Thursday, January 29, 2009

Boxed in

So, in a previous post I shared one of my most prized mothering tools, that of the use of the laundry basket a.k.a. "Mother's 'Lil Helper". I have not abandoned this useful item but the laundry basket's thirty pound capacity just wasn't cutting it for me. I needed something that could comfortably contain at least ninety pounds of crazy kids. Found it.

This box kept Ella and Foster happy for, literally, two hours. I threw in a baggie of snacks, some crayons, the aforementioned children, and a phone with the numbers 1 and 9 removed from the keypad, and they had a great time. It makes me feel really happy inside that I can provide this nurturing service for my kids. In my mind it is almost like being back in the womb for them. They were in a tight little space and they heard their loving mother's snores as she slept peacefully. The only difference is that they got to wear clothes this time around. Sadly, this was a one time babysitter. When Foster was ready to get out, rather than calling out that he had had enough he decided to go all Dwight on the box and this was the result:

(Or as this was a womb-like experience, maybe I should say that he was more vampire-baby-like in his attempt to escape.)

I have yet to find a more durable substitute, but this was fun while it lasted. I am on the prowl for something that can hold upto 250 pounds so that I can start an in-home daycare. I will be sure to keep you updated on my new business plan.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

As promised, here are the results to "The Santa Strategies."

We went over to Ryan and Tanya's house for Christmas Eve. We had yummy food, a fab program, and a great time. Have I mentioned how much we LOVE that they live here? We do!

Here are the kids waiting to open their one Christmas Eve present. (It is our tradition that the kids get to open their present from their Daddy Christmas Eve. Always p.j.'s. Of course this is so they will be looking cute in the morning in new ones instead of the old raggedy ones that they wear the rest of the year. Who wants reality on Christmas?) Merrit is still wearing her costume from the program. Obviously, she played the part of the camel.

Ta-da! All ready to be adorable come morning time.

It is a little known fact that the reindeer need a little enticement to stop. Foster doing his part by sprinkling reindeer food on our front lawn:

And Maya doing hers:

We moved to this house in December of 2006. I am not ashamed to admit that one of my biggest objections to this house is that the kids' bedrooms are all upstairs and the master is downstairs, raising the quandry of what to do Christmas morning? I didn't want them to see their presents before I was there to capture the moment forever on camera. (Also, I didn't want them to get distracted by said presents on their way to my bedroom at 3am.) The solution: Wrap them up in their room. This has become our tradition since then and is one that will probably continue on in whatever house we live in the future. Not only do we get to be there for the big reveal, but we can easily put off the kids until we are ready to get up. It was Ella's turn this year to play hostess in her room. I wish we had recorded this so that you could hear the audio. It was hysterical. They were sooooooo excited and Jon and I were having sooooooo much fun prolonging their agony.

This is what they do when they are given the green light: (Ella hung back while the dust and paper settled.)

If you look very closely, you can see a smidgen of all three kids racing downstairs to see what was in store for them. I use the word "racing" loosely. Perhaps you can tell by the annoyed expression on Foster's face that he was impatiently keeping pace behind Ella. We make them come down youngest to oldest. Another way that Jon and I enjoy messing with our offspring.

Ella's haul: She loves pretend play and being a "mommy" so Santa thought this would fit the bill. It has become a common sight to see Ella with her new baby (obviously adopted.) Strangely enough, it smells like vanilla.

Foster requested "real-live spy gear because elves are the ultimate spies and probably have really great stuff." It must be said that his stuff is the most fun for kids and adults to play with. Santa had a great time positioning his stuff just so, so that when Foster came down and crossed the laser, an alarm sounded and he was shot with foam darts. One of the other things he got is a remote control car that has a microphone built in and an earpiece that the spy gets to listen in on. It would work great if not for the giggling that always precedes an "attack."

Maya's "surprise", as requested. Her main thing is a digital camera. She has had a great time taking pics of not people, but anything nature. She also got a Planet Earth DVD game from my parents and has really enjoyed learning about animals and their habitats. She is and always has been such an animal lover and earth protector. I am sure she will grow up to be some liberal environmentalist with no chidren, but ten thousand pets.

Maya also got a High School Musical 3 dance mat also from G-ma and G-pa Foster. Ella was very inspired by the sweet music and dancing and had to get down with Vanilla and Barbie (of course, wearing nothing but her tutu from cousin David.)

Wearing their Christmas finery:

Another thing Maya got was a nail kit and book from G-ma Sue and G-pa Carson. It took me 45 minutes to paint these cute ladybugs and Maya five minutes to peel them off. Reguardless, both girls have had fun with this one.

These last two pics were uploaded backwards but, whatever. Here is Jon solving the Rubix cube that Foster got in his stocking. I think this is actually illegal, so please, no one report this.

Foster attempting to do it before handing it off to Dad.

The Foster's came over to our house for Christmas dinner and then we went to a movie and came back here for games. It was a great day!

We had such a fun Christmas that I have been in mourning ever since it ended. This is my excuse for not blogging about it sooner. I felt it would be admitting defeat that Christmas really is over to do it any sooner. I just barely finished taking down everything Christmas yesterday. Despite my sadness before doing it, I love the way the house now feels so clean without all of it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Santa Claus...what valuable life skills are they really learning?

So this post is an in depth analysis of what exactly our children are learning from Santa Claus. Please don't get the wrong impression and immediately quit reading this post. This is not one of those Communist "Let's get rid of Santa and remember the true meaning of Christmas, bla, bla, bla" posts, but rather a "What approach really works to maximize presents while minimizing the potential of coal?" post. Read on:

So, here is our eldest child doing that which she has been doing for the past eight Christmases. I am pleased to announce that she has learned the art of "Santa Manipulation." When asked what she wants for Christmas, she sweetly replies: "Oh...I don't know. I have been so richly blessed and while I have been a VERY good girl, I just want to make sure that all of the less-fortunate girls and boys receive something before I do. I guess if you really insist on bringing me something, I will just leave it up to you as to what that will be." Of course the object here is to not limit herself to only one request, but to maximize on Santa's elfish heartstrings and receive the "mother-load." (Read "Sleigh-Load.") Works every time. (Her wardrobe choice also helps. She had just finished participating in the ward Christmas pageant as an angel. She was given the option to change her clothes. She declined. All part of her diabolical design.)

Foster has come a long way from the terrified, stuttering pre-schooler of Christmases past when placed onto Santa's lap. He has learned to be brief, concise, and to the point. Why beat around the bush? Neither he nor Santa is there for a lengthy conversation about his (Foster's) many exploits of the previous year. So he had a couple of recess detentions. Why split hairs? Confession may be good for the soul, but it is terrible for the stocking. Just get to the point and put in the request and not bore the old man. This strategy, too, works.
Aaaaah. Our newest requester. The two year old. So, up to this point in her short life, I have been instilling the importance of "Stranger Awareness." This is the only time of the year that she is encouraged to sit on the lap of an overweight, bearded white guy offering her candy (who, coincidentally, describes every level 3 sex offender in the state.) While this proved to be very confusing to her, she was able to develop her own scheme that, I hope, will evolve into something much quieter next year. Ella's strategy was, of course, panic. Scream, cry, kick, and cling to your mother. If done properly, not only do you get to escape the creepy guy's lap, but they thrust candy on you to shut you down.
I wish that you could see more of Santa's face in this pic. He was pretty much ecstatic to see this coming at him: (I'm equally excited to be included in the photo.)
And here is the after. Don't you love the pleased-with-herself-that-at-least-she-got-candy-laugh/cry? So she was slightly traumatized. It was all done in the name of Christmas joy.

Merrit, Ella, and their friend watching the "Santa Show" while munching on the fruits of their labor.

Three different children. Three very different strategies. Stay tuned for the next post to see how it worked out for them.

Feel free to share your experience with proven successful strategies. (Or failed ones for that matter.)