O’ Christmas Tree? Containing Your Spruce- December 17, 2014

o xmas tree

There is a holiday epidemic plaguing the homes of infants and toddlers around the world. This year it hit our home.

Escaping Christmas trees.

Trees are taking their boughs and baubles and getting out of the homes where they are imprisoned. Many trees in the houses of young children say they’re sick of only being decorated 2/3rds of the way down. Their lower thirds remain naked. I can’t blame them. How would you feel if your lower third was bare? I like mine looking just as festive as my top, thank you very much. Why should a Christmas tree be any different?

Other trees feel gypped because the adults in their homes no longer put fine crystal ornaments on them like they used to. Cherished ceramic ornaments remain boxed up, replaced by BPA-free plastic balls. It’s insulting to the trees. If you have to be chopped down and hauled away from your family on the tree farm, you want to be decorated properly. Not haphazardly covered in makeshift toys some rugrat will drool on.

If your tree is artificial, check to see where it was made. China? It’s likely. The National Christmas Tree Association says 85% of artificial trees are made in China. Your tree may be trying to leave your house to get home before the Chinese New Year. It’s just after our New Year and it’s a long journey to your homeland if you’re made of polyvinyl chloride.

The number one way trees try to escape? Toppling over. Trees hope that if they topple over enough that you will get sick of them and drag them to the curb even if it’s just a week before Christmas. Broken ornaments? Water on the carpet? That’s what they want. They want out. It’s a conspiracy. That’s why they make tree stands so lousy.

Yes, you can dispose of an artificial tree on the curb too, although it’s much more rare. AE’s or “artificial escapes” don’t happen too often. Artificial trees are doomed to live in boxes. They want you to throw them out. China, remember?

Solutions For Taming Trees:

How do you prevent your tree from escaping? Fence it in. Check out ours. It’s going NOWHERE! That bad boy is doomed to live in our attic in a musty box 11 months a year! Bwa ha ha! You WILL bring us holiday joy, tree. You will! You live HERE! NOT in China!

Our Christmas tree 2014 in a baby gate

Another option is to tether your tree to the wall like our neighbors did to their fresh cut Fraser Fir after it fell over when the kids were playing with it. They also have a one-year-old at their house.

Christmas tree tethered to the wall

A little known fact is that Christmas trees are afraid of heights. That’s why so few of them grow tall enough to be the tree at Rockefeller Center or at the White House. Funny, I was unable to find a fact from the NCTA to back that up. One family I know exploited their tree’s fear of heights by putting it up on a table. The tree stayed put, not daring to venture down near the family’s toddler.

xmas tree 5

It’s a holiday battle! Keep your trees contained and your little ones safe.


The End Of Breastfeeding My Babies- December 12, 2014


He’s 13 months old. He nurses less and less. He would drink more if I let him, but today he just nursed before bed. I stopped pumping right after his first birthday. He kept breastfeeding each day before naps and bed, but we’re doing it less. His big sister stopped at 13 months. I remember being a little sad, but I was okay. Time marched on. I would have another baby. No biggie. It was actually nice to have my body be my own again.

This time I’m sad.

This might be my last baby. All the infant milestones have been a little more bittersweet with the second baby, but this one hurts.

What if this is the last time I ever nurse one of my babies? This might be it. It may be over. I may never be pregnant again. I may never snuggle my sleepy newborn or snuggle my round little infant as they suckle.

If I stop nursing him, will he still want to snuggle with me? Maybe. Maybe not. Everyday I steal kisses and snuggles in “catch and release” style as he wobbles toward toddlerhood.

Part of me is ready to be done breastfeeding. He has a mouth full of teeth and vigorous kicking legs. But, the other part of me looks into his eyes that are turning a darker shade of blue into the green of my own and I want to hold him tighter. I cradle a baby that is (kind of) calm when he nurses. He smiles with coos and grunts that make us both giggle. Those times are ours alone, and they are numbered.

I don’t know when the last time I nurse him will be. I don’t remember the exact last time with my daughter. I just know it’s coming soon.

Instead of mourning the time gone, I’m trying to be thankful for being able to successfully breastfeed two healthy babies. I know not all mothers get that. I’m thankful that breastfeeding was a mostly positive experience for me.

This just marks the end of infancy. I am excited for what is to come. I am. I’m just bracing my heart for more milestones that may be a little bittersweet.

Alright. I’m bucking up. I’m looking into their little faces and being excited and thankful. I can do this. It’s almost time for the last time, and that’s okay. Writing this makes me feel better. Time marches on. Ah, motherhood! It is bittersweet.

my 4-year-old and 1-year-old



Make Your Own Christmas Wreath- December 11, 2014

wreath 5

I have never thought about making a Christmas wreath, ever. I have an artificial one. I think I got it at Target at a post-holiday sale a few years ago. It looks pretty awful. When Fairview Garden Center offered me a spot in their very popular wreath making seminar as part of our Weeds to Wow Family Garden Project. I was like, “Yes! But, I might be totally terrible at it. I will have no idea what I’m doing.”

Turns out, I am not totally terrible at it and I LOVED doing it! Seriously! Fairview’s seminars fill up fast so I was psyched to have a spot at the table. Anna led the class in one of Fairview’s beautiful greenhouses. She explained the plethora of plants that work for wreath making. For holiday wreaths we used a Fraser Fir base because, hello! It smells like Christmas. Fraser Firs make Christmas. Am I right?

wreath 1

Fairview offered many different plants to make a holiday wreath including holly, pine cones, sugar cane, juniper etc. Those are the main plants I used.

I learned that you start with a wire wreath base. The ones that Fairview gave us are more pliable than others. Anna said we would be able to wrap plant pieces better.

wreath 2

She explained how you make small bundles and wrap one with each wire, moving around the wreath. She emphasized moving in the same direction all the way around. Don’t skip a wire, or you’ll have a bare spot in your wreath.

wreath 4

I alternated a bundle with holly and a bundle with sugar cane to create a pattern. We used clippers to trim plants. The first bundle I made was too long. I said, “I want a big wreath, though.” Anna mentioned that was fine, but pieces that are too long can fall out. She was right. I trimmed up my bundles. If you want to add something after wrapping a bundle, use some craft wire to add additional decoration.

wreath 3

I LOVE how it turned out. I think with practice I could make all sorts of wreaths. Seriously. My mind was spinning with the idea of magnolia leaf wreaths etc.

wreath 5

wreath 6

If you want to participate in a wreath seminar or any class offered by Fairview, check them out! Can’t make a wreath seminar? Buy one of their beautiful hand-crafted holiday wreaths. They had more types and colors of poinsettias than I have ever seen.

If you want to see expert hands make a gorgeous professional wreath, check out this video of Fairview’s Jo Ann Dewar. She’s been making custom handmade wreaths for 30 years. Amazing!


Santa In Plaid- December 8, 2014

The jolly fat man has become a marker of time. A growth chart. A yearly reminder of all that has changed and all that has stayed the same. I know I can’t always dress them in matching monogrammed plaid, but I’ll do it as long as I can. I’ll make this collage for as long as they will let me pose them, even if they’re just pretending they still believe. Merry Christmas.

Charlotte and Henry with Santa, Christmas 2014

2014 Santa collage 2010-2014


Pill Puzzles- December 2, 2014

pill organizer collage 2

If you’re like me, you live in constant fear of some accident or another injuring your children. My fears range from the typical to the ridiculous. From my kids tripping on the stairs to a helicopter landing on the playground and them being knocked over by high force propeller wind.

Anyway, something happened over our Thanksgiving weekend that brought another danger front-of-mind. We were visiting my grandparents who are in poor health. I walked in and after hugs I quickly swept through the room and put all ceramic grandma trinkets up high enough that little hands couldn’t get them. I forgot one thing.

After getting bored with toys from 30 years ago and not being allowed to play with an iPad, (there is no WiFi anyway) my 4-year-old wandered into the kitchen. My grandparent’s health workers and my aunts keep their medicines in those pill boxes organized Monday through Friday and “Morning, Midday, Evening and Bedtime.” So, there are a lot of pills in there. These boxes are colorful and easy to open for arthritic hands. They also look very neat to little people.

I walked into the kitchen to hear dozens of pills hit the floor. My daughter was standing in a chair by the kitchen table, horrified after she dropped the box. I frantically scooped up my one-year-old off the floor as he tried to crawl to the appealing pills. My husband snagged my daughter who was near tears. She looked at us and said, “I thought it was a puzzle! I’m sorry!”

It is a puzzle of sorts since my mom and my aunt had to sort out all the meds again. I’m not trying to be preachy, just remember this holiday season when you’re visiting relatives, watch out for medicine containers that look like toys and pills that look like candy.

Also, put Poison Control in your phone. Our pediatrician said you are most likely to have poison related accidents when you are away from home, like at your grandparents’. Let me know of other hazards you’ve run into, or you have tips for keeping kiddos safe, especially at the holidays. Have a happy and safe season, everyone!