Happy Mothers’ Day!

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Mothers’ Day is upon us.  A lot of companies use this time of year to peddle everything from cards to jewelry to chocolate.  While jewelry and chocolate are always welcome, they really aren’t on the top of my list of things I want for Mothers’ Day.  What do I want?  I’m glad you asked.

1.  I want to drive to and from a wedding in Maryland this weekend without anyone vomiting or pooping in the car, church, or restaurant.  I realize this is a tall order, since Laurel has inherited my car-sickness gene and Ellie’s GI doctor has us feeding her gluten for the next month.  But it would be so nice not to have clean up someone else’ digested food on the side of I-95.

2.  I want Ellie to sleep through the night.  Just one night.  That’s all I’m asking.  She is three and a half and she has never slept through the night.  Which means I’ve been exhausted since she was born.

3.  I want Laurel to stop yelling.  I realize that in order for this to happen, that I probably have to stop yelling as well.  So if anyone has a magic want that can grant both of us more patience, spread some of that good stuff our way.

4.  I want Ellie to talk.  I want to hear my little girl say “Momma, I love you.”  I want her to be able to tell me what is wrong when she is crying.  I want her to be able to tell me what hurts when she is sick.  I just want to hear her sweet little voice.

5.  I want people to be nicer to each other.  There is so much negativity our there.  I want people to stop glaring at each other and try smiling instead.  Stop over-thinking things and say hi to each other.

6.  I want people to lend a hand.  If you see a small child running for the doorway at Target, grab the kid before they hit the parking lot.  Their mom will thank you.  If you see someone struggling with their grocery bags, grab a bag and help them out.  If you see a mom trying to control three kids in the check-out line, distract them for her.  Talk to them, smile at them, ask them what they did today.  That little distraction can keep them from a complete melt-down, and the entire store will thank you for that.  If you know that one of your friends is having a rough time financially, and you can help them out, do so.  An extra twenty bucks may not seem like a lot to you, but to a family who is struggling it can mean the difference between their kids having food until payday or being hungry.

7.  I want my dog to stop being an asshole.

8.  I want the car-thing that the Cat in the Hat uses to put the house back in order at the end of the book.  How cool would that be?

9.  I want people to stop using the words “retarded” and “gay” to describe things that they don’t like.  The English language is full of words.  Pick another one.  Don’t be a dick.

10.  I want the girls to forget that Frozen exists.  Just for a few days.  Because no, I don’t want to build a freaking snowman.

That’s about it.  What is on your list?

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Let it Go, Folks

 

The Frozen Trinity

The Frozen Trinity

During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of FB posts from my friends who are parents of young girls, looking for the dresses and dolls from the movie “Frozen.” Over the past few days, the posts have become down right desperate. People are getting crazy about finding this stuff. Anyone who does find a store that actually has dolls or dresses left is buying them all, to resell to friends in other areas. Not to make a profit, but just to share their luck. (Mostly.)

$1,000 on Ebay, and this sucker could be yours.

$1,000 on Ebay, and this sucker could be yours.

And the whole situation leaves me somewhat mind-boggled. Most of these kids are the same age as mine: three and a half. How badly do they really need this stuff, that you are stressing out this much about finding it? It’s just STUFF. More stuff to fill your house, which most of you have complained about being too cluttered already.

Seriously, why are you making yourself crazy about this? What will happen if little Jenny wakes up on Easter morning and “all” the Bunny brought her is a basket full of candy, bubbles, toys, books, DVDs, and whatever other nonsense you put in there? (And please, don’t get me started on the crazy amount of stuff kids get in their Easter baskets.) Do you really think that she’s going to be scared in some way by NOT getting Elsa and Anna dolls, dresses, stuffed animals, and accessories? She’s THREE. She’s going to stuff her face full of Peeps, spill bubble stuff on the living room floor, and spend the rest of the morning playing with the plastic eggs.

Ok, I admit, these are really cute.

Ok, I admit, these are really cute.

I know that some of you are sitting there, thinking, “But I want to get it for her, because it’s special and I know she’ll love it!” Bull. It’s not special if ever other kid is getting it. It is mass-produced crap that Disney is hoping will instill a deep sense of commercialism in our kids.  And yeah, she’ll love it. Of course she will. But you know what? If you don’t get it for her, SHE WILL NEVER KNOW. Because she’s three. Unless you have made some big deal about finding this stuff for her, she’ll never know that she is missing it.

Usually frozen eggs explode.  These just sparkle.

Usually frozen eggs explode. These just sparkle.

Our kids are still little. They don’t have peer pressure yet to get the newest, coolest toy.  At this age, they are just as happy playing Elsa by wearing a piece of blue cloth like a cape and a pair of your old gloves, pulled up to their elbows.  So stop making yourself crazy.  There will be plenty of time for that later.  Save crazy for the day that they are old enough for their first cell phone, or their first car.  Then, by all means, stress out.  But for now?

Just…. Let it Go.

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Ostara Fun for Everyone

eggs

The spring equinox is upon us, and the girls and I have been having fun getting ready.  While looking for ideas of things to do with them, I noticed a serious lack of information on the Web about how to include small children in Pagan/Wiccan celebrations.  So I thought I’d share what we do with you.  If you are looking for some other great ideas, I highly recommend the book Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill.  It is chock-full of stories, songs, and craft ideas.

I’ve been telling them the story of Persephone and reading them Rupert’s Tales, story-poems about a sweet little rabbit who is learning about the different Pagan holidays.  We’ve been listening to a lot of Ostara Songs, but the big favorite is by Lisa Thiel.  Laurel likes to sing along with that one, even if she gets most of the words wrong.

Yesterday we made Ostara cookies, because nothing says “spring” more than the marriage of eggs, butter, and flour.  Get the recipe for these super good gluten free sugar cookies here.  We painted them with “cookie paint” before they were baked.  Just mix half an egg yolk with a smidgen of water and some food coloring, then let your little artists have at it.

Cookies are good for any reason, any season.

Cookies are good for any reason, any season.

Today we dyed Ostara eggs.  What makes Ostara eggs different from Easter eggs?  Not a dang thing.  I wish I could tell you that I made my very own all natural dyes from different plants, but I would be lying.  I am too sick and tired to do that stuff right now.  So a Paas egg dying kit from Target was what we used.  For the record, the “magic crayon” that comes with it is useless.  I was so let down that my pretty designs didn’t show up.  Thankfully, the girls didn’t care.

Laurel made all of the pink eggs.

Laurel made all of the pink eggs.

Since eggs are such a big part of Ostara, tomorrow we’ll be celebrating by eating Ham, Egg, and Potato Bake off of the adorable plates that the girls picked out at Target.  For dessert it is traditional to have custard, but I’m making a bunny shaped vanilla cake with coconut icing.  Because….cake.

Seriously, how cute are these?!

Seriously, how cute are these?!

Long before dinner, however, the girls will wake up to their Ostara “baskets.”  Traditionally, these would be made from wicker or grape vines or some other lovely natural material.  But my girls get baskets as Easter.  This year for Ostara they are getting metal pails filled with gardening supplies.  Then we will plant the little seeds they got in mason jars, so they can watch them grow.

My herbs are already sprouting!

My herbs are already sprouting!

I don’t think we are going to actually hide any eggs for the girls to find this year, since it is still pretty cold outside and our new puppy would eat anything we hid in the house, but they will enjoy eating them all the same.  Luckily, they are still to young to know any differently.  And before you get up in arms about the lack of candy in their buckets, have no fear…. they will get plenty next month when they get to pretty much do all of this over again, but on a much bigger scale.

Happy Ostara!

 

Making Santa Fair

I have a request.

For all of the parents out there who can afford to buy their kids a zillion gifts for Christmas, please don’t tell them that they are all from Santa.  Pick one or two to be from the Big Guy, and make the rest from you.

Why?

Because I’m dreading the day when my girls are old enough to realize that Santa only brings them one or two gifts when he brings your kid twenty.  Because I don’t want them to think that they weren’t good enough. Because I don’t want them to wonder if they did something wrong.  Because I don’t want them to be sad, thinking that Santa doesn’t like them as much as they like your kid.  Because I don’t want them to feel hurt because of something so out of their control.

I don’t care if you want to buy your kid every new gadget that comes along, or the new American Girl doll and all of the accessories that come with her, or enough Lego sets to build a scale model of New York City.  If you can do that, and you want to, go for it.

Just, please, let your kid know that they came from you, not from Santa.

I can explain to my girls that you make more money than me, so you can afford to buy more gifts for your kid.  Not a problem.  Easy-peasy.  They will understand that.  It won’t hurt them.  It might disappoint them, but it won’t hurt them.

But if you tell your kid that all of that loot came from the North Pole, and your kid starts spouting off about how Santa brought them a giant princess doll house and all of the princesses to go with it, five new DVDs, a slew of My Little Ponies, and one of those awesome electric drivable Jeeps, and all that Santa brought my kid was a doctor’s kit and some plastic dinosaurs, how can I explain that?

How do I look into Laurel’s eyes and tell her that Santa brings the rich kids more stuff than he does the poor kids, even if the poor kids were really, really good?  How do I try to make that fit with Ellie’s image of Santa as the great giver, the fair and generous patron saint of children?   How can explain away that kind of unfairness?

I can’t.

Please, I’m begging you, don’t make me disillusion my children.  Let the magic of the season last for them a little longer.  Pick one or two gifts to be from Santa, and make the rest from you.  My kids can understand socioeconomics.  They can’t understand unfairness.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

 

The Junk Food Tirade

I’ve gotten some flack lately for posting about baking and eating cookies with the girls.  Apparently I’m starting them out with an unhealthy food lifestyle.  I am beginning their addiction to sugar and empty carbs.  They should only be eating whole, organic, raw foods.  How dare I give my precious sweet, innocent babies those poison pucks so commonly known as cookies?!  At first I was highly amused by this.  (WooHoo! I have haters!)  Then it kind of pissed me off.  Because, really, you have no idea what I feed my kids the other 99% of the time.

cookie-monster

You have no idea that I’m a health food snob.  Because I don’t write about that.  Its boring.  No one wants to know about how the girls love fruit and nuts and organic, free-range, grass fed beef.  Should I write a post about the well balanced, mostly vegetarian meals I provide for them?  Yawn.  Sure, I’ll probably share some great healthy recipes with you at some point.  I just haven’t gotten around to it.  It’s the holidays.  We made cookies.  We ate cookies.  Deal with it.

This is what most of our meals look like, thankyouverymuch.

This is what most of our meals look like, thankyouverymuch.

If you want to complain about kids eating junk food, I can do that with the best of them.  I can bitch and moan about how our society feels the need to push sweets on our kids for every freaking “special” occasion they can think of.  And how I can’t stand that I get the stink eye when I tell people not to offer my kids junk food.  Like I’m the bad guy.  In fact, I can even break it down in numbers to show just how much junk our kids are getting once they hit elementary school.  And I will.

Say there are 30 kids in your kid’s class.  All of their parents bring in cupcakes for their respective birthdays.  That is one month of cupcakes over the course of the school year.  Add in the class’ holiday celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (“winter”), Easter (“spring”), and possibly Valentines day and the end of the school year.  That is six more days of junk.  Now, suppose your kid is moderately popular and is invited to 10 birthday parties, where they will gorge on cake and ice cream.  We’re up to 46 days.  If your kid is in any activities, there are bound to be soccer celebrations, Girl Scout cookie parties, and Sunday school soirees.  Add in your “occasional” treats at home over a year’s time, which we’ll say is a conservative 11 times.  We have now hit 60 days of junk food.  That is TWO MONTHS of crap.  And we haven’t even talked about actual holiday celebrations.  We haven’t hit on family birthdays, Halloween candy that lasts a month, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies for two weeks, Valentines day candy for a week, Easter candy for two weeks, and ice cream for Independence day.  It could easily total at three to four months worth of days where your kid is eating junk.  Or more.

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My girls?  They don’t get all of that.  They aren’t in grade school yet, and even when they are I intend to send them to a Waldorf-style charter school where I don’t have to worry about junk food being seen as a reward.  They aren’t in any activities yet.  When we do bake at home, we generally make healthy versions of whatever we are craving.  Ellie would rather eat crackers than cookies, so I’m more concerned with her salt intake than her sugar levels.  Laurel has a sweet tooth, but I know I can give her fruit and she’ll be content.

I don’t keep junk in the house.  I don’t buy it.  Because if I do buy it, I will eat it.  Oh God, will I eat it.  I’ll eat it in one sitting, hiding in the laundry room from the kids so I don’t have to share it.  I have no will power.  And I don’t want my kids to see that or inherit that, so I remove the temptation.

Except at Christmas time.  Because the holidays are a time to let your guard down a bit, to have some fun and make some memories with the kids.  The holidays are a time to eat some damn cookies.

Noms!

Noms!

Painting Cookies!

They look good enough to eat...all in one sitting!

They look good enough to eat…all in one sitting!

Today Laurel and I made cut-out cookies.  I wanted to make up for making cookie-looking non-cookie ornaments the other day.  Because I’m all about fairness.  And baked goods.

The fates smiled upon our house today, and Laurel was on her best, most adorable behavior.  So after we put Ellie on the school bus we broke out the cookie dough we made yesterday.  Laurel picked out which cookie cutters to use, and helped to cut the dough.  The only fuss she made was when I wouldn’t let her roll the dough out herself.  (That’s a quick way for it to end up on the floor!)  She told me how many of each shape to make, and we had a great time.  Then it was off to the table to decorate them!

If you have ever made cut-out cookies with a young child, you have seen the way they apply sprinkles.  Usually it involves 1/2 an inch of colored sugar on top of each cookie, non of which actually melts, and it just gets everywhere.  So I wanted some kind of (less messy) alternative to sprinkles.  Enter…..Cookie Paint!

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Paint + Cookies = One happy Lil’ Bear!

I remembered seeing a post somewhere at some point about making cookie paint out of egg yolk and food coloring, so I decided we’d give that a shot.  And it worked great!  Laurel loves to paint more than anything in the world, so it was a natural fit.  I decided on a limited pallet of colors, and only made red, green, and blue.  The blue didn’t really want to come out blue because our egg yolks were very yellow.  So it was sort of greenish, but I didn’t really care that much.  If you want a truer blue, I’d try using the egg whites.  I’m not sure how that will turn out, though. It might make them extra crispy.  You’ll need to add a bit of water to the yolk/food color mixture as well, to thin it out a bit.  And you don’t need much of it.  I probably could have split the yolks up and used only half a yolk per color, instead of a whole one.  In any case, I love how they turned out.  The paint got really shiny and pretty.  We will definitely do this again!

Truly Scrumptious

Truly Scrumptious

Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used King Arthur’s Multipurpose Flour)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

– Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients.
– Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.
– Preheat the oven to 350 F.
– Roll a chunk of the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Remember to flour your rolling pin (or wine bottle or other rolling implement).
– Break out your favorite cookie cutters and have at it.  Remember to dip the cutters in flour if they start to stick.
– Put the cookies on a cookie sheet.  Use parchment paper if your heart desires it.  I don’t bother.
– Take the left over dough and squish it up with another chunk of the unused dough.  Repeat the rolling/cutting steps until your cookie sheets are full.
– PUT THE REST OF THE DOUGH BACK IN THE FRIDGE.  Otherwise, while you decorate the first batch, your dough will get too soft and sticky and you’ll never get it rolled out.  Trust me.
– Decorate your first batch of cookies however you want.
– Pop those cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
– Cool on wire racks.
– Once you have a free cookies sheet, get the rest of the dough out of the fridge and start rolling/cutting.  You get the point.
– Devour.

 

Cookie Paint

1 egg yolk per color
1/4 teaspoon water per color
a few drops of food coloring

In small bowls, containers, or ramekins mix up a yolk, the water, and some food coloring.
Make sure you use CLEAN paintbrushes.  Not the ones your kids were using the other day that you just sort of half-assed rinsed out.  Either use new brushes or give the ones you have a proper cleaning with dish soap and hot water.  Use a different brush for each color; don’t try to rinse between colors. It will water down the paint too much.Again, if you use yolks that are a dark yellow, you may have problems with some of the colors.  I had to add a lot of red to make the paint red, not orange.  You can try the egg whites, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.
Paint the cookies!

Elfing Around

The Elf on the Shelf.  You’ve seen them in the stores, on Facebook, and all over Pinterest.  They are everywhere, and they are watching you.  Well, not you exactly, but they are watching your kids, taking mental notes on their behavior so they can report back to the big guy at the North Pole.  Because that’s what they do, in case you haven’t been sucked into EotS culture yet.  They are basically creepy little tattletales, sent to your house to spy on your kids for Santa Claus.  Every night they fly back to the North Pole to hang out with other elves and give their reports to Saint Nick, then they fly back to your house before morning.  Some elves just hang out on the same shelf every day.  Some hide, so the kids can find them.  Some get into all sort of mischief.  The only rule is that the kids can’t touch their elves, or they lose their magic and can’t fly to and from the North Pole.

So creepy its cute.

So creepy its cute.

Meet Fjord, our Elf on the Shelf.  He falls into the mischievous catagory.  He gets up to all sorts of hijinks.  The girls love him, and I have to admit I take great joy in coming up with stuff for him to do.  I can’t wait until they are old enough to really understand the no-touching rule, so I’ll have more options on where to put him.  But I think I do pretty well for having to keep him out of reach.

If you are looking for some ideas for what to do with your EotS, here is what Fjord did last year, when the girls were two.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls' room with mini paper ornaments.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls’ room with mini paper ornaments.

Just hanging out!

Just hanging out!

Gone fishing

Gone fishing

Baking cookies

Baking cookies

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Chillin' in the freezer because he was homesick.

Chillin’ in the freezer because he was homesick.

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Pretending to be a reindeer

Pretending to be a reindeer

Uh-oh!  Someone touched Fjord and now he's sick.

Uh-oh! Someone touched Fjord and now he’s sick.

He made it snow!

He made it snow!

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Little bugger got into my sewing box

Little bugger got into my sewing box

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

There you go.  Consider yourself inspired. Now go buy an elf and have at it.  Start making memories while terrifying your children into good behavior.  You can even buy snugly elves for the kids to play with, if they just can’t keep their hands off of you EotS.  And changes of clothing, if you are so inclined.  But don’t buy the movie.  Seriously.  We paid $15 for “An Elf Story,” thinking it was a real movie.  It’s not.  It is a 30 minute made for TV special.  That’s right.  $15 for 30 minutes.  Waste. Of. Money.  Not to mention that it is complete drivel.  Spend the $15 on something else.  Or just mail it to me.  At least I won’t insult your intelligence for half and hour.  Unless you want me to.  Your choice.