Are Single Parenting Classes a Thing?

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So…. My husband has been out of town this week in Washington D.C…

Now, usually I’m the one traveling for work so when he told me a few weeks back that he was going to be the one gone for 5 days, naturally my competitive self-started singing the song from Annie Get Your Gun “Anything you can do I can do Better” I just thought I would put on my supermom cape and be ready to go.

WRONG!

My husband’s plane is scheduled to land this evening at 6:57 pm … YES, the exact minute is important so I can more accurately calculate the exact moment that he will walk in the door and I can collapse in his arms and thank him for coming home to us.

Like I said, I’m usually the one traveling so I’m used to being the one that packs the bag, walks out the door, sleeps in a huge king bed in my own hotel room, wakes up to room service and the only responsibility I have is getting myself ready, going to great restaurants in fun cities to entertain clients, etc. When I’m gone, I get to call home and hear cheerful voices that are so happy just to be talking to me. I get to be the one that walks into a spotless, clean sparkling house at the end of a trip and be the hero that hands the kids their new magnet from a new city (we collect magnets from each city visited). In other words, my husband seems to have it all together, knows what he’s doing and everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

During the past five days, I have quickly learned three things…

  1. I need to take classes in being a single parent
  2. My husband deserves a round of applause for how well he manages the house/kids when I’m out of town
  3. Supermom capes are earned/given… if you’re rocking one that you put on your own shoulders (like I tried to) it’s no more than a self-righteous accessory

When Daniel left on Saturday morning it was raining and the forecast for the rest of the weekend was rain and freezing rain. I had a sinus infection and didn’t feel well so I let my kids talk me into going to Fastlane in Rogers, AR (think bowling + laser tag + Bumper cars + arcade games and a giant play structure). Selfishly, I thought to myself, kids can play and I can sit still! Well for anyone who has been to Fastlane or anything like it you know sitting still is not an option, especially with a 2 year old. By the time that experience was over I was down $60 and left with a screaming 2 year old under my arm who refused to put on her shoes. I got all the wonderful sympathy looks from other moms as if to say “I feel ya” All I had left in me that night was enough energy to pop the Friday night left over pizza in the microwave for dinner.

Surprisingly, that became a trend for the next couple of days. My well-balanced sit down family dinners turned into anything that I could whip up in 5 minutes or less so they could eat before 8:00 pm…

Saturday – Leftover Friday night pizza
Sunday – 2nd Sunday Pizza night at Tim’s Pizza on the square (tradition with friends that we go to Tim’s pizza every second Sunday for food and fun)
YES…if you’re counting that’s pizza three days in a row – Mom of the year, I know!
Monday – My two year old ate ramen noodles for the first time ever, and loved them. My older daughter choked them down as she knew I was struggling and my son fixed his own PBJ and grilled cheese when he got home from baseball practice… I think I finally ate an orange Popsicle at 11:00 pm for my dinner.
Tuesday – I swore I was going to cook something…. we ended up a Chick-fil-A!!

I can just feel my super mom cape getting farther and farther away as I type all this out…If I kept a food journal it would have grown its own legs and hopped in the trash can by now.

On Monday, I thought we were doing well. We had just used my counterfeit carpool line pick up sign to get my son from school…. yes, that’s right… counterfeit. I can’t for the life of me find where I put that official neon yellow green tag with the school logo and my sons name on it… so I whipped up a counterfeit one with the same color sticky notes tapped together a sharpie and a printer because I didn’t have the extra 5 minutes in my schedule to have to get out of my car, explain and pick him up from the office.  We dropped my son at baseball practice in Springdale and had two hours to get to “Hobby Hobby”… as my two year old calls it… home to feed the girls (yes that was Ramen night) and back up to Springdale to pick up my son. We were almost to the finish line when all the sudden the girls started dropping like flies…. My younger daughter, out of nowhere, could no longer put any weight on her left leg, screaming in pain each time she tried to take a step… So, I had broken the two year old… and my older daughter all the sudden started screaming in pain holding her stomach. When I say screaming I mean holding it, doubled over like her appendix had just ruptured. We raced home, massage the two year old’s leg (because I didn’t know what else to do) and got her in the bed. I then start using WebMD to pinpoint what could be happening with my other daughter… DON’T DO THIS… I REPEAT, DON’T DO this.. there is a reason you cannot get a degree in medicine online. I finally started thinking like an adult and realized that the stellar meals I had been feeding my kids may have had something to do with this stomach pain, so Zofran and bedtime was my solution… not before going to the neighborhood market to get a giant Gatorade and Saltines just in case.

On Tuesday of this week I was trying to make myself feel better by giving myself props for having all three kids to three different schools in 45 minutes. But, then I walked in the door and saw forgotten lunch boxes sitting on the counter…OOPS, one step forward, and two steps back!

I wake up this morning and my oldest daughter comes in with a sad face holding the Ziploc back that contains her tooth she lost yesterday …  THAT’S RIGHT… the jackass tooth-fairy (um… that’s me) forgot to come last night. For two seconds I contemplated telling her right then and there that the tooth-fairy does not exist, that it’s really daddy and I. But, then I came to my senses and realized that’s not the right thing to do and quickly started thinking of all the reasons that she didn’t make it last night and that we would try again tonight. Oh, and if any of you out there have good excuses, send them my way as this is not the first and won’t be the last time I forget!

I had 9 minutes to wake up the two year old and get her dressed, hair brushed and in the car for drop-offs before we would be behind schedule. She insisted that she have 4 blankets to get in the car. After dropping the older two, we round back to her school for the daily separation anxiety episode. I walked in her room and told her teacher, who was looking for my daughter under the pile of blankets she was carrying, “Don’t worry I won’t leave all these with you, she just insisted on bringing them all in.” To which I get the response from the teacher, “Oh don’t worry about it, she actually needs a sheet and blanket for nap-time because you forgot to bring one on Monday for the week.” …I hope you could not see on my face what I was thinking in my head at that point….

As my oldest daughter exited the car this morning she looked back and me and said, “Mom, you’re doing a good job… I love you and I’ll see you after school!” Well that made my day. I started thinking about perceptions. I can’t tell what all goes on back here at home when I travel. My husband may fight the same battles but chooses not to talk about them because he knows that I feel guilty when I have to travel a lot. Or, the mothers that I see on Facebook with 3+ kids that seem to have everything together and perfectly managed. That’s what they want people to see, what they post, not what happens every day, right?

All that said, it’s Wednesday, SuperDaddy comes home tonight and we are ALL excited about that. I can’t promise that the house will be neat and clean, laundry will be done or that there will be a good home cooked meal on the table (oh man, just realized it’s Wednesday night church night and the kids get Chick-Fil-A for dinner at the church…. two nights in a row on CFA now… yikes!), but the kids are still all in one piece, and we will all give him a very warm welcome home!

Hurry Giveaways End TONIGHT!!!

The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways ends TONIGHT!

All giveaways will close tonight, 12/13/16 @ 11:59pm. Make sure you take a moment to following the instructions on the rafflecopter links to enter each giveaway.

GIVEAWAY REVIEW…

Day 1 – The WooHoo2.o® Outdoor Inflatable Lounger

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Day 2 – Orbitkey transforms your clunky set of keys to neat & organized in minutes.

Day 3 – Want lush, longer-looking lashes? R+F Lash Boost™ serum is an eyelash conditioning serum clinically shown to visibly enhance eyelash volume and length.

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Day 4 – Djubi (joo-bee) is the slingshot toss game that takes the classic catch game to a whole new level.

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Day 5 – The Cactus Scratcher is a personal back scratcher that lets you reach any itch without straining.

Day 6 – It’s Urban Decay’s Naked2 eyeshadow palette.

Day 7 – The UNICEF Kid Power Band, not only does it help your kids stay active but also helps to save lives.

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Day 8 – Beyond the Shave kit is the smart approach to men’s skincare curated by the dermatologists specifically to address men’s shaving needs. This three-step Regimen is clinically tested to calm razor irritation and reveal better-looking skin.

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Day 9 – Functionality finally meets fashion! No longer are you forced to sacrifice your style for an ugly hair tie. Dress up that dingy hair tie with a stunning silver, gold or rose gold plated Skinny Elastic Holder Bangle.

Day 10 –

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America.

Taboo is the game of unspeakable fun! Can you get your team to say Brain Freeze? What if you can’t say Ice Cream, Headache, Eating, Cold or Fast? Not so easy now, is it? When you play Taboo, the obvious clues are strictly taboo!

This Party Encore Game is perfect for entertaining tweens, teens and adults. The object is to recall the most songs that contain a set of specific words.

Day 11 – The Wild and Wolf Hammar Tool is the ultimate multi-purpose tool perfect for his stocking this year.

Day 12 – A DOUBLE GIVEAWAY!

SOI Automatic Bag Light – SOI is the world’s first automatic bag light. Put it in your purse, briefcase, or backpack and, when you reach in to grab something, SOI instantly lights up. This little disc has detection technology that recognizes when a hand is nearby and turns on. Then it automatically shuts off a few moments after you remove your hand.

 

AND

R+F Mini Facial – That’s right ladies three full-size products from Rodan and Fields that together make up the Mini Facial.

Click the links above for each day to go back to the original blog post to enter each giveaway. Remember all giveaways end TONIGHT 12.13.16 @ 11:59pm GOOD LUCK!!!

Comment on today’s blog with the giveaway day you most want to win for an extra entry for that day!!!

On The Seventh Day of Christmas…

Day 7 – UNICEF Kid Power Band

What a great idea for kids!!! The UNICEF Kid Power Band, not only does it help your kids stay active but also helps to save lives.

The UNICEF Kid Power band empowers kids to get active, go on fun missions with famous champions and send lifesaving therapeutic food packets to kids in need.

Count Steps – Kids have fun setting daily activity goals for themselves and friends

Tell Time – It’s a watch, too, so kids won’t ever lose track of time even when they’re having fun

Earn Rewards – Kids take steps to help malnourished kids around the world 

Be sure to check out the UNICEF Kid Power Band Blog to learn more about fun family fitness tips and help your kids stay active… they need it, remember my blog “Mom, I’m Bored!”

DONATE…LEARN…GET ACTIVE…SAVE LIVES

  1. Each time someone purchases a UNICEF Kid Power Band at Target, they donate $10 to     the U.S. Fund for UNICEF
  2. Kids wear their UNICEF Kid Power Bands & go on missions with the App. Families learn about different cultures & kids around the world.
  3. Families get active & save lives together. The more kids move, the more Kid Power points they earn.
  4. Points are converted to funding & UNICEF delivers life-saving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children.

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To enter this giveaway click the following link and follow the options for multiple entries:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

…And don’t forget, if you are just now finding The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways, all promos are open until 12.13.16 @ 11:59pm so feel free to go back and get your name in the hat for some amazing products!

On The Forth Day of Christmas…

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Day 4 is for the kids… or the kid inside you!!!

Djubi…The Slingshot Catch Game

Djubi (joo-bee) is the slingshot toss game that takes the classic catch game to a whole new level. Each racket has a soft mesh net for catching and a hook on top to launch the included foam balls. Slip a ball’s latex loop over the hook then pull, point, and release to launch it up to 100 feet. Get your sling on at the park, pool, or beach.

Check out this video to see Djubi in action!

If your kids are like mine and need something fun to play outside (remember my post, “Mom… I’m Bored!”) the Djubi slingshot catch game is the perfect gift for them this Christmas.

You can win one here!!

To enter this giveaway click the following link and follow the options for multiple entries:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

…And don’t forget, if you are just now finding The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways, all promos are open until 12.13.16 @ 11:59pm so feel free to go back and get your name in the hat for some amazing products!

On The First Day of Christmas…

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Where do you WooHoo?

Need a fun gift idea for the kids? This gift is the perfect indoor/outdoor gift for younger kids, teenagers or adults! The WooHoo2.o® Outdoor Inflatable Lounger sets up quickly without a pump. It’s ideal for outdoor lounging, camping or fun at the beach. Heck, my kids would set them up in the living room for family movie night!

The inflatable lounger is portable and ultra-light weight, you can carry it anywhere, anytime. It inflates easily without a pump and deflates just as quickly and easily as it inflates (always important) and it has two pockets on the side to hold books and mobile devices (for the older kids of course).

How is WooHoo2.0® different?

USA – Unlike other companies selling outdoor inflatable products, they are located in the USA and have been selling inflatables for over 25 years!

NEW PATENT PENDING DESIGN  Their new WooHoo2.0® is larger and much more comfortable than the traditional canoe shape.

CHARITY – A portion of the profits on every WooHoo2.0® sold goes to their orphan/abandoned children charity at MercyHomes.org which is currently helping over 200 children grow up in a home.

When this item is deflated it fits nicely in its own portable bag. The Outdoor Inflatable Lounger comes in multiple fun colors so your kids (if they’re like mine) don’t fight over whose is whose!

To enter this giveaway click the following link and follow the options for multiple entries:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Giving Tuesday

 

November 29th was the Global Day of Giving.

Yes, after you’ve probably spent way too much money on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday (not me, unfortunately, I haven’t started Christmas shopping yet) we now have the kick off of the charitable giving season known as #GivingTuesday. We decided to give to a non-profit association  that furthers the research, education, and solutions for Hydrocephalus, The Hydrocephalus Association.

It wasn’t until April 21st of 2015 that I even knew what Hydrocephalus was. The afternoon before, I had taken our new addition to the family for her 5-month check-up. Moms, you know the drill… strip the baby down to the diaper, place them on the freezing cold scale for a quick weight and length check and then back to the exam room for a head circumference measurement. Now, I had noticed that my little one’s head seemed a bit larger than normal, but I just figured she would grow into it. Up until now, we had always been fortunate enough to have normal, uneventful routine check-ups at the doctor’s office. It kind of hit me in the gut when the doctor brought out the growth chart analysis and showed me that her head circumference was measuring off the charts. “What does that mean,” I asked?  The doctor proceeded to tell me that he wanted us to go across the street to the diagnostic and imaging center where they had scheduled a CT scan. We would have the test done first thing in the morning and they would call us directly with the findings.

I remember feeling numb, not really knowing what to do. Of course, I called my husband and told him everything I had discussed with the doctor while driving home. I called my mom and told her as she and my dad are prayer warriors and man did I feel like we needed some. The next day seemed to take an eternity to arrive. Daniel and I both went in for the CT scan, but when we got there only one parent was allowed to go in the room. Daniel took one look at my face and said, “you go,” God bless that man! Luckily our little one didn’t move an inch so there was no need for sedation. The CT was short, just a few minutes and the nurse said they would send the results to the doctor who would give us a call.

I had no idea how long it would take and trying desperately to keep my mind off of things (right, like I could do that) I took our little one to go walk around at the mall for a bit. We had just made it to the second floor of Dillard’s when my phone rang… it was the doctor’s office calling. I quickly picked up and heard Dr. Ball’s voice on the other end of the phone. He proceeded to tell me that the CT scans confirmed what he had been thinking, our baby girl had a condition known as Hydrocephalus.

Now for those of you who like to break down the parts of a word in order to find its meaning, you would know that Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek words hydro meaning water and cephalus meaning head. The Hydrocephalus Association defines it as an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within cavities in the brain called ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the ventricles and in the choroid plexus. It circulates through the ventricular system in the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This fluid is in constant circulation and has many functions, including to surround the brain and spinal cord and act as a protective cushion against injury. It contains nutrients and proteins necessary for the nourishment and normal function of the brain and carries waste products away from surrounding tissues.Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of CSF that is produced and the rate at which it is absorbed. As the CSF builds up, it causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase thus making the head size increase as well.

At this point, I was in “fix it mode”… tell me what to do! Dr. Ball was great, he went on to say that he wanted us to go straight to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (three hours from Fayetteville) he knew that by the time we would arrive we would need to go to the emergency room, so he had already called ahead and alerted the pediatric neurosurgeon that we were coming and paved the way for a smooth arrival. I quickly jumped in the car called Daniel and told him what we were doing and what needed to be done so we could make our way to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. As I had done just a few months back, I called my friend’s Karla and Wendy to once again seek help with the older children for the night until my parents could arrive in Fayetteville the next day. And again, without hesitation or pause, they both jumped in to help as needed.

A short while later we were on our way to Little Rock with our little girl. I think Daniel and I may have held hands the entire ride. Once we arrived they already had our paperwork, but we did have to wait what seemed like an eternity. My parents, on their way to Fayetteville to help with the older kids, stopped by the hospital in Little Rock to see how we were doing and bring us some food. It was good to see their faces and hear their calming voices as we waited to see the neurosurgeon. Finally, we were called back and spoke with a neurosurgeon who had already talked to his superior, Dr. Cai, regarding our daughter’s condition. We did receive a bit of good news, he told us that her case was not bad enough to operate tonight (although by this time it was about 2:00am) that he would have his nurse schedule surgery for the next day.

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Resting with daddy the day before surgery

We checked into a hotel in Little Rock and tried to sleep a little bit. We spent the next few hours in downtown Little Rock trying to keep busy. The nurse called and gave us the rundown of how to prepare, what to expect and told us to be at the hospital at 8:00am in the morning. We were there promptly at 8:00 filling out paperwork and having her vitals taken, all of the normal pre-surgery prep seemed to be happening quickly.

We were taken back into a private pre-op room and dressed little miss in her surgery gown. The surgeon, Dr. Cai came in with his operating room nurse, the anesthesiologist came in… basically, anyone who was going to be in the room with our daughter came into speak with us, tell us what they were going to do and tried to put our minds at ease. Dr. Cai, with the help of his nurse as he speaks fluent Chinese and broken English, let us know that they would put her under anesthesia, once she was asleep they would call us in the waiting room to let us know they were beginning surgery.

The surgical procedure for Hydrocephalus requires the neurosurgeon to implant a VP (ventricular peritoneal) shunt in the ventricles of the brain. After she was under general anesthesia, they would make two incisions, one on the head and one in the abdomen to allow the neurosurgeon to pass the shunt’s tubing through to the abdomen. A small hole is made in the skull, to allow the ventricular end of the shunt to be passed through the brain and into the ventricle. The abdominal (peritoneal) end is passed into the abdominal cavity through a small opening in the lining of the abdomen where the excess CSF will eventually be absorbed. Here is a visual to help you better understand…

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I felt good about her surgeons and nurses and felt like I had a good grasp on what was about to happen. BUT, NO ONE… I mean NO ONE can prepare you for that moment when the nurse comes to take your child for surgery. Her nurse wheeled her out of pre-op and we were able to walk with her until we got to a hallway with two doors. She was headed through the door on the left and we had to exit out the door to the right. I will never forget that feeling of complete and total helplessness as we kissed her on the forehead and had to turn and walk away. I had absolutely no control, there was nothing I could do but sit and wait. I think I prayed the entire time. Daniel was calm and collected, which definitely helped me.

After surgery, Dr. Cai came out to the waiting room and said that everything had gone well, that she was in post-op recovery and we would be taken back as soon as she woke up. I called those on the phone tree and texted friends and family that had been praying for us all that day to share the good news. Getting to hold and feed her in post-op may be one of the most special moments I’ve ever had. All that feeling of helplessness had gone away as she rocked in my lap and nursed.

Fast forward to the present. I am thankful to say that she is doing well, happy and healthy and has not experienced any issues with her condition or hardware that will remain in her body the rest of her life. Sure we know that at some point it’s likely she will have to have a shunt revision and possibly more surgeries, but we are thankful that everything has gone so well thus far.

I remember thinking this verse from the time the doctor said “abnormal head circumference” to the evening we were discharged from the hospital and we were once again able to sleep in our own house and hear her sweet little snore in the next room…

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I was right, I wasn’t in control through any of it… there was nothing I could do to change or help things back a year and a half ago and there is nothing I can do to make it all go away now. But, I know that God was in control back in April of 2015 and He is still in control of the situation to this day.

We are blessed with what we have been given and therefore give joyfully to an association that continues the research to find a cure for Hydrocephalus.

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Pre-op

 

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Post-op
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Present

Trees…Tinsel… and Three Kids

img_4367img_4364Yesterday we took our annual trip to the Wisconsin Tree Farm to pick out the O’Brien Family Christmas Tree… not to be confused with the Griswold Family Tree. Daniel and I are the perfect mix of picking a tree that has no business being in our modest size home. I always go for the tall ones and he always goes for the big round ones. Usually, by the time the tree is in the house there is NO room for a star or angel as the top is smashed into the ceiling and if you indulged a bit too much at Thanksgiving you’re going to have to find an alternative route around the tree as it’s usually so round that it takes up the entire walkway.

The Wisconsin Tree Farm is a great family owned business right on College Street in Fayetteville. Each year the Latzig family from Merrill Wisconsin comes to Fayetteville, lives in a camper and sells their homegrown Christmas trees in the Gator Golf parking lot. They have all types, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir and Scotch Pine just to name a few. We have purchased a tree from this family every year we’ve lived in Fayetteville.

 

We don’t have a designer tree, never have… but I love our tree as it’s covered in ornaments that both my husband and I have collected as well as the kids handmade ornaments they’ve made each year at school. It’s colorful and about 75% of the tree is covered in some type of kid craft that involves glitter, paint, and sequins.

Am I the only one that has this grand picture in my head of how decorating the family tree should go? Let me set the stage for you…

We are all in the living room listening to the Pandora Christmas radio station, fire flickering and hot chocolate or egg nog in everyone’s cup. We all sit patiently while my husband puts the lights on the tree. After all the lights are hung each child goes to their marked Rubbermaid tub and begins placing their ornaments on the tree, taking turns and making sure they are well spaced in order to have a well-balanced tree. all three kids listen to me as I say, “Be sure to put the heavy ones on the top branches.” After the tree is covered in ornaments we sit and listen to the music and stare at the tree filled with lights while everyone gets sleepy for the night.

NOPE, not at all close to the madness that happened here last night (remember my post on Hostage Negotiating?) … Here’s the real picture…

We are all in the same room most of the time and yes, Pandora radio is playing some of our favorite Christmas tunes, but there is no flickering fireplace as it’s a little too warm for that just yet. No one has hot chocolate or egg nog at this point because the milk that my ten-year-old was trying to boil in the tea kettle is shooting out the whistle whole as it got waaaaaaaayy too hot. I’m burning my fingers trying to clean up boiling milk from the stove while my son is yelling from the other room that he’s hungry and my two-year-old is screaming at the top of her lungs because we won’t let her touch any ornaments. It’s finally time for the lights. I work to get the lights on the tree as my husband unravels and checks each strand… Apparently, we aren’t moving fast enough for my son who is trying to see how many times he can slide off the arm of the sofa onto the ground behind the tree and make his way out without touching any branches… our very own American Ninja Warrior!

After all the lights are finally on the tree, it’s time for the ornaments. Now you know those Rubbermaid tubs I was talking about, each marked and organized with each child’s ornaments… HA, wishful thinking… we have four to five buckets full of ornaments wrapped in 5-year-old newspaper and old grocery bags (read this blog from Rubbermaid – awesome storage idea for ornaments). The kids are holding the newspaper and unraveling them so quick that ornaments are hitting the floor like raindrops. We ALWAYS have a designated area for ornaments that need to be glued back together, because we just can’t do it without breaking any. We should probably buy stock in Gorilla Glue this time of year. The kids are all trying to attack the tree at once and all the heavy ornaments that they placed on the weak lower branches are hitting the floor one by one. My two-year-old is climbing the ladder that I forgot to move post – Christmas tree lights and as soon as you go up to make sure she doesn’t fall she repeatedly tells you “GO WAY!” By this time I have stepped on at least three hooks and a shard of glass from the broken ornaments (think  Marv from Home Alone entering the window with no shoes).

My two-year-old has now come up with a new strategy to reach the branches she can’t quite get to, toss those Christmas balls right on up towards the tree and see if they’ll stick … of course bringing two or three other ornaments down along the way! By this time the tree is pretty full and I start hiding ornaments because we need to wrap this party up before someone falls off the ladder or has to go to the emergency room for glass removal. The two-year-old is now standing over by the wooden nativity scene picking up each animal and very loudly showing off that she knows her animal noises.

My husband and I escape to the garage for 60 seconds to put all the empty boxes away… we pause and look at each other like we’ve just been through an F5 tornado and bust out laughing while we hold each other up from exhaustion.

It’s the same thing every year… I have a pretty picture in my mind about how it’s supposed to go, and then it goes in a completely different direction. It’s crazy and the house is now covered in glitter, pine needles and ornament hooks (I used the old trusty Hoover Wind Tunnel to get the glass up already… that thing is like the perfect kid, cleans up and very quiet) but in the end, everyone had a good time. The kids will remember the laughs and their baby sister telling everyone to go away and saying “haw hee” as she holds up the donkey from the manger scene (one of these days we’ll tell her it’s hee-haw, but it’s just so darn cute). For now, I’ll treasure the years we have left with each of them while they want to be around us, want to help decorate and make fun family memories. I can’t wait to see what next years tornado will bring!

What is your family Christmas tree/decorating tradition?

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