I love Christmas break. LOVE IT. I love having the kids home from school. I love sleeping in. I love the all-day playing and pajama-wearing. I don’t want it to end. But tomorrow marks the start of a New Year. The Christmas tree will come down and we’ll pack the decorations away. We’ll go back to school and the old routine and look forward to the next thing to celebrate.

We had a wonderful holiday. Did you?

We spent Christmas Eve baking cookies, making buckeyes and tracking Santa on NORAD. We sprinkled magic reindeer food on the lawn and left cookies and milk out for Santa. The girls opened their new Big Sister pajamas and wore them to bed. Then Dave, my mom and I stayed up until 4 a.m. doing elf work.

There weren’t a lot of gifts under the tree this year, but no one was disappointed. Our budget was tight and that wasn’t really a bad thing. It helped us to be thoughtful. Dave and I tried to give the girls presents that served a purpose some other toy wasn’t already serving because, even if we had a ton of money to spend, our house is shrinking. We can’t afford to give up too much space.

I think we were successful. Mostly.

The day after Christmas, Dave and the girls not only let me sleep late, they brought me breakfast in bed, “for making Christmas so awesome.” I’ve heard that was mostly Julia’s idea. I thanked her later by running over her face with a sled while we were out playing in the snow.

The rest of the Christmas break has been blissfully lazy and filled with all the things we want to do and nothing that we don’t. And we can’t exist forever like that, I guess. So, welcome 2013. I’m expecting good things.

Step 1: Dump two cups of flour in a bowl.

Step 2: Taste the flour.

Step 3: Add one cup of salt to the bowl.

Step 4: Taste the salt.

Step 5: Dump 3/4 cup of water in the bowl.

Step 6: Mix the contents of the bowl with bare hands.

Step 7: Lick hands clean while Mom takes over.

Step 8: Flatten the dough on the table using hands or try a rolling pin. If that doesn’t work, sit on the dough.

Step 9: Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make twinkle twinkle little stars. (Tip: It helps to sing the song.)

Step 10: Use a straw to poke a hole in the stars so you can hang them up.

Step 11: Blow through the end of the straw and shoot the dough piece lodged inside. Aim for your sister.

Step 12: Let your mom put the stars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.

Step 13: Use your dough scraps to make Krabby Patties and eat them. They will taste terrible, but your mother’s reaction will be worth it.

Step 14: Paint your baked ornaments.

Step 15: Paint yourself.

Step 16: Paint your sister’s baked ornaments.

Step 17: Get chased from the table by your angry sister.

Step 18: Paint the space heater.

Step 19: Return to the table. There will be glitter.

Step 20: Add glitter to your ornament.

Step 21: Add glitter to your sister’s ornaments.

Step 22: Get chased from the table by your angry sister. (Don’t forget to take the glitter!)

Step 23: Put glitter in your diaper.

Step 24: Put glitter on the cat.

Step 25: Put glitter in the space heater.

Step 26: You are done! (You’ll know this for sure because your mom will tell you very loudly.)

Salt Dough Ornaments

I got to peek at my baby boy today.

Baby boy

He was all sprawled out as, once again, I’m making too much amniotic fluid. (I made too much with Julia. And Phoebe. [But not Lucy.])

“You’re such an overachiever,” Dave said.

“What?”

“You can’t just make amniotic fluid, you have to make THE MOST AMNIOTIC FLUID EVER,” he said raising a fist in the air.

The ultrasound technician laughed. “Well, it’s better than not making enough.”

Then she took a look at the ventricles of Jackson’s brain and his spine since they were difficult to view at my last ultrasound.

They looked just fine, in case you were wondering.

I’m wondering whether or not my son should be circumcised. Have you had to make this decision? What did you do? Also, if you own a penis, A) is it circumcised? B) are you happy about that? C) if not, do you blame your mother?

Dave and I battled the crowds and finished up our Christmas shopping last Friday. Let me tell you, it was crazy out there! We had a list and knew exactly what we were shopping for and it still took the entire day. Once we were done, it took us another forty-five minutes to get out of the parking lot and back to the highway and on our way home. I won’t be back in stores until after Christmas, if it’s at all possible, and it is when you can get everyday products online at the P&G eStore.

Did you forget to grab some AA batteries, like me? Don’t go back out there. You don’t have to. A Duracell battery bundle is just a click away.

Enter to win $100 worth of Duracell batteries to power you through the holiday season while you’re at it!

Are you still searching for last minute gift ideas? Try a Braun Pulsonic Shaver for him or an Olay Professional Cleansing System for her.

The P&G eStore has everything from diapers to dog food as well as these great deals:

* 15% off on a first-time order from a new customer, using promo code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA

* Free Shipping on orders over $25

* Free Samples with every order

* Holiday Bundles

Stay home. Shop online. Be merry.

I was thankful to have a project to throw myself into over the weekend. The devastating news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday has been impossible to process. Even as details have emerged, there is nothing that makes it all make sense. The loss is unfathomable. The grief is overwhelming. My heart is with the community of Newtown, CT – the families, children, teachers, service personnel and all those affected by this tragedy. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. But I was serving no one sitting, glued to Twitter and sobbing helplessly. So, I worked on this –

Teacher Gifts

– our 2012 Teacher Gifts.

I saw this genius idea from Kimberly Kaiser on Pinterest and used some painting tips from Young House Love to create my own “Thanks for helping me grow!” pots.

Rather than paint the message, I decided to use chalkboard paint so the girls can write it on and sign their names. Then, the teacher can change it later to suit their needs, if they’d like.

They aren’t perfect by any means, but I think they’re the perfect gift from a family with more time and talent than money to give. I was able to pick up the pots for $1.50 each, since they’re off-season right now, and I already had all the paint I used. It only took a few hours of painting over two days.

I spent most of that time thinking about the teachers these gifts were going to and the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They’re a beautiful reminder that there is good in this world.


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