Santa's Secret

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

There are a great many tips and tricks you pick up by the time you have your fourth kid: some by accident, some by necessity, and some by sheer brilliance (if I do say so myself!). Christmas shopping for four children, one very hard-to-buy-for husband, and all the extended family, is one area I have learned to successfully navigate by necessity.
Dragging four children around to buy Christmas presents simply doesn’t work because 1) they see what Santa is going to give them, thereby eliminating a mother’s most effective holiday parenting tool (“Are you sure you want to clock your sister with that couch pillow? Santa is watching!”); and 2) a mother’s sanity needs to be preserved for more demanding scenarios, such as “How did your baby sister get a hold of that red glitter glue?!”. More importantly, I have a primal maternal need to find quality gifts that effectively span all my kid’s ages so I’m not frantically picking up small pieces from the older kid’s toys before they get in the mouths of the younger ones (where are Santa’s elves when you need them!)
So, what’s my recipe ? Hard core internet surfing, combined with selective idea snatching from my children’s extra-curricular activities, add a dash of friend’s referrals and voila – successful Christmas shopping complete. Special note – you need to leave enough time for shipping as this is not a last-minute shoppers methodology! In my experience, I find afternoon nap time in late November is the best time to delve in.
Step One: Think of your children’s extra-curricular activities, in particular, the parts of those activities that elicit the most joy.
Step Two: Always, always, start with Amazon.com. They have a super selection of nearly everything on the planet, usually at reasonable and budget-varied prices, and it’s a fantastic place to secure additional gift ideas you never would have imagined on your own (“If you liked this, you may also like…”). Plus Amazon can be counted on for reliable shipping and they have those handy product user reviews for each item. If Amazon doesn’t have it, then you need to resort to Google, a very solid runner-up to sourcing gifts.
Step Three: Purchase, receive and hide the items in the preferred gift-hiding location in your home.
Step Four: Congratulate yourself on your brilliance, grab yourself a drink, and relax with your new found time (sanity fully intact).
Here are some examples from my own experience to get you started:
Stepping Stones (my kids discovered these at our local children’s library – countless hours of imaginative fun for all ages)
http://www.amazon.com/Weplay-Rainbow-River-Stone/dp/B003C98C9M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1290105314&sr=1-2

Children’s Parachute (elicited squeals and giggles from every kid at gymnastics class)
http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Play-Tents-Playchute-Parachute/dp/B00000IURU/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1290105376&sr=1-1

Large wall size dry-erase board (to accommodate all four kids drawing at once, save the budget on paper, and no crayons left askew for my toddler to chew on!)
http://www.schoolfurnitureofcanada.ca/s/Dry-Erase-White-Marker-Boards/14

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How to become a SuperMom

November 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

Familiar with the expression “fake it till you make it”? That’s how.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I was not born a Supermom. In fact, I only have one, low ranking (on the scale of superpowers anyway) superpower.
It’s not hair cutting (as evidenced by my poor pre-schooler’s most recent look and knicked ear); it’s not fashion (if I ain’t leavin’ the house, the pj’s stay on!); it’s not even endurance (I still sneak an afternoon nap in whenever the opportunity presents itself).
I was also not blessed with the super powers that normally guarantee Supermom status, such as cooking or sewing, nor did I receive much instruction on these areas growing up (unless of course you count Grade 7/8 Home Economics class, which sadly, IS in fact where I draw many references from when I try to tackle a project in these areas). No, I rely on my sole superpower (which by the way, every Mom has at least one) and that is resourcefulness.
Despite my shallow list of the skills listed above which normally accelerates supermom status, I have been able to put together an impressive resume of themed children’s parties, uniquely shaped birthday cakes and Halloween costumes, thus bolstering my supermom credentials….all in the name of resourcefulness.
Case in point…this year’s Halloween costume for my seven year old son, who has recently developed an obsession with the computer game Plants vs Zombies. His Halloween costume request: a three headed pea shooting plant named Threepeater. I used my most keenly honed motherly wiles to try and persuade him to choose zombie instead of plant (hobo jacket, pair of ripped jeans, a little face makeup and we’re done!). Unfortunately his beautiful brown puppy eyes and fierce confidence in my abilities (“I know you can do this Mom!”) got the better of me and now I’m faced with the opportunity to put another notch in the Supermom belt.
Here’s the plant he wanted to be for Halloween:

Yikes right? As I said to my son, “it’s not even a human shape!”

Here’s what I did:

Step One: Study the picture and wait for inspiration. Inspiration didn’t show up, so I showed the picture to other people for ideas. After a bit of brainstorming and epic contemplation (in the shower, before falling asleep at night, while doing the dishes …”how the heck am I gonna tackle this?”), I had a vision starting to develop in my brain.
Step Two: Visited the local Lens Mills Store to secure materials for my vision but ended up seeing other inspirational materials that lead to a second, far more practical vision.
Step Three: Stopped at Michaels to grab a couple items needed for the second vision and refused to pay their ridiculous prices. Left with nothing.
Step Four: Made my own materials from obscure things I forgot I had been saving in the closet for just this sort of opportunity (read: leftover Styrofoam from new couch bought over a year ago and those blasted twist ties they use to package toys).
Step Five: Went back to Michael’s with my freshly printed 40% off coupon to buy a glue gun (for all you moms that can’t sew, a glue gun is our salvation).

Step Six: Combined the materials from the Lens Mill Store with my homemade materials and a glue gun, and voila! Three headed plant (pea shooting capabilities sold separately).

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