Friday, December 31, 2010

Fashion Friday--New Year's Eve Guide

Do you have New Year's Eve plans?

Do you know what you are wearing for those plans?

Whether you are going out or staying in, this is a great occasion to shop your closet!

Here are three formulas that will cover your New Year's Eve plans.

Staying home or going to a causal get together?  Try this sweater and jeans formula.

One sweater + one BOLD necklace + skinny jeans/cords + boots + bag= ready to go (or stay--your call).

Maybe you're heading to a party that calls for a edgy-prepster look.

Embellished top + vest/blazer + necklace + skinny pants + heels=ready to party--like a sophisticate

Perhaps yours is the sort of affair that necessitates your little black dress.

LBD + notice-me-necklace/bracelet + pop of color heels + clutch + outerwear = On your way!


Of course you could opt for PJs! 

Remember that I'm showing you clothing options NOT so you go buy, but so you go LOOK in your closet. I'm guessing you have a sweater or tank or heels that would be perfect. Go. Play. Enjoy.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things I Love--Reminicing

Every now and then Matt gets pretty reminiscent about life, especially when it comes to time with our kids.

One day not so long ago he was listening to OURS by The Bravery and it got him thinking about the time that is ours ... and how quickly it passes.

So he created this slide show documenting our family in the year of 2010.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I Think About: Reward Systems

Have you ever asked a child to do something (clean her room, pick up his toys, put a plate in the dishwasher) and the child responds with "What will you give me for doing it?"

Have you have a conversation about "these kids today" and how "ungrateful and unmotivated" they are?

Have you ever wondered where these kids learned it?

{GULP}

Photo Source

Reward systems are pretty widely used by parents and educators alike.

I see it in classrooms all the time.  Well intentioned teachers use a token of some sort to bribe  manipulate encourage kids into good behavior.  If everyone does well, you get a pizza party. If you turn in your homework you get a star.  If you get three stars, you can buy a pencil.

Educators do this because of "real world" applications.  When I perform at work, I get paid.

The problem is that most reward systems work for kids who wouldn't need the system in the first place.

The "good" kids rack up points/stars/tickets/smiley faces and are able to "buy" pencils, sleepovers, and IPods.

Meanwhile, the "bad" kids lose their tickets/points/stars/smiley faces and as a result, feel angry, hurt, humiliated, and hopeless. And if they are in the hole, why not act out more since there's nothing to lose?

And this happens in the real world too.

The "good" hard workers get the "good" jobs with good pay.  The "bad" workers don't. (Of course we won't let discussion about systemic injustices in poverty, education, etc., play into these conversations ...)

As a parent and an educator I have used reward systems sparingly, a few times.  Mainly I used them for a brief period to encourage specific behavior.  In the classroom, I used rewards to get through the last two weeks of school (because kids check out and "stop" school mentally by then).  In my home, I used a reward system during potty training.

And that is it.

Why?

I do not want children, mine or anyone else's, to blindly "behave" in order to get or not get something (because I feel the same way about demerit systems as I do reward systems).

I don't want kids to clean their desks/lockers/rooms because they are going to get a pencil; I want them to do it because they were asked to do it--because it's the "right" thing to do.

Obedience is a high expectation and I think too often we sell our kids short by assuming they HAVE to have some sort of immediate, tangible reward in order to do what is right.

What I fear is that kids become so accustomed to getting something in return for good behavior that they stop doing things because it's the "right thing to do" and do it because they'll get something in return.

And then adults complain about a generation of entitled brats.

It is an inconvenient truth that reward systems have been the subject of much research and such research demonstrates that though reward systems can be temporarily effective, in the long run, such systems result in lowered intrinsic motivation (I'll plug one of my favorite books here: Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes. by Alfie Kohn).
A lot of people have had the experience of having done something and they loved it—until they started to get paid for doing it, after which they wouldn't dream of doing it again without getting paid. The phenomenon whereby extrinsic motivators cause intrinsic motivation to evaporate is not on the tips of our tongues, but it's not that far from consciousness, either. (click here to read this interview)
You won't see charts or graphs at my house.  You won't hear me bribing M.E. to clean her room with promises of a toy from the dollar store. You will hear expectations for her being spoken loudly and clearly. And you'll see me model it.

I want my children to understand that, socially, there are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and actions.  I want them to learn to do what is right for right's sake.  Not because I gave them a gold sticker.

Reward systems?  Not at my house.
Photo Source

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Monday Tune to Get Stuck in Your Head

A lot of people get post-Christmas blues.

If that's you then this song if for you.

It totally crack me up!

It gets "awesomer" with every viewing :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Dear beloved friends and readers,

This is my favorite Christmas song of all time.

May it convey all I hope for you this Christmas season.





Merry Christmas,
Reagan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fashion Friday--Holiday Colors

Every year winter brings with it holiday colors.

This year, those colors are white, berry, and gold.

I'm all over it!

Are you dreaming of a WHITE Christmas?


Berry Christmas to you!


GOLD, incense and myrrh


I'm always posting stuff you can buy now at stores like Gap, Old Navy, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, etc., but don't forget you can find great stuff at second hand places, like Plato's Closet and Goodwill. I got a great gold belt at our local Goodwill for $1! YAY!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

{Holiday} Things I Love--Traditions

My favorite part of the holiday season are the traditions.

I love that we do a big fancy-schmancy dinner on Christmas Eve and something low-key Christmas Day so I can enjoy time with my family and not my kitchen appliances.

I love that we eat the same coffee cake for breakfast every Christmas morning. 

I love that we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus before we eat that cake.

I love that we don't *have* to open presents first thing.

I love that we sit around an pajama clad audience and slowly open gifts--sharing what we received and thanking the giver.

I love that we go outside and worship in God's creation.

I love that we host an annual Christmas party and cookie swap.

I love that we act out the Nativity story with Little People.

These are little things--very little things--but to me, this is what makes this holiday season such a blessing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I Think About--Santa

Not so long ago I gave you my schpeel on why I struggle so much with Christmas.

In that post I also told you that we don't teach our kids about Santa.  I received a couple of comments/e-mails about this decision.  A couple were very supportive but a few others pretty much berated me as the worst mom ever since I'm "ruining" my kids' childhood fun.

I decided to take today to explain why we don't do Santa.

First let me say that I think this is a heart issue, not a salvation issue.  I don't think anyone's going to hell in a handbag for celebrating Christmas with Santa or without him.  Santa is not right for my family; my sister's family does Santa--we parent differently in many areas and this is one of them.  On issues such as these, it is okay to disagree agreeably.

Next, you must know I have a Santa collection.  I don't have a ton of them but it started with this ironing board Santa my mom and I made in '94 and has grown. If you came to my house you will see Santa Claus.  However, you won't see us celebrating him, singing about him, or telling stories about him.

Here's why.

This poster has been floating around for a while and it pretty much sums up my point of view:
  
Photo Source
In case you can't read it, the poster says: Dear Children: One day you will learn everything about Santa Claus.  On that day remember everything the adults have told you about Jesus.

Whether we like it or not, many people think Jesus is a lie just like Santa is a lie.  A nice lie.  A fun lie.  A lie of hope.  But still a lie.

My problem is that I don't believe that Jesus is a lie.

And I don't want my children to think Jesus is a lie, either. 

If you are critical like I am, you've probably noticed that Santa has some pretty god-like characteristics.  He's  all-knowing; he is everywhere; he has the power to put kids on the nice or naughty list. 

My problem with this some of the hidden agenda here. 

  • Kids get what they want if they are good (enter discussion on saved by faith v. saved by works here). 
  • Kids "obey" because they are afraid of "not" getting what they want as opposed to obeying for the sake of learning, with their hearts and character, what is right.
  • Kids learn that seeing is believing.  They can believe in Santa because he is everywhere--at the mall, at the YMCA, in Church ...
Is it any wonder that when kids learn the truth about Santa--that he's not real, that he's not omnipotent, that he's not omniscient, they begin to question these truths about Jesus as well?

I never want my children to have this conversation:
One boy asks the other, "What do you think of all this Jesus Christ stuff"? And the other boy replies, "It all sounds like another Santa Claus to me – probably just another lie."
I know some people say that Santa is needed for good imagination and that it's just fantasy. 

That may be a fine point but the problem is that kids don't KNOW that Santa is fantasy and so they idealize and love and worship something that is. a. lie. 

Furthermore, my daughter has a fabulous imagination.  She has imaginary wolf and fox friends.  She drives laundry basket cars and goes shark diving in the bathtub.  And she's done it all without Santa.

I don't need Santa to make Christmas fun and festive.  I don't need Santa to help me raise/discipline my children.  I don't need Santa to increase my children's imagination.

I need Jesus.

He is who I celebrate at Christmas.  He is the one who guides me on my parenting roller-coaster.  He is the giver of ideas.

That's why I personally feel like it is wrong for Matt and I to stress Santa Claus at the expense of talking about Jesus during Christmas. If we don’t make it a point at Christmas to tell our children about the significant birth of Christ, we are missing an incredible opportunity.  If we lie to get our children to believe in Santa while telling them about Jesus, then we set ourselves up for having to explain later on why we lied about Santa while hoping they'll trust us when we say Jesus is real.

What I think about Santa is that involving him in your holiday celebrations is your decision.  My decision is to ignore the charming little story in lieu of what I believe is the truth: JESUS.

(If you are interested in a lengthy, biblical analysis of Santa in culture, click here)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Do Tuesday--Wish Us Happy Anniversary

******Today is our anniversary!******

Here are 21 Fun Facts about our marriage:

21.  We got married on a Saturday.  On the Friday before we finished our finals from grad school and law school, decorated, attended showers, a rehearsal, and a rehearsal dinner.  Phew!

20.  Matt used a line on me: "So if I were gonna call you, what name would I look up in the phone book?"  My answer?  "I'm unlisted but if you'd like to ask for my number I'll give it to you."

19.  I kissed Matt first.  I'm kinda bold like that.  It was 3:00 am and freezing out.  He didn't walk me to my car (good thing too since I was floating).

18.  Our "song" is Little Black Backpack by Stroke Nine.

17.  We didn't dance to that at our wedding.  We danced to Back at One. There's a story there.

16.  We always go to bed at the same time.  Always.

15.  Matt told me early on he doesn't like onions or mushrooms.  I know 2 recipes that don't have one or the other in it.  He now likes onions and mushrooms.

14.  We like to recreate together--hiking, rock climbing, road biking, scuba diving ... give us the outdoors and each other and we'll be fine.

13.  Matt handles all our finances and I do all the cooking. We are like the stereotypical couple from the fifties (except I don't vacuum in dresses).

12.  We take the game "truth or dare" to new levels each time we play.

11.  We still date one another.

10.  We have never, ever used the bathroom in front of each other. (We said we'd never do that and his aunts said we'd cave one day. We've been together 11 years and I've never seen him pee!  Can I hear an amen?!?!)

9.  Matt throws up louder than anyone I know.  I stop being sympathetic right about the time his dry-heave sessions wake the kids.

8.  We have very secret codes, innuendos, and looks we give each other in public.  I've "said" some pretty naughty stuff in your presence ... trust me :)

7.  One time Matt's mom kept calling and calling and calling us.  When Matt finally answered, she asked where he was.  He said, "In the shower."  She asked, "Why didn't Reagan answer the phone."  He said, "Because she was in the shower."  Now my MIL (who is awesome BTW) just leaves a message.

6.  Matt is better at making breakfast than I am.

5.  My dad told Matt that he'd be the most wonderful person in the world, save that one week a month when he'd be the worst man alive.  My dad knows me all too well.

4.  Matt does kind things for me out of nowhere.  A lot.  One time he left fifty(ish) yellow post-it notes EVERYWHERE in our house telling me things he loved about me.  You can't buy awesomeness like that!

3.  Matt has never forgotten my birthday or our anniversary; if it weren't for me, he'd never remember his family member's birthdays or anniversaries.

2.  Matt and I laugh ... a lot.

1.  Though there have been ups and downs, and diagonals in our life and marriage, I wouldn't want to go through life without Matt.  He is my perfect provision!

Happy Anniversary, Map!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Bloggers Wanted!

I hate to brag but I'm going to Mexico in January and I'd love some guest bloggers!

Interested in writing a piece for WITMIM? ?

Well, send me your submission to whereisthemeinmomm{at}gmail{dot}com by December 21st and I'll let you know if you made the cut ;)

Feel free to write about anything MOM, WOMAN, or WIFE related.  Recipes, craft ideas, opinion pieces, fashion finds or faux pas, ... your call.  For one week only I won't be following my general routine.

HOWEVER, each sumission must include:
  • Your name and the names/ages of your children;
  • Links to your blog (if applicable) or esty store;
  • 2-3 good quality photos;
  • E-mail in html format preferred.
What you'll get in return:
  • This is not a big blog by any stretch of the imagination but you will get 1 day of my reader's attention (and I'd rather have 100 loyal followers than 2310 luke-warm follwers, BTW!).
  • Hot silver gums (Okay, this is a "nothing" award.  M.E. decided "hot silver gums" were the coolest thing ever so now I hand them out like invisible trophies. It's kinda like Who's Line--the points don't matter--neither do the hot silver gums.  But it sounds cool, doesn't it?).
Once again, if you are interested send e-mail me your submission of your post by Dec. 21st.

whereisthemeinmommy@gmail.com

**Please note** I have the right to refuse submissions that are not in line with the mission and vision of this blog.  I also maintain the right to edit as needed.

Oh and one more thing, I'm all about controversial topics but keep the language PG cuz that's how I role!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Days of Play--Gifts in a Jar

I really like to give close neighbors and friends some holiday cheer that's cheap homemade.  I take cookies, breads, and drink mixes but some of my favorite gifts are gifts in a jar.

You've seen them--bread, soup, cookie and hot drink mixes in fun mason jars with raffia--now make some. 
Source


Measuring is a great "math connection" for kiddos and what can be better than making gifts for others, together?

Here are some great "gift in a jar" recipes that I've tried and loved (oh, and here's one Miss Frontier Kitchen made that looks amazing!  I heart orange cranberry bread!).
Hot Snow (for more drink mix ideas, click here)

10 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk
4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 8 ounce jars of French vanilla flavored nondairy powdered creamer
3 1/2 cups Nestle's Quick
2 3/4 cup nondairy powdered creamer
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 pint size gift jars
Combine all ingredients. Scoop into jars.
Print out the following instructions on card stock to attach to the jars with a ribbon and peppermint stick.
Stir 3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa mix into hot water or milk.

Snowballs

Layer the following in a 1-quart jar:

3 cups vanilla wafers (Nilla) finely crushed
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa

Attach the following gift tag to the jar with a ribbon and a mini-bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream.

Combine contents of jar in a bowl.
Mix in 1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream and 3 tablespoons light corn syrup and mix with a wooden spoon until well blended.
Allow to stand 5 minutes.
Shape mixture into 1-inch balls.
Roll balls in confectioners sugar and allow to dry on wire rack 1 hour.

Store leftovers in air-tight container between layers of wax paper.

 Dirty Snow Soup
A hearty rice and mushroom soup to help you warm up after a day of play in the snow.

1 (2.75 ounce) package country gravy mix
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons dried celery flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried mushrooms
Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth pint jar. In small bowl, stir together bouillon granules, onion, celery and parsley. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add layers of wild rice, white rice and mushrooms. Seal with lid. Attach gift tag with a ribbon and wooden spoon.

Dirty Snow Soup
Empty contents of jar into a large saucepan. Add 7 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender.  Stirr occasionally. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Candy Cane Bath Salts
12 (12 oz) canning jars with lids
2 cartons (4 pounds) of Epsom salts
4 pounds of kosher salt
1 tsp glycerin, divided
12 drops peppermint essential oil
red food coloring

Empty one carton Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl.
Add 3 cups sea salt, stir well.
Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and 6 to 8 drops essential oil and mix well.
In second large mixing bowl, empty one carton Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups sea salt. Stir well.
Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, 6 to 8 drops essential oil, and red food color.
Stir until completely blended and color is even.
Hold canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures. (**If you want, you could divide into three--and have white, red, and green salts to layer).
Add instructions to jar with ribbon and a candy cane.

Instructions:
Add 2-3 tablespoons to hot water for an invigorating bath

Source

Consider themes
Christmas Cookies
Make a jar of Gingerbread cookie mix, attach a cookie cutter to the jar and put in a basket with a The Gingerbread Man book.

Winter Fun
Get a saucer sled.  In the concave part of the sled, put a jar of soup mix, some hot cocoa, some inexpensive gloves/mittens, and a fire starter log.

Snowman Hat
Get a black hat.  Put in a jar of Hot Snow.  Add a large plastic carrot, two big black buttons, two sticks, and a red scarf.

Family Night
Get a basket.  Add a jar of pizza dough mix, cookie mix, a family game (such as Sorry or Uno) and an inexpensive holiday movie.

Final Thoughts
  • If you don't want to use jars, use holiday themed gladware, fabric bags, or brown paper sacks decorated by your children (put ingredients in Ziploc bags before putting them into fabric/paper sacks).
  • Make sure to wash jars and lids before you use them.
  • If you make soups mixes with beans, make sure to rinse and inspect beans first.

Friday, December 17, 2010

{Girls} Date Night In: Cookie Swap

Every year I host an cookie swap and it is one of my favorite holiday traditions.

The Skinny:
  1. Each guest chooses 1 type of cookie to make and lets you know in advance so there aren't duplicates. 
  2. Each guest makes 1 dozen cookies per attendee PLUS a dozen to share on cookies swap day (that means if 5 people RSVP, you make 6 dozen of the *same* type of cookie--5 doz to give, 1 doz to share).
  3. Package cookies dozens individually (on paper plates, paper sacks, etc.) so they can be quickly and easily distributed. 
The Beautiful Part:
You leave the cookie swap with several dozens of DIFFERENT types of cookies that you can re-arrange and give to neighbors. I looks like you baked for hours :)

The Rules:
*Only make 1 type of cookie to swap (I've been known to break this rule BUT when I break it, I still make a dozen of EACH cookie.  So if I make buckeyes and pinwheels, each guest still gets 12 of each).
*Cookies only--popcorn balls, candy, fudge, caramels, etc. are really hard to divvy up.



The Event:
  • Send an evite to several friends explaining the process and the benefits.
  • The day of, make some tea, coffee, and cocoa, turn on Christmas music, and play hostess.
  • This can be a quick drop off-take-leave event or you can draw it out.  Have time to chat, sample cookies, and perhaps give white elephant gifts.
  • Make sure everyone leaves with cookies

Share the Love:
When the swap is all over, open up those cookies and layout a nice cookie assortment on plates.  Cover with wrap, add a bow and gift tag, and take to your neighbors.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

{Holiday} Things I Love--Christmas Music

Every year I wonder what the "right" time is to start listening to Christmas music.  Because even though some people would rather rip their ears of than hear Michael Buble sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas," I simply can't get enough. That's what she said.

Though I know several families who break out Rudolph on November 1st, I try to make myself wait until the week of Thanksgiving.

If you are compiling a list of must-have Christmas songs, here are my top picks of songs and the artists I prefer to sing them!

10. O Holy Night~Glee
9.  Santa Baby~Calista Flockhart
8.  Baby It's Cold Outside~Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey (judge me all you want.  You know it's good) or Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone
7. Christmas Canon~Trans Siberian Orchestra (I walked down the aisle to this song)
6. Carol of the Bells~Trans Siberian Orchestra
5.  The River~Robert Downey, Jr.
4. Bells will Be Ringing~Bon Jovi
3.  Last Christmas~Taylor Swift (uh huh. I just said Taylor Swift)
2. Silent Night~Boyz II Men (I like to kick it old school!)
1.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas~Judy Garland

Of course I love, love other songs as well but these are my faves!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I Think About--My Little Girl Growing Up

Whether you can believe it or not, I'm a mess.

M.E. is five today.

Five.

I keep trying to figure out where the time has gone.

Wasn't it just yesterday I found out I was pregnant?

It feels like it has just been hours since I first held her in my arms.

Surely it was just minutes ago that she started saying "mama" and "dada.

It can't be more than a few seconds ago that she started toddling around and exploring.

And now she's at that delightful age of begging to stay up until midnight (she doesn't even "get" what midnight is yet) and gearing up for kindergarten.  

Some times the days feel like they go slowly but the years go by so fast.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those moms who wants my children to stay babies forever.  I've loved every age and every new season.  I look forward to reading Anne of Green Gables together, having "the" talk, and going shopping for wedding dresses.

I look forward to the lifetime of companionship that mothers and daughters have (Yes, I know moms and sons have great relationships too).

But today, if only for today, while I can hope and dream about the kind of woman she'll become, I'm just a bit sad that these days don't last forever.

To me, being a mom is a glorious burden.  So much hope for the future rides on the lives of my children.  And yet I fear that I am not enough--that I won't do the right things, say the right things, or teach the right lessons.

Every day as this baby becomes a girl, becomes a young lady, becomes a woman I cry out to God and ask that He make me the kind of woman this little girl thinks I am.  She's watching me.

















Happy 5th Birthday to our Big Girl!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Cross Contamination

If you are like me you're probably whipping up a few extra special meals and goodies this holiday season.

Sometimes being in a hurry to make a lot of food for a lot of people results in some forgetfulness and negotiation of basic food handling rules.  The result?  Cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination often results in food poisoning.  Ick.

If you don't want to spend your holidays with your head stuck in the toilet, remember to follow basic rules of food preparation.

MEAT and POULTRY
  • Buy "fresh" poultry as late as possible.  Store them in the fridge and cook within 48 hours.
  • Defrost frozen turkeys in the fridge.  DO NOT defrost turkeys on the counter or in a lukewarm bath.
  • DO NOT wash your turkey under the kitchen faucet. Bacteria splash from the raw meat and poultry to counter-tops, cutting boards, and utensils. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria, so it doesn't need to be washed.  
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats are cooked all the way through.
PREPARATION
  • Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER handling food. 
  • Use separate cutting boards, knives, etc., for different meats and produce.
  • Germs that cause food poisoning can also linger on surfaces for days. Make sure to use a CLEAN rag and antibacterial cleaner to wipe down surfaces tainted by raw meat and poultry.
  • Immediately clean surfaces and utensils after using them.
LEFTOVERS
  • Don't leave leftovers sitting on the counter or table.  Food poisoning producing bacteria grow quickly so eat and refrigerate. 
  • Store food properly.  Keep meat away from produce. Try to adios leftovers within 48 hours of cooking them.
  • By the way, there is an old wives tale that leftovers needs to "cool" before it can be refrigerated.  FALSE.  You should cool food before freezing so you don't get ice crystals and freezer burn but there is no need to let that leftover turkey "cool" for three hours before popping it in the fridge (unless, of course, your diet of choice is a nice stomach flu).
CLEAN UP
  • Use different colored sponges or dishcloths for wiping surfaces and washing up. 
  • If you have accidentally used the wrong sponge or cloth (or if you want to make sure germs are gone) place rags/sponges in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

When you are in your kitchen whipping up some holiday food magic, don't forget that cleanliness is next to godliness (I don't actually believe this but you see where I'm going...).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Calling All Bloggers

I hate to brag but I'm going to Mexico in January and I'd love some guest bloggers!

Interested in writing a piece for WITMIM? ?

Well, send me your submission to whereisthemeinmomm{at}gmail{dot}com by December 21st and I'll let you know if you made the cut ;)

Feel free to write about anything MOM, WOMAN, or WIFE related.  Recipes, craft ideas, opinion pieces, fashion finds or faux pas, ... your call.  For one week only I won't be following my general routine.

HOWEVER, each sumission must include:
  • Your name and the names/ages of your children;
  • Links to your blog (if applicable) or esty store;
  • 2-3 good quality photos;
  • E-mail in html format preferred.
What you'll get in return:
  • This is not a big blog by any stretch of the imagination but you will get 1 day of my reader's attention (and I'd rather have 100 loyal followers than 2310 luke-warm follwers, BTW!).
  • Hot silver gums (Okay, this is a "nothing" award.  M.E. decided "hot silver gums" were the coolest thing ever so now I hand them out like invisible trophies. It's kinda like Who's Line--the points don't matter--neither do the hot silver gums.  But it sounds cool, doesn't it?).
Once again, if you are interested send e-mail me your submission of your post by Dec. 21st.

whereisthemeinmommy@gmail.com

**Please note** I have the right to refuse submissions that are not in line with the mission and vision of this blog.  I also maintain the right to edit as needed.

Oh and one more thing, I'm all about controversial topics but keep the language PG cuz that's how I role!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Days of Play--Make a {Christmas} Wreath!

I made my first wreath this fall and fell in love.

It was cute, unique, totally my style and cheap!  But then I repeat myself.

Consider making a wreath today.

Kiddos can help you pick colors and trimming and can even help design the layout. 

Step #1--Buy your supplies.

We went for a less-is-more candy cane color themed wreath.  I nearly caved to the maroon and gold poinsettias with sparkly cardinals but Matt would have hated it.  So M.E. and I negotiated and the theme "candy cane" worked (bribing her with an actual candy cane may or may not have helped).

I got everything at Michael's for 50% off.  I've listed the BEFORE discount prices.  Wreath 5.99.  Berries 1.99.  Ribbon 1.99.  Ornaments 2.49.  Pointsettas 1.99.  Final price after discount: $7.22



Step #2--Lay out your supplies to get a "feel" for the finished look.


Step #3--Weave the ribbon and berries through your wreath.


Step #4--Add your flowers and ornaments.




#5--Hang on your door and take more photos than necessary :)


Friday, December 10, 2010

30/30--Lessons Learned

On November 7, 2010 I started my 30/30 adventure.

I chose 30 items from my closet and promised not to wear anything else beside those 30 pieces (minus outerwear, underwear, and accessories) for 30 days.

My purpose for doing this was two-fold:
1.  I am constantly fighting the inner, materialistic "me" and I thought using only 30 pieces would greatly help my attitude.  In essence, I wanted to learn to be grateful for what I have and not constantly look for new "things" to make me happy.

2.  I wanted to become more adventurous with my clothing.  It is really easy to have simple, go to outfits. But what happens when you can't wear those?  Well, you get creative.

Tuesday I completed my challenge! {Insert congratulations, cheesecake, and happy dances here}

After 30 (somewhat long) days, I've definitely learned something about my clothes and myself.

What I learned about clothing:
  • I have enough clothing.  30 different outfits from 30 pieces and I didn't even wear all of them more than once.  If you've got more than 30 pieces of clothing, you've got enough too!
  • I didn't do a good job with my picks.  I'm a jeans and sweaters girl and I didn't have enough of either. I had too many work clothes and not enough weather-appropriate gear. This is code for "I froze 19 days out of 30." None-the-less, I made it work!
  • In an effort to play it safe I chose too many neutrals.  And I learned that too many na-na-na-neutrals is ba-ba-ba-boring!
  • I should have stuck to the Real Simple clothing basics list.  I had a black blazer, black dress, and a denim jacket but I put them back.  Why oh why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid!
  • I love my accessories!  Yay for scarves, hats, necklaces, and bracelets!  I've said it before (and now I have pictorial proof), accessories make the outfit.  Bonus that you can find them cheaply!
  • My most-often worn pieces were from thrift stores--not bought new off the shelf.  Let that be a lesson to us all!
  • Though I tired of wearing the same pieces over and over, it was surprisingly easy to have such limited choices.  I didn't have to agonize; I could grab-n-go!
  • I really, really, really love my red MaryJanes.
What I learned about myself:
  • I'm not very creative about putting outfits together.  I play it safe WAY too much!  Ironically, my "wildest" outfits were my most popular ... hmmmmm...........
  • I am not grateful for what I have.  I have a feeling I'll love my clothes a lot more now.  I can't wait for more options in the morning!
  • I am capable of looking at other people's outfits and putting together something similar. 
  • I get grumpy when I don't feel like I look good.
  • I feel great when I feel like I look great.
  • I didn't miss shopping {that much}.
It's amazing what a little "out of the box" challenge like this can do for your life perspective.

Thank you Kendi from Kendi Everyday for hosting this event and congrats to all the bloggers who participated {and finished} the challenge!

My 30/30 Re-Cap 
(Dedicated to the brown blazer I bought for $3 but proved to be worth one hundred times it's value.  Oops, I meant, dedicated to Matt and M.E. for taking pictures and dealing with clothing emotional Reagan)
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

{Holiday} Things I Love--My Nativity Set

I am not a collector of things.  I'm not knick-knacky and cutesy.  I love the way all that "stuff" looks in other people's homes but just the thought of having to dust one more item sends me into a panic attack.

Yep, at my house--less is definitely more.

I was pretty surprised when I first saw "Willow Tree" figurines and kinda loved them.  I'm not exactly sure why but I wanted some.  They don't match my decor but something about the faceless people feels really homey to me. (Still, I didn't get carried away.  I have a couple and that's it. No need for the whole collection).

When my mom learned there was a nativity scene of Willow Tree people she asked if she could slowly build me a collection.  I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement because I'd seen the set and loved it but didn't want to pay for it because I'm cheap readily gave her my consent. I'm just nice like that.

So my mom slowly got me pieces. Mary, Jesus, and Joseph on year one.  Year two the creche.  Year three the shepards.  Year four the stars.  Year five the wise men.

And then my mom got sick.

Now she doesn't remember that she started my collection for me.

She doesn't remember it isn't quite finished.

She's forgotten about the other stars, the angel, the angel stand, and the animals.

Last year my mother-in-law lovingly offered to finish the set for me but I just couldn't let her do it.

It might be weird but I love my set just as it is.  I love the memories I have of excitedly waiting for my new pieces each year.  I love that it's from my mom.

Every year I unwrap my nativity set by myself.  I open each piece slowly.  It's kinda like opening a memory.

When I got my nativity set out this year I got all weepy.  Even now my eyes fill with tears as I realize the beautiful reason this nativity set is so beloved to me.

My nativity set is a symbol of my relationship with my mom.

It is no longer growing. 

It is humble.

It is not finished. 

Something is missing.

Yet it's perfectly perfect just the way it is.

My house has great Pre-War II bungalow built ins (which we added, of course, since we just built our house last year).  This one is in my entry way.  I never dress up my nativity scene.  I think the pieces are a bold enough statement on their own.

I use one of my other figurines as the angel every year.


And that's why I love my nativity set.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I Think About--Christmas v. Xmas v. Happy Holidays

Every year the same drivel gets hashed and re-hashed on the news (because apparently there are no real injustices or humanitarian issues to address).

Should we say "Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Xmas"?

Seriously people, who cares?

Source

I personally say "Merry Christmas" because I love Jesus and I think Christmas is about His birth.

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But I also have "Xmas" on my Christmas boxes :GASP:

Now before you pull our your "Put Christ back in Christmas" bumper sticker, let me explain something to you.

We refer to God as the Alpha and Omega (It's biblical).  Did you know those letters are the beginning and the end of the Greek alphabet?  Is anyone offended that we'd refer to God with a O with a line through the middle?  Hardly.

Well in Greek X means "Chi" and is literally the start of the spelling of Christ.  So when I write Christmas XMAS- Christ is still in there.

So back off.

If the plan to use X was a huge conspiracy to make Christmas NOT about Christ, the attempt failed miserably (though I might add that attempts to minimize Christ by making Christmas totally consumer driven has worked beautifully--especially among Christians!).

Source

And now the dreaded "Happy Holidays."

There is a lot of debate about why people say "Happy Holidays."

Some people claim that we say the generic term because there are a lot of holidays during the season so it's more politically correct.

Ohers feel like it is a personal way to attack Christians by claiming Christmas isn't about Christ.

And still others say it because "holiday" is short for HOLY DAY.  And Christmas is a holy day, is it not?

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But does any of this matter?  Is it *really* worth getting worked up about?

Will saying "Happy Holidays" really cause a fellow Christian to stumble or an unbeliever to NEVER know Christ?

I have a feeling Christians would get a lot farther if they chose their battles.  If they fought for salvation issues--not heart issues.  Sometimes the best witness is to lovingly defer, not fight.

So here's my thought:

This year, instead of boycotting stores that say "Happy Holidays," what if we SHOWED the love of Jesus to people by serving them, not debating common vernacular?

What if we cared more about their salvation than we cared about their Christmas salutations?

What if we let the season be more about HIM that what others say or do? 

What if we got as riled up about human trafficking and poverty and war as we do "Happy Holidays?"

What I think is that the Christmas v. Xmas v. Happy Holidays debate is a ruse to give Christians, who would otherwise be involved in nothing and stand for nothing, a soapbox on which to stand and feel like important "good" Christians.  

Heck, as long as we can argue about linguistics, there's no need to take a stand about what REALLY mattered to Christ--loving people!

So to all those near and dear (and far and estranged) Merry Christmahanakwanstice (I had a student from a multi-religious family wear that shirt once).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

30/30--The End!

Phew.  Today is my last day of the 30/30 challenge.  YAY!

Today I wanted to wear my Express gray frilly coat.  It is a fave but for some reason it just didn't "go" with most of my other 30/30 choices.  I tried it several times and it just didn't work.

I paired it with a black T, jeans, heels, and a pink and purple scarf and it's fine but this isn't my dream outfit.  Oh well, tomorrow morning I'm going to open my closet and a world full of fashion possibilities will greet me.

And I promise not to say "I have nothing to wear" for at least 30 days!