Tag Archives: Shopping

Thank goodness this question wasn’t on the exams for my teaching certification…

So I taught middle and high school, but am unable to help my five year old with her Kindergarten homework because the questions are clearly beyond what my intellect can handle.

This past week, E was assigned to visit two businesses and answer 5 questions about each.  The first question on the list was “Does this business provide a good or a service?”

Well, since we were going to Burger King for the free St. Patrick’s Day fries anyway, I thought that would be a great place to begin our research.

Of course, while we were there, it occurred to me that I have no idea whether Burger King provides a good or a service.

Fortunately, it also occurred to me that this was not my homework assignment.  So I asked E, “Burger King…good or service?  What do you think?”

Without batting an eyelash, she told me it depended on whether you went the drive-through (and left with a good) or ate inside (enjoying the service).

Booyah!  (Does saying that make me an obnoxious parent?  Do I seem less obnoxious if I admit that I don’t know if I spelled it correctly?  Maybe I should just say it differently…Here it goes…E came up with that answer all by herself while her mother stood in the corner trying to get the cobwebs off her cognitive brain function, and I think it was an excellent answer.  I admittedly know nothing, but it seemed thoughtful and it was hers, and I was very impressed!)

Anyway, since E’s response essentially turned a multiple-choice question into an essay, and she is just now learning how to write, she still faced additional challenges while completing the assignment.

Until she decided to step back and simplify.  Her answer to the question, “Did the business provide a good or a service?”  now simply reads, “Both”.

Whew.

Then onto the next business and its set of questions, which involved a special trip to Hallmark, where E and I chatted and toured with a wonderful employee while S & T had a fabulous time destroying the displays.  I wanted E to see Hallmark in particular since in the project’s final presentation, E has been assigned to “work” in a mock card store (while her classmates man other storefronts in their creative community and the parents use pretend money to purchase goods and services from the kids).   This occurs five days from today.

I am in so much trouble, because apparently the “real work” starts next year, when E enters first grade.

Notice that I said I’m in trouble, because clearly, E will be fine.

P.S.  I do realize that this post makes me seem like a bit of an idiot, but just to prove that I’m not completely brain-fried, know that this social studies website doesn’t know whether restaurants are providing goods or services either, listing “food” as an example of a good and “fixing you dinner” as an example of a service.  And yes, I do realize that posting this now makes me appear like an idiot and a nerd, but I’m over it.  I actually think this stuff is interesting and looked it up for my own edification, NOT for any conversations with E!

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Would this be considered “overthinking the question”?

E: “Mom, can I get earrings?  Not the sticker kind, but the real kind – the ones that stay in your ears?”

[Mom’s internal response (i.e. not out loud): What?!  You’re only FIVE!  Why do you want to grow up so fast?  You’re already growing up too fast as it is!  I didn’t get earrings until I was TWELVE.  Wait. Why am I thinking about me?  I was the last one in my class to get earrings.  There’s nothing wrong with earrings.  I mean, lots of people get earrings for their babies.  They probably think of earrings the way I think of nail polish, something that’s pretty and sparkly and fun to do with their kids.  You love nail polish!  I don’t wear it, but you picked it out on a stranger in the mall when you were barely walking by pointing at her red toenails, looking at me with wide-eyes and saying simply, “Mama! Ooooohhh…That!”  I’ve pedicured your tiny toes every time you’ve asked since then.  We love those pedicures.  Such good girl fun for us.  We could love earrings.  Why should I really care if you want earrings anyway?  So what?!  We could make a mommy-daughter thing of it.  Wait, what am I saying?  No, we can’t.  I have to make some of the fun things grown up pre-teen things, so that you can look forward to doing those things when you’re twelve, and can feel sort of grown up when you do them.  Otherwise, you’re going to want to do or wear other things to make yourself feel grown-up when you’re twelve, and – well, that just isn’t a good idea.  I need to make earrings a fun target, so you don’t start focusing on something else when you’re – heaven help me – a pre-teen.  I taught eighth grade!  I know what’s happening!  Not that I judge anyone who does earrings earlier, mind you.  I really don’t!  I know you have lots of friends that have them.  But their parents are probably more creative, and can come up with other fun things for them to look forward to as a pre-teen.  Maybe I should talk to those parents and get some ideas…but in the meantime, I mean what am I saying here…I’m saying no!  NO, NO EARRINGS!  You’re supposed to still look like a newborn, with your big hazel eyes and your curly dark hair and your wrinkly pink skin.  I cried when they pricked your toe to get a blood sample for a routine newborn screening, and now I’m supposed to watch them hold an earring-gun to your head?  Did I mention that you are only FIVE?  We have to start homeschooling.  What are you being exposed to?  Why on earth would you even ask a question like that? ]

Mom’s external response (i.e. the one E heard):  “Um, earrings?”

E: “Yeah, well, someone at school got them, and I liked them.  But then someone else said when you get them, it hurts.  You know, if it hurts at all, I really don’t want them . . .  I don’t have to get them, do I mom?!

Mom: No, E.  You don’t have to get them.

And that was the whole conversation.  Believe it or not – including “um”, I spoke only 10 words. 

Actual excerpt of a family conversation…

While pulling out of our garage today, just after everyone had been buckled into the car and the whole family was on its way to run errands: 

Dad:  “OK.  Where do we need to go today?”

Mom:  “I need to go to the grocery store.”

E:  “I need to go to the bathroom.”

S:  “I need to go to Disneyworld.”

[brief pause, as dad absorbs these responses, and until S breaks the silence]

S:  “Drop me off first, please.”

With apologies to Punxsutawney Phil…

Punxsutawney Phil, America’s groundhog, saw his shadow Thursday, thereby predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Oh, Phil.  How naïve, how naïve.

Perhaps you were unaware that the day before your prediction, I finally found – and purchased – a reasonably priced set of snowboots for T ($5, on sale…thank you, Target shoe clearance).

That means everyone in the family is now prepared for the February we had last year – (snow, ice and sledding!).

Phil, you must know that the fact that we are finally ready for winter virtually guarantees the early arrival of spring.

Better luck next year, Punxsitawney.

P.S. Don’t bother predicting weather for playgroup either, Phil (I say this in case your discouragement with your current arena of meteorology should tempt you to redirect your attention).  I have developed a knack for determining that weather as well.  Twice this year, I have hosted the group at my house (“It’s going to rain!” my organizational e-mails have predicted…only to greet the most beautiful days of the season.  This week’s e-mail announced, “It’s going to be gorgeous!” and resulted in playgroup lunch at the park in the drizzly rain.)

Bottom line: my prep for one type of weather virtually guarantees the other.

On the upside, I think this might be a marketable talent.  Hiring me to show up at your wedding with an umbrella guarantees a gorgeous day for the happy couple!  Farmers could pay me to show up in their drying fields wearing sunglasses, since it guarantees rain.

But I’m losing focus.

The point is that everyone should prepare for warm weather.   I have guaranteed it is coming.  We’ll be outside with you – wearing our snowboots, while rejoicing in the spring.

P.P.S.  Here’s two relevant photos:

The first is the groundhog E made at school, sitting next the one S asked me to help her make at home, both looking at their shadows on our kitchen table, clearly predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Can you see the groundhogs, popping out of their little green "burrows"?

The second shows the shadow of the boots I bought T on clearance, virtually guaranteeing the arrival of an early spring.

“Non-returnable boots” trump “shadow of a rodent”, in terms of reliable predictions, wouldn’t you think?

Christmas Recap, Part 3, the Final Chapter (Alternate Title: A focus on Christ during Christmas…what we tried, how it went, and what we want to try next year)

This is the last long post about our Christmas season. I have posted about the joy of being with family and the fun of elves and Santa.  Here I want to recap how we try to keep the focus on Christ.  I feel a little strange about the post for two reasons:

(1) Sometimes an effort to focus on The True Meaning of Christmas comes across as a judgment against all the other parts of Christmas.  For the record, I am not someone who necessarily believes that our tinsel and lights and Santa distract from our focus on Christ.  Quite the contrary, for us they are an absolute expression of joy, faith, generosity and love.  While I respect the act of quiet contemplation and seek it out when I can, I think part of being a parent is finding God in the hustle and bustle.  I love finding Him in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, especially when the kids and I are happily bustling around doing fun Christmassy things together.  (This does not include shopping, which I do try to finish early.)  Someday I will write a whole essay about this, but today is not the day!

(2) I worry that an explanation of how we try to keep the focus on Christ will come across as a “look what we do, we have it all together” kind of thing.  I assure you we don’t.  The reality is we are trying to get it together, and part of that process for us is learning what other people do.  I have benefited tremendously from dialogue with friends (and other bloggers) about holiday traditions, which encourages me to continue that dialogue here.

With that in mind, here’s how we tried to keep the focus on Christ and how I am hoping to improve on our efforts next year!

We begin by framing the holiday as a big birthday celebration for Jesus.  Our preschool makes this easy by throwing Jesus an actual birthday party, and a friend told us about a family tradition that we have adopted as our own: making the dessert at Christmas dinner a birthday cake for Christ.  I forgot to make a picture of the birthday cake, but the reality is that no one ate ours this year anyway, since S coughed all over it as she was helping Jesus blow out his candles.  In case you are wondering, yes, that did mean that I served Twix bars for dessert at Christmas dinner!

We have three nativities at our house.  The one in the yard is from my childhood home.  I asked Nana to bring it up because (1) she was looking to share it with someone (i.e. we didn’t take it and leave her yard bare!), and (2) it is a big, gaudy display of neon Jesus-spirit that just feels so right sitting in front of a home during the holidays.

(E had two funny reactions to this when Nana brought it to us.  The first was asking if she could keep the three foot high Mary in her room as a nightlight.  Already, she is finding comfort in the Virgin Mother, I suppose!  The second was about a week before Christmas when she viewed all our lawn ornaments and noted that Jesus and Santa had completely burned out.  This left all the adults within earshot humorously wondering – if Jesus and Santa were feeling that way, how the rest of us were supposed to make it through the rest of the holiday festivities?! : )

Anyway, here’s a photo of Mary, who did a quick detour into E’s room en route from the attic to the yard:

I would be comforted by this as a nightlight in my room as well, I think!

The other two nativities are inside the house: a breakable one that was my Grandmother’s and is displayed on a table that used to belong to her (and still smells like the perfume that she kept in the cabinet), and a cloth one that the kids can play with.

The cloth nativity set contained the Jesus that was offered a room in the Barbie Mansion.  Innkeeper Barbie and her guests are pictured below.

note that several of the characters have either been knocked down amid the daily chaos that engulfs the Barbie mansion, or they are bowing before the Christ child...I prefer the latter interpretation

and a close-up…

I learned of another interesting tradition this year that I’m going to think about: leaving the nativity’s manger empty until Jesus appears in it Christmas morning. I love the idea of this, and we might do this with the more fancy nativity.  However, I think I like having the one pictured above around for the kids to play with throughout the season.

During Advent, E also sang (like an angel) and bleated (while dressed as a sheep) in the church Christmas pageant.  There are no pictures, as my husband was ill that evening and I had to choose between holding T, S and the camera.  Fortunately, there was a wall of parents taking photos and I have already seen some I am planning to get copies of!  But here’s a photo of E & S caroling with E’s church choir at a local nursing home, which was another activity that kept us in the spirit.

Note to caroling children: avert eyes from scantily clad lady on the TV in the background...yikes! Can someone please change the channel or turn off the TV?! By the way, E & S are the ones in the turquoise shirts absolutely fixated on the the television screen...oh well...

We also tried to keep the focus on giving with fun projects like:

– the kids making small treat bags for teachers and whatever friends we happened to encounter over the season.   (I love this activity because the kids can actually do most of it themselves…I gave the kids a bag of Hershey kisses, a box of fold top sandwich bags and a spool of ribbon.  They put three kisses in each bag and cut the ribbon.  I tied the ribbon on the bags.)

– coloring pages…I printed out a whole batch of these and the kids spent several afternoons coloring pages that they gave to people for Christmas

– shopping for Angel tree gifts: the parenting Sunday school class at our church did this and we intentionally signed up to bring clothes for kids that were the same ages as ours.  The kids were happy giving clothes (toys might have created more of an “but I want it” issue…we will tackle that soon, but for now we just wanted them to feel good about giving).  Selecting kids the same ages meant our kids were able to really help pick things out (e.g. “I bet she would like this shirt because I think it’s pretty”)

– We also made sure to tell Santa that we were busy making cookies, etc. for him (in addition to telling him what we wanted).

Still, to keep it real, I’ll show this picture of the kids writing their letters to Santa…

(OK, I wrote this and just realized I don’t have any pictures of that…sorry!  But we did write the letters!)

and I’ll end by mentioning an idea that I heard about for the first time just after Christmas, but am thinking about for next year.  Here’s the link, and here’s the excerpt:

When my oldest was a baby, my Mother-in-Law gave us a beautiful wooden Advent cabinet with 25 tiny doors. This year, along with the gifties that Granny sends, there will be a note with an act of kindness to be carried out that day. Some will be strategically placed…like on the 10th when we’ll be joining my husband’s Rotary group to lay wreaths on gravesites at Arlington Cemetery. Or, on the 20th when we’ll be volunteering as a family to organize donations at the Salvation Army warehouse. But, others will be less grand…like picking up litter anytime you see it throughout the day. Or, feeding the birds

And there you have it— a simple plan for 25 days of serving, giving, and helping others.


Me talking again here…

I like the idea of this because of its active nature (with kids this young, we do better with active than contemplative acts of the spirit!) and because it can be mapped out in advance.  Then each morning, you pull out a reminder of one way you can refocus the family during the season.  I can already think of simple ones like making it a point to notice someone doing a good job that day and telling them you noticed…

I’d also like to try a “David tree” activity, but need to learn more about that.  And I definitely want to do a better job with our advent wreath next year: setting aside a quiet time to really explain to the kids what each candle means.

OK, I just read back over this entry and know there is no way I can do all of that.  The nice thing is that I have many months to figure it out!

I’ll leave you with one last photo:

The men of the house, clearly exhausted from all the festivities! (Yes, that's T asleep on the floor next to his dad, asleep on the couch!)

and a final Merry Christmas to all!

With that, it’s back to our regularly scheduled blog programming (with a few random belated posts about our Happy New Year to come at some point!)

Christmas Recap, Part 2

Since I posted a few details about our missteps en route to helping Santa with the girls’ Christmas present, but never actually said what the present was, I thought I’d reveal it here.

To inspire even more dramatic productions in our house, he brought them a stage (technically, stage curtains)…

Santa borrowed the big curtain from our attic bin of old apartment furnishings and hung it with a $14 shower rod from Home Depot. The smaller frame was Santa's second attempt at a Craigslist purchase. (Honestly, you can buy almost anything on Craigslist...Santa just did a search for "stage" and there were real - enormous - stages for sale, though it turns out this one was a little more our speed!)

Santa also restocked our art supplies and provided art bins (with labels, a gift truly for mom!) that allowed us to put a set of supplies in each girl’s room.  We had actually sworn off markers in the months prior to Christmas because no one ever put the tops back on and I was constantly having to get rid of the ones that dried out, but Santa took a risk that paid off tremendously.  Since he gave each girl her own set of markers, everyone has become incredibly invested in keeping their own set intact.  In over a month, not a single marker has gone dry.  Perhaps a lesson for mom in how ownership can lead to more responsible behavior?  Hmmm…..

The white bin is one of the ones Santa brought for organizing the art supplies and has labels detailing what goes in each drawer. E was just as excited about the process of putting everything in the right drawer as she was about the art supplies. I was so excited that they fit perfectly into the girls' bookshelves that I asked Santa to bring each girl another one for holding hairbows, jewelry and play make-up. Just in case you are wondering, I am not a neat freak (at all...don't even make the bed most days...) but I am an obsessive organizer and LOVE labels. E has inherited this trait. Recently I asked her to clean her room and she told me she could if I could tell her how to spell "girl" and "boy". Eager to see where this was going, I spelled the words and checked on her 20 minutes later. Her room was still a wreck but her uncolored Toy Story picture pages had been organized into piles: one for pictures that had mostly "Boy" characters and one that had mostly "Girl" characters. Just like my house...a wreck, but a laundry room with clearly labeled bins for batteries, light bulbs, etc. I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse that I have bestowed upon my daughter! I do know E and I had the best time putting everything in the right bins while S and T joyfully played with dad!

Speaking of T, he was actually the first one up on Christmas morning.  While we typically have the rule that everyone waits at the top of the stairs until we can all walk down together to see the stockings, T is so young (and wakes up so early!) that my husband and I actually brought him downstairs for 45 minutes of his own time before anyone else in the house even stirred.  He saw his train/car table midway down the stairs and began yelling “vroom! vroom!” right away.  The opportunity to play cars trains with he and his daddy in the living room before anyone else woke up was an incredibly fun part of the day.

Santa shopped on Craigslist for the train table too, and my goodness there is a story there, but that is for another blog post...

Another incredibly fun part of the holiday was having my inlaws spend it with us!  Their making the trip was the real gift…such fun to be with them.  In addition, they brought a gingerbread house that my father-in-law won in a contest just before Christmas

This thing was enormous! We were all on a sugar high for well over a week, eating a piece of candy every time we walked by it!

Our "elf on a shelf" is named "Bingo Bango". He hid in the gingerbread house one morning, surprising us all!

My inlaws also arranged for the girls to go horseback riding at a local farm

Here are the girls brushing one of the horses after the ride. S is wearing boots that belonged to her dad when he was a kid. I love things like that!

and my mother-in-law showed up with a cooler full of food that reminded me of Mary Poppins’ bag.  Good stuff just kept coming out of it!

A directly quoted excerpt of one conversation…

Me: We should think about a dinner plan for tonight.

MIL: Well, I do have a fully cooked penne-a-la-vodka in my cooler that we could just heat up…

How amazing is that?!  Have I mentioned that my inlaws are awesome?  and that they drove (with that cooler and that gingerbread house!) 10+ hours to get here from New York?!

In case it hasn’t come across, we had a truly blessed holiday and loved just being together.  The fact that while together we were able to see the kids put on shows in front of their stage curtains, enjoy coloring with fun markers, play with the “vroom, vrooms” and “choo choos” that T so loves, learn how to ride and care for some gorgeous horses and eat magical penne with vodka cream sauce…well that was just unbelievable icing on the cake!

My point is that I loved the togetherness that this holiday season brought us…time off work for my husband, a trip to see my extended family, an opportunity to host my inlaws, and many mornings hanging out in pajamas with the kids.

One last note:  I also love how new art supplies inspire kids in ways you would never imagine.  Though it may seem a strange gift to those who don’t know my daughters, Santa brought them each their very own pack of post-its.  They were able to use as many as they wanted in whatever way they wanted.  Well, check out my new designer wine charms, folks!

First a close-up…

And then a shot of the whole set…

They spent 45 minutes designing and arranging the charms. By the way, those are not green bags of dog poo on my kitchen counter behind the cups. They are, however, green bags that are provided throughout our neighborhood for the purpose of picking up dog poo, but were - on this particular day - used by my daughters to collect rocks. Thanks for letting me clarify that... Also, by the way, that white box to the right of the cup contains the wonderful gift my husband gave me...my entire blog printed out...it looks like a real book! Such an awesome gift!

I’ll leave you with that for today.  One more Christmas recap is coming (specifically about our attempts to keep our focus on Christ amid all the glorious hoopla!), then it’s on to the new year!

“MOM!!! LOOK!!! T is holding A BEER!”

Earlier this week, I took S (age 3) and T (18 months) with me to the grocery store while E was at school.

The shopping trip was going remarkably smoothly, largely due to the fact that we scored the elusive “red car cart” at our local Kroger.  S and T were ecstatic.

I was riding high too.  In addition to scoring the red car cart, I actually found a “sani-wipes” dispenser that had “sani-wipes” in it.  (Am I the only one for whom this is incredibly rare?)

Anyway, after I wiped down the cart and had a remarkably successful foray through aisles 1 and 2, my wave of good feeling was interrupted as I searched for taco seasoning on aisle 3.  The interruption came from S who yelled at full volume, “MOM!!!  LOOK!!!  T is holding A BEER!!!”

And indeed, it appeared he was!

S, a responsible older sister, immediately took it from him.

I, a responsible parent, immediately took a picture of her.  (What?  You think I should have taken the beer?)

Here’s the photo.  T is clearly irritated that his drink has been taken.  S is clearly saying “Cheers!”

Anyway, I was all curious about why the store would have beer on such a low shelf on an aisle next to the taco seasoning (i.e. where any kid could grab it!), but it turns out it was actually a bottle of Malta Goya, which google assures me is not alcoholic.

If only I could go back and tell that to all the people on aisle 3 who were, ahem,  “admiring” my parenting as I snapped away with my cell phone camera.

They should know that I was documenting my children’s choice to go for the non-alcoholic, high in vitamin B, carbonated beverage.

(Let’s not focus on the fact that when they grabbed it, they thought it was beer!)

Note to Self (re: Christmas errands)

Background: S collects pennies.  Santa is planning to bring her a roll of them on Christmas morning, and has asked me to help out by picking them up at the bank.

Note to self: Make this errand the top priority during your very brief window of time with no older children tomorrow.

Otherwise, you will end up at the bank tomorrow afternoon with all three children.  While there you will try to discretely purchase the roll of pennies.  This will likely involve (1) sliding a note to a bank teller asking for a roll of pennies, (2) alerting a security guard who has been trained to look for people who slide notes to bank tellers, and (3) being labeled the most pathetic bank robber in history by an evening newscaster who highlights the fact that your demands included 100 pennies and three suckers for the kids.

Some days the “to do” list is more pressure laden and excitement filled than others…

Merry Christmas everyone!

(Update: I wrote this a week ago, but neglected to post it…I am happy to report that I accomplished the errand while the girls were at school and was not arrested.  Happy holidays indeed!)

In case you hear sleigh bells this evening…

Just thought you might be interested to know that Santa shops on Craigslist and is picking up his main Christmas item for the girls as we speak

I just heard from him that after a successful purchase, he is in his sleigh on the way home.

(This is much better than the phone call I received from him during his last Craigslist holiday excursion, exactly one week ago, when he told me he was unable to pick up “attempt number 1” at this type of item – despite borrowing a larger sleigh from a Santa Nana – because it was “larger than he imagined”, might “crumple the sleigh like an accordian”, and made the Christmas tree twine he had intended to use to tie it down look like a piece of thread that would snap and send our sleigh crusher hurling down the highway.  In his words, “It would have never fit in our house.  Honestly!  I left it with the owner and still gave him $10 because I felt bad that he had to help me try to carry it to the car”.

(Whatever.  Those craigslist postings can be hard to interpret.  The picture made it look manageable!  I mean who knew you could get too much Christmas for an original asking price of $40?)

You may be wondering at this point what on earth Santa has been trying to get the girls that has caused this much drama.  Well (no surprise), it’s something dramatic people (like my daughters) will (hopefully) love.  Here’s a clue from the craigslist posting: “a WOW gift for your little dancer, singer, actor/actress”.  Another clue: retractable curtains.  And I made sure to check this time…it is significantly smaller, with dimensions perfectly appropriate for a 5 and 3 year old (and for a sleigh!).

I can’t post a picture because (1) it’s not Christmas! and (2) I haven’t seen it!   My fingers are crossed that it will be something that will suit us and inspire the kids’ creativity.  But I’m waiting, because my Santa is still on the road…

Bye Bye, Butterfly! (alternate title: three year olds are not really known for their tact…)

E won’t wear her blue butterfly pajamas anymore because S told her it looks like there’s a piece of flying poop on the shirt.

I am sympathetic to E, who didn’t like hearing that at all.

At the same time, I’m not sure I can fault S.  I mean, I never would have noticed it before, but now that S has said that, take a look at the outfit…

DSC_0356

and a close-up of the shirt…

DSC_0358

At the age of 3, she might need to work on her tact a bit, but – heaven help me  – the child speaks the truth.

P.S.  Can you imagine the havoc S would wreak as a member of a manufacturer’s kiddie focus group?  I get tickled just thinking about it!