Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saving the Environment...

Hello! Christmas is finally over... sometimes I have mixed feelings about this time of year, but since I've had kids my mixing has ceased. I am glad Christmas is over. Don't get me wrong, I love this time of year. I love baking with my kids and listening to Christmas songs. I love shopping for gifts for my kids and decorating the tree. I really love watching Christmas movies with my family, like Elf and A Christmas Story which this year made my 7 year old consider asking Santa for a Red Rider BB gun.

But, I must admit, there are some parts I don't like so much. Like the snow, or the crowds at every place from the grocery store to the ladies room at Macy's. I don't like stepping on small ornaments because my 3 year old just can't help himself and takes every ornament within his reach down. I don't like feeling that 'deadline' feeling that hovers over me like rotten mistletoe from Thanksgiving to December 26th.

I will be the first to admit that I have a tendancy to go overboard at Christmas in the gifts department. I see things all year that I think will be great for a certain child, and when the buying season arrives, I go a little crazy. Because we have a large family, we start early. Really early. Like, in July. If we didn't we'd go broke. Which gives me that much longer to overspend. We are a cash-only family, we don't have a single credit card. So we have to watch our dollars and cents. Especially this year with our drastic decrease in income and our addition of 2 children to the team.

My sister-in-law mentioned something to me a couple of years ago that he mom did at Christmas. In buying gifts, each child got 4: "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." That's what we did. Each of our children got 4 things: a toy, an educational toy, a book, and an outfit. Then my husband and I pinky swore that we wouldn't buy ANYTHING else. And we didn't.

So when we were wrapping gift frantically the night before Christmas Eve, I was feeling good about my restraint this year. That lasted about an hour. Then I got sick of wrapping and the 'four gifts per child' rule seemed like waaay too many! As the clock neared midnight, I was kicking myself for purchasing oddly shaped things that were difficult to wrap. It was getting veeeery late.

In the afterglow of the Present Opening Frenzy, I looked around at the carnage. Wads of wrapping paper, mangled bows, crumpled tissue paper, empty boxes, clothing with tags still on, boxes that had been demolished in order to remove their contents... It took four full-size garbage bags to get it all out to the trash can. Another part of Christmas I don't like.

I propose NO WRAPPING next year. Let's just take everything out of the box ahead of time and throw out the packaging and put each child's things in a pile. Won't the kids be just as happy? Is there such an attachment to the ritual of opening a gift? Not if you're under 10. Think of all the time and money and clean-up it would save...! And not to mention the wrapping paper and trees.

Somebody should call Al Gore and tell him about this.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cheer...

I love Christmas. I really love it, and not just the presents. I love the music, the weather, the tree, the decorations, the baking... everything! The last couple Christmases have come during difficult times for our family. Last Christmas, heavily pregnant with twins, we found out that as of the first of 2010, we would be losing 75% of our income. Panic set in quickly. Needless to say, I was more than preoccupied last yuletide season.

This Christmas has been better... things are still tough financially, but we have weathered the worst of the storm. We had two healthy babies join our family in 2010, including our first and only daughter. Brandon and Nathan, our older boys, are doing well in school and Ian, our 3 year old, is blossoming with the individual attention he is getting being home with Mom. So this Christmas season has definitely been a lot more jolly...

...which is why I get so annoyed when someone rains on my holiday parade.

A certain mother-in-law of mine, who will remain nameless, called this morning to see if Brandon (7) would like to come over to her house and make Christmas candy with her and the cousins. My husband politely told her that if she had Brandon over, we would have a hard time explaining to Nathan (5) and Ian (3 1/2) why they were not invited to the festivities at Grandma's house. Her response: a very merry "don't bring any of them." Yikes. I was none too pleased, but tried not to make a big deal about it.

But it bothered me... all...day...long.

My mother-in-law and I have a rather colorful history. She has never cared for me. And because she has never liked me, it has made it difficult for me to like her. But I have tried, for the sake of my husband, to be civil.

My own mother, the sweetest most generous and loving woman on the planet, lives nearly 1000 miles from us. She would give her right arm to be able to chase my lovelies all over the kitchen while things burned and she would have cheerfully cleaned up all of the things they spilled too! I was hurt for my kids. They don't get to spend a lot of time with grandparents. We live 10 miles from my in-laws yet we see them fewer than 4 or 5 times a year.

That's when it hit me. Some people care more about the outcome than the experience. They are more concerned with the product than the process. I learned in college calculus that the right answer didn't mean a darn thing if you didn't show your work. My mother-in-law was more concerned with getting Christmas candy made than spending the afternoon with her grandchildren. Someone should tell her, it's more about how you get there than where you go. I guess maybe I should remember that too, especially at Christmas.

But I'm still seething about my mother-in-law...!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Word About the Title...

Some of you are probably wondering why I titled my blog the way I did. I guess there are a few different reasons...
1.) I have a lot of kids. We've all heard the nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn't know what to do? Well, sometimes I feel like her. I'm not really old yet, but as I sit here with an 8-month-old on my lap gumming the mouse cord, I'm sure I'll be old before my time.
2.) I love shoes! Since becoming the mother of many, I don't buy myself as many shoes as I used to. Now I buy them for my children. None of my 5 children have fewer than 5 pair of shoes/sandals/booties.

Funny how when you have kids, or at least as many as I do, you care less how you look and more how your kids look. Probably because when we're out together, I know no one is looking at me. They're all looking at this gorgeous basketball team of mine!