Tag Archives: Parenting

Annual Favorite: A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

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A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision languorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugar plums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

Where Do All the Lonely Socks Go?

As a mom of two busy teens and a, um, how shall I say it, slightly scatter-brained tween, not to mention wife of a computer-geek kind of guy, and a pretty organized person in general, I pride myself on what my family views as my insider’s knowledge. Seems moms worldwide are the keepers of this knowledge: “Honey, where is my…?” and “Mom, have you seen my…” are familiar refrains in my household and millions of others. In fact, just the other day my hubby asked where he might find his painstakinly hand-colored topographical map of a favorite hiking area, one I haven’t seen in years. And my 13-year-old awakened me from a deep sleep to discover the whereabouts of her sister’s sleeping bag. Both items were needed for a trip they were taking the next day. And both items were uncovered in minutes instead of hours thanks to my guidance.

With all this insider’s knowledge, however, one mystery remains and dogs my every attempt at organization: where do all the lonely socks go? I’ve searched high and low: reached under dust ruffles, riffled through dress-up boxes, rubbed hands inside pants legs, even (almost) ripped open the dryer vent, all in an effort to bring peace to my days and an end to this endless search.

This question is not mine alone, for entire industries have grown up around this enigma. LittleMissMatched is a company that earned $32 million in 2008 by selling three-packs of socks THAT DON’T MATCH! They even highlight the plight of lost socks with a Lost Sock Memorial Day on May 9th each year (is it merely coincidence that this is my “I-can’t-find-my-sock” tween’s birthday? I think not!).

Of course, no one really needs to spend a penny to be in style these days if all you have to do is wear mismatched socks. If you’re like me, you already have a large pile to choose from each day; at last count, my pile of lonely socks topped 20! They may not be as colorful and clever-looking as the ones from the store, but at least they won’t be lonely anymore. And if their match ever does miraculously show up? Ha ha ha…well, we all know that will never happen. So if you see me walking around this week with one crew sock in blue stripes and one no-show in purple polka-dots, just nod your head and think to yourself, “Those are two less lonely socks in this world thanks to Tanya.”

Spring Style for Dummies

As the days grow longer and the earth awakens from its long winter slumber, I nervously realize it is time not only for sunshine and warm breezes, but for one of the most dreaded of springtime occurrences as well. No, I’m not referring to that important detail, the bikini wax, but to warm-weather clothes shopping with my teen and tween daughters!

As we peruse the racks with headache-inducing “music” blaring through hidden speakers, I’m glad my heart is healthy, because not only are the shorts shorter than ever before (well, at least since the Cindy Brady peekaboo undies style of the 60’s and early 70’s), the tops are more sheer and practically cut to the navel. The fashion industry, however, assures me it’s all “the style,” and one must simply learn to “layer” properly to get the right “look.” After much back-and-forth, numerous eye-rolls, and not a few “Aaarghs!,” my daughters and I leave the stores almost completely empty-handed, with me complaining about how stupid the fashion industry has become.But, the more I think about it, the more I realize the fashion industry is actually very smart, ingenious you might say, in its methods of ensuring its own survival, even in tough economic times. According to Spending Pulse, the economic research arm of Mastercard Worldwide (as seen on Forbes.com), the apparel industry raked in $177 Billion (with a capital “B”!) in 2009 during the Great Recession!

Yes, those setting the fashion curve for the rest of us are no dummies. For example, every year, creating just the right look requires more and more pieces. Multiple layers of cami/tank/gauzy top are necessary this year, as are all the newest accessories (DON’T even think of wearing the medium-width belt that was in style last year because now it’s all about ultra skinny or big, fat belts!). Cha-ching!

The fashion industry also knows it must continue to create new looks all the time or we’d all just keep wearing the same old (perfectly wearable) clothes we already have and not be out there spending our money on this year’s latest must-have. So the boyfriend shorts of last summer have now given way to those wedgie-inducing short-shorts, and last year’s stripes are now embarrasingly outdated and replaced by bold, blocky looks and florals. In addition, last year’s gladiator sandals are still kind of okay, but only if you mix it up sometimes with new 5-inch wedge-heeled platform sandals in this spring’s perfect colors.

And if the fashion gurus are feeling a bit uninspired one season? No worries there…their pocketbooks are still covered (via ours!).  They simply pull out past fashion hits such as legwarmers and tights, bell bottom jeans (AGAIN??), tube tops, pantsuits, or plaid skirts, knowing we’ll jump on the fashion bandwagon in an effort to relive our youth.

Now, so far we’ve just been talking clothes. But interior designers are also working us over! Honeysuckle is this year’s best loved color by the “color forecast experts” for furniture and household accessories (and no, honeysuckle is not a soft, off-white as I imagined, but a bright, bold, in-your-face hot pink!). So my soft rose walls, that were so hip just 5-10 years ago, now make me shudder every time I walk in those rooms simply because industry experts have trained my eye to enjoy another color this year. And my white toaster and black coffee maker are so very last year too…I should have fire engine red or hot lemon yellow to brighten things up, experts declare! But do I really want a hot pink couch staring back at me just because it’s the “it” color this year? Uh, no thanks.

So what is a semi-conservative mom, and decorator-wannabe, to do in order to keep not only her sanity, but a few coins in her purse as well this spring? I don’t think my daughters will go for wearing what I consider stylish (button-downs, anyone?), so for now I’ll just have to count on those layers to cover them up (wearing ear plugs while shopping and watching for some great sales will help), and try to repaint my walls in a more neutral color.

And in an effort to beat the fashion gurus at their own game, I may just go into the biz myself. I have the perfect name for all of my designs: “Timeless.” I predict brisk sales among semi-conservative moms worldwide!

Driving Me Crazy

As every soccer mom worth her kids’ cleats knows, parenthood is:
  • 20% cooking/cleaning/laundry, etc.
  • 10% nagging
  • 20% teaching valuable lessons, like “Don’t roll your eyes at me or they’ll stay that way forever”
  • 50% driving kids all over God’s green creation to every practice, game, rehearsal, recital, playdate, birthday party (usually they arrive in two’s or three’s on the same weekend), club meeting, competition, performance, open house, dance, or ceremony.

With three daughters in different sports, activities, even schools, I keep the big oil companies well in the black while keeping my soccer mom-necessary SUV full of the black stuff. I easily log 250+ miles a week out on those mean city streets. And in doing so, I’ve gained some important insights not only in driving, but in basic human nature as well. These insights can be summed up in three simple words:

PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS

With my teenage daughter a mere two months away from driving lessons, I think it’s important to pass along this valuable rule. I even skimmed through a book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What it Says About Us), by Tom Vanderbilt, trying to determine if my daily driving frustrations are isolated to me. Ha! Vanderbilt helped me realize that:

PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS!

Notice the exclamation point! It’s as if everyone has been reading this:

So, in order to assist all parents of soon-to-be-drivers out there, as well as the rest of you just trying to get to work and back each day, I’ve compiled the following road signs which the BMV should consider posting ASAP:

NOT!

 

Your kissing my bumper will not make me drive any faster!

 

Five cars cannot zip through the yellow light before it turns red!

Pick a lane and please, just stay there!

 

Your cool factor does not increase with your bass line!

 

If it's dark, foggy or rainy, I can't see you without your headlights, Moron!

 

If you zip past a mile of barely-crawling cars and expect to be let in at the last minute, forget it!

So the next time you’re out there behind the wheel, remember it’s not you that you have to worry so much about, it’s all the OTHER drivers who will be driving you crazy!

Keep your cool and your sense of humor about you and you’ll soon be arriving at your child’s third birthday party in a day with seconds to spare and your sanity intact (don’t roll your eyes at me, they may stick that way!).