Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Tree

It is probably no secret that I don't love Christmas. I am not sure why. Maybe because I grew up with snow on Christmas. Yes, I live in California but I spent MOST Christmases in Michigan. Maybe it is because the holiday never seems to live up to expectations. I don't know but I am not a big fan. I am, however, a HUGE fan of the decorations!

Houses decorated with lights, trees in the window and all the little things people do to make their houses festive make me smile. I love decorating the house and the tree. I remember we had 2 trees at one point....one decorated with family ornaments and one with just white and gold decorations (I think). I hope to someday be able to do that.

We are not a family that puts the tree up right after Thanksgiving. We put up a real tree and I feel like it would be dead by the time December 25th rolled around. Our tree usually goes up 2 weeks before Christmas. This year we changed it up and put it up this past weekend.

We have a tree place right around the corner from our house so we headed there. The first thing we saw were these little tiny trees and I got so excited about the thought of LG having her own tree. I quickly got over that. We looked around and picked out a tree pretty quickly. 5 ft and nice and full. PERFECT! Then we got it home.

The tree is more like 7 ft. tall. It is HUGE. The thing is, this happens every year. I don't seem to have an eye for tree size. Last year our tree was really fat. This year it isn't so fat but it is TALL. Oh well, it takes up half our room but I actually love it.

This was the first year that LG helped decorate the tree. When I pulled out the lights, I was surprised to find that they were colored lights. I wondered who bought the colored lights, but it was of course me since I am the only one who buys these things. LG must have wanted colored lights last year because I am not a big fan of them. Oh well.

We managed to get the ornaments on without breaking any. I just had to make sure that LG didn't touch any of the "important" ones. I did have to move some around after noticing 3 on the same branch ;-) When we were all done LG wanted to put the "star" on the top. The problem? We don't have a star. For the past 10 or so years we have had a ribbon with curls that cascade down the tree. I love it. J hates it. I win :-)

LG wanted to put the angel. The angel is from my childhood and it hasn't been on our tree, ever. It took some time to convince me but the angel now adorns the top of our tree. I like her up there looking over us. I actually love our tree.

I sat in the dark this morning with just the lights of the tree on. Just sat and looked at the tree. Ornaments that J and I made back when we were little. Ornaments we have bought on some of our trips. Ornaments that have been on my tree since I was born. Ones that I have bought for Ashley. There is a story to many of them and I loved just thinking back.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lil Chef

I love the movie Ratatouille. Not only do I think that the whole concept is cute, but France is some where that I am dying to visit. LG also loves the movie and the two of us have watched it together on many of our plane trips.

LG also likes to cook. She got a play kitchen when she was 2 and there are still days when she will "cook" for a long time. She loves to help me measure ingredients and mix them up. I hope to foster a love of cooking in LG since I really enjoy cooking.

One thing that we have done for the past few years is decorate cookies together during the holidays. When she was 2 I attempted to do a gingerbread house with her but I couldn't build the damn thing. Architect I am not! When I saw that our country club was hosting a cooking class for kids and they were going to make gingerbread houses I was thrilled! The chef at the club actually spoke to LG a few months ago and she has been waiting for the day to come.

I stayed with her during the class to help her since the class was supposed to be for ages 6-12. The nice thing was that a few of her pool buddies were there with their parents so it worked out nicely.

When we got there, each child got their own chef jacket and hat. Of course, the jacket was adult size but after rolling it up quite a bit it was fine.
Everything was set out. A million types of candy, pre-cut gingerbread, bags of Royal Icing, the houses we were to build on.....EVERYTHING!LG and got started. We got the walls up and decided to do the roof. LG wanted to make her roof like Chef Tracy's so we collected all the Nilla Wafer's we could find. The icing was just perfect so everything stayed right were we put it. I was actually enjoying it!We had a blast decorating. It is pretty hard for me to just let LG do her thing, but I totally let her choose what we did. It was a big step for me ;-)
I really enjoyed our time together that day. It is so much easier to enjoy when you
know you don't have to clean up the mess at the end!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Those Damn Holiday Cards

It is that time of year again. Time to find the right gifts, try to find time to fit everything into jam packed weekends and, of course, time to pick the perfect Christmas card. Out of those 3, I thinking picking out the card is the toughest.

Since LG was born, I have spent hours pouring over photos, trying to pick the best one for our card. The first few years, it was just LG on our card. It is rare that the 3 of us are in a photo together so it was easier to just find a photo of Ashley. I think LG is very photogenic but it still was a painstaking process for me to chose the right photo. Yes, I realize there are people with "real problems" in the world so zip it!

Last year we had our first family photo shoot and I LOVED what Linda did. This year I had planned on having my friend Tracey do a photo shoot with us but then I decided that it wasn't necessary. Yes, I love having photos of the 3 of us but we don't look that different from last year and really everyone just wants to see LG. I didn't really like LG's school photos so I was happy to have Tracey photograph LG and as a bonus, my dad was here so I decided to have some Daddy, daughter, grand daughter shots taken. I haven't seen all of them just yet but the teasers that Tracey sent me are AMAZING.

I am thinking the biggest problem I will have this year is choosing to use one or more than one photo. Here are 3 shots for you to check out....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am over at Leapfrog today talking about how to teach your kids gratitude! Stop by and say hi.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are You Prepared for the Next Big One?

Living in California and having spent my summers dealing with tornado warnings in Michigan, you think that I would be a little bit prepared for a disaster should it happen. Yeah, um, not so much. Sure, we have a "disaster kit" that I bought at Target but beyond that I am not really prepared. I know that it is something that I should be doing but up until now it has been at the bottom of the list and just gotten pushed aside.

On Monday, I went to CityMama’s adorable apartment to hear from California Volunteers about Disaster Preparedness with Robyn. I was really amazed by all the info. that we got and realized that getting prepared in baby steps is the way to go. California Volunteers website as very detailed info on things to do but Robyn came up with a great list of simple things that Firefighter Erica discussed with us. I will admit that I just copied this list from Robyn's blog because I am being lazy and she said it all so well! Thankfully, I am a good friend and told her I was stealing her post ;-)

Create a Family Disaster Plan. Make sure it includes two meeting places, an out-of-state contact, and storing copies of important documents outside of your home (like in a safe deposit box). CalVolunteer’s website will also make a free downloadable customizable book for your kids. How cool is that?

Put shoe box under everyone’s bed with a pair of shoes, flashlight, and sweater. If there's an emergency in the middle of the night, everyone can get out of the house safely.

Practice with your kids how to escape from their bedroom if there was a fire. Our windows don't open well enough for us to be able to climb out so we need to practice with LG on how to get out. When seconds count, you don’t want your kids panicking that they don’t know what to do.

Know where your gas shut-off is and how to turn it off. One thing we learned is that people often turn off gas after a disaster even when it isn't necessary. If you smell gas or hear a leak in your home, turn off the gas. Otherwise, it’s OK to leave it on. You also should NEVER turn the gas back on....have PG&E do it because it can be very dangerous.

Properly secure your water heater. One, you don’t want hot water pouring everywhere. Two, it hooks up to your gas, so you don’t want a leak if it fell. But most important, the water in your water heater can be your best source of water if you can’t drink your tap water.

My biggest take-away came from the firefighter who was there to show us what we can do to keep our families safe. Erica said that in a large disaster (think Katrina, think the ’89 Quake, etc), that her #1 goal was to be able to stay at home and not have to go to a shelter. Of course, staying in your home isn’t always an option. But if you can stay home, would you want to? You must make sure that your home is supplied to allow for it. Going through the Disaster Supplies Checklist, I realized that we have a lot of this stuff already in our home but we’ve never organized it into one place.

And if you still feel like you'll never earn your Merit Badge for Disaster Preparedness, then how about a Disaster Kit for FREE?!? CalVolunteers is letting me giveaway TWELVE disaster kits to my lucky readers. Simply comment on this post before Monday, November 23rd with what change your family is going to make to be more prepared for a disaster. Winners will be chosen at random.

Photo credit: California Volunteers

Disclosure: I received a free lunch and two disaster kits during my morning at CityMama's house. I was not obligated to write a piece. The opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone....okay and Robyn's!