21 December 2009

party planning 101.

Tomorrow is the last day of school before winter break, and that means holiday party time.


Things have changed since we were kids.

You can no longer bring in any type of home baked goods and everything has to be in the original packaging. The school wants the baking to be done by professionals so that no one ever accidentally gives kids food poisoning.

Also with food (and drinks) everything has to fall within the Healthy Food Guidelines. That means that the food has to meet the minimum nutritional value and not have sugar listed as the primary ingredient. I know that sounds simple enough but when you are looking at packaged snack foods it gets a bit difficult to find things that fit. So no more cupcakes (or pupcakes as my kids call them) or cookies at school parties! Which, I am okay with because I know my kids do just fine finding plenty of junk to eat.

Lastly, the party is called a Winter Party, not holiday party, and definitely not Christmas party. I am also good with this, I think it’s important to raise our children with an understanding and respect of different cultures and traditions and I’m happy to hear my children talk about different traditions that they have learned about in school. Just because they are in the majority of people that celebrate Christmas does not mean the the minority traditions are any less important.

It’s hard to come up with a fresh idea every time…I’ve done bagel party, fruit and cheese party, yogurt sundae party.

So as the planner for my son’s winter party I wanted to come up with a theme….kept thinking about winter…playing in the snow…hiking….winter survival. I decided to go with outdoor winter activities/winter survival. Personally, I thought this was genius because they had read the book Hatchet earlier this year and it is about a boy that has survived in the wilderness. So for my snacks I went with bottled water and make-your-own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, cheerios, & goldfish.

And then at dinner tonight my son tells me that they did this already this past fall.


Oh, well. They’ll do it again.

At least I didn’t have to work around my daughter’s class allergies (nut, dairy, and gluten!) I better start thinking about that before the Valentine’s party that I’m doing for her.

14 December 2009

'tis the season.

It never ceases to amaze me how I always begin the month of December with plans of quiet evenings at home and end it with something written on every evening of the month.

I’m a mess right now….

As of today there are only 10 shopping days left till Christmas and I have bought ZIP (except for a few minor things online). I really don’t even know where to begin because my children’s wish lists read something like this…

1. Please help our family have a wonderful Christmas together.
2. Please have snow on Christmas morning.
3. For you (Santa) to have a safe trip around the world.
4. A good X-mas for my BFF’s Callie, Livi, Jackie, and Allison.
5. A puppy.
6. A Laptop.
7. Clothes (Both kids included their size)

Thank-You, we like your reindeer and will leave carrots on the back porch. Please sign here after reading this X___________

Their letters read like they’re written to a Fairy God-Mother. I’ve gotten to the point that I am asking all their friends’ parents what they asked for, hoping that it gives me some ideas. It serves me right…I remember the frustration my parents had with me never being able to write a wish list. I have a feeling I will be standing in the middle of Target hyperventilating on Christmas eve…still not knowing what my children could possibly want. I also still need to shop for the extended family and friends….I had really good intentions of making all kinds of homemade gifts for my people this year, we'll see…I’ll share what I did later if I can get it all done!

We did get a day of baking in, this past weekend. It was so much fun and well worth the mess of having to sweep up flour multiple times…Is it possible to have an icing high?! The only problem was I didn’t get to make my favorites (peanut-butter kisses) because I forgot the kisses and wasn’t heading out again. I picked some up yesterday and am hoping to get in one more day of baking.

This time of year is just crazy…sometimes I just have to stop myself and ask if what I am working so hard to get done is really that important? I heard once that you should ask yourself if what is important right now will still be important to you in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years from now. So many times I have found that those “important” things aren’t even important 5 minutes from now.

What do you do to keep yourself balanced and composed during the crazy holiday season?

07 December 2009

at brownie camp...

Over the summer 'lil AG went away to Brownie camp. When I picked her up she was FILTHY, she had visible dirt smudges all over and her pink and white shoes were solid brown. I had missed her terribly and wanted to know everything she had done. These are the only three things I learned:

1. She learned a new song that she sang over and over again until she fell asleep.
2. She cooked a "hobo dinner" in the fire.
3. She only needed 2 of the 6 pairs of underwear and 1 shower because they went swimming. (In a pond, hence the dirt smudges.)

I was disappointed with the lack of information she offered me but remembered how camp always went by as such a blur, I was just glad to have my baby back.

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when out of the blue, almost 6 months later, from the back seat of the car I hear...

AG: This one time at Brownie camp (actual words!), this girl was sitting next to me at dinner and she started crying because she ate two hot dogs and she was a vegetarian.

Me: What? Did they look like hot dogs?

AG: Yes they did, she was just real hungry and she forgot she was a vegetarian.

Me: Normally people don't forget they're a vegetarian...

AG: Kids do. I think cooks should ask if you're a vegetarian before they give you meats.

I couldn’t help but laugh at this point...sweet, trusting little girl. She reminds me so much of myself at that age. She's got alot to learn about the lies kids tell before high school...

During the same car trip AG also told me that she saw Mrs. Santa Claus at Arby's with a broken arm.

03 December 2009

a dull day.

On Sunday we took our annual jaunt out to Dull’s Tree Farm. This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. This time of year always seems to be such a whirlwind of running and visiting family and friends (or shopping!) it's good to begin the holiday out in the country on this cute little tree farm.

When we arrive my babes grab a cart and head toward the trees in search of the biggest tree they can find. They both took turns sawing the tree, until they got tired. Their Dad took a turn and cut almost to the end but then let them finish the last cut through.

We loaded the tree onto the cart and the kids pulled it up the hill. There was a massive line to have your tree shook and tied but the weather was mild and there were lots of things to keep us busy…they had farm animals to feed, peanuts to eat, fire to warm by, and people to watch. After we had our tree checked-in we were off to play.

The Dull family has perfected the holiday experience with three buildings decked out in Christmas d├ęcor. My favorite is the wreath making barn, the delicious smell of fresh cut evergreen hits you as soon as you open the door. I love to just sit and watch the ladies making up the wreaths, they all seem to be enjoying them selves laughing and talking, it has the organized chaos feeling of your mother’s kitchen.

They also have a craft store (where you pay for your tree-so no avoiding it) my kids seem to touch everything in the store twice and we got out without anything broken, so I am happy.

The last stop is an Inn that has tables and chairs, a large stone fireplace, snacks and cocoa, and a stack of board games to play. This is my kids’ favorite spot; they seem to drag out drinking their cocoa for-ev-er.

After that, we just wandered around looking at things we had already saw until we all ended up by the outdoor fire and decided we were done for this years trip to Dull’s. It was such a fun day, when we climbed into the truck for the drive home I looked back at my children’s little dirty cocoa mustache faces and smiled.

This is what’s important, not what goes under that tree.

On a side note: Dull's is in a National contest to have one of their barns restored and painted. Please go to the following website to learn more about the contest and to vote for their barn. You can vote once per day per computer. The contest is sponsored by the National FFA and Campbell Soup. http://www.helpgrowyoursoup.com/barn_dull.aspx