Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Promise Me This One Thing Please!!!!

On Christmas morning at about 10:45 am, approximately half of our house burnt down.
It was not electrical, stove fire or even sparks from the fire place. No, it was a small ember from a a small match that broke in half after it didn't light from Mike was trying to light at least five feet away from a live Christmas tree. The ember managed to hit the tree (remember this ember was not ever a flame) and within seconds, the tree was on fire. My daughter immediately yelled 'the tree is on fire' and I walked about 7 feet to grab the fire extinguisher. When I turned around, the tree was completely ablaze and the flames were curling and licking the kitchen ceiling (Mike had managed to move the tree a couple of feet trying to get it out the back kitchen door.).

I heard the fire roar, yes it really roared(!), and I just grabbed a kid and ran (side note: if you ever wonder what you want to grab in a fire, I can tell you right now the only things you will grab are people, nothing else will even be on your mind---not your cell phone, not your pictures, not even your wedding rings--just your family!). We all got out without a scratch but the home is unlivable right now.

Later the firefighters told us that it is common for a live Christmas to burst into flames from the smallest thing--a spark from a fireplace, anything. Even if you constantly water and feed the tree, like we did. Mike found this video on You Tube. This is really how it is. And again, I want to stress we watered our tree, gave it Super Thrive and made sure it was not 'dry'.

So I want you to promise me you won't put a live Christmas tree inside your house. If you buy one keep it outside, away from the house. Now is a great time to buy a fake tree by the way (dirt cheap).

Take care and God bless all of you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Music Old School Cool

Like I may have mentioned (wink), I have a great deal of Christmas music--just about everything (well not really the 'pop' stuff) but when it comes down to it, the music the kids and I listen to over and over again usually features Bing, Dean or Frank. Total old school.

So if you are adding some tunes to the playlist, be sure to check out these lesser known favorites:

"The Christmas Waltz" Frank Sinatra

"Christmas in Killarney" Bing Crosby

"Greensleeves" (very cool instrumental jazz version) Vince Guaraldi Trio

"Mrs. Santa Claus" Nat King Cole

"We Wish You the Merriest" Frank Sinatra

"A Marshmallow World" Dean Martin (Dino loves singing this one!)

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Bing Crosby

"Away in a Manager" Nat King Cole

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" Dean Martin (no one does this song better!)

"Mele Kalikimaka" Bing Crosby

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No idea what to buy for Christmas for kids? These are toys they will play with for years!

Throughout my 12 years of buying Christmas gifts, I have spent tons of money of toys that are less enjoyed than the boxes they came in, toys they love for about a week and then they quickly collect dust in a basket and toys that are handed down from child to child and enjoyed by friends of all ages for years!

This post is about the latter of these toys. So if you are at a loss as to what your children will really want this Christmas, get out your list and copy these ideas.

1. Wooden Blocks

I bought this set of wooden blocks with the wagon for my oldest daughter's first Christmas 11 years ago. It is currently being played with by three of my children as I type this. It rarely sits on a shelf. My older kids, the girls, love to build things with the blocks--my oldest likes to make castle type things for her dolls; and the boys, the younger kids, love making towers and smashing them down. We also like to put the blocks in alphabetical order. I know wood blocks seem so simple but I am amazed how many people just never thought of buying this imaginative toy!

2. Little People

I played with Little People as a child so I made sure my kids got them as gifts early on! The 6th grader will not admit this but even she has fun putting together different towns. The third grader and the boys still do lots of play acting and from the barn I bought 11 years ago to the new addition to the Christmas Village I bought this year, all the toys see plenty of play time. True they are plastic but they are made well, not like most plastics. Kids really get to create and make up stories and towns. And because they are using their hands, the little muscles in those hands get a great work-out (those who homeschool or work with hand writing understand how important this is!).

3. Automoblox

My mom introduced these toys to my family when Dino was little. I love these little cars. You can build them by fitting in the right shapes. The kids play with them for hours because 1. they're cars (even girls love cars--they have pink ones) and 2. they can create different cars from different parts. (Glancing at the website, I see they now have hot rods---oh my I think I have birthday presents ready now!)

4. Pattern Blocks

I love these blocks because they build up by the level--from pre-k to middle school. I suggest pattern sheets to help make pictures but you can also make your own designs like my Sarah loves to do. These pattern blocks are always taken out and played with when we have friends over. I am not sure why they love them so much but they just do. They have been an active part of the playroom for almost ten years!

5. Dress Up Trunk
This may be the simplest of all!! Gather old dresses, hats, shoes, ties and sport jackets to create a dress up trunk. All kids love dress up---my 6th grader and her friends only recently slowed down on playing dress-up but the others are still dress-up fans! Get creative--old towels can be a super cape, old jewelry can be fixed up to make a crown. Hit the good will stores and find some very cool items that will keep them busy for hours!

This year, my kids are getting what I like to call "Zhu-Zhu Land" from the grandparents--only time will tell if they are as much as a hit of the above five items :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This will happen before your company arrives.....

There's not many guarantees in life but these things are bond to happen before your big party or out of town guests arrive.

1. Your toddler will cram toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper and cotton down the sink, clogging it. He will walk away and you will discover the mess as you step into the hallway near the bathroom and notice your new (or just cleaned) carpet it soaked. The cabinets in the bathroom will also have water.

2. Your kids will be continuously hungry and desire pain-in-the-butt messy foods to prepare and they will decide to eat it anywhere you just cleaned.

3. Your husband will add water to the wrong part of the coffee maker (the grinder) and will pull it apart blowing coffee grinds everywhere. On the plus side, you will be able to clean it out and quickly fix it. Negative side, there will be little black coffee grind specks everywhere that you will continue to find when you host the 4th of July bar-b-q.

4. Your kids will again be 'starving'.

5. You will force the kids to stop the imaginative play of taking every pillow in the house to create a 'jumping pit' and make them watch television non-stop so they will not destroy everything in the house.

6. A door, drawer cover or chair will break. No matter how new it is. On extra special visits, the oven door might even fall off ;)

7. Your kids will watch you mop and scrub down the kitchen floor. Then they will say they are once again 'hungry'.

8. The cat will have a hair ball issue and throw up wherever the carpet is not soaked.

9. Your husband will have to run to the office to pick something up when you are in the middle of scrubbing the shower.

10. You will be ready for your guests, the house again spotless and then discover your toddler found the chocolate and got it all over him, the walls, the floor and the busted door.

11. You will be so happy to see your guests' smiles, you will forget all about the first ten items on the list.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure--One of the Best Dance Scenes in one of our favorite movies

My kids really love the old classics, like mom. Think 'Fiddler on the Roof', 'Sound of Music' and 'A Christmas Carol (c. 1938)'. That old.

When it comes to Christmas, of course we love 'It's a Wonderful Life' and that movie I saw the world premier of with the stars 'A Christmas Story'; but a movie that really has the kids' hearts in 'Holiday Inn' with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Now I was going to share with you the clip of Bing singing 'White Christmas' (it came from this film, not 'White Christmas' oddly enough). You can find that anywhere.

No, what you are about to see is Fred Astaire doing what he does best, doing what even contestants on 'So You Think Can Dance' don't even think of doing, this well. It's a scene where he is upset and drunk. And I mean drunk. See, Fred was so good, they had to give him a half dozen shots (or possibly more) to really look drunk. Really. Check out this scene and I am betting you will want to see the whole movie :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Looking for a Way to Entertain Kids in the Car This Christmas--There's an App for That!

One of the perks of bragging about your obsession on Christmas music is getting to check out a Christmas music product---this week I got to add the iCaroler app to my iPhone if I could write a review about it.

ICaroler is a really cute app that shows little cartoon people singing a few popular Christmas carols. You can tap on the figures to mute them, move them around or just enjoy the song. You can also carol with fellow iPhone friends. I didn't have time to do this but did find a video of someone did do it.

For 99 cents, I thought it was cute but nothing to really go nuts over, but then I handed it to my two girls (8 and 11). They absolutely love this thing! They aren't networking but they love figuring out the different chorale parts--muting some,moving the characters around. And Santa even flies by every now and then--they go crazy when that happens.

As a matter a fact, I handed them the iPhone after homeschool work to see what they would do. They giggled and sang and giggled more for a good hour! A quote from Miley (11), "this is the coolest thing ever!". Now that is totally worth 99 cents!

You can find the app by clicking here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

No One Puts the Orange Shirt Guy in the Corner

There is one scene in the Charlie Brown Christmas that gets our entire family off the sofa. This one.

I love to be the girl in pink, the girls are the twins and Mike is the guy in the green. The boys are usually Linus but switch to the guy in green.

We have all tried to dance like Orange Shirt Man but to no avail. We don't have those mad skills. Do you? And if you can, tell me how--I am sure I'd be the talk of our next Christmas party if I can pull that off ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why We Missed Jazz Class Today

Dear Sweet Jazz Teacher,

Yes, Sarah did miss class today but I have a very good reason.

See when we woke up this morning, we were shocked to find snow, actual snow on the ground. I am sure you noticed. But that's not why we are missing class.

No, see my kids have no mittens (because we are in Dallas and we usually don't see snow til January or never!) so they raided my sock drawer and took all my socks for double and triple protection. When all was done, I had no socks and I spent the early morning with cold feet. I was not pleased.

They came in from the snow soaked, especially their shoes. Miley actually discovered she had a hole (a big hole) in her uniform shoes.

So I did what a good mother is supposed to do. I took all four of them on a mission to find warm mittens, scarves and shoes.

Our first stop, we found uniform shoes along with cute boots, light up super hero shoes and lots and lots of fun socks.

Then we stopped by Belks for mittens and other fun stuff. We found none but we did find Santa (shhhhh, we aren't supposed to tell to many people we saw him) shopping for gifts for Mrs. Clause (seriously it was Santa in a leather jacker, boots and cowboy jeans).

So off to Old Navy to pick from the remaining hats, scarves, and of course mittens. And I managed to grab a hoodie and some of those cute warm and fuzzy house socks.

When we got home, I realized Sarah had to do a book report on 'The Man in the Iron Mask', a tough read for a third grader even if it is abridged, Miley still needed to work on her 'to scale' map of the world, and I was tired.

So we are taking a pass from class today--beside my feet are loving these cozy socks and I'd rather not take them off ;)

Thanks for understanding!