks and Bendaroos will not be part of my festive decor.

But I have a feeling "mean Santa" will somehow show his face every year and become an important part of our holiday decor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We can't all be Martha Stewart

The holidays are really the only time of year I bake. Sure I make the occasionally batch of chocolate chip cookies or brownies, or a cake, but Christmas is when I really get down and dirty with my muffin pans and cookie sheets. This year we made more than 100 cookies including mint brownie bites, peanut butter cheesecake squares, white and milk chocolate dipped pretzels, white and milk chocolate dipped caramel sandwich vanilla wafers and the traditional frosted cookie cutter sugar cookies.

But when we bake for the holidays, it's not like those television commercials where mom and kids are happily stirring, pouring and oohing and aahing over their creations.

Sure, the boys help. When they want to. But it's more like a sporting event, breaking up fights about who is "hogging the chair," who gets to crack more eggs or dump the brown sugar in the bowl.

And whatever you do, don't let a seven year old turn on the beaters. Nothing like a dough shower.

And then there is the decorating. Have you ever let six and seven year old boys decorate cookies with green, red and white frosting? It looks more like something we would make at Halloween, especially when using blood red gel frosting. And green and red sprinkles mixed together tend to make an ugly brown mess. Definitely not Martha Stewart worthy.

And when my children are not helping, they are using the couch cushions as human launching pads.

As for me, I'm pretty sure Martha does not bake in her pajamas at 2:30 pm, still in her glasses and hair pulled back in a ponytail, covered in flour, sugar and frosting. And I bet Martha does not have to clean up her own mess either.

Even after the holidays are long gone, I will find dried up frosting, tiny sprinkles and dough all over my kitchen. Now I remember why I only do this once a year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Why is there underwear in the CD player?"

I was prompted to write this post after recently asking this question:

"Why is there underwear in the CD player?"

Upon asking the perpetrator why the underwear was in there, he replied by giggling, uncontrollably.

It got me thinking of things I thought I would never say, and things I thought I would never do before I had children.

Before kids, I would see parents in the grocery store with their dirty, crying kids and would think "How hard is it to wipe a kid's mouth before going out in public?" Or, upon seeing a child throw a fit in a restaurant, "my kid will NEVER act like that."

Oh, how times have changed.

I thought I would never say:
"We do not hide pretzels in our pants."

"Well, you're just going to have to sit in it." (During potty training.)

"Please don't wrap the seat belt around your brother's neck."

"We don't eat ornaments off the Christmas tree."

"We do not throw golf balls/goldfish/LEGOs/buttons down the vent."

"The rings on your sleeves do not make your arms hard to move."

"I don't hear a distracting fly buzzing in your room, please go to sleep." (At 2 am).

"Don't unscrew your closet door knobs."

"Just find something to wear out of the dirty clothes."

"Please aim IN the toilet."

"How can your pants be too 'pinchy'?"

"You have to blow your nose, it's just part of life."

I thought I would never:
Let my Kindergartner wear the same outfit to school, three days in a row, with stains on the shirt.

Take my child to Wal-Mart with a dirty face/clothes. I swear it was clean five minutes ago.

Give in to whining. Sometimes it just has to STOP.

Drive around with a "little potty" in the back of the van.

Carry Super Friends underwear in my purse.

Let my child go out in the cold with no coat or shoes.

Drive around in the middle of the night to lull a baby to sleep.

Go into a liquor store visibly pregnant with an infant and buy booze. (Not for me.)

Bribe a child with food.

Calmly drink wine on the deck while my child "cried it out" at night. (OK, I wasn't calm.)

Be so excited that it was NOT my night to feed the baby.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Magic Mirror

You know those mirrors at Carnivals and Funhouses that make you look really tall, really short, or stretch you wide? What about the one that makes you look really skinny? Those mirrors...the skinny ones...are at some women's clothing stores (but without that weird distorted look).

Case in point: I was shopping for jeans, which I detest almost as much as swimsuit shopping. I have spent countless hours, no YEARS, searching for the perfect pair of jeans, but have yet to find any one brand or style that consistently delivers a great look and fabulous fit.

In a bizarre twist of fate, a recent trip to Ann Taylor and Gap produced not one, but TWO pairs of jeans. Not only that, but one was a petite length, and the other was the hip "skinny" jean. (There has been some debate on whether a female of my age can pull off the skinny jean.) After looking in the mirror, I decided that I COULD wear the skinny jeans, and that I looked good in them too...trendy even. And did I look younger? I sure did. I may have even compared myself to Jennifer Aniston. These jeans are amazing!

I was anxious to try the jeans with my other clothes, because let's face it, the buy isn't complete until you have tried on the clothing in question with the array of garments you already own. As I looked in the mirror at home...I realized that during the 20 minute ride home, I had aged 15 years and gained 15 pounds, and really didn't look that hip at all. A Jennifer Aniston FAIL. What happened?

The Magic Mirror. The mirror that makes you look thin, beautiful and chic. I think women's clothing stores purposely use mirrors that make women look good so we'll buy more clothes. A marketing ploy built upon our emotions and insecurities.

I remember an episode of Seinfeld that touched on this very phenomenon.


Elaine: Ok, So Barney’s is having this huge sale. I try this dress on -- (holds the garment bag out towards Jerry) -- Stunning. Stunning. I couldn't take my eyes off myself.
Jerry: Yeah.
Elaine: OK, so then I put it on at home. It looks like I’m carrying twins.
Jerry: So you're saying, Store -- Hotsy-Totsy, Home-- Hotsy-Notsy.

(After Elaine models the dress for Jerry and George, George asked why she bought it in the first place)

Elaine: Why did I buy it, because in the mirror, at Barney’s, I looked fabulous.

So true. I once had one of these Magic Mirrors. It was just a $5 mirror I bought at a discount store, but it was the Best. Mirror. Ever. It was more than a reflection. It was confidence. It was style. It was elegance. A BFF, always available and full of compliments.

I don't know what happened to my Magic Mirror...and I haven't been able to find another that replicates such a fabulous image. But I'll keep searching. I'll never be too old to believe in magic.