Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Reasons We Do Not Have An Elf On The Shelf

It's that time of year again - everyone is posting pictures of their Elf's creative adventures. Not at our house - We do not have an elf.  Why have I deprived my children of this super fun tradition you might ask- let me explain.

I will start by saying that I am absolutely NOT trying to insult anyone who has an elf on the shelf. If you have one and can remember to move it every night and are creative enough to concoct all kinds of elf mischief that's wonderful!!! I actually kind of admire you. I also realize, however, that I am not that person. So, in my defense, here are the reasons we do not and will not have an elf on the shelf in our house:

1. In the evenings, after our busy days, it is all I can do to remember to pack lunches, fold the laundry, turn on the dishwasher, and shower myself.  This time of year I also have to add to the list watering the Christmas tree, planning school parties, and getting all the shopping done.  I DO NOT need anything else to remember every night and I would inevitably forget.  Often.

2. That brings me to the second reason - the lies!!  Now don't get me wrong, I love Santa.  I love helping the kids make their lists and shopping for their items.  I love seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning.  However, as the kids get older, it gets more and more difficult to continue the charade.  (In fact, my oldest who is 10, has known the truth for about 2 years now.)  I find myself having to work really hard to spin some serious yarn in an effort to keep the myth going.  Some of the questions I have gotten in the past couple years:
"Why do they do "Toy for Tots, etc.  Doesn't Santa bring toys to the poor kids??" 
"Why can't I get all 271 items on my list??  Santa doesn't have to pay for them because his elves make everything!"
"How come Santa is at this store when my friend said they saw him at that store?"
"Are you sure it's o.k. to put glitter in the reindeer food?  It might be bad for them."

Now, if my kids are already asking questions like these and I am wracking my brain to answer them "correctly," can you imagine what would happen if when I forget to move Mr. Elf or when one of them accidentally touches him???  I simply refuse to set myself up for that kind of drama! 

3. The third reason is that I spend my whole life cleaning up messes - washing laundry, washing dishes,  sorting through paper, picking up toys and shoes, wiping spills...  Why on Earth would I endeavor to create even more messes that I will undoubtedly have to clean up as well?!?!?  Oh, the elf baked cookies and made a big mess with the flour? Who is going to clean up that flour???  Last night he took all the toys out of the toy box??  Who do you think is going to put them back in???  Or maybe he had a marshmallow snowball fight with Barbie.  Who is going to pick up all those marshmallows???  (Well, probably the dog in that case.  But that could lead to an entirely different kind of mess if you know what I mean!)  To me, this sounds like nothing short of torture - spend hours on Pinterest researching ideas, work tirelessly and tediously to set up elf mischief every night for at least 25 nights, then clean up all of those messes myself.  It is just not common sense-ical folks!!!

4. For my fourth reason, I am going to have to get on my soapbox just a bit.  I know a lot of you out there find the whole thing fun and do it for the sake of tradition and, again, that is fantastic.  However, I have also heard many parents rave about how well their children behave during the weeks before Christmas because they know that "Elfie" is watching.  Personally, I have a problem with that.  I don't want my children to behave just because they are afraid of getting in trouble if they don't or just because  they are hoping for big rewards in the end.  I want my children to behave because they know, intrinsically, that it is the right thing to do.  And, I want them to behave this way ALL THE TIME - not only when there is the threat of a psychotic elf looming over their heads.  Am I being a tad over analytical?? Perhaps.  O.K. Probably.  But, that is how I feel.  The first time I heard about the elf that is how it was presented to me - as a way to make your kids behave - and it just left a sour taste in my mouth that I have never forgotten.

5.  The final reason I don't participate is that I refuse to simply succumb to the madness and jump on the bandwagon.  Obviously, I am not a big fan of the Elf.  I can envision it creating much hassle and drama in this household.  However, I have honestly considered doing it because I didn't want my kids to miss out.  I didn't want them to be the only ones who haven't experienced this fun tradition just because their mom was too lazy to do it.  But is it worth the stress and commotion it would surely create??  Are my children going to be permanently scarred if we don't get an elf???  I have decided the answer to both of those questions is "NO!"

**Disclaimer:  I hesitated to post this one for fear that it would offend others and I am sure that I will receive some not so nice comments, but again, I reiterate that I absolutely do not mean this as an insult to anyone who has an elf and loves the elf.  If it works for your family, that is your decision and I completely respect it.  I am not judging; I am simply expressing my point of view.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Big News!!

I have 2 big news items to share with you so no beating around the bush!!

First of all, I'm going to be on T.V.!!!  O.K.  It's not American Idol or anything - just a local morning news show - but it is all because of this blog!  Back in October, I did some research and wrote a blog post about the Christmas Toys that were predicted to be the hottest items this season.  Then, I shared that blog with a local blog for moms called Triad Moms On Main and they ran it on their website.  The ladies that run TMOM frequently work with a local news gal for a twice a week "Mommy Matters" segment.  So, the news gal saw the post on the TMOM site and asked the TMOM girls to bring me and do a segment with her on the news about the toys!!!!  Did you follow all that??  If so, good for you!  If not, no worries.  Basically, I'm going to be on T.V. is all you really need to know.  :-)  It is only a three minute segment that will be on at 9:30 Tuesday morning.  Like I said, not American Idol or anything, but its because of the blog and, let's be honest. a little recognition is always nice! 

Second big news item - I'M GOING TO PARIS!!!!!  (yes - the one in France, not Texas.)  If you follow my blog, it's no secret that my hubby travels for work - a lot.  Well, it just so happens that in a couple weeks he has to go to Paris for a couple business meetings.  And, it just so happens that the week he will be gone coincides with our 14th wedding anniversary.  And, I have the world's best in-laws who are actually kind of excited about staying with our girls for an entire week while we are away.  So, it's kind of like the stars aligned and I just have to go! :-)

Now, if you follow The Golden Spoons on Facebook, you may have seen this election day status:

Well, I got several comments on Facebook and also talked to many friends outside of Facebook and do you know what??  Not one single person said "Don't go!"  In fact, everyone enthusiastically encouraged me to go.  "An opportunity that you can't pass up" and "You'll regret it if you don't" are some of the phrases that were repeated multiple times.  The PTA thing has worked itself out and we won't know about the science fair until Nov. 30, so no need to stress about that now.  Of course, I cannot change Megan's birthday, so that is the one fly in the ointment so to speak.  However, in true Megan fashion, she is taking it all in stride.  She was a little disappointed when we first told her we would not be home on her birthday, but we promised that we are going to celebrate in a big way before we leave and that we will see her through the computer on her birthday and that we will bring her back a very Parisian gift of some sort.  All that seems to have calmed her discomfort.  Although she would rather have us home, she understands and is o.k. with the situation.  Her attitude helps my attitude - I still feel some twinges of guilt, but I know that she understands and that helps ease my conscience.

 So, there you have it - my two big news items!  I'm just a little excited in case you couldn't tell!  ;-) I will try to post a video of the T.V. segment (If I don't bomb it and totally embarrass myself on live T.V.) and I will definitely write a post about Paris!  Hope you are all having good things happen in your lives, too!  Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cookies and Cream Fudge

If you need a new sweet treat recipe to add to your holiday repertoire, here it is!!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to try it with my girls.  It is super easy and super yummy.  Beware, though - it is also super sweet!!  (Even for this sweet toothed gal!)  The ingredients are inexpensive and it makes a lot, so it would also make a great gift for someone special this Christmas!  

Cookies and Cream Fudge

3 cups white chocolate morsels
7 oz. Marshmallow Fluff
14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1tsp clear vanilla
20 Oreos, crushed

In a medium saucepan, melt the white chocolate with the milk.  Add the Marshmallow fluff and stir until smooth.  Add the vanilla (I left this out because I didn't have any clear vanilla - only the brown stuff).  Finally, stir in the crushed Oreos.  Pour the mixture into a foil-lined 13x9 pan and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Cut into pieces and enjoy!!!

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Monday, November 19, 2012


A few years ago, I never would have guessed that horses would become a part of my/our life.  Then, Rachel - our resident animal lover - began asking to take riding lessons.  After about two years of asking, we finally signed her up.  She has been taking lessons for three years now.  After tagging along on trips to the barn for Rachel's lessons, Megan quickly developed an interest and began asking for lessons as well.  She began riding about a year ago in fall 2011.  Both of them truly love it.  They are happy to groom the horses, feed the horses, clean their tack (saddles, bridles, etc.), and don't even seem to mind shoveling up horse poop.

Horseback riding is not an inexpensive sport.  Aside from the basic lesson fees, there is certain equipment that must be purchased including helmets, riding boots, & riding pants.  Fortunately, our girls haven't started doing formal shows yet (although they think they want to).  Participating in formal shows can easily cost as much as $300-500 per kid!!!  Ouch!!!  (We'll put that off as long as humanly possible!)  It also bothers me a bit, to be honest, that my girls don't play team sports. Growing up, I played basketball and softball.  Rachel tried softball for a season and was really good at it, but just didn't enjoy it.  I worry that they will miss out on the whole teamwork and sportsmanship concepts.

On the up side, though, horseback does teach them some good discipline and responsibility. If the horse they are riding relieves himself, guess who cleans it up??  They do!  If they forget to put any of their equipment away properly, they must work it off with an extra chore at their next lesson.  Of course, just being around the horses requires self-control and paying attention so as not to startle the horses.  And, although it doesn't seem to be an "active" sport, it really does require physical effort.  They must use their legs muscles to squeeze and nudge the horse.  They must sit up straight in the saddle.  It requires balance and coordination.  It also demands a certain level of fortitude as they ride outdoors in the extreme heat and the freezing cold.

More than anything, though, it makes them happy.  They love being around the horses (and the dogs and cats at the barn).   They have both made great progress, too, and their dedication is admirable.

Although we don't yet participate in formal shows, the barn where they take lessons hosts an informal show twice a year.  The fall show was this weekend and they both did great.  Megan got a 4th place and a 2nd place ribbon (however we all agree her 4th place should have been higher - we're a little biased, I guess) and Rachel got a 2nd and a 1st place.  Rachel also did a jump for the first time in a show and was supremely proud of that achievement!  Here are some pictures:

Rachel and Pixie - the newest addition to the barn family.  I think Rachel loves her as much as she loves the horses!

Megan and Penelope getting ready for a lesson.

Mac & Davanti.  The girls don't ride these big boys yet, but they sure are pretty!

Leo - He's a gentle giant that the girls do ride occasionally.

Megan on Penelope after the show. 
Rachel on Penelope warming up for the show - look at that smile!

Rachel and Penelope after the show.
I didn't forget about Emily in this post.  She, however has little to no interest in the horses.  When she goes to the barn, her allergies go into overdrive and she is pretty miserable.  Most of the time, she just stays in the car to avoid the seemingly inevitable allergy attack.  Given her nervousness regarding heights, I doubt she would be very happy up in a saddle either.  At the shows, though, she survives with a little help from warm clothes, yummy concessions, and lots of  hugs and kisses from the grandparents!!!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Little Miss Negativity

Remember this character?

Now, remember this one? 
(You can see the original post here.)
I'm naming this one Little Miss Negativity.  You see, Rachel has this not-so-endearing quality of always focusing on the negative things in life.  Even in seemingly happy situations (like trick-or-treating), Rachel seems to find a negative aspect (like having her picture taken) and lets that negativity cast a cloud over the whole thing.  Here are a few other examples:
When we go out to eat, she should enjoy the time with family and be thankful that we can afford to go out.  Instead, though, she always seems to find fault with the service, the lack of vegetarian options on the menu, or the temperature of the restaurant.  Shopping with Rachel is nearly impossible.  Practically every article of clothing is too itchy, too tight, or too uncomfortable in some way.  She always has something negative (read - mean, belittling, harsh) to say about her younger sister, Megan, and can't seem to find any common ground with her lately.  
Monday, the kids were out of school.  Rachel had an orthodontist appointment in the morning.  A friend of hers came over in the afternoon to work on their science project in the afternoon.  Then, at bedtime she discovered her little frog was dead.  As I held her and she cried on my shoulder (literally), she said "Two thirds of this day was terrible!"  "Two thirds?" I asked.  "Yes," she replied.  " The orthodontist ruined the morning and now this has ruined the night."  "Well at least you got some time with M," I said in an attempt to console her.   Her response?  "Well, that was just to do homework."

See what I mean??  Negative, negative, negative.  Each of my girls is so unique and special.  They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, as do we all.  I try very hard to recognize and embrace all of their wonderful and not-so-wonderful gifts.  This particular gift of Rachel's , however, really is about to make us all nuts!  I sincerely hope and pray that this is just another phase she is going through and that she will outgrow it - soon.  And, I am writing this not only to vent, but because I am honestly concerned for her.  As I have told her, there will unfortunately be plenty of negative things in your life - sad things, bad things, make you mad things - but, if you let those things take over and lose sight of any happiness and joy you will surely live a very miserable life.  (And so will those around you.)  Obviously, I don't have the answers or a magical method to change her outlook on life.  For now, I guess we'll just keep plugging along, emphasizing the happy, and, above all else, loving our Little Miss Negativity and all her wonderful, beautiful uniqueness.

Rachel, if/when you read this - SMILE!!!!  Life is beautiful.  You are beautiful.  You are loved more than you could possibly imagine.  You can light up the whole world with your smile if you will just let it shine through! 

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Memories - They USED to get along

I haven't done a Random Memories post in quite a while, but after the past three days, I desperately needed a reminder that it is actually possible for Rachel and Megan to to be in the same room without fighting and - dare I say - maybe even get along with each other.  I started digging through pictures for this post and found these.

The first one was taken in September 2005 when we lived in Nashville, TN.  The second one was taken a few months later - April 2006, I think.  We were heading out to a live Dora show.  The girls both liked Dora back then and they were excited about going to the show.  See their matching outfits?  It is entirely coincidental that they were wearing them in both pictures.  I really have never dressed them alike very often and that would absolutely NEVER happen now.

In the first one, Rachel is hugging Megan (as opposed to choking her) and they are both smiling.
I love how Megan is looking up to Rachel in the second picture.  It is the epitome of the big sister/little sister relationship - or at least how it should be.  Ahhhh, memories!

Will it ever be this way again??  I hope so, but, after this weekend, I have my doubts! :-(

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Silent Treatment

Last week, after "The Kitten Incident", I posted this as my status on my personal Facebook page:

"Getting the silent treatment from my oldest tonight. First time of many, I'm sure. I should probably be upset, but I'm kind if enjoying the quiet. ;)"

With three daughters, I am no stranger to emotional ups and downs, mood swings, and drama.  However, the silent treatment was a new one for me.  Rachel was upset that I had given the kitten to someone else and that I did not trust her to care for the kitten herself.  After we handed the kitten off, Rachel continued to cry as we made a mad dash to Emily's dance class and Rachel's gymnastics class.  When I picked her up from the gym, it was obvious that she was still harboring feelings of bitterness.  I asked her how her class went; she turned her head away silently.  I asked where they wanted to go grab dinner; she gave no response.  When we sat down at the fast food restaurant for a quick bite (please don't judge), she chose to seat herself at a separate table.  A couple of times while we ate, she deliberately addressed Megan and Emily but not me.  This type if thing continued up until bedtime.  After putting the other two girls to bed, I made my way to Rachel's room.  When I walked in, she was already in bed.  She rolled over, so as not to look in my direction, and pulled the covers over her head. I simply said, "I understand that you are upset and I am sorry that you are sad.  Just know that I love you more than you could possibly understand.  Sleep tight and I will see you in the morning." 

The next day, the girls happened to be out of school for a teacher workday and it also happened to be Halloween.  Rachel did actually speak to me, yet she made every effort to avoid me as much as possible.  As evidenced by her Halloween picture, she was fairly unhappy for pretty much the whole day.

I suppose I could have viewed the whole thing as disrespectful and become angry myself.  But that would have only escalated the drama.  On the other hand, I could have let it hurt my feelings that Rachel was mad at me.  But, I'm her mother, not her BFF.  So, I basically just took it all in stride and let it run its course.  To tell you the truth, I was pretty proud of myself for not getting too worked up over it.  After the crazy afternoon, the rush to get everyone to their extracurriculars, and then the silent drama, I guess I was just too tired to care.  Hopefully, the next time - and I am positive there will be a next time - I will be able to maintain my composure again and just enjoy the quiet!

Have your kids ever given you the silent treatment??  How did you handle it??  I would love to get some comments from others on this one!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

This year, the kids happened to be out of school on Halloween for a teacher workday because it was the end of the first grading period.  It seemed like a perfect time to carve our jack-o-lantern.  (It may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that a certain slacker mom hadn't carved - or even purchased - a pumpkin before this day.  Just sayin'~)  Megan and Emily were very excited and eager to help.  Rachel, apparently, had better things to do.

So, we got our pumpkin - a big one.  We chose a face, printed a stencil, and traced it on.

Then, we got to work cutting an opening and scooping out the "pumpkin guts."

Next, I got to work carving while the girls looked on and snagged my camera.

 Here is our finished masterpiece!!  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
Later, of course, it was time for trick-or-treating.   Before we left the house, I took the typical picture on the front steps.  Rachel, who was just thrilled about having her picture taken, was a witch this year.  Megan was a monarch butterfly and Emily was Rapunzel. 
 This year, we went to our community's "Trunk or Treat" event that took place on the streets right around the girls' elementary school and is hosted by a few local churches, the police department, and the fire department.  It was a little chilly, but the girls had a lot of fun!

Hope all of you had a Happy Halloween, too!!!

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