Because I Feel Like Talking About Animals

As I was leaving my parent’s cul-de-sac the other night and heading down the street to my home, I noticed this sign at then end of their street.
The kids and I pulled in for a closer look:
My Mom explained that the little boy next door, found a dead squirrel in the road.
He wept at the loss of innocent life.
And then named him Fred.
He spent the entire day creating this memorial that reads:
R.I.P. Squirrel
5 years old
and then he glued a little red baseball hat at the bottom of the sign.
As I was taking a picture of the sign (my 8 year old was hiding in the back seat, bemoaning her embarrassing life) the little neighbor walked up and told us all about Fred.
Fred had a good made-up life, after his death.
And he loved baseball.
I couldn’t help but think of the squirrels in my own back yard that I secretly despised.  Okay, not so secretly.
It makes one think, ya know?
Because if the silver puffy painted sign doesn’t say “You will be missed,” I don’t know what does.
Stay tuned for TWO FANTASTIC GIVEAWAYS this week from creative Moms!

What a Zoo!

We took our kids to the zoo this past weekend. It was our toddler’s first visit.

I learned 4 things while there:

1. It’s a great place for lost & found (giant, daunting Orangutan behind glass is real).
2. Christmas card pictures may be challenging.
3. Self Esteem can be directly affected.

On the heels of a fresh new haircut, I was flattered by a couple of women who approached me and asked to take a photo of my sassy ‘do.  I posed for 3 shots. Because I am that vain.

I nearly kissed them. 

4. I hope these are the days my kids remember.

My Frugal & Festive Holiday Tips

December is my month.

I was born the week before Christmas. I got married two days before the day I was born. I had my first baby eight days after the end of Christmas month. And my third baby was born one day before the day I was married and three days before the day I was born.
Got all that?
It’s a busy month for THAT family. And my hubby? He doesn’t have a chance. He starts fretting about gifts in the summer. But he always comes thru (i.e. kitty door).
When I think of Christmas I think of Jesus. There’s that, of course.
I also think of presents. The giving and the getting. Call me carnal.
But in these economic times, I want to be as frugal as possible. Join me every Tuesday in the month of December for my ideas on creating handmade gifts for friends and family.

Here are my tips for a frugal, but festive holiday:
  • Start as early as possible. I don’t think you can prepare too far in advance. My favorite time to Christmas shop is after Christmas. Yes, you read that right! I set aside a little money and shop the deeply discounted Christmas decor after the holidays. It’s such a thrill to find things 75-90% off and to rediscover your deals 12 months later! Christmas toys are also generally marked down to at least half off after the holidays and I shop for upcoming birthdays for the New Year. I just rediscovered these adorable nutcracker stocking holders that I got for $1.49!

  • Shop smart: Target reduces their holiday decor 50% the day after a major holiday. 5-7 days later, the remaining merchandise is reduced to 75% off. Around January 2nd or 3rd, all leftover Christmas items are marked down to 90% off! I call the store and ask. {Please note: if you live in my area, I have been known to get aggressive with a shopping cart}.
  • Shop used: Garage sales and thrift stores are a great place to find Christmas decor. Since decor is only used once a year, you can find some great treasures! (I started a nesting Santa collection from thrift and garage sales!)
  • Go artificial! I love for my home to smell good during the holidays. But since the kitchen isn’t my forte and since we use an artificial tree, I depend heavily on yummy smelling candles to do the job. Yankee candle is my favorite, but they are costly. TJMax, Marshalls and Ross stores, carry the Yankee brand at just a fraction of the price. And if you don’t have one of those stores, here’s a recipe for some pretty amazing stuff I like to simmer on my back burner.
  • Shop for the unexpected on the clearance aisles. Most stores have them and I keep a cabinet in my house full of discounted items for birthday parties, stocking stuffers, and treats. It’s so great to pull out a small gift when something comes up unexpected or my month is longer than my money.
  • Shop nature: We live in a wooded area with tall pine trees. Our family loves to collect pine cones, red berries and even branches. I display them in vases, on the mantel and throughout the house. Here are some fun pine cone projects.
  • Be creative! Make gifts for family and friends (check back on Tuesdays in December for easy, frugal projects!) But here’ s one, if you just can’t wait: Love to cook? Create your own recipe book. Love photo gifts? Here are some great ideas!
  • Shop your house for decor. Use candlesticks and plates as a cake platter to display a special ornament. Re-purpose glass vases to hold pine cones. Fill a glass bowl full of shiny ornament balls.
  • Write down a gift budget. I do this every year, usually in the fall. I write down everything I’ve already bought (like toys from the clearance aisle or books I bought in July) and I set a budget per person. We also do a certain number of gifts for our kids and since they are still pretty young, I try to make that number even. Here’s a printable holiday budget form.
  • Get it together! Partner with family members for BIG gifts or draw names for extended family members. Buy a family gift: one gift for the whole family: membership to the zoo, family movie pack, skating night for four.
  • Think about it: Suggest having your extended family gatherings after Christmas (the week between Christmas and New Year’s) and benefit from the last minute shoppin
  • Practical stocking stuffers can still be fun-character socks and underwear, fun toothbrushes, hair clips/bows, Chapstick, be creative and fill it with things they will actually use after Christmas morning!
  • Go sentimental...I love giving sentimental, heart-felt gifts like a Blurb book to grandparents, a family tree with collected photos or silhouettes of your children. I think handmade gifts are appreciated and you can save so much money!
  • Don’t go overboard or into debt on any of it! Kids usually end up with too many toys and we have to un-decorate whatever we put up. Keep it simple. Use what you have. And remember, the best message we can teach our kids is that it’s really about Jesus and others.

Grab my cute button and I’ll see you back every Tuesday in December!

THAT Family Tree Society-Issue 17

Picture of the week:

The week in Review: I took a smart housekeeping squirrel and a bug-eyed boy with taped body parts to the school Book Character Parade this week.  And people didn’t even point and stare!

Induction into The Society: I’d like y’all to help me welcome The Adventures of Brown, who submitted this post. I laughed at her description, so go show her some blog love. She’s found her people.

1. Tell us a little about your blog (name/reason why you blog): 

My blog is called Adventures of Brown – which is truly just a name because there’s not much Adventure going on in our household. I blog because it keeps me sane and connected to myself.

2. How long have you blogging? 

I started blogging on myspace (I cannot believe I just admitted to that) a couple of years ago but because their format is so limited in design and their features suck – I switched to blogger. That was just over a year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.

3. How would you define THAT family? 

I would have to say that every family has THAT family moments. THAT family is the mom who always leaves her coffee cup on the top of the mini-van as she drives out for carpool. Or the dad who feeds his 2 year old cookies all day for a whole day because “she didn’t want anything else”. Or the kid who screams “MY DADDY HAS TESTICLES – NOT BALLS” in the grocery store at 4 years old.

4. When did you discover you were a part of THAT famil

Well, obviously, from the definitions above, we were THAT family long before I realized it just the other day. My husband was chasing our daughter around the house with his farts and during her escape, she slammed her finger into the bathroom door. All the while I was in the shower washing myself of umpteen layers of drywall dust.

5. Where can we find your blog? I hope you’ll come by and check it out!

DIYP#24 Holiday Tree

Congrats to Muthering Heights on a fancy new wire tree! I’ll email you! Y’all go visit Tortoise Orchard for some fabulous Christmas bling!
One of my favorite decorations is my little wire tree on my entry table. 
{You can buy one like it here or wait around and see if you win the one I’m giving away today!}

I love adding holiday touches to the small tabletop tree. In the Spring, I hang glittery eggs and in the summer I add tin stars on the branches. Tiny fall wreaths adorn the wire tree right now.

These ornament trees are so versatile! Here’s a classic use:
For Christmas, I like to turn the little wire tree into a Texas holiday.  There are so many possibilities!  Down here in Texas, we’re proud of our roots. Yeehaw!

Because nothing says “Happy holidays from Texas, y’all!” like a Santa head and a shotgun shell.

Would you like your very own wire display tree? I thought so. Tortoise Orchard has agreed to send one to a lucky reader! Please, look around this great store or their ebay store linked above and tell me something besides the tree, you’d like to to have. Then, come back and leave a comment. Winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday afternoon.

On Being Me

If you saw me walking down the sidewalk, you wouldn’t look twice.

If you saw me at Target, you wouldn’t notice me.  (You might notice my kids because they are eating unpaid for goldfish crackers). 
But me? No. I probably wouldn’t even make eye contact with you.
I’m just an average mom. I blend in the crowd.
And I like it that way.
Because I am an introvert.
You won’t see me guffaw or cackle in a crowd.
I will probably never own a bullhorn.
Many readers assume I’m the life of the party.
Um, no.
I have to talk myself into attending the party.
Sometimes hours pass in a day and I talk to no one, unless email counts.
I am physically drained by crowds, although I have rare moments when I crave them.
And I re-energize when I’m alone.  
I think that’s why being THAT family is not always a barrel of  fun for me.
And it may also be why I love writing about it so much. 
Now, I’m not shy.  I do love one-on-one and small groups. 
And I have a handful of true blue friends that see the blog and the mom as one in the same.
But in this virtual world, where we meet everyday, I am free. Even outrageous! 
I can be extroverted me.  The part few people see.
One day I might get up the nerve to attend a blogging conference, but you probably won’t even know I’m there.
And if you ever run into me at Target, help me clean up the 142 goldfish crackers my toddler spilt, k? Because I am probably very embarrassed. 
What about you? Are you one in the same on your blog and in real life? Or do you feel uninhibited in the virtual world? 

Tell me in the comments (a) total introvert in blogworld and in real life. Right now, you’re saying stop looking at me (b) Real life introvert, but loosey goosey on your blog (c) bullhorn carrier in both worlds (d)lurker in blogworld, known for loud guffawing in real life

Food for the Soul:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.