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Preparing your home for holiday house guests- Frugie style

 

Use closets, the garage, the office and the master bedroom to hide all the shit that’s been piling up all year. I’m talking about the kids’ Easter baskets and trick or treat bags; you know what I’m talking about.

Practice the phrase, “And I just cleaned it this morning, and look at it already!”

Fill your house with wafting, tempting scents that will distract guests. Like bacon.

Put out plenty of alcohol, spirits and alcohol. This is also a good distraction.

Wear clothing that isn’t covered in pet hair.

Remove the bra from behind the couch cushions your teenager shoved there one night while she was watching YouTube. (What? 13 year olds get tired of those things too you know!)

Try to remove cat or dog hair from the butter dish. This is hard, I know.

Do a quick once-over to check for any ‘surprises’- used band-aids, underwear and popsicle sticks shoved under the coffee table or on chairs. Trust me on this. The day you don’t check for that stuff is the day it will be your son’s band aid face up on the chair Aunt Susan sits on and she’ll have it stuck to her skirt unknowingly.

 

Stupid Christmas commercials like cars with bows and jewelry on the tree.

This post originally was published 2 years ago. But I figure it deserves an encore. My feelings haven’t changed.

You know those commercials where the wife goes outside on Christmas morning. It’s snowing, she’s dressed perfectly with makeup on like a Kardashian, and everything, probably wearing a pretty mohair sweater, that’s white, yeah, cuz moms always wear fuzzy, WHITE sweaters, and there sits a new SUV with a big red bow on it. Or the jewelry commercial where the guy is hanging the ring box on the tree and says so smoothly, ‘ OH, what could THIS ornament be?? Why, maybe YOU should open it’.  Gag.

If you find those commercials nauseating too, raise your hand. Thank you.

I’m not sure why those jewelry and car commercials at Christmas time drive me batnuts. Is it because that will never happen to me? Am I jealous? I shouldn’t say never. Maybe one day, James and I will hit pay dirt and he’ll buy me a Mercedes for Christmas and put it in the driveway with a big red bow. And Hugh Jackman will step out of it with a cup of espresso and whisk me away to Australia to be on his Oprah reunion special. I’ll be so happy and grateful, Oprah will ask to be my friend and then Gayle will get jealous and run off with Steadman. Then Oprah will just have to adopt me (and my family) because she’ll be alone and need a friend. We’ll move in to her Chicago mansion with all her dogs and read books and have Dr. Oz over to talk about our bowel movements. It will be so. much. fun.

Instead of ridiculous commercials that only cater to a small, and I mean, small demographic, let’s have a commercial where the husband gives his wife a carpet steam cleaner and an Ov Glove, or a Ped Egg. Her eyes will well up with tears and she’ll offer to do all kinds of ‘favors’ for him. Or maybe he gets her a Victoria’s Secret nightgown that’s see-thru, she can only wear when the kids are in bed and she feels like lounging in underwires and shiny, cold satin. That would be a very realistic commercial. Really.

To James’ credit, one Christmas he did give me diamond earrings. It was the Christmas Owen was a baby. Sort of a delayed Push Present maybe? If I remember correctly, I had a sinus infection and bronchitis that Christmas, which I did pretty much every Christmas the children were little. I didn’t have make up on, I was in some kind of fuzzy jammies with teapots on them, and had one of those heated rice pack thingys on my head to relieve the sinus pressure. I think I asked him to turn OFF the video camera as to NOT document this moment in history since we didn’t want to traumatize our children in the future should they happen to find the tape and see mommy with suitcases under her eyes, no voice, and heat pads on her head. No makeup, no white mohair sweater. nada. zip.

It’s okay. I’m not bitter or anything. Really.

There’s more to Christmas presents than jewelry and luxury automobiles. There’s gifts that can’t be bought in stores. They’re made with love and glue. Lots of glue.

When I unwrap one of those gifts that the kids make in class with their school picture hanging in a foamy wreath, or a  pipe cleaner tree, THOSE are the ones that make my eyes well up with tears.

I’ll take those over diamonds and German engineering any year.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without swearing under the tree

We have a fake Christmas tree. Maybe Martha wouldn’t approve.  I’m okay with that. Some families go to tree farms and cut down the tree themselves. Some go to a tree lot and pick out the best looking, least Charlie Browniest they can find.

We used to do that. And then there was the year James brought the chainsaw into the living room, and something had to change.

We never did the tree farm thing with the kids. Just the tree lot. We’d drive down the two miles to the fruit stand that sells the Christmas Trees in December. It’s right across from the Starbucks, that we would visit afterwards, or before, or both. The guy at the lot straps the tree on top of the minivan and off we go to decorate it. It’s like Norman Rockwell. Or the Griswolds. I don’t know if the Griswolds paid $95 dollars for their Fraiser Noble, but we did.

Emma and Owen were smaller. Probably 7 and 4.  They knew what bad words were. Like ‘shit’ and ‘damn’. We tried to keep it innocent. Mostly. That would all change at the holidays.

Now, the tree strapped to the minivan was at least 8 or 9 feet tall. We wanted it grand in front of the living room window. It was also about 7 feet in diameter. And so pokey with all those pine needles. They don’t call them needles for nothing.  We, James and I,  mostly just James would lug the tree through the front door and shove it into the tree holder. This would take a lot of screaming on my part, because of the pokey needles, and that  it weighed 400 pounds at least. Getting it just so, in the hole with the screw thingys all tight meeting in the middle. This would work very easily with a 5 foot tree, about 4 feet in diameter and with a trunk only about 6 inches. This tree we got, had a trunk about a foot wide. Clearly our tree isn’t going to fit. But what’s hard about realizing this, is you are still holding this 800 pound tree (it gets heavier with each minute that passes) with all the pokey needles in your hands and up your nose and stuff. You can’t just lay down a 9 foot tree in your living room. Well, you can, but then your couch will probably have sap all over it and pine needles all over the carpet. Which are anyway after it didn’t fit through the front door and it needed to be shoved over the threshold. So I stood there holding it up and James says he’ll be right back. Meanwhile the children are anxiously putting ornaments on it while you are holding it, and you’re telling them now is not the time to hang Rudolph on the branches and that Daddy is going to fix it so we can get the tree to stay up without mommy holding it up. So BACK OFF. I mean, ‘Go watch Dora for a minute sweeties’.

So the part I haven’t told you yet, is the colorful words that come forth from daddy when the tree doesn’t fit. I don’t know why he’s the one swearing. I’m the one holding the 1200 pound tree. But I’m not swearing in front of the children, because that would be wrong. When he returns to the living room, he is holding a chainsaw. Or was it a circular saw? It was a power tool with ‘saw’ in the end of it’s name. I think it plugged in instead of using a pull string to start it. So maybe it wasn’t a chainsaw. Either way, it looked dangerous. And dirty. And not something that belongs in my living room.

Laying down the tree-very carefully-(because I am NOT holding it anymore since power tools are involved).  James starts cutting the crap out of the bottom of the stump to fit it into the tree stand. There’s wood chips flying everywhere. It was working. Sort of. What was this tree made out of, metal?  It was very loud and I worried that he wasn’t wearing protective eye wear. I think there was a knot in the branch that was at the bottom of the tree. It would be nice if the tree guys could whittle it down like a pencil to fit perfectly in the tree stand. But that’s hindsight I guess. So James fought that knot in the stump with valor. It had no chance. Eventually.

Once we heaved ho-ed it into the stand, screwed in the screws at the bottom, took turns standing across the room squinting to see if it was straight or not, James got the pleasure of getting the massive spider’s web nest of tree lights out of the bin to find that probably 3 out of 5 strands had dud bulbs in them and he needed to go to the hardware store anyway. More swear words. At this point the children have learned the finer language of truck drivers or sailors, or long shore men- just pick a profession that swears a lot and that is what the children learned.

So, to make a long story, kind of longer. We decided that even though it might not be eco friendly- totally sentimental, or even have that piney smell, it was time to get a fake tree. We didn’t care that they were made in China, that you paid about $400 for a decent one. We just wanted to save Christmas from the litany of profanity that came with the tree. It was our duty as parents.

So the next year, we packed up the kids and drove to Ace (it’s about a half mile from our house) and picked the display model that was discounted for only $150 (a steal!) and, you guessed it, went to Starbucks after to celebrate. The cool thing about most artificial trees is they come pre-strung. The lights are all good to go. You pop it together, plug it in and voila, O Tannenbaum.

Now Emma says when we put the tree up, “It’s just not the same without daddy swearing.” Cheeky.

Reason To Live Friday #27- We survived Christmas

Okay, we did more than survive it. We sucked the life out of it and showed it who’s boss. Well, really, I just ate too much, drank a little too much and have become a vegetative shell of a human.

This is why bears hibernate during the winter. I don’t think mammals are programmed for much activity once the Winter Solstice kicks in. I’ve been sleeping in and so have the children, except Christmas morning- when Owen came in my room, “It’s 6:04 mom. You said we could get up at 6:00.”  Sure kid, Merry Christmas to you too.

I’ve been eating every carb in sight. This might not be new for you either. Cinnamon bread, scones, and coffee. You’d think I’d have more energy with the amount of coffee and sugar I am consuming. Far from it. I seem to just plan my day around which warm, caffeinated beverage I will have next. What creamer or syrup will it be this time? Gingerbread, pumpkin? Hazelnut? Coconut?

My waistline is starting to resemble Augustus Gloop’s mother’s. It’s starting to form into a tire shape with it’s own treads.

But enough complaining. We had a blast. The kids enjoyed their stuff. They were even (gasp) nice to each other and to us. I shall share with you a Christmas photo montage of our fabulous holiday.

Here goes-

 

But wait, there’s more. My best gift, aside from the Lululemon jacket McSweetie got me, or even the spending $$ my MIL got me, Emma wrote me a ‘vignette’. I writing assignment in Language Arts class that pretty much can have any content, no plot line and not even complete sentences. Sounds like my blog doesn’t it? Anyway- it went something like this-

“Mama is proud of me when I am performing, tears trickle down Mama’s face. Salty hot tears of joy swell up in her eyes. Those eyes that are forests. Forests in autumn when the leaves start to change, crisp, yellow. Mama’s eyes are a burst of all those trees changing, changing, changing. Mama is beautiful.”

Okay that’s all I can type until I start with my own hot salty tears again down my face.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Here’s to the New Year!

Here we go a wassailing

Let’s drink and be merry, it’s the holidays!

I made wassail for you. Okay, it’s not really wassail, because it isn’t made from cider and it’s not to celebrate the apple harvest. But I digress… I made mulled wine and show you can too in this little video.

Holy crap, the cat video bombs- again! It’s 5 minutes and you can sit with your beverage and watch. I even sing. People, I don’t hold back for your entertainment.

And don’t forget to watch, click and share. I get paid in m&m’s for my videos now and you will save my mom so much trouble trying to accumulate all those views herself.

Behold:

 

 

Peace in Connecticut

I don’t always like to blog about controversial topics. I don’t. But I’m a writer. So I write my feelings. My blog is my voice and I try to use my voice with a purpose.  Here are my thoughts on the horrible event at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut.

The fact of the matter is- I hate guns. But before all my NRA readers get hot under the collar at me- give me a chance here. I support the 2nd Amendment. Sure. I don’t like it, but that’s my opinion. You can carry a handgun. You can own hunting rifles. But get those mother fucking automatic assault rifles out of the hands of citizens. I don’t know why we don’t agree on that. The assault ban law expired years ago. Why?

So with that said, yes, I’m sure I’ve pissed some people off, BUT- here is what I know we can agree on. The persons who have committed these atrocities in the last year, and the last 10 years, all were mentally ill. Right? Nobody does this is thinking soundly. Clearly we can use these examples as a learning tool. Can’t we?

Politicians, lobbyists, activists, LISTEN UP- we need to stop reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, pointing fingers, spending millions of dollars on lobbying, blaming parties (this is not a party issue, I assure you.) I have Republican friends who hate guns and Democratic friends who own them. We need to get to the root of the problem and fix those who are mentally unsound.

It isn’t easy. I’m not stupid. But why do all the stories of family members and acquaintances to these criminals start with, “I knew something wasn’t right with them…”

I don’t know how you can argue your right to bear arms of a semi automatic firearm to a mother who’s 5 year old was gunned down while sitting in their Kindergarten class. Or tell the surviving children of that class why their teacher’s son came with so much fire power to kill his own mother and their classmates.

This could have happened anywhere, to anyone. It has. We’ve seen it. From Amish communities, high schools, movie theaters, places of worship… there is no place safe in America. There just isn’t.

So this is why I’m asking those that sound off in the argument on this to be kind, to be respectful, to honor those that are surviving the aftermath. Yes, people kill people. But guns used by people kill people too. Terrible things will continue to happen in our world. This event rips out our hearts because we can’t understand it. The fact is, more children die from auto accidents, bicycle accidents, and childhood cancer than they will from a mass shooting. But why does it always feel like there was something that could’ve been done?

30,000 people have friends and family members who are missing them in just this passed year lost to gun violence. My question is for all of us, what can we do to lower that number? What can we do to protect people’s rights, without threatening people’s safety.

What countries in our world have fewer gun deaths and better mental health provisions? What is their system? This isn’t a socialist or capitalist problem. This is an American problem. We need to honestly and thoroughly look at every single possibility we can do to prevent this, or minimize this from happening again.

The date on the calendar, 11 days until Christmas, makes this more painful. I think about the presents I’ve already wrapped for my children that are under the tree, that are unwrapped hidden around the house in special places. Their advent calendars happily opened each morning. I can’t not break into tears thinking of those advent calendar doors that will go unopened in those houses in Connecticut.

My heart is truly broken.

Peace. Truly, and sincerely- peace.

Reason to Live Friday #25- Feed the World

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Reason to Live Friday- so for today, I’m dedicating it to making the world better, one woman at a time.

 

Some of you may flinch at the memory of the 80s hit song- ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’.  Personally, I love it. I do. It was created by Bob Geldof. Not Gandalf. Gandalf is the wizard in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books who has a long gray beard and carries a staff. Bob Geldof is a song writer and humanitarian. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two.

Okay, back to the song. There’s a few reasons I love listening to it. The bells and chords in it are pretty cool. Then there’s the game you play to identify which 80s British singer you are listening to when they sing their part. I’ll be in my car going, “oh, that’s Boy George.” Or “is that Simon LeBon?” George Michael and Bono are so easy to identify.

But the words about ‘there’s no snow in Africa’ and ‘thank God it’s them, instead of you’, rips my heart out. The last thing Africa needs is snow. But maybe some rain would be nice. And honestly, aren’t you all glad it’s them and not you?

There’s poor everywhere in the world. But Africa is poor and war torn. The Sally Struthers commercials with the kids covered in flies and their distended bellies always is etched in my mind. She would say, ‘for just the cost of a cup of coffee, you can clothe and feed a child.’ Amazing how far a dollar goes.

Sorry to bum you out. That’s not my point. My point is just to plant a seed of thought in your head.

Have you heard of Women for Women International? It’s this amazing company that teaches women in war torn 3rd world countries how to run their own business to support their families. Every 6 months I receive a new ‘sister’s’ profile and all about her situation. I’ve had women in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Rwanda.

My current sister, Yvonne, is in Rwanda, she is in her 20s and is married but has no children. Rwanda? Can you believe it! Can you imagine living there? No.

I’ve received Easter cards, Christmas cards and photos from my sponsored sisters. Some come with photos. I usually burst into tears because they write that I’m such a blessing and I’ve done this amazing thing for them and their family and they pray for me and my family…. Oh my gosh!!

Yeah. Of course the Christmas card comes at Easter, and the Easter card comes at Christmas because I think they still operate by Pony Express in 3rd world countries. Okay, sorry, bad joke.

Well, I know there’s poor everywhere. There’s poor here in my own neighborhood and hungry children at my kids’ schools. And yes, I do what I can to help them too. But the idea of a woman, who has to fight to survive whether it’s war, rape, famine, drought; who doesn’t know how to read or write; who is treated like property instead of a person; I need to be a part of that change.

I got a message from them to hope I could spread the word this holiday time with the hopes that some of you could do some gift giving through  their program. You know buy some chicks or a goat for a family that needs it. Forget iPads and Prada handbags, these women want a goat for Christmas.

If you’d like, we can all pitch in. Message me if you want to contribute a few dollars and we’ll get some goats and chicks for these remarkable women!

If you are interested in sponsoring a sister, it’s a monthly commitment of $25 here’s the link – Women for Women Int’l Sponsorship

The good news is that this organization rates very highly on Charity Navigator. See here.

So in answer to the 80s song, I think they do know it’s Christmas time. Hopefully some of them do anyway.

Finding the Funny Holiday Link Up

Calling all bloggers! Do you have some hilarious holiday stories to share? Something so unbelievable that the blogging gods just handed you this writing gold?

My Life and Kids and Kelley’s Break Room are using their Wednesday Finding the Funny link up to share your hilarious holiday stories.

Here’s one of my favorites from last year. I make no apologies for having a fake tree. I can be hippy dippy and crunchy too, but the argument goes both ways pros and cons, fake or real. SO here’s my tale of why mine is fake. The TREE, that is! Geeze people.

Swearing Under the Christmas Tree

 

Now go LINK UP!

Finding the Funny Holiday Edition

It’s a very special edition of Finding the Funny! Today I’m teaming up with My Life and Kids, Kelley’s Break Room and 14 more bloggers to bring you a special Holiday edition of Finding the Funny!

How to Link Up

Link up as many posts as you want – old or new – as long as they’re related to the holidays and will make us laugh! Your post will show up here and on 16 other blogs!

It’s easy to link up!

  • Click on the “Add Your Link” button at the bottom of the page.
  • URL: copy and paste the URL of your blog post (be sure to use the exact post URL).
  • Name: enter the TITLE of your blog post – this is what will appear below your post picture. (Limited to 30 characters)
  • Enter your email address (don’t worry – this won’t be shared.)
  • Click on NEXT and choose an image that will appear in the link up.
  • Stick around and read the other posts and get ready to laugh!

Meet the Bloggers

All 17 of us will be sharing your posts on our blogs!

My Life and Kids

Kelley’s Break Room

The HillJean: Because My Life is Fascinating

The Fordeville Diaries

Frugalista Blog

Hollow Tree Ventures

Honest Mom

House TalkN

I’m Still Learning

Let Me Start By Saying

The Mom of the Year

Mom’s New Stage

Motherhood WTF

Ninja Mom

There’s More Where That Came From

Random Handprints

Toulouse and Tonic

Link up!



The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The Perfect Christmas (brag) letter from yours truly,

 

A happy holidays to all of you that I know and even the little people that I don’t really know.

I hope this year has been as full of blessings for your family as it has been for mine. Most people who know me in real life read my blog. So that means that a lot of you are already up to speed on just about everything. But for the few of you that don’t pay attention, or are new here, I will catch you up to speed. Or give you all a recap on my awesomeness.

January was the month of the perfect storm. There wasn’t anything perfect about 7 days straight of the apocalypse snow storm of 2012, not to be confused with the apocalypse of the Mayan prediction of the end of the world here to happen in a few days. But the Northwest was covered in snow and ice and subzero temperatures for well over a week. Sadly, just about everyone we knew was without power for a solid 3 to 4 days. Or longer even! Lucky for us, we stayed warm and cozy with the lights on and all our appliances powered. What a relief! Sorry to our in-laws and several Facebook friends, I hope you weren’t jealous.

February was filled with dreams coming true. You won’t believe this- but… I GOT TO GO TO THE GRAMMYS!!! You heard that right. You know, the star-studded music awards show. A friend of a friend’s dad got tickets and we were treated like VIPs! Even though we weren’t allowed to bring our cell phones in, or cameras,  we walked on the red carpet! Well, the red carpet that extended behind the backdrops for all the networks and their interviews. I saw quite a few handsome security guards up close. From a distance I saw A-list stars like Paris Hilton and Tia Carrera. But only because I think Tia Carrera got lost and wandered in to the NVIP area (Not Very Important Person) and was waiting for her manager or agent to come fetch her. She looked a little annoyed. But then again, I think the Botox in her face makes her look annoyed no matter what.

It was a magical evening that made for memories that I will never forget. Memories like how we weren’t allowed any food, unless you want Red Vines and Mt. Dew at the concessions (no thank you) and I snarfed on my protein bar I carried in my designer small evening bag. It was organic and vegan, so not to worry, I would NEVER eat any PROCESSED food.

Speaking of, I went completely vegan in February. It was a little hard at first. The idea of giving up all that fabulous cheese that I had delivered to our home by the cheese of the month club breaks my heart- it was on one of Oprah’s ‘favorite things’. By the way, I subscribe to O Magazine. I hope you do too- Suze Orman’s advice saved us!

But back to me being healthy and all natural and meat and dairy free. I realized that my tremendous gas and bloating troubles were in fact my intolerance to lactose. What a tremendous burden off of  my back and the family’s. No more suffering through my flatulent evenings. Even the dog is relieved!

Oh, the children did fine in school. Emma’s in 7th grade, Owen is in 4th. You know- they’re kids. The usual, soccer, theater, honors class, Scouting, etc.

So anyway… this was definitely MY year. I mean, the Grammys, blogging, PTA, Twitter- Ashley Judd responded to a tweet of mine. It was exciting. I’m on Pinterest too. It keeps me so busy while the kids are in school.

It was one of those big birthday years- I turned 40!! You can’t really tell. I mean, all those high-end beauty products I use, really do their job! People are always telling me how young I look. So I wear my 40 years with pride.

We celebrated my birthday with a family trip to Maui. We had never been and the kids were so excited. We stayed at the Grand Wailea Resort. It’s gorgeous. Have you ever been? You should. I highly recommend it. They have cabanas with staff that come and bring you popsicles and spritz you with water to cool you down. There’s a luau 3 nights a week. The fish at the world famous restaurant, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is out of this world. The Ahi just melts in your mouth. Try the fillet on a bed of sticky rice with a seared bok choy on the side with a honey soy reduction. Delicious.

James is employed, thank God. That’s all that matters. Someone has to pay the bills!

Well, here’s to a wonderful 2013 for everyone. Especially me.

 

If any of you took this seriously, my apologies. And get a sense of humor. 

 

 

Today I’m over at Bonbon Break- in the bedroom

Well, I’m not actually over there sitting like a miniature person in the computer screen waving at you. That would be very Willy Wonka ish, wouldn’t it?

But click on over to their holiday issue and read about a coming of age story. Yes, Emma has reached a milestone about old St. Nick.

These are those parenting moments that keep you on your toes.

Enjoy the magic while it lasts. And by magic, I mean, the lying facade of trying to be a magical fat man who spies on sleeping children.

Read here- Bonbon Break

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