Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning 2010

Well, here you go. 15 minutes of high-pitched, five-year-old excitement. Which will probably only be entertaining to me and the grandparents. As of this morning, the girls are currently playing with the styrofoam contents of the cabinet we bought and put together yesterday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's a Folger's Christmas, Charlie Brown

I'll admit it...I still get a little choked up when I see the commercial where the older brother comes home from college and wakes his parents up by popping back the plastic lid on a can of Folger's crystals...

...or how about when Ronald McDonald steps out of the snowy woods to make the little boy, left behind by the older kids, feel like the coolest kid on earth...

...and yes, I'm a sucker for a good ol' fashioned Christmas sing-a-long, whether it was hosted by Bing Crosby, Donnie and Marie, or Nick and Jessica.

Note to network television (and an extra special plea for Mike Valerino), bring back Jim Henson's Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas. Not since Gift of the Magi has there been a more profound story about the gift of "giving."

And whatever happened to those lovely holiday greeting from your favorite sitcom ensemble? You know, instead of a commercial, the cast of Benson would be sitting in front of a fireplace wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas!" I loved those.

Today, I took my first stroll ever through Tuesday Morning and saw this blast from the past. I actually remember this Peaches & Cream Barbie doll vividly. (You could fashion the big huge ruffle around her in at least 100 different styles!) Now, I see that the package says 1985, but to me it screams late 70's. I think it always took Barbie a little while to catch up with the times back then. Nowadays, she's get the iPhone 5G before it's even on the market!

"I believe...I's silly, but I believe." - Miracle on 34th Street

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Many Re-caps, So Little Time

Mounted New TV Over the Fireplace

Cut a giant hole in our wall 5 days prior to having my family over for "Cousin's Christmas". The hole was to run all the wiring from the TV to the components, as well as run an entirely new line of electricity from the breaker box.

In an uncommon-look towards the future, we bought every wire we could possibly hook up to the TV: 4 HDMI, 1 Cable, 1 Component (Red, Blue, Green), 1 Surround Sound, 1 PC video, 1 PC Audio, for a total of 10 wires, counting electricity.

Number of items actually hooked up to the TV? 2. Cable box and Wii (to be fair, we had a DVD player, but it doesn't fit in the cupboard we converted to a component box - which is cooler than it sounds).

Number of stores I had to visit to find all these items at a reasonable price? 5. Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.

How many Geek Squad members I had to play the helpless female to? 3.

All guidance suggested hooking the new breaker up in the daytime for the obvious reason that you had to turn off the main breaker to the house. We did ours at 9 PM after the girls went to bed.

Pretty much we have received flashlights for Christmas every year since being married - that would be 12 years. Number of working flashlights found? 0.

Scott turned his car lights on and pointed it in the basement window, then wore Morgan's LL Bean camping headlamp for the detailed procedure. Considering no one was electrocuted and all electricity came back on immediately...major success!

So now we have a giant hole in our wall to patch. Normally, not a big deal, but in our house there is a level of plaster on top of the wallboard which has a very random texture to it. Coat of paint went on the wall Saturday morning before the party.

Did we succeed? My dad asked where we cut the hole! Now, maybe he was trying to make us feel good about our project, but I'll take it.

Cousin's Christmas

Invitation time: 6PM. Aunt Charlie's arrival: 5:45PM. Classic.

How many people can fit in our kitchen?

Aunt Charlie rinsing shrimp (the wrong shrimp, because "Uncle Mike grabbed the wrong bag" for her) while Noah supervises;

Rebecca cutting organic apples grown from trees watered by carrying buckets from a natural spring and brie made from the milk of a free-range goat that sleeps on a bed of molted goose feathers;

Scott moving pizzas from prep block to oven stone to counter to serving plates;

Uncle Mike pouring Manhattans from a previously used plastic bottle of spring water that he brought with him from home (WoWo's - a flask might be an excellent Christmas gift!);

Jake exploding the 2-liter of ginger ale; my mom cleaning up the spill with paper towels; Dad holding his splinted hand over his head (surgery); and me yelling at everyone to get-out-of-the-kitchen-until-we-at-least-get-our-pizzas-out-of-the-oven-for-christ-sakes.

Okay, now it is actually 6 o-clock. Obviously, the Swigart's do not go for being "fashionably late."

Most sought-after item in the White Elephant gift exchange: Snuggie (with bonus gift of nose-hair trimmers)
Most inappropriate item in the White Elephant gift exchange: Jake's chin strap.

New colors for Christmas Cookie decorating icing: raspberry, olive, gray, navy blue, taxi-cab yellow, white and some shade of purple I'm not sure was around when Christ was born.

$#!* My Kids Say

Morgan (after seeing the commercial where the ocean life swims out of the television): If we had a 3-D TV and if Potter wasn't blind, then if he started barking we could tell him to stop because it's not real.

Zoe (after Mommy tells her she has to wait until Christmas to get the purse she picked out in Macy' joke...she was obsessed with this purse): I need to sit on Santa's lap.

Morgan: Paul and I are trying very hard not to dawdle in school.

Mommy: Do you think you are on the naughty or nice list?
Zoe (without hesitation): Naughty.

Mommy: What do you want to write in your letter to Santa?
Morgan: Do you think I should write that we have been good like he asked us to?
Mommy: Have you?
Morgan: Maybe we should say we are trying to be good like he asked us to.

Dear Santa,

We will try to be good, just like you said. It doesn't matter about getting presents, it's all about sharing and caring at Christmas (editor's note: I sense a little reverse psychology at play here). Mommy has been good, too. And so has Daddy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Musical Beds

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to change out a double-bed room to bunk beds and a nursery to a play room at the same time? Here's how it works.

First, you find bunk beds that don't cost you one of the children that will be sleeping in them. We got ours at an estate sale complete with mattresses, even though I said I wouldn't buy used mattresses because of the whole bed bug situation. I'm going to keep the jury out on that, because I don't want to jinx myself.

1. Dis-assemble and store the full-sized bed....and full-sized sheets...and full-sized bedspread, blankets, and mattress cover.

2. Assemble bunk beds. Purchase twin-sized bedding, which includes all the items listed above times two. Hint: you do not need to put both rails on the top bunk bed if it is pushed against the wall, because (A) it is redundant, and (B) it is a bitch to put sheets on. (I slept in the top bunk for an entire year of college and I know I did not have that much trouble putting sheets on it . Oh, because I apparently didn't worry about falling out in the middle of the night and cracking my head open.)

3. Purchase and assemble two dressers from IKEA because the previous furniture does not match the new beds.

4. Move dresser and vanity table from bedroom to nursery/playroom. Go through every frickin' toy known to man: Keep / Donate / Toss? Answer: 60% / 30% / 10%. Come close to doing yourself harm when you can't figure out where you are going to put it all and it isn't even Christmas yet.

5. Organize clothes to place in new dressers. Fill two bins of clothes for attic storage, bring the next bin of hand-me-downs in for little sister. While you're up there, re-organize the attic a little bit, you will have plenty of time to kill.

6. Take a break and assemble two dressers for your own room, so you can finally get the ten piles of clothes off the floor and actually give the appearance of being a grown-up.

7. Move the changing table from the nursery to the "master" bedroom to get the other five piles of clothes off the floor. Drop the cable box, so even though you finally can have the TV at a good angle to watch from bed, you will only be able to see things in black and white.

8. Move the crib into the middle of the playroom so you can organize around it, because taking it apart at this point is a sure sign that you're going to be pregnant next month.

9. Fill 4 nylon laundry bins with stuffed animals. Fill 1 big plastic container (the kind in which you used to place kegs of beer) with baby dolls. Fill another with dress-up/pretend play items. Determine how many pooh bears you can move to the "donate" pile or at least pass-off to the basement without a third-party noticing. Answer: None.

10. Determine you are, in fact, not pregnant and thus commission the dis-assembly of the crib to move to the attic. Store all nursery bedding and accessories.

11. Bring train table and rolling storage bins up from the basement to the playroom.

12. Remove all remnants of owning children from the living room by assigning toys to the playroom, bedroom, or basement. Okay, I haven't personally gotten this far yet. It's a stretch goal.

Did I mention that you should try to do all of this in one week while holding down full-time jobs outside the home? Because that is key.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


20 days till Christmas...7 days till "Cousin's Christmas" which I volunteered to host...a television to run electrical to and mount above a fireplace...cookies to bake....presents to shop for...might as well go to Kalahari for the weekend.

A month ago, friends of ours asked if we were interested in sharing a suite at this indoor water park for a night and we knew the girls would love it, so we agreed.

Saturday morning, Scott got an oil change in his car, ran to Home Depot for electrical boxes and to Dick's for a new swim suit, because for some reason he didn't want to wear his triathlon Speedo around the park.

Meanwhile, I packed suitcases, cleaned up the house (although my dog-sitting brother could probably argue on the cleanliness factor), grabbed snacks from Walgreens and bought a Christmas tree.

Yes...bought a Christmas tree. I have to get that thing in the house by Wednesday to have it decorated in time.

So we managed to get on the road by 1:30 and Kalahari is about an hour away.

I had forgotten the girls' flip flops, so I forced them to put their shoes on with their bathing suits, because we had what felt like a mile walk to the actual water park portion of the hotel, including passing through a major Chuck E Cheese-type game area. Of course Morgan wasted no time pointing out all the other people walking through the hotel barefoot. I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about that.

And I don't know why I was also so disturbed about the number of people walking through the hotel in nothing but a wet bathing suit, when on the other side of the doorway everyone was walking around in wet bathing suits, but I was.

Two observations:

(1) The eight of us may have been the only people in all of Kalahari that didn't have a single tattoo.

(2) I apparently do not need to be so self-conscious of my slightly squishy tummy. (But I will keep it safely tucked inside my completely average full-piece tank swimsuit, thankyouverymuch.)

I was actually a little worried about my rudeness rage, which is only slightly less sensitive than my road rage. I thought for sure I would be at my strangling-point by at least an hour in, but it never even bubbled.

I don't know if it was because all the parents were slightly buzzed with alcohol (although I only saw one lady visibly drunk and it was when we went back down to the game room after dinner) or everyone was just happy to let life guards watch their kids for a few hours.

A note on the life guards: None of them looked any older than 16 and at least 50% of them looked like they had no desire to jump in and save someone, and I am trusting them with my life?

Either way, everyone pretty much kept to themselves so I have no good blog fodder. Damnit.

Oh, except that Jen and I scared the crap out of ourselves on the slides. We had let the guys take control of all four kids while we tried a slide on our own. We decided on the enclosed pair of slides where we would each take off from a separate one and come out somewhat together. But neither of us had considered how fast, or how dark it was.

I think if it had lasted any longer I might have had an actual panic attack. Yes, I am a wimp. (Did I ever tell you my skiing story?)

Otherwise...completely a good way. I highly recommend it.

See, Jen, I made it the whole blog without mentioning how many times you fell and/or dropped your baby!