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Almost Finished – Christmas Decorating 2010

As I get to the end of this year’s holiday decorating, with the promise to my husband that I will begin to weed through ornaments and decorations we no longer use and get rid of them, I am reminded of why we have so many holiday decorations.  Everything I have means something – whether it was a gift that someone gave to me, or an ornament purchased because it reminded me of one of my children.  I have things that were used in my Grandmother’s house when I was a little girl, and things my mom used in her house when I was young as well.  There are things that were my dad’s before he died, and things my grandmother handmade.

So here is what the house looks like with the bulk of the decorating done:

Each of these stockings, although never used to actually contain gifts, mean something.  The first one at the top of the stairs, my Grandmom Fee made.  The last one was a dollar store purchase when we were making stockings to be sent to the soldiers in Iraq.  It was leftover, but reminds me each year of how lucky we are to be together each Christmas.

The bell my mom used to hang outside of our house in South Philly

Not sure I should hang the girls’ stockings in age order, since their initials might be a turn-off for Santa

Tiny presents – a gift from my brother and sister-in-law one year – they’re so cute!

My Grandmom had a chapel very similar to this one that played Silent Night.  We found this one at Home Depot a few years ago, and it just reminded me so much of Grandmom, that we bought it!

These happy faces used to belong on my Mom’s stereo

The tree is mine – bought one year when we weren’t going to be home for the holidays, but I wanted a Christmas tree up anyway.  I ended up buying two of them – one for each bay window in the front of the house.  The kissing Angels and the angel musicians were Grandmom Fee’s.  I’m not sure where the Nativity came from, but this is a huge promotion for this Nativity – last year, and for the previous 8, they have been on a shelf in the downstairs bathroom.

The “kids” tree – filled with all the ornaments collected over the years for the kids – with their names, the year, and their favorite characters.  There are also baby’s first ornaments on the tree, and ornaments they’ve made in school through the years.

The top of the china cabinet is home to many of the holiday stuffies we’ve collected through the years – we try to add a new one each year.  That means we should only have about 22, but somewhere along the way, we must have added a few spares!

The basket was a wonderful gift my first year on the Moms Panel – the goodies are merely a distant memory, but the gorgeous sleigh will remain part of the holiday memories with which we decorate.

Our first Christmas together, Jim and I wanted to do a more elegant tree than the ones we grew up with, so we settled on one color ornament – gold.  Well, over the years, we came to realize how the trees we grew up with ended up with the mismatched ornaments – we came along!  Our family tree ended up having a bit of everything on it as the girls came along.  A couple of years ago, though, Jim bought the pre-lit tree with colored lights to appease the girls who hated the white lights on my tree.  I promptly moved all the “colorful” ornaments to the colorful tree, and reclaimed the gold one.  I love it all gold because it reminds me every year of my first Christmas with Jim – and the promise of many more to come.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

How To Get a Kid Dressed in Under 3 Minutes for School

It’s all about the proper motivation.  On a normal day in my house, my kids are still being yelled at to get dressed 10 minutes after we should have already left for school.  No one leaps out of bed, gleefully puts on their school uniform, races down to the nutritious breakfast I spend hours creating (okay, so it’s toast or cereal, but still….).  They have to be poked and prodded like cattle to the slaughter.

Not today.  3 minutes, dear readers.  My little one had her uniform on 3 tiny minutes from the time I first poked my head into her bedroom.

How did I do it?  The credit actually goes to Eilis.  Because last night, while Granuaile was at her Daisy Scout meeting, Eilis took down the Playmobil sets that took over the Thomas the Tank Engine train table when Thomas became “for babies”.  In place of the Playmobil, Eilis put out all of our Little People Christmas sets!

Behind Granuaile, you will see a black plastic trash bag.  That bag now contains 92,741 pieces of Playmobil that Eilis wasn’t sure what to do with when she cleared them from the train table.

If you find the 3 minute motivation for putting that all back together after Christmas, let me know!

Don’t go into the pumpkin patch – Part 2

The gross stuff. Yep, I couldn’t keep him under wraps. And I’m a sucker for his dimples. So he got another pumpkin just for himself.

This is before he got his mitts on it.

His tools for mischief

The Sharpie, knife and spoon for working; and the hatchet for killing.

And the end result is this wonderful addition to the back yard behind some bushes. Umm, I mean right there in the front yard on the sidewalk, scaring little kids as they walk up to our house on Halloween this year.

Cut behind the hatchet is a slot for the gore still inside the pumpkin to be pushed out the side, so the pumpkin is bleeding its brains out from the wound. Clever.

Well, at least it’s not this, right?  That’s something, isn’t it?

2010 Halloween decorating tips Part 2

A relatively sane mom would just say that if the outside is decorated, that’s all that matters.  That’s all anyone is going to see anyway, right?

Yes, well, you’re not talking to anyone reasonably sane.  I have three daughters – it takes a toll on your mental faculties.

Here are a few inexpensive and easy ways to spruce up the inside of your house for Halloween.  Look at it this way – the decorations hide the dust and the dirty windows!

Tip #6. Turn the little ones loose with tape!

Notice the couch in front of the bay window, just the right size for little climbers.  My beauty girls are always climbing up in this window box anyway, so they might as well have something to do!  I picked up a bunch of paper decorations at the party store for under $1 each, and let the kids tape them up.  They were excited to contribute to the decorating, and if the sun bleaches them out, I don’t mind tossing them and replacing them.  Notice this guy on the floor, trampled and unhung. Well at cheap prices, its bound to happen. Remember to give the kids things they can handle, but if you haven’t spent a fortune on decorations when they handle it too rough (and they will) no one gets yelled at.

Tip #7. Fall broom scented with oils

I love cinnamon brooms, and if you are the creative sort, you can decorate the brooms (available at local craft stores and some supermarkets – I got mine at Wegmans) with ribbon, fall leaves, and pine cones.  Or, if you’re too busy to be creative, just place the broom in a corner of the room and let the spicy smell of fall permeate the room.  It smells better if the broom gets some sun on it during the day.

Now as wonderful as they make your house smell wonderful from Spetember to January. After Christmas don’t throw them away. At the end of the season, put them in a plastic bag with some cinnamon scented oil and then another plastic bag and seal it up tight.  It will be there for you again next fall.

One note, this picture requires you to clean those wonderful hardwood floors. See Tip #1 above for more details on how to make that happen.

Tip #8. Table decorations

Nothing says Halloween like treats.  Fill some glass jars with some autumn color wrapped chocolates and candy corn.  They look nice clustered on the table with some decorations, and they can help keep the kids (and the husband) out of the candy that you bought for the trick or treaters.

Tip #9 Indian Corn

I only buy this because my dad always bought it.  He loved the stuff.  And it is a simple, festive way to celebrate the harvest season.  You can hang them on a door, use them as a centerpiece (tied with ribbon, which I have but haven’t had time to add), or put them at the end of a banister.  That’s probably where mine is going this year.

If you are going to hang the corn outside, use that Tabasco or cayenne pepper on it – the birds will think you’re laying out a buffet!

Tip #10. Save everything.

And I do mean everything including those window clings, left over napkins and plates, and those ghost cookie cutters you used to cut up their sandwhiches every day. Put it all in a giant orange 30 gallon tub and save it for next year. Make a fun game of opening the tubs, and let the kids be suprised all over again at what you have kept from year to year when they are they to open the lids.

Happy Halloween!

2010 Halloween decorating tips

It’s almost Halloween, and as if my house isn’t scary and cobwebby enough on a regular basis, it’s time to deck the place out.  But who the heck has the time?  Here are some quick and easy Fall 2010 and Halloween decorating tips for Moms like me – you know, the ones whose kids have badgered you that you’re the only house left in creation without decorations up and could you please, pretty please put something scary out so people will come for trick or treat?

Tip #1. Have your husband do all the work.  Yeah, that’s not gonna work.  Let’s move on, shall we?

Tip #2. Mums

That’s right, have a pack of British women come and do it!  No?  Okay, then just hit up your garden center, super market, or local WalMart and get pots of mums.  You don’t even have to go to the trouble of un-potting them and planting them in the ground.  They come in a plethora of gorgeous fall colors, and on their own, they will add a festive autumn look to the front of your house.  I saw many nurseries and grocery stores in my area selling them for $3 each – you can make your house pop for under $20!

Tip #3. Pumpkins

Unlike last year, when the weather did some serious damage to the pumpkin crop, driving up the price of these spectacular fall decorations, pumpkins this year are plentiful, which means prices are down!  I prefer to leave mine whole, because that way, they do double duty as Thanksgiving decor.  If you have a squirrel problem, like we do, you can keep your pumpkins intact by spraying them with a mixture of water and Tabasco sauce, or sprinkle some cayenne pepper on them.  Moth balls around them work as well, but they do detract a bit from your fall landscape.

Tip #4. Kids outside with crayons markers and a pumpkin

This is a before shot, I will post the update after they have their ways with these two unsuspecting pumpkins of the torture, creativity and torment that awaits them.  Even though I like my pumpkins plain, kids do not.  Use paints, markers, or even felt strips and glue to allow your kids to decorate the pumpkins.  Enlist the help of an able bodied grown up if you want to go all the way with that spookily carved Jack-O-Lantern.  You’ll also find other things you can use to decorate your pumpkins – like these Mr. Potato Head pieces I found at Target last year.

I also do not recommend that you enlist the help of my husband, who tends to be a bit too macabre when carving his pumpkins.

Tip #5. Cob webs

Easy to spread out, and a pain to pick up later.  But this is something the kids can do to help out and feel like they’ve decorated, plus it gives the house a spooky but not too scary look.  Let the husband who didn’t help you put the decorations up or those British Mums clean up after Halloween is over.

And in Part 2 I give you some very helpful inside decorating tips #6 thru #10 http:www.beautygirlsmom.com/2010-halloween-decorating-tips-part-2