Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

As we scurry about finishing our last minute preparations for St. Nick's visit tonight, I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I can't speak for anyone else, but I am actually feeling a little more calm at this moment, than I normally do on Christmas Eve. I only have 2 relatively simple menu items to make today -- one for Christmas Eve at my aunt's house tonight, and one for Christmas dinner at our house tomorrow! (How did I get off so easy on the Christmas dinner in my own home? We have a wonderful Gramby who is bringing prime rib AND dessert! I'm doing shrimp cocktail, a yummy potato dish, and asparagus!)

The girls have both written their Christmas letters to Santa, and we were able to visit Santa last weekend. Christmas cards have been sent, and I have hung up the cards that we have received from friends and family. All the shopping has been done, I wrapped my very last gift last night (my poor husband, as usual, has to do all of his wrapping today!), the house is decorated and we are even almost done cleaning it! (Amazing!)

We'll attend church this afternoon and tonight we are going to my aunt's (my dad's sister) to celebrate with my dad's side of the family and what always makes this gathering extra special, is that my 88-year-old grandmother is with us to celebrate. And my aunt started a tradition a few years ago of the whole family going around the neighborhood caroling! This is super fun for the neighbors, my aunt, my grandmother, my girls and I -- not quite as much for some of the other family members... I am feeling relatively prepared for Christmas this year -- not the usual rush to finish wrapping on Christmas Eve! I told my husband that this year, after we put the kids to bed, I want to curl up on the couch with a glass of egg nog, a holiday movie, and enjoy the lights on the tree -- just to take a "time out" from all of the running around, and enjoy the holiday!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cookies!

I spent most of the day running errands, dropping off and picking up my 3-year-old from preschool, running home to have lunch and wrap some more presents, and then over to my 8-year-old's school to pick her up and save her from the torture of the bus ride home! Whew! But I did squeeze in some time after school to help my girls make Christmas cookies for Santa. I got this trick from my friend (and fellow working mom) Catherine. She introduced me to the bag of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix -- SO easy, so quick, SO yummy! That and a tub of vanilla frosting, food coloring and sprinkles made for a fun afternoon with the girls! That's also part of my way of making it feel a little more "homemade" -- my girls love to mix the food coloring in and pick out their own decorations for the cookies. My older daughter was getting quite creative -- she did a cookie with a mistletoe design, one that was the North Pole through a snow globe... You name it! My little one was less interested in the artistic aspect and more interested in EATING. And licking the top of the sprinkle shaker... Yeah, we had to get rid of that particular container... I used to feel guilty about not making cookies "from scratch", but frankly, if I don't take the easy way out sometimes then I won't have time to do it at all -- and missing out on decorating cookies with my girls would be a big disappointment to all 3 of us! As you can see by the second photo (taken moments after the first), my littlest one QUITE enjoyed the cookie making!

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Season's Best Accessory? A Cute Child!

On Friday, I blissfully started my vacation from work (sorry Cath, not rubbing it in -- just telling a story...). This conveniently coincided with my 8-year-old's holiday concert at school, in which she was playing the xylophone! My husband had to work, but I got my girl off to school on the bus and then I got myself and my 3-year-old dressed and out the door in time for the concert. My girl attends a smallish school -- there is a "multi-purpose" room in which they have gym, eat lunch, and have assemblies (my nieces have one of these at their school in Long Island -- my sister-in-law calls it the "cafe-gym-torium"). Ours is small... With all of the kids in there for the concert, parents were left to crowd in around them along the walls, and spilling out into the hallway. My little one and I were able to get in and squeeze in next to a sweet woman who was there to see her grandson sing. She thought my preschooler was a cutie (she was right!) and she suggested to my little peanut that she sit on the floor in front of her so that my girlie could see her sister. No way! My girlie was not fond of that. But it was sweet of the woman to offer. Through the whole concert she was very concerned about us being able to see -- I was very concerned that we were not crowding her, and she was tiny enough that I could very comfortably shoot my video camera over her head and get much of the concert on tape! After saying goodbye and great job to my eldest, my little one and I headed to the grocery store.

I was expecting crowds, long lines, crabby shoppers. I was pleasantly surprised! It was about 10:30am on Friday and while there were still a lot of people in the store, we were able to get in and out relatively quickly and actually enjoyed ourselves! We cruised throughout the store with people smiling at my girlie and she would smile back, shyly. She really is somewhat of a draw at the grocery store, especially with the older shoppers -- they seem to love to say hello to her and try to get her to smile.

Feeling in the holiday spirit and having people around who also seemed in good humor for being in a grocery store a few days before the holiday, I found myself exchanging pleasantries with many of the other shoppers. I think people might have been so engaging because the store was playing holiday music overhead and my girl and I were strolling up and down the aisles singing along to the tunes. A nice woman shopping next to me in the meat department made sure to point out to me that some of the packages were labeled to be used by the next day and others would last a little longer. I helped another woman in the produce section, because she couldn't reach the plastic bags to put her peppers in. There was a very sweet, elderly woman in the bulk candy section who was trying to scoop some of those gummy spearmint leaf candies into a baggie, but she couldn't reach very well (maybe it wasn't my daughter -- maybe people were pleasant because I'm taller than them!) -- I helped her scoop some candy into her bag and she told me about when she was younger and how much she loved the penny candy containers at the store -- she saw her favorite candy at the store that day and just couldn't help herself!

It is so easy to get caught up in the expense and the hectic schedule of this holiday -- it was really a wonderful break to spend that morning to be in the company of some very sweet people with whom my girl and I shared a little of the holiday spirit.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Stopping in between Breakfast with Santa this morning, and a birthday party for one of our favorite 5-year-olds this afternoon, but had to post this before I forget! At the breakfast this morning, my little 3-year-old said to Gramby, "Gramby, I want to go to the Ladies Room!" And Gramby got very excited, because frankly, my girlie is still in diapers and has shown NO interest in learning to use the potty -- I'm going to try to tackle that over my vacation for the next two week's -- wish me luck! Anyway, Gramby took the girls down to the Ladies Room and when they got in there my girl said, "This isn't the Ladies Room! This is the BATHROOM! Where are all of the TOYS?!" Clearly, she had Ladies Room confused with PLAY room... So, no big break through on the potty-training, but a very cute story!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Overcoming A Child's Fear of the Dentist

My 8-year-old daughter suffers from anxiety and one of the things that she worries about the most, is taking a trip to the dentist! Naturally, the majority of us would rather do almost anything than spend an hour at the dentist's office, but this goes beyond that for my girl. We had our 6 month appointments last week, and she saw that on the calendar as soon as we flipped over to November -- and she perseverated about it ever since. To add to her anxiety about a trip to the dentist, she has a loose tooth and she will not let anyone near it and was terrified that the dentist would pull the tooth. We tried to remind her over and over that she's been to see the dentist with a loose tooth on two other occasions -- both times he left the tooth in her mouth and told her to eat a Popsicle (or something very cold to numb her mouth) and then to bite into an apple -- he assured her that she would find the tooth sticking in the apple -- how simple is that? No way... She would not try this method, and left herself (and her family...) in AGONY waiting for the tooth to somehow fall out on its own. And, she would not take our word that this is what has happened two times in the past year and a half, and certainly, this is what would happen again.

She has other fears about the dentist -- biting down on the x-ray film with her loose tooth; sitting back in the chair (this was a BIG one a couple of years ago -- couldn't even get her to let the put the chair back even an inch... I tried to point out that she leans back farther in the recliner at home! I finally stepped away on that one and the dentist and hygienist worked their magic with the chair); and a fear of being told that she has a cavity. She wrote a letter to the dentist, which I brought and gave to him at our appointment. It stated that she has a very loose tooth that would hurt a LOT if he were to pull it out, and she requested that he PLEASE not touch it! She ended the letter with an artist's rendering of her mouth and teeth, an arrow drawn to the tooth in question, and a conversation bubble saying "OW! Please don't pull me out!" Fortunately, our dentist took it in stride and said, "Great! More fan mail!"

We tried to make her as comfortable as possible. We always bring her own toothpaste (which has fluoride and is recommended by the dentist -- but it's a flavor of her choice and she likes it better than the dentist's toothpaste). We also tried to address her fears -- I spoke with the hygienist and confirmed that my girl had had x-rays at her previous appointment and there was no need to do them at this time. At least we could alleviate that anxiety while she has the loose tooth! The dentist did not pull her tooth (as we had told her he wouldn't...) but when he gently touched the tooth, he said he saw her eyes dart up to him like, "I've got my eye on you!"

At the end of the appointment, she was chattering away, all happy -- it had not been anywhere near as traumatic as she had worked it up to be in her mind. I came up with an idea -- she would not believe us when we told her that the dentist was a nice man and that going to see him is not that scary -- perhaps she would believe herself! When we got home, I had her write herself a letter to tell herself that going to the dentist is not so bad! I told her that I will save the letter for her and the next time we go to the dentist, I will pull the letter out for her to read. She wrote a letter "To 9-year-old Livvie, from 8-year-old Livvie." (Because her birthday is next month...) In her letter, she told herself to "Cool it!" The dentist is a nice guy and she should be brave like she was when she finally jumped off the diving board! This is a definite keeper... I'll let you know if it does the trick in 6 months!

What tips do you have for getting your little ones through a trip to the dentist?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bite-Sized Food for Kids

My dear children seem to be getting pickier and pickier about dinner, and I am constantly trying to throw different things into the mix so that we don't get too bored eating the same things all the time. And every once in a while, the girls decide that something they have enjoyed in the past, is now something they no longer will eat... That happened last night with tacos. I figured, tacos, "kid food" how can you go wrong? Yeah, no. No one was interested in those. My older daughter told me she no longer likes ground beef. I said, "Don't you like meatloaf?" (which we had just had last week and she seemed to enjoy) Yes. "You know that's ground beef, right?" Yes, but it tastes spicier, I like it.

Hmm... Spicier than tacos...? Well, who wants to argue! Anyway, at the point that I discovered their distaste for tacos, we were committed to having tacos (meat cooking, seasoning in the meat...). But I grabbed the "Scoops" tortilla chips that we had in the cupboard and for the girls, I made up mini taco cups -- "Scoops" chip with taco meat, shredded cheddar, and topped with a black olive slice. My girls LOVED these -- my older daughter ate the equivalent of what she would have in the past (you know, when she liked tacos... last month...) and my younger daughter actually ate more meat than she would have normally. I might have to try appetizer-like meals on some other things in the future!

I'd love to hear your ideas for getting your kids to eat!