Friday, December 31, 2010

My Twitter-Inspired New Year's Resolutions for 2011


Image from The Graphics Fairy
I think we all know anything worth saying can be said in 140 characters or less, so in keeping with this, I'm relying on tweets by strangers to bring me to a healthier, more prosperous, and happier new me in the New Year.

Here, I present, my twitter-inspired New Year's Resolutions.

1. Just because it made it to a grocery store shelf doesn’t mean we should feed it to our children. (Retweeted by @TimeOutMom, Tweeted by @NourishMD)

I hear this tweet in my head now when I go to the grocery store and I'm about to buy some packaged garbage - even when it's garbage trying to masquerade as health food. So 2011, this is the year I start eating better myself, and feeding my kids better. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and this is the year my family really does get serious about eating better. Top of my list, to stop eating processed food made in a factory. I'm going to be that mom who makes homemade granola bars, applesauce, even dried fruit bars.

2. Two years ago on The Happiness Project: Make your bed. Surprisingly powerful.
(Tweeted by @gretchenrubin)

I proclaim 2011 Make Your Bed year in our household. So far in my life, I have never been a bed-maker.  Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) my husband and I are in total agreement that making the bed is a total waste of time - it's just going to get messed-up again! We never make our kids make their beds, either. But for this year, I'll give it a try. And I'll ask my kids to give it a try, too. We'll make our beds every day, not just when company's coming over. Let's see if it has a profound impact on our lives.... or not.

3. The average American loses 1 hour per day searching for misplaced objects.
(Tweeted by @JulieMorgenstrn)

Oh my. If this average American spends an hour a day looking for stuff, how much time must I be spending, when I am a total slob? And have three kids- with lots of stuff they are always asking me to find. So this year, I'm cleaning-up the house. I'm throwing the backlog of stuff out. And moving forward, I'm going to be one of those people who adheres strictly to the one-thing-in, one-thing-out rule. For real. Oh yeah, and kids, you're following the rule, too. If you want a new Barbie, stuffed animal, puzzle or other consumery item you already have twenty of, one of 'em is gonna go....

And my final resolution.,..
4. Tweet less. This last resolution wasn't inspired by a specific tweet, but by the beast that is Twitter itself. I just started using Twitter two months ago, and already I have succumbed to its evil powers. Before Twitter, I never worried how much time I spent online. Now, I do.  I sneak Tweet-peeks here and there, whereas prior to Twitter-oholism, I kept a strict no phone/computer/TV rule when I was with my kids. But I'm reinstating the rule. Twitter, you'll have to find a way to live without me most of the time. But don't worry, I'll be back as always after the kids are asleep. And New Year's Eve, we'll always have that.

Happy New Year everyone! What are your resolutions?

SNOstalgia - Kids and Snowmen


Me, Three Snowmen, 1979

Magpie and Kay, One Snowman, 2010.

Brittney & Jeanette go to the movies: A look back to New Year's Eve 2009

Here is it New Year's Eve, and I'm home blogging about chipmunks. But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way because I have such a tale of Mother's pride to share with all of you.

Earlier this week we took the girls to see the new Chipmunks movie, and I am serious when I say I couldn't be prouder of my kids then when they told me they wanted to dress-up like the Chipettes (the girl chipmunks) for our screening of Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 - The Squeakquel.

Magpie and Kay spent the entirety of the morning prior to our early afternoon showtime prepping and primping like a bunch of gay guys off to see Madonna play Evita in the mid-1990s.
Here are the girls at the theater:

Kay with her chipmunk ears

And the fabulous Chipettes themselves.
I think Magpie channelled Jeanette (in the purple) incredibly well, whereas Kay who is not always one to be the front man of the band, really seemed to step-up and make an absolutely believable Brittney (for those of you who haven't seen the film yet, she's the chipmunk in the pink).
Again, let me mention, prouder I could not be.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers #3: How to Survive School Vacation Week with Your Kids

This week my Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers has five ideas to help you survive school vacation week with your kids. These ideas may be particularly helpful to those of you enjoying the week with extra, bonus snow! Click on over to the JerseyMomsBlog to read What to do with your kids on school vacation week. With a pile of snow.

And please, if you have any ideas about what to do with the kids leave a comment and let me know.  It's Wednesday, and I've done everything I can think of short of letting the kids cover the baby in glue, roll him around in a pile of glitter and put him in a tutu and wings, so he'll look (as they put it) just like a real-life fairy! By Friday, I may not have any other options, so please help.  If not for me, for Ziggy, who I'm pretty sure doesn't want to be a fairy, even a real-life looking one.

Happy Vacation!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SNOstalgia - Kids in Snowbanks

My brother and me, in a snowbank, Blizzard of 1979, Virginia.


My daughter, in a snowbank, Blizzard of 2010, New Jersey.

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Blizzard of 2010 - Afternoon Sledding Video and Pics

Our morning trip out to enjoy the two-plus feet of snow we got here in Jersey was fun, but a total fail as far as sledding goes. The snow just wouldn't pack. I didn't want to give-up though, so for our afternoon trip out (fortified by hot chocolate and a screening of The Wizard of Oz) I let the girls try sledding down the steps of our patio.

I warned them I could get my Mom-card taken away for such a bad and un-mom-like idea, but they promised not to turn me in. Now, I just need to trust that none of you do, either.

First up, Kay sleds the steps:
video

And here, her sister Magpie goes for a ride, too:
video

Update! Ziggy and me on a sled.  So he won't look back one day and ask why he didn't get a turn. (You did. Don't worry, Ziggy, you did. And a cookie, too.)

 video

For those of you who can't possibly be bothered watching videos of kids sled, here are some stills:

Ready to sled!

Sled in hands!

Sledder down!

Look at all this snow!

1, 2, 3... Go!

Finally, Sledding!

Weee!
Last ride of the afternoon. 'Till tomorrow!


SNOstalgia - A Tale of Two Blizzards

Me and my son, Blizzard of 2010. New Jersey.

Me and my brother, Blizzard of 1976. Virginia.

The Blizzard of 2010 - New Jersey - 28 inches of snow in our backyard!

Dad and Magpie knee deep in snow

Better shot of how deep the snow is

Dino in the snow

Milk delivery right on schedule!

Getting ready to sled!

Car dug-out (not by us)
Snowy driveway!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Portrait of Kay as a Young Designer

I've spent the last few days looking through photos hoping to find something suitable that could be passed off on a holiday card. Based on my success, it looks like this will be another year when I send my friends and family a Spring Solstice or Tu B'Shevat card, which let's admit, are holidays that need more cards any way so I feel ok about the decision to highlight them over other more mainstream options.

While my search did not uncover any good pictures of my kids, I did find some great photos of designs Kay has made from found objects. Here are just a few of the many, all from when she was around age four.

First up, Kay arranging the messy pile of shoes by the front door...



... and re-arranging the shoes when I explained that wasn't what I meant when I said all in a row:



Here's Kay's version of cleaning-up her books:


And my personal favorite, a day at the beach, arranging lawn darts and pine cones:



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers #2: How to Wrap Presents without Wrapping Paper

This is my second offering in my new ongoing series of Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers. Last week's tip covered how to wrap a present without any tape. Since present wrapping season is still upon us, this week we will tackle the equally difficult prospect of wrapping a present without any wrapping paper. 'Cause if you're like me, you always think you have wrapping paper for any occasion, but when you look at your options they're newborn baby boy or Happy 50th Birthday!

But with this week's Helpful Tip, you'll always have wrapping paper at the ready, even when you don't.

Here are a few reliable, easy ways to wrap a present sans traditional wrapping paper:
  • Cut-up a brown paper bag and add a twine bow for an old-fashioned, retro look
  • Use tin foil for a more festive holiday look, this method is especially good if you also don't have scissors and tape - just fold and press
  • Find some packing paper, decorate for a more personal touch
  • Recycle reading materials made obsolete by the digital age - phone books, calendars, maps, and for the literary, the dictionary
  • Locate a piece of fabric, anything from a bandanna to a dish towel will work, just make sure it's clean
  • Empty a bag of potato chips - seriously, just cut along the seam, wash, dry, and wrap shiny-side-out.  Don't believe me that this is a real idea? It is - directly from MarthaStewart.com.
Photo from MarthaStewart.com
In fact, Martha has 46 great ideas for wrapping presents, from hand stamping with a wine cork to photocopying vibrant fabrics onto paper. I am clearly way out of my league.

Dear Edwina: A Musical Comedy for Everyone - Fun, Entertaining and Princess-free!

This past Saturday my daughters and I saw the musical comedy Dear Edwina at the DR2 Theatre in Union Square. It was wonderful in so many ways.

Dear Edwina features a group of singing, dancing, advice-giving kids (played by adults) from the town of Paw Paw, Michigan.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the play was that the kids in Paw Paw are able to have a good time without cell phones, TVs, or brand name consumption.

Using a play-within-a-play format, we watched as the kids from Paw Paw had a fun afternoon working together on a play they perform from Edwina's garage. Edwina and her gang provide advice on a number of kid-friendly subjects from how to be a good guest to how to decline undesirable food.

I may be a little optimistic, but I think my children might have actually learned something. Either way, they spent the rest of the afternoon singing songs from the show (instead of their usual modes of communication of whining and screaming) so I consider it a win regardless. 

I especially loved when my kids made-up their own lyrics with their own advice - mostly aimed towards helping adults (namely me) with a variety of issues from how to pack a good lunch to how to give your kids a later bedtime.

I also loved that the Dear Edwina cast featured kids with their own real, unique personalities as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. Too often these days I feel like programming for kids deals in stereotypes - the smart kid, the tough kid, the class clown.  Add in the marketing of princesses for girls, and super heros for boys, and you forget that kids can, and should be able to, make their own fun.

Living in these modern days when kids are now seen as consumers to be marketed to - and even a toy as basic as Legos has been repackaged and is sold in blue and trucks for boys and pink and flowers for girls, it's nice to see a show celebrating what's great about kids just being kids.


Dear Edwina doesn't feature a single princess, but it certainly does have real magic. I recommend it highly for kids of all ages, and best of all, its equally good for both boys and girls.

Dear Edwina is playing at the DR2 Theatre at 103 East 15th Street through Friday, February 25, 2011.

Dear Edwina tickets are $39.00 and are available on Telecharge.com, by calling 212-239-6200, or in person at the DR2 Theatre box office (103 East 15th Street). Tickets are also available for groups (10 or more) and birthday and holidays parties (20 or more), with party space available, and can be purchased by calling 646-747-7400. The performance schedule varies – visit www.dearedwina.com for additional details and full playing schedule.

I received four free tickets for review purposes, but my enthusiasm for the show is all my own.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Winter! Celebrate the Season with Handprint Crafts!

As winter trudges on here in New Jersey, I'm trying to enjoy the snow, and the ice, and the cold. Because if there is one thing I can say about my kids, they really don't complain about winter like I do. They ice-skate. They sled.  They build snow town in the back yard for hours with the neighbors.

And me, I'd rather enjoy winter from indoors. And though I do my best to enjoy the winter season with my kids and spend time outdoors, I'm always looking for fun things to do with them inside when the days are long and frigid and it gets dark way too early.  For those of you also looking for new ideas for art activities you can do with your kids, here are some fantastic projects that celebrate the winter season:

Does your family have a favorite craft that celebrates the winter season? I'd love to share them here, just leave a comment!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Comment for a Cause: Support the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Thank you everyone for your support of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and your thoughtful comments. I'll be sending a donation to CCFC from Random Handprints Comment for a Cause tomorrow. 

I'm not buying much this holiday season. Hanukkah has already come-and-gone at our house, and we didn't give the kids that much, and my husband and I didn't give each other much, either. I'd like to say that's because we're very trendy, and we all know green is the way to go these days. But it's really just because our house is so full of stuff already it looks like one big junk-filled closet. So, no more stuff for us this holiday season.

But I did still go shopping for kids. Just not my kids. This year, I bought stuff for kids who not only need it, but might actually appreciate it. Whether it's books, toys, clothes, or something painfully practical, there's a lot of need out there. Just not in my house, and probably not at lot of your houses, either.  I know my kids don't need another puzzle or stuffed animal, but someone else out there really does. This year I went shopping "Blueberry Sal" style - one gift for my family, two or three gifts for another family.

This holiday season I'm also making a donation to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC).  They're out there making sure our kids get more out of their childhood then unhealthy food and brain-numbing "educational" TV.  The people at the CCFC are the ones who made sure our kids don't have to look at Ronald McDonald on their report cards, or hold Sunny D parties in their classrooms, or listen to non-stop radio ads when they're on the school bus (Though it looks like more schools are about to get BusRadio - please help prevent this from happening!)  And the folks at the CCFC manage to do all this, and they do not accept any corporate donations.

If you are also grateful for the efforts made on behalf of children by the CCFC, leave a comment of support for all they do below. I'll donate a dollar to the CCFC for every comment left here between now and Christmas (also known as Merry Zoo Day at our house).

You can also make a tax-deductible donation here, and through Dec. 31, 2010, all donations over $150 will be matched by an anonymous donor.

P.S. If you are looking for some ideas to celebrate the season with more joy and less consumption, check out the wonderful and useful CCFC Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays.

THANK YOU FOR ALL THE COMMENTS! Also wanted to update the above with information via CCFC - BusRadio has ceased operations! Yet another reason to be thankful for all CCFC does.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Tis the Season for... Handprint Christmas Wreaths

When I was looking around for examples of Handprint Christmas Trees yesterday, I also found some really great ideas for making handprint wreaths. Of course, I can't resist sharing them:

And I note, any of these could be done in non-denominational colors, Hanukkah blue, or (as I live in Jersey now) tasteful metallics.

For a full list of handprint crafts, click here.

Can't Wait for "Dear Edwina" and Our Day in Union Square!

Tomorrow my daughters and I are going into New York City to see the musical comedy Dear Edwina at the DR2 Theatre in Union Square - and we can't wait.

This is the third season Dear Edwina is playing, and I'm excited we are finally seeing this holiday favorite that's been on my must see list for too long. It looks like a lot of fun.


After the show, we'll be sure to enjoy Union Square at holiday time including the incredible craft Holiday Market, the year-round Greenmarket, and (if my daughters have any say in things) the legendary Max Brenner.

Dear Edwina is playing at the DR2 Theatre at 103 East 15th Street through Friday, February 25, 2011.


Dear Edwina tickets are $39.00 and are available on Telecharge.com, by calling 212-239-6200, or in person at the DR2 Theatre box office (103 East 15th Street). Tickets are also available for groups (10 or more) and birthday and holidays parties (20 or more), with party space available, and can be purchased by calling 646-747-7400. The performance schedule varies – visit www.dearedwina.com for additional details and full playing schedule.

I received four free tickets for review purposes, but my enthusiasm for seeing the show is my own.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Tis the Season for... Handprint Christmas Trees

After the fun we had making Handprint Turkeys and Handprint Menorahs, I thought it was about time I added Handprint Christmas Trees to my collection of handprint crafts you can do with kids.

I've never made a handprint Christmas tree myself (being more of the handprint menorah, or even the handprint winter solstice kind of gal) but all of these art projects look like they are fun, festive and most importantly, easy enough to do with even younger kids.

  • Just for Fun (via The Crafty Crow) has an adorable Christmas Tree you make from handprint cut-outs and whole-punch ornaments. I've seen versions with construction paper and also with foam paper, which might hold-up a little better.
  • The Imagination Tree has a fantastical Christmas Tree made from green painted handprints, and includes clever ideas for how to decorate your tree joyfully using everything from junk materials to blingy rhinestones.
  • Free Kids Crafts has a version of the Handprint Christmas Tree featuring photos for ornaments, which I just love, especially for a class or other group project. 
And last, but not least, I bring you the blog with the most handprint art in one place....
Enjoy and Merry (Handprint) Christmas!

For a full list of handprint crafts for all seasons, cick here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm about to have a perfect NYC Day... without my kids!

That's right, as of 9:00 am Wed. morning I am "off the clock" and going to the Big City for a 24-hour furlow while my worldly Parisian friend is in NYC on a layover until Thursday morning when she jets off to Las Vegas (because yes, that's how she rolls).

Other then sleep in on Thursday morning, what should I see/buy/eat/drink on my one-day-and-one-night in the City?

While I'm taking my 24-hour sabbatical, I'll also take a rare break from my online perseverations to enable myself to fully experience the ultimate hackable app. My friend mentioned (gasp!) that she is not even bringing her computer. Of course, I'll be back to share here the full story of what non-mom-like hijinks we get up to.

I can't wait.

Update: My one-day-and-one-night in NYC was terrific, but produced nothing suitable for blog to share. Maybe next time? My friend has a stop-over here on her way back to Paris, too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers #1: Easy ways to wrap presents without tape!

With the holiday season upon us, more likely then not you have some presents to wrap. And, if you're like me, you can never find the tape when you need some to wrap a present. I used to spend precious minutes looking everywhere for the tape, but not any more! Now, I just use something else, and if you follow these really helpful tips, you too will be able to wrap a present without using any tape at all.

Here are just a few of the ways you can wrap a present without tape:

1. Use a glue stick.  These are usually easy enough to find around your home, and are actually the choice of many pro-wrappers - eliminates those ghastly tape marks that show with regular tape.

2. Use regular glue. This works too, but you need to make sure you don't ruin the present you are trying to wrap.

3. Paint with nail polish. Seriously, polish works as well as glue and looks nice too if you use a glittery shade.

4. Tape with sticky ribbon.  If you have this from other art projects it works great because it is pretty-much just tape with ribbon stuck on top.  An expensive alternative, but again, at least your finished product will be beautiful.

5. Tape with anything that could possibly be considered tape, even if it's not what you think of when you think of present-wrapping-tape. Packing tape. Electrician's tape. My personal favorites: spike tape and duck tape - just present the final project as chic-and-edgy and totally on purpose.  Recently I have gotten so desperate I have even used medical dressing tape - and I'm happy to report it worked just fine.

6.  Apply stickers. I use this option sometimes even when I can find the tape. Looks adorable, uses up some of the 1,893 stickers lying in, on and around every surface of my home, and best of all - if you have kids, they can help wrap the present without driving you completely bonkers.

7. Tie-up with a big piece of ribbon. If you have scissors (again, I usually don't and work with the crease-and-fold cutting system for the wrapping paper) this is even easier because you can cut the ribbon into two, or even several, pieces, and then tie a succession of knotted and bowed strings to keep the wrapper paper in place. This alternative is both easier to do and better looking then it sounds. Trust me.

Do you know other non-tape alternatives that work? Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite way to wrap a gift when there just isn't any tape.

Coming up next in Really Helpful Tips for Wives and Mothers: how to wrap a present beautifully without wrapping paper! Or scissors!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More on SantaCon 2010

While I could easily become obsessed with SantaCon, I'm going to move on with my life and just be content with the knowledge that SantaCon will be back next year (just like Christmas!) and I will have a chance then to more fully participate in the greatness of this event - which by the way, I just found out via a billion photos on the Internet takes place not only in New York City, but all over the entire world.

For sure though, I am not going to be a run-of-the-mill red Santa when I go to SantaCon next year.  I am totally going to be one of those "marketed for Jews" blue-suited Santas.

And if I'm going to SantaCon, I'm going to go in the full ho, ho, ho spirit of the holiday. I'm serious.

Until then, I leave you with this photo of my totally jaded son, texting instead of hangin' with (from left to right) The Totally Smokin' Elf, Mardi Graz-n-Beadz Santa and the always-popular, Cell Phone Pimpin' Santa.

Wishing a Merry SantaCon to one and all!

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