Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Memories 2010-written by the mom who doesn't scrapbook

Confession: I don't scrapbook.

Another Confession: My oldest two children have incomplete baby books. The 3rd kid? I didn't even buy one.

Yeah, I have mom guilt about it, but that's why I blog. I can write and post pics and I don't have to cut, shop for fancy paper and stickers, or use a paper cutter.

So this one is for the boys in my life.

Christmas Eve...

Church at San Clemente Presbyterian Church:

Brave Papa did a good job of hanging with Luke and his two boy cousins. Quite a task when they were trying to make paper airplanes out of the welcome cards. Thanks, Dad.

Surf and Turf and presents at Aunt Staci's house:

Christmas Morning at home...

Santa ate your yummy cookies and left stockings full of toys and your once a year sugar cereal:

and Santa left Mama a rockin' camera so I have no excuse to take pics with my iphone:

Christmas Day at Nana and Pops...

Oh the food:

My father-in-law is a professional chef and my mother-in-law could beat Martha in any cooking competition. My poor hubs married the wrong girl.

And the presents:

Time with the ONES WE LOVE:

So long 2010...Welcome 2011

Wishing you a VERY happy New Year's!

Much love,

ants in my pants

I'm feeling it again.

The ants.

They're back.

I am an antsy girl. I think I always have been. I've been prone to always looking forward instead of soaking in the now.

In high school, I started taking college classes. In college, I changed my major 6 (yes, 6) times and still managed to graduate a semester early.

Why the rush?

Always moving forward. Never stopping.

Once I started teaching, I knew I wanted to have 3 kids by the time I was 30.

Why the rush?

Always thinking ahead. Forget the now.

In 11 years of marriage, we've owned 3 homes, and moved 8 times. In fact, Charlie is 4 1/2 and has lived in 4 different houses. Granted one of them was just for a few months before we sold, but still.

We get antsy. We'll settle for a bit and then we're on the move again.

Why the restlessness?

Looking for more space, a bigger yard, a better school.

And now I feel it again. I'm officially done having babies. It's a done deal. Jack is 3 and ready for preschool. And depending on who you ask I am selfishly or not, wondering what is NEXT.

Brace yourselves...some of you are going to despise what I'm going to say, but I'm feeling antsy as a mom. I miss work. I miss having something of my own. Although I love being home and not missing a beat with my littles, it is there; that feeling is back.

I've got ants in my pants. Again. I'm looking at the future, yet still struggling to dwell and savor the NOW.

As a former teacher, I'm not sure if teaching is my route. The lack of job availability with massive lay-offs and current classroom conditions makes going back to that field a less attractive option.

So then what? What do you do with a liberal studies degree and teaching credential?

Maybe it is time to go back to school. I daydream of being a labor and delivery nurse and eventually becoming a CNP.

Maybe I should use my real life knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders and go back to school to pursue that route.

Or perhaps the grass is greener on the other side and I should chill and focus less on what I could be doing and more on what is happening here and now.

There's no simple answer. I truly believe for each their own. I don't think there's a magic formula that works for every family. I'm not just being PC; trust me, that is not one of my strengths.

AND this is a big AND...please know that I appreciate what a huge privilege it is to stay home. I don't want to be ungrateful EVER.

Maybe I just need to welcome the ants in my pants, do the boogie dance, and then politely ask them to visit another time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

changing up christmas traditions

I strive do a lot for my kids at Christmas. For me, it is like wanting to blow up a balloon to the point of bursting. However, I should clarify that I am not talking about expensive gifts and over the top activities. That is not for me.

It is the little things that count.

Many of the things I do are typical: gingerbread houses, cookie decorating, and hot cocoa while watching Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Standard and simple.

Although, I know most you do the same, it is still special. I did the same activities when I was a little girl and there is something magical when you get to pass down the warm and fuzzy experiences with your own littles.

In addition to recreating memories from my childhood, I've added some of my own. I'm a reader. I especially love children's literature. I guess that partially explains the whole teaching thing.

My initial plan was to cuddle with my 3 guys while reading one new book from our Christmas book basket each night. However, that plan only lasted for 1-2 years. Now their bedtimes are different, they each want a different book, and I don't care to end the day in a battle. Most importantly, I don't want their memories of our tradition to be of one crazy mama belting out, "I want everyone to sit down on the couch right now so I can read this Christmas book dang it."

So in very atypical Katie form, I've flexed and changed it up. Now each guy picks his separate book and gets his usual 1-1 reading time with me at night. Part of me thinks that was what all the fuss was about to begin with. They have grown accustomed to that bedtime routine.

So I had to put aside my vision of cozy cuddles by the fireplace. After all, it is not how I feel about the tradition that is important. It is letting them have a voice in the creation of the traditions that will fill their hearts with warm memories when they are big.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

more than a regular christmas party

We seriously rocked another Christmas party with our local friends and family.

It doesn't take much.

But, I do MUCH anyway.

They won't always be littles and before I know it they will be too cool for such parties. So I drain every ounce of Christmas out of them.

It just takes a bit of Christmas couture...

Don't worry, the hideous clothes and hair were intentional.

Food, drinks, and more food and drinks...

Funky plates for color inspiration. I SO heart Target...

A mother-in-law and father-in-law who invite you to use their house when it is raining and your own "quaint" (translate-small) house just won't do...

a brother-in-law who is a professional photographer and actually thinks it is fun to photograph 20 plus kiddos...

$1 gift exchange...

And of course after my speech about showing appreciation for what you get no matter what, it was my 3 year old who loudly declared, "I don't like this. I want to pick uhnoder one!" Of course he wanted to play it with right away when we got home. Go figure.

Christmas centers to keep "would be running wild outside if it wasn't raining" kids busy...

Santa. No joke. I don't mess around...

Sugar cookie decorating...

And a contest for "best" dressed...

They were fierce. These two seriously set the bar high for next year. It's on...bring it!

We also collected canned goods for our local food pantry. How super cool was it to see those kiddos put those goods for others so proudly in the box???

Merry Christmas

Much love,

tis the season for cookies

We give Mrs. Crocker some serious competition in December.

I received this recipe from a family friend at my bridal shower.

They are a hit every time I make them. Seriously, I've never had sugar cookies as good as these.

They rock. And they are soooo easy to make.

And it would not be a true baking experience without my guys helping out. Charlie was into the measuring and pouring.

Jack wasn't too thrilled when I huffed for the hundrenth time, "no licking dude!"

Luke wasn't home but that's okay because now that he's almost 8, he's not so into helping his mom in the kitchen...sniff sniff.

The dough is in the refrigerator. We'll roll it, make shapes, and have them decorated at our annual Christmas Party tonight with our local friends.

Merry Christmas, Friends! Enjoy:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees...

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter. Add sugar gradually. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Cream well. Sift flour and baking soda together and add to mixture. Chill for at least 2 hours or over night. Roll out on floured surface to 1/8" thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on a cookie sheet and bake until light brown. Cool. Frost and decorate.

P.S. My New Year's resolution is to stop trading the convenience of taking pics with my i phone for my real camera. We'll see...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a little of this and a little of that at Christmas

The hubs took one for the team on Friday.

No need to spill details, which I'm sure you don't want to hear. Needless to say, he was out of commission all weekend.

Which meant that I had some creative thinking to do to keep the littles busy.

We started with this...

Yeah, homemade would have been better, but I'm livin' up to my new mantra...."It is good enough."

I was worried that with 3 guys wanting to nibble, there wouldn't be enough candy, but there was just enough...

And I should clarify: When I say we started with the gingerbread house, I mean me.

This is usually Kevin's gig. The frosting bit was goopy and more tedious than I expected so like any impatient mom, I scooted them out of the room. Nothing say "holidays" more than, "Can you go play on the ipad or wii until I get this frosting bit done?"


However, once the walls of the gingerbread house were firmly established, the kids were invited back and were given the go-ahead to do whatever they wanted. I've learned. With one kid, the control freak in me would have had a grand master plan and tried to direct the whole thing. Now, I'm just glad they are busy with something and let them at it.

Luke had a serious approach. He's the mini engineer of the family.

Charlie was hoarding candy. I'm convinced we're going to see him on that reality show about hoarders twenty years from now. What can you say? He's the middle one; everyone is always taking something from him. It is self preservation.

Jack was concerned about eating. Go figure. I just took him to his well visit on Friday and my "baby" is off the charts.

They were quite pleased...

And to kill even more time on Sunday,we made ornaments. I may or may not have hidden behind my Christmas tree as a small kid and licked the salty ornaments I made in school.

They are super easy to make. Ours were the no-brainer version since we weren't planning on making them. No fancy shmancy stuff here:

Mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup salt. Then add 1/2 cup of water. Mix. Add another 1/2 cup of water. Knead until soft. Can take up to 10 minutes.

Two options:

1. Separate dough into small bowls and add food coloring.


2. Start rolling dough if you are going to use paint to add color after baking.


3. Roll. Use cookie cutters, make wreaths, etc.

4. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours.

Don't forget to use a straw or a pen cap to poke a hole for the twine or ribbon for hanging.

Add beads, glitter glue, sequins, etc. if desired. And have toothpicks on hand for designing. We improvised with a knife and the straw, but it wasn't the same. Add clear laqueur finish if you use food coloring or use an acrylic paint (spray paint is super easy) if you don't use food coloring.

The boys made some for the kid tree upstairs and some to share with friends. And it must be genetic because I may or may not have observed one of my littles sampling the doughy ornament before I added the laqueur.