Holidays are like Fruitcake.

Holidays are like fruitcake. Know why? Because they are chock full of the unexpected and FATTENING as hell!

We’re enjoying the holidays this year and we’re not travelling. That in itself is a load off. Not that we don’t enjoy spending the holidays with the family but we travel a lot for work so not travelling when we have some time off is a nice, and rare, break. Plus, it has allowed us to experiment with some new traditions for our family. We’ve established a few that I think we last (each of us getting 1 new ornament with our name) and have thrown a few out that were a bit too difficult for Pineapple to grasp (watching a 2 year-old pitch a major because she’s not allowed to hold that damned elf on the shelf is painful). We’ve also had some ADORABLE moments care of my sweet, sweet Pineapple…such as:

  • She tries to sing Christmas carols but mostly ends up singing “happy birthday” instead. So it goes something like “ho ho ho…happy day!”
  • She received a fabric nativity set from her Nana. The camel and sheep escaped and the baby Jesus is currently covered in peanut butter and jelly and “sleeping” in the remote control bin on the coffee table. SHHHHHHH – for. the. love. – HE IS SLEEEEEEEPING!
  • Pineapple was an angel in the Christmas pageant at church this past Sunday. She was the only angel that openly wept and slapped at her wings because they were hitting her in the noodle. Her halo fell off, repeatedly, and she turned beet red holding her wee arms up for me. I rescued her, naturally, but we didn’t get any good pictures as a result…dang it. We’re thinking next year a more suitable role might be sheep or camel – any barnyard animal would suffice.
  • Speaking of crying. Pineapple went to see Mr. Clause. She marched right up to him, waved and said “Hello Tanta” with a big grin on her wee cheeks. So, I picked her up, set her on his lap, and said “OK now we’re going to take a picture with Santa!” Too which she responded “NOOOOOOO! and screamed at the top of her lungs.” You can tell she’s more “mad” than “sad” because her eyebrows are red. Another year of screaming Santa…oh how I love it!

  • I have a set of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a gingerbread boy and girl that I put out at Christmas. These have been a constant point of interest for Pineapple and she loves to hold them and kiss them and make them kiss each other. The other evening, she took the gingerboy and a piece of tissue paper over to the counter and proceded to cover the boy in the paper, chanting “wrap, wrap, wrap” the whole time. Then she climbed down, took the wrapped gingerboy over to the tree, set it on the floor and said “for mama!” Yes, I know. It’s friggin’ adorable. I think SHE’s the gift, personally.
  • Every time we pull up to the house when the lights are on she says “ooooooh pretty” from her carseat in the back. It’s too cute. She also says this about the tree whenever she comes out of her room to find it lit….which is pretty much constantly. Like I said, too cute.

In the midst of all this cuteness, we’ve had some struggles, too:

  • Pineapple is receiving a rocking horse – the kind with springs – from her Grandma W. I had the pleasure of putting that pony together. Along with a bottle of wine, 2 different screwdrivers and the heel of my boot, we got ‘er done.
  • I didn’t print enough pictures of Pineapple with Santa. So if you didn’t get a card with a picture, yes, I know I suck. Deal with it…XOXO.
  • I made the mistake of reading one of those articles that tells you the fat/calorie content of all the things you love to eat at the holidays. Then I weighed myself. I’m asking Santa for liposuction this year. That fat man had better come through or else.
  • Pineapple’s daycare is closed for the full week between Christmas and New Year. WHAT am I going to do with a 2 year-old for 9 solid days?! In the PacNW?! In the RAIN?! And COLD?! *sigh* I wish daycare would just let me come use their space for the 9 days…
  • Nordstrom’s is the devil. I can’t stay out of the shoe section. Want, want, want. But need to give, give, give. *sigh*

You  know what? I’m just thankful that my family is healthy, safe and home – unlike so many families this year. So, rather than lament my lack of AMAZING military boots and my ginormous fat butt, I’d like to wish everyone a very, very, VERY Merry Christmas…Pineapple style:

“HO HO HO…HAPPY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Double Cover Ho-ho-hover!

Let’s be honest…Santa has more people sit on his lap at this time of year than a public toilet. And at least when you use a toilet, you can cover the seat with one of those nifty little paper seat liners. I don’t see elves handing those out while you spend half an hour in line waiting to meet the big guy.

Don’t get me wrong – Santa rocks. And little Pineapple has had her visit…see:

But honestly, don’t you think the whole thing can be a little odd?And Santa is often times not all that you would hope. Take for example Santa as portrayed in some of those classic claymation shows.

In Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, Santa’s kind of an ass. He’s so mean to Rudolph when he’s born – we won’t even talk about old Rudy’s dad because that guy is the definition of jackass. (And apologies for the tangent but honestly, has there ever been a more awful creature than stinkin’ Comet?! He actually INSTRUCTS the other reindeer not to let Rudolph play in their games! Ass. Sorry.) Anyway, Santa ‘expects more’ of Rudolph and isn’t shy about his disgust with Rudolph’s glowing nose. That is, until he NEEDS him. Then he’s got a BE-AUTIFUL nose. Yeah, right Mr. Grumpy Kringle. And those elves are downright discriminatory toward Hermie the elf who just wants to be a dentist! It’s shameful.

And I hate to be the one to point this out, but some of the scenes in Santa Claus is Coming To Town are downright disturbing. There is a scene where a young Kris Kringle is giving out toys in the mean old Burgermeister’s village – Sombertown…and…well….that song…um…is it just me or is “If you sit on my lap today – a kiss a toy is the price you pay” a bit – ahem – wrong? I know they meant it innocently but they MUST KISS HIM to get a toy. And I don’t see him forcing the Burgermeister to kiss him when he gives him that yo-yo. If a stranger insisted that Pineapple sit on his lap and kiss him to get a toy, I think I’d be telling her to head for the hills! And if that’s not bad enough, when he does distribute the toys, one of the kids receives an AK-47…or the gun equivalent from the 70’s. Pretty sure that’s not the best thing for a wee one to be playing with. Of course, that’s just opinion.

I know I’m coming down hard on the claymation Santa’s – but I challenge you to watch those shows with your grown-up eyes and not see some things that maybe slipped past when you were a kiddo. I’ll still watch them – because aside from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which is AWESOME), those claymation specials mean that the holidays are here in my book.

But I do think that when you visit Santa, it would be nice if the elves passed you a little sheet so you could ‘doubl cover hover’ when you make your requests of the man in red. Particularly if Santa looks more like this guy:

than this guy:

Happy Ho-ho-holidays!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Just like the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Except when it comes to my budget. Then, Christmas is just FRIGGIN’ EXPENSIVE.

So, when you’re thinking about where/how to invest your money in meaningful presents for others, I’d like to offer you my suggestions. Please understand, Pineapple is only 15 months old and my nieces and nephews are 2, 3, 7 and 9. That’s where most of my money goes – so forgive me if this recommendation list is more kid friendly than adult focused.

Fa-la-la-la-la….

 

 

Ikea is awesome. You can get some REALLY neat, fun stuff at Ikea…for pretty darned cheap. We picked up a little rocking toy for Pineapple recently and she absolutely loves it. It was only $10 and it’s helping her work on balance and climbing on and off of the toy. I didn’t like the stickers they had, so I bought my own cute, girly stickers and put them all over. (A little secret…unlike the Sit & Spin, I can get on this and rock back and forth with her, too – and it’s fun!!! SHHHHH!) They also have some super cute stuffed animals, like this cute bulldog for $10 as well as some teensy weensy stuffed animals for only $0.49. And, bonus – for every soft toy you buy right now at Ikea, they will donate $1 to Save the Children and Unicef.

Pineapple’s Nana was in town for Thanksgiving, so she did a lot of her Christmas shopping while visiting and we decided that she should give Pineapple her main present early so she could see her receive it. It’s the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe pink and blue car and she’s really enjoying it. We got ours at Target on Black Friday, so we got a sweet deal but you can get it at Target now for about $50. And it’s really nice because it has a floorboard that can be inserted for little kids, so their uncoordinated little feet don’t (inevitably) drag, a handle on the roof so we can easily push her down the street to the coffee shop and 2 cup holders for our coffee!! YAHOO! The other day I was telling my friend all about this awesome toy and she said ‘you’re not embarrassed to push her around in it?’ Whaaaaaaat? Hell to the no. I love pushing her around in this thing and she loves riding in it! And as I informed her, ‘dignity goes out the window when you have kids anyway, so what do I care about how I look pushing my kid around in a plastic car?!’ It’s a fun toy for inside or outside. I highly recommend it.

And for those online shopppers, Amazon is, of course, always good. I recently ordered a book for my friend’s baby. It’s a MOMA board book of art…and it is PERFECT for my friend’s son because she has an art history master’s and has been a gallery director, among other things. Needless to say, the family is art obsessed.

Another great site? One King’s Lane. They have amazing designer home stuff at a fraction of the cost and their sales take place daily. So, every day, I can hop on the site and see what new goodies they’ve got up for grabs. Recently, they had some ADORABLE blankets for wee ones (including one with an Octopus and the stroller blanket on the site today that is fuzzy pink and green – Pineapple’s bedroom colors) that were originally $80-$100 for half off! In fact, most of their stuff is over half off. And these aren’t the cheap finds from the base of the bargain bin at the knock-off store…that are always a wee bit dirty but we don’t mind because we’ll just ask for an additional discount at the register and wash it when we get home – which is what we were going to do anyway, right? (Lord, I’m so cheap!)…the items on this site are the sort of thing you might see Suri Cruise toting around. You know, the good stuff! And best of all, they have gift cards – so the mom of the kiddo you’re trying to shop for can get whatever they want that happens to be up for grabs that day! (Or you could give one to your sister who is IMPOSSIBLE – totally impossible – to shop for…shhhh…don’t tell my sister.)

And then there is ALWAYS Lillian Vernon. Yes, yes…I know Lillian can sometimes get a wee bit cheesy. But seriously, who doesn’t love a multi-colored sock monkey? I mean, all sock monkeys really want is love.  Or maybe a pretend club sandwich that you can use the pretend knife to slice up and stack the pieces?! Too cute, right? And honestly, what kid would not have a mini happiness meltdown at the site of their very own ice skating rink?! Sigh, that totally wouldn’t work in the PacNW where I live…too warm and rainy – not enough frozen temps…but anybody back east or maybe in the midwest…seriously, look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think your kid would LOVE one of these! Yeah. Thought so. And it’s only $50. Seriously.

Some other cool stuff for kids in that 1 – 3 year range:

  • This neat little blender is fun and teaching Pineapple, and her 2 year old cousin colors, shapes and sorting!
  • I had no idea that kids as young as Pineapple should be encouraged to color but according to the pediatrician, they should So, we got Pineapple a Crayola Color Wonder alphabet coloring book with the markers that ONLY WRITE ON THE PAGES. She has tried to draw on all of us, so I recommend this kind. They have lots of kinds, like the Disney Princesses with glitter paper, Finding Nemo, Cars and lots of others.
  • My nieces LOVE sticker books. It’s a borderline obsession but we all support it. I found some AWESOME sticker books at Costco. I don’t have a link for those but they are HUGE and if you can find them, they’re only $7.
  • Boys like Legos. It’s true. If you have or know young boys, you know it’s true. So, in keeping with this, my nephews will be receiving Star Wars and Power Miner lego sets. They have some at Wal-Mart that are only $8 to $16 – super affordable – and they have some GREAT lego games for the Wii. We own the Star Wars game but my friend has the Indiana Jones Lego game and she says it’s a blast a much easier for 2 to play.

And for those of you who are maybe looking to encourage your child to help others, here are some ideas:

Mercy Corps ROCKS. They help people and communities to become self sustainable, learn skills, get the medical treatments and facilities they need, and meet so many needs every single day. And buying a Mercy Kit, a symbolic gift of the work they do, couldn’t be easier. Your child can help select a kit from several, including an Emergency Food Kit for only $18 or a Kids’ Healthy Food Kit for only $25. The Children’s Health Kits are $35 and provides food, necessary immunizations and education to help kids get and stay healthy. I think my older nieces and nephews would enjoy exploring the site and reading about the Cricket Farm Kit or the Goat Kit and what those mean for the recipients. This is a whole new level of giving a gift – and it may help them touch upon the meaning of Christmas in a different way.

So, the time to celebrate is upon us. In our house, we will be celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus and enjoying a visit from Santa Claus. I wonder how you will celebrate? No matter what sort of celebration the holiday season brings you, I hope it is merry and bright. Happy Holidays! And good luck in the stores – it’s a jungle out there…but it is the most wonderful time of the year!