Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Show and Tell

I made a few gifts for Christmas this year, which really cut into my blogging time, and now it's time for show and tell!

Amelia, Isaac, Daddy, Alex and Sam ~ Christmas 2011

All of the kids got these cozy fleece blankets. Amelia helped me make the boys' as her gift to them. I chose to sew the two layers of fleece together and not tie the fringe in knots since the boys would be sleeping with them. It doesn't feel good to roll over on those knots!

Jeff continued his tradition of wanting nothing, which makes him hard to buy for. So, I made him a date book. It's not a calendar date book, but rather a book of 12 suggested dates for us to go on, one for each month. I included some gift certificates or a little cash where the decision was up to him, so most of the dates are at least partly prepaid.

I made this from cardstock, used a hole punch, and tied the whole thing together with ribbon.

Inside, each pocket is made from two pieces of cardstock, embellished with stickers or clip art.

I wrote a note to go with each one, giving details on the date. This one is for a round of golf, but I wanted Jeff to be able to choose the course. The note also explains that this date includes lunch and a beer at the clubhouse or the location of his choice.

The date book was fun to make, and both of us are looking forward to using it!

I failed to take pictures of this project, but I made two photo booklets out of cardstock. I folded the cardstock and attached photos of the kids each holding a letter to spell out the word "LOVE." (It's on our Christmas card, too, but those are just going in the mail, so I won't share that photo here, yet!) I framed a set of those pictures as a gift, too.

I always enjoy making a few things, and it is always time well spent. Even if it is spent at midnight on Christmas morning!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today was my birthday. I am now the same age my mother was when she had my twin sister and I. When she called she said, "Just think, you could be having twins right now."

I said, "And I'd be having a heart attack at the same time." I think I've done my duty on the multiples front, thank you very much.

Since it was my big day I got to sleep in until 8. I got to eat a hot meal without getting up once. And I was absolved from all "wiping" duty.

That alone made it a great day.

But on top of that, I got a plate of hugs and kisses pancakes for breakfast:

How cute are these? Amelia helped Daddy make them.

Later I got flowers and we had ice cream cake. I'm sure in a few years one of those cakes won't last 15 minutes around here, but I had to share this one with the neighbors!

Jeff and I celebrated with a nice meal out last night, so I really got to celebrate twice.

I finished the day with a phone call to my twin sister and a relatively peaceful bedtime for the kids.

All day there were happy birthday calls, cards and Facebook messages from friends and family.

All in all it was a pretty nice way to usher in a new decade of life.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

House Headaches

My advice to you at 11:26 on December 29 is this: Never, ever have anything in your house fixed. Ever.

That is all.

Thank you.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Favorites

Christmas with a five-year-old and three three-year-olds was LOUD!
It was magical and fun and crazy, but mostly, loud.

Really, really loud.

All day.

With no nap. (Unless you count the one I took when I laid down on the living room floor for a minute and fell asleep. Santa's elves need their rest the day after Christmas, you know.)

These are the kids' favorite things about Christmas 2011:

I hope your day was as wonderful as ours!
© Trippin' Mama 2011

Whew! Santa's Magic Is Hard Work

The magic of Christmas certainly is a lot of work! It's all done now, thank heavens.

The kids went to bed with a minimum of over-excitedness about tomorrow. Although Isaac did tell Daddy he didn't want to snuggle, "Because I'm falling asleep so Santa can come."

As soon as the kids were snug in their beds, this Santa laid down on the couch for a power nap. Ahhh! Gave me the boost I needed to finish making one last gift.

Then Santa came, stuffed stockings, ate cookies, and left presents.

Now for a semi-random sidebar. (Since it is after midnight, I think I'm allowed. It can be your gift to me.) Tonight I realized that one of the ways I know I'm turning into my mother is that I was surprised to find the occasional new gift bow in my box. Most of my bows have no sticky back on them because they've been re-used, probably more than once. Don't worry, I'm not planning to save the wrapping paper tomorrow!

We had our festive meal tonight, which means I can relax on the big day. The beef tenderloin and burgundy mushrooms were amazing. The Milky Way cake which we made for Jesus' birthday didn't quite live up to the hype, but it was still good.

My fellow Clausian has wandered off to bed, and so I go, too. I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Count your blessings today, and don't forget the greatest blessing of all: The birth of the Christ child, who came to save us all.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Homemade Gifts Are The Best Gifts

Homemade gifts really are the best gifts.

But they eat up all the blogging time. Mine AND someone else's, the way things are going around here.

I can't spill the beans on the best gift right now, but the teachers and the bus driver got hot chocolate truffles (recipe to come) and people in Jeff's office got some gorgeous goodie boxes.

Clockwise from top left: Crockpot candies, peppermint meringues, spritz cookies, and gingerbread carmels.

The kids are each getting an easy-to-make-but-still-takes-time fleece blanket. Amelia has helped with the boys' blankets, so that's her gift to them. She helped pick out her fabric, so it won't really be a surprise...except that it is actually done and under the tree.

I'll post pics of all the projects later.

For now, it's off to bed to rest up for the big rush tomorrow!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sweet Christmas Fun

Sunday we decorated our graham cracker "gingerbread" houses with friends.

The results? SWEET!

We all had a blast, the kids ate entirely too much candy, and the final creations were real works of art, some of which weighed a good five pounds. (I'm looking at you, Taylor!)

Check out the pics of all the fun we had:

This is a great activity with the kiddos. I wasn't sure the boys were ready to be turned loose with a bag full of icing, but they managed pretty well.

I made the graham cracker houses in advance using royal icing. My tip is to build the house right on the underside of your paper plate. It's easier to keep things square and together.

Give them a couple hours to dry, and turn the kids loose.

Have fun!
© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Almost Christmas!

See, Santa, we HAVE been nice!

Sam, Santa, Isaac, Amelia and Alex ~ Christmas 2011

This is the first year that Sam hasn't screamed in terror. And actually sitting on Santa's lap, as opposed to trying to claw your way out of your mother's arms while she stands next to him is REALLY big progress.

Fortunately no one asked for anything that surprised mom and dad, except Alex, who has upgraded his request for a stuffed turtle to a request for a live one. That's not going to happen.

(If a live turtle comes to our door because I wrote this, I'll hunt the giver down and we'll have something else stuffed--and mounted--in this house.)

One week and counting!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

From My Kitchen: Peppermint Meringues

If you're looking for an alternative to all the chocolate and nuts that dot the holiday baking landscape, (not that I have anything against nuts and chocolate!) check out these peppermint meringues. They will add a little variety to  the goodie platter. These are light and crisp, but melt in your mouth. The recipe came from

These are fast to make, but slow to bake. It takes two and a half hours at 200 degrees. But a great treat for minimal effort.

Here's the recipe:

Peppermint Meringues

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about one addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about two minutes longer. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract; beat to blend, about one minute.
Dot coloring over surface of meringue; do not stir (the coloring will form red and white swirls when piped). Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip. Or, if you're like me, you'll spoon it into a plastic freezer bag, then cut off one corner. Twist top and pipe one-inch rounds onto prepared sheet, about one inch apart.
Bake meringues until dry, about two and a half hours. Let cool completely, about one hour (meringues will crisp as they cool).
Meringues will keep about two days. Store in an airtight container at room temperature between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.
© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Christmas Countdown Begins

We're 10 days away from Christmas, so there will be no more goofing off around here. (I'm looking at you, Gus!)

There are presents to be wrapped, cookies to bake (cutouts with the kids -- it's a two person job), graham cracker gingerbread houses to be made (a fun activity with friends for this weekend), and a few Christmas presents to finish making. Yes, making. Because I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. And cheap.

I still have to get my Christmas cards sent, despite the fact that I had them in hand before Thanksgiving. I told you I still wouldn't get them out early! It's just not who I am.

Amelia's kindergarten Christmas program was tonight, and the Little Gingerbread Boy was pretty amusing. One of Amelia's classmates was sick, so she filled in as a snowflake in the chorus. She looked a little overwhelmed during the play, but was beaming from ear to ear when it was over.

Off to do the work of a thousand elves...

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordful Wednesday: When Good Parents Go Bad

This year I caved and bought an Elf on the Shelf. It is equal parts fun and a royal pain.

We parked Gus, our elf, on the mantel the first day and the kids knew that if he was truly magic they would find him in a different place.

Amelia shot out of bed at 6:20 a.m. the next morning and checked the mantel. "He's magic! He's magic!"
Of course, like most Christmas magic, this requires mom and dad to remember that they have to do something. Something in addition to the million other things that have to be done day-to-day and especially this time of year.

We've had Gus a week and things have already gone a bit south. One night I had to get up after I went to bed to move him.

And one morning I had to hustle down the hallway ahead of the kids, grab the elf and hastily shove him into a new spot.

He's done nothing creative so far, despite the gazillions of fun Elf ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere online. (Frankly, I don't want to set the bar too high.)

But tonight, Gus got really out of hand. I walked into the kitchen after the kids were asleep and found this, courtesy of Dad:

There's really nothing else to say, is there?

P.S.: The kids did NOT find Gus in this position the next morning. It was solely for my benefit and Dad's amusement.
Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at Seven Clown Circus.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lesson of the Donkey

Every year a church near our house does a nativity production, complete with live animals.

We walked over to see the camels in their pen outside, and when we got there the pen was empty, so we peeked inside the church.

We found all the animals lined up for a final rehearsal, and we sat down in the nearly empty church to watch.

The music was beautiful, the angels danced magnificently, the shepherds all entered on cue, and the child portraying Baby Jesus didn't cry once. But the donkey was a different story.

The donkey refused to walk down the aisle.

His handler coaxed. He pulled. He prodded. He pushed.

He got nowhere.

We chuckled, but it made me think.

How many of us are like that donkey? How many of us are too weighed down by material things and too overburdened to want to take part in the miracle of this season? How many of us must be prodded to celebrate the wondrous birth of Jesus?

I have had my moments this season when I've found I'm trying to carry too much, to do too much. And I know that it keeps me from celebrating the glory.

If there's so much weighing on you that you can't enjoy the season, let go. Put down some of your burdens so you can revel in the true meaning of Christmas and go forth with joy.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
    ~ Luke 2:11 (KJV)
© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From My Kitchen: Gingerbread Carmels

I meant to blog this on Friday, but Jeff and I had an actual date that night. So there just wasn't time to post in between getting gussied up and trying to make the sitter's job easy enough that she'll come back again.

I made these for the first time last week, and they instantly went on my "must make" list of Christmas goodies. They are delicious.

I went looking for a recipe when my sister Judy said she'd bought some gingerbread carmels somewhere and loved them. I found the recipe at A Crafty Lass. She's apparently tinkered with Martha Stewart's recipe, which I haven't tasted, but Crafty Lass's results are yum, yum, yummy! I thank her for bringing these into my life.

Here's the recipe:

Gingerbread Carmels
Makes about 12 dozen

2 pints heavy cream
2 cups light corn syrup
4 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
½ cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Coat a 12x17 rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line it with parchment paper leaving a 2-inch overhang on the short sides of the sheet. Lightly spray the parchment with cooking spray.
In a large pot (LARGE! This stuff expands.) over high heat, add the heavy cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high, stirring frequently, allowing it to reach a temperature of 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. This took about 25 minutes. Be sure to stay close once you've reach about 230 degrees. It goes fast from there.
Meanwhile, stir together the salt and spices in a small bowl. As soon as the caramel reaches 248 degrees, take it off the heat and stir in the spices and vanilla carefully as it might spatter a bit. Stir the caramel continuously for 30 seconds to incorporate the spices into it, making sure there aren't any pockets of spice hiding. Pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet. (Crafty Lass says she scrapes the pan although Martha says not to. I did NOT scrape the pan, because I really, really didn't want these to sugar. They came out perfect.)
Allow the caramel to set for 24 hours without moving it.
Place a large cutting board over the baking sheet and flip it over. Peel the parchment off of the caramel and discard. With a large sharp knife, cut the caramel into 1-inch wide strips and then cut each strip into bite-sized pieces. Cut wax paper into approximately 3x3 squares and wrap each caramel in it. The caramels will keep for at least a month.

Let me just say, these carmels won't keep for a month in my house! And when I made them I failed to read all the way to the end of the recipe. So that part where it says not to move the pan for 24 hours? Well, my carmels would have been full of little finger holes if I hadn't moved them. They still turned out fine.

I'm nearing the end of my Christmas baking frenzy, and I'll have another recipe or two to share from my goodie making soon. In the meantime, grab your candy thermometer and make these. They aren't difficult, and they are absolutely worth the time.


© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's All In How You Look At It

Tonight was one of those nights. I ran to the pharmacy for 20 minutes, and the boys were all in full-on meltdown when I got home.
They didn't want Daddy. They ALL wanted Mommy. Which was frustrating for Jeff and challenging for me, too.

Sometimes it's frustrating not to have enough arms to go around.

Eventually everyone started to calm down and I wound up snuggling in bed with Isaac and Alex while Jeff and Amelia settled Sam down.

As I lay there I thought about how hard it is when they all want to be on mom's lap or held in my arms ALONE. I get so frustrated when I want to help everyone, but none of them want to share me.

Then the Isaac and Alex drifted off, their heads on my shoulders. I heard Amelia and Jeff laughing softly with Sam in the next room, and it hit me.

As upset as I may be that I don't have enough arms or lap to go around, I am far more grateful that my arms and my lap are overflowing.

Sometimes it's all in how you look at it.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wrapped Around His Finger

Isaac has developed a habit of coming into Mommy and Daddy's bed in the wee hours of the morning. It started when he was sick with a high fever just before Thanksgiving, and he kept waking up feeling miserable.

Usually this happens when he gets sick, but it tapers off pretty quickly. Not this time. And now he's even doing the boomerang: coming back a second time after I have returned him to his bed once.

So today I asked Isaac why he keeps coming to Mommy's bed at night. He looked me right in the eye, smiled and said, "I just want to snuggle you Mommy."

My heart melted, of course, but I tried to stay strong.

"I like to snuggle you, too, buddy, but we can snuggle before bedtime and in the morning. What's waking you up?"

"There's a monster under my bed," Isaac said.

"There are no monsters in my house," I told him.

Then he said, "There IS a monster. But it's okay. He's nice. He tells me to go see my mommy."

What am I supposed to do with that?

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

About That Pocket

Last night I was moving clothes from the washer to the dryer when I came across something that jingled.

It was a pair of little boy underwear.

I shook them a couple times, and it was clear that someone was storing change in the "pocket."

I fished around in there and found seven cents.

Must be someone's lucky underwear!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Daddy arrived home this weekend. He was jetlagged, but glad to be home. Of course, he wasn't half as glad to be home as I was to have him here!

We spent a pretty quiet Sunday as a family, and then it was life as usual today. That included the typical mayhem.

Sam, Isaac and Alex were playing in their room. It was cold and rainy, and they really, really wanted to jump on the beds, which is a no-no. But since we couldn't go out I decided to indulge them a bit, and put a mattress on the floor for them to jump on.

I told them they could only jump on the mattress on the floor, and I left the room. (I know, I know. What was I thinking!?)

A short while later I heard suspicious noises from the bedroom. I came down the hallway to find all three boys standing on top of the dresser, poised to jump onto the mattress on the floor.

"Absolutely NOT!" I yelled. "Get down right now!"

And they all jumped.

That wasn't what I had in mind.

So I had to add another rule to the long list around here: "No standing on the dresser. Ever. For any reason."

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daddy's In 'Pain and Mommy's Tired

It has been a long week. Apparently the moon was in a weird phase or something was rising in the house of Mercury or whatever yesterday because according to the griping on Facebook, everyone's kids had a challenging day. It certainly was true here.

I was so tired by the time everyone was in bed that I couldn't even open the wine, and it was a screw cap!

But tomorrow is Friday, and Friday not only brings a visit from Aunt Judy, but it marks the end of a week of doing this whole parenting gig as a solo act. 

As Alex keeps telling people, "Daddy's in 'pain."

Don't worry, no injuries here. Daddy's actually in SPAIN.

Jeff's been gone all week, and wow do we miss him! The first night Amelia cried at bedtime. The second night Sam cried that he "needed a grownup." When I pointed out that I was a grownup he replied with tears, "I need two grownups!" Oh, so sad!

Yesterday both Alex and Isaac struggled. "When's Daddy coming home?" "Why is he in 'pain?"

And me? I've struggled every day. Jeff is really in the trenches with me around here, helping with cleanup, baths, pajamas, teeth brushing, bedtime and everything that goes into running the house. That's VERY evident when he's not here and I have to face an hour of cleanup and chores after I get everyone to bed.

Hence, my exhaustion.

My hat is off to everyone who does this on their own day in and day out, and my appreciation of the sacrifices military families make has gone up tenfold in the last five days. We would all be a mess if Daddy wasn't coming home for months.

We are grateful Daddy will be home soon, and we're ALL counting down the hours until he gets here!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Liquid Nails To The Rescue

Today I had to get out the Liquid Nails to reattach the front of the false drawer in the top of the vanity in the kids' bathroom.

Now I've complained more than once about the damage my boys can do and have done, but this came courtesy of sweet Amelia.

I was on the phone, of course, and she came out of the bathroom and handed me the drawer front.

"Here," she said, matter-of-factly. "I forgot this wasn't a real drawer."

Then she turned around and walked away while I stood there dumbfounded. Really? You forgot it wasn't a drawer? And you pulled hard enough to break it?


I may be an expert handyperson by the time I get these kids raised!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Today marks the beginning of Advent. It is a time of preparation for a celebration of the greatest Gift of all. This morning in his sermon, our priest reflected on the Advent hymn, "My Soul in Stillness Waits."

The song begins: "For you oh Lord, my soul in stillness waits. Truly, my hope is in you."

His comment was, "Really? In stillness? Is there any stillness in this season anymore?"

He presented a good question. How can we prepare ourselves for the true meaning of Christmas if there is no stillness? And how do we find that stillness?

So today, we started Advent here at home, and we will try to give the season its due instead of rushing toward Christmas.

I set out the Advent wreath and we read a prayer and lit the candles. We brought out the small manger and the pile of hay so the kids each can put one piece of hay a day in the manger to make a nice bed for the Baby Jesus.

Later I brought out their Christmas stockings and we talked about how Christmas was coming, but we had to get ready for the Baby Jesus. And yes, Santa came up, but that's OK, he's part of our Christmas celebration. My kids all know that we celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas, and Santa brings us gifts to help celebrate Jesus' birth.

The kids' soft nativity is out, and they are busy playing with it. I despair of ever being able to find all the pieces come Christmas, but that's OK, too. That's just how a house full of busy little people explores and understands this wondrous season.

Finally, we started our Advent tradition of unwrapping and reading a special Christmas book. Every year I wrap up all of our Christmas books, some of which are about Jesus and some of which are about Santa Claus and gingerbread houses. I save "Twas the Night Before Christmas" for Christmas Eve, marking it by wrapping it in special paper.

Every night of Advent the kids take turns choosing a book to unwrap, and we read it together. I have about 20 books now, and I will fill in the gaps by borrowing a few from the library. I just have to make sure we open those first in case they need to go back! (Note to self: Wrap ALL library books in the same kind of paper.) Tonight's book was "Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale" by Martin Waddell.

We'll get to the cookies and the tree and all the other pieces of Christmas eventually, but for now, we're trying to find a little stillness in which to prepare ourselves.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Too Many Cooks? No Way!

The kids told me they wanted to help make Thanksgiving dinner, so I let them. And we completely disproved the old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth.

First we stirred...
Sam, Isaac and Amelia help Mama stir the stuffing.

Then we mashed...
Alex concentrates on his task, with tongue out!

and tasted...

...and our meal got rave reviews all the way around!
 Sam gives Mama a high five!

Even our "owl" (as Alex kept calling the turkey) was a big hit. 
© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As we gathered around the table to enjoy the feast we ALL helped prepare, I asked everyone what they were grateful for.

Amelia: Our food and drink.

Isaac: Silverware

Sam: Stuffing

Alex: Mashed potatoes

Mom & Dad: Each of our children and each other.

It was a great day, and a far cry from last year's pukefest that eventually took all of us down. And, I even remembered to put sugar in the pie this time!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

It's the night before my favorite holiday of all time. My rolls are baked, my last pie just came out of the oven, and my squash is ready to be dressed up a bit before it's warmed up again.

My kids are excited to help tomorrow. Sam wants to make the stuffing, Amelia and Alex are all about the mashed potatoes, and Isaac just wants to help! I've tried to do enough prep work so we can all work together tomorrow, which I know will take more time than doing it myself. (I also know that it will be a lot more fun, at least until someone dumps 10 pounds of mashed potatoes on the floor.)

I want to enjoy Thanksgiving. I want to revel in my many, many blessings. I do NOT want to go shopping, and I resent the retailers who are trying to shove a consumeristic Christmas down our throats with ever earlier Black Friday hours -- now even infringing on Thanksgiving Day.

I love a bargain, but I don't love the idea that Thanksgiving is becoming another shopping day in the rush to get to Christmas.

So as you enjoy this Thanksgiving, I hope you are blessed with a chance to simply relax and give thanks for all you have, rather than rushing around to acquire more.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He Chopped It!

Sweet, devilish Isaac.

As usual, he had trouble falling asleep the other night. As he often does, he got out and wandered into the living room where he usually finds his mommy and daddy. 

Only he didn't find us there. Jeff was in the shower. I was in the family room folding laundry and talking to Grandma Alice.

Instead, he found a pair of scissors.

Yep. You guessed it. He did a number on his hair.

Now, I must confess that I didn't actually notice his self-styled 'do until about noon the next day. Isaac was cursed with his mama's cowlicks and as I rarely brush the boys' hair it usually looks a little crazy.

(They are boys. I can get away without daily brushing, so I do! Something's gotta give around here.) 

Anyway, at first I thought Isaac had slept on his hair funny so the cowlicks were wilder than usual. Then I realized he had almost a bald spot on top of his head.

Since I had no idea he'd gotten his hands on a pair of scissors, I couldn't work out what had happened.

But it sure looked like a chop job.

So I asked Isaac if he had cut his hair. He said, "Yes."

I couldn't figure out when it had happened or how. When I let the boys have scissors I watch them like a hawk. If I didn't I would inevitably find curtains in tatters or a piece of furniture shredded beyond recognition.

Then suddenly I realized that he was in our kid-free zone unsupervised.

Aha! He fessed up that it happened in the front room the night before.

I fixed it up a bit today by cutting the front super short all the way across. I can't do much about the bald spot, but in two weeks it will be grown out enough to fix without a total buzz cut. I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

Against all odds this happened after our photo shoot and long enough before Christmas that it won't be obvious in any of those pictures either.

I followed the Mom Code and lectured him about how scissors are only for paper as I tried to fix the damage. When I was done he said, "THOSE scissors are for hair."

Then I had to start all over again by explaining that only Mommy and Miss Brooke use scissors on hair.

I think he got it. But just to be safe I moved my haircutting scissors to the top shelf of the linen closet.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Drowning In Kids' Stuff!

Is there a person out there with kids who doesn't have major organizational issues? I'm talking about managing the stuff, not the matter of trying to retain enough sanity to keep everything straight in my head. (That's a whole separate issue, and much harder to deal with!)
The outdoor toys have pushed Jeff's car out of the garage. Our closets and basement storage are stacked with bins of clothes that are outgrown and waiting to be sold or that don't fit yet, but will. And don't even get me started on the toys. I swear those things multiply, but only the crappy plastic ones.

The first solution to this problem is to watch what comes into the house. Check.

Next, purge ruthlessly. Check.

Still too much stuff? (i.e. a car that won't fit in the garage thanks to four bikes, a Coupe Car, a Choo-Choo wagon, a triplet stroller, a trike, two scooters and a bin full of balls, bats and Frisbees.) Check, check and check!

So, we had this built:

I'd call it a mini-barn, but it's pretty darn big. The kids call it The Barn, and they were so excited when it was being built. The minute it was done they took it over. I don't think they were too happy when they realized it wasn't a playhouse. 

As we watched them play, we briefly considered installing a few bunks and letting them have it.

Tempting as that was, we decided to keep them in the house and move our things out to The Barn. So I've spent a lot of the last week purging, repacking and moving things out of the house. Any day now I'll be able to create a craft area in the basement and Jeff will be able to put his car in the garage.

And that, my friends, will be a major victory.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writer's Workshop: An Asymmetrical Fashion Statement

It was 1989, my junior prom. I was on the planning committee and our theme was "When I'm with You." I found myself a date, and that just left the dress.

Oh, the dress!

A LOT of planning went into that dress. My mom, who is a real seamstress, sewed it for me, and that meant it was sewn to order. I liked this skirt, those sleeves, that accent. She put them all together and it was awesome.

It was green satin, with green and black plaid satin accents. The skirt was asymmetrical, longer in back than in front, and we (by "we" I mean, my mom) lined it with the plaid fabric. What can I say? It was the late eighties. We were taking our fashion cues from the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Madonna in her early days!

The off-the shoulder sleeves were plaid with bows, and a plaid bow also accented the drop waist. I wore it with fingerless black lace gloves. (Thank you Madonna for that small bit of atrociousness.)
My mom even made my date a bow tie and cummerbund to match. We were stylin'!

That dress was fun, it was original, and I loved wearing it. And because I love all of you so much, I'm sharing the official prom photo:

That guy next to me? Well I've been married to him for more than 17 years now. Honey, I sincerely apologize for sharing this photo. But wow, don't we look young!

In fact, Amelia just came by as I was typing this. She examined the photo carefully before deciding with was Mom and Dad. Then she told me that I was really little in that picture. "And not so skinny now." Um, ouch.

Then she added, "What's up with Dad's hair? I guess he had more than he has now." Um, ouch again.

Thank you for your brutal honesty, Amelia. Now go clean your room while mama revisits the eighties for a while.
This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.
Mama’s Losin’ It

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Could Be A Holiday Annoyance

We had our family pictures taken the end of October. Not because I planned ahead, but because I got an email from a photographer who had taken our pictures before offering a deal for a photo shoot the end of October.

I got my photo CD the other day, and about that time I got a 40 percent off coupon for Christmas cards from Shutterfly. I love a bargain, so I hopped online, plunked a few photos in a card template, got the thumbs up from the hubs and ordered our cards. Again, this wasn't good planning on my part, more sheer dumb luck.

Today I got an email saying the cards will be here tomorrow, and it occurred to me that I could be one of those annoying people whose Christmas cards arrive in the mail the day after Thanksgiving.

I probably won't be, given the whole letter-writing, addressing and stamping tasks that would require in the next few days, but for the record, I could!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh, How Far We've Come!

Friday night I went to help a fellow triplet mom whose little ones are almost six months old. Another triplet mom and I helped with bathtime, the evening bottle and tucking them into their cribs.

I couldn't help but marvel at how far we've come. And at how much easier it seemed to deal with six-month-olds who didn't talk back, stomp their feet or scream about not wanting to go to bed.

Of course, I've slept a full night or two since our boys were six months old. When they were that little, sleep was still at a premium, so it certainly didn't seem easy at the time! Now it seems easier than the rambunctious chaos that reigns around here these days.
Here's my gang at 6 months old. Isaac, Sam and Alex.

The mama of the little ones is doing a great job. She just hasn't had a decent night's sleep or a chance to sit down in six months, and she was going a little crazy. We welcomed her to the club.

I do remember that one of the hardest things about the first year was that things changed so fast I could hardly keep up. Just when I thought I had things figured out, something changed. Time to move to a four-hour feeding schedule, time to start feeding solids, teething, crawling, WALKING!

These days the changes are fewer and further between. Still, I can hardly keep up with them -- the storm of questions, the testing of boundaries, the sheer physical energy.

I guess some things about this mom of multiples gig never change!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Challenge

"Your example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."

                               ~ Albert Schweitzer

Tonight I went to a philanthropy dinner in my role as board vice president for a non-profit. One of the speakers used this quote.

It is a challenge and a yardstick for all of us.

Especially as parents.

I often fail to be the example I would like to be for my children. Yes, I'm human and I will make mistakes, but I need to be much more cognizant that what I do influences my children.

I will be carrying this quote around with me for a while to remind me of that.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The House of Mouse (Again!)

If you've been reading for any length of time, you know I've had more than one run-in with rodents. There was the dust-bunny mouse, the "welcome to your cabin" mouse (a story I still need to tell), and last year's dead squirrel in the leaf pile. Oh, and the bat we caught in our first house. I need to share that story too, since I know you only come here for my epic battles with rodentia.

So yesterday when I found mouse poop in the basement, I immediately got the heebie jeebies. Jeff baited the traps and this morning I ventured down to throw some laundry in, prepared to see a mouse dead in one of the two traps.

Instead, both traps were missing.

Um...what the?

I texted Jeff: "Where did you set the mouse traps?"

He responded: "In the usual places."

I texted back: "They are both missing. Have I mentioned recently how glad I am that you're the boy?"

Hunting for a mouse half dead in a trap it has dragged into a corner is DEFINITELY a boy job.

When Jeff got home he informed me it wasn't a job he was too thrilled about either. I informed him that I gave birth to four children--girl job. Half dead mouse--boy job. That's tough to argue with.

He looked around a bit and found one empty trap. Then he came upstairs with the news that when he shined his flashlight between the boxes under the stairs he could hear the mouse rattling a trap.

"I birthed your children," I responded.

Then I started to wonder just how big this bleeping mouse was to get caught in the trap, drag it all the way under the stairs and still be alive?

Jeff took care of the bugger, and he was apparently pretty big, since he had his HEAD caught in the trap (and not a humane trap, sorry folks) and it didn't kill him.

More heebie jeebies.

We caught a second, smaller mouse tonight, and Jeff will be outside with the caulk tomorrow.

Here's hoping I won't have to play the birth card too many more times.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Blizzard of Toddlers

5:30 a.m. and three small boys are awake. I hate daylight savings time.

Misguided solution: Bring them to my bed.

If one toddler in the bed looks like this (so true!):

Photo credit: Pinterest

Then three toddlers in the bed is a blizzard of epic proportions.

I haven't been that uncomfortable since I was 36 weeks pregnant with triplets and had to walk around the bed and shove my hubby over if I wanted to lay on my other side.

A short night made for a long day. Long, as in at 11 a.m. I offered my children the option of an early nap or an early death. They wisely chose the former.

Here's hoping there are no little people in my bed before 7 a.m. tomorrow.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Traditions Will You Create?

This is the time of year when life suddenly seems to go on fast forward, doesn't it? I always feel like there's not enough time in the day, and with the Christmas ads already out and even some Christmas music in the air, it's hard not to feel the crunch.

But just like last year, I'm pledging to not let it all take me over. I want to keep things simple and enjoy the holidays with my family, starting with Thanksgiving.

Earlier this year Jeff and I went to a marriage retreat at our church. One of the lessons I took away was to be deliberate in creating memories and traditions with your family. The speaker's point was that most of what we do, we do without thinking. He encouraged us to be deliberate, to think about what was important to us as individuals, as a couple and as a family. Then choose to create traditions that reflect that.

This week we will be packing a couple bags with groceries for our church's Thanksgiving food drive. It's important to us to help others, and to teach our kids to be grateful for what they have. At five, Amelia already understands that not everyone has enough to eat, and she enjoys taking things to the food pantry to help others.

We are already talking about everyone helping make Thanksgiving dinner. The kids can't wait to help mash the potatoes. I know it would be easier for me to mash the potatoes myself, but I love the idea of everyone working together to make the feast. It's a little bit the idea that the journey is half the fun.

I also want to do a thankful tree or turkey craft where we write or draw what we are thankful for on the leaves or the feathers. I once read an article about the importance of teaching our children gratitude. It helps them be more compassionate and less self-absorbed. Those are great lessons in my book!

How about you? What traditions will you create this year? Share your ideas so we can all be inspired!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Early Birthday Distraction

I got my birthday present a little early this year, and it is proving to be a distraction. Instead of blogging, I've got my head in the manual and my fingers on the buttons of this little beauty:


Oh, yes. I've upgraded to digital SLR, and I am loving it!

The gift was early because there was a good sale and because my birthday falls the week after Christmas. It would be a great gift anytime, but poor timing to open a new camera after all of the holiday pictures have been taken.

I figure I've taken more than 10,000 photos with my little Canon Elph point and shoot. It's a great little camera, but frankly, I've pretty much worn it out.
My goal now is to really learn the ins and outs of this camera so I can use it fully, and maybe even take a photography class or two in the coming year. It would be a great excuse to leave the house once in a while. And if I'm going to take 10,000 photos in three years, they should be the best I can take, right?

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday Whiplash

It was the morning after Halloween.

Sam snuggled up on my lap before breakfast.

The sugar high hadn't even worn off yet, and I was still tired. Though we didn't know it, a whole day of fits and struggles thanks to too much sugar and not enough sleep lay ahead of us.

Sam looked up at me with a gleam in his eye.

"Mama," he said, "Now it's almost Christmas!"

Lord, help me.

At least he waited until Halloween was actually over before he moved on to Christmas, unlike the retailers.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween Redux

We started the evening with four pirates.

Alex, Isaac, Sam and Amelia ~ Halloween 2011

But we wound up with three pirates and a "pirate princess."

Amelia, Isaac and some neighborhood kids

That girl's like Madonna -- lots of costume changes. The same thing happened last year.
The theme of the night was "Open this." I am amazed that no one puked before the evening was over. They all ate so much junk!

Bedtime was a little rough, and today was no treat either. Seems that not all the monsters come out on Halloween. Not all of them are pint-sized either!

Here are some of the fun decorations we made for Halloween. The ideas all came from Pinterest.

There were paper plate ghosts:

Milk jug ghosts that we used to line our walkway. I put battery-operated tea lights in them.

And my favorite, these footprint ghosts:

Here's a close up. So cute!

Halloween was fun, but I'm glad it's over!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo to You!

Sorry for the hiatus! We had a Halloween party Friday and a busy weekend. I'd planned to give you an update last night, but apparently Blogger went to bed a bit early and I couldn't post.

I should have taken more photos of our family costume at the Halloween party, but here are a few. I scored cheap pirate costumes for all the kids, including a pirate dress for Amelia. I was the parrot, complete with rainbow-colored hair and a felt feathered tail. Jeff wore a treasure map on his t-shirt.

Of course, we were outside and it was chilly, so everyone had to wear a coat. But still cute.

It sounds like I could have total mutiny on my hands this evening as Amelia has since told me she's going to be a princess for Halloween, and the boys are talking about kitties, dogs, and I don't know what all. Should be interesting to see what happens. I predict tears and screaming, though hopefully not from me.

I'll have pictures of our trick-or-treat costumes (whatever they turn out to be), fun decorations and a couple of our Halloween craft projects to share tomorrow.

Hope the ghosts and goblins are good to you tonight!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writer's Workshop: It's No Holiday For Me

Halloween is almost here, as evidenced by the plethora of Christmas decorations in the stores.

And let me tell you, this "holiday" is no holiday for parents.

The costumes, decorations, and WAAAY too much sugar are killing me over here, and it's not even Halloween yet!

Let's start with the costumes. When I was a kid we would tie a scarf around our head, add a lot of jewelry and a white shirt and be gypsies. Or dress in shabby clothes and carry a stick with a bandanna tied to the end and be hobos. A cowboy hat and boots, a black cape and witch's hat. You know, easy stuff.

Now those costumes won't pass muster. It's the full Minnie Mouse costume, complete with dress and shoes, not just a tail and a pair of paper ears. Or Rapunzel, complete with the Disney dress and mile-long wig braided just so. Or the superhero of your choice, as long as every last detail is exactly as it appears on TV.

And who has to come up with the money or the creativity to go the distance with a costume? You're looking at her. Last year I made costumes. The fabric was a bargain, but they took a fair amount of time. This year I scored four great costumes at a secondhand sale, so they were cheap, but required some alterations. More time out of an already jam-packed schedule.

Seriously, I could just turn the boys out in the yard for a couple hours on any given day and they'd be in perfect hobo costumes. That would be much easier on me!

Then there are the decorations. I'm not that into Halloween and I don't (again) have tons of time to do decorations, but the kids see them everywhere and want to be part of the fun. We've managed this year by incorporating some decoration-making into our school time. 'G' is for ghost, after all.

In the good old days no one decorated for Halloween, unless you count jack o' lanterns and the people who never took down their Christmas lights from the previous year. So much easier! Now my neighbors have corn stalks and scarecrows, skeletons and Halloween lights. We managed three bats, a jack o' lantern and a handful of ghosts made out of old milk jugs.

I can get on board with the costumes (though ours will always be more creative than costly) and the decorations because I get to exercise my craft skills, but I could really do without the sugar. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love to raid my kids' Halloween bags as much as the next parent. It's just the sugared-up kids I could do without, and it's already started!

Amelia's brought home Halloween goodies from school and we're headed to a Halloween party tomorrow. Then there's the actual trick-or-treating and all the candy eating that follows. Seriously, it's like one big sugar high that lasts about a week.

I'm tempted to tell my kids they can eat all the candy they want the day after Halloween, and then we'll throw all the rest out. It'll be hell, but it will be short-lived. Otherwise I'll have weeks of "Can I have a piece of candy? Can I have another piece of candy? Can I? Can I? Huh, can I?" Multiply by four kids and I will go insane. 

Seems the "trick" in trick-or-treat is on me!

This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.
Mama’s Losin’ It

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

School Days Continue

I'm still doing little lessons with the boys when Amelia heads off to school. We're working on the letter 'H' now, but I haven't posted any pics in a while, so here are a few of the things we did in our 'D' and 'E' lesson plans.

 Dinosaurs, doughnuts and elephants, oh my!

Daddy did the 'D' is for Doughnut lesson with them, which was a huge hit because the kids got to use scissors. (Arming the three boys with scissors still makes me shudder.) And afterwards he took them all out for a doughnut. Yep, he was a hero.

We got a little out of hand gluing eyes onto the dinosaurs, but I hated to squash their creativity. I just peeled the eyes off later and recycled them.

I get most of my lesson/craft ideas online, and I am amazed at the number of things you can make out of a cheap, white paper plate. And I do enjoy doing something creative with my kids and seeing them get a kick out of making something.

I must say I have no idea how preschool teachers do this in a classroom of a dozen or more kids. I have my hands full with just three of them!

Sam, Isaac and Alex aren't going to skip a grade thanks to my stellar homeschooling, but they are learning their letters and numbers, and they love, love, love to "do a project." They have learned to sit for 15 minutes while we work on a project, read a related book or talk about the letter sounds and the craft we're making. And that's a major accomplishment in and of itself!

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Things They Learn At School

The other evening Jeff and I were having a rather serious conversation with Amelia.

At the end I said, "Got it?"

The usual response to that in our house is, "Got it!"

But Amelia looked up at both of us and said, "Capice."

Jeff and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.

After a round of "Did you teach her that? I didn't teach her that," Amelia piped up. "You know 'capice.' It means "Got it."

Thanks, child. We know that. We want to know where you learned it!

So I asked her, wondering if I should pay more attention to the occasional kids' show she watches.

"I learned it at school," she said matter-of-factly.

Well OK. Apparently we were unaware of the heavy Italian influence at her school. Maybe she'll also learn to make a decent lasagne.

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

From My Kitchen: Milk Dud Popcorn

We've been having Friday night movie nights around here now that the weather's turning colder and our kids are more or less interested in sitting still long enough to watch something.

The point of movie night is to have fun and relax, so no big themes and planning for mom, though sometimes I manage a little something. Tonight, for example, we watched "Finding Nemo," and ate fish sticks. That made Jeff laugh. Then he wanted to know if we'd be drinking water, "to go with the theme."

No, smart aleck, but you'll be washing the dishes to make up for that remark!

Anyhow, I usually give my kids a treat of some sort on movie night, though generally nothing too fancy. Last week Amelia and I made chocolate pudding, which was not the hit I thought it would be. Tonight they had their choice of marshmallows (plain ones straight from the bag) or Oreo knockoffs (the boys only eat the middles anyway).

Movie night got me to thinking about popcorn though, and that reminded me of this special treat one of my London roomies used to make: Milk Dud popcorn.

It's exactly what it sounds like--popcorn with Milk Duds in it. It's easy, and if you are a salty-sweet snack person like me, it really hits the spot.

Ready for this? Here's the "recipe."

Milk Dud Popcorn
1 regular-sized bag microwave popcorn
Couple handfuls of Milk Duds

Microwave the popcorn of your choice, stopping 20-30 seconds before it's usually completely popped out. Open the bag and toss in a couple handfuls of Milk Duds. Shake or stir well, then fold the top of the bag down and return to the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Do NOT walk away. If you let it cook too long, you'll have a scorched mess on your hands. Stay close by and use your nose to guide you. Shake or stir again, and you'll have popcorn dotted with bits of chocolate and gooey carmel.

This isn't like caramel corn where the popcorn is evenly coated. And you will have a few extra old maids. (That's what we called the unpopped kernels when I was growing up. Not very politically correct, is it?) But you've got to sacrifice a few kernels to make sure you aren't going to scorch the popcorn when you put it back in the microwave.

Some people might like this to be all melted together. I think that might be tough to accomplish without burning the popcorn, but you can always give it a shot. Personally, I like having some larger pieces of Milk Dud semi-melted and stuck to the popcorn around them. It's a little candy jackpot.

It's salty. It's sweet. It's simple. And no dirty dishes either! What more could you ask for in a snack?


© Trippin' Mama 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writer's Workshop: A Spellcheck Disaster

My colleague, Myron, was laughing as he came into my office and handed me a piece of paper.

"What's this?" I asked.

"Just read it," he chuckled.

I obliged, and started reading the email I had just sent to him a few minutes ago.

It began, "Moron..." and was signed, "Christ."

I looked up at Myron in horror. And he laughed and said, "I know I'm not always the brightest, but that's a little harsh isn't it?"

Oh. Crap.

My computer was set to automatically spellcheck all outgoing email. It was a feature I hated because I can check my own spelling, thank you very much Microsoft. But I had never bothered to take the time to disable it. Instead I would just hit the "Ignore" button over and over.

Except that day I was talking to someone else as the spellcheck ran, and apparently I hit the "Accept" button over and over.

So "Myron" became "Moron," and "Christy" became "Christ." And a lot of what was in between became unintelligible.

Thank heavens "Moron" had a sense of humor and it wasn't an important email to someone outside my company.

After a very red-faced mea culpa I spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out how to disable the auto spellcheck feature.

And I've used spellcheck very cautiously ever since.

This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

2.) Tell about a time you accidentally “replied all” or sent an email to the wrong person by mistake.
Mama’s Losin’ It

© Trippin' Mama 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Kids Are Giving Me ADD

I swear that since the boys turned three, they've tripled their busy-ness. I field more questions, more requests for help and more demands to listen to them than ever before.

Honestly, it's like having an external case of ADD.

Yesterday at 7 a.m. it looked like this:

Sam: "Mom, I want toast."

Me: "What kind of toast?"

Sam: "Swimanon toast. But not in the toaster."

Isaac: "I want to go outside."

Me: "We'll go out later. Let's have bre--"

Sam: "Where's my truck?"

Alex: "Mom, I pooped!"

Me: While buttering toast, "Just a minute, don't come out! I'll be there in a sec--."

Isaac: "Why is it raining? Where's my toast?"

Me: As I head to the bathroom to help Alex, "What kind of toast do you w--"

Alex: "Now I get candy corn!"

Me: Isaac, what kind of to--

Isaac: "SWIMANON!"

Alex: "I want chocolate flakes! I want chocolate flakes! Where are we going today?"

Me: "Let's finish the potty and have breakfast first."

Amelia: "Can I have my milk?"

Me: "Good morning, Amelia. Do you want bre--"

Alex: "Where are my chocolate flakes?"

Sam: "Mom, do you know where my truck is?"

Me: "Just a minute, Alex. Sam, look in the toy basket. Amelia, what do you w--"

Alex: "Listen to me, Mom!"

Sam: "I'm done! Can I be 'scused? I have to go potty."

Me: "You're excused. Amelia, wh--"

Isaac: "Sam, I found your truck. Oh! My toast popped!"

Me: As I butter toast and pour chocolate flakes, "Amelia? Breakfast?"


Alex, "I got chocolate flakes!"

Sam: "Mom, help me with my pants! Can I jump on the couch?"

Isaac: "I need more milk, please."

Amelia: "I want breakfast."

Me: As I pull up pants and head to the fridge to refill the milk, "Sam, no you can't jump on the couch. What can I get you Amelia?"

Isaac: "I'm done!"

Me: "Go wash your face and hands."

Amelia: "Chocolate flakes."

Me: As I pour chocolate flakes (AKA Special K Chocolaty Delight) "Sam and Isaac bring me your plates and milk cups, please. Alex are you done?"

Alex: "I'm DONE!"

Me: "Then bring me your plate and go wash your hands. Here are your flakes Amelia."

Isaac: "Do you want your dump truck Alex? I found it for you, buddy."

Sam: "I need to find shoes. Where are my shoes? I want my dump truck!"

Amelia: "I want a dump truck, too."

Alex: "Oh, here's my shirt! Let's race our dump trucks!"

By this time it was 7:15 a.m. and I could no longer keep track of what I was doing or who asked for what.

By 7:30 a.m. I was no longer sure I'd have any sanity left within the hour. Surely this is why three-year olds still need naps.

© Trippin' Mama 2011