By now you have a little list going in your mind of all the things you're going to do differently to make 2009 your best year yet. And (it must be said) by now the thought has crossed your mind that you didn't get as far with last year's New Year's resolutions as you had hoped. (Please tell me I am not the only one!) I'm wondering if this year, it might be a lot more productive (and more fun) if I make my usual list this time around with my kids in mind.
Lose weight. OR Spend regular time with my kids in the great outdoors. Everyone would be happier (and God knows I would be thinner) if I gave up on dieting and invested all that energy in getting outside with my kids on an everyday basis.
Get out of debt Open up a savings account for my elementary school kids and help them make monthly deposits on the money we save from cutting corners. There's nothing like having to teach that makes you walk the walk really fast. And by raising my kids' awareness of finances, I can only help but become more aware of my own.
Take a class. Invite every family member to commit to learning something new. We did this one year and it was so interesting to see what kinds of things the kids wanted to learn. Madeleine (then 7) wanted to master using a sharp knife safely (well done) and this year Carter wants to learn how to play chess. I think I'll take up African cooking--something that can benefit all of us.
Spend more time with family and friends. Commit to serious, regular recharge time. I always have more energy for my loved ones when I'm willing to take even the tiniest bits of time out for myself. A hot bath, a cup of tea--all these things pave the way for me to be chilled out and ready to give the quality time everyone is asking for.
What other New Year's Resolutions could you amend to include your littlest members? By making goals that involve everyone, I think I stand a much better chance at making some very simple dreams come true.
I'm helping host a baby shower for a friend in her late 30's. I'm hoping one (or more) of the supersisters might have some creative ideas about baby shower themes or activities? Any great baby shower stories or things you would have appreciated?
Whenever I think about a baby shower, I always envision the movie Lady and the Tramp, with Darling's friends chatting about names and booties while Jim Dear and his friends pass around cigars. It's a rite-of-passage for every mother to be. It can be fun, meaningful, a nice gathering of support and love to welcome a new little person into the world.
Here are a few ideas for you Amber:
The Traditional shower- Tea and tiny cucumber sandwiches, pretty punch and cake served on china. Each guests can bring a baby picture and everyone can write down their guesses with the winner receiving a beautiful orchid or other enchanting potted plant. You might want to buy a leather bound journal and go around the room with each person offering their one bit of sage advice about babies and parenting. Add the amount of children and years of parenting represented in the room. Ask a crafty friend to sew that number of fabric squares together making a small baby blanket to be presented to the mother when the baby is born.
The Sweet and Sassy Onesie party- Onesies never go out of style and are always needed. Ask each guest to bring a sweet, sassy or artsy onesie as part of their baby gift. Hang the onesies on a clothes line against a wall, use bright and colorful clothespins. Vote on your favorite with the winner receiving a Starbucks card. Serve fun food that can be dipped or go all out and rent a chocolate fountain. Here is a great place to start looking for the perfect onesie. Finish the night with every guest signing a tiny white onesie with fabric markers. Messages of love and fun start before the babe is even born.
The Book Baby party- This is a great party for the mom-to-be who has everything. Ask every guest to bring a baby board book or their favorite children's literature. Take turns passing the books around. Have a short reading from a humorous parenting memoir or blog. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott is a great start. Eat panninis, serve coffee and tea, and have decadent chocolate cake for dessert. Guess the baby's due date, weight, height with a promise of a Barnes & Noble gift card mailed to the winner in the baby announcement. Another group gift idea- Gather money for a candid photo session for the new family right after birth.
The Blessingway- A blessingway, rooted in a Native American tradition, is a way to honor the mother and encourage her before she gives birth. You can give a very pregnant woman a soothing foot bath with herbs and flowers. Ask each guest to bring a bead that can represent a blessing for the mom, string them together to make a necklace reminding her of the care and love surrounding her. Serve veggies and hummus, berries, fruit smoothies, a light cake and herbal teas. Shower the mom with gifts just for her, dark chocolate, nice pajamas, lotions, candles, etc. Light candles and make the space dreamy. It's a lovely way to invite a woman into the tribe of motherhood.
The Grandmother Shower- My mom has been invited to a few grandmother showers. The to be grandmother (usually with her first grandchild) and her friends get together to celebrate the upcoming event. The attendees give gifts of books, photo albums, some baby equipment and other memory making kind of gifts. Advice is exchanged along with funny grandparenting stories. The mother to be may or may not attend.
The Diaper and Dinner shower- This shower is for the frequent flyers, you know the ones who are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th baby. Everyone brings a package of diapers and a casserole that can be freezed or signs up for a date to bring a meal. I hear they are all the rage and deeply appreciated the second go around.
Well, hope that helps Amber. We need more ideas! Please share your best baby shower themes and party plans in the comments.
E: Moooooooommmmmmmmm. Why does Dad have to go to work?
K: It's Monday, Ethan. Monday is a work day.
E: But I thought he told me that he was going to work outside in the yard today.
K: Nope. He had to go to work.
E: But WHY does Dad have to go to work?
Isn't that just the question of every single Monday morning. Believe you me, I'm saying it in my head all the time. Especially after a long holiday weekend, getting back into the work week (even if it's another short one) is really tough. I pulled out all the stops.
K: I know you are sad today. What if I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast?
E: Oh, would you, Mom? With smiley faces?
Isn't it amazing what a smiley face pancake can do to lift your spirits? You should try it for yourself sometime.
By now you are in a holiday-induced coma, vowing to yourself you will never let yourself eat this many Christmas cookies ever, ever again. I feel your pain, sisters. I'm right there with you. While you contemplate all the nutritional changes you'll make in the New Year, let me direct you to the finest of the web this last week.
Amy Sharp of Doobleh-vay has a fantastic solution for saying thank you this holiday season. Skip the handwritten notes (which too often never make it to the mailbox anyway) and try this lovely web-friendly bit of gratitude instead. I think any grandparent in America would be pleased as punch to be thanked in this particular way.
Do you feel like you spent too much money this holiday season? Now is as good a time as any to get back on the bandwagon and recommit to becoming a picture of fiscal responsibility in 2009. If you need a sister or two to help you get back on track, join the Poverty Party and make saving (and no more frivolous spending) fun.
And last but not least, if you think this is the very last year you can pull off Santa at your house, take this good advice from Brene Brown--mom extraordinaire--who helped her own dear girl receive the truth about Santa without losing any sparkle or magic to her holiday.
The big Christmas morning surprise: A Wii
The kids: excited beyond belief. Jack, in particular, was delirious
The Wii nickname: This started quite a discussion amongst our family members. We thought the Wii should be named the Wiigado after our last name Salgado. Jack disagreed.
"I think we should name it God because it IS Christmas and that's what Christmas is all about. You know, God the baby and everything." he insisted.
"Huh, that's true." I said. (actually considering the idea)
"We can NOT name the Wii GOD." Jorge said under his breath.
Wiigado won, although I think the Wii will be worshiped for a while.
And Santa did appear at our front door. At 5:35 p.m. Something about making sure that everyone had been good this year, that good behaviors lasted until bedtime, taking baths and that bedtime come soon so Santa could finally come down our chimney.
Sure he had forgotten his hat and The Boy noticed something funny about his beard.
E: Mom. What is up with Santa's hair on his face? Why does it look like that?
Um, because it's polyester? Flammable yet very soft?
There were questions about how Santa arrived, where the presents were, why he came early and why couldn't he just drop the presents off now. Little faces pressed up against the window as Mom tried in vain to explain that Santa's sleigh had disappeared in a flash and little voices asked how Santa's sleigh could be so fast and shouldn't we have heard him fly away. Discussions regarding our wood stove insert blocking the chimney.
I feared that perhaps Santa's 90 seconds had been a few too long but The Baby was rushing up the stairs, his fat little legs moving as fast as he could.
Nathan: Baff, Mommy. Baff.
K: Santa told you to get a bath?
Nathan: NOW, MOMMY. NOW. Ho, ho, ho.
Well, alrighty then. I can see now that I was throwing the Santa card/be-on-your-best-behavior/don't-make-me-call-him-because-I-have-his-cell-number on the wrong kid. There's no doubt this little one believes. I fear he has absolutely no idea what he believes in, but if a large man in a red suit shows up in your living room and tells you to get a bath, I guess you had better do it.
Here's to lots more years of rushed baths and hurried bedtime stories before Santa comes. And to all a good night.
Here's a little bit of holiday goodness from our friends at PBS. You'll want to play this one on repeat, we promise. Happy Christmas, Supersisters. May the next few days be so merry, so bright.
This is Carter when he was a little boy, when he still had all his baby teeth, when he was too shy to let his tears out, before he had learned how to cry.
Now he is seven and he is finding words for his feelings. He knows how to say when something is off. He knows how to be curious when he has no idea what could possibly be wrong.
The other night we were having dinner with friends when we heard a horrible wail coming from upstairs. Carter was crying, and Dave and I both instinctively jumped from our seats to see what was going on. We found a very repentant Madeleine talking to Carter gently, our friend's bewildered son and Carter nearly shrieking, saying over and over again, "I am NOT a baby."
I wish I had a dollar for every time Carter cried his eyes out over being called a crybaby. The irony is too sweet. The best we can do is scoop him up in our arms and silently smile.
Since it was already way too late, I decided to take Carter home and put him to bed. The ride home sounded like this.
Carter: I hate Madeleine. I HATE HER. I wish I were an only child.
Me: I'm so sorry, buddy. I know the only people who can really hurt your feelings badly are the ones you love so much. And I know you love Madeleine so much for you to feel this sad right now. I'm so, so sorry.
Carter: I hate her. (sobbing) I really, really hate her. And she's so, so mean to me. I can't take it anymore.
Me: I know you have been very patient with Madeleine when she wants to play rough. And I know you really hate that kind of playing, right? It's not your way, right?
Carter: It's not. And I hate it. I really, really hate it.
Me: Buddy, I'm wondering what it is you need from Madeleine exactly. Do you need her to be kind to you? Or more gentle? Do you need more respect?
Carter (very quiet): I need kindness. I really need kindness. And I need respect.
Me: I know it. You DO need kindness and respect. Everybody needs it so, so much.
Carter: What's respect again? I know I need it, but I forget what it means.
Me: Respect is when someone listens to you very deeply and takes you seriously and believes you when you say what's important to you.
Carter: I need respect.
Me: You do.
Carter (now wailing again): And I need LOVE. I need kindness and respect and LOVE. I really need love.
Me: You do, buddy. You need love. And you have to have it. You can't be okay without love. You really need that.
Carter (still crying): That's true. I HAVE TO HAVE IT.
And I need cereal. And milk. Do we have any milk?
(we are always out of milk)
Me: We can go get milk right now. Right now.
We wander around Safeway in silence, me and Carter, looking for milk, holding out for love, wondering what can be done about this request and this Madeleine who loves Carter so fiercely that sometimes it hurts.
Me (walking back to the car with Carter trailing behind): What do you think you can do about Madeleine?
Carter: I think I can write her a letter.
Me: That sounds good.
Carter: But I have to eat my cereal first.
Me: Fair enough.
We go home, eat cereal and Carter passes out--long before the still worried Madeleine comes home to find out where she stands. There is no letter, no conversation, no resolution really. But the next morning? I can feel the kindness and the very real understanding that you can't be okay without love. Whether you're the crybaby or the one who always plays a little bit too rough. Not even a little bit okay.
And for now that is more than enough.
We went to see Santa yesterday. I know. On December 21. Like he isn't busy enough already without having to add some last minute work on his plate that is sure to remove any and all hope of sleep for the elves between now and Thursday.
There were 75 people in line in front of us. HEY!!! Our Santa is the REAL Santa and he is worth the wait. In fact, there were intense negotiations this year and our Santa who has been at this location for supposedly 19 years parked his sled elsewhere due to salary issues. Introduce public outcry, petitions and angry phone calls to the mall and our Santa with carefully placed rosacea was back on his throne for the entire term of his reign, to the tune of 30 g's for 6 weeks work.
Don't knock it. Thanks to this Santa, the 9-year-old girl in front of us was in her 5th year at this mall and still believes. Bless her heart. I mean, I believe too, but I'm not in elementary school anymore. The world is a rough place full of disbelief.
The woman behind me was not so cheery. She lamented about being tortured by the commercialization of Christmas and being forced to do all those things she swore she would never do when she became a mother. They were taking the kids to Machu Picchu for vacations, for heaven's sake. If her kids wanted to go to see the mouse in Orlando, they could do so after they turned 18 and moved out of her house. Her husband had dragged her here and she was furious.
Her daughter was 1 1/2 and the cutest thing you have ever seen. Of course she had the typical experience and was frightened beyond belief. Let's be honest here. This year was the first year Ethan didn't cry and look at Santa like he was an alien. Of course this year he had also figured out the drill and was ready with his list ("atwowheeledscooterabirdhouseandarobot,Santa") and didn't waste his time with actually breathing while seated on Santa's lap.
I get what that mom was saying. I just think sometimes we live in a tough world and it's nice to have hope. Even for a little while. It's no Machu Picchu, but it'll do.
How's your holiday going so far? Needing a little humor? A little love? A song or two to help you get through the craziness of the season? Enjoy this lovely selection of posts from around the web to make your days merry and bright.
Is there going to be a shiny new bike under the tree for a cute little guy in your house? This adorable video will be sure to remind you of your own days learning how to ride with your parent of choice running alongside down the hill.
For mothers needing a little more support during the holiday season, don't miss this collection of rants from mothers on the web who are right where you are, working hard to get everything together just in time.
Madeleine has entertained herself endlessly over the last two weeks by elfing herself and everyone she knows with this clever little tool. If Christmas cards are totally out of the question at this point, you might do just as well to send a little e-card with the elf-version of your nearest and dearest.
Hanukkah is just days away. Have you found your menorah yet? Here's a very helpful little video from a Jewish mom who is happy to share her secrets on how to celebrate Hanukkah on a budget.