boys at a ballet?

My little men and I are going on a grand outing next week.  We are attending a matinee performance of The Nutcracker.  One might ask, "Why would you take two uber active boys to the ballet?"  It is a legitimate question.  I am certain that they can rise to the occasion.  Well, at least Big W.  Little Man is another story all together.  He isn't known to just go with the flow, so I am hedging my bets.

When I was teaching it was called building background knowledge.  Current day, I call it covering my a^#!  I am hopeful, not delusional.  With my entire arsenal, I am getting him pumped up to see this ballet.

I have been reading him a simple picture book that tells the story of The Nutcracker Ballet.  I am confident Little Man will enjoy the performance more if he knows the story.

[via amazon]

I downloaded the music of The Nutcracker from iTunes and burned CD's for my boys.  They listen to them at night as they are falling asleep. Of course, Little Man's favorite track is #8 [The Nutcracker Fights the Mouse King's Army].  An army in a ballet?  His interest is peaked.

As mother, all I want is to have an enjoyable afternoon with my boys.  I want see the ballet and leave feeling inspired.  Wish me luck-I'm going to need it!


twinkle lights

A few weeks back, a good friend and I were seriously debating whether or not to buy these Starry String lights at Restoration Hardware.  We weren't sure exactly how we would use them or how to hide the battery pack.  For $25, we needed a plan and since neither of us had one-we both passed.

Fast forward to this week.  I decided my mantel needed some TLC.
I used this image as my jumping off point.
I had tall mercury candle holders, white dotted votive holders, a tall white vase and pine cones.  I picked up 6' of douglas fir garland [and a hefty $.98 a foot] and a bunch of curly willow at our favorite nursery.  NOW I needed that little string of lights!  I was determined to find them [cheap] and headed to Target.

Low and behold......
[twinkling lights.  $6.99 @ Target]

I have few finishing touches to add, but I am loving it! 

Should I take the leap and just decorate with natural greens and white, with touches of mercury and metalics next year??

PS.  It was super simple to hide the battery pack behind the garland. 


holiday sanity [use gift guides]

It is easy to feel like your head is spinning during the holidays.  I have revolving to-do lists, some that I have actually written down.  Gifts, cards, meals, cookies, parties, family, kids....and... and...the lists are endless!

So, with less than two weeks to go.......
Keep your sanity.
Idea #1:  Let someone else do the thinking!  Use gift guides.

Here are a few to start with:
  1. Gift guide for the guys- cupcakes and cashmere
  2. Guide for sisters, brothers, dads..... - a cup of jo
  3. To and From - a gift guide from bloggers and tastemakers [this one is unbelievable!!]

Brilliant Idea!  Use the valet parking at the mall.  Splurge.  Why not?  'Tis the season of indulgence.


o christmas tree #1

Our first tree was 3' tall and purchased outside a drug store in Santa Clara, CA.  Since then we have had 12 Christmas trees and added 2 children to our family.  Some of the funniest stories of our marriage surround getting our Christmas tree. In the beginning, it always seemed to be an adventure.  

Year A:  I watched my husband whittle the trunk of tree down with his chainsaw [in the dark and pouring rain] so that it would fit into our tree stand.  

Year B:  We took our 18 month old to a tree farm to cut down our own tree.  After walking through knee deep mud and our little one taking a face plant, we looked at each other and agreed, without words, to abort mission.  We grabbed a tree from a lot on the way home. 

Year C:  Our favorite nursery nailed our tree stand on for us.  When we got it home, the tree had a considerable lean.  We piled coasters under one side of the stand to even it out.  A slight breeze would have blown that tree over.

I have considered getting an artificial tree, but where's the fun in that?  We actually have it down to a science now.  Chalk that up to a little experience.  Our requirements:  a dry day, all 4 family members in attendance, the same local nursery, a larger tree stand, and a quick check to see if the tree stands straight - before it's loaded onto the car. 

Lucky us, we found a pretty darn good-looking noble fir this year [no chainsaw required].  
Step 1:  get tree. check.
Step 2:  add ornaments.
{clockwise from top left}
1.  The original ornaments.  Purchased in 2000 for $2.99 for our very first tree.  Only a few remain, but I can't leave them off.
2.  An ornament engraved with my name.  For the last 37 years, it has been on my grandmother's tree [along with all of my cousin's ornaments].  This is our first Christmas without her.  I lovingly hung it on my tree this year. 
3.  iheartny.  A little ornament to remind me of an amazing trip to New York City last December.
4. A bag of plastic ornaments purchased at Home Depot.  In 2007, I had a baby on the move and needed ornaments on the tree that wouldn't break [or kill him if he bit one].  Certainly not designer, but we put them on our tree every year.  It makes my heart full remembering my boys as babies. 


elf crazy

[elfie keeps a watchful eye]

The world has gone elf crazy.  These "scout" elves from the north pole are taking over the days leading up to Christmas.  

If you have an Elf on the Shelf, you may understand the madness.  Why all the fuss?  These little elves can be extremely helpful, albeit a bit creepy.  [Ever notice how his eyes always seem to be following you?]  They scout out behavior and report back to the North Pole each night.  Elves should be a mother's best friend.  I read the book each year to my kids.  It is fairly specific in detailing the elf, its powers, and its mission.  

This is where the craziness has taken over.  No where in the book does it state that the elf will come into your home and wreak havoc!!  Some elves have been known to take all the ornaments off of the tree, make cookies and toss flour everywhere, put toothbrushes in the toilet, or cover a room with post-it notes on every wall.  What kind of elf would do that?  Not our Elfie!!  [It makes no sense to me!!]

A few pointers [from our good elf] to pass along to your elf:

1.  Elfie has been know to show up in places that are "problem" areas for our family.  Man, he is on it!

2.  If Elfie has seen behavior during the day that he just doesn't want to report, he doesn't fly back to the North Pole.  [This easily explains why your kids might find the elf in the exact same spot he was in the day before.  Perfect time to review the elf's mission!  It's not mommy's fault he isn't hiding in a new spot!]

3.  Elfie is a good listener.  He enjoys hearing little boy's hopes and dreams.  He smiles, sits quietly and lets them talk.  [This is why he is invited back each and every year.]

I sure hope your elf is spreading good cheer in your home.  If not, you might consider putting in for a replacement elf.  

PS.  Have you seen this blog post?  Overachieving mommies-be warned!  Someone might be gunning for you in the Starbucks line.  It might be me!


[dapper] little men

Around my house there is no chance for velvet dresses or satin bows this time of year.  However, I don't throw the towel in completely.  The Santa picture is my one chance to dress my guys in their finest.  My oldest has always loved wearing ties and looking good.  Little Man begrudgingly agrees only with the promise of a candy cane after seeing Santa.

A few tips on dressing up little men:

1.  Keep it simple and slightly hipster. 
I am sucker for ties and we have quite a collection.  Most of them are clip on ties, like this striped one, from The Children's Place.  At $7.95, it is the perfect little boy accessory.  This gray tie [similar here] is actually a real tie I bought last year.  My husband tied the full Windsor and then we slip it over his head.  Pair the tie with a white shirt and pair of jeans-you are good to go.

2.  Forgo the dress shoes.  Buy something they will wear again.

3.  Improvise if they grow out of something.
The arms of the white shirt from last year were too short on my big guy.  I didn't want to buy new.  The rest of the shirt fit great, so I improvised.  We rolled up the sleeves and he looked casually cool.  

Rest assured.  If you are mother to boys, you can still play dress up! 


shopping counts....

If only.
Between the crummy weather and hectic schedules-I find my workout is the first thing that falls off the daily to-do-list!  Which is really a shame, since there is a box of Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark calling my name from the cupboard.  [Not sure what they put in it to make it so decadent, but it should be illegal!]

Good luck getting your cardio done.....shopping or otherwise.


finding [and creating] advent

The season of advent is upon us!  And so begins the countdown to Christmas.  It appears that kids will be enjoying many different types of advent calendars this year. 

My boys have the Christmas doors-or so they call them!  It is actually an advent box from Restoration Hardware that I received quite a few years ago.  [Sorry to say, it is no longer available.]

Each day one of them has the opportunity to open the next door and discover the treasure inside.  This year-each day is a mini Star Wars LEGO to build, taken directly from the LEGO 2012 Advent Calendar.  Not creative in any way, but it is exactly what they want.  However, others I know are creating unique advent calendars.

A girlfriend's children have a special advent calendar made for them by their grandparents.  They both have a small bag to open each day.  Each bag {light green for sister, dark green for brother} pinned on a line with a clothespin, spray painted red, and lovingly hung by the Christmas tree.

My cousin has made an experiential advent calendar.  Each day reveals a holiday experience to do together.  I love her inventiveness to think of 24 different things to do with her five year old daughter.  A few of her ideas?  Write Santa a letter, make coffee filter snowflakes, watch a holiday movie, go to see the nutcracker,  take a trip to a Seattle nursery and visit real reindeer.  This has inspired me to add a few experiences into my advent box.   This is such a special way to honor traditions-new and old!

Pinterest is brimming with ideas as well.....

[via martha stewart, along with 11 other ideas for calendars]



How much do you love this grown up advent calendar?!?  A bottle of wine a day.  'Tis the season for love and good cheer!   

It isn't too late to start an advent calendar.  If you are feeling inspired, go for it!  Kids would love to open multiple doors, envelopes or bags to catch up!

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