Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Friday Shopping on Thanksgiving?


I love a good deal. A personality perk (it's not a flaw!) that I'm fairly certain I got from my dad. I vaguely remember my mom complaining when he bought a whole case of marshmallows just because they were so cheap. I also vaguely remember them passing out said marshmallows at Halloween when they ran out of candy. Obviously the marshmallows were a win then, right? So when Nate complains about my deals, I point out that it's ingrained in me and I can't help myself.

And I'm starting to get excited because my three biggest shopping days of the year are coming up.

In order of importance:
1. Dillard's New Years Day Sale (my all-time favorite)
2. Dillard's After Christmas Sale
3. Black Friday

There isn't any controversy around #1 and #2, but Black Friday continues to make headlines as it seeps into Black Thursday (is that a thing? Probably not). People are up in arms because retailers shouldn't be open on Thanksgiving, especially when their sole purpose of opening is to make a buck. Correction - make a lot of bucks.

On the one hand, I completely agree that Thanksgiving is a holiday and everyone should have the option of staying at home with their families and friends. Absolutely.

However, the realist in me knows that this simply isn't possible. There are professions out there that require people to work holidays. Ones that come to mind include police officers, firefighters, emergency room personnel, movie theater workers and military personnel. Many of these people don't get the option to stay home on Thanksgiving or any other holiday for that matter. And you could argue that they know what they're getting into when they sign on for a particular job, which is true. But I'd argue right back that so do retail workers.

I worked retail for several years and I knew that if I didn't ask off in advance that my name could end up on the schedule and it would be my responsibility to find a replacement. It pays to plan, folks. It pays to plan.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY: Turkey Shirt


About a week ago, I realized that E didn't have a Thanksgiving shirt. Obviously, this isn't a necessity but when they're this young stores usually carry holiday-specific clothing. Besides, it's pretty cute. I didn't find much in his size locally so I went online to see what was on Etsy (talk about going down the rabbit hole). I found some really cute iron-on decals and embroidered shirts, but I didn't want to pay $15 plus for a shirt he'd only wear a couple of times. If I had thought of it in October at least he could've worn it for the entire month of November, right? Anyway, the iron-on idea got me to thinking. If I could iron something on a shirt, I could make it myself. This led to Pinterest, which is probably where I should've started my journey.

I found some cute handprint turkey shirts and decided to try and make one for E. Keep in mind that I don't sew. In fact, I think the only needle in the house is part of a travel sewing kit we got at a fancy hotel several years ago. This is a needle-free project.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY: Activities for your Advent Calendar

I love the holiday season. It takes every fiber of my being not to cover the entire house in Christmas decorations in early November. Poor Thanksgiving. It doesn't get the love it deserves. Normally I wouldn't post about Christmas so early, but this particular piece requires prior planning so...that's kind of a loophole, right? I mean, you can't build an advent calendar on Dec. 1. I mean, you could, but what fun is that?

And I'm SO excited about our advent calendar this year. I bought a reusable one last year at the Dillard's clearance sale and can't wait to get it on the wall. It's got little felt pieces and you hang them on the tree each day. To make it even more fun (how is that possible?! - you, I know! - me), I'm printing off activity cards for each day.


I've come up with about 30 activities and I'll assign them according to our calendar of events (we're official like that). For example, I have one that says "Work Party with Daddy" because our unit is having a kids Christmas party one Saturday. And I have another that says, "Spend Time with Great Grandparents" because we're taking a mini-trip to Fort Worth when we pick up my mom from the airport (see also: "Spend Day with Mimi"). So these will have to go in certain slots, but there are plenty of other activities I'm going to haphazardly add to the calendar. Maybe I'll fold them first so I won't know where they're going. You're about to faint from the excitement, aren't you?

Here are some of our other activities:
Make a Christmas Craft
Build a Gingerbread House
Spend All Day in Our Pajamas (that's for me - ha)
Watch Holiday Movies
Donate a Toy or Book
Choose a Child from the Angel Tree
Bake Christmas Cookies
Look at Christmas Lights
Visit Tree Farm

You can see the complete, printable list here (there's a PDF version ready to print and a Word file you can tweak to meet your family's needs. Note - you'll have to download the Word file to manipulate it otherwise it takes you to a viewing page.). I'm printing them off on scrapbook paper. I wanted a holiday theme, but E was nearing meltdown mode at the store so I grabbed what I could and headed to the register. Here's one of the pages:



I'm really hoping that E enjoys doing all of the activities. Not sure if he'll relate it back to the advent calendar, but you never know.

Anyone else doing a special advent calendar this year?

Cheers!
Jen

Friday, November 7, 2014

Stitch Fix #5

My stitch fix actually got here a day early this month. It was waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home from the mall on Tuesday. It was perfect timing because I needed a little boost after E's epic meltdown. Stitch Fix, you know me better than I know myself.

This time, I requested my stylist from the second box since that had been my favorite of the four. She sent me four clothing items and a piece of jewelry. It's been awhile since she styled me so I think we're going to get into a groove in the next few months. Yep, I've decided to keep requesting her. I mean, both of our names start with a J. Obviously, that's a sign.

Here are the pieces she sent me this month. I decided to keep only one. Can you guess which one is now hanging out at my house?

This is a reversible wrap dress. The neckline is actually different depending on which way you choose to wear it. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I owe you an apology

I owe you an apology. Moms, dads, caregivers - all of you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I criticized you. Maybe not to your face, but definitely in my head or in a snide remark to a friend. I judged you and now the tables have turned. Karma is, and always will be, a first-class bitch.

Earlier today, my son decided to throw an epic tantrum in a department store. He was having fun in the fitting rooms and didn't want to leave. He's been anti-stroller lately so I picked him up and what ensued wasn't pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. The kid absolutely, 100 percent lost control. He turned his body horizontal and thrashed his head like he'd been trained by a rock star with long, wavy locks. He screamed at the top of his lungs causing people to stare and probably question if I was actually his mother or someone trying to abduct him. He flung his body on the ground and turned so red I thought his head might pop off. I tried putting him down, talking to him rationally, then sternly, then threatening a time out only to pick him up and start all over again. Each time I'd retreat to the fitting room out of sight only to realize I was land-locking myself. Finally, in what seemed like an hour but was only minutes, I told my friends to go on while I took E outside (to our friends - I won't be offended if you didn't claim us at that point. I wouldn't blame you.).

Taking E outside almost always calms him down right away. Naturally, the one time it doesn't work was today. We parked our stroller next to a concrete wall right outside the store and sat down. He then continued to scream hysterically and turned onto his belly to push his way to the sidewalk. Now we had a huge scrape on his stomach, which provided enough pain to amp up the hysterics. At this point, I realized the only way to calm him down was to throw him the boob. Seriously, if I wasn't still nursing I'm fairly certain he'd still be sitting on the sidewalk crying. He calmed down, we went back inside and finished our shopping (sort of). It was mentally exhausting for me and physically exhausting for him, I'm sure. It also made me realize that in the past, way before I had E, I was a jerk.

I would've thought the same thoughts people were thinking about us today. "What a horrible parent, why can't she control her kid?" "What a horrible kid, why can't he act right in public?" "Why isn't she spanking him to get him under control?" "I hope that's not because she spanked him. What a child abuser!" "Maybe he's hungry. I bet she doesn't feed him." "I bet that kid walks all over her." And on and on and on. Boom. Clap.

But here's the thing. I'm not a bad mom. Sometimes I feel like I'm floating around in space, but I'm not a bad mom. And E is not a bad kid. Was he having a bad day? Absolutely. But is he horrible all the time? Of course not. He says please and thank you and gives hugs and kisses and likes to snuggle with his dog and no. No, he's not a bad kid. We've just entered a new phase. Probably the terrible two's early, but maybe something else entirely. He doesn't get what he wants, he throws a tantrum. End scene.

But how to deal with that in public? At home, it's a non-issue. It's either ignored when it's minor or he gets a time out when it's deserved. He's been spanked before, but it has zero impact on him so we don't bother with it anymore. Time out usually does the trick. The problem is that he's usually screaming during time out. So using that tool in public isn't going to work when, let's be honest here, I just want him to stop making a scene. And even if we did spank him, can you imagine the glares? Geez. Sometimes it's really hard to be a parent. So I'm going to dig out my copy of Happiest Toddler on the Block and figure out what to do from here. This is his first major meltdown in public and I was horribly unequipped to deal with it. The best word I can use to describe it is helpless. I didn't know how to make the crying stop. He was so far gone that everything was spinning out of control. It's not a nice feeling. Knowing everyone is watching to see how you're going to handle it didn't help either.

In the future, I hope I can handle the situation in a better way with a quick fix and less drama. For now, I want to apologize again to all of those caregivers I've judged in the past. You were doing the best you could and while there wasn't anything I could've done to help you, at the very least I could've minded my own business. That's what I'll be doing from now on.

Cheers,
Jen

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Wrap Up

The past 72 hours have flown by. On Thursday, we hosted a Halloween party for our moms' group, on Friday morning we went to the zoo with our friends and last night, we had Halloween festivities (basically passing out candy and chasing E down the street).

This morning, I went to the clearance sale at Target (my tradition) and came home to start getting the house back to normal. By the end of the day, I'm hoping to have everything packed away. As much as I enjoy decorating for October, I really love putting it all up. It's a sign that we're that much closer to my favorite month of December (hello, Christmas and birthday). I'm posting this here in hopes that I remember to look at it next year as a reference. Maybe it will give you some ideas as well.

For our party, we did a lot of DIY crafts. Mainly to keep E busy during the weeks leading up to the party. So we had a Halloween garland, a spider hanging from the ceiling and a little ghost scene covering our can goods rack. I really should've taken better photos at the party (I meant to do them before it got started and ran out of time), but what can you do? I was doing good to get snacks on the table and while I probably shouldn't admit it, was mixing punch after people arrived. This is why party planners don't take their toddlers to work.


Our trash bag spider.