A Note to Self: The Wish List

Note to self:

Please, for the sake of your own sanity, ask the kids for their Christmas wish list in November.  Preferably before the day you go shopping.

Sincerely,
A Tired Santa

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photo5Every year it’s something.  At two it was a Spider Man ball and at three, a skateboard.  Last year it was a scarf.  This year, we got a handwritten list the last week of school.  As in this week.  As in after Santa has completely finished all the shopping.

And every year Santa manages to pull it off.  Barely.  The tiny finger skateboard instead of the full size one she was expecting didn’t go over so well, but it happened at least.  Rose’s in the Plaza turned out to be a great place to get a scarf on Christmas Eve….while she waited in the car.  This year the list has been a bit more challenging.  Here’s the rundown:

1.  Spider Girl Costume:  So, who knew there even was a Spider Girl anyway?  Chica, apparently.   I considered making one.  For about 17 seconds.  Ha.  Hahahahaha.  I owe all my thanks to Jay and Amazon for this one.

2.  Rainbow Dash:  The list says, “Pegasus.”  I sure hope this is the same thing as Rainbow Dash…??  Anyway, during one of our stops at Michael’s over the last month, Chica spotted a stuffed version of her most favorite pony.  Despite multiple methods of coercion from her (begging, whining, shaming, etc.), we didn’t walk away from the store with this toy.  Thankfully she has a gracious Nana who was willing to go back to the store and rescue Rainbow Dash this week.

3.  Wishbone:  Seriously?  Where does she get this stuff?  She wants a real wishbone.  Like from a turkey.  This week we happened to buy a whole chicken already cooked from Fresh Market when my mom was here visiting.  When I saw the list, I thought I had the wishbone covered.  Welllll, Jay never saw the list.  So, while fixing leftovers one evening, he called her in the kitchen to offer her the wishbone.  They broke it together, and she  made a wish.  Still not sure whether I can count this list item as covered.  We’ll see.

4.  Elements of Harmony:  Definitely didn’t know what this was.  Her first couple of attempts to explain it to me were rather vague too.  So, like any other clueless Santa, I took to Google.   Turns out the Elements of Harmony is some sort of book of necklaces from My Little Pony that contain magical powers.  There are six different elements, each with a different color and symbol.  Amazon failed me on this one…this is not something I could buy.  (Second note to self…I need to pitch this idea to some toy maker and get rich so that next Christmas I can afford a personal shopper to pull off this increasingly difficult Santa stuff.  Errr…I digress.)

So I realize full well that at some point Santa can’t pull off every wish that will be on the list.  But my wheels started turning, and Nana’s wheels started turning, and we knew Rachel would be here soon to help.  We decided to just make the crazy thing.

I’m not going for a Pinterest-worthy how-to post, but in case you ever need to pull off a similar stunt, here’s how we did it:

1.  Pour a glass of wine.  Or in our case, three glasses.  Put the extra in the downstairs refrigerator because you’ll probably need it.
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2.  Gather the materials:  A box disguised as a book, fake jewels, Velcro, scrapbook paper, scissors, ribbon, felt, glue, paintbrush, etc.
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3.  Get your husband to use fingernail polish remover to rub the shiny finish off the back of the jewels while he watches football.  He won’t fuss as much about having to participate if he’s distracted by the game and manly conversation.
4.  Get your mother-in-law to search her amazingly huge collection of scrapbook papers for the necessary shapes:  star, diamond, lightning bolt, balloon, butterfly, and apple.  Be prepared, however, that even if she has 1,290,387 pieces of paper, you may still have to draw a few freehanded.
5.  Get your sister-in-law to cut out the shapes and modge podge them to the back of the jewels.
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6.  While they do the hard parts, you can work on creating the necklace from felt and ribbon.  You can also line the box with more cool paper from her huge collection.  Then you can do the dangerous part of hot gluing the Velcro to the jewels and the box.  Be prepared to get burned.  It’s obligatory when using a hot glue gun.
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7.  Remind yourself many times that, in spite of how much fun you’ve had creating this one of a kind gift, your five year old may open the box and immediately pick up on one important fact:  the real Elements of Harmony have 6 necklaces and hers has one with interchangeable jewels.  Be prepared for the worst reaction, and then you can be happily surprised if she loves it.
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8.  Be sure to hide all of the evidence of your late night craftiness.  This includes deleting the pictures from your iPad after you blog about it!

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SO excited about Christmas morning now.  I know that the gifts are not what it’s all about, but I just can’t wait to see her reaction.  I know that there is this small window in her little life where the magic is still very real.  I plan to enjoy that with her as long as I can.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh…and Lynchburg friends…

I’ve still got one more thing to check off the list so that Santa can be 4 for 4.  Anybody cooking a turkey before Christmas?  : )

Dollar Tree Valentines

So there’s a reason I don’t write a craft blog. It’s this:

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I never clean up as I work. If you write a craft blog, you have to take pictures along the way, so you clean up as you go. Me? I make a mess, scoot to the next open space on the table, and plan to clean it up when I’m done. Or tomorrow. Ok…..so definitely by two weeks from now.

Actually, there are a few other reasons I don’t write a craft blog. I’m always doing dumb stuff like cutting my own fingers with scissors or pressing print before I double check my spelling. I also am frequently missing essential items like a paper cutter or a whole punch, and my improvised tools don’t work so well. Projects that look like they’ve been cut out by a second grader don’t make for very good close-ups.

I definitely like to be crafty, but most of the time it seems that it takes too much time and money…two things I don’t have very much of that is unspoken for already. But tonight the pinspiration hit me, and I managed to pull off homemade Valentine’s for both of my kids’ classes. (Oh gees…I really did just use that word.)

Jay was at a meeting at church, and the kids and I had a few hours to kill. I now have just enough experience as a mom to know that if I wait until Wednesday night to figure out Valentines, it will be disaster all around. That’s certainly not enough time to pull off something homemade, and the only premade cards at Wal-mart will be either very expensive, inappropriate, or something you’ve never heard of in your life. Yeah….been there, done that.

So I pried Chica away from My Little Pony (what is it with that show these days??), loaded both kids up, and headed to the Dollar Tree. Actually, first I showed her a few non-food Valentine ideas that I thought we could pull off with stuff from our one-stop shopping trip. She didn’t seem particularly thrilled by any of them (I was rooting for these), so I told her we’d just be on the lookout for something else there that would inspire us. And then, of course, I had to define inspire.

After nixing the heart shaped mazes (Come on….”You amaze me”……so perfect!), the silly straws, and the bugs, she finally landed on glow sticks. We had seen a glow stick idea before we left, so I liked the idea of something I wouldn’t have to recreate. I also found bubbles for Bubba’s class (I was thinking, You blow my mind, Valentine), glue sticks for Chica’s teachers (I’m stuck on you), and lotion for Bubba’s teachers (Thanks for making every day so smooth). Oh, and she picked out a card for her daddy, complete with jokes she didn’t really understand, and one somewhat useful item from the man aisle. Useful if you were stranded on a deserted island, maybe?? We made it out of there and managed to only drop $15.

Anyway, I got home, made the usual Daddy’s-not-home dinner (PBJ), and decided to look for ways to pull off these projects quickly and easily. Guess what?! I found something ready to just print, cut out, and tie or tape on for three out of four of my projects. Since we’ve only recently acquired a printer as a hand-me-down, I am just now realizing the miracle that is the “free printable.” Jackpot!

In case you need a quick, cheap, and easy homemade Valentine, here’s a rundown of my sources:

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Glow Stick Printable. All that’s left to do is to have Chica sign her name to all 17 of them. You don’t think that will take all week, do you? : )

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Bubbles Printable. This mom made the pattern to fit Dollar Tree bubbles, so they were absolutely perfect. This turned out to be my favorite of the night.

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Stuck On You Printable. Her actual craft that goes with the printable is way cooler than my dollar store glue sticks, but my glue sticks are way more useful in a pre-k class, I guess.

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I couldn’t find anything I really liked for my lotion idea, so I used these gift tags and some super-cute fonts I found here to make my own.

Oh gees, it’s 11:00. Wrap this thing up, Tracy!

So here’s the big money idea (or maybe two) for the night: creative people are really just people who are good at borrowing other people’s ideas. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to. If you have an idea, chances are someone else has had it before too. If it’s something crafty, check Pinterest and Google images to see if you can mooch off their hard work. And spend the time you saved yourself on cleaning up your work space when you are done. (Ugh…still have to do that.)

Big money #2: I am not too proud to admit that this project today was 95% about me. Chica would probably be much more thrilled with a box of My Little Pony tear off cards than her homemade Valentines. Bubba’s classmates might enjoy the bubbles, but they’ll be oblivious to the perfectly-sized wrap I so carefully (ha!) added. But seeing this project from start to finish has made me feel good. I like creating (or recreating, I guess) and admiring the finished product when done. Oh, and I like writing about it.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish you a little time this week to do something you enjoy doing, too!

Chica and Bubba’s Mom

I have hit the inevitable point in adulthood where I am no longer Mrs. Somebody but Somebody’s Mom.  When I pick Chica up from school, this is how her friends (and even teachers, sometimes) refer to me.  I expected to find this annoying, but I think I actually like it these days.

This summer I sat out to fall whole-heartedly into the role of Chica and Bubba’s mom.  I purposely passed up lots of super-fun sounding professional development type opportunities in order to develop the relationship with my kids and sharpen my mommying skills.  Many thanks to Jay who politely forbid me to take on any more projects ’round about April.  He had seen the toll that six semesters of masters classes in a row had taken on our family and my sanity.  His ban on anything extracurricular definitely made it easier to say no each time.

The first few days of my new role as a short-term SAHM were quite messy.  There was little napping, fair amounts of yelling, and lots of self-pitying.  About halfway through, though, I began to get into the tiniest bit of a rhythm and routine.  (When I say tiny, I mean like finally found a time to take a shower.)  When I was tempted to whine and construct all sorts of negative Facebook statuses in my head, I tried to remind myself just how blessed I am to have the time to spend at home.  Having to beg a four-year old for the hundredth time to eat her lunch does in fact trump even the best lunch duty with 150. I’ve spent the last few weeks fully focused on being Mom and learning to love it.  There have been lots of cool moments…


One afternoon she played happily for a good hour with just a bucket of beans and some egg crates.  Who needs expensive toys?


Another evening she experimented with sinking and floating objects.  We’ve been talking about these ideas ever since.

Well, then life happened.  A huge unexpected windstorm came through our city and knocked out the power on Friday night.  We had a big limb fall in our yard and knock the phone and cable lines off of the house.  We relocated to Nana and Papa’s house because I’m not sure my kids would have survived my grumpiness in an un-airconditioned house paired with 100 degree weather.  Yesterday was day four of no power, but it has thankfully now been restored.


Dad cut, I hauled the big stuff, Chica carried the little limbs, and Bubba watched from his pack-n-play.  Thankfully we had very little to clean up…plenty of families had much worse!

While at Nana’s house I had a welcomed chance to step back from the role of All Mommy-All the Time.  I spent time making greeting cards in Nana’s basement for a friend’s fund-raising raffle.  I stayed up WAY too late working on this project, but it was SO worth it.  I have such a great feeling of accomplishment when I take time of my own to create.  Being a mom is so fulfilling, but this night reminded me that I must carve out time for myself too.

I set out this summer to be a better mom to Chica and Bubba.  Among plenty of other things, I want both of them to grow up to be creative people who use their gifts for both work and fun.  If I want that for them, then I must of course model it.

This mom thing takes an incredible amount of balance, and I don’t expect anyone can ever get it completely right.  But here’s to hoping this summer affords me time to find balance in even the tiniest form.